Against Soft Anarchism: Challenging Liberal Cooptations of Anarchism in International Relations Theory

Spring 2018

This article addresses recent efforts to incorporate anarchist theory into the field of international relations (IR). Recent articles on anarchism and IR open a new realm of possibility, for understanding non-state actors, but also risk co-opting selective principles and concepts of anarchism towards a legitimisation of the liberal state system. Many IR scholars who have addressed anarchism have failed to underscore its essential break with the state, in both theory and practice, thus creating a diluted anarchist analysis. By emphasising principles such as cooperation, diversity and resistance, without maintaining a central critique of the state, the economy and centralised power, these studies may be contributing to a discourse of liberal global governance. This article provides a caution regarding this process of softening anarchism while failing to substantially contest the state in a field dedicated to understanding the state system.

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Anarchist Studies Volume 26 No 1