The ebb and flow of history does not revolve solely around the material power of states. Nor is it exclusively the purview of institutions. And it is not based entirely on identity or anarchy. Instead it is about ideas and how those ideas are translated into actions. From the rise and fall of empires and the crusades through the Renaissance and Reformation, the American and French Revolutions, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Democracy, the Cold War, Fundamentalism and many of the revolutions we are experiencing today, ideas, and the many perspectives and ideologies on those ideas, have been the motivation for interstate, state and substate groups’ formations and interactions.
Ideas seem to be even more relevant today as technology and education have given the masses greater access and participation in the creation and assertion of the place for ideas in world politics.
This paper argues for a new paradigm (though based in a neo-classical realist perspective) in which ideation is used as the means of understanding the double helix of the many existing political paradigms. Essentially that ideas act as a separate but unifying influence on political relations. It suggests that ideas, rather than being a separate level to research, are part and parcel to all levels and streams of political interaction and thought. It is, essentially, shared ideas that allow individual, state and systemic actors to create relationships and relations, interact with each other, gain support and garner the energy necessary for an idea to be influential enough to materialize as action.
Understanding the role of ideas allows us to better analyze the ramifications of systemic, subsystemic, national and local change. It is possible, by examining ideas as the motivation for change, to identify primary conflict lines; the leaders and followers within a conflict; the different structures that have formed; and how these conflicts have led some to protect the status-quo while others seek to revise it at all levels. As the influence and role of ideas is better understood it may have significant impact on strategic planning as well as future research.
This paper is a further edit of a previous work – my work in progress as it were.
To read the draft paper, click: Ideation and Power.