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What can the absence of anarchism tell us about the history and purpose of International Relations?

By Alex Prichard


Abstract. Anarchism does not feature in contemporary international relations (IR) as a discreet approach to world politics because until very recently it was antithetical to the traditional use-value of a discipline largely structured around the needs and intellectual demands of providing for the world’s Foreign Offices and State Departments. This article tells part of the story of how this came to be so by revisiting the historiography of the discipline and an early debate between Harold Laski and Hans Morgenthau. What I will show here is that Morgenthau’s Schmittian-informed theory of the nation state was diametrically opposed to Laski’s Proudhon-informed pluralist state theory. Morgenthau’s success and the triumph of Realism structured the subsequent evolution of the discipline. What was to characterise the early stages of this evolution was IR’s professional and intellectual statism. The subsequent historiography of the discipline has also played a part in retrospectively keeping anarchism out. This article demonstrates how a return to this early debate and the historiography of the discipline opens up a little more room for anarchism in contemporary IR and suggests further avenues for research

Topics: HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism, JC Political theory, JZ International relations
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1017/S0260210510001075
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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