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Tuesday 22 Aug 2017 | 00:01 | SYDNEY

Our intellectual exports

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29 March 2010 14:51

Blogger Tim Andrews ('an Australian classical liberal in Washington DC') wants to know who we might include in a list of Australia's top intellectual exports. It's not a very long list that he and his readers have compiled so far, so let me add one name that is obvious to me: Hedley Bull.

I guess you wouldn't expect an intellectual to be famous, but still, Bull seems a remarkably under-appreciated character, given the influence his work (and particularly his classic The Anarchical Society) has had on the study of international relations. As this reminiscence from 2008 notes:

A quick check of Google Scholar shows The Anarchical Society is cited 1,385 times. That’s in published texts. If student work in International Relations is taken into account that figure would run to many thousands more. The book is also in its third reprint.

Bull's influence was strongest in the UK, and perhaps one of the reasons he's not as well known as he deserves to be is that the English School of international relations theory which he helped found has had almost no influence on American debates about international relations. That's a real pity. As I've written before, in foreign policy debates Americans tend to distinguish mainly between realists and idealists. But English School ideas could do a great deal to enliven that rather stale discussion.

BTW, 'The Anarchical Society' was an early candidate for the name of this blog. I still think it's one of the most brilliant book titles ever.

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