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the Cold War as a critical first step in the search for knowledge

The divisions in our painting reflect obvious changes in the division of labor. Even in the marketplace of ideas, the extent of the market determines the degree of specialization. Over time the world grew in population, wealth, and complexity, and the discipline responded in kind. Herodotus’s work had to be nearly all things to all people. This is no longer practical or possible with increased competition and attention. Even Waltz’s magnum opus, Theory of International Politics, restricted itself to an abstract theory of long-term, great power, systemic outcomes.5

However, the full story is not so straightforward. As our triptych suggests, the field did not emerge gradually; the birth of the discipline came via emergency delivery after World War I. The abundance of clear victims and dearth of clear victors and villains remorselessly rebuked prevailing notions of progress, civilization, and political control. This systemic shock stimulated demand for remedies for the international system, which spawned a sprawling literature on the causes and conduct of war and politics. Indeed, the first Department of International Relations was founded in 1919 at Aberystwyth University (then called University College, Wales), thanks to an endowment given “as a memorial to the students killed and wounded in the First World War”[2] <>.