Morton Kaplan View On Systems Theory

Morton Kaplan View On Systems Theory:

Morton Kaplan is the chief exponent of the systems theory. Although there have been many others who have contributed to the systems approach it was Morton Kaplan who had the most comprehensive and successful characterization of politics in the frame of reference of systems analysis. In his scholarly work ‘System and Process in International Politics’, Kaplan believes that the international system is the most important among all systems. He holds that the international system has its sub-systems as a set of actors. The set of international actors according to Kaplan, can be divided into international actors and supernational actors. Soviet Russia, France, United Kingdom are examples of international actors, while NATO is an example of supernational actors. Kaplan thinks that international action is an action that takes place between international actors who are the elements of the international system. Kaplan also believes that the internal system of international actors serves as a parameter for the international system, and the international system, he holds further, can also be regarded as a parameter for the national system of action. Thus it is important, writes Morton Kaplan, “to examine both what happens to the international system as changes occur inside the system of the international actors and to examine how the behaviour of the international actors is modified as the international system undergoes changes”.

Six-Fold Model of International Political System as Suggested by Morton Kaplan as Suggested by Morton Kaplan:

Prof. Morton Kaplan has enumerated six models of six different types of the international system and has described essential rules to describe the characteristics maintaining the behaviour of each of the six types. The six models are called-

  • The balance of power system.
  • The loose bipolar system.
  • The tight bipolar system.
  • The hierarchical international system.
  • The universal system.
  • The unit veto system.

Balance of Power System:

The balance of power system which existed in the 18th and 19th centuries in the international field contains six interesting behavioural traits-

(1) National actors will increase their capability through negotiation.

(2) Each nation will, first of all, preserve its own national interest.

(3) National actors will act in opposition to any actor or coalition of actors seen as rising to pre-dominance in the international system.

(4) Defeated or subordinated national actors of the system will not be held to that status by others; they will be permitted to resume a position roughly co-ordinate with other members of the system.

(5) Each actor, will stop fighting rather than eliminating an essential actor.

(6) Each essential actor will stop other actors from subscribing to supernational principles.

Loose Bipolar System:

The balance of power, according to Kaplan, is likely to be transformed into a bipolar system. The bipolar system comes into existence when two nations with other cooperating national actors come to form two different blocs. Kaplan believes that the bipolar system may be a loose bipolar system or a tight bipolar system. The loose bipolar system means the two superpowers are surrounded by the other smaller powers and non-aligned nations and in which the existence of non-aligned nations results in loosening the powers of two superpowers.

Tight Bipolar System:

When the non-aligned states disappeared from the international scene and there remained only two super-power blocks, the loose bipolar system will be transformed into a tight bipolar system. Kaplan feels that a light bipolar system can only operate when both the super-power bloc actors are organized in a hierarchical way otherwise tight bipolar system will again change into a loose bipolar system.

Hierarchical International System:

A hierarchical system is one in which the whole of the world is absorbed in a universal actor and there remains only one nation. This type of hierarchical system can be both directive and non-directive. It is directive if it is formed as a result of world conquest by a national actor system. It is non-directive if it is based on a democratic set of rules. Morton Kaplan believes that in the directive system there will be great tension but in the non-directive system, there will be comparatively much less tension.

The Universal System:

The universal system according to Kaplan is likely to come into existence as a result of the increase of the national actors function in a loose bipolar system. This type of system will be most integrated into which the judicial economic and political function will be performed by the universal actor (United Nations). In this system, nations will use peaceful means to get their objectives because the universal actors will be quite powerful to prevent national actors from resorting to force. As such all sorts of conflicts could be settled in this system.

Unit Veto System:

The unit veto system, according to Kaplan, “exhibits features of genuine peculiarity”. Kaplan holds that it might come into existence if all national actors in the system had weapons of such a character that any actor is capable of destroying any other actor that attacks it even though it cannot prevent its own destruction. The essence of this system is that each national actor will be able to destroy the other.

Two of its rules are-

  • Each state in the system will act to stand off every other members to prevent the existing steady state of the unit veto international system.
  • The unit veto system can maintain a steady state only if its actors are willing to resist the threats of destruction. If any actor is unwilling to resist, the unit veto system will be transformed into an unstable system.

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