According to Hedley Bull, international relations are not merely power struggles between that are self-contained, but states are the world, members of a society that is characterized by the absence of governance or condition of anarchy. He asks a question as to whether order exists in the world. He answers the question by saying that order exists in a high degree domestic state but does not exist internationally. Order only exists as an aspiration for that reason international relations exist simply because of strife and disorder.
It has often been argued that order is a part of the historical record of international relations, especially modern states that have formed and continued to form an international society and states. Bull identifies that there has been an existence of order in internationally through modern history that there has been an international society, as well as limitations to the international societies. He shows that there is the actual practice, the imperfect nature of order and the precarious nature to which international relations raises.
The idea of international society has been established through three competing traditions of thought. These thoughts include the Hobbesian or realist tradition, which gives or states that the international politics is a state of war. The second view is the Kantian or Universalist tradition, which sees at exertion in the international political affairs a probabilistic community of humankind. Lastly, the Gratian community or internationalist tradition, views universal politics as occurring only within the international society. The three thoughts describe the nature of international politics and set out prescriptions of international conduct.
Bull in his analysis states that against the Hobbesian traditions, the Grotains give a challenge by stating that states are not engaged in simple struggles, but are limited in the way they solve their conflicts by common rules and institutions that have set to ensure that their problems and struggles are solved in the right manner. Therefore, after examining the three traditions, it is right to say that there is the existence of order in the international community.
The introductions of rules and institutions that help in maintaining social order at an international level have been made possible because of the sovereignty that exists within the states. The twentieth century and the sixteenth, as well as the seventeenth century, defended the idea of international society. However, the ideas of the international community in the twentieth century can be said to be closer or related to the ideas given in the earlier centuries of the state system than ideas that prevailed in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.
A question can be asked as to whether the international society conforms to reality. The reality of international society can be seen in the three models. Reason being the element of a society has always been present and it remains present in the modern international society, in the 21st century. Bull says that there is an element of the struggle of power, war and transitional solidarity, as well as the conflict that cuts across among different states in the international society. Therefore, the component of international society is present and has at all times been there in the modern international system. Reason being at no stage can it be said that the idea of the general interest of states of common rules, and universal institutions work by them has ceased to put forth influence. Additionally, the idea of international society has its basis in reality that is at times precarious, but has never disappeared at any one point.