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

Issue: 
Spring 2018
Author(s): 

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