Dynamics and Development of the International System: A Complexity Science Perspective

Ingo Piepers

Abstract


In this paper I discuss the outcome of an exploratory research project based on complexity science concepts and theories; this research is focused on the Great Power war dynamics in the time period 1495 - 1945. According to this research, the international system has self-organized critical (SOC) characteristics. A critical point is the attractor of the international system. The war dynamics of Great Powers can be illustrated by a power law. As a result of a driving force, the international system is constantly being pushed toward this critical point. The security dilemma is a booster of this driving force. Tension and frustration build up in the international system as a result of various system thresholds, and are periodically discharged through wars. The SOC characteristics of the international system result in a punctuated equilibrium dynamic. The punctuations produce new international systems, each with its specific characteristics. A quantifiable development of the international system toward a condition of increased stability and reduced resilience can be observed. In addition to SOC characteristics, the international system exhibits characteristics of a chaotic system. Chaos, order and development are closely linked. The SOC dynamics generate a process of social expansion. It is possible to explain the social integration of Europe from this perspective.

Keywords


complexity science, international system, great powers, self-organized criticality, punctuated equilibrium, stability, resilience, chaos, order, social expansion

Full Text:

PDF