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Private force and the emergence of the international system


This chapter deals with the importance of private force to the early emergence and spread of the international system.

It discusses how varieties of non-traditional forms of force helped maintain what was in many ways an international system of empires. The chapter focuses on the rules, norms and values of the system and shows how the gradual abolishment of private force has helped foster ideational cohesion in the international system. It also focuses on modes of interaction, and on how an unintended consequence of the use of private force has been a functionalist push for a tighter integrated system. The chapter also deals with mercenarism, privateering and piracy, the most important forms of private force for the emergence of the international system. It concludes that private force should be understood as one of the central productive forces in the gradual emergence of the modern international system.


  • Security policy
  • Oceans
  • Historical IR