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What is the basic idea behind these two metaphors of world politics? For Wolfers and other Realistis, states were the major actors in international relations characterized by strict hierarchy of power and vertical relations. On the other hand, contemporary world politics is characterized by various actors vying for power and influence and is more complex. Relations are taking place at multiple levels - where the state is just one of the actors. This is explained in Slaughter's 2005 book A New World Order and some subsequent writings.
Watch below a lecture held by Anne Marie Slaughter (2011), which briefly portrays this important shift in thinking about world politics as a "networked" phenomenon, the future of diplomacy and some future professions tailored for this new world.