Out of Line: Essays on the politics of boundaries and the limits of modern politics 2015008600, 9781138783126, 9781138784611, 9781315693224

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Out of Line: Essays on the politics of boundaries and the limits of modern politics
 2015008600, 9781138783126, 9781138784611, 9781315693224

Table of contents :
Half Title
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
1. Despite all critique
Man and/or world
Boundaries, borders, limits
The modern international
Scalar subjects
Out of line, out of tune
2. World politics and Western reason: universalism, pluralism,
hegemony (1980)
The dilemmas of international political theory
The concept of culture and its contradictions
Orientalizing the Orient
3. The doubled outsides of the modern international (2005)
4. The subject of security (1995)
Security and change
Everything and nothing
Subjects of security
Over and over
Changing subjects
5. On the protection of nature and the nature of
protection (2005)
Protection of nature
Nature of protection
6. Social movements/world politics (1994)
Discursive economies of scale
Merely social, always moving
Domestic bliss
Immanent revivals
Global civil society?
Nomadic connections
7. Europe is not where it is supposed to be (2000)
Europe as known quantity/quality
Europe as puzzle
Sovereignty as spatial practice
8. They seek it here, they seek it there: locating the political
in Clayoquot Sound (2003)
Clayoquot Sound as a political puzzle
Clayoquot Sound as political space
9. Violence, modernity, silence: from Max Weber to
international relations theory (1993)
10. Hobbes, origins, limits (2011)
11. War, terror, judgement (2002)
Modern hypocrisies
Still more violence
War by other means
After the slack
12. International, imperial, exceptional (2005)
13. Which democracy for which demos? (2013)
14. The political theory of boundaries and the boundaries of
political theory: interview with Raia Prokhovnik (2012)

Citation preview


A collection of essays on the politics of boundaries, this book addresses a broad range of cases, some geographical, some legal, and some involving less tangible practices of inclusion and exclusion. The book begins by exploring the boundary between modern Western forms of international relations and their constitutive outsides. Beyond this, the author engages with relations between subjectivity and security, security and nature, social movements and a world politics, as well as the politics of spatiotemporal dislocation. Two chapters address the work of Thomas Hobbes and Max Weber as exemplary accounts of the relationship between boundaries and the constitution of modern forms of politics. Each chapter speaks not only to the politics of specific boundary practices, but also to the limits within which modern politics has been shaped in relation to claims about spatiality, temporality, sovereignty and subjectivity. In this way, the book draws attention to a pervasive account of a scalar order of higher and lower that has shaped more familiar distinctions between internality and externality. Offering an analysis of the relation between concepts of internationalism, imperialism and exceptionalism, as well as the implications of spatiotemporal dislocation for claims about democracy, the book links contemporary claims about the transformation of boundaries to various ways in which political life is said to be in crisis and in need of novel forms of critique. Brought up to date by a new and extensive introductory essay and an assessment of the status of political judgement after 9/11, this book is essential reading for students and scholars of politics, international relations, political theory and political sociology. R. B. J. Walker is Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Victoria, Canada, and Professor Associado, Instituto de Relações Internacionais, Pontif ícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.

GLOBAL HORIZONS Series Editors: Richard Falk, Princeton University, USA and R. B. J. Walker, University of Victoria, Canada

We live in a moment that urgently calls for a reframing, reconceptualizing and reconstituting of the political, cultural and social practices that underpin the enterprises of international relations. While contemporary developments in international relations are focused upon highly detailed and technical matters, they also demand an engagement with the broader questions of history, ethics, culture and human subjectivity. GLOBAL HORIZONS is dedicated to examining these broader questions. 1. International Relations and the Problem of Difference David Blaney and Naeem Inayatullah

6. Beyond the Global Culture War Adam Webb

2. Methods and Nations Cultural governance and the indigenous subject Michael J. Shapiro

7. Cinematic Geopolitics Michael J. Shapiro

3. Declining World Order America’s imperial geopolitics Richard Falk 4. Human Rights, Private Wrongs Constructing global civil society Alison Brysk 5. Rethinking Refugees Beyond states of emergency Peter Nyers

8. The Liberal Way of War Killing to make life live Michael Dillon and Julian Reid 9. After the Globe, Before the World R. B. J. Walker 10. Ideas to Die For The cosmopolitan challenge Giles Gunn

11. Re-Imagining Humane Governance Richard Falk 12. Politics of Difference The epistemologies of peace Hartmut Behr 13. The Colonial Art of Demonizing Others A global perspective Esther Lezra

14. Humanitarian Intervention and Legitimacy Wars Seeking peace and justice in the 21st century Richard Falk 15. Out of Line Essays on the politics of boundaries and the limits of modern politics R. B. J. Walker

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OUT OF LINE Essays on the politics of boundaries and the limits of modern politics

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First published 2016 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2016 R. B. J. Walker The right of R. B. J. Walker to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Walker, R. B. J. Out of line: essays on the politics of boundaries and the limits of modern politics / R.B.J. Walker. pages cm. -- (Global horizons) 1. International relations--Philosophy. 2. Boundaries--Political aspects. I. Title. JZ1242.W347 2016 327.101--dc23 2015008600 ISBN: 978-1-138-78312-6 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-138-78461-1 (pbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-69322-4 (ebk) Typeset in Bembo by Integra Software Services Pvt. Ltd.


Preface Acknowledgements 1 Despite all critique

ix xii 1

2 World politics and Western reason: universalism, pluralism, hegemony (1980)


3 The doubled outsides of the modern international (2005)


4 The subject of security (1995)


5 On the protection of nature and the nature of protection (2005)


6 Social movements/world politics (1994)


7 Europe is not where it is supposed to be (2000)


8 They seek it here, they seek it there: locating the political in Clayoquot Sound (2003)


9 Violence, modernity, silence: from Max Weber to international relations theory (1993)


10 Hobbes, origins, limits (2011)


11 War, terror, judgement (2002)


12 International, imperial, exceptional (2005)


viii Contents

13 Which democracy for which demos? (2013)


14 The political theory of boundaries and the boundaries of political theory: interview with Raia Prokhovnik (2012)





The essays I have brought together here respond to specific events and problems arising in many different places. They nevertheless speak to broad concerns about the future of modern forms of political life. The earliest essay has its roots in the mid-1970s, while the latest responds to dynamics that still appear in the daily news. Much has changed over that period, but much has remained remarkably resilient. Four decades is both a very long time and a mere instant; and as the wisest political commentators have long insisted, timing is everything, even with boundaries that are inscribed in stone and secured with blood. A large part of my own work over that period has tried to understand the remarkable resilience of specific accounts of what it means to think about boundaries despite dramatic social, economic and technological processes that have led many analysts to predict or even simply presume their imminent obsolescence. A major explanation for this resilience, I have argued, involves very deep attachments to specific principles of – and both boundaries and relations between – sovereign authority and human subjectivity. Moreover, these principles have been shaped within historical cultures that have tended to privilege specific accounts of spatial topology and geometry, and to imagine temporal possibilities in more or less spatial terms as some form of linear history. Consequently, as these essays seek to demonstrate, the politics of boundaries must involve much more than the status of geographical borders, or even the limits of sovereign or legal jurisdiction. No political analysis can afford to treat boundaries as mere demarcations between places or times in which to find comparable or dissimilar forms of the political. As such, these essays have been influenced by a great many people in many different places working within a broad array of scholarly fields and traditions. They do not have a comfortable disciplinary home; no one interested in the politics of boundaries can afford such luxuries. Fortunately, I have been privileged to encounter both intellectual brilliance and political bravery in many settings, to

x Preface

work in universities that have permitted me to range quite freely across academic traditions, and to teach and learn from many interesting students. At the time of writing, I am especially aware that an entire generation of politically engaged scholars who shaped the way I have come to think about political analysis is rapidly passing, Rajni Kothari most recently. While I wish to thank the many generous people in many places – scholars, activists, colleagues, family and friends – who have helped me shape the analyses developed in these essays, I especially want to acknowledge the influence of many old friends from that generation who once managed to resist intellectual and political closure despite the nationalist, colonial and Cold War rigidities of East and West, North and South. We now experience many new forms of intellectual and political closure, and many insidious forms of exclusion. These also demand close scrutiny and considerable political commitment; and in relation to the categories of scholarly authority quite as much as to the multiple worlds those categories seek to understand. I also want to acknowledge the venues and publications in which these essays first appeared and to thank all those who participated in their gestation and reception. Chapter 2 was originally presented to the World Order Models Project Working Group on Culture, Power and Global Transformation, Lisbon, Portugal, July 1980, and appeared in Alternatives, 7:2, 1981, and as Working Paper no. 19 of the World Order Models Project, New York, 1982. Chapter 3 was originally presented as a lecture at the Fifth International Conference on Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Central Institute of Ethnic Administrators, Beijing, China, 30 June–3 July 2005, and revised for subsequent lectures elsewhere in 2005–6. A shorter version has appeared online in Ephemera: Theory and Politics in Organization, 6:1, 2005; and the International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, 5:5, March 2006. Chapter 4 was originally published with a “Commentary” by Stephen Toulmin as Working Paper on Rethinking Security no. 7, Los Angeles: Center for International Studies, University of Southern California, 1995; the version reproduced here, very slightly revised, appeared in Keith Krause and Michael C. Williams, eds, Critical Security Studies: Concepts and Cases, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997, 61–82. Chapter 5 is an also slightly revised version of an essay originally published in Jef Huysmans, ed., The Politics of Protection, London: Routledge, 2005, 189–202. Chapter 6 was originally published in Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 23:3, 1994, 669–700. Chapter 7 was originally published in Morten Kelstrup and Michael C. Williams, eds, International Relations Theory and the Politics of European Integration: Power, Security, Community, London: Routledge, 2000, 14–32. Chapter 8 was originally published in Warren Magnusson and Karena Shaw, eds, A Political Space: Reading the Global through Clayoquot Sound, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003, 237–262. Chapter 9 was originally published in G. M. Dillon and David Campbell, eds, The Political Subject of Violence, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993, 137–160. Chapter 10 was originally published in Raia Prokhovnik and Gabriella Stomp, eds, International Political Theory after Hobbes: Analysis, Interpretation and Orientation, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2011, 168–188. Chapter 11 was originally presented at Keele University in late 2001, and published

Preface xi

in Bulent Gokay and R. B. J. Walker, eds, September 11, 2001: War, Terror and Judgement by the Keele European Research Centre in 2002; a revised and expanded edition of that text under the same title was published in London by Frank Cass in 2003. Chapter 12 was originally prepared for the International Studies Association Meeting, Honolulu, Hawai’i, March 2005 and revised for various presentations over the course of that year. The present version was translated as ‘International, l’impérial, l’exceptionnel’ and published in Cultures et Conflits, 58, Eté 2005, 13–51. A shorter version appeared as ‘Lines of Insecurity: International, Imperial, Exceptional’, Security Dialogue, 37:1, March 2006, 65–82. Chapter 13 was given in a very different version at the Conference on Democracy and Law in Europe at the Centre of Excellence in Foundations of European Law and Polity, Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki with the Academy of Finland, September 2012. The present version is a minor revision of the chapter subsequently published in Massimo Fishera, Sakari Hanninen and Kaarlo Tuori, eds, Polity and Crisis: Reflections on the European Odyssey, Farnham: Ashgate, 2014, 171–188. Chapter 14 was originally published in Gary Browning, Raia Prokhovnik and Maria Dimova-Cookson, eds, Dialogues with Contemporary Political Theorists, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, 196–216, and I especially want to thank Raia for pushing me to locate my analysis in a more biographical context.


The work in this collection has been published previously in a variety of different forms. We would like to thank the publishers for granting permission to use the following copyright material: R. B. J. Walker, ‘World Politics and Western Reason: Universalism, Pluralism, Hegemony’ Copyright © 1981 Sage Publications. This chapter was originally published in Alternatives, 7:2, 1981. Reprinted with permission of Sage Publications. R. B. J. Walker, ‘The Doubled Outsides of the Modern International’ Copyright © 2006 Common Ground Publishing. This chapter was originally published in International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, 5:5, March 2006. Reprinted with permission of Common Ground Publishing. R. B. J. Walker, ‘The Subject of Security’ Copyright © 1997 University of Minnesota Press. A slightly revised version of this chapter appeared in Keith Krause and Michael C. Williams, eds, Critical Security Studies: Concepts and Cases, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997, 61–82. Reprinted with permission of University of Minnesota Press. R. B. J. Walker, ‘On the Protection of Nature and the Nature of Protection’ Copyright © 2005 Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. A slightly revised version of this chapter was originally published in Jef Huysmans, ed., The Politics of Protection, London: Routledge, 2005, 189–202. Reprinted with permission of Taylor & Francis Group. R. B. J. Walker, ‘Social Movements/World Politics’ Copyright © 1994 Sage Publications. This chapter was originally published in Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 23:3, 1994, 669–700. Reprinted with permission of Sage Publications. R. B. J. Walker, ‘Europe Is Not Where It Is Supposed to Be’ Copyright © 2000 Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. This chapter was originally published in Morten Kelstrup and Michael C. Williams, eds, International Relations

Acknowledgements xiii

Theory and the Politics of European Integration: Power, Security, Community, London: Routledge, 2000, 14–32. Reprinted with permission of Taylor & Francis Group. R. B. J. Walker, ‘They Seek It Here, They Seek It There: Locating the Political in Clayoquot Sound’ Copyright © 2003 University of Minnesota Press. This chapter was originally published in Warren Magnusson and Karena Shaw, eds, A Political Space: Reading the Global through Clayoquot Sound, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003, 237–262. Reprinted with permission of the University of Minnesota Press. R. B. J. Walker, ‘Violence, Modernity, Silence: From Max Weber to International Relations Theory’ Copyright © 1993 Manchester University Press. This chapter was originally published in G. M. Dillon and David Campbell, eds, The Political Subject of Violence, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993, 137–160. Reprinted with permission of Manchester University Press. R. B. J. Walker, ‘Hobbes, Origins, Limits’ Copyright © 2011 Palgrave Macmillan. This chapter was originally published in Raia Prokhovnik and Gabriella Stomp, eds, International Political Theory after Hobbes: Analysis, Interpretation and Orientation, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2011, 168–188. Reprinted with permission of Palgrave Macmillan. Bulent Gokay and R. B. J. Walker, eds, ‘War, Terror, Judgement’ Copyright © 2003 Frank Cass Publishers, © Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. This chapter was originally published in Bulent Gokay and R. B. J. Walker, eds, September 11, 2001: War, Terror and Judgement, London: Frank Cass, 2003. Reprinted with permission of Taylor & Francis Group. R. B. J. Walker, ‘International, Imperial, Exceptional’ Copyright © 2006 Sage Publications. A shorter version of this chapter was published as ‘Lines of Insecurity: International, Imperial, Exceptional’, Security Dialogue, 37:1, March 2006, 65–82. Reprinted with permission of Sage Publications. R. B. J. Walker, ‘Which Democracy for Which Demos?’ Reprinted by permission of the publishers from ‘Which Democracy for Which Demos?’, in Massimo Fichera, Sakari Hänninen and Kaarlo Tuori, eds, Polity and Crisis, Farnham: Ashgate, 2014, 171–188. Copyright © 2014. R. B. J. Walker, ‘The Political Theory of Boundaries and the Boundaries of Political Theory: Interview with Raia Prokhovnik’ Copyright © 2012 Palgrave Macmillan. This chapter was originally published in Gary Browning, Raia Prokhovnik and Maria Dimova-Cookson, eds, Dialogues with Contemporary Political Theorists, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, 196–216. Reprinted with permission of Palgrave Macmillan. Every effort has been made to contact copyright holders for their permission to reprint material in this book. The publishers would be grateful to hear from any copyright holder who is not here acknowledged and will undertake to rectify any errors or omissions in future editions of this book.

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Distinctions/connections This book collects a sequence of essays sharing a concern with the politics of boundaries and, conversely, the bounding of modern forms of politics. The essays were written many years apart and engage with a broad range of substantive problems. Nevertheless, they all explore situations and contexts in which boundaries can be understood both as characteristic expressions of particular forms of politics and as constitutive practices that produce and reproduce those particular forms of politics. Consequently, they insist that boundaries require some kind of dialectical appreciation, some sense of the need to pay attention to both sides of any boundary, as well as to the relationship between specific forms of bounding and the practices that constitute those forms rather than a presumption that boundaries simply record a distinction, and choice, between one side or the other, or between cause and effect. At the same time, these essays also suggest that boundaries elude any singular logic, topology or conventional account of what it means to understand political phenomena dialectically. Indeed, they affirm widespread suspicions that political boundaries are profoundly puzzling, perhaps increasingly so: in ways that disturb many familiar assumptions about where politics is supposed to occur and consequently what political life is supposed to involve, who is supposed to engage in it and under what conditions. Thus where conventional wisdom, and too much scholarly analysis, remain hostage to accounts of boundaries as mere lines distinguishing already existing entities, these essays, like much recent literature on diverse phenomena, assume that boundaries produce, reproduce and sometimes transform phenomena that they also distinguish. A lot of politics comes out of a line: from within practices that can be made to seem as thin, empty and abstract as the edge of a triangle or days divided in some open ocean. Indeed, even the edges of triangles have had many profound

2 Despite all critique

consequences; and for all that we may live in an era of speed, accelerations and flows, the passing of time is still regulated by not so straight lines drawn through the deep Pacific. Similarly, most or even all political phenomena are open to interpretation as both cause and effect, though it is usually much easier to examine them as either cause or effect; just as it is usually easier to presume a simple boundary distinguishing cause and effect. Given that boundaries are especially susceptible to naturalization and abstraction, as simply in place, and as doing very little, these essays try to engage with boundaries as both cause and effect, sometimes simultaneously and sometimes as distinguished by their spatiotemporal relation. They examine patterns and practices through which here and there, now and then, as well as claims to identity and subjectivity both here and there and now and then, have been distinguished and naturalized as the necessary ground of political possibilities and impossibilities. Some essays are concerned with relations between boundaries enacted in spatial terms and those expressed in temporal terms. Some respond to spatiotemporal practices of partition, of various kinds. Some respond to interpretations of influential thinkers, some to the interpretive fallout from particular events. All are concerned to get some purchase on how we have come to engage in political life on the basis of specific accounts of inclusion and exclusion: accounts of where, when and who we are, and therefore are not. They also try to articulate some understanding of what it means to imagine some other kind of politics by trying to cross the boundaries that affirm that we are indeed where, when and who we imagine ourselves to be. It should already be clear that I use the term boundary in a broad range of senses: as practices of spatiotemporal differentiation; as geographical or territorial borders; as delimitations of socio-cultural norms and claims to citizenship through stipulations of legal and illegal status; as historically, culturally and socially specific procedures through which the modern world has learnt to draw the line, both subjectively and objectively, not least in designating what counts as objectivity and subjectivity; as post-Kantian accounts of the conditional – delimited, and thus critical – character of knowledge as the necessary but ultimately ungrounded ground of political freedom, equality, security and authority; and as practices of discrimination that work simultaneously as claims about spatiotemporal crisis and the possibilities of critique and political engagement. In political analysis, at least, boundaries have come to be known most extensively in geographical and legal terms, as borders and limits. This seems to me to be a very restricted range of possibilities. Consequently, these essays examine boundaries as sites of often intense political practice on many dimensions: as practices of connection quite as much as practices of distinction, and as practices of conceptualization and principle quite as much as practices of tangible materiality. Above all, these essays are concerned to engage with and disrupt influential attempts to analyse contemporary political problems on the basis of dualistic assumptions affirming very sharp differences between here and there, now and then, us and them, and even cause and effect. They do so in order to affirm much

Despite all critique


richer patterns of connection, complementarity, mutual production, recognition, transgression, classification, negotiation, antagonism, aporia, exception and violence – patterns that work in temporal as well as in spatial articulations. Many of these patterns are already well known. As Thomas Hobbes once remarked in relation to law, ‘hedges are set, not to stop travellers, but to keep them in the way’.1 As many histories will attest, frontiers have had a regular habit of turning into crossroads.2 Like skin, the sea shore and the far horizon, boundaries are often very busy places, perhaps marginal in some senses but certainly not in others. Yet while many familiar patterns in many different contexts might help us to resist the idea that boundaries simply divide spaces and times into two, it is also wise to expect the unexpected. This is especially the case given the recent popularity of literatures claiming that boundaries are either fixed in place for the foreseeable future or are simply disappearing into thin air: claims that simply mimic the conceptualization of boundaries in radically dualistic terms as markers of presence or absence. The idea that boundaries connect as well as distinguish is especially well established; good fences make good neighbours, as it is said. The exception confirms the rule. The self comes to know itself, and to be recognized as a self, by recognizing other selves. It is nevertheless an idea that is dramatically at odds with many influential narratives about boundaries in many settings, and not least in the categorial structures shaping scholarly claims to knowledge about politics as well as in doctrinal claims about individualism and nationalism. There are many kinds of boundaries. They do many different things. Nevertheless, this diversity is regularly reduced to a more standardized procedure, to a more or less geometrical or topological template, especially where claims about commonality, standardization and similarity are distinguished from claims about diversity and plurality. This is partly why these essays tend to focus more on concepts and principles than on empirical material; that is, on the highly consequential principles and concepts at work within what can seem to be rather mundane phenomena. Boundaries work not least as practices distinguishing concepts, but are themselves complex and contestable concepts, often with profoundly practical implications for the ways we construct political orders of both commonality and diversity. If boundaries distinguishing claims about commonality and diversity are reduced to a singular template, it becomes very difficult to imagine politics as a practice of both commonality and diversity in any other way. Many contemporary thinkers have urged us to think about politics in more universalistic terms. Others urge us to think about less constrained – more heterogeneous – forms of diversity and pluralism. I tend to be sympathetic in principle in both cases. Yet neither project seems likely to get very far, certainly in political terms, without attending to the relations – and thus boundaries – through which we have learnt to reconcile competing claims to both unity and diversity. In any case, most of what is said here is certainly open to elaboration and reinterpretation through more historically, sociologically and empirically oriented procedures; it is also open to even more abstract (mathematical and ontological) accounts of concepts and principles than I tend to make explicit.3 I am fairly conscious of having written about boundaries from a position that is itself grounded within a

4 Despite all critique

boundary, not only between the sociologically, genealogically or geographically concrete and the ontologically abstract but also between the great constitutive oppositions – finite/infinite, immanent/transcendent, being/becoming, one/many, subject/object – that have shaped modern accounts of what it means to think about boundaries. This is why I am ultimately more interested in politics than in either sociology or ontology while recognizing that what we have come to know as politics has been constituted both by social forces and by historically contingent though very slowly shifting ontological principles. Some boundaries permit very little connection. Some walls are almost impermeable. Clear decisions to decide an exception or suspend a law are sometimes taken. Sometimes escape is impossible. Sometimes one is forced out. Sometimes both entrapment and exclusion induce dreams of greener pastures in some other place or some other time. For the most part, however, boundaries both drive apart and bring together, even include in the very act of exclusion and exclude through practices of inclusion. Analytical categories that presume that boundaries only divide must reproduce systematically distorted accounts of how modern political life is organized and how it is sustained. Unfortunately, systematic distortion has become normalized to the point that presumptions of a sharp dualism, a permanent state of rupture and exception, have been treated much too often as the basic political reality from which analysis, and hopes for some sort of alternative politics, must begin. This is especially the case with relations between individuals and states, between states and states, between states and a structural relationship among states, and between that structured relationship and whatever lies beyond. As a consequence, many traditions of political analysis and practice have been encouraged to naturalize not only radical forms of individualism and nationalism but also claims that the only acceptable forms of human being are those defined within and by the borders and legal jurisdictions of an international order of modern states. This is an order that affirms a specific understanding of what it means to speak about ‘man’, about humanity as such, and thus poses questions of far greater reach than is usually presumed within contemporary academic literatures about ‘international relations’. Those literatures sometimes work very diligently to get some kind of scholarly grip on some of the most pressing political problems of our time, but they also work with at least equal diligence to avoid questions about why and how these have become the most pressing questions of our time, and to avoid questioning the boundaries within which the political character of those problems has come to be (incompletely) contained. Many of these essays do speak to tendencies within the specific literatures of international relations theory. However, their primary concern is with a longer history through which modern conceptions of humanity have been split precisely between claims about universality and claims about diversity and plurality, thereby generating the characteristic forms of bounding that are taken more or less for granted in theories of international relations; taken for granted, that is, except when the adequacy of an internationally organized political order is subject to radical

Despite all critique


criticism or to dramatic crisis and transformation in that order. In either case, theories of international relations then tend to switch from highly pragmatic and policyoriented orientations to more speculative modes invoking macro-histories and ambitious philosophical principles. This is one of the reasons why portraits of international relations theory in terms of a monolithic ‘mainstream’ are fairly misleading guides to a multidisciplinary field that may conform to stereotype in many privileged institutions but is often difficult to identify elsewhere. This is also why I have tended to examine those theories as highly suggestive expressions, even symptoms, of what it means to engage in politics given characteristically modern refusals of both theocratic and imperial forms of authority and hierarchical subordination. It also explains why the boundaries I have in mind involve those distinguishing individual subjects from states and states from an international system of states in principle before I engage with the boundaries of specific subjects, states or the international system. Naturalizations of political boundaries are perhaps most pervasive in assumptions about the possibility of comparison across political orders: across the specific sites of citizenship that are supposed to add up to an all-encompassing and internationalized humanity. While it may be the case that all knowledge is comparative in some way, it is certainly not the case that the categories of comparison are simply given. Comparison may well be a necessary condition of any claim to knowledge but is always contingent upon the politics of its original ground and logical procedure. We have known this at least since Aristotle shifted, over the course of a few chapters, from a naturalistic account of the city to a classification of political regimes that were distinctly human creations.4 This was a subtle but important shift, one that made his categories of classification disturbingly unstable in the face of empirical observations and social forces. Contemporary categories of comparison seem susceptible to similar or perhaps even more consequential destabilizations, and not least in relation to the presumption of categories affirming possibilities for statist citizenships within that internationalized humanity.5 Naturalizations also shape the meaning of many of the core concepts of political, social and cultural analysis, including concepts of the political, the social and the cultural that tend to impose peaceful unities upon seething practices.6 Divide and know has long been a mantra of atomistic and analytical epistemologies, but it is not always helpful when trying to understand political practices of division, or of founding, or of limitation, or the forms of political authority that both constitute and are constituted by such practices. Naturalizations have been expressed with especially telling effect in the translation of profound antagonisms between individuals, states and an international order of states into discrete ‘levels’ on a hierarchical scale: in the separation of each of these three expressions of modern subjectivity into distinct orders subject to the subordination of small to large and plurality to unity. This is the ubiquitous ‘levels of analysis’ schematic that has mapped the default ontology not only of most theories of international relations but of the social sciences more generally for a very long time. In this case, conflicts between competing claims to sovereign authority

6 Despite all critique

(between popular sovereignty and state sovereignty, between state sovereignty and the sovereign necessities imposed by systematic relations among states) have been subjected to methodological demands for analyses within just one (even if pluralistic) form of sovereign authority.7 This has been a particularly effective strategy for restabilizing dangerously fragile categories, like sovereignty and subjectivity, as well as for avoiding ontological, epistemological and axiological disputes through demands for methodological orthodoxy. With such boundaries firmly in place, one would scarcely think that claims to sovereign authority are distributed along that scale, from low to high – from many people to many peoples to people as such – generating highly consequential and still unresolved struggles over the location of supreme political authority in the process; or even see anything odd about the reorientation of a political order predicated on claims to liberty among more or less equal subjects into a vertical order of hierarchical subordination. One would scarcely attribute significance to most of the substantive processes of modern political life either, especially those that have been distributed among a broad field of other categories, of economy, society and culture, of class, race and gender, of law, ethics and legitimacy, or of ecologies, geologies and climatologies, to take just some of the most obvious. It is, after all, much easier to reduce conceptual multiplicities to generalizing formulas; about ‘power’, for example, or ‘values’, or an eternal relation between the two – a bordering inviting a decision to choose one way or the other. Such has indeed been a familiar strategy of depoliticization at work within scholarly disciplines claiming authoritative knowledge about contemporary politics. Naturalizations of boundaries have been remarkably influential in defining where politics must be, what it must be, what kinds of human agency should be encouraged to participate, and what kind of knowledge claims should be taken seriously. They work in temporal terms, affirming specific accounts of origin and history; in spatial terms, affirming specific accounts of territoriality and jurisdiction; and in terms of cosmological and theological concepts of higher and lower, bigger and smaller, proximity to the infinite or transcendental heavens and the immanent finitudes of earthly ground. Moreover, it is certainly unwise to underestimate the degree to which cartographies of higher and lower still shape our understandings of now and then, and here and there, and thus to be citizen, or human, or somehow both at once, especially given that most of us are now more or less aware that we live on a spherical planet rather than a flat plane. Still, these definitions are spatiotemporally contingent, and they rest upon claims about boundaries that are very difficult – perhaps impossible – to sustain either theoretically or empirically, whatever their undoubted political popularity, methodological convenience or conceptual elegance. Of course, some forms of common sense have long insisted that there is something odd – impractical as a matter of everyday existence, even inhuman as a matter of philosophical anthropology – about the force of such sharply dualist versions of common sense. But it is also clear that a preference for sharp separations, for logics of either/or, friend and enemy, and even saved and damned, have a lot to do with the very high value that has come to be placed on modern principles of self-identity,

Despite all critique


self-determination and the autonomy of independent subjects, not all of them liberal. To speak of boundaries as sites of connection as well as distinction is to risk undermining such principles, with clear implications for the way competing claims about what it means to be a citizen or a human being have shaped modern political ideals and practices for a very long time; and clear implications also for our understanding of distinctions between those who try to shape themselves through principles of self-determination and those who experience human possibilities in some other ways. This risk has long been felt whenever claims are made about the primacy of our social being, or about the agonistic even if not necessarily antagonistic relation between popular sovereignty and state sovereignty, or about the status of humans as political animals, as Aristotle would have it, even if such affirmations of social being are susceptible to their own versions of radical dualism when political communities manage to draw sharp distinctions between themselves and other communities.8 The risk is now felt increasingly in response to claims about our shared fate on a fragile planet as well as about the inadequacy of even the most socially minded conceptions of international interdependence – claims that are nevertheless met in many places with ever more radical assertions of solipsism and self-righteous retreats to the sharpest of boundaries, of many kinds. Yet even where principles of self-determining subjectivity and autonomy are defended most strenuously, connection is a necessary condition of independence as well as interdependence, of subjectivity as well as intersubjectivity. One may pretend otherwise, and not only on ideological grounds; methodological convenience and the institutional demands of scholarly disciplines are often quite sufficient. Indeed, many ideologies, disciplines and methodologies have made it extremely difficult to engage with the most basic assumptions of modern political life because the external (and thus internal) conditions of possibility of any coming into being, in principle as well as in practice, are miraculously erased from consideration. They have also made it very difficult to ask questions about any future political possibility without falling back into self-defeating clichés predicated on a mapping of a modern world divided into distinct spatiotemporal realms of autonomous subjectivity that may or may not be desirable, and open to formalization as political principle and strategy of emancipation, but are certainly at odds with the relational necessities of human existence.

Man and/or world Despite arising from specific occasions and provocations, these essays articulate attempts to work through three closely related conceptual arenas that I have tried to address in three previous books. Sometimes they work as rough sketches for ideas that receive more systematic treatment in these books. Sometimes they develop ideas that find only passing mention in them. The first, One World/Many Worlds (1988), sought to make sense of what might be at stake for political practices seeking to achieve some other understanding of

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relations between universality and particularity than have come to be expressed in prevailing narratives about statist and international alternatives.9 Its basic argument is that it is unhelpful to assume that one can solve an antagonism between claims to universality and claims to particularity (or between global and local, or international and state, or cosmopolis and polis) by opting for one value over the other: that leaping from one side of a boundary does not eradicate the boundary, any more than choosing to be either a human being in general or a citizen in particular eradicates the dilemmas of conflicted subjectivity that lie at the heart of modern accounts of political necessity and possibility. Consequently, the argument went, it is possible to interpret the struggles of many social movements as torn between opportunities for political innovation (precisely as movements, and as social forces that are marginalized in conventional accounts of politics) and familiar reproductions of conventional accounts of statist, international and territorialized necessities. The interesting conceptual dilemmas confronting various kinds of activism in relation to peace, environment, gender, social justice, human rights and so on, I argued, converge on questions about where and therefore what we take politics to be, and thus on questions about what it means to do politics differently: about what it might mean to claim that some social movements are somehow ‘critical’ – a term that became more and more difficult to define as the analysis proceeded, especially as I tried to reconcile experiences arising from very different parts of the world, and now seems more perplexing than ever. Moreover, to the extent that many such movements opted for a shift towards universality because they rightly identified many of the negative consequences of a political order torn between statist citizens and internationalized humans, they were likely to promote alternatives risking either imperial pretention (one world) and/or a new set of distinctions (and potentially new boundaries of some kind) between acceptable and unacceptable forms of human being (two worlds). Contemporary evidence of new and quite striking forms of inequality, and especially of its apparent legitimacy in many places, is no doubt relevant to that two-world option.10 By contrast, a politics of connection, as I called it, points to the need for rather different understandings of commonality and differentiation (the one world/many worlds option that demands a politics of spatiotemporal relationality, and thus some other conceptions of universality and heterogeneity, rather than yet more replays of a choice between one and many framed in either international or imperial terms). Despite ample empirical evidence of novel social, economic and technical relations and connections, it remains far from clear what they might mean politically despite hopeful claims about cosmopolitan ethics or global civil society, and despite far more dramatic claims about the prospects for ‘man’ on a massively contested planet. The second book, Inside/Outside (1993), focused more specifically on the boundary between the state and the international system.11 It did so primarily by counterposing various theoretical debates within the Anglo-American discipline of international relations with longer traditions of political theory. Despite regular citation as a convenient source examining two different realms of political analysis, the argument insists on the impossibility of any such simple distinction. However, the precise

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character of this particular boundary was left open, partly because I had been thinking more about debates over epistemologies of social science than about the relation between state law and international law, and partly because it was all too easy to close the problem down by affirming various versions of binary logic that did not seem quite right to me. Sometimes the book examined assumptions about an underlying continuity, especially in relation to claims about a unity of scientific method. Sometimes it examined claims about sharp differentiation, especially in relation to concepts of democracy, security and claims about time and historical change. Either way, the analysis sought to disturb the comforts of disciplinary conventions that relied on a systematic disinterest in the boundary that enabled their conventions and their comforts, and to open up questions about the boundary politics that force us to examine and reaffirm specific accounts of politics by telling us where and what it is, and where and what it is not. A concern with the relationship between claims to citizenship and claims to humanity is palpable throughout the analysis but is framed more explicitly in relation to the figures of Machiavelli, Hobbes and Kant and their systematic appropriation and often startling distortion by the architects of disciplinary fortresses. The primary lessons that were driven home for me while working on that book were that it was Kant rather than either Machiavelli or Hobbes who should be regarded as the key canonical theorist of international relations, and that Kant was a theorist of antimonies and contradictions rather than of simple dualisms. Both lessons confirmed my existing suspicions that the concepts shaping much of the prevailing theoretical literature on international relations must be systematically incoherent in scholarly terms in order to be so effective politically. Indeed, in many respects it is more useful to try to appreciate – rather than simply dismiss – theories of international relations as an instructively successful political project that has developed a long-term immunity to critical commentary. The third book, After the Globe, Before the World (2010), shifted from the boundary between state and international, and thus the contradiction between claims to particular citizenships and claims to a generalized humanity, to the boundary between the modern international and the world that lies somewhere beyond.12 It sought to rework the concerns of the first two by considering the highly problematic status of that boundary, which can easily be taken for granted (still the prevailing condition of possibility for contemporary political analysis) but also critically engaged as the necessary condition of thinking about the possibilities and limits of a political order torn between statist citizenships and an internationalized humanity. Indeed, its fairly ambitious and ultimately quite daunting claim is that it is simply not possible to find alternatives to the forms of a modern political order torn between citizenships and humanity without also engaging with the prior rift between ‘man’ and ‘world’ that enabled modern accounts of subjectivity, both macro and micro. The modern international, that is to say, expresses a particular figure of ‘man’,13 and there is little sense in assuming that one can find alternatives to the modern international without acknowledging that this must imply potentially dramatic

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challenges to prevailing concepts of human subjectivity, not to say to the cherished assumptions of modern liberalism and theories of democracy. Moreover, the outer limit of the modern international also marks the limit of what since Kant has been taken as a modern world within which it might be possible to distinguish dogma from critique, and thus a limit at which dogma and critique become more difficult to distinguish, especially at moments of supposed crisis.14 Fairly predictably, all three books, like these essays, express many of the frustrations that must arise from any attempt to think politically in relation to ‘the world’ given that both the modern sovereign nation-state and the figure ‘man’, and thus of the modern individualized human subject, were constituted historically against any allencompassing account of the world as such.15 However else we might now give meaning to claims about ‘the modern world’, it is difficult to avoid the specific shaping of human subjectivity as a distinctive distancing of man from world and various attempts to internalize that which has been distanced, but on a scale that promises to move back from man to world but can never reach its destination without calling the modern concept of man, and humanity, into very serious question. With Machiavelli and Descartes, and much before Nietzsche, the lines had been cut, though never cleanly, nominalism came to define new realities, and politics among orders of self-regarding subjects required new myths of origin and delimitation. God may have been dead, or not, but the angels no longer offered mediation; soldiers and diplomats would have to do the job instead. Thus natural law has given way to positive law, a law fit for human freedom from claims to natural necessity, and thus fit to be the possibility condition for many other conceptions of freedom within a secularized and spatiotemporally differentiated political order. At least, this is the reading of the modern world that has come to be affirmed in many European and American contexts, and has shaped what are arguably still the most influential forms of political and international theory: forms that many people may prefer neither to affirm nor deny but which are in any case open to ever more insistent challenge from many directions. It still remains an open question whether attempts to resist this reading of the modern world offer something other than the constitutive figure of modern man to ground some alternative understanding of politics or simply replay familiar negations that ultimately affirm a pattern of affirmation and negation. Reading the spatiotemporal categories of modern politics as a response to this conception of human subjectivity, which is then split on a scalar order from individual to state to international system, with each moment on the scale being subject either to aporetic confrontations with other moments (the ‘modern’ option) or a reversion to some more vertically structured hierarchy (the ‘imperial’ or ‘medieval’ option), it became possible for me to make more sense of what has been at stake in the seemingly eternal opposition between political realism and political idealism (both in multiple versions, to the point that the debates about it often lost all logical coherence) that has long organized scholarly claims about the modern international order. For while it has become very difficult to avoid claims that political realism is the only reliable tradition through which to think about international relations, it is a tradition (or

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conflation of very different traditions) that is generally dependent on a prior set of normative ideals and commitments: the idealization of the claims to individual, national and international subjectivity that in turn generate various claims about political realism as a way of facing up to the consequences of those ideals. Affirming a distinction between man and world (or between subject and object, as the prevailing epistemological formulations would have it), claims about modern subjectivity, both individual and collective, presume the possibility of internalization, of subjectivization, of bringing the world as it may be into the world knowable by subjects who claim to know the world in a particular way: that is, into the world in which knowledge is understood to be a problem rather than a given, to be something more than mere dogma or a naive submission to sensation. What is left outside is then a matter of varying degrees of scepticism about both the ultimately unknowable noumenon (to invoke the legacy of Kantian formulations) and the ultimately irreconcilable enemy, to invoke the (also partly Kantian) formulations of Carl Schmitt. The difficulty in both cases comes with the possibility of affirming both claims to subjectivity internally and connection to objects and others externally. The status of claims about freedom and rationality are at stake in both cases. So not all claims to a political realism are trivial; on the contrary, they certainly express a lot more than claims about some universal struggle for power, or demonstrate that a wide array of inconsistent theorizations can huddle together under a single label without too many people noticing. They speak precisely to claims about the primacy or even necessity of some very specific ideals, sometimes in the many flavours of modern secularism but sometimes in more or less explicitly theological terms. But such claims are necessarily trivialized when not considered as the expression of a normative commitment and especially if the alternative to it is said to be some kind of idealism or utopianism.16 In the same way, claims to knowledge about politics are necessarily trivialized if no connection is made between the problematic status of relations between claims to subjectivity and the consequent constructions of an external world in modern accounts of both knowledge and politics. Dogmatism has been all too common on both fronts. It is in any case unhelpful to take the easy route of criticizing often very confused claims about political realism without criticizing the claims about modern political subjectivities to which political realisms claim to respond. Moreover, it is a rather more daunting task to be critical of claims about political subjectivity that are usually articulated as signs of emancipation and self-determination than to keep complaining about the way political realists insist on the perhaps lamentable but nevertheless necessary legitimacy of mass violence. The necessity of some kind of violence, of rupture and loss, of the tragedy that must shadow modern claims to enlightenment and freedom, is already written into claims about modern subjectivity and their necessary limits in space and in time. Machiavelli already understood this very well, and it is to his credit that he also recognized that a liberty grounded on gratuitous or self-righteous violence was not liberty at all, and is unlikely to be remembered with anything but contempt. On this basis, we certainly have a lot to be contemptuous about.

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So not only is it necessary to refuse the invitation to choose between political realism and political idealism and then to get a grip on their historical and conceptual unity as a mutual production, but also to reverse the polarity and come to terms with the many ways in which the modern international, like the modern state, affirms a specific array of ideals that work within limits, borders and other boundaries, that must risk violence when the line is drawn. Both Hobbes and Kant are worth extensive consideration in this context, but certainly not as exemplars of the claims to realism and idealism that have been made in their name. Consequently, all these essays engage in some way with the constitutive boundaries between man and world, citizen and human, immanence and transcendence, finitude and infinity, being and becoming, and so on, that guarantee enormous difficulties whenever concepts of politics, and especially concepts of ‘the political’, are placed into conjunction with concepts of ‘the world’. In this respect, some readers will doubtless recognize an underlying concern with the political consequences of categorical structures associated especially with Galilean, Cartesian, Hobbesian, Newtonian and Kantian formulations in particular, and regret a lack of concern with post-Kantian attempts to overcome such categories. This is largely because I am more concerned to clarify questions that still seem intractable than to endorse familiar but, I believe, deeply problematic answers shaped by teleological, eschatological and linear accounts of a universalizing and profoundly divisive history. These categories should also remind us of the enduring presence of Plato’s fateful accounts of how we must divide the world in order to become what we ought to be, and of the continuing legacies of the regulative boundaries between finite but universal reason affirmed in Euclid’s geometrical postulates, and between the immanent City of Man and the transcendental City of God affirmed by St. Augustine’s understanding of Christian monotheism. I do indeed think that the difficulties and dangers now being expressed in relation to established forms of bounding and delimitation demand some sort of meditation on such sources, among many others, from many places; and that disciplines depending on radically dehistoricized categories affirming a particular account of historical necessity, with theories of international relations having become a fairly extreme case in this respect, will necessarily struggle to make coherent judgements about contemporary political conditions no matter how rigorous their methodological procedures.17 Nevertheless, while there is much to be said for historical perspectives that might permit a greater appreciation of the conceptual legacies of Athens, Jerusalem, Rome and similarly privileged sites in the narratives of modernity, any claim to a world politics that remains so parochial, and so sure about its own authority to speak about the world in which politics works as a negotiation between necessities and possibilities, will soon run out of things to say about challenges that must be engaged now. It will, however, continue to tell us a lot about some enduring claims about how the world of modern politics must be constructed.

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Spatiotemporalities In the broadest possible terms, then, these essays engage with a particular spatiotemporal articulation of political subjectivities and the boundaries that enable, delimit and reproduce that historically specific and also historically variable articulation. They do so within a limited moment of historical experience, one that has been characterized by many claims about historical and structural change, some plausible, none especially convincing. They also do so from a limited place within that historical experience, one traced in the final more biographical chapter. The sequence begins with an essay written in the midst of the Cold War. It articulates an attempt to interrogate the geopolitical cartographies, popular in that era, distinguishing the modern West from some unmodern or even unspecifiable other. Though thoroughly dated in many respects, I include it here because it struggles to articulate problems that provoke many of the subsequent books and essays, most written decades later. Picking up on the obvious discrepancy between the universalizing pretensions of most theories of international relations and the parochial origins (and pervasively colonial assumptions) of those theories, it develops a commentary on the limits of various attempts to overcome the consequent ethnocentrisms and orientalisms that had shaped such theories. It highlights the degree to which claims to knowledge about others tend to tell us more about those making such claims than about the objects of such claims, even where the intention is to be highly critical of colonial assumptions. This is a well-known problem of interpretive horizons, and is familiar to anthropologists, historians, post-colonial critics and theorists of interpretation more generally.18 While knowledge across such horizons may not be precluded, the fairly rigid categorizations of the Cold War era certainly enabled very strong objectifications of subjects deemed to be outside the limits of an acceptably modern world. These categorizations and objectivizations may have become less rigid and less dependent on geographical markers but they retain considerable force in contemporary accounts of what counts as an acceptable and unacceptable human being and politically authorized citizen. In the first instance, therefore, the essay points to the need for immanent rather than transcendental critique of the conditions under which theories of international relations could get away with various claims to universality and political wisdom. This is where I first began to think about immanent critique as a ‘postcolonial’ enterprise, though in a manner that sits in awkward relation to versions of postcolonialism seeking to affirm some other (sometimes essentializing, often nationalizing) claim to identity and subjectivity against the hegemonic grip of colonization. It is also where I came to wonder about how we are supposed to think about the outside of an internationalized political order that claims to be co-extensive with humanity or even the world as such, rather than about the boundary between an order predicated on Europe and the world beyond Europe. These are the boundaries – geographical, legal and much more besides – that I have had in mind in writing all the subsequent essays, even though references to them tend to be more implicit than explicit.

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The sequence then moves partly chronologically and partly so as to pair different treatments of related themes. The essays engage most immediately with various contexts in which modern secular conceptions of political life respond to the split identity of ‘disenchanted’ subjects as both citizen of particular statist jurisdictions and part of a broader humanity: the doubly split identity that has generated competing claims about liberty, equality, security and so on both within statist sites of citizenship and among pluralized claims to an international humanity that is itself split from the world that nevertheless enables its very existence. This is the identity affirmed and sustained by our most familiar forms of bordering and legal delimitation within and between sovereign nation-states: the order that once found exemplary expression in the contradictory codes of the United Nations Charter (a text that may now be counted among the least likely to be consulted by anyone trying to understand contemporary politics) as well as in the disciplinary divisions and analytical categories through which we now struggle to make sense of contemporary politics. It is the identity that has been thrown into question by many contemporary claims that boundaries are now subject to ever more extensive disruption, and to possibly profound spatiotemporal transformations that are likely to reconfigure what it means to speak about man, world and the relations we might enable among us. Responses to contemporary events are more obvious towards the end of the sequence. Even there, however, the primary focus is on political concepts – of liberty, equality, security, democracy, social action, exceptionalism, imperialism, authority and judgement – all of which, I suggest, are caught up in contemporary instabilities in our orchestration of relations between here and there, now and then, and self and other. Together, the essays speak to a now widespread sense of spatiotemporal disorientation that makes it difficult to be sure about where and when politics occurs, and thus about what politics is supposed to be, who is supposed to be involved, and in relation to which world, or worlds.

Boundaries, borders, limits Boundaries have been subjected to extensive explorations by some of the most influential thinkers of our time, and it is difficult to think of many contemporary political controversies or conflicts that do not involve the status of boundaries in some way. Indeed, it would not be entirely outrageous to suggest that while modern political life seems to presume a home in some centred or normalized community, most obviously in some legacy of the classical polis, the most prescient forms of political analysis have tended to look closely at edges and margins: at the foundational moments distinguishing before and after; at the margins where values are calculated and decisions are made; at the framing of representations; at the points at which ethical universals are suspended; at so many sites where friendship, health, legality or the properly human are distinguished from enmity, pathology, illegality, animals, gods or the improperly human. At the very least, we might say, it would be helpful in many scholarly settings to have rather more elaborate and transdisciplinary typologies of the boundary forms that may be identified in contemporary

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political life, as well as a more sustained awareness of the dependence of modern scholarly disciplines on political boundaries that are taken more or less for granted. The essays included here do not add up to anything nearly as systematic in this respect. For the most part, and with some unrectified inconsistencies among the essays, I take boundaries to be the more encompassing and more open term, one that is much closer to a question than a definition. I take claims about borders to refer to forms of bounding that somehow have physical expression, and that are most easily identified in conventionally geographical terms; and claims about limits to refer to phenomena that are closer to nomos, the name, the convention, the legal principle. I am well aware that the meaning of these concepts has varied both within and across times and academic disciplines; this is one of the ways in which the boundaries between academic disciplines seriously constrain our engagements with the politics of boundaries. I am also aware that the latter distinction between borders and limits is especially simplistic. In these essays I use this distinction primarily to insist that it has been too easy to assume that borders and limits must converge at the same place and the same time in order to provide our standard – and always misleading – image of the modern bounded sovereign state. I would rather say that the relationship between borders and limits, between boundaries expressed in geophysical terms and those expressed in apparently abstract juridical terms, with the boundaries of societies and cultures somewhere in between, continues to be as elusive and contentious as any other claim about the relation between physis and nomos. Moreover, under contemporary conditions the ideal of their convergence as key strands guaranteeing the integrity of national societies is becoming less and less persuasive. At the same time, I do not presume that states, nations or boundaries are somehow disappearing, though I certainly think that they are all subject to significant transformations that are difficult to understand. I also think that geographical and legal boundaries in particular are more likely to be proliferating, disaggregating and taking novel spatiotemporal forms than to be either eternally present or imminently absent.19 Beyond this fairly tenuous distinction between borders and limits, however, these essays presume that it is necessary to engage with a broad range of historically and culturally diverse ways of enacting distinctions, discriminations and classifications – other terms I place within the capacious category of boundaries – in order to understand what is at stake in the ways we make sense of boundaries in general and borders and limits in particular. This is not least because the historical and cultural context through which modern political life came to be enclosed within specific forms of geographical bordering and legal limitation was shaped by forms of distinction and discrimination enabling early-modern European engagements with the classical opposition between physis and nomos, especially over the course of the long struggle against essentialist (neo-Aristotelian) forms of philosophical realism, natural law and theologically ordained hierarchies through the articulation of nominalist accounts of reason, secularized law and statist forms of political authority. Sometimes boundaries are interesting because of where and when they are situated. Sometimes they are more interesting because of how they are produced and because of the effects of the specific forms in which they are articulated. Yet while

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these productions and effects are often at work in specific sites at some boundary, at the border, or the limit, or the in-between, they are also at work within whatever is bounded: in the centre as well as the periphery, in relation to the norm as well as to the exception, to the market average as well as to the marginal price, to populations deemed acceptable for inclusion and to those subject to exclusion. Boundaries may seem worthy of specialized attention, but specialized attention is precisely what cannot be given to boundaries, except as a concern with relations between acts of bounding, or bordering, or limitation, and the constitution of what is being bounded, bordered or limited. Boundaries may sometimes constitute an either/or but analyses of boundaries must necessarily refuse to obey the constitution, not least so as to understand the specific conditions under which radical distinctions and exceptions are sometimes enacted. This is especially the case in the relation between concepts of boundaries and concepts of sovereignty, a relation that is also of particular concern in these essays. Sovereignty is often understood as a concept of the centre, often in terms driven by Max Weber’s definition of the state as a monopoly of power and authority. The present essays tend to pursue the contrary case: that modern forms of state sovereignty appear to be centred only as a consequence of sovereign practices of temporal origination and spatial limitation that seem to produce a middle ground on which a sovereign centre might appear to be at home. This is more or less why I think Hobbes is such an effective authorizer of what must count as sovereign authority, and thus of how figures like Weber must define the state, even if they do so in more sociologically and historically sensitive terms. It is also why the primary methodological maxim followed here has been that in order to understand how boundaries work it is wise to pay attention to what happens in the middle, between boundaries, within norms rather than at the borders, or the limits, or the margins, or moments of exception: to how politics works in relation to practices enacted within lines that seem merely to demarcate between practices at work in some other place or some other time. One example of this that reappears with some regularity in these essays concerns the degree to which much of the recent literature on the politics of boundaries is framed in relation to concepts of security that pay very little attention to what is being secured, as if security is a principle of equal value to liberty, for example, just one value in a market of values rather than a limit or condition of possibility for liberty. To specialize in the analysis of security alone is necessarily to convert a relationship, and profound agonism among competing principles, into a singular value around which dogmatisms must thrive; as they do. The degree to which we are now encouraged to think about the relations between liberty and security as a ‘balance’ says a lot about how we are encouraged to think about boundaries in the most simple-minded and depoliticized fashion; and how we oversimplify the politics of boundaries says a lot about how we surrender to very dangerous accounts of the necessities of security, and of who is to be secured from whom.20 From the line distinguishing here from there to the line distinguishing us from them to the line distinguishing one concept or category or state of being from

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another, boundaries spell trouble. They spell trouble not because they are somehow just a fading memory. Any serious account of contemporary political borders, for example, requires engagement with ever more complex and differentiating systems of exit, entry, data collection, statistical calculation and multiple forms of surveillance, and in places that may be far removed from any official territorial demarcation. Any attempt to understand contemporary patterns of limits in legal jurisdiction must engage with practices of sovereignty that Hobbes would probably refuse to accept as sovereign. And to try to make sense of boundaries in the context of contemporary financial flows, information technologies, networks of many kinds and a privileging of temporalities over spatialities in many settings, is not for the faint of heart or the empirically naive. At the same time, many long-established borders retain much of their force, even if for some people more than for others. Many communities still try to put up walls so as to draw clear lines of demarcation between themselves and others. Boundaries remain with us, not least in ways that tell us what it means to invoke an us, or a them, or a here and there, or a now and then, but not only in the forms and practices that have become familiar in our geographies, legal codes, traditions of political thought or cultural practices. While states may defend their borders with renewed vigilance, no one trying to understand how they enact their claims to security in relation to contemporary patterns of terror or networks of surveillance, or engage with circulations of capital or articulations of corporate power, is going to spend all their time looking at maps of territorial jurisdiction. Much the same may be said in relation to law, and not least about the canonical distinction between domestic and international law given the complexities of the movements of peoples and the multiple jurisdictions in which people live and make claims about citizenships, human rights and some sort of humanity. Cartographers may now be able to work with many fancy gadgets, but the political imagination necessary to interpret the phenomena they describe offers a very different array of challenges.

The modern international These essays tend to begin with problems and literatures usually identified by the term international relations, or ‘the modern international’ as I have come to prefer, both as a pairing with ‘the modern state’ and to resist the idea that the state is the proper home of politics and the international a realm of mere relations. From the point of view of the classical legacies of Plato and Aristotle, it certainly makes more sense to think about politics as a practice or ambition contained within something like a polis; and this is clearly the common sense of what we have come to know through the canonical traditions of political theory. Looking at the problems to which theorists of political life should be responding now, however, it is not easy to see how they can, or ever could be engaged, theoretically or empirically, within the terms given by singularized sovereignties, nations or states. In fairly elementary theoretical terms, the internalities of statist politics, like all modern practices of subjectivity and subjectivization, presume correlative practices

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of externalization and objectification. Subjectivities presume objectivities, or perhaps intersubjectivities, depending on the practices of internalization and externalization that are mobilized, and on the boundaries mediating and generating these practices. Moreover, given the scalar order expressed by modern practices of subjectivity and subjectification, they tend to presume the externalization of something larger, something closer to, even if never quite co-extensive with the world that remains beyond: an international system, or perhaps an international society, or perhaps a world system, or perhaps something altogether too complicated to identify through such elegantly unitary concepts, especially when economy or capitalism are added to the list. And as the scale becomes larger, or smaller, practices of internalization and externalization are likely to slip from horizontally orchestrated distributions of more or less equal subjects to vertically orchestrated distributions of higher and lower. With the levels of analysis classification of modern political ontologies, both of these possibilities are expressed simultaneously: a vertical scale in three orders (individuals, national collectives and an international collective of collectives); and a horizontal scale within each order (the equality condition shaping claims about an international anarchy, and hegemonies, as well as claims about individuals and the political practices of states). What is lost, of course, is not only the contestation of claims to sovereignty by the people, the state and the international, but also the degree to which boundaries work in both horizontal and vertical dimensions; work, that is, to mediate between relations of internality and externality and relations of superiority and inferiority, in ways that speak to the fragile relation between principles of liberty and equality that are supposed to be the core values of modern political life. In historical terms, the externality of the modern state might be specified in relation to collapsing empires and competing colonialisms, to economies, societies and civilizations of many kinds. In empirical terms, the modern world is clearly a complicated place, and its multidimensional relations with other worlds are certainly sufficient to call the very idea of a distinctively modern world into serious question. In principle, however, and thus read in terms of the conjectural or retrospective histories that ‘must’ have happened given where and when we find ourselves now (that is, in the kind of histories that often appeal to theorists of international relations but which tend to drive most historians to distraction) this externality must have been more specifically international in some more clearly definable sense. This is what makes historical claims about the Treaty of Westphalia or even the Melian Dialogue work as affirmations of an international order that has some kind of ahistorical necessity: that is, a necessity requiring structural rather than historical analysis. More to the point here, that the state may have made its historical appearance some time before the modern international was first identified does not necessarily mean that the state has any principled or logical priority over the international. Read in terms of legal limits especially, the relationship between state law and international law is necessarily aporetic, a matter of negotiation when things go well or a decision to declare war when things go badly. Codified and professionalized in

Despite all critique 19

disciplinary terms, the international may be taken as a more or less autonomous ground enabling a relatively limited repertoire of more or less structuralist analyses; of a balance of power in an anarchical order, for example, or a strategic calculation of interests and capacities. In other traditions, more historically and legally oriented perhaps, the crucial structural moment, or historically variable site of limitations, lies precisely within the boundary expressing an antagonism of principle between the sovereign claims of nation-states and the sovereign claims of an international system of states. This is why it is always so unhelpful to keep returning to accounts of modern sovereignty as a singularity, whether in the name of Thomas Hobbes or Carl Schmitt, rather than as a claim to a singular authority that is contested by people, states and a system of states, all of which both presume and constitute each other.21 It may sometimes be useful to take boundaries for granted, but probably not when the boundaries in question are sites of profoundly antagonistic relations between competing claims to sovereignty. Nevertheless, political and international theorists do tend to be comfortable working on either side of the boundary between state law and international law, in a way that would seem absurd to most analysts considering relations between the state and ‘the people’, or ‘civil society’ or ‘the national’. As with those relations, it is the continuity and discontinuity between state law and international law, between the claims of particular forms of citizenship and the claims of a generalized expression of humanity, that need to be considered before engaging with claims about their radical disjuncture. The prevailing tendency is to presume a radical rupture, to organize modes of analysis on terms given by the rupture, and then perhaps to seek some mediation between the consequent extremes of domestic society and international anarchy (or political theory and international political theory), or to presume the possibility of exporting principles and practices of statist domestication to the wilds of international anarchy. Yet as a principled claim about where and what political life must be (given the constitutive distinction between man and world, and then between man and citizen within the spatiotemporal orders of modernity), the statist parochialism of political theory has been enabled precisely by the capacity of the modern international to secure, although insecurely, a realm of sovereign/national/statist self-determination within which, and below which, one might imagine that modern politics is indeed heir to the classical polis. Two widespread analytical tendencies often take flight from this form of political imagination. Taking the state to be the singular centre of modern political life, one may aspire to move out of the state into the world as such, to exchange particularity for universality, a politics of statist citizenships for a politics of cosmopolitan humanity, or perhaps for a new kind of planetary empire; in any case, to move up the scale in search of the world as such. As with the concept of ‘man’ as a creature located, in Pascal’s famous image, midway between the infinitely large and the infinitely small, the state is effectively understood as a form that expresses a middle ground between grand universals and micro-particularities: that has absorbed empires and the heavens from

20 Despite all critique

above and cities and the earth from below. Consequently, one may imagine alternative forms of politics by refusing monopolistic claims to a middle ground, to aspire to something more global, or more local, or perhaps both. A similar move can also be made in relation to the modern international. Again the state is presumed to be disappearing, or in some versions to be ever more an effect of something that has already achieved a singular political order of humanity, usually in relation to the universalizing logic of capitalism understood, in the final instance, in economic terms, though sometimes to a now universalized modernity understood in more cultural terms.22 In this case, claims about globalization tend to be understood in relation to further elaborations of forms of enclosure and domestication already achieved in the early-modern European era rather than as a more recent challenge to the international order that has been more or less in place since that early-modern era. Part of what is at stake, here, of course, are long-standing controversies over the interpretation of modern history, not least in relation to presumptions about the primacy of economic wealth or state law as logics of determination. And part of what is at stake in the overwhelming tendency for such debates to split in favour of the political or the economic, of course, is the boundary erected between the two most influential secular monotheisms struggling to respond to the death of a more transcendentally conceived deity. These tendencies to identify ultimate causation and authority in states or economies share a reluctance to engage with the modern international. This may be because so many scholarly traditions are resolutely statist; or because it is so easy to speak of ‘Europe’ or ‘America’ simultaneously in statist and imperial terms; or because Anglo-American theories of international relations are too conceptually incoherent to take seriously; or because those theories have been generated within a discipline of political science dominated by narratives about states; or because the modern international, like the modern state, can be read as a mere epiphenomenon of a determining economic or cultural logic; or even because the phenomena captured by claims about the modern international seem so depressing. Whatever the explanation, to ignore the modern international is to underestimate the challenge of finding alternatives to established forms of political life, or even of offering a convincing account of what that challenge involves. To the contrary, these essays assume that modern forms of politics, while certainly thinkable in Pascalian terms, as caught between scalar finitudes, are, among other things, simultaneously statist and international, internal and external, and that they are subject to the contradictions, antagonisms, negotiations, aporias and violent eruptions that must be generated at the boundaries where the modern state meets the modern international, where finite universalities meet finite particularities, and attachments to citizenship meet and often trump attachments to humanity. In general, the analysis is not especially friendly to the established orthodoxies of the Anglo-American discipline of international relations (or indeed to resolutely statist forms of political theory). But it does insist that the modern international poses a range of achievements and problems that need to be engaged no matter how necessary it may be to forget about disciplinary orthodoxies. Many of these

Despite all critique 21

problems and achievements are related to profound antagonisms between claims to citizenship and claims to humanity that have been with us in some form since it became common to believe that saving one’s city might be a higher priority than saving one’s soul. Modern political boundaries both express and reproduce a particular way of responding to those antagonisms through practices of internalization and externalization that are always shadowed by possibilities of hierarchical subordination. To simply divide internal and external, or aspire to hierarchical subordination as a potential solution to problems generated by statist and international forms of internality and externality, is effectively to replace profound antagonisms with a set of binary answers to questions that are scarcely remembered. In any case, to try to find some alternative to the modern state and the modern international is still to encounter a figure of the modern subject – ‘man’ – that might imagine universality and humanity for itself but not that this figure has been able to reinsert itself back into the world, or worlds, from which it has declared independence. In Kantian terms, the modern subject may have moved closer to a particular version of a universal moral law, but not so close that the gaps between phenomenon and noumenon or between human and transcendental reason – boundaries that enabled the modern subject to identify possibilities for freedom, for self-determined maturity, between human reason and the phenomena interpreted by human reason – could be overcome without losing the meaning of either freedom or the universal moral law. Modern subjectivity affirms a politics of immanence and finitude, no matter how much it is tempted to reach out beyond its necessary limitations. In a similar manner, between them, and in regulative principle even if not in practice, the modern state and modern international affirm a particular understanding of modern man as both universal and particular, both human being and statist citizen, and thus as capable of securing both liberty and equality; but simultaneously affirm an arrangement that is structured by particular kinds of boundaries, by borders, and by the antagonistic but mutually productive limits of state law and international law, neither of which yields to some other law that transcends their limits. Trouble often breaks out at and within the antagonistic but mutually productive boundaries of the modern state and the modern international, leading many people to think, probably correctly, that the entire arrangement cannot be sustained. However, those boundaries, the geographical borders and principled limits of a specific understanding of the necessities and possibilities of politics, affirm not only sites of trouble but also sites within which pervasive aspirations for emancipation have come to be expressed: aspirations for a world in which claims to a universalizing humanity might be reconciled with at least some degree of human diversity, and on the basis of principles of liberty and equality rather than of hierarchical subordination under some kind of imperium. The obvious difficulty is that while there are many grounds on which to be critical of the whole arrangement when thinking about boundaries as sites of trouble, there are also grounds on which to be more positive when thinking about boundaries as practices for enabling some of the most cherished principles of a politics predicated

22 Despite all critique

on the autonomy of modern subjects. There is little point in being critical of the downside without being equally critical of the supposed upside that requires the downside as both its condition of possibility and its necessary consequence. Moreover, these boundaries are precisely not what they are presumed to be within all too many forms of contemporary political theory and theories of international relations: as merely convenient markers distinguishing between scholarly fields, levels of analytical coherence and more or less naturalized realms of internality and externality. Quite remarkably, given the degree to which so many thinkers since Kant have defined the potentialities of modern subjectivity in terms of a vigilant attention to the limits within which the self-determination of man might be possible, these boundaries have often been treated as merely marginal rather than as constitutive. In effect, political theory has tended to operate (even if very uneasily) under the sign of a statist nationalism (even if this is a nationalism that is sometimes wilfully projected as a universalism). Similarly, theories of international relations tend to default to their ahistorical structuralisms, to theories of deterministic systems in which politics seems to disappear behind the most reductive accounts of power or the most reductively utilitarian accounts of rational calculation. In both cases there is a tacit assumption that political life can be divided into a scalar order of many small individuals, one large international container of humanity, and the state as the convenient middle ground between large and small. In this way, politics can be relocated away from those troublesome sites where individuals meet states and states meet collectivities of states, and political analysis can be organized in distinct discourses, each presuming its own sovereign centre, in the case of political theory, or absence of a central sovereign, in the case of international theory. Many, many scholars try very hard to resist both tendencies, but even with the best of intentions in this respect it is not easy to resist distinctions that have cut so deeply, well beyond the socio-institutional demands of academic practices. They follow fairly directly from treating the most consequential boundaries of modern forms of subjectivity as mere distinctions between things that already exist rather than as complex and constitutive practices enabling modern man to aspire to a particular form of humanity within the world of modern subjects, even if this is a world that is never quite in touch with some other world from which modern subjects have declared a very uneasy independence.

Scalar subjects The questions we pose demand more intense attention than the answers we feel ourselves wanting to give; I take this to be a core principle of both methodology and pedagogy. In the pithy phrases that can sometimes deflate dogmatic pretensions, poor questions will produce poor answers, and no one arguing with fools can expect to be taken seriously beyond the community of fools. Of course, I must immediately add that what counts as a good question, or who counts as a worthy antagonist, leads us to some of the most difficult of all the many puzzles provoked by references to methodology and pedagogy.

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Here again I stand partly with Machiavelli. In The Prince, Machiavelli challenged the eternalist pretensions of his own day: the claim that an act of creation had resulted in a perfect world. Stasis ruled in principle, even if the principle had become a very unreliable guide to practice. Machiavelli named his problem precisely as the possibility of a human creation (albeit an act of creation predicated on memories of times past): the creation of a new city, a project to be enacted precisely in time, amongst both earthly and unearthly contingencies, within a place among other places. This is the heresy of human freedom in time announced, or at least rearticulated in the very first chapter of Machiavelli’s text: in the elegant though empirically dubious classification that fixes his concern with human creativity and virtuosity in time, in the new state. It is a heresy that intensifies a big divide: save your soul, or save your city – later to become fight for a particular understanding of your common humanity or for the citizenship that enables your humanism – but do not assume you can always do both, and learn to respond to the consequences of your newly won modern subjectivity. Clearly, we no longer need to learn how to think of politics in time against a theology of eternity, except, perhaps, in relation to structuralist theories that prefer to ignore time on tenuous methodological grounds: merely to learn how to enact a temporal politics, and aspirations for ‘development’, differently, without the specific spatial containments, institutional virtuosities, teleological trajectories and statistical procedures through which we claim to have tamed fortuna and contingency. The contrary advice – to capture temporal contingency within spatial or structural form, even to reimagine temporality as spatial or structural form, in the manner of Hobbes, Kant, Hegel, Weber and most theories of modern politics, internally and externally – is now profoundly suspect. Indeed, Machiavelli’s basic advice still holds: expect the unexpected; timing is everything. It is advice that still throws up many daunting questions, many concerning the degree to which prevailing understandings of political boundaries, and especially of geographical borders and legal limits, have paid much more attention to spacing than to timing. Theories of the modern international, and especially of the boundaries of the modern international, tell us a lot about what we have come to expect and to take for granted, and about where we expect it to occur, again in principle even if not always in practice. They also tell us about the very good reasons why we have come to expect what we expect, about our reluctance to admit the spatiotemporal contingency of our political inheritances, and about why the modern international still governs the limits within which we think we might find alternatives to it – limits that are merely reinforced by so many claims that we must leave it behind. Consequently, if we want to understand what is at stake in challenging the international, it is not enough to challenge the state-centrism, or nationalism, or pluralistic fragmentation, or anarchy, or political realism in favour of something more encompassing. The international is already more encompassing, indeed the necessary condition of statist pluralism, the finite and immanent universal ground for pluralistic possibility, the condition of possibility for the modern self-determining subject. In effect, we have become all too comfortable complaining about or

24 Despite all critique

accommodating ourselves to the dark side in ways that have blinded us to the dangers of a particular form of light. According to the conventional theorizations of international relations, at least, this light originally came from Europe, and everyone else was eventually ‘brought in’ to the spatiotemporal order as Europe ‘expanded’ to encompass the world. Thus the international affirms a particular philosophy of history quite as much as it does a philosophy of geography; indeed, it affirms a particular – more or less spatialized, linear – philosophy of history, something close to but less ambiguous than Kant’s rather disturbing conception of ‘history with a cosmopolitan intent’,23 as the condition under which we have been able to articulate a particular philosophy of geography. Hence the most basic contradiction expressed by the international – prior to the so-called debates between political realism and political idealism, or between statist nationalism and something more cosmopolitan as the prevailing terminology now prefers – is that it affirms a set of claims about the spatiotemporality of a world generated from within a particular part of that world, and that the only way in which that contradiction can be negotiated is through a claim about history as a process of modernization, of the coming of the entirety of that world into the international, a process of subjectivization that enables a modern world of selfdetermining subjects. This is what enables us to claim that the international is somehow worldwide in scope even while we are sometimes forced to recognize that the international expresses a specifically modern form of politics predicated explicitly on a radical distinction between man and world, man and nature, the sovereign law of us the mortal God and the sovereign law of the God, or gods, of nature. It is in relation to this contradiction that many of the most difficult problems of our age converge, and the limits of our political imagination become most apparent and perhaps most treacherous. Moreover, this spatiotemporal frame also expresses the constitutive distinction enacted within European modernity between abstract form and material substance, partly on the basis of the opposition between nominalism and realism in the philosophical sense. This is another reason why one needs to take figures like Hobbes seriously in this context, even if he cannot be understood as the theorist of an international anarchy. Hobbes enacts sovereignty as an abstraction, as a rule of law. Once sovereignty is expressed as abstract law, substance, and thus qualities and values, can be brought back within a legal jurisdiction. Neo-Aristotelian accounts of a body-politic can be articulated within neo-Platonist accounts of an abstract concept. Similarly, the modern international can be affirmed as an abstract claim to sovereignty, articulated universally in systemic terms, and then given substance within as the particular society or nation that is enabled by the abstract form. Precisely what kind of substance is considered to be appropriate or legitimate for what we tellingly hyphenate as nation-states – Christian, modern, liberal, democratic, pro-American, biological, historical, willing and able to become mature – is, of course, another question that has to be negotiated in practice. In any case, modern political life is thoroughly experienced in the art of changing substantive practices while preserving formal principles, of changing bodies and

Despite all critique 25

states while sovereigns appear to retain their lifeless elegance. The anodyne term nation-state now effaces the extensive brutalities required to sort human populations into tidy modern jurisdictions; and thus obscures many of the long-standing forces still generating outrageous levels of violence and counter-violence. Modern political life is also experienced in resisting claims to different identities and experiences, to substantive claims about culture, race, gender, postcoloniality and so on, which can all be treated as if they were variations on the theme of Aristotelian essentialism that can be accommodated, or refused, within a universalizing form. We change subjects and subjectivities all the time, but to change the subject, the formal principle of what it means to be self-determining subjects both as human being and as politically authorized citizen, raises much sterner challenges. Within this formalized spatiotemporal frame the way is open to the articulation of constitutively modern accounts of the proper relationship between claims to universality and claims to plurality, an articulation that combines two complementary formulations: that one may hope to encompass plurality within a universality; and that one may hope to attain the status of universality from within any particularity. Thus, we have one international and many states, as well as one state and many citizen-subjects: modern subjectivity in its macro- and micro-political forms that are nevertheless complicated by the difficulty of reconciling liberties with equalities, and with necessities inscribed at the limit. As a particular subject one may then (potentially) assume a statist citizenship; and as a statist citizen-subject one may consequently (and again potentially) assume the status of a human being affirmed by the international. Or, to put it into the temporal terms that produce the philosophy of history affirming both an origin and (potential but impossible) destination that is expressed in the modern international, one may assume the status of citizenship within which we can engage in developmental processes that will eventually bring us to an acceptable relationship between our universality and our diversity as humans, both individually and collectively. This is our brilliantly elegant, highly contestable and always fragile solution, in principle, to our split being as humans and citizens; a politics of self-determination in which the self is split in a scalar order running from macro to micro and the determination is supposed to unfold from within yet depends upon enabling conditions without. This solution in principle works most obviously on a flat plane, on the secular ground of earthly but abstracted existence supposedly freed from the demands of some higher theological or imperial authority. It is a solution that sits awkwardly with our sense of life on a spherical planet. The modern political imagination is far more at home with Mercator’s maps than it is with his globes, though the converse may be the case for economists, historians, geographers and many others. Yet it also works as an expression of scalar order: from small to large, individuals to states to a system of states, a nested hierarchy that is almost impossible to imagine without invoking notions of higher and lower. And who can deny that a scalar order is inevitable even on the flat earth of a territorialized international order? Who can deny that the problems of a conflictual system of European states can be solved by constructing a hierarchical order within Europe? Who can deny that the problems of

26 Despite all critique

the international might be solved by looking up through a great chain of being, by idealizing aspirations for universal empire? Well, yes, that might be taking things in precisely the wrong direction, towards the static universals and imperial dominations against which Machiavelli imagined something like a modern polis as a site of human creation and political liberty. In this sense, the modern international works as the regulative ideal of how we must solve questions about how to sustain our claims to be able to achieve ambitions not only for liberty but also for equality as both citizens and humans. And as tends to be the way with regulative ideals, the less that practice conforms to the ideal, the more the ideal works to regulate the practice. This is why a concern with boundaries is so inadequately expressed in those still pervasive narratives about their continuing presence or impending disappearance. Not only is the empirical evidence quite difficult to interpret in this respect, but, and more significantly, the most basic principles through which such evidence might be open to interpretation, and to critical analysis, are themselves vulnerable to claims that the boundaries of contemporary political life are not where, and thus what, they are supposed to be. But this is also why the modern international is far more difficult to engage than the scholarly discourses that have claimed the authority to speak about it.

Out of line, out of tune Many currents of contemporary political and especially social and cultural analysis have picked up on the visual character of modernity, on the collaboration of the eye and the I. In this context, one might consider, for example, the effects generated by Renaissance concepts of three-dimensional perspective, or the construction of modern forms of epistemology with and against lines of light and sight between knower and known, or the translation of various claims about democracy into procedures of political representation, or the panoptical disciplining of populations, or whatever is going on in the extraordinary forms of surveillance and secrecy reported by Edward Snowden and many others. Much of our understanding of boundaries has been shaped by our sense of the visual character of concepts of space, especially: by the framing of pictorial and cartographic representations, by the many ways in which modern subjects have learnt to trust or distrust their eyes when learning to trust or distrust their sense of self and their relation to the world. Seeing may be believing, as it is often said, but belief is never supposed to be a credible form of knowledge under conditions of modern scepticism. Much of the way in which we think about the limits of liberty, in terms given by conventional geopolitical or Schmittean understandings of security, for example, is generally structured in spatiovisual terms. One might even say that much of the confusing character of contemporary boundaries arises from the degree to which visual representations seem to be less trustworthy than ever as guides to where boundaries are or what they do, again, especially in relation to the securing of statist claims about liberty. Surveillance may now be ubiquitous, but the senses, processors and algorithms that are in play considerably exceed our experience of

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optics. We may have become used to seeing the limits of claims to liberty over there on some spatially defined edge, where war takes over as politics by other means, or cherished norms are suspended in the name of a defining exception, but contemporary forms of insecurity and the forms of surveillance they have provoked are not so easily understood as a field of visual horizons. Snowden’s revelations may speak to concerns about privacy, for example, but they also speak to concerns about the status of modern subjects that can affirm principles of privacy. One of the many reasons for briefly invoking Plato and Aristotle in the comments I have made so far is that both pay at least as much attention to sound as to sight, and thus speak to the degree to which critical analyses of modern forms of political life still tend to reproduce the privileging of visual practices that many thinkers have long taken to be a constitutive feature of modernity. Both Plato and Aristotle focus on a connection between politics and musical forms, and were keen to regulate appropriate modes or scales for the education of citizens. Plato insisted that ‘never are the ways of music changed without the greatest political laws being moved’,24 and wanted to banish any music that would undermine his ambition for a unified political order; more famously, poetry was subjected to related suspicions. Aristotle also insisted on the proper musical education for the actualization of civic virtue, for the cultivation of the qualities of moderation, courage and endurance; better, he thought, to teach the Dorian mode as the middle ground between Lydian sadness and Phrygian exuberance.25 The essays included here are all inevitably informed by traditions of critical analysis that have been attentive to the visual character of boundaries and especially of the categories through which boundaries have been understood. Machiavelli may play a fairly overt role in the way I engage claims about modern forms of politics in temporal mode, but the work of figures like Leon Battista Alberti on techniques of perspectival representation may be just as significant for the way I engage politics in spatial mode.26 Nevertheless, these essays are also shaped by a suspicion that Plato and Aristotle may be right to think about the politics of music, especially in relation to mathematical forms of scalar order and to socio-cultural practices of political mobilization. As I tend to read them, at least, the boundaries of modern politics often express a pervasive politics of scale as well as of visual framing. At various points in these essays, the boundaries of modern politics appear to have been articulated in a temporal mode between origins and endings, in spatial mode between here and there, and in scalar mode between higher and lower. My sense is that insofar as we are dealing with the kind of modern political forms expressed in the boundaries of an internationalized political order, it is necessary to appreciate the interplay between all three of these articulations, or orchestrations. Again, these essays do not provide any systematic account of this interplay. Nevertheless, one of the possible contexts I have had in mind in this respect involves the complicated history of what arguably became the most important technology of modern music, and measure of both musical and political authority: the piano. This was a technology, moreover, that was, and remains, allied at least as much to visual practices of writing, reading and orchestration as to the aural appreciation of sound.

28 Despite all critique

The classical Greeks seemed to be thinking mainly of scales played on stringed instruments, which, like the human voice, allow for considerable flexibility of intonation. The piano has a more rigidly precise keyboard. This defining rigidity, or instrumental rationality perhaps,27 had important implications for the always tricky problem of tuning, and especially for the degree to which scales expressing different mathematical ratios – 2:1, 3:2, 4:3 – might sound harmonious within themselves but not permit transposition from one key to another on any single scale. Harmony sits in awkward relation to claims about universality in this respect. Tuning depends on the overtone series of a vibrating string or column of air for the specific scale in question, on what is called ‘just temperament’. Force different keys together on a single keyboard and the harmonies turn dissonant, unless they are ‘well-tempered’ in J. S. Bach’s sense, or equally tempered in the twelve-tone octaves of the modern piano; that is, adjusted slightly, by ear or by precise measurement, rendered out of tune by the standards of mathematical purity (except at the octave, and thus at the boundary between octaves), in order to produce an effect of being more or less in tune – less, that is, to those attuned to the harmonies of just temperament and more to those who eventually became attuned to the new harmonic order.28 The predecessors of the piano were the harpsichord and the organ. Each employed several keyboards, in a vertical array, for playing in different keys. The modern piano seems to have developed more or less experimentally through varying systems of division between the octaves, some by the dark arts, but eventually by arithmetic. Its keyboard moves from low at the left to high at the right in a horizontal arrangement of a scalar order of lower and higher that parallels the horizontal orchestration of modern political subjectivities running from individuals to states to an international order of states. In both cases, the lows and highs could go on to infinity but are cut off at the limits of human capacities, in the case of the piano, and the limits of a particular account of the human, in the case of the modern international. The keyboards are also nicely organized so that each key is equally spaced, each tone is equally tempered, twelve keys for each octave, each key free to move in its designated fashion. Nothing, we might now say, is more natural; even though the keys strike tones that are at odds with just temperament, with the mathematical language that was long thought to express the ordering of some natural world. Moreover, the difference – boundary – between just and equal temperament is very narrow, easily tuned out, normalized, whether through repetition, flexible intonation or foibles of the human ear. Still, the ways of music changed as the ways of politics changed also. There are no doubt limits to this analogy, and the politics of the relation between visual and aural practices are in any case both dauntingly complicated and surprisingly undertheorized in political terms. Yet there is some correlation between our sense of the now naturalized scalar order expressed by the piano and the apparently natural order that is the regulative ideal of a modern political order of sovereign states within a sovereign system of such states. Both express an aesthetic expression of ontological claims that is also a politics, and a politics that is also an aesthetic expression of ontological claims: a sense of scalar order and thus social harmony

Despite all critique 29

that speaks to concepts of society, community, authority, governance, relations among interests, normalization and its limits, and much else. It is a sense of scalar order that speaks especially to relations between liberty and (in)equality, to boundaries within hierarchy: to boundaries between higher and lower, elites and masses, equality under law and inequality of wealth, sovereign states and even more sovereign hegemons. Much about modern political life has become naturalized in much the same way that the simultaneously horizontal and vertical scalar order of the piano seems just right, in tune, or not. It has been difficult to avoid its spell. Prevailing conceptions of boundaries have something of the same magic about them; or rather, a complex array of historical practices and social constructions of reality.29 Vertical and horizontal are reconciled, in principle and in practice, just as both liberty and security and liberty and equality are supposedly reconciled, at least in principle, and in an admittedly much messier fashion in claims about the modern international. There are no doubt many things to be said about the contemporary analogues of Platonist and Aristotelian suspicions of unregulated sound. Among them, I would say, is a need for a more critical appreciation of the politics of scale, and of the conceptions of (social as well as musical) harmony shaping contemporary political life, but also of the degree to which our expectations about scalar order are now subject to much the same disruption as our expectations of boundaries in spatial and temporal order. The modern international expresses the modern assault on the politics of scale affirmed by medieval accounts of a Great Chain of Being as well as by imperial and/or theocratic rule and by classical accounts of justice as staying within one’s proper status in the hierarchy. It expresses instead a set of claims not only about our status as both citizens and humans, but also our status as both free and equal subjects in both cases. Liberty is supposed to be enacted within limits, just as equality is supposed to be enacted within limits; no one is supposed to be above the law, for example, and democracy is not supposed to enable rule by oligarchy. The possibility that liberty might be reconciled with equality within these limits is expressed not least in more or less Kantian understandings of autonomy, selfdetermination and ambitions for a future guided by a universal and universalizing moral law. Now, of course, we confront considerable evidence that claims to liberty are even more routinely trumped by claims to security, that principles of equality are increasingly trumped by claims about economic necessity, and that the regulative ideal of a political order promising both liberty and equality is in very severe trouble. It may also be the case that the piano is rapidly losing its capacity to call the tune. For, to say the obvious, if boundaries are sites of serious trouble, then the limits and borders within which we have come to understand the most foundational concepts of modern politics are in trouble also. Thus, contrary to widespread moves to respond to borders and juridical limits as sites of trouble by countenancing moves back to some (globalizing, cosmopolitan)

30 Despite all critique

kind of hierarchical order, the essays I have included here tend to presume that in one way or another hierarchical formulations are part of the same orchestration of scalar and topological options expressed in modern accounts of spatiotemporal inclusion and exclusion. The Great Chain of Being, and just intonation, affirm the regulative ideal of a natural order against which modern conceptions of man, as both citizen and human, have been affirmed as the regulative ideal of free and equal subjects – subjects nevertheless split within a scalar order that stops just before it reaches the world in either direction. There are now many grounds on which to conclude that modern principles of both liberty and equality are clearly in trouble, not only empirically but also as regulative ideals. But this is simply another way of saying that boundaries are clearly sites of trouble, and not just as physical boundaries and legal limits. There is never much point in trying to be critical without first appreciating what is being subjected to critique; otherwise critique itself turns into dogma. I take this to be another basic methodological and pedagogical principle. As contemporary political life struggles to express some other spatiotemporal and scalar configuration, some other forms of bounding and delimitation, forms of critique that work within the modern international may quickly lose their purchase, to the extent that they still retain any. This is precisely why I think it remains necessary to pay attention to the modern international as the ground within which we have learnt how to speak about critique, and occasionally about its limits. As concepts, boundaries, borders and limits are closely related to concepts of critique, as well as to concepts of crisis. All these concepts have important implications for the forms within which we have been able to articulate distinctions and connections between modern subjects as citizens and as human beings. This is why I take all these concepts, but especially the concept of a boundary, as signs marking questions, each with impressive trails of historical definitions, and inadequate answers. Despite all critique, and a lot of evidence, the modern international does still work as the regulative ideal of what it means to be both human and citizen, as seemingly natural as the piano keyboard. It may well do so for a considerable time. It is an ideal that depends on a particular structuring of spatiotemporal division, vertically as well as horizontally. The most daunting challenges of the day now speak to the fragility of those divisions even as we scramble to sustain many of the principles they have enabled; or at least to understand how many of those principles do not stand somewhere beyond those daunting challenges and fragile divisions. All the essays included here, even the most recent, are quite dated, records of engagements with once-influential definitions and unpersuasive attempts to respond to hard questions. They may only add up to evidence that our capacity to think about the politics of boundaries and the limits of modern forms of politics is severely constrained, at least within the scholarly traditions I engage with here. I would nevertheless take broader recognition of this constraint, one that is well beyond the capacities of existing scholarly disciplines, to be a significant achievement.

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Notes 1 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991, Chapter 30. 2 An interesting recent example is Jürgen Osterhammel, The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century, translated by Patrick Camiller, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014, Chapter VII. 3 For a brief account of what is at stake in relation to more sociological orientations, see Didier Bigo and R. B. J. Walker, ‘Political Sociology and the Problem of the International’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 2006; and Bigo and Walker, ‘International, Political, Sociology’, International Political Sociology, 1:1, March 2007, 1–6, which try to encourage greater attention to what it might mean to work across the boundaries between the categories of politics, sociology and international, not least when analysing phenomena that both work across boundaries and reinscribe boundaries in unfamiliar forms and unpredictable ways. While my mathematical competence is modest at best, much of my reading of boundaries has been shaped by extensive literatures on the place of geometrical reasoning on concepts of spatiotemporality and epistemology in the articulation of scientific procedures from Galileo to Newton, and especially on the correlation between Cartesian and Kantian epistemologies and spatialized concepts of subjectivity and objectivity in modern political thought. In this respect, my concern with more abstract ontological discussions of boundaries has been tied to questions about the origins of geometry pursued by figures like Edmund Husserl, Gaston Bachelard, Michel Serres and Jacques Derrida. For recent literature that speaks to some of my concerns in this respect see Sergei Prozorov, Ontology and World Politics, Abingdon: Routledge, 2014; Prozorov, Theory of the Political Subject, Abingdon: Routledge, 2014; and Artemy Magun, ed., Politics of the One: Concepts of the Many in Contemporary Thought, London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2013. 4 Aristotle’s Politics, translated by Carnes Lord, Second Edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. 5 I share a sense of the central importance of problems posed by the antagonism between claims to humanity and claims to citizenship with Andrew Linklater, one of the surprisingly few contemporary scholars to have resisted ahistorical claims about political realism and political idealism as the ground on which to think about international relations; see his Men and Citizens in International Relations, London: Macmillan, 1982, Second Edition 1990. Nevertheless, as some of the essays included here will suggest, I do not share the partly ‘Kantian’ and partly ‘Hegelian’ reading of history through which Linklater in particular has sought to overcome this antagonism; for more extended commentary see R. B. J. Walker, ‘The Hierarchicalization of Political Community’ (part of a Forum on Andrew Linklater), Review of International Studies, 25:1, January 1999, 151–6; and Walker, ‘Citizenship and the Modern Subject’, in Kimberly Hutchings and Roland Dannreuther, eds, Cosmopolitan Citizenship, London: Macmillan, 1999, 171–200. Other exceptions whose work has long shaped my own thinking about the historicity of international relations and the need to engage with historically constituted principles and concepts as a necessary condition for engaging with international relations in any form, include Nicholas Onuf, Friedrich Kratochwil and Jens Bartelson. 6 See for example, Christine Helliwell and Barry Hindess, ‘“Culture”, “Society”, and the Figure of Man’, History and the Human Sciences, 12:4, 1999, 1–20. On the ways in which recent concepts like society play into a specific politics of history, see Hindess, ‘The Past Is Another Culture’, International Political Sociology, 1:4, 2007, 325–38; and Helliwell and Hindess, ‘Time and the Others’, in Sanjay Seth, ed., Postcolonial Theory and International Relations, Abingdon: Routledge, 2013, 70–83. 7 The classic text within the theory of international relations has been Kenneth W. Waltz, Man, the State and War, New York: Columbia University Press, 1956. I have engaged fairly extensively with the radically depoliticizing effect of this seductive, widespread, but troubling cartography of modern political ontologies, beginning with ‘The Territorial State and the Theme of Gulliver’, International Journal, 39:3, 1984, 302–22, subsequently

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11 12 13

included in R. B. J. Walker, Inside/Outside: International Relations as Political Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. Among classical texts, Book Five of Plato’s Republic offers a telling site from which to contemplate what is at stake in this respect. Its first half moves from a discussion of how to construct a unified political order that works simultaneously as a legitimation of radical inequalities between classes (in an infamous speculation about women and children as being ‘in common’, and thus about the eradication of blood ties and self-interest, as well as about the need for eugenic practices of socialization), to a discussion of relations with other peoples (including the distinction between merely factional conflict among fellow Greeks and outright war between Greeks and non-Greeks), and then on to a discussion of the difference between the unity of Being and the untrustworthy world of mere becoming. See The Republic of Plato, translated by Allan Bloom, New York: Basic Books, 1968, 127–51 (449a–71c). In many ways this is a much more instructive text for engaging with the internal/external character of modern forms of politics, as well as with the relation between politics and philosophy, than the standard and often dubious references to Thucydides. Many other sources also come to mind in this respect, including the histories of Herodotus and tragedies of Sophocles. My reading of the distinctions and classifications expressed in such sources more generally is partly shaped by long traditions of commentary tracing contemporary dilemmas to Plato in particular in the manner of both Alfred North Whitehead and Jacques Derrida, whose broad influence might be apparent throughout my analysis. I have also been guided by such very different texts as G. E. R. Lloyd, Polarity and Analogy: Two Types of Argumentation in Early Greek Thought, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966; Jean-Pierre Vernant, The Origins of Greek Thought (1962), Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1982; and Eric Havelock, Preface to Plato, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1963. R. B. J. Walker, One World, Many Worlds: Struggles for a Just World Peace, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1988. See also R. B. J. Walker, ed., Culture, Ideology and World Order, Boulder, CO: Westview, 1984; Saul B. Mendlovitz and R. B. J. Walker, eds, Towards a Just World Peace: Perspectives from Social Movements, London: Butterworths, 1987; Warren Magnusson and R. B. J. Walker, ‘Decentring the State: Political Theory and Canadian Political Economy’, Studies in Political Economy, 26, Summer 1988, 37–71; and Chapter 2 below. My sense of the significance of the ‘two-world’ option was shaped by various ‘postcolonial’ critics of development theory, especially by Rajni Kothari (who wrote a foreword to One World/Many Worlds), Dhirubhai Sheth and Ashis Nandy. Part of the attraction as well as the weakness of this considerably underspecified formulation is that it carries resonances with many longstanding accounts of a dualism within human societies – master and slave, normal and exceptional, centre and periphery, urban and rural, those who are politically qualified and those who are not and so on – without being tied to historically specific traditions of analysis. Recent (‘neo-liberal’) challenges to state law in favour of market rationality as the sovereign political value has led to similar concerns in many places far from what was then known as the Third World; hence, for example, the recently popular concept of a ‘global south’, a concept that seems to imply some as yet uncharted forms of boundary construction. While contemporary discussions are often framed in terms of the ‘new inequality’, this is a term that seems seriously inadequate to capture emerging patterns of both social hierarchy and spatiotemporal differentiation. Walker, Inside/Outside. R. B. J. Walker, After the Globe, Before the World, London: Routledge, 2010. The relation between international relations theory and the figure of ‘man’ was especially emphasized in a series of incisive essays by Richard Ashley; see for example, ‘Living on Borderlines: Man, Poststructuralism and War’, in James Der Derian and Michael J. Shapiro, eds, International/Intertextual Relations: Boundaries of Knowledge and Practice in World Politics, Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1988, 259–321. See also Ashley and R. B. J. Walker, ‘Reading Dissidence/Writing the Discipline: Crisis and the Question of

Despite all critique 33

Sovereignty in International Studies’, International Studies Quarterly, 34, September 1990, 367–416. 14 Hence my unease with the phrase ‘critical theory of international relations’ that is sometimes used to classify the kind of analysis pursued by essays like these. It is not clear to me what the term critical means when applied to either political theory or international theory when both are severed from their constitutive condition of possibility. More disconcertingly, it is not clear to me what critique might mean when used in relation to the outer limit of an opposition between dogma and critique. This is why so much of After the Globe, Before the World circles around, and both on the basis of and in resistance to, conceptual moves associated above all with Kant, understood as the most influential modern thinker of human finitude; and thus shifts back and forth between concepts of ‘crisis’ and ‘critique’ as related practices of bounding and delimitation. 15 The relevant literature is obviously enormous, and contested. It encompasses claims about the supposed breaks between medieval and modern, sacred and secular, realism and nominalism, the broad overgeneralizations expressed in references to the Renaissance, Reformation, scientific revolution and the like, and various genealogies of the emergence of individualism and particular forms of self-consciousness. Apart from the relationship between concepts of space and scientific epistemologies, aspects of this literature that have most interested me have concerned questions about why Machiavelli became and still remains a provocative political thinker and why Hobbes managed to get such a firm and long-lasting grip on the origins, limits and necessity of sovereign authority. The (now quite outdated but still suggestive) texts that initially shaped my thinking in both contexts were Ernst Cassirer, Individual and Cosmos in Renaissance Philosophy (1927), translated by M. Domandi, New York: Harper and Row, 1963; and Alexandre Koyré, From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1957. I hope it is clear that I am deeply sceptical towards the standard accounts of a radical rupture between man and nature, secular and sacred, premodern and modern, and many similar formulations. Many of the most interesting conceptual moves in the early-modern European era were those permitting interpretation from both sides of these supposed ruptures, whether in terms of the theological origins of secular concepts, as Carl Schmitt observed, or Hobbes’s influential reworking of the law and right of nature. In this respect, the potential for ambivalence was one of the many advantages conferred by neo-Platonist formalizations and abstractions on those seeking to challenge the authority of neo-Aristotelian essentialisms. As with most of the boundaries of concern to me here, claims about sharp rupture efface often profoundly important practices at work between the two options in question, and it is this erasure that still permits all kinds of foundational claims predicated upon a clear-cut rupture, not least in relation to what it means to exercise sovereign authority. For important engagements with questions about the periodizations that have shaped many literatures, see Constantin Fasolt, The Limits of History, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004; and Kathleen Davis, Periodization and Sovereignty: How Ideas of Feudalism and Secularization Govern the Politics of Time, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008. For helpful but very different refusals of simplistic distinctions between ‘man’ and ‘nature’ see Perez Zagorin, Hobbes and the Law of Nature, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009; and Evelyn Fox Keller, The Mirage of a Space between Nature and Nurture, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010. Whatever stories might be told about this historical moment, the double concern with the possibilities of human freedom bereft of any transcendental guarantees about the world as such has been enshrined in contemporary accounts of the modern world through Kant’s discussion of the possibilities and limits of human reason, and the substitution of a regulative ideal of the world for any direct engagement with the world. For useful overviews of the consequences of Kant’s formulations that speak to many of the essays included here see Sean Gaston, The Concept of World from Kant to Derrida, London: Rowman and Littlefield, 2013; and Tracey B. Strong, Politics without Vision: Thinking without a Banister in the Twentieth Century, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. For a useful though partial survey of the

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16 17 18


many ‘horizons’ within which this specific rendering of the limits of the human might be contextualized, see Didier Maleuvre, The Horizon: A History of Our Infinite Longing, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. For brilliant meditations on the forms of containment and spatial order shaping the interiorities of modernity, see Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, translated by Maria Jolas, Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1969; and Peter Sloterdijk’s three volume opus Spheres, I, II and III (1998, 1999 and 2004), the first two volumes of which, Bubbles and Globes, have been translated by Wieland Hoban, Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2011 and 2014. See the unusually perceptive discussion in Oliver Jutersonke, Morgenthau, Law and Realism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. R. B. J. Walker, ‘International Relations as Philosophy of History’, paper presented to the Workshop on International Relations and the (Re)Invention of History, PUC-Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 29–31 October 2014. Despite being the home turf of such embarrassingly simplistic ideas as ‘a coming conflict of civilizations’ and so on, many international theorists have responded to the underlying problem expressed in ‘World Politics and Western Reason’, some under the sign of a postcolonial politics, some in pursuit of a more plausible world history, and some through a comparative description of diverse disciplinary traditions. Nevertheless, I think it would be fair to say that simplistic ethnocentrisms remain prevalent, largely underwritten by assumptions about a teleological philosophy of history and the capacity of the concept of an internationalized nation-state to absorb all claims to both substantive diversity and formal universality. For just a small sampling of important historically oriented critical commentaries speaking to theorists of international relations in particular, see Edward Keene, Beyond the Anarchical Society: Grotius, Colonialism and Order in World Politics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002; John M. Hobson, The Eurocentric Conception of World Politics: Western International Theory 1760–2010, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012; Siba N. Grovogui, Beyond Eurocentrism and Anarchy: Memories of International Order and Institutions, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006; Seth, ed., Postcolonial Theory and International Relations; and Arshine Adib-Moghaddam, A Metahistory of the Clash of Civilizations: Us and Them beyond Orientalism, New York: Columbia University Press, 2011. For just one powerful recent engagement with what is at stake in now extensive counterliteratures more generally, see Jack Goody, The Theft of History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. For recent signs that the discipline of international relations has begun to understand itself in less ethnocentric terms, at least in a socio-institutional sense, see Arlene B. Tickner and Ole Waever, eds, International Relations Scholarship around the World, Abingdon: Routledge, 2009; Arlene B. Tickner and David Blaney, eds, Thinking International Relations Differently, Abingdon: Routledge, 2012; Amitav Acharya and Barry Buzan, Non-Western International Relations: Perspectives on and beyond Asia, Abingdon: Routledge, 2010; and Robbie Shilliam, ed., International Relations and Non-Western Thought: Imperialism, Colonialism and Investigations of Global Modernity, Abingdon: Routledge, 2012. Very different reactions to the proliferation and disaggregation of contemporary boundaries are expressed in Michael J. Shapiro and Hayward R. Alker, eds, Challenging Boundaries, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996; Matthias Albert, David Jacobson and Yosef Lapid, eds, Identities, Borders, Orders, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001, 117–37; Saskia Sassen, Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006; Etienne Balibar, We, the People of Europe, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004; Wendy Brown, Walled States, Waning Sovereignty, New York: Zone Books, 2010; Didier Bigo and Elspeth Guild, eds, Controlling Frontiers: Free Movement into and within Europe, London: Ashgate, 2005; Nick Vaughan-Williams, Border Politics: The Limits of Sovereign Power, Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 2009; Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson, Border as Method, or the Multiplication of Labour, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013; and Mary L. Dudziak and Leti Volpp, eds, Legal Borderlands: Law and the Construction of American Borders, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. Compare with

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23 24 25 26 27



J. R. V. Prescott, The Geography of Frontiers and Boundaries, London: Hutchinson, 1965; and Julian Minghi, ‘Boundary Studies in Political Geography’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 53:3, September 1963, 407–28; both are exemplars of an extensive genre of geographical texts that sparked my initial interest in this general theme. My understanding of the empirical complexities at work in this respect has been shaped mainly in relation to the European context. See for example Didier Bigo, Elspeth Guild, Serge Carerra and R. B. J. Walker, eds, Europe’s 21st Century Challenge: Delivering Liberty, London: Ashgate, 2010. To be clear: I do indeed think that both Hobbes and Schmitt are indispensable sources for thinking about contemporary politics, but not because the former offers a persuasive account of some international anarchy or the latter helps us understand some historical switch from particular to generalized exceptions. I sketch a view of why one should take Hobbes seriously in Chapter 10, below, as well as in After the Globe, Before the World, chapter 4. Much of the force of Schmitt’s analysis seems to me to depend on questions about the status of modern subjectivity under conditions of a rationalizing/irrationalizing modernity, of the kind expressed by Max Weber and widely discussed in the 1920s, and which are addressed very briefly in Chapter 9 below. While I find some of Giorgio Agamben’s historical engagements with Schmittean themes to be interesting in some respects, the distinction between particular and generalized exceptions that has often been popularized through reference to his work seems to be entirely unhelpful, though very seductive to anyone willing to split state sovereignty from its international conditions of possibility. This is a theme that underlies some of my commentary in Chapters 11 and 12, below. For an interesting if idiosyncratic example of a culturally sensitive political economy of globalization as the end stage of a process initiated by the first circumnavigation of the planet, see Peter Sloterdijk, In the World Interior of Capital: For a Philosophical Theory of Globalization (2005), translated by Wieland Hoban, Cambridge: Polity, 2013. The analysis plays out an account of the ‘two-world’ thesis in relation to the interior/exterior of capital, but, as a consequence, works with a very thin and sporadic engagement with questions about politics understood as not only an effect of capital. Immanuel Kant, ‘Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose’ (1784), in Hans Reiss, ed., Kant: Political Writings, Second Edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991, 41–53. Plato, Republic, Book 1V, 424c. Aristotle, The Politics, Book 8. Leon Battista Alberti, On Painting and Sculpture: The Latin Texts of De Pictura and De Statua (1435), translated with notes by Cecil Grayson, London: Phaidon, 1972. It is not surprising that Max Weber had some interesting though deeply parochial and only partly developed things to say about the historical sociology of music, in ways that both speak to and complicate his concept(s) of rationalization. See Max Weber, The Rational and Social Foundations of Music (c.1911), edited by Don Martindale et al., Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1957. For recent musicological commentary, see James Wierzbicki, ‘Max Weber and Musicology: Dancing on Shaky Foundations’, Musical Quarterly, 93:2, June 2010, 262–96; and Leon Botstein, ‘Max Weber and Music History’, Musical Quarterly, 93:2, 2010, 183–91. Popular introductions to this theme include Stuart Isacoff, Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization, New York: Knopf, 2001; and especially Ross W. Duffin, How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony, New York: Norton, 2007. The latter is considerably more critical of the effects of modern tempering than the former. For wide-ranging engagements with the broader context, see Karol Berger, Bach’s Cycle, Mozart’s Arrow: An Essay on the Origins of Musical Modernity, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007; and Veit Erlmann, Reason and Resonance: A History of Modern Aurality, New York: Zone Books, 2010. Some might allude to a political sociology, or a cultural political economy, or to an expansive conception of discourse, or a socio-historical construction of some kind: all of

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which seem to me to be necessary formulations in very general terms even though they all depend on concepts, and distinctions among concepts, that are increasingly elusive. It is nevertheless very odd that so many theories of international relations, understood as products of the social sciences, have been able to frame all such formulations as somehow marginal or radical, and for the most part restrict their relevance to a concern with ‘ideas’ or ‘values’. Among other things, this tendency is linked both to an insistence on a dubious distinction between structure and agency and to a resistance to historical analysis in favour of a specific philosophy of history, the former privileging intention and responsibility over action and the latter underprivileging both action and intention in relation to a structuralist reading of temporal process. The treatment of boundaries in theories of international relations is inhibited by such tendencies, but although I have engaged with some of them (especially in relation to concepts of culture, to distinctions between historical and structural analysis and to the promise of an international political sociology) boundaries were not my primary concern in those engagements. For pointed and more extensive commentary on many of these themes, see Nicholas Onuf, Making Sense, Making Worlds: Constructivism in Social Theory and International Relations, Abingdon: Routledge, 2013.


Introduction The study of world order – or world politics, or international relations – is part of a pervasive theoretical contradiction.1 As an essentially European or Western tradition of thought, with particular historical, geographical, economic and ideological interests, it seeks to understand, explain and guide events which have long ceased to be only European or even Western in their scope. While grasping at a global or universal phenomenon, it does so almost entirely within one culturally and intellectually circumscribed perspective. This general dilemma has been noted in several areas of modern social and political thought. It has perhaps become most familiar in the context of critiques of imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism. Edward Said, for example, has highlighted the relationship between political dominance and the traditions of Orientalism that have produced systematically distorted accounts of the Middle East.2 Anthony Smith’s equally important analysis of the ‘geopolitics of information’ raises the same issue in terms of the way in which the mass media in the developed states have misrepresented the affairs of developing societies.3 These specific diagnoses of some of the cultural contradictions of modern world politics emerged out of a more wide-ranging critique of the use of Western conceptions of political and economic development as an appropriate guide for the rest of humankind. The terms ‘development’ and ‘modernity’, for example, have come to be indicted as key elements in an elaborate rhetoric which serves to both justify and disguise the prevailing patterns of global hegemony.4 A number of Western intellectual disciplines have also developed a longstanding sensitivity to this general problem, although more often on philosophical than on political or economic grounds. Anthropology, for example, although far from being free from complex forms of culture-bound presuppositions in its analysis of other cultures, has at least generated some concern about the dilemmas of ethnocentrism

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which necessarily arise in its analysis.5 Whether in terms of cultural and epistemological relativism or of the ideological accompaniment to patterns of exploitation in the modern world system, the confrontation of Western traditions of thought with a variety of challenges to the natural superiority of things Western seems likely to provide a bundle of problems at least as difficult and important as the noisier disputes about the nature and appropriateness of science which have characterized so much of modern social and political thought. International political theory appears to be particularly susceptible to this general problem. And yet, of all the areas of modern social and political thought, it is the study of world politics that seems to have most stubbornly resisted examination of the central contradiction inherent in its subject. This lack of any sustained interest in the issue is not surprising. It accurately reflects and supports the prevailing dominance of the West in the modern world. The European states system has indeed spread globally. Consumerism has effectively penetrated most of the urban areas of the world. The Western way of life, or modernity, has become the West’s gift to all humankind – a gift with many tangled strings attached. For most students of international politics this process seems to be inevitable and/or desirable, and the contradiction is thereby resolved. We have a universalization of modernity which may then be understood in terms of the logic of system-dominant relations between modernized states, or of the logic of modernity and industrialization itself. On the other hand, much of the substance of recent international politics has centred on the often violent rejection of this process. Resistance to the allpervasive forces of modernization along Western lines, like the process of modernization itself, has become a major characteristic of the twentieth century. Concepts of autonomy, nationalism and pluralism have come to challenge the assumed universality of progress towards the ‘civilization’ of the West. It is in fact far from clear that an assumption of the inevitability of the universalization of modernity provides a very secure base from which to understand the dynamics of modern world politics, let alone from which to contemplate normative questions or future possibilities. Although the literature on modern world politics has been singularly reticent about the broad implications of its culturally circumscribed heritage, it has been almost hypersensitive to the suggestion that the transformations of the modern world have begun to undermine the language and concepts in which international affairs have usually been understood. This has in turn generated a number of attempts to pose alternative conceptual schemes and methodological strategies, as well as strong counter-assertions of orthodoxy. As I have argued elsewhere,6 most of this activity occurs well within the bounds of conventional Western liberal categories. Occasionally, however, the difficulties involved in attempting to understand a global political system within the categories of a dominant but parochial tradition emerge quite forcefully. Indeed, it is not surprising that one of the few attempts to study world politics from a position which is rather more open than usual to metatheoretical, and particularly to normative or ethical issues – world order studies – has come to present its own formulation of this problem.7

World politics and Western reason 39

The clue to this particular development is perhaps given in the misbegotten term ‘world order’ itself: the aspiration towards one united world in the face of increasing vulnerability arising from ‘irrational’ fragmentation, a vision of the cosmopolitan unity of humankind and the transcendence of artificial boundaries and national interests. Yet it is the order and the authenticity of the implied universals that come under suspicion. For universals and order imply a potential for domination and homogenization, for maintaining the status quo in the interest of the stronger, and for the suffocation of autonomy, self-determination and self-reliance. It is in any case a suspicion more than adequately supported by the various notions of global management, Trilateralism and the co-optation of emerging elites which have characterized much of the strategy and rhetoric of recent world politics. This essay has been generated out of simultaneous sympathies both for universalist aspirations and for the current pluralist critique of Western hegemony. The expression of precisely this tension seems to me to be one of the more important contributions of the recent literature on world order. Yet the issues raised are far from easy to resolve. At the very least, they point to the need for a more sustained consideration of metatheoretical and philosophical issues than is usual in the analysis of world politics. This essay is thus a preliminary exercise, one which aims to underline the importance of the tensions emerging out of the pluralist challenge to the universalist aspirations of conventional world order thinking, and to unravel some of their complexity. It is structured as an examination of certain legacies from Western traditions of social and political thought in order to create some epistemological space in which more detailed analysis may be pursued. More specifically, it seeks to draw attention to the extent to which even our discourse about and understanding of this issue, both on the part of those who search for universals and those who resist the reified universals of Western modernity, may be colonized by the historical-philosophical categories of the currently dominant powers. It begins from the assumption that social and political change is both reflected in and constituted by language. We remember Machiavelli and Hobbes, for example, for the way in which they created a new universe of (liberal) discourse; if the movement towards some kind of global socio-political order is judged to involve a transformation on something like that scale, then we may expect the study of world order to be deeply implicated in a similar series of conflicts constituted in developing linguistic and conceptual structures. And language, meta-theory and knowledge in general are, of course, not unconnected with power. Thus while it may be necessary to support the emerging critique of cultural and ideological aspects of imperialism in the modern world, it is also necessary to go even further. For it is quite possible, even while talking about culture or ideology, to end up doing so in a way which merely perpetuates the particular culture and ideology under critique – a problem which has bedevilled much of the Marxist tradition, for example, since its inception. My argument here focuses on three elements of Western socio-political thought as they have developed in the context of the universalist-pluralist antinomy: the classical liberal theory of international relations, in both its traditional ontological

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and more recent epistemological forms; the historical development of the concept of culture as a response to the universalizing tendencies of the European Enlightenment; and the way in which the few attempts that have been made within the study of world politics to take the issue of cultural pluralism seriously tell us more about the character of Western culture and assumptions than they do about other traditions. Analysis of each of these three themes underlines the importance of the way in which current analysis of world politics, as well as the critique of that analysis, hinges upon a culturally and historically specific account of the relation between subject and object – an account which poses many of the most difficult problems in modern social and political thought.

The dilemmas of international political theory A tension between universalism and pluralism may be traced throughout the development of Western political theory. It was evident at the level of philosophy, in the debate between ‘realists’ and ‘nominalists’, between those who assigned reality to the universal, treating individual instances as a mere shadow, and those for whom the universal was merely nominal and the individual instance the only reality. It can also be examined as a response to specific historical-geopolitical developments. Classical Greek thought asserted the priority of the small unit, the importance of the perfect internal ordering of the polis; an assertion accompanied by a sharp distinction between Greek and barbarian. With the imperial expansions of the Hellenic period, the speculations of the Cynics, Stoics and early Christians began to adopt a more cosmopolitan tone. With later Christianity, the distinction between temporal and spiritual realms tempted political thought with two competing versions of universalism. But with the rise of the European state, particularism reasserted itself. It resulted both in a longstanding conflict between the emerging values of the secular state and the remnants of a universalist natural law and, as with Hobbes, the conversion of natural law itself into a principle of the liberal theory of the state. It is the classical (liberal) tradition of international political theory, however, which provides what is now perhaps the clearest expression of this tension in modern social and political theory. Despite repeated assertions of the irrelevance of this tradition today, it continues to provide a clear guide to the way in which the contradictions between universalism and pluralism have been worked out in Western political theory, and of how they now confront rapidly changing circumstances. For, although it may be true that students of modern international relations or world politics have shown little concern with the metatheoretical critique of the implications of applying European or Western concepts to global phenomena, the general contradiction between universalism and pluralism has in fact been the central feature of the prevailing account of modern world politics. Any analysis of world politics made in terms of the traditional liberal model begins with the assumption that a sharp dichotomy can and must be made between the nature of life within sovereign states and the interactions that occur between

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such states. It has been this assumption, more than any other, that has guided judgement on the value and legitimacy of competing theoretical positions. The dichotomy has been expressed in a number of different ways. International ‘anarchy’ is frequently contrasted with domestic ‘community’. International relations is similarly distinguished from foreign policy. The popularity of mechanistic images among those who seek to explain the international system contrasts with the greater influence of organic metaphors in a domestic context. Martin Wight, one of the major historians of this tradition, has argued that where domestic politics is concerned with ‘progress’ and the ‘good life’, international politics is a realm of ‘recurrence and repetition’, one where the highest value is ‘survival’.8 E. H. Carr, in a formulation which has long provided a paradigmatic text for traditionalists, addresses the issue as a conflict between ‘realism’ and ‘idealism’.9 Carr continues a theme familiar to Friedrich Meinecke10 and others in the tradition of German historicist thought, who were torn between the imperatives of ethics and those of power in the context of nationalism. International law is usually distinguished from municipal law – a distinction which reflects both Kant’s observation that the international realm differs from the domestic mainly in its absence of publicly legal coercion, and the long historical dispute between natural law and positivism. Perhaps most significantly, the classical tradition of international relations theory reflects the fateful distinction between public and private virtue, between raison d’état and ultimate ends, by which figures like Machiavelli undermined the medieval assumption of the universal principle of divine creation and natural harmony. With the emergence of the modern state system in fifteenth-century Italy, the notion of just wars, judged according to the rightness of the cause and waged for total victory, began to give way to that of wars of political expediency between secular states among which none could claim to hold a monopoly of right. With the development of the state as a moral force came a conception of order attained by the pursuit of interest, recognition of the interests of others, and by the connivances, intrigue and compromise of traditional diplomacy. Thus for a defender of the classical tradition, the irreducible conflict between international ‘order’ and domestic ‘justice’ in the modern world is merely a recurrence and repetition of dilemmas identified by Machiavelli at the dawn of the modern state system. If this distinction is valid, then international political theory can only be what many traditionalists assert that it has always been: concerned with crude power, pragmatic custom and unstable cooperation. From this point of view, it is possible to justify the intellectual and moral poverty of international political theory, the oftnoted tendency for statesmen to be radical in domestic affairs and conservative in foreign policy, and the limitation of democratic principles in the affairs of state as a consequence of the need to defend the ‘national interest’. The cardinal sin for the analyst of international politics is to transfer assumptions, images or values from the domestic to the international context. This is a sin which has been said to beset both the (idealistic) aspiration for global harmony in human affairs (most notably as it has influenced American foreign policy or provided the justification for supranational institutions) and the (subversive) indiscretion of those who would judge

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international events (Vietnam, Cambodia, wars in general) by the standards of domestic morality. Even among traditionalists, however, this initial distinction between domestic and international politics is rarely pushed to its most extreme conclusions. Some influential writers have ignored it altogether, merely asserting, like Hans J. Morgenthau, that all politics, international or otherwise, is power politics. Most others express some hope that the antinomies which are central to the classical tradition can eventually be shown to be resolvable. A Carr or a Meinecke may fail to reconcile ‘power’ and ‘morality’, or ‘realism’ and ‘utopianism’, but their analyses retain their importance, and even poignancy, by virtue of their struggle to achieve some kind of reconciliation. In fact, it is the uneasy tension which is drawn between the pluralist values of international political theory and the universals of domestic theory which distinguishes the serious theorist from the cruder polemicists of power politics and militarism. Moreover, within the classical tradition, this tension emerges in the form of contrasting sub-traditions, some evoking a Hobbesian account of the state of war, others emphasizing elements of community, society, legitimacy and so on. Thus for Wight, international political theory still reflects universalist themes from both Christian natural law (Grotius) and the Enlightenment (Kant) as well as the pluralist realism of Machiavelli. Hedley Bull’s use of the term ‘anarchical society’ points in the same direction, as do earlier accounts of the systemic or cultural (‘European’) coherence of international politics. Similarly, Fritz Kratochwil has recently argued that Hume’s critique of Hobbes’ account of social order leads to a better understanding of the norms and conventions of international order than the Hobbesian world portrayed by the cruder realists.11 Rather than a simple ‘anarchy’ as opposed to ‘society’, traditional international political theory has sought some understanding of how states can in fact enter into ‘relations’ at all, how some form of order arises and is maintained. Thus the ‘society of states’ has come to be explained variously in terms of the craft of statesmen or the automatic operation of the system itself, with both versions paying particular attention to conceptions of the ‘balance of power’. By the nineteenth century, international relations had come to be viewed in terms of the proper maintenance of the balance of power, a matter which could by then be reduced by Gentz to a number of rules and maxims, and provide for von Ranke a basis for explaining the history of the great powers. The idea of the society of states as involving a moral community of some kind had also come to play an important role, one mainly considered in terms of international law. Nevertheless, no matter how much the basic domestic-international dichotomy has been tempered by emphasizing the cohesion of international systems, or admitting the importance of conceptions of justice or legitimacy in their operation, the dichotomy itself has been tenaciously defended. From Machiavelli through to the present century, the dilemma of international politics has been said to have remained essentially the same. It is a dilemma that is expressed, as Stanley Hoffmann once noted, as ‘a kind of permanent dialogue between Rousseau and Kant’.12 In Rousseau’s gloomy scenario, nations have only the choice of opting out of relations altogether

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or attempting to survive the inevitable conflict between them through the use of fragile mitigating devices like the balance of power. Kant, beginning with essentially the same pessimistic view of the state, argued that the very evils inherent in the system will compel men to discover means against them, to develop a ‘united power’ which would enable a universal peace among nations. According to the traditionalist or classical liberal account, then, the essence of world politics is its pluralism, war being the ultimate arbiter in the conflict between plural values and interests. Domestic political theory, by contrast, is usually said to be characterized by universalist values. For the traditionalist, therefore, the transfer of domestic theory to an international context can lead only to naivety and wishful thinking; even Kant, unlike some of his nineteenth-century liberal followers, was forced to recognize that pluralistic conflict could only be ended with a long-term radical transformation of the international system itself. Kant’s speculations remain the most important guide for those who, for one reason or another, find the traditionalist account to be superficial.13 For the convinced traditionalist, however, even Kant’s highly qualified universalism remains entirely utopian, a proper understanding of international politics being provided instead by those who recognize the pre-eminence of pluralism – Carr, Meinecke and Machiavelli. In a world in which we have become ever more conscious of our shared fate, this dilemma has become increasingly intolerable. Indeed, the classical approach has come to be assailed from all sides, even while the modern world continues to provide traditionalist theorists with ample evidence to support their gloomy prognosis of our fate. In fact, however, there is a recurring suspicion that the classical model, championed by traditionalists as ‘political realism’, may well mark a theoretical and political naivety of a most obtuse and dangerous kind. If the domestic-international distinction is the primary starting point for the classical tradition, much of the recent debate begins with a questioning of its relevance, both historically and in terms of current developments. Historically, it can be pointed out that domestic and international political theory portray two complementary aspects of the modern theory of the state and that therefore their underlying unity is of far greater significance than conventional discussions allow. Furthermore, this unity can be located as a manifestation of a broader dialectic between the state and an increasingly global system of capitalism which has been identified by currently fashionable exponents of world system analysis, international political economy and so on. Whether or not the traditional account is useful historically, hardly any account of modern world politics, with the significant exception of those concerned exclusively with the so-called ‘security dilemma’, is complete without some prefatory condemnation of the inadequacy of the traditional model and a call for conceptual reorientation. Modern empirical analysis of world politics in fact now seems to coalesce around three major models: the classical Machiavellian account modified by the requirements of twentieth-century technology and great power configurations; a liberal functionalism which seeks to portray the modern world not as a fragmented plurality of competing units but as a pluralism of community interests much like a recently

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familiar account of domestic American politics, and an updated brand of Marxist structuralism. Each approach presents a number of rather obvious difficulties. The classical state-centric approach persists in its stubborn blindness to anything but diplomatic and military relationships, or ‘high politics’. The liberal-pluralist or functional approach, while emphasizing other kinds of relationships – most notably economic interdependence – persists in its adherence to concepts or ideologies of progress, modernity and the benign influence of economics on political affairs, characteristic of nineteenth-century liberalism. And, the economic structuralists, while pointing to significant patterns of domination in the modern world, persist in an economic reductionism which reproduces crucial flaws in the account of capitalism developed either by Marx or his followers, or both. While defenders of each of these positions assert their superiority as guides to the empirical developments of the modern world, it is possible to see that they are all perched somewhat precariously on a number of epistemological assumptions about the legitimacy of empirical knowledge. In short, they all confront the problem of the underdetermination of theory by data. Appeals to scientific method, for example, are as unlikely to arbitrate between rival ideological positions here as in any other area of social and political enquiry. Thus the study of world politics has become thoroughly embroiled in the melange of disputes about appropriate method which have been the life blood of social and political theory for much of the twentieth century. In fact, a brief glance at the nature of research on modern world politics quickly reveals how the classical tradition of international political theory is most commonly denied today. For we now find not so much an insistence on the radical schism of international and domestic theory as a radical reduction of all human action to the same common denominators required by a positivist conception of knowledge. The study of international relations, which has been very much an American enterprise, has largely absorbed the premises of professionalism and scientific method which swept American social science in the middle decades of this century. Positivistic social science has taken a number of different forms. Sometimes, it is treated as an extension of the purely epistemological arguments derived from the tradition of British empiricism as modified by the Vienna Circle in the 1920s. At others, it appears as a broader political or metaphysical vision in the tradition of Comte. But whether in its narrower or broader form, the so-called behavioural revolution clearly inherits the values of the European Enlightenment. And these values are pre-eminently universalist. They provide the proper antithesis of the pluralism which emerges from Machiavelli. As such, they were certain to antagonize the upholders of the classical tradition; and, indeed, the most important debate in recent international relations theory reflects this underlying conflict.14 Essentially, the traditionalists once again have argued that, while the universalizing values of the Enlightenment might be appropriate within the secure confines of the state, international relations (the realm par excellence of the conflict of values) cannot escape from the pluralist dilemmas of Machiavelli. This must apply as much to questions of epistemology as to anything else. Thus, from the traditionalist point of view, what now passes for mainstream international relations theory violates the

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central assumption on which the subject depends. For all that Bull’s polemic against the ‘scientific’ approach was formulated in epistemological terms, the root of the issue was primarily ontological and ethical in nature. From the ‘scientific’ viewpoint, espoused with some confusion by Morton Kaplan, the only important issue was epistemological. The conception of science which then prevailed involved all the myths – about objectivity, the separation of facts and values and so on – that were engendered by Enlightenment reason. The real importance of this debate lies mainly in its translation of the major metatheoretical problem of international political theory – the conflict between international anarchy and domestic community, and with it the conflict of pluralism and universalism – into an epistemological form. As a debate about epistemology, the polemics of the 1960s left much to be desired. For just as it may be argued that the traditional distinction between domestic and international politics must be considered in terms of a broader complementarity, so also the protagonists in this debate had much in common. Epistemologically at least, they participated in the same fundamental tradition: empiricism. Certainly there were important methodological differences between the largely deductive positivism of the ‘scientists’ and the ideographic empiricism which emerges from diplomatic history and other writings of the traditionalists. Some traditionalists have also learnt something from the critiques of empiricism offered by English idealism (notably R. G. Collingwood) or German historicism (as in Raymond Aron’s debt to the more pessimistic side of Max Weber). In practice, the products of both schools of thought share more epistemological similarities than the polemics between them might indicate. The real problem is one that they both share. For it is precisely the tradition of empiricism which they have in common that has come into question in almost all forms of modern philosophy. For a brief period recently, it seemed as if Western social and political theory might be banished completely from legitimate discourse. For many it had become a variety of dodo, made irrelevant to the modern age by the proper use of scientific method. Inevitably it soon became clear that, far from replacing social and political theory, the scientific method had become, and not for the first time, a major issue within it. The history of the philosophy of science, critiques of positivism, explications of alternative logics of explanation and understanding, the relationship between knowledge and human interests and so on – all have come to the forefront of discussions about the nature of modern social and political life. The spirit of positivism undoubtedly still prevails as a guide to research methodology; whenever it has been closely examined it has collapsed into dust at the first touch. Interpretations of the implications of this debate vary considerably. For some, it seems to have implied little more than a slight change of emphasis – possibly a turning towards immediately pressing policy issues, or the cultivation of a sceptical attitude towards the more notoriously naive conceptions of ‘value-free’ research. For many of those concerned with more general metatheoretical problems, however, such an interpretation appears to be, at best, myopic. For them, it obscures the severity of the problems evident in the positivist conception of knowledge, and it is blind to the variety of recent attempts to understand social and political life in less

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narrowly constrained epistemological categories. In this interpretation, recent changes in social and political theory reflect a convergence of many streams of thought in a joint condemnation of positivist conceptions of science and knowledge and, more significantly, of the longer philosophical traditions from which positivism has grown. It is this position, which is reflected in, for example, Richard Bernstein’s popular account of the ‘restructuring’ of social and political theory.15 For Bernstein, in fact, the collapse of the positivist mainstream has been the most important feature of recent socio-political thought. This collapse is said to have resulted from influential criticisms of the positivist account of the logic of explanation and prediction, and its accompanying conceptions of both objectivity and the relationship between facts and values. This general critique is in turn seen as one aspect of a substantial revolution in modern thought. In Bernstein’s account, the most important contributions have been made by phenomenologists like Edmund Husserl and Alfred Schutz, by those who, following Ludwig Wittgenstein, have applied analytical philosophy to the study of social action and to the philosophy of science, by American pragmatists, and by those who have followed Marx in stressing the role of praxis and human interests in all forms of knowledge. Other accounts may be found which make parallel claims for recent developments in hermeneutics and structuralism, and for the interest in traditional political and moral theory which has recently revived despite positivistic insistence on its permanent demise. It is not necessary to accept Bernstein’s more specific conclusions (‘all roads lead to Jürgen Habermas’) in order to accept his more general claim that important changes have occurred in discussions about appropriate social science method, and that these reflect far more than simple antiscientism. But if we turn more critically towards the sources from which Bernstein is able to see a convergence in modern thought, they seem to present not so much a convergence towards any form of solution to philosophical puzzles as one towards a general agreement on the nature of the problem which confronts Western philosophy in the twentieth century. For they all point to the need to transcend the epistemological dilemmas which found their mature formulation with the Enlightenment: most specifically the dilemma of self-consciousness; the opposition between knowing subject and object known; the theme of the simultaneous freedom and alienation of man from the world; the oscillation from objectivity to subjectivity, from universal truth to pluralistic scepticism and relativism. There are, however, several serious problems confronting any attempt to speak of a transformation in thought of the kind attempted by Bernstein. Most significantly, any claim about a radical break with tradition must rest upon some historical understanding of the tradition itself. Yet the very identity of a tradition of thought is constantly at issue, not least because of the difficulties of defending an internalistobjectivist account of the growth of knowledge from an externalist-historicist critique. Conceptions of science which view it as an autonomous development, in ever closer approximation to some universal truth, tend to support a more sanguine attitude towards its role as a model for all forms of knowledge than those which

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view it as merely a product of a particular time, place or class interest. Thus, if Bernstein is correct in speaking of the transformation of social and political theory in terms of a deeper transformation in philosophy, then it becomes important to examine the conception of the history of philosophy in terms of which this transformation is judged to be occurring. This is particularly so in the light of Jonathan Rée’s suggestion that the history of philosophy has a rather peculiar character: one which evades many of the difficulties in any history of thought by being less a history than a set of conventions, a conglomerate of unconscious philosophical instincts, an account of what philosophy is or should be. More specifically, in Rée’s account the history of philosophy appears as the captive of the antinomies of the Kantian critical philosophy. The categories of Kant, the highest achievement of Enlightenment reason, have come to provide the framework in which all philosophy can be located. The history of philosophy in its conventional form has thus ‘enshrined the idea that past philosophers, in constituting their rival systems had been constantly disagreeing concerning a repertoire of Kantian questions’.16 It provides an account in which the values of the Enlightenment are elevated into greater prominence, while those not sharing such values become relegated to the periphery of philosophy – to ‘literature’ perhaps. Such has been the fate in particular of writers who constitute what Isaiah Berlin has dubbed the counterEnlightenment, and who have increasingly been canvassed as sources of inspiration for social and political theory in its post-positivistic phase.17 Vico comes to appear as an alternative father figure to Descartes. Herder once again challenges Kant in a latter-day era of post-Enlightenment thought. The emergence of meaning in historical context challenges the search for truth through universal reason. And once some such alternative history of philosophy is resurrected, its major theme quickly emerges as a celebration of particularity and a denial of the necessary harmony of values in a rational universe. The counterpoint to the cosmopolitanism of the Aufklarung is the pluralist and relativist sensibility of Romanticism, nationalism and historicism – the darker side of Western thought against which the white knights of science and objectivity are regularly sent forth. Much of the recent critique of science in modern social and political theory has reflected this counter-Enlightenment tradition. T. S. Kuhn or Paul Feyerabend18 are lauded or condemned for their reluctant or enthusiastic portrayal of science as an inherently relativistic enterprise; Enlightenment objectivism collapses into Romantic subjectivism. If the retreat from positivism involves nothing more than this, then it would be more accurate to speak of a ‘realignment’ of social and political theory, a movement within existing categories, than of a ‘restructuring’ with its implication of a radical alteration in the categories themselves. Many of the philosophical currents to which Bernstein refers attempt to cut deeper, and most have done so on the basis of a critical reassessment of the Western philosophical tradition as it has come to be formalized. Heidegger believed the real mistakes were already made in the preSocratic period, and attempted to overcome the dominance of epistemology over ontology of which Renaissance and Enlightenment dualism was but a necessary consequence. Many others – Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Peirce, Mead, Dewey,

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Whitehead, Collingwood and so on – all articulated their positive philosophy in terms of a critique of the ‘huge outbreak of dualisms’ (Collingwood’s phrase) which followed Descartes and Galileo. Wittgenstein and the analytic movement generally adopted the precarious strategy of ignoring the tradition altogether (and, some would say, have ended up merely repeating that part of it which goes from Hume to Kant). Whether or not any of these writers provides a very secure ladder by which to transcend the problem that they define is clearly another matter. Certainly some have contributed to the development of important research traditions that emphasize the reflexivity of self and society, mutual participation in linguistic structures and so on. Most also reflect the influence of Hegel, who perhaps remains the most important figure in the attempt to reconcile Enlightenment and counter-Enlightenment themes. But whatever one makes of these alternative traditions, it is clear that any restructuring of social and political theory must involve a judgement that it has moved beyond yet another oscillation from universal reason to particularist relativism, from untainted objectivity to unfettered subjectivity. Social and political theory of domestic society, then, has been dominated by Enlightenment sensibilities. The vision of universal reason and progress, of science and freedom, has come to permeate all our values. Yet the celebration of selfconsciousness which makes this possible simultaneously creates the problem of man’s alienation from nature. It allows for the possible reduction of man to a mere part of the natural world (thus making him subsumable under the ‘laws of nature’) or for the dissolution of man into mere subjectivity. The Romantic or expressivist critique of this dualistic mode of thought sought to rescue man from this dilemma by denying man’s alienation from nature required by universal reason. These universalist and pluralist themes have thus been complementary. Some have suggested that the complementarity is structured in terms of a division between public and private life. Others view it in terms of a collapse of optimism into pessimism. But the universalist theme has been dominant: That is why those thinkers who stand in a Romantic or expressivist tradition of whatever kind, disciples of Rousseau, or of de Tocqueville, or Marx, whether they be socialist, anarchists, partisans of ‘participatory democracy’ or admirers of the ancient polis like Hannah Arendt, are all estranged from modern Western society. And those who feel at home in it are the heirs of the Enlightenment mainstream, who proclaimed recently (and somewhat prematurely) the ‘end of ideology’ and who accept models like that of the political system as a ‘conversion process’.19 It is in this context that the tradition of international political theory is most fundamentally different from domestic politics. For here pluralism reigns, and it is the universal values of the Enlightenment that provide the source for those who attempt to mitigate the resort to violence implicit in the pluralist position. The ‘radical’ in international politics is precisely the one who cherishes the values which

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the radical in a domestic context seeks to escape. Whereas in a domestic context we look to Kant for the classical formulations of the problems of modern philosophy, in the international context Kant provides the inspiration for solutions. It is precisely this paradox within the liberal tradition of social and political theory, I would suggest, that emerges once again in recent discussions about world order. That part of the liberal tradition which is prepared to accept the possibility of universal values has developed in the specific historical context of the domestic European state. It leads one to reify that context into the universal experience of humankind. And this is then challenged by those who object that such values are really quite parochial, whether in their conception of human rights or in their account of the appropriate development of modernity. On the other hand, that part of the tradition which is prepared to take seriously the diversity of peoples and aspirations in the world is precisely that part that denies the very possibility of a community of humankind. In extreme form, it insists instead on a perpetual conflict of values arbitrated only by configurations of power and violence. In a less extreme form, it accounts for the rationality of nationalism in the modern world, a rationality which is simultaneously a form of collective idiocy.

The concept of culture and its contradictions To the extent that the study of world politics has escaped from the ‘realism’ of state-centric conceptions, and thus from the impasse of the classical liberal antinomy of universalism and pluralism, it has done so mainly in economic terms. On the one hand, there has been an optimism that capitalist economic relations will eventually smother the aggressive tendencies of nations with functional arrangements of some kind. On the other, it has been argued that the primary dynamic of the modern world involves a system of economic relations through which the industrial powers maintain a position of dominance and exploitation in the world as a whole. In both cases, the forces of universalism are assumed to be in the ascendant, although evaluations of the desirability of this process vary considerably. All three of the major accounts of the modern world – the liberal realists, the liberal functionalists/technocrats/utopians, and the neo-Marxian structuralists – however, seem to some observers to be excessively reductionist and determinist. They appeal to certain basic underlying forces at work: the pursuit of power in equilibrium systems or the dynamics of economic structures. Thus, quite apart from the adequacy of each on its own terms, it is possible to question the narrow assumptions about human action on which they all depend. One may particularly question the lack of concern about those aspects of human action which are usually subsumed under the term ‘culture’ – values, aspirations, creativity, language and ideology. The recent focus on culture in discussions of world order seems to emerge from both of these considerations. It is a term which is used to communicate at least two primary theses. First, that any account of an emerging global order must recognize the plurality of cultures in the world, together with the structural processes which presently assert the ‘hegemony’ of the culture of Western modernity. Second, that

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any account of an emerging global order must recognize the importance of the ‘superstructural’ sphere of ideas, values and so on. Together these two theses converge on a set of concerns about ‘cultural imperialism’. One need not look very far into the literature, however, to discover that the term culture is one of the most complex entities in the modern lexicon. Like other key concepts of modern social and political theory, it has been thoroughly implicated in, indeed constituted by, the development of Western industrial society. The possibility is therefore raised that not only will the search for universals in an emerging world order be predicated on the reified universals of a dominant tendency in a dominant but parochial culture, but also that the critique of that process as cultural imperialism will be co-opted into the linguistic categories of that imperialist culture. Thus, like Raymond Williams, in his discussion of the concept of culture from within the Marxist tradition, I would emphasize the importance of understanding the way in which this term retains the residues of social processes and philosophical debates peculiar to one particular culture: At the very centre of a major area of modern thought and practice, which it is habitually used to describe, is a concept, ‘culture’, which in itself, through variation and complication, embodies not only the issues but the contradictions through which it has developed. The concept at once fuses and confuses the radically different experiences and tendencies of its formation. It is then impossible to carry through any serious cultural analysis without reaching towards a consciousness of the concept itself: a consciousness that must be … historical … When the most basic concepts – the concepts, as it is said, from which we begin – are suddenly seen to be not concepts but problems, not analytic problems either but historical movements that are still unresolved, there is no sense in listening to their sonorous summons or their resounding clashes. We have only, if we can, to recover the substance from which their forms were cast.20 The problem arises most clearly once we begin to examine the way in which different schools of thought conceive of the relationship between culture and other aspects of human life. Thus, on the one side, we find various forms of reductionism or materialism, in which culture is in some way dependent on or determined by something else, an epiphenomenon of more fundamental forms. The biological version insists that culture is merely a mask for innate biological drives like territoriality, differences between the sexes, aggression, reproduction, species survival and so on. The economic version treats culture as a by-product of primary economic formations, particularly, in the present age, of capitalism. The concept of culture thus becomes entangled with the concept of ideology, and the analysis of culture becomes concerned with the attempt to ‘demystify’ the conceptions of ‘reality’ which are favoured by the dominant class in society and reified by the dominant cultural forms. On the other side are those who view culture as a more or less autonomous realm, one uncontaminated by more mundane social or biological processes. Some

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forms of this are merely naive, though they have inspired libraries full of the ‘history of art’ portrayed as nothing more than a sequence of ideas outside of history. Others are generated from a more engaged critique of the pessimistic conclusions required by a determinist position. In this view, the realm of culture is seen to be at least potentially (in some areas, or in some kinds of society) the realm of freedom and creativity. Thus as a captive of the broader battle between materialism and idealism, the concept of culture betrays its very culturally specific lineage. It is in this sense that ‘culture’ is not so much a concept as an unresolved historical movement. Like all the other major categories of modern social and political thought, culture has changed its meaning quite radically both in response to the transformations from feudal to industrial society and in response to changes in the meaning of other analytic categories. As we know it now, it is largely a product of the late eighteenth century, before which it merely implied the culture of something, notably crops, animals and minds. Williams emphasizes the way in which the term reacted to changes in the terms ‘society’, ‘economy’ and, particularly, ‘civilization’. For it developed essentially as part of a complex critique of the kind of society that had in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries come to be understood through these concepts. ‘Civilization’ in particular encompassed all kinds of notions which we now see as characterizing the development of a new kind of society, particularly the rise of the bourgeoisie and the acceleration of capitalism. The most familiar of these are the conception of progress, the distinction between civilization and barbarism, secular rationalism and individualism: the world enshrined in the universal histories of the Enlightenment. ‘Culture’, in short, came to be associated with the critique of Enlightenment values. The relationship was far from straightforward, although two main lines of thought can be distinguished. On the one hand, there is the view, associated with Rousseau and the Romantics, that the ‘civilized’ values of the Enlightenment were in fact ‘artificial’ rather than ‘natural’: Blake’s ‘single vision and Newton’s sleep’. From this direction, the term culture absorbed a series of meanings relating to art and imagination, and to family and personal life – to subjectivity. Between the Enlightenment and the Romantics a gap opened between the objective sciences and subjective arts, between positive knowledge and literature, between public and private. On the other hand, there is the view, particularly associated with Vico and Herder, which reacted against the assumption that it is the natural sciences which provide the essential foundation of reason by which the enlightened understanding of humankind could contribute to the building of a higher social order. The first step was taken by Vico with the idea that man made his own history, a line later taken up by Marx. Herder’s contribution was the rejection of a unilinear view of this vision and the emphasis on plural ways of life, from culture to cultures. The essential point to be made is that in both of these forms, the concept of ‘culture’ was part of a retreat into the particular – the individual on the one hand, the group or nation on the other – as a reaction to the universalist values of the Enlightenment. Both affirmed the particular and ‘meaning’ as an attack on the materialist and mechanistic values of the ascendant scientific rationalism. In retreating into the

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particular, the concept of ‘culture’ was absorbed into the specific cultural forms of European capitalism. For culture had now come to be viewed as a realm of ideas, located within the individual or group, and opposed to other aspects of society. The analysis of particular ‘cultural’ forms reflected the same kind of schism; some of them still pose the most intractable problems in modern social and political thought. The study of language, for example, has for the most part been conducted in a more or less objectivist or scientific fashion. It has resulted in a vast knowledge of ‘other’ languages – not unrelated, of course, to the dynamics of European conquest – and of formal linguistic structures, most notably typified by Saussure. But language in this tradition appears as something alien to man. The alternative and diametrically opposing line, rooted explicitly in Herder, emphasizes the expressive and subjective nature of language. Thus the study of the cultural form reflects the categorization by which the term ‘culture’ itself has been alienated from the material world. More ironically, the tradition of thought – Marxism – which has presented itself as an attempt both to transcend the strict separation of subjective and objective and to explain the historical forces which generated it in the first place, had until relatively recently almost completely surrendered to it. For the cruder strains in this tradition, culture becomes merely superstructural and, in a crude sense, ideological: something determined by the base. With the idealist tendencies of ‘Western Marxism’, this tradition seems to converge again on the attempt to transcend these categories. Antonio Gramsci’s conception of ‘hegemony’, for example, goes a considerable way towards restoring the integrity of cultural with other aspects of life in a constitutive rather than a determinist manner.21 In any case, the concept of ‘culture’, the analysis of particular forms like language, and traditions of thought which attempt to examine culture in the context of broader social formations, have all participated in a common conceptual transformation. They have all in some way been moulded by the assumption of a radical split between ideas and the physical world. ‘Culture’ has become one of a barrage of terms which now reside in the idealist and subjectivist pole of an idealist-materialist/ subjectivist-objectivist polarity. The study of language struggles to escape from the Cartesian divorce of ‘language’ and ‘reality’. The analysis of the relationship between culture and society remains mired in similar problems. In short, they participate in, reflect and indeed constitute central features of what is generally called the culture of modernity. The term ‘culture’ thus leaves us with a fundamentally ambiguous legacy. As part of a legitimate critique of the kind of mechanistic and reductive scientism of the Enlightenment tradition, it guides us towards the importance of ideas, consciousness, human meaning, values and so on. As part of a legitimate critique of the reified universals of Enlightenment reason, it guides us towards the diversity of human experience. But as a particular historical-philosophical formation, which responds to a false antithesis of subjective and objective by a retreat into the subjective, it is at once a partial solution and a reaffirmation of the original problem. It becomes one of a series of partial solutions. The subjectivist or relativist philosophy of science à la Kuhn or Feyerabend goes some way towards restoring some balance

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in our conception of knowledge in a world which has more or less completely succumbed to the objectivist illusion. The retreat into privacy and family life becomes a reasonable response to a public realm increasingly governed by bureaucratic or instrumental reason. The search for deep subjectivity is defensible in a world where the pressures of work and commerce require merely a cog in the machine, the homogenized individual of the modern consumer culture. But as partial solutions, they also ensure the continuity of the problem to which they are a response; the ongoing conflict between the irreconcilable values of Enlightenment reason and its expressivist, subjectivist or Romantic critique, which are at the heart of Western social and political values. Like these other major themes of dissent in modern industrial societies, discussions of culture are eminently susceptible to co-optation: The major theoretical problem, with immediate effect on methods of analysis, is to distinguish between alternative and oppositional initiatives and contributions which are made within or against a specific hegemony (which then sets certain limits to them or which can succeed in neutralizing, changing or actually incorporating them) and other kinds of initiative and contribution which are irreducible to the terms of the original or the adaptive hegemony, and are in that sense independent. It can be persuasively argued that all or nearly all initiatives and contributions, even when they take on manifestly alternative or oppositional forms, are in practice tied to the hegemonic: that the dominant culture, so to say, at once produces and limits its own form of counter-culture.22 This does not, of course, dismiss the possibility of ‘authentic’ critique and transformation: ‘It would be wrong to overlook the importance of works and ideas which, while clearly affected by hegemonic limits and pressures, are at least in part significant breaks beyond them, which may again in part be neutralized, reduced, or incorporated, but which in their most active elements nevertheless come through as independent and original’.23 It is merely difficult – but immeasurably important – to separate the life-sustaining wheat from the co-optable chaff.

Orientalizing the Orient Modern Western social and political thought is far from bereft of attempts to transcend the kinds of problems outlined so far, despite the institutionalized prevalence of naive empiricism, positivism, reductive materialism and other similarly dubious tales. Nor are the more creative lines of thinking restricted to the reassertion of subjectivity in the face of an increasingly instrumental objectivism in modern society. Much of the debate on language, meaning, dialectic, structure, praxis and so on is explicitly intended to transcend the horizons of the liberal dualist heritage. From within this tradition, the problem appears to involve three main dimensions: the (critical) demystification of the way in which the consciousness of modernity has been guided by certain powerful but simplifying assumptions about the nature

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of knowledge – those which we have largely inherited from the Renaissance and Enlightenment and which have become reified within capitalism; the (potentially reactionary) recovery of alternative traditions which have come to be buried in this historical development; and the (potentially emancipatory) construction of new forms of knowledge and ‘authenticity’. The balance between these tendencies varies from discourse to discourse, but they all play an important role in the political and intellectual life of modern industrial societies. In addition to this internal debate within Western social and political thought, however, there has developed a suspicion that the parochialism of the Western tradition itself may provide intrinsic limitations to the emancipatory project. Hence a concern with non-Western traditions at many different levels: from ‘primitive art’ and exotic mysticisms to identification with the creation of a new socialist paradise under Mao or in some more fragile part of the Third World. Whether as a mirror to reflect upon the shortcomings (or ‘superiority’) of Western ‘civilization’, or as a source of regeneration for alienated bourgeois life, an interest in non-Western thought and culture has become something of a growth industry in the West. While the mainstream traditions of international relations encourage obliviousness of, rather than sensitivity to this kind of thinking, it will clearly become an issue as the hegemony of modernity comes under increasing challenge. Even with an emphasis on the importance, indeed necessity, of an openness to other cultural traditions in the analysis of world politics, the difficulties of the enterprise should not be underestimated. Imported cultural forms, after all, have had a long history of subtle and not so subtle translation and co-optation by Western industrialism and consumerism. Many oriental spiritual disciplines, for example, have been easily adapted to the requirements of post-Romantic subjectivity. Similarly, disciplines like anthropology which have been forced to take the issue seriously have constantly run into interpretive problems at the level of epistemology. Moreover, always in the background is a set of implicitly racist assumptions inherited from nineteenth-century social Darwinism. As Ernest Gellner has emphasized, modern anthropological research can itself be viewed against the background of its own Age of Darkness in which non-Western thought came to be explained either in terms of a ‘primitive mentality’ theory, according to which ‘savages’ get things wrong and confused so systematically that their thought must be categorized as ‘Pre-logical’, or according to a ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ or evolutionary theory, by which such savages are seen as being on the same ladder, though on a lower rung; that is, that they are simply unskilled at the same logical principles.24 Much of the modern philosophical discussion of this problem has developed as a direct response to the issues as raised within the socio-Darwinian context of debate, in the early decades of this century, by Lucien Levy-Bruhl, Emile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss.25 More recent approaches have turned upon a variety of pluralist perspectives, notably that of Ludwig Wittgenstein – ‘the unitary vision that all unitary visions were mistaken and the source of all error’.26 Most of the discussion of this issue in anthropology, however, focuses on the problem of explanation, on the difficulty of ‘understanding a primitive society’. In

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this sense, its primary interest is in elaborating on the concept of ‘rationality’ and its implications both for the problem of developing appropriate research procedures and for our understanding of the nature of science. Thus, even here there has been some reluctance to consider that while explanations and theories may not be verifiable (to allude to the positivist context of most discussions of explanation) they are realizable.27 The real problem concerns not merely whether in understanding a society one has to understand its concepts, or if, in understanding the concepts, one has understood the society. It concerns also the equally complex problem of reification and the socio-political context in which reification occurs. While in anthropology the hegemonic universals of social Darwinism may have been vanquished by a radical pluralism, a rather different set of attitudes prevails in the analysis of international relations. It is possible to find a few isolated critiques of the reification of Western universals into legal and institutional entities like the United Nations. Adda Bozeman’s analysis of ‘politics and culture in international history’, for example, is a thorough-going formulation of the pluralist position. She contends that many Occidental instruments of government, notably written constitutions, parliamentary procedures and the concept of state, are ‘fundamentally uncongenial to those people who have inherited non- or semi-literate forms for the expression of their political destinies and disposition’.28 Thus, Bozeman’s own work is taken up with a series of histories of the cultural traditions of the ancient near east, of Greece, of Alexander’s Empire, of Rome, Mediaeval Europe, Byzantium and of the Muslim Empire, culminating in an analysis of the establishment of the modern European state system. Bozeman’s analysis is open to a variety of criticisms. Quite apart from the fact that it is fairly simple-minded history, it is highly culturally deterministic and tends to exaggerate the differences between cultures at the expense of commonalities. More significantly, and in sharp contrast to the anthropological literature, she does not really attempt to consider any of the wider implications of cultural relativism. The basic position, however, remains important. Bozeman’s writings parallel the earlier critique, by Rousseau, of the liberal presuppositions underlying the concept of a universal community. Limited as it is, however, Bozeman’s is the articulation of what has until recently been a distinctly minority position. A forthright defence of orthodoxy can be found in Werner Levi’s critique of Bozeman. Levi takes her to task for her heavy reliance on the philosophy and theory of various legal systems while underplaying their ‘reality’, and also for her underestimation of the impact of the international system on the behaviour of states. He suggests instead that ‘cultural differences have a minor influence upon the existence of universal international law and, a fortiori, upon the existence of particular international law’. As evidence for this, he argues that ‘every state in the world, regardless of its culture, acknowledges the existence of international law by its actions, either explicitly or implicitly’. Furthermore, because all states subscribe to the basic features of the international system in practice, the systemic influences on their behaviour are inescapable, and cannot be very much affected by cultural peculiarities. ‘Universal nationalism and system membership’, he says, ‘shape the behaviour of states toward basic uniformity’. In addition to this somewhat extreme

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state-centric systemic determinism, Levi presents a functionalist account of a developing world culture – ‘supermarkets from Afghanistan to Zanzibar’. Again, ‘insofar as culture – when broadly defined – is relevant at all, international culture has more relevance than any national culture’.29 Levi’s position is a typical if extreme response by theorists of international politics to the issues raised by Bozeman. He makes explicit a set of assumptions found implicitly in much of the recent analysis of international relations. And as a response to the superficiality and rather uncritical nature of Bozeman’s position, it does have some merit. Beyond that, it no more addresses the major issues involved than does the opposite school of thought. It resembles more the affirmation of a party platform than a serious analysis. To begin with, we may object to the viability of Levi’s selfstyled empirical analysis. It is in fact not so much empirical as an articulation of two major theoretical premises – the state-centric national interest image of international interaction and a functionalist model of international law and institutions – neither of which is subjected to any particular justification. Quite apart from this, however, Levi fails to address three main issues. First, whether the empirical tendency towards systemic and functionalist determinism which he points to can be treated simply as a given concrete reality, or as a particular manifestation of a culturally specific view of the world which has, historically, managed to develop a hegemonic grasp over the whole. That the rest of the world has been increasingly ‘Westernized’ does not make it any less ‘Western’ or more ‘Universal’. It merely raises the question of the relationship between Western assumptions and the dominant mode of global socio-economic and political organization. Second, whether this supposedly ‘realist’ view of international behaviour justifies a similarly ‘realist’, positivist or instrumentalist view of international law. Third, whether this view of international politics is sufficient to brush aside the wide range of epistemological problems which are raised by the pluralist critique. In fact, it may be countered that this supposedly ‘realist’ position is a classic example of a non-verifiable theory which seeks to mould the world in its own image. In which case, Levi’s position is open to the charge that it is, at best, a naive realism and at worst, a variety of intellectual and cultural imperialism: might makes right. In this sense, it may be seen as a parallel to that socio-Darwinian attitude which views Western science and its associated concepts of rationality as the supreme value which other supposedly primitive superstitions will naturally wish to emulate. In short, within the analysis of international relations, the parameters of discussion about the nature and importance of non-Western cultures are somewhat limited. They largely reproduce versions of universalism and pluralism familiar from the conventional liberal tradition. The difficulties which are involved in the term ‘culture’ are also ignored. It is true that not all articulations of a universalizing modernity can be so easily dismissed, and they would have to be taken more seriously in any extended discussion of this issue. For empirically it may well be admitted that both the structure of the state system and the mythology of modernity have been successfully exported; that it is necessary, for example, for states to use the universalized language of Western diplomacy in order to operate in the state system at all. The

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empirical evidence, however, is not entirely unambiguous, and it certainly does not make the metatheoretical issues any easier to resolve. There has been, however, another way of cutting into this problem, one which I think is rather more instructive. It is an approach which is usefully examined through the writings of the philosopher F. S. C. Northrop. Northrop’s work has now largely been forgotten in international political theory, although it once enjoyed a minor popularity. Much of his more specific analysis is now obviously dated, and his general attempt to relate cultural gestalts to ‘practical politics’ has not been easily reconcilable with the more fashionable modes of socio-scientific analysis. More seriously, however, if we move beyond some of the superficialities of his writings, we find that it is an almost classical epistemological dualism adopted from the mainstream of Western scientific philosophy which underlies and thereby restricts the value of his approach.30 Northrop’s early work was in the philosophy of science, particularly in an examination of the philosophical implications of the theoretical upheavals of twentiethcentury physics. Influenced by Ernst Cassirer, Alfred North Whitehead and Albert Einstein, among others, the dualism of subject and object, as formulated most notably in the positivist and neo-Kantian traditions of the early twentieth century, quickly became the central thread of his later ‘philosophical anthropology’. In its simplest formulation, his approach is predicated upon a basic distinction between two modes of knowledge. The first is characterized in terms of ‘concepts by intuition’, one of which ‘denotes, and the complete meaning of which is given by something which is immediately apprehended’. The second is characterized by ‘concepts by postulation’ – ‘one the meaning of which in whole or part is designated by the postulates of some specific, deductively formulated theory in which it occurs’. In his philosophy of science, these represent successive stages of scientific enquiry, both of them indispensable in any coherent account of scientific knowledge. The gap between the two is bridged by a technical epistemological operation which he calls an ‘epistemic correlation … a relation joining an unobserved component of anything designated by a concept by postulation to its directly inspected component denoted by a concept by intuition’.31 It is not necessary here to assess the limitations of this basically Kantian starting point; it is merely one variation of a theme made familiar by Rudolph Carnap and Carl Hempel, and it has been thoroughly demolished by the post-positivistic philosophy of science over the last three decades. What is important is that it forms the basis of Northrop’s philosophy of culture. For his analysis, again reduced to its most elementary formulation, is that a common tendency to emphasize either one or the other of these two modes of knowledge at the expense of the other has been a primary factor in two major divisions in the modern world, one between the Occident and the Orient, another between the sciences and the humanities. To take the first of these, Northrop argues that there is a tendency in the East to emphasize concepts by intuition (‘the aesthetic continuum’), while the West places greater emphasis on concepts by postulation. Thus, where for Plato, for example, the world of forms is fundamental, and the ever-changing reality a mere reflection,

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for Chinese philosophy it is the bright vividness of the concrete world which is said to be fundamental and the general concepts which are the pale reflection. This analysis is extended to a comparison of legal systems. Western law, he suggests, is characterized by abstract contractual law which recognizes ethical norms other than those of the status quo, thereby allowing for progressive dynamism and universal application. The Orient, by contrast, is said to rely upon an ‘intuitive mediational’ type of law. It tends to push legal codes into the background, preferably dispensing with them altogether, and to bring the disputants into a warm give-and-take relationship, usually by way of a mediator, so that the previously made demands can be modified gracefully, and a unique solution taking all of the exceptional circumstances of the case into account is spontaneously accepted by both disputants.32 Thus, for Northrop, it is the heavy emphasis on the theoretic component of knowledge, epitomized by the physical sciences, which is the hallmark of Western thought and which, when contrasted with Oriental traditions, may be seen as a fundamental aspect of its ethnocentrism. Culture is seen in terms of the articulation of certain philosophical principles in a variety of different aspects. Moreover, these philosophical presuppositions are said to be rooted ultimately in ‘science’. As a consequence, given that all the main cultural systems and social institutions are based on their respective philosophies, which in turn are grounded in their respective ‘sciences’, the most effective way of solving conflicts is to eliminate contradictions between the sciences of various cultures. When the conflict between the true foundations of antagonistic culture systems is removed, the cultures upon which they are based will be harmonious. There are clearly a number of enormous difficulties with this analysis, particularly in the conception of culture as being rooted in scientific epistemology, and also in the conception of the underlying sources of conflict in human societies. It may well be that there are aspects of validity in both assertions; physical science, for example, has been of immense importance in the development of Western civilization. Northrop’s detailed analysis, however, quickly attracted critical appraisal. It was criticized for playing down important theoretic elements in Chinese culture.33 Similarly, his characterization of science, and Western thought in general, in terms of the Platonic–Galilean tradition of rationalism, belies the complementary stereotype of science as Baconian induction. It is in fact precisely this schism between two opposing traditions, faithfully reproduced in the presuppositions from which Northrop begins, which has been the major characteristic of Western thought, particularly since the Renaissance. One does not have to dig very far into comparative philosophy to discover that it is just this dualism which becomes the central focus of mutual reference and contradistinction. Thus, in his classic history of Chinese philosophy, Fung Yu-Lan seeks to differentiate it in a general way from the Western tradition and comments on the minor role played by epistemology in China. Epistemology, he says, has not formed an important part of Chinese philosophy, not only because Chinese philosophy has not cared to pursue knowledge for its own sake, but also

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because it does not demarcate clearly the distinction between the individual and the universe. A very important feature of modern Western history has been the consciousness by the ego of itself. Once it has consciousness of itself, the world immediately becomes separated into two: the ego and the non-ego, or what is subjective and what is objective. From this division arises the problem of how the subjective ego can have knowledge of the objective non-ego, and from this arises the great emphasis which Western philosophy has laid upon epistemology. In Chinese thought, however, there has been no clear consciousness by the ego of itself, and so there has been equally little attention paid to the division between the ego and the non-ego; therefore epistemology has likewise not become a major problem.34 Similarly, Joseph Needham has offered his opinion that Northrop is ‘deeply mistaken’ and points to the proper context in which the undoubted difference between Chinese and European thought has to be considered: There is no good reason for denying to the theories of the Yin and Yang, or the Five Elements, the same status of proto-scientific hypotheses as can be claimed by the systems of the pre-Socratic and other Greek schools. What went wrong with Chinese science was its ultimate failure to develop out of these theories forms more adequate to the growth of practical knowledge, and in particular its failure to apply mathematics to the formulation of regularities in natural phenomena. This is equivalent to saying that no Renaissance awoke it from its ‘empirical slumbers’. But for that situation the specific nature of the social and economic system must be held responsible, and differences in the apprehension of Nature as such cannot, as we see it, explain the differences between Chinese and European conceptions of law.35 What is really of interest in analyses like that offered by Northrop, therefore, is the way in which a well-intentioned attempt to take the differentiation of cultures as a serious issue in the study of world politics ends up as an imposition of distinctly Western categories on other cultures. In terms of the devastating polemic offered by Edward Said,36 it can be seen as part of a long historical project of Orientalizing the Orient. And far from encouraging a headlong leap into an assessment of the possible contributions of non-Western cultures for the construction of alternative world orders – desirable as this is – it provides a warning that the analysis of social and political life is beset with philosophical and methodological difficulties which are merely magnified by a recognition of the historical, economic and political contexts in which our prevailing images of other cultures have been developed.

Conclusion Recent thinking about international politics and world order reflects a number of challenges to the global hegemony of Western modernity at the level of both

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theory and praxis. It draws upon critiques of the processes of underdevelopment, of the exploitation of labour and resources in the Third World by multinational conglomerates, and of the more subtle processes of cultural domination which accompany the blunter forms of political and economic control. It thus depends upon the identification of the central contradictions of the modern world as those which involve north/south, developed/underdeveloped, white/coloured relations. Consequently, it converges upon a major challenge to the universalist aspirations for one united world which have emerged from the utopian or idealist traditions of world order thinking. Three elements of this challenge seem to be of particular importance: the reassertion of the value of nationalism and autonomy in the face of a tradition of thought which has usually viewed the state as the major problem to be overcome; the emphasis on the importance of ‘culture’ as the central focus of analysis; and the attempt to canvas non-Western cultural traditions as a necessary part of the search for a ‘just’ world order. Each of these elements raises a wide range of questions of the greatest significance for any analysis of modern world politics. And at the level of critique, they each point to limitations in the conventional wisdom of international political theory. Beyond the level of critique, however, we move quickly to the realm of dilemmas which have come to exercise a large part of modern social and political thought. Modern philosophy, together with those who ruminate on the epistemology of the social sciences, still struggles with the revolt against dualism, or else relapses into yet another return to Kant. Those who attempt to make sense of the empirical transformations of modern world politics can still easily be categorized as Machiavellian realists or Kantian utopians. The most penetrating discussions of culture and ideas are those which attempt to transcend the twin demons of reductionism and idealism, the objectivist illusion and the relativist abyss. And the dialogue of civilizations, perhaps the primary inspiration for those reluctant to equate world politics with Western reason, is increasingly being indicted for becoming less of a process of mutual comprehension than a systematic objectification of the Other. An even greater difficulty involves the retreat to nationalism. It is a retreat which can be defended in much the same way as the Romantic and pluralist critique; it is simultaneously an escape from, and a perpetuation of the problem. For the antinomy of universalism and particularism is no longer one usefully structured on the classically dualist lines of Renaissance, Enlightenment and post-Renaissance thought. Nor is it one that can be dissolved by the universalization of a parochial pluralism, unless we are to opt for authoritarian modes of global politics. Within the liberal tradition, the antinomy has been resolved by assigning each part to separate spheres: domestic and international, public and private – a resolution which is deeply implicated in the crisis of the modern age. The foregoing analysis has been concerned to delineate the way in which each of these issues appear if examined in the context of recent critiques of conventional categories in modern social and political theory. At the broadest level, it has been suggested that the external challenge to Western hegemonic discourse impinges

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directly upon a knot of difficulties within this discourse itself. It is the convergence that is important. To begin with, the possibility is raised that the critique of Western hegemonic discourse inevitably becomes co-opted into the categorial scheme of that discourse. Enlightenment reason, understood as the universalization of interest as the essence of political life, is challenged once again by a pluralist defence of the passions in the form of ‘authentic’ traditional cultures. Like the assertion of authentic subjectivity in the face of an alienating objectivism, the challenge expresses the dilemmas of an epoch. For, while the patronizing assumption that all traditions will become modern may now be fading, the retreat to traditions still appears to be the most obvious means of defence against the internationalization of modernizing values. And such a retreat does not often seem to be a credible defence, if only because the traditions themselves have become frozen in their own inertia or irreparably damaged through rapid confrontations with modern life. Culture as hegemony becomes challenged by culture as mystification. And culture as mystification, as justification for repression in the name of authenticity and autonomy, merely feeds a defence of a universalized modernity based now not on some elevated vision of progress but on a resigned acquiescence in the least undesirable alternative. The new ‘realism’ recalls Max Weber’s ambivalence towards the disenchantment of the world, the universalization of instrumental rationality, far more than the ethical dilemmas of Machiavelli or the reductionist imperatives of Hobbes. More seriously, however, the convergence of the anti-hegemonic critique with the dilemmas of modern social and political theory opens up alternative perspectives on both issues. We move from anti-hegemonic critiques, from a reversed we/they opposition, to recognition of dilemmas confronting the world as a whole. We move from attempts to transcend Western reason merely from within Western reason to recognition that there are other ways of thinking than those enshrined in the reified categories of Western epistemology. Without such convergence, we seem doomed to merely reproduce the contradictions which we seek to escape. In attempting to situate an important recent tendency within international political theory and world order studies into the broader compass of metatheoretical controversies, this study has inevitably stressed the realm of abstract dilemmas rather than the historical circumstances in which these dilemmas have been generated. It has also sought to point to resolutions of these dilemmas which do not seem to be fruitful rather than those which might be. In a broader context, neither limitation can be justified and as such the study can be little more than a preliminary exercise. It should be clear, however, that the theme which I regard as being central to all these issues is the imperative to dichotomize, whether in its epistemological subject/object or its imperially useful we/they form. It should also be clear that dichotomies only persist in a static universe: the classical dualisms of Western reason took their most intractable form in the context of the Parmenidean permanence of mechanics from Galileo to Newton, a context which can also be understood as socio-political. But it is at the very least a good wager that we do not live in a static universe.

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Notes 1 This essay was originally presented to the World Order Models Project Working Group on Culture, Power and Global Transformation, Lisbon, Portugal, July 1980 and appeared in Alternatives, 7:2, 1981 and as Working Paper no. 19 of the World Order Models Project, New York, 1982. 2 Edward W. Said, Orientalism, New York: Vintage Books, 1979; see, also, Albert Hourani, ‘Islam and the Philosophers of History’, Middle Eastern Studies 3, 1967, 206–68. 3 Anthony Smith, The Geopolitics of Information: How Western Culture Dominates the World, London: Faber and Faber, 1980; see, also, Herbert I. Schiller, Mass Communications and American Empire, New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1969; and, for a useful discussion of the broader context, Robert W. Cox, ‘Ideologies and the New International Economic Order: Reflections on Some Recent Literature’, International Organisation 33:2, Spring 1979, 257–302. 4 In addition to the well-known literature on development economics and the political economy of imperialism and dependence, see S. K. Arora, ‘Pre-empted Future? Notes on Theories of Political Development’, Behavioural Sciences and Community Development 2:2, September 1968, 85–120; Ashis Nandy, ‘The Psychology of Colonialism: Sex and Age as the Idiom of Political Inequality in British India’, undated manuscript, subsequently included in Nandy, The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonialism, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1983; O. Mannoni, Prospero and Caliban: The Psychology of Colonization, translated by P. Power, New York: Praeger, Second Edition 1964; Mannoni, ‘Psychoanalysis and the Decolonization of Mankind’, in J. Miller, ed., Freud, London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1972, 86–95; and V. G. Kiernan, The Lords of Human Kind: European Attitudes to the Outside World in the Imperial Age, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972. 5 Works relevant to this general theme include Talal Asad, ed., Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter, London: Ithaca Press, 1973; Asad, ‘Anthropology and the Analysis of Ideology’, Man 14:4, December 1979, 607–27; Jack Goody, The Domestication of the Savage Mind, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977; Louis Dumont, Homo Hierarchicus, translated by Mark Sainsbury, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970; and Dumont, ‘On the Comparative Understanding of Non-Modern Civilizations’, Daedalus, Spring 1975, 153–72. For important recent philosophical discussions of the general problem of cultural relativism in socio-political theory, see John Skorupski, Symbol and Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976; Bryan R. Wilson, ed., Rationality, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1970; Ruth Finnegan and Robin Horton, eds, Modes of Thought, London: Faber and Faber, 1973; Ernst Gellner, Legitimation of Belief, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974; and J. A. Theuws, ‘Cultural Anthropology and Hermeneutics’, Cultures et dévelopement, 10:2, 1978, 203–30. 6 R. B. J. Walker, Political Theory and the Transformation of World Politics, Princeton University, Center of International Studies, World Order Studies Program Occasional Paper no. 8, 1980. 7 I have in mind most particularly Rajni Kothari, ‘Towards a Just World’, Alternatives V:1, June 1979, 1–42; also published as Working Paper no. 11, 1980, by the World Order Models Project, New York; see, also, Kothari, Footsteps into the Future, New York: Free Press, 1975; Ali A. Mazrui, A World Federation of Cultures: An African Perspective, New York: Free Press, 1976; Gustavo Lagos and Horacio H. Godoy, Revolution of Being: A Latin American View, New York: Free Press, 1977; Richard A. Falk, A Study of Future Worlds, New York: Free Press, 1975; Johan Galtung, The True Worlds, New York: Free Press, 1980; Robert C. Johansen, The National Interest and the Human Interest, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980; Roy Preiswerk, ‘The Place of Intercultural Relations in the Study of International Relations’, Yearbook of World Affairs, London: Stevens, 1978, 251–67; and Fouad Ajami, ‘Human Rights and World Order Politics’, Alternatives III:3, March 1978, 351–83, also published as Working Paper no. 4, 1978, by the World Order Models Project, New York.

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8 Martin Wight, ‘Why Is There No International Theory?’, in Herbert Butterfield and Martin Wight, eds, Diplomatic Investigations: Essays in the Theory of International Politics, London: George Allen and Unwin, 1966, 17–34. 9 E. H. Carr, The Twenty Years Crisis, 1919–1939, London: Macmillan, Second Edition, 1946. 10 Friedrich Meinecke, Machiavellianism: The Doctrine of Raison d’Etat and Its Place in Modern History (1924), translated by D. Scott, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957; and Historicism: The Rise of a New Historical Outlook, translated by J. E. Anderson, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972. 11 See Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics, London: Macmillan, 1977; and Fritz Kratochwil, International Order and Foreign Policy, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1978. 12 Stanley Hoffmann, The State of War, New York: Praeger, 1965, 86. The continuing importance of this dilemma has recently been stressed by Ian Clark, Reform and Resistance in the International Order, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980. 13 For comments on the contemporary importance of Kant in the analysis of world politics see W. B. Gallie, ‘Wanted: A Philosophy of International Relations’, Political Studies 27:3, September 1979, 484–92; and Ian Clark, Reform and Resistance, 31–54. However, the importance of Kant for contemporary thinking in this area lies, I would suggest, precisely in the unresolved tension between universalism and pluralism which is at the heart of the critical philosophy; for useful discussion, see Hans Saner, Kant’s Political Thought, translated by E. G. Ashton, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973. I ignore here parallel themes raised in analyses of international regionalism. 14 Hedley Bull, ‘International Theory: The Case for a Classical Approach’, World Politics, April 1966; and Morton A. Kaplan, ‘The New Great Debate: Traditionalism vs Science in International Relations’, World Politics, October 1966; both reprinted in Klauss Knorr and James N. Rosenau, eds, Contending Approaches to International Politics, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969, 20–38 and 39–61, respectively. 15 Richard J. Bernstein, The Restructuring of Social and Political Theory, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1976; cf. Paul Ricoeur, Main Trends in Philosophy, New York: Holmes and Meier, 1979. 16 Jonathan Rée, ‘Philosophy and the History of Philosophy’, in Rée et al., eds, Philosophy and lts Past, Hassocks: Harvester Press, 1978, 3–39. 17 Isaiah Berlin, Vico and Herder, New York: Viking Press, 1976; and Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas, New York: Viking Press, 1979. For an important study of the broader context of this issue, see Albert O. Hirschman, The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism before Its Triumph, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977. 18 T. S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962; and Paul Feyerabend, Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge, London: New Left Books, 1975. 19 Charles Taylor, Hegel, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975, 542; cf. Geoffrey Hawthorn, Enlightenment and Despair: A History of Sociology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976. 20 Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977, 11; see, also, Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures, New York: Basic Books, 1973; Ernesto Laclau, Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory, London: New Left Books, 1977; and Jorge Larrain, The Concept of Ideology, London: Hutchinson, 1979. 21 See Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, translated by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1971. 22 Williams, Marxism and Literature, 114. 23 Ibid. 24 Ernest Gellner, ‘Concepts and Society’, in Wilson, ed., Rationality, 28–9. 25 In this context, and particularly on the differing perspectives of Durkheim and Levy-Bruhl, see Robin Horton, ‘Levy-Bruhl, Durkheim and the Scientific Revolution’, in Horton

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26 27


29 30

31 32 33

34 35


and Ruth Finnegan, eds, Modes of Thought, 249–305; see also, Horton, ‘African Traditional Thought and Western Science’, Africa 37, 1967, reprinted in part in Wilson, ed., Rationality, 131–71; and Skorupski, Symbol and Theory. Gellner, Legitimation of Belief, 133. This particular formulation of the issue is borrowed from Chang Tung-Sun, ‘A Chinese Philosopher’s Theory of Knowledge’, Yenching Journal of Social Studies 1:2, 1939 (Peking), reprinted in Gregory P. Stone and Harvey A. Faberman, Social Psychology through Symbolic Interactionism, Waltham, MA: Wiley, 1970, 121–40. Adda B. Bozeman, Politics and Culture in International History, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1960; see, also, Bozeman, The Future of Law in a Multi-Cultural World, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1971; and Robert S. Wood, ‘History, Thought and Images: The Development of International Law and Organization’, Virginia Journal of International Law 12:l, December 1971. Werner Levi, ‘International Law in a Multicultural World’, International Studies Quarterly 18:4, December 1974. On Northrop’s philosophy of science, see Science and First Principles, New York: Macmillan, 1931; for his general theory of knowledge see The Logic of the Sciences and Humanities, New York: Macmillan, 1947, and ‘The Relation between Naturalistic Scientific Knowledge and Humanistic Intrinsic Values in Western Culture’, John E. Smith, ed., Contemporary American Philosophy, Second Series, London: George Allen and Unwin, 1970, 107–51; and on his philosophical anthropology, see, Philosophical Anthropology and Practical Politics, New York: Macmillan, 1960; The Meeting of East and West: An Inquiry Concerning World Understanding, New York: Macmillan, 1952; The Complexity of Legal and Ethical Experience: Studies in the Methodology of Normative Science, Boston, MA: Little Brown, 1959; ‘The Relation between Eastern and Western Philosophy’, in Radhakrishnan, Comparative Studies in Philosophy Presented in Honour of His Sixtieth Birthday, London: George Allen and Unwin, 1951, 362–78; and Northrop and H. H. Livingston, eds, Cross-Cultural Understanding: Epistemology in Anthropology, New York: Harper and Row, 1964. For general commentary on Northrop, see Andrew J. Reck, The New American Philosophers, New York: Delta Books, 1968, 197–220; and Pitirim Sorokin, Social Philosophies in an Age of Crisis, Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1950, 145–58, and 244–59. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and Humanities, 82, 62, 119. Northrop, The Complexity of Legal and Ethical Experience, 84–5. See, e.g., Hu Shih, ‘The Scientific Spirit and Method in Chinese Philosophy’, and E. R. Hughes, ‘Epistemological Methods in Chinese Philosophy’, in Charles A. Moore, ed., The Chinese Mind: Essentials of Chinese Philosophy and Culture, Honolulu: East West Center Press, 1967; and Arthur F. Wright, ‘Northrop on the Traditional Culture of the Orient’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 1949, 143–9. Fung Yu-Lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy, translated by Derk Bodde, London: George Allen and Unwin, Second Edition, 1952, vol. l, 3. Joseph Needham, Science and Civilization in China, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1954 ff., vol. 2, 579. For a recent discussion of this issue which has resulted in an enormous literature, and which involves important alternative traditions generated by Marx and Weber, see Bryan S. Turner, Marx and the End of Orientalism, London: George Allen and Unwin, 1978. Cf., Joseph R. Levenson, Confucian China and Its Modern Fate: A Trilogy, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1968, and Maxime Rodinson, Islam and Capitalism, London: Allen Lane, 1974. Said, Orientalism.


I We live amidst competing claims about change and transformation, especially claims about globalisms, localisms, regionalisms, networks, circuits and many other suspected challenges to the power and authority of the modern, sovereign, territorial nation-state, to use some of the contested conceptual cartography that I want to put into play here.1 These claims are often accompanied by further claims about the significance of new forms (and disturbing legitimations) of mass violence. A widespread sense of insecurity and vulnerability is palpable in many settings, but it is felt in relation to inherited concepts of political practice and analysis as well as to the daily reports of physical terrors, counterterrors and looming catastrophes. One especially disconcerting claim, a summation of the possible consequences of many other claims, is that political life no longer occurs where traditions shaped by the modern state tell us it must occur. No doubt one should immediately insist that a similar claim might be made in relation to many more familiar contexts, even that it has long been a necessary maxim for both political action and the wiser forms of political analysis. In a political order that has been torn between competing claims to ultimate authority – state law and economic value most obviously, but also in relation to hegemonic subordinations of many kinds – one would have to be unusually naive to think that politics emanates just from sites claiming explicitly political status. Expect the unexpected, whether temporally or spatially, remains the first rule of political judgement. Still, many contemporary claims exceed familiar understandings of political theatricality, suggesting an historical and structural shift of venue and implying unpredictable transformations in what the term ‘politics’ might signify, or at least widespread concern that many of its usual significations have become unconvincing. This is perhaps especially what is at stake in (what I take to be suggestive but analytically fragile) claims that concepts of ‘the global’ or ‘the imperial’ provide a

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better ground on which to think about politics than do either the sovereign state or even the classical Greek polis: the two models of a spatially bounded community within which we have come to assume that political possibility might head in the right direction, towards justice, towards enlightenment, towards emancipation, despite all setbacks, all corruptions, all disasters. If the location of political life is unclear, the character and perhaps the very possibility of political life as it has been understood for a long time is unclear also. Political dislocation suggests, not least, that we might no longer be who we have come to think we are: no longer simply the citizens of states that give us our primary legal identity; no longer simply members of cultures or communities whose contours are sharply defined by the territorial borders of states; no longer political subjects with some expectation that our citizenships within such statist communities might enable us to be properly modern human beings despite the degree to which a modern statist politics expresses such profound antagonisms between claims to citizenship and claims to humanity. Familiar identities, allegiances, obligations, liberties, equalities, securities and authorities seem unusually unstable, sometimes dramatically so, sometimes just as news from far away, even if only in relation to a fairly short historical era in which boundaries have been unusually stable. At the same time, one must acknowledge the massive efforts being made to maintain and reauthorize established institutions and principles, to reproduce the state even if in new forms, to strengthen the international system even while multiplying its systemic complexities, to reaffirm the prevailing understanding of what we are as citizens and humans living within an order of spatial, sociocultural and legal containments, sometimes hard, sometimes remarkably flexible. It remains unclear whether we live amidst a structural condition of invariance under transformation, transformations taking us away from presumed conditions of structural invariance, or, my own guess, somehow both at once. It is thus unsurprising that almost all the hard questions of our time converge on the status of boundaries: of borders, distinctions, discriminations, inclusions, exclusions, beginnings, endings, limitations, margins and exceptions, and on their authorization by subjects who are always susceptible to inclusion or exclusion by the boundaries they are persuaded to authorize. We may know that boundaries are always complex affairs. We may know that the boundaries of any modern state are always more complicated than the clean lines of most cartographic representations; any sociological, or economic, or cultural, or legal analysis can tell us this. The image of clean lines nevertheless prevails as a regulative ambition of modern political life. We belong here. You belong there. They belong elsewhere. We may let you in. They will be sent home. Everyone must know their place, not just in the hierarchies of status, class and social order but literally in horizontal or territorial space: below the sky, above the earth, us here, others there. That the established boundaries of modern political life are in trouble is an increasingly familiar cliché. Discussions of boundaries are especially shaped by all too familiar claims about continuing presence or impending absence: by competing claims that the boundaries of the modern state are likely to be with us for the

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imaginable future or are already disappearing as a consequence of movements and globalizations that make boundaries functionally redundant. Yet while many established boundaries may well be less significant than they were, it is not at all obvious that boundaries are becoming any less significant in our political lives. Clichés of presence and absence only detract from our capacity to make sense of the increasing complexity, the spatiotemporal disarticulation and rearticulation, of borders, limits, exceptions and other practices of inclusion and exclusion. While we certainly need to pay greater attention to the transformation of boundaries, we also need to be more sensitive to the relatively limited vocabulary and conceptual resources through which we try to make sense of our contemporary limitations. Despite the clichés, I would say that we can be fairly certain that our futures will not be played out in ways enabled and governed by the convergence of the borders and limits of political life upon the territorial borders of the modern state, nor by any simple disappearance of borders and limits in the white heat of linear globalization. Indeed, there is no great risk in predicting that the boundaries of modern political life will neither remain where and as they are assumed to have been, nor fade away. At the same time, we can also be fairly sure that the presumed convergence between borders inscribed in territorial space and limits inscribed in law – the boundaries that together affirm crucial conditions of the possibility of political life within and between modern states – will come under increasing challenge. If this is the case, however, the changing relationship between politics and boundaries will require a lot more critical engagement, a lot more analysis of what boundaries do, and a lot more attention of what happens at those sites in space and in time where and when the modern political imagination has come to believe that hardly anything happens at all. Some scholars come to this material empirically. I come to it with explicitly theoretical and thus practical intentions: with a sense that if it is the case that statist forms of political life are being put into suspicion by the multiple dynamics that have made claims about the global and the imperial so plausible in some contexts, as at least markers of processes that remain vague and indeterminate, the statist categories to which contemporary political analysis remains so deeply indebted must be put into suspicion also. I also come to it through a specific cultural orientation, one concerned with accounts of boundaries, borders and limits privileged by specifically modern traditions of political possibility and necessity; traditions, that is, which know how to inscribe borders in geopolitical space and limits in law because they have historically and culturally specific ways of making distinctions, classifying phenomena and inscribing distinctions and classifications as natural, cultural and political necessity. I privilege this particular cultural orientation not because of any blind insensitivity to the dangers of ethnocentrism when speaking about any form of political analysis that lays claim to be able to speak about the world, or the global, or the international – all much more difficult terms than they are often made to seem. It is because of the importance of understanding how hegemonic discourses of modernity so easily seduce us into thinking that we can engage with others across physical and jurisdictional boundaries only to leave us reproducing thoroughly modern accounts of what those others must be.2 While I am aware that modernity has come to be

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understood in relation to claims about the achievement of specific forms of subjectivity, I would say that it is at least – and perhaps more – important to emphasize how certain practices of distinction, discrimination, or ‘drawing the line’, have been authorized so as to produce what is on either side of the borders that modern political life has come to take for granted. Modern political analysis has become reasonably proficient in its accounts of what happens on either side of modern boundaries, but has preferred to take those boundaries for granted as the condition under which it might be reasonably persuasive in its accounts of what happens on either side of them. Boundaries, especially spatial borders and limits of legal jurisdiction, tend to be treated as mere frames around seemingly more important phenomena, even though it is clear enough that it is the framing, the margin, the limit, the exclusion, the exception that gives meaning and value to what is considered to be more interesting, more centred: a normal and even natural state of being, somewhere in the middle. The particular case to which I have previously paid most attention has been the boundary between the modern state and the system of states.3 This boundary has been treated to especially sharp divisions of intellectual labour (political theory and sociology as disciplines of the inside, international relations as the discipline of externality and alterity in space, anthropology as the discipline of externality and alterity in time, with claims about comparison working as a claim about externality firmly grounded in a particular internality) in ways that make it very difficult to understand how modern political life is always constituted by both statist and interstatist dynamics, by internalities and externalities that are always both mutually constitutive and antagonistic. But this particular case has much broader and deeper resonances. It is in this context that I want to draw attention to the importance of four very general themes that are both broadly known and yet sharply underplayed in many areas of contemporary scholarship seeking to make sense of various patterns of political transformation. First and foremost, I want to underline the significance of the always doubled outsides that are at work in what we have come to call the system of states or international system but which I prefer to refer to as the modern international (partly on the grounds that the structural forms of the international system offer a particularly clear expression of what is at stake in referring to specifically modern forms of politics). This theme will be familiar to anyone who has examined the historical production of modern accounts of individual subjectivity: a subjectivity that produces its own exteriority as object but only on the condition that this subject that is capable of objectivity is first distinguished from any more general world outside of its subjective and objective self. The world of modern subjectivity and objectivity, or interiority and exteriority, already assumes its own distinction from some world outside of itself. There is consequently always an assumed outside to the production of modern subjectivities capable of objectivity, an outside that must be excluded so as to permit the modern self to know itself in relation to its own understanding of what objectivity, indeed the world as such, must be. This (paradigmatically Kantian, and critical) understanding of modern subjectivity and subjectification is precisely what is lost when scholarly categories are neatly divided into (pre-Kantian, and largely dogmatic) forms of internality and

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externality, encouraging a tacit ground of radical statism, or nationalism, as the organizing principle of scholarly enquiry. This is a theme that really needs to be taken up in relation to the way modernity came to be constituted as a world apart from all other worlds, from all other ways of being and all other forms of authorization, in space and in time. Here, a few brief comments will have to suffice. Second, while this doubled outside is most familiar in relation to the construction of specifically modern accounts of subjectivity and, in more explicitly political terms, to the framing of friends and enemies inside and outside the modern state, it also works in relation to what might be called the outside of the international. On the face of it, this is a phrase that makes little sense. Surely, it might be said, there can be nothing outside the international because the international encompasses everything that is within the modern world. International relations, in this view, is just a synonym for world politics. This is indeed a regulative assumption of modern political life. It expresses a claim that the world has now been brought within the world of modernity, that modernization, as a linear and teleological history, has turned everyone into modern subjectivities each subject to authorities enacted within the modern international. Nevertheless, even if we were to accept this reading of history as History, there must remain nagging questions about what, and whom, has been left outside of this process of internationalization as internalization. Third, some of the most troubling questions about modern political life over the past century or so have been posed in relation to ways in which the doubled outside of the modern state generates logics of exceptionalism; that is, logics of politics at the limit of what is taken to be normal or legal. This is where questions about boundaries shift from simple geographical or administrative descriptions of borders or philosophical and legal elucidations of limits to questions about political authority: about sovereign capacities to authorize discriminations and to make judgements about the legitimacy of making exceptions and marginalizations. Yet it is important to keep in mind that the limits of modern political life are articulated not only at the territorial borders of the modern state, as almost all modern critical political analysis has tended to assume, but at the boundaries of the modern international, even though it is far from clear where, or when, these boundaries are supposed to be. Fourth, if, as everyone seems to acknowledge, the boundaries of modern political life are in trouble, then the relations between the limits of modern subjectivity, the modern state and the modern international must be undergoing rather profound spatiotemporal rearticulations, with challenges to the presumed limits of the modern international being perhaps the most disturbing to established political principles and authorities. This is not a rearticulation that will be captured very easily by the kinds of linear and teleological accounts of modernization that find expression not only in most accounts of globalization or empire but also in most accounts of the modernizing nation-state. Those accounts are precisely correlated with the production of an array of subjectivities that have been brought within the modern international, and then laid flat upon a spherical planet that has nevertheless been left outside the world of modern political life.

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II The easiest way of thinking about relations between the commonalities and differences among people and peoples is to allow one’s imagination to be guided by the equation of the claim to culture with the claim to nation, then by the equation of the claim to nation with the claim to the sovereign state, and then by the equation of state sovereignty with all forms of sovereignty. This is the well-worn set of equations that prevails across the social sciences, providing both a convenient ground for comparisons and a rationale for effectively nationalist forms of methodology. Other starting points are possible. We could start from various claims about histories, ethnicities, traditions and ways of life, especially those involving the concept of ‘civilization’; or with the way culture might be understood as a process rather than as an achieved condition, as a verb rather than a noun, as hybridization rather than pure form, as contingency rather than necessity, as a matter of cultivations rather than of naturally given essences. Nevertheless, the purchase of the claims of the modern nation-state on all claims about culture and authorization has been overwhelming, and in many respects remains so. The claims remain overwhelming even though it is not difficult to conclude that any pure form of nation-state is difficult to find anywhere except as the regulative ambition for a specifically modern form of political community. The empirical world is always untidy, messy, always in excess of what it is supposed to be. Still, claims about what it is supposed to be can never be underestimated, and the regulative ideal of the modern nation-state certainly exerts considerable force upon all claims about what it means to speak about both culture and cultures, and the possibilities of cultivating relations among them. Various things can be said about this model of modern cultural life. It is, to begin with, the official position of states everywhere, the assumption that permits the state to give voice to its claims to subjectivity and authority, its claims to be able to speak on behalf of a particular people. It is, in effect, a possibility condition for any state to be able to participate in the modern international system. At a minimum, states need to be recognized as states, as having an effective sovereignty (thus the significance of claims about ‘failed states’ and so on), though the minimum is subject to fairly expansive interpretation (so that, say, only ‘properly democratic’ states might be exempted from accusations of failure). Different states may articulate the claim in different ways. Some speak as federal institutions, allowing differences in culture to be expressed through distinctions in territorial space. Some speak on behalf of culturally identified majorities while making special provision for ethnically identified minorities or peoples of aboriginal status. Some worry about the status of immigrants or the dangers of religious differentiation. Some could care less about questions of culture, or identity, as long as the claim to nation works as an efficient mechanism of state building and population control. As the official position of modern states everywhere, this model gives expression to the most basic philosophical concepts and contradictions of modernity as a specific cultural form, in three primary respects. It expresses a specific framing of an opposition between matter and consciousness, and especially a framing of the state as an expression of ‘power’ that nevertheless gives rise to the expression of ‘values’,

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the national values of a specific people or culture, in the singular. It thereby expresses a specific framing of all relations of universality and particularity, especially through the modern states system understood as the embodiment both of a universalizing expression of humanity, in the singular, and of the sovereign nation-state as the pluralistic expression of particular peoples and cultures. It is in this sense, for example, that the Charter of the United Nations identifies us as ‘We the peoples of the United Nations’, as the (potentially) one people, understood as humanity, encompassing many peoples/nations enabling their citizens to become properly human. Finally, it also expresses a specific spatiotemporality within which it is possible to imagine the framing of all relations of universality and particularity within a horizontal, territorialized array of sovereign nation-states within a system of states. This understanding of the spatiotemporality of modern political life involves a particular framing of the relationship between specifically modern ways of life and all its supposed others, whether this relationship is written as an historical break with some premodern, feudal or medieval era, or as a geographical break with those others, the colonized or other civilizations, who must be brought in – and I emphasize this notion of bringing in, of subjectivization – to the authoritative structures of modern authorization. I say all this quickly while recognizing that it is to say a lot; to say many things that need to be unpacked, and to demand an unpacking that would take some considerable time and expertise to unpack, perhaps in relation to Michel Foucault’s distinction between ‘classical’ and ‘biopolitical’ forms of sovereignty, to take just one currently provocative arena. However, my present purposes are quite limited, and this simpler formulation must suffice. Putting these observations together, the notion that it is the state/nation that is the obvious expression of culture and that this notion expresses the philosophical and political phenomenon we call modernity leads to a further set of claims that, despite the heavily statist character of most accounts of modernity, this is a form of existence that has to be understood in relation to the claims of the modern international: as one modern world/many cultures, even though some of these cultures/states might be characterized as somehow ‘premodern’ or even ‘postmodern’. While I would certainly admit, and even insist, that such a claim is much too simple, and that it overrides too many historical and geographical complexities, the modern international effectively expresses the prevailing ideology of our time. It does so by affirming a supposedly universal understanding of the form of the proper relationship between universality and particularity, the form expressed as a relationship between state law and international law within which the substantive practices of a political order split between claims to citizenship and claims to humanity must be contained: contained, that is, within formalized boundaries that mediate between state law and international law as well as distinguish between geophysical spaces as claims to territory.

III The modern international offers four fairly obvious ways in which to think about relations among cultures and peoples. First, it suggests that the primary form taken

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by differences in culture is the friend/enemy relation that is said to characterize relations between states: the existentialist or essentialist assertion of self and its negation that we might find theorized in, say, Max Weber’s account of a nationalist power-state, Carl Schmitt’s account of sovereignty as a capacity to decide exceptions, or Edward Said’s account of the production of orientalisms. Difference is understood as a dialectical relation between reason and unreason, norm and exception or affirmation and negation, a relation that can be driven to the limit condition at which lines are drawn and violence is deemed permissible or even necessary. Second, as a response to the dangers of such moves, relations between cultures can be understood as a site of diplomatic mediation between friends and enemies, a mediation involving recognition, dialogue, hermeneutics, negotiation and accommodation, though one that is always open to a form of exceptionalism that declares certain forms of cultural life to be beyond the bounds of acceptability. Cultures, like states, we might say, have to be of a certain form in order to have status within the community of diplomats. Third, there must be no reduction of (legitimate) differences so as to attain universality, for otherwise we arrive not at a states system, an international, but at an empire, whether understood as ‘humanity’ or ‘imperium’. The primary point of the modern international, we might say, is simply to allow for diversity within unity, for the articulation of humanity as a formal distribution of formally modern subjects and subjectivities, both individual and collective, and whatever the substantive expression of those formal subjects and subjectivities, not the erasure of diversity so as to attain unity. In this sense, the modern international works as a principled refusal of any claim to imperium, whether in the name of any imperializing state or of some need to dissolve particularistic citizenships into an all-encompassing humanity. It is both an expression and condition of possibility of the figure we know as the modern subject, the subject that is supposedly free because it is subject to the authority that makes its supposed freedom possible, to the state that is sovereign because it is subject to the necessities of systemic behaviour that make state sovereignty possible. It affirms that the regulative ambition for attaining selfdetermination must be achieved through History as a universalizing teleology; or through resistance to such a universalizing teleology. The key theorist of the modern international in this sense is not Hobbes, the usual suspect, but Kant: the Kant who offers a vision of autonomy, of the possibility of thinking and therefore being for oneself, on the condition that universal reason is internalized within the modern subject, and that everyone comes into the world of modernity, becomes the mature creatures capable of recognizing and realizing the universal within themselves. Kant has come to be treated as the nice guy, the apostle of a possible peace among nations, the ritualized opponent of Hobbes and Machiavelli. This is simply a mockery of intellectual history, indeed of history. Kant, I would rather say, is an uncertain and ambivalent figure but in some of his guises represents not a hope for the future but precisely the problem expressed by claims about the modern international.

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One reason for this is that Kant expresses the highest hopes of modern reason, and especially for a particular conception of human freedom. But unlike some of the most influential claimants to a Kantian heritage, Kant is at least upfront, and often deeply ambivalent, about the conditions under which this freedom might be achieved. Condition one, we might say, is the necessity for conflict between potentially free sovereign jurisdictions (so that war is understood to be a force driving modern subjectivities towards a perpetual peace). Condition two is the double necessity of bringing the universal into the particular within the modern and the bringing into the modern of all other peoples/people who are willing and able to come to maturity, to a modern subjecthood of universality within particularity, in History. This is the famous linear history, the rearticulation of Aristotelian conceptions of teleology within Platonist conceptions of spatial form, that brings us modernization, the temporality that might eventually lead to the modern international as an expression of peace rather than of war – the condition not of diplomacy so much as of the parallel universes of similarity in difference, of autonomous subjectivities, that is ultimately the regulative narrative of the modern international. The story is premised on principles of freedom, even if it is usually told in terms of necessity, and security.

IV I am putting the matter this way in the hope that it will convey a sense that there is a rather large conceptual problem here. It is a problem that is both obvious and yet difficult to take seriously. The general problem is that claims about the international work as if they are claims about the world as such, or at least about the totality of humanity that is to be found all over the world. This problem finds two primary expressions, both involving quite profound contradictions, and adding up to the way international relations cannot in fact be a synonym for world politics. First, the international cannot be considered to be an expression of any totality of humanity in any political sense in that what we understand politics to be is famously statist, nationalist, a matter of the polis, the specific political community. One might say more about Plato and Aristotle in this respect, or try to find much about anything other than the state in the writings of the canonical political theorists from Machiavelli to Weber, or even to Foucault. Less obviously, one might try to come to terms with the struggle between the competing claims of state sovereignty as the most principled modern expression of this canonical understanding of where and what politics must be, on the one hand, and the claims of systemic necessity expressed in international law, on the other; a necessity that finds contemporary expression in claims about humanitarian intervention and so on, as well as in the more sinister claims about the necessity of empire that have emerged from recent US administrations. At the heart of modern politics is a classical aporia, an undecidability, and thus a negotiation about how precisely the competing claims of state sovereignty and systemic necessity are to be resolved, with many of the key articles of the UN

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Charter offering the standard account of what this resolution must look like. The details become complex here, and need to be understood in relation both to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European accounts of the contradictory relations between claims to citizenship and claims to humanity and to the reworking of these contradictions found in the contrasting positions expressed by Schmitt and Hans Kelsen in the 1920s and 1930s. It is at the very least necessary to understand that what we have with the modern international is not an easy identification of the international with all the peoples of the world, an easy synonym of international relations and world politics, but a massive contestation over whether it is the international (international law as law, in Kelsen’s terms) that has authority over sovereign states, or sovereign states that are to be seen as the highest authority within their own territory (as having the capacity to decide the exception within the particularity of statist law, in Schmittean terms). Any analysis of modern politics that is concerned with only one side of this aporetic relationship must fail to understand the dynamics of modern politics, and will consequently either pose a dualistic choice between particularity and universality or tell us stories about the way we are already embarked on a journey from particularity to universality, or to cosmopolis, or to globalization, or to empire. Given the aporetic relation between state sovereignty and the demands of the states system that makes any claim to state sovereignty possible, such a journey is impossible. International relations cannot be read simply as a structure of particularities that might eventually be transformed into a universalizing world politics. If the international is under challenge, as I certainly think it is, it is because the relationship between universality and particularity that it expresses is under challenge, and it is this relationship – and the boundaries through which its contradictory form is negotiated – that must be in question. The standard stories about an historical shift from the particularities of state sovereignty to the universality of some sort of world or global politics simply play out a metaphysics centred on the presence or absence of the state and ignore the existence of the international entirely. It is of some interest that versions of this move have come just as easily to scholars working in the field of international relations as to those whose interests are more explicitly statist. Second, while much of what we so easily call the world has been brought into the modern international, this has only been achieved through powerful processes of exclusion. We still talk easily about ‘the expansion of international society’,4 much as we still talk easily about ‘development’ in much the same way that Cold War ideologues once spoke about ‘the stages of economic growth’.5 In this context, it is worth recalling the way Thomas Hobbes constructed his famous account of the contractual constitution of the modern sovereign state, the constitution that so many have taken to be the paradigmatic expression of what it means to engage with the world of international relations. It is worth recalling because it is so firmly rooted in an account of the here and now, in accounts of what it means to speak of the free and equal modern man whose troubles Hobbes nevertheless projects to some other time and place in order to construct both a myth of origins and a narrative about how humanity might be turned into properly

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modern subjects, brought back into the world of the modern sovereign state in another form.6 Starting with a radical account of the present as an anarchy of free and equal individuals, Hobbes projects this account back and out in space and time. This projection never reaches quite as far as infinity, never quite as far as an absolute origin or an absolute alterity. In this way, he leaves an outside to the space and time that is projected out as the limit of the modern world. This story is then run backwards, though apparently forwards, from back then and out there to the here and now of the modern sovereign state that is made possible by an imaginary contract. Serious logical puzzles beset this curious yet rhetorically elegant move. If it is possible to imagine contractual agreement among modern men who are in the impossible condition in which he portrays them, then the initial condition could not possibly be as impossible as he claims. Conversely, if the initial condition really was as impossible as he suggests, then contractual agreement seems equally impossible, unless some quite extraordinary conditionality is imposed, some miraculous mixture of reason and fear applied in the mere moment in time when impossibility turns to possibility, and modern history as a leap from anarchy to order is affirmed as a story of origins that enables the sovereign authorization of all origins, all limits and everything that must come in between. The consequence of Hobbes’s narrative is not only one of the key legitimation stories of the modern state but a story that both produces and rests upon a double outside. There is the world that is constructed as the spatiotemporal other of the here and now, the world that Hobbes imagines as a negation of the prototypical modern (liberal) man; and the world that always lies outside this specific construction of man and its constitutive negations. Hobbes, like most accounts of international relations, seems to affirm a highly spatialized and structuralist account of the modern world, but in the first instance they both affirm a theory of history, a process of bringing the world into the modern while only tacitly acknowledging some world beyond from which the world might be envisaged within the world of the modern. The international is precisely modern in the sense that it reproduces the doubled outsides of all modern subjectivities. It is a pattern we might recognize from the ways in which ‘nature’ has been excluded (been disenchanted, in Weberian terms) and then constructed as a category within modern cultures of (scientific) understanding, or from the force of Kant’s sceptical stance towards the world of phenomena that can be known only through the imposition of the subjective categories of human reason. The noumenal world, like transcendental truth, is left outside, unknowable except through dogmas that must destroy all possibilities of human freedom, of self-determination and human maturity. Thus in the most abstract terms, the modern international works through the authorization of three sites of authorized discrimination: at the boundary of the modern individual subject, at the boundary of the modern sovereign state, and at the boundary of the modern system of sovereign states. Contemporary critical analysis is quite familiar with the boundaries of the subject and the state. Yet there are also times, places and subjectivities that, theories of modernization insist, must

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be brought back in from their exclusions from a modernity expressed in the sovereign state and system of sovereign states, even though that state and system work only because modern sovereignty affirms the necessity of exclusion. As with Hobbes’s narrative about spatiotemporal origins constructed from an assumed present, or Kant’s aspiration for a perpetual peace enabled by a distinction between the mature and the immature, claims about state sovereignty and the system of sovereign states only work because they affirm an absence that guarantees their assumed presence.7

V It is easy enough to conclude that this is scarcely of any contemporary relevance. Surely modernization and globalization have proceeded apace. Surely we are now all one humanity, or would be if only we could get rid of the recalcitrants and malingerers, those who will not conform to some universal account of what it means to be human or citizen. Surely we have all come in. Surely there is no longer an outside to modernity, and its internal outside has become coextensive with the world as such. Surely it is no longer legitimate for colonial states to intervene in their colonies just because the colonies are not yet mature enough to determine their own fate. Surely the gap between the finite and the infinite expressed in modern thinkers like Hobbes and Kant could only be of distinctly esoteric theoretical interest. Such assumptions are no doubt entirely persuasive as long as linear accounts of history and the self-affirmation of modernity as distinct from all its others are taken for granted; and as long as one does not look too closely at the empirical evidence. This is, after all, the official story, though an official story that entire literatures of critical analysis are quite happy to endorse. Nevertheless, such assumptions are, I think, a matter for considerable concern. They are of concern in conceptual, empirical and ethical terms, and now perhaps especially in terms of uncertainties about where the boundaries of the modern world are to be located, and how those boundaries now work. It is significant conceptually because while claims about the problems and possibilities inherent in what we now call the international are usually understood in terms of a spatially defined pattern of conflict or anarchy, they must be understood first in terms of a specific temporality, a theory of history as a process of internalization, of subjectivization, as the process of bringing the world into the world of the modern while excluding all other worlds. Attempts to think about ‘change’ in this context invariably deploy claims about temporality against claims about a dominant spatiality, whereas the modern international already expresses an account of a temporality that enables claims about a spatiality. To try to think about what it might mean to envisage change is presumably to challenge a specific articulation of spatiotemporal relations, and not least the account of a linear and internalizing history that is at work in the modern international. There are thus serious conceptual problems involved in trying to find a way ‘outside’ of a modern politics that has been constituted through an ambition to bring the world ‘inside’ while largely refusing to acknowledge the logical impossibility of a pure theory of internalization.

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It is significant in more empirical terms because part of humanity might be said to be in some sense outside the modern inside/outside of the international, though it is very difficult to see how empirical claims might be sustained in this context given the overdetermination of empirical evidence by categories of internalization, of national and international communities. The story of modern politics is a story of a pattern of inclusion and exclusion within a modern system of states, within the international. We are all the same, as humanity, but all different, as members of different national cultures: we are the ambivalent people/peoples of the United Nations. But this story of inclusion and exclusion enabling a story about universality and particularity has been possible only as a consequence of differentiating the modern from the non-modern, and authorizing that differentiation through an appeal to a teleology of a universalizing history. Some people, we know all too well, are not treated as properly modern, even as not properly human. In this context, we might think about, say, indigenous peoples driven to seek sovereignty over territory but encouraged to seek the kind of sovereignty expressed by the modern state that works precisely as a demand for inclusion in a specifically modern system of inclusions/ exclusions;8 or about cultural, ethnic and other sorts of communities encouraged either to emulate the nation-state as the only serious political expression of cultural politicization or find subordinate status within an acceptable pattern of statist nationalisms; or about those who are effectively marginalized as mere objects of state power rather than as citizens of states by virtue of their poverty and irrelevance to modern capitalist forms of production, distribution and exchange; or about those who are effectively marginalized as negations of the officially sanctioned ideal of modern citizen understood as the universally rational man. Some humans seem to be attributed less humanity than others. Some citizens seem to have less citizenship than others. Add up the populations that are claimed to live within the jurisdictions of the modern international and the claim that the international gives expression to the whole of humanity has some plausibility. Engage in any more sophisticated – or controversial – forms of calculation of who precisely gets to participate in the world of the modern international and the picture is anything but clear cut. Of course, the usual story is that we will all get there eventually, that all will be included, all made properly modern citizens: that modernity will eventually trickle down in economic terms even if Kantian aspirations for a world of morally autonomous subjectivities is assumed to be a bit too ambitious unless good modern liberals use force to ensure that everyone enjoys a freedom to be modern. This is the promise of modernization as universal history, the temporal convergence on a spatialized centre. Yet any story of inclusion implies a story of exclusion, both stories hinging on the authorization of discriminations, of decisions about who should be in and who should be out, and under what conditions. The official stories all tell tales of inclusion. But official stories about the inclusions of the sovereign state and system of sovereign states systematically erase the complex patterns of exclusion that have enabled official stories of inclusion. Perhaps one would not expect them to do anything else; but then we might say that scholarly analyses of political life hardly count as scholarly if they simply take the official stories at their word.

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It is significant in more ethical terms precisely because historical forms of and assumptions about exclusion work so as to constitute specific forms of inclusion. The constitution of modern subjects who aspire to a Kantian form of autonomy as a regulative ideal may well express the most inspiring ambition of modern political life, but it is an aspiration that works not only within the limits of states within a system of ostensibly free and equal states but also as a claim to historical and moral superiority over those who have been excluded. At the statist limits of Kantian ambition we meet Schmitt. Legal provisions may be derogated or suspended within the rule of law, but the rule of law may itself be suspended through a decision of the sovereign power that acts both within and without the law. At the systemic limits of Kantian ambition we meet all the residual – and constitutive – discriminations marking modernity as a self-affirming but necessarily parochial way of being in but not of being coextensive with the world. Perhaps it is most significant in contemporary circumstances, however, in that it is no longer quite so easy to keep apart the spatial framing of a politics of friend– enemy relations between sovereign states within a system of states and a temporal framing of a politics of modernity and its others at the edge of the modern international. Indeed, the spatial and the temporal framings of modern politics have become increasingly blurred. In this respect, the so-called Global War on Terror has been characterized by a distinctively sovereign capacity to declare exceptions, but the singularity expressed in the terms global, war and terror obscures the multiplicities and complexities of conflicts in which spatial and temporal tropes are deployed in ever more disconcerting ways.9 It matters, this is to say, because we seem to be in the midst of some rearticulation of the international: not ‘globalization’, but multiple destabilizations of the assumption that the international does indeed enclose the world of humanity, and of the assumption that the teleology of modernization expresses a legitimate story about the way that enclosure has been enacted and sustained. It is rather striking that to the extent that critical analysis of the relationship between territorial boundaries and the limits expressed as a capacity to decide exceptions has been broached in the recent critical literature, it has done so in a way that falls back on an entirely statist account of modern politics. Symptomatically, for example, both Giorgio Agamben and Hardt and Negri managed to reconstitute an opposition between a Schmittean account of the specific exception enacted with the law of a particular sovereign state and an account of a generalized exceptionalism predicated on a more or less apocalyptic vision of contemporary spatiotemporalities of the kind once expressed by Walter Benjamin, among many others.10 The revival of a concern with practices of exceptionalism does seem to me to be very important, especially as a way of thinking about what is happening to contemporary boundaries and claims about the limits of modern liberal aspiration. But the specific forms taken by this sort of revival miss two very large points. First, in posing a simple opposition between the particular and the general, it continues to fetishize the claims of the modern state while ignoring the systemic conditions under which those claims are possible. The consequent debate is thus

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drawn into a familiar ritual of presence and absence. Both the state and its boundaries are either here today or gone tomorrow. Liberal traditions have been busy with this sort of story for a long time, in a way that betrays many liberal hopes for the abolition of politics and its replacement with some sort of ethics or some sort of market governmentality. Quite why analysis of a capacity to decide exceptions should imitate this sort of story is not entirely clear, but the repudiation of politics it implies strikes me as similarly dangerous. Second, both the modern sovereign state and the modern system of states, with all their antagonisms and contrapuntal exceptionalisms, presuppose a prior exceptionalism at the border of the states system, at the border of modernity. The modern game of war and peace among states, and the framing of otherness as a matter of friends and enemies in a states system is enabled by an exceptionalism at the edge of the states system; hence the continuing significance of Kant’s treatment of rationality as norm and immaturity as exception, and Hobbes’s account of the present as norm and the spatiotemporally distant as the exception that must be overcome by a return to the eternal yet perfectible present. Modern political life has been expressed through two tropes working in tandem but in two different contexts. There has been the trope of friend and enemy within the international: the trope of war and peace among those sovereign states that are mature enough to engage in such things. And there has been the trope of civilized and barbarian that can be applied to colonial or developing states who ought to be coming into the international. At the height of the Cold War, remember, the reigning categories appealed to an East and West conceived as Schmittean friends and enemies, on the one hand, and to North and South conceived as a progressivist continuum, and journey, from the developing to the developed societies. These two tropes can still be distinguished, but they have increasingly become fused, and deployable anywhere. This does not suggest, for example, that the so-called War on Terror can be understood as a shift to a condition of a generalized exceptionalism, but nor does it affirm the Schmittean account of a specific exceptionalism enacted with singular sovereign states. Indeed, the analysis of contemporary political boundaries and limits needs to be rescued from the analytical boundaries that have been erected between particular and generalized forms of exceptionalism understood as expressions of the limits of modern political possibility and impossibility. The discourses of presence and absence that express modern statist accounts of the origins and limits of modern political life are extraordinarily adept at affirming that boundaries are both simple and are either where they are supposed to be or are becoming dangerously absent. Boundaries tend to be very complicated practices, and we should not be surprised to find them somewhere other than where they are supposed to be. Still less should we expect to be able to understand contemporary boundaries, and the political possibilities and impossibilities they imply, where the discourses of either the sovereign state or the system of sovereign states insist they must or must not be. The spatial tropes of friend and enemy and the temporal tropes of civilized and barbarian will become ever more interchangeable. The capacity to declare exceptions will become more difficult to map using the cartographies of

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territorial spaces and spatialized territorialities. Without some such mapping, however, statist discourses of presence and absence will continue to bemuse anyone who suspects, I think correctly, that boundaries, exceptionalisms and sovereignties will continue to enable and delimit our political possibilities, though not in ways ordained by the idealization of the limits of the sovereign state acting within a system of sovereign states. Many worlds that have been left outside in order to enable a modern politics orchestrated within a specific and elegantly orchestrated formalization of internalities and externalities will come to seem all too close to home. In this respect, the problems we encounter in trying to make sense of contemporary political boundaries are likely to push us to engage not only with the complexity of spatial borders, or philosophical and legal limits, or cultural practices of distinctions and classifications, but with questions of what it now means to be human, not least in some political sense. The modern international affirms a specific set of answers to such questions, framed largely through a regulative ideal of our split but potentially reconcilable character as both citizen and human within formal structures organized with particular forms of boundaries: boundaries that both promise a politics of selfdetermining subjects and threaten the possibility of species exterminating violence. That set of answers has many sources. One is probably the struggle, identifiable across many cultures, to distinguish humans from both gods and animals. Another, more characteristic of specifically modern conditions, is to wonder, like Pascal, about the condition of a humanity caught between the infinitely small and the infinitely large. It would certainly be better to think about the implications of those struggles than to keep reproducing stories about what humanity must be within boundaries that must either be maintained forever or be made to disappear.

Notes 1 This chapter was originally presented as a lecture at the Fifth International Conference on Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Central Institute of Ethnic Administrators, Beijing, China, 30 June–3 July 2005, and revised for subsequent lectures elsewhere in 2005–6. A shorter version has appeared online in Ephemera: Theory and Politics in Organization, 6:1, 2005; and the International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, 5:5, March 2006. 2 This is the dilemma pursued in R. B. J. Walker, ‘World Politics and Western Reason’ (see Chapter 2 above), which highlights both the significance of a constitutive boundary between a modern international order and some other political world beyond and the dangers of thinking that one can somehow find an alternative to a modern political order by simply moving beyond without at least some attempt to come to terms with what modern accounts of politics have meant by concepts of moving beyond; that is, without some grounding in immanent critique. 3 R. B. J. Walker, Inside/Outside: International Relations as Political Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. 4 Hedley Bull and Adam Watson, eds, The Expansion of International Society, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984. 5 W. W. Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960. 6 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, edited by Richard Tuck, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991, especially chapters 11, 13 and 14.

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7 One of the key achievements of Hobbes’s story about a shift from a state of nature to a political society is to enable a conflation of the two modes of alterity framed as civilization/barbarism, on the one hand, and friend/enemy on the other. A related conflation is effected by the primary tropes of modern nationalism, as Weber’s account of the play of reason and ungrounded decision, and neo-Weberian accounts of ‘the invention of tradition’, suggest very persuasively. In effect, a logic of colonization, of the relations between those societies that are modern enough to be included within a modern system of states and those which are not, is superimposed on the logic of the modern states system itself. 8 Karena Shaw, ‘Indigeneity and the International’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 31:1, 2002, 55–81. See also, for example, Naeem Inayatullah and David Blaney, International Relations and the Problem of Difference, New York: Routledge, 2004; and Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object, New York: Columbia University Press, 1983. 9 R. B. J. Walker, ‘War, Terror, Judgement’ (see Chapter 11 below), in Bulent Gokay and R. B. J. Walker, eds, September 11, 2001: War, Terror and Judgement, London: Frank Cass, 2003, 62–83. 10 Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, translated by Daniel HellerRoazen, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998; Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000; Walter Benjamin, ‘Critique of Violence’ (1921), in Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, edited by Marcus Bullock and Michael Jennings, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996, 236–52. Some of the context neglected by many recent discussions of such texts is provided by Georges Sorel, Reflections on Violence (1908), edited by Jeremy Jennings, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.


Security and change What are the conditions under which it is now possible to think, speak and make authoritative claims about what is referred to in the language of modern politics as ‘security’?1 This is the crucial question that must be addressed given the widely shared sense that we hardly know what we are talking about when this term rolls so easily off the tongue to circulate among the practices of modern violence. The most obvious answers to this question depend on the degree to which modern accounts of security have been articulated in relation to the structures and practices of the modern state, the determinations of the systemic relations in which states engage with other states, and the historical transformations through which those structures, practices and determinations have changed from, say, the era of gunpowder and pirates to that of the strategists and merchants of nuclear threat. These conditions are well known and require very little rehearsal, although the narrative details and the lessons drawn from them may be deeply contested. Many have been lulled into thinking that to understand them alone is sufficient to respond to the widespread sense of uncertainty informing demands for more sensible policies or more sophisticated accounts of the relation between security and shifting historical circumstances. There are, however, distinct limits to a political imagination that focuses too intently on the supposed necessities of state and the state system. These limits converge in and are sustained by a powerful consensus that the state does indeed provide a satisfactory – sometimes merely adequate, sometimes laudable, sometimes simply natural and incontestable – answer to the most fundamental questions about the character and location of political life. This consensus retains a certain plausibility, as much because of the absence of any sustained agreement about alternative answers as because of any clear evidence that it remains adequate to contemporary circumstances. To accept the plausibility

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of this answer, however, is to be faced with a well-known discourse of repetitions, with a ritualized and institutionalized play of affirmations and negations that leave our understanding of security more or less where it is supposed to be. Indeed, despite their rhetorical linkage with hard-headed claims about the way the world is, modern claims about security are at root primarily normative both in their commitments and their effects, as even a rapid glance through professional journals like International Security will readily show. The forms of political realism that play such a crucial role in the legitimation of contemporary security policies affirm the way things should be far more clearly than they tell us how things are. Moreover, these claims are always in danger of breaking the one cardinal rule of political wisdom: things change. Consequently, the primary conditions under which it may be possible to think creatively about security now, I will argue, involve, first, a certain scepticism about the claim that the modern state and states system offer the only plausible way of responding to questions about the political; second, a clear awareness of the essentially normative, indeed radically idealist character of claims about national security; and third, a sense that if things are indeed changing, they are unlikely to be doing so in ways that are foretold in the normative visions of the modern state, which are, after all, visions preoccupied with containing change within territorial boundaries and legal codes. Change does seem to me to be upon us, and with a vengeance; and the incoherence of modern accounts of security is closely related to our incoherent sense of how things are probably changing. In this context, one would expect to witness a rather desperate clinging to answers, and their consequences, that have at least had the advantage of being worked out over some centuries and refined through the legitimation practices of the most powerful institutions of modern societies. One would also expect to see a certain rage against the violence perpetrated in the name of answers that carry less and less conviction and generate more and more hypocrisy. I share much of this rage, while also recognizing that a desperate clinging to familiar answers is to a considerable extent unavoidable given the political and intellectual uncertainties in which we are all caught. But I also believe that complaints about the complicity of modern accounts of security with practices of intolerable violence in the modern world must be harnessed to an attempt to work through more persuasive answers to those questions about the character and location of political life to which the state and states system have seemed such a natural response for so many for so long. Questions about security cannot be separated from the most basic questions of political theory, but they also cannot be left in the care of those who have allowed questions of political theory to curdle into caricature. These questions are not susceptible to easy answers. The conditions under which we are able to ask questions that might prove productive, however, do seem to me to be susceptible to some useful clarification.

Everything and nothing Whether analytically or rhetorically, claims about security increasingly have an air of slovenly imprecision. A word once uttered in hard cadences to convey brutal

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certainties has become embarrassingly limp and overextended. It is perhaps the case that claims about security have long thrived on a denotative imprecision that has been carefully calibrated. Notions of national security, most notoriously, have invoked realities and necessities that everyone is supposed to acknowledge, but also vague generalities about everything and nothing. Much of the rhetorical force and political legitimation expressed through modern discourses of security rest ultimately on this simultaneous appeal to the hard and the vacuous, the precise and the imprecise, the exaction of blood and sacrifice in the name of the grand generalization.2 Those who once thundered loudly that the supposed realities of international order and necessities of state must be taken seriously have now retreated to their scattered hideaways, although some remain well fortified and funded in specialized institutions devoted to their preservation. Not even their practised talent for rhetorical bombast can disguise a crippled geopolitical vision. But it has become increasingly evident that crippled vision is not the burden only of the discredited security intellectuals of old. Although students of contemporary politics, international relations, strategic studies, peace research and so on are regularly encouraged to develop ‘alternative’ concepts of security better suited to changing structural and historical conditions, or at least less likely to intensify the dangers that policies promising security are supposedly intended to avoid, the obviousness or urgency of the task does little to mitigate the sheer difficulty of thinking about what security could or should now involve.3 It was never hard to recognize the intellectual banality and political priorities of the discourses that traded in claims about security during the Cold War era, whatever the improbability that institutions and practices thriving on intellectual banality might be budged. Nevertheless, it has long been clear that the difficulty of speaking about security in any other way is not a consequence of entrenched political and institutional interests alone. The sociology of knowledge has only a limited purchase on the way we have all become caught up in habits of speaking that now seem not only dangerously out of touch with the times, but even trite and more than faintly ridiculous. Laughter has once again shown its episodic virtue as a principle of epistemological rectitude. To ask about the conditions under which we might now speak usefully and coherently about security is, in the first instance, to ask about immediate historical and structural contexts. Here, the end of the Cold War now provides the most popular point of departure. The reigning Cold War orthodoxies had become widely offensive long before 1989, but the possibility of capturing complex historical and structural transformations in a single year of exhilaration also offered a glorious chance to rehabilitate the longing for a tabula rasa, the blank slate of the ‘new world order’. Discussion could then proceed to a remarkably expansive itemization of new dangers and new contexts. New geopolitical configurations, regional variations and apocalyptic visions of cultural, ethnic, ecological and economic collisions, as well as a desperate scanning of horizons for new enemies, have come to delineate a landscape in which claims about security once again threaten to encompass both everything and nothing. This time, vague generalities are increasingly articulated under the sign of the global rather than of the reason of state. Where claims about

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security could once be expanded to cover the most totalizing necessities of statecraft, the sovereign power in its state of emergency, changing historical conditions are now increasingly said to require broader visions and perspectives. These stretch out in two quite different directions, although both are in direct conflict with the claims of states and those always potential states of emergency on which modern claims about security ultimately rest. First, demands are made for a broader understanding of just what security itself involves, of what it means to be secure as well as what one is to be secured from.4 Mere physical survival, it is said, is not enough, and power comes not just or even primarily from the barrel of the gun. It is then possible to define the meaning of security in relation to social, cultural, economic and ecological processes, as well as to geopolitical threats from foreign powers. Hence, for example, the insistence on the need to break down artificial distinctions between security and development. Hence, also, the elaboration of concepts like structural violence as a way of avoiding simplistic distinctions between peace and war. Now even the most respectable voices of sovereign authority are likely to tell us about their fears and insecurities in the language of trade, sustainability or the technologies of human reproduction rather than of the barracks and the war college.5 Second, and more crucially, demands are issued for a broader understanding of whose security is at stake, and usually for a more persuasive account of the security of people in general and not just for the citizens of particular states.6 Hence, the resort to concepts like collective, common, as well as world security, despite a widespread sense that such terms merely underline the political incoherence of claims about the collective, the common and the world.7 These demands are usually reinforced by accounts of the transformative character of the modern age, especially of the increasingly interdependent character of something that may be appropriately called a world politics rather than just interstate or international relations. In this way, discussion of the conditions under which we might now make some sense of claims about security begins to shift away from competing accounts of contemporary events and trajectories, away from those admittedly often-pressing scenarios of dangers here and there, of coming catastrophes on a global scale or the minor tragedies of forgotten, thirsty peoples whose poverty, sickness and exclusion clearly demand – from some points of view – to be counted as a state of emergency. It moves away, also, from the analysis of discourses associated with particular elites and around particular technological regimes like the illogical language of logic ascribed to the deployment of nuclear weapons. It may be that the conditions under which we are now able or unable to speak about security are in considerable part understandable in relation to the experiences of the Cold War, the institutionalized foibles of national security elites, the fetishization of nuclear deterrence and so on. But they are also related to the limits of our ability to speak about and be many things other than secure, and not least of our ability to be citizens, democrats and even humans. It is no doubt difficult enough to keep up with those situations and technologies that can readily be categorized as matters of security as conventionally understood. Demands for broader accounts of

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security risk inducing epistemological overload. Nevertheless, claims about security are a serious matter. They cannot be dissociated from even more basic claims about who we think we are and how we might act together.

Subjects of security In some ways, the limits of prevailing accounts of security are straightforward and uncontentious. Both the general historical narratives of the twentieth century and the deployments of destructive force that are such a visible part of the contemporary structures of everyday life are enough to give pause to the most serene of myopias. Despite the temptation to exaggerate the dangers confronting one’s own epoch, a temptation that is perhaps never far from the contrary temptation to exaggerate that epoch’s achievements and superiorities, the argument that we live in especially dangerous times carries considerable plausibility. Yet many of the dangers of concern to most prevailing accounts of what is dangerous are not entirely novel. The key issue here is not a corollary of some permanent defect in the human condition, some inherent flaw or original sin of human nature. Nor is it the supposed security dilemma that is said to always arise from conditions of competition among more or less equal actors, the basic ontology of modern liberalism in the disguise of a ‘state of nature’ or an obscure parable about stag hunters. It concerns, rather, the contradictions that are expressed by the historically specific claims of the modern state. Claims about a security dilemma tend to trade on images of ahistorical determination, of structural necessities to which states can only respond as they must. As expressions of the claims of the modern state, however, modern security discourses rest on historical and political judgements. Appeals to necessity that now flow so easily from claims about security simply obscure the historical practices through which political judgements are made, and made to stick. Even in the classic source of modern wisdom about security, Thomas Hobbes’s paradigmatic legitimation of the sovereign authority of the modern state in his Leviathan,8 there is an explicit recognition that the state is likely to be a major source of insecurity as well as the only source of order that could make a secure life for more or less equal individuals possible at all. Whatever inspiration might be drawn from chapters 11 and 13 of that text for a reading of the states system as a form of anarchy, the subsequent chapters on the constitution of the sovereign power in law, on the transition from natural to political necessity (the precondition for ‘liberty’), are of crucial relevance to the manner in which modern accounts of security have become plausible. In Hobbes’s judgement, whatever the sovereign does cannot be as bad as the condition of unrestrained competition that Hobbes himself had rather cheekily portrayed as a natural condition of human existence. Many others, following John Locke’s paradigmatic example, have been deeply sceptical of this judgement, and a large proportion of contemporary debate about security continues to oscillate around it. For some, strong states are still necessary to ensure, say, basic human rights, and indeed are precisely the primary material

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condition under which the notion of human rights has become even thinkable, let alone an ambition that might be achievable. Others are more persuaded that strong states have a nasty tendency to erode basic human rights, whatever they are taken to be. To the extent that contemporary debates about security avoid this well-worn path, they tend to express diverging judgements about how historical transformations have or have not changed the conditions under which it might be rational to gamble that Hobbes was right. States have always been dangerous, say some; for others, whatever capacities they once had, states no longer serve as a plausible place of safety and may well be making our existence more precarious than ever. In one form or another, these twin arguments offer a fairly persuasive account of the need to think about security in a radically different manner. They have done so for quite some time. But the persuasiveness of these arguments does little to suggest how it might be possible to come to terms with the conditions under which we have learnt to make a connection between the demand for security and the presence and legitimacy of modern states. This is in large measure because states, or the absence of states, have come to be framed not only as the source of security, or of insecurity, but also as that form of political life that makes it possible for us to imagine what security, or insecurity, could possibly mean. In this respect, Hobbes remains a crucial figure, although certainly not because of his supposed insights into the permanent condition of human insecurity. Like most of those who have been canonized among the theorists of international relations, Hobbes is concerned almost entirely with the constitution of particular societies. To the extent that such figures remain relevant for contemporary thinking about security, it is necessary to focus on what they have achieved, or what they have been taken to express and legitimize, in relation to the claims of particular states. It has become increasingly apparent that the primary condition under which we are or are not able to rethink the concept of security involves the derivation of our dominant understanding of security and, perhaps more crucially, our dominant understanding of what it would mean to articulate an alternative to this dominant understanding of security, from a prior understanding of what we mean by the political. The difficulties of analysing the meaning of security, and of finding ways in which this meaning might be reinterpreted or reconstructed, derive less from its notorious imprecisions or susceptibility to propagandistic abuse than from its derivation from a prior account of who or what is to be secured. The crucial subject of security, in short, is the subject of security.9 And the crucial understanding of the subject of security focuses precisely on the claims of the modern sovereign state to be able to define what and where the political must be. In one way or another, the twin arguments that dominate contemporary debates about security – about the state as both source of and solution to the pervasive insecurities of modern life and the continuing relevance or increasing irrelevance of the state as solution if not as source – tend to work well within a statist account of what it means to have a subjectivity that might be made secure. Security cannot be understood, or reconceptualized, or reconstructed without paying attention to the constitutive account of the political that has made the prevailing accounts of

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security seem so plausible. It may be true that the intellectual certification sought by modern security discourses through appeals to the tradition and necessities of political realism can hardly withstand even an amateur dose of critical scrutiny, but such discourses did successfully insist on and illustrate some of the crucial limits of modern political imagination in this respect. Consequently, to try to rethink the meaning of security must be to engage with a variety of attempts to rethink the character and location of the political (and not simply what is usually framed as ‘international relations’). This, in turn, demands a considerable degree of scepticism toward the modern principles of autonomy and sovereign subjectivity. (This is why at least some elements of the so-called critical turn in contemporary social and political theory are of some relevance to the process of rethinking.) It also demands that the process of rethinking security must respond especially to questions about whose security is being assumed and under what conditions. (This is why the complex debates about political identity that have come to be so influential in literatures on, for example, feminism and postcolonialism, cannot be avoided in this context.)10 Consequently, also, interrogations of security must contend with practices that are apparently abstract, practices whose concrete powers derive precisely from their apparent abstraction. (This is why recent critical accounts of discourse and the politics of representation are so important in a field that still insists on crudely dualistic theories of language, culture and ideology.)11 In all these contexts, the claims and practices of political identity and legitimate authority expressed by the spatiotemporal demarcations of state sovereignty must be taken especially seriously. The claims of state sovereignty do not express a simple fact of life, as so many of those who work with prevailing conceptions of security so often insist. Nor can they be wished away in the name of some common humanity, as many who issue demands for an alternative account of security often seem to believe. They are a specific historical articulation of relations of universality/particularity and self/other, an articulation that depends in the final instance on a capacity to distinguish a territorial or spatial boundary between a historical politics inside and a merely contingent non-politics outside the modern state.12 There are no doubt many analysts who would insist on the irrelevance and even irresponsibility of questions that are posed in such a resolutely theoretical form. This insistence may be voiced as a gruff appeal to apparently brute realities, like the intrinsic place of violence among the defining characteristics of the human condition or the dismal historical record of warfare among human collectivities. Or it may be voiced as a more elevated appeal to the achievements of scholarly traditions that congratulate themselves on identifying the recurring patterns of violence and warfare, and the precise methodological procedures that will allow us to analyse these patterns even more precisely in the future. In either case, the prevalence of such appeals in the specific disciplinary institutions of modern security studies is one of the conditions that demand critical analysis. There are, nevertheless, three general reasons why it is important not to dismiss prevailing notions of security too hastily, reasons that also suggest a certain degree of caution about some accounts of what it means to develop alternative accounts of security.

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First, there has been significant progress in working through some of the more fruitful implications of moving from assumptions about the inevitability of conflict to the possibility of cooperation given the logic of the so-called security dilemma.13 The general move here is perhaps usefully framed in relation to a prior shift in early-modern European politics ‘from the passions to the interests’, to use Albert Hirschman’s telling phrase.14 To oversimplify even more crudely from Hirschman’s already oversimplified tale, one can identify a gradual shift from early-modern claims that capitalism and individualism are both morally and existentially dangerous (thus the sin of usury and Hobbes’s ‘state of nature’) to the later celebration of the public benefits of self-interest (‘the wealth of nations’ and ‘the magic of the market’). In the present context, the move is usually framed as one from national security to common security. The details are worked out in terms of a commitment to arms control, the privileging of non-provocative defence postures, and the cultivation of confidence-building measures among elites and detente from below among broader communities. The shift from self-interest to common interest is marked by commitments to interdependence and some understanding of a more broadly defined form of political community. The difficulty here, of course, is that it is not at all clear what it means to invoke a more broadly defined form of political community in this way. Second, the claims about political realism that still echo in discussions about security serve as a crucial reminder that accounts of imminent historical transformation are invariably overdone and that claims about alternatives are very likely to express a continuing, even if veiled, commitment to those practices that are supposedly obsolete. Especially when framed in relation to the complex of claims that have emerged around the concept of peace, attempts to elaborate alternative accounts of security have been susceptible to a familiar repertoire of co-optations and appropriations. Third, they may be read as expressions of a hegemonic normative commitment to the way the world must be. Like the theory of international relations, claims about national security can be read as expressions of the legitimation practices of modern states more readily than as empirical explanations of the practices of such states. Like the doctrinal claims of political realism, the discourses of national security are explicitly normative (or idealist) in that they idealize the sovereign state as the norm against which international anarchy is projected by negation. Modern discourses of security essentially work as sites of transgression, as places where violence and knowledge can legitimately converge; and transgressing the norm at the limit then works to affirm the continuing legitimacy of the norm within the limit. All of these three lines of analysis ultimately return us to the central claims expressed through the principle of state sovereignty. Beginning with an affirmation of the absolute priority of the claims of citizenship over all other claims to political identity and allegiance, discussion of security can contemplate increasing cooperation between groups of citizens – states – but not the possibility of any other subject. Claims about common security, collective security or world security do little more than fudge the contradiction that is written right into the heart of modern politics:

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we can only become humans, or anything else, after we have given up our humanity, or any other attachments, to the greater good of citizenship. Modern accounts of security are precisely about subjectivity, subjection and the conditions under which we have been constructed as subjects subject to subjection. They tell us who we must be. And then they offer to tell us how we might stay this way. Many will continue to believe this to be the best way of resolving all contradictions in a less than perfect universe. They can try to read the codes of modern subjectivity in a more constructive manner than Hobbes did. Others may protest that we are in fact not what the modern discourses of security tell us we must be, and that in any case the conditions under which the modern state could guarantee the subjectivity/ subjection of its subjects are visibly dissolving.

Over and over According to the formal claims of state sovereignty, international relations cannot turn into an analysis of world politics,15 and there can be no alternative to national security except anarchy or empire. National security can only be framed in relation to a continuum that expresses the paradoxes of self-interested behaviour in a competitive system of equal units, although the continuum can be distorted by the degree to which the equality condition is actualized in practice, and thus the degree to which the states system is structured by hegemonies or approximates the logic of empires. Hobbes remains noteworthy here as someone who explicitly denied the logic of anarchy to which his name is so frequently attached precisely because he denied the equality condition that is crucial to his account of the ‘state of nature’ as a factor in the ‘state of war’.16 Consequently, even if it is admitted that we are all now participants in common global structures, that we are all rendered increasingly vulnerable to processes that are planetary in scale, and that our most parochial activities are shaped by forces that encompass the world and not just particular states, it is far from clear what such an admission implies for the way we organize ourselves politically. The state is a political category in a way that the world, or the globe, or the planet, or humanity is not. The security of states is something that we can comprehend in political terms in a way that, at the moment, world security cannot. This is an elementary point, and it is often made in a regrettably crude and ahistorical way. People, it is said, have competing interests and allegiances. They are always likely to put the interests of their own society and state above any claims about a common humanity. In any case, the ongoing record of large-scale violence shows just how naive it is to hope for any political arrangements that give priority to some general human interest over the particular interests of states. Consequently, typical forms of this argument go, if you want peace, prepare for war. The security of states dominates our understanding of what security can be, and who it can be for, not because conflict between states is inevitable, but because other forms of political community have been rendered almost unthinkable. The claims of states to a monopoly of legitimate authority in a particular territory have succeeded in marginalizing and even erasing other expressions of political

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identity, other answers to questions about who we are. This success did not come about lightly. Much of the history of the last half-millennium can be written as an account of the energy and violence required to ensure that the monopolistic claims of states be respected. Whether through appeals to the nation, the flag or the national interest, states continue to deploy immense resources on an everyday basis to ensure that this monopoly is maintained. The dominant understandings of what politics is all about, and thus of what security must mean, arise precisely because the very form of statist claims to a monopoly on legitimate authority challenges the possibility of referring to humanity in general – and by extension, to world politics or world security – in any meaningful way. Thus, to speak of security is to engage in a discourse of repetitions, to affirm over and over again the dangers that legitimize the sovereign authority that is constituted precisely as a solution to dangers. But it is important to remember that this discourse of dangerous affirmations becomes, in another guise, a discourse of excluded subjectivities. Just as the discourses of security keep returning to the same old affirmations of a self-constituting danger, they simultaneously exclude the possibility of admitting the presence of other subjectivities, most obviously those of class, race, gender and humanity. Critiques of the gendered or ethnocentric character of modern security discourses are important not because it is possible to point to some essence of masculinity, femininity, national character, civilizational encounter or any other identity (and not least for reasons spelled out in Hobbes’s critique of Aristotle as well as the limitations of Hobbes’s own nominalist critique), but because the forms of modern politics expressed in contemporary security discourses admit only one – although largely abstract – identity, in relation to which struggles among all other identities are expected to take their proper place. State sovereignty defines what peace can be and where peace can be secured: the unitary community within autonomous states. Consequently, it also defines a place where neither peace nor security is possible for very long: the non-community of contingencies, others, and mere relations outside the boundaries of the state. In addition to this, state sovereignty raises hopes that at some point in the future, the kind of political life attained within (at least some) states might be projectable from inside to outside, from the national community to the world community. But at the same time as these hopes are raised, state sovereignty denies that they can ever be fulfilled. It does so through a claim that only through the state is it possible to resolve all contradictions – between universality and particularity, space and time, them and us – in a politically plausible manner. Claims about world politics, world order, world security and so on, it suggests, can offer no credible way of responding to counterclaims about the need for autonomy, freedom, national identity or diversity in general. Instead, it is said, such claims must either disguise a dangerous yearning for hierarchical authority and empire or an equally dangerous refusal to understand that universalist claims about humanity or the planet as such have no effective political expression. Once locked into this logic, this discourse that is at once ritualized into disciplines and clichés and enshrined in the most powerful structures of violence the world has ever known, only two options seem to remain open before us. One is to

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push this logic to its extreme. If the world is in fact organized as a series of sharp divisions between inclusion and exclusion, community and anarchy, civilization and barbarism, then the maxim that preparations for war are the only guarantee of peace does make some sense. It is precisely because disciplines like strategic studies and the cultural codes of the Cold War era have pushed this logic to extremes that the crudest fanaticism has been able to masquerade as realistic and responsible policy. The corollary of this option, of course, is that once the world outside is no longer treated as completely different, it is treated as essentially the same. The new world order is ready to be written, and then smudged, on the blank slate of the new beginning. The other option is to relax this logic in order to permit accommodation, cooperation, arms control and the rest. The legitimacy of the modern state is left essentially unchallenged, but our understanding of what this means is no longer informed by pseudo-Hobbesian accounts of anarchy and the security dilemma. This is the option that informs many of the more optimistic scenarios of contemporary security discourse. But it is an optimism that is always haunted by its pessimistic condition of possibility, the appeal to a logic of anarchy in the final instance: a logic that is itself made possible through a constitutive form of political community that lures the more relaxed codes of accommodation and cooperation toward an idealized image of collectivity that can never be reached. Once we know who we are, because we know our place in the universe as citizens of modern states, claims about security oscillate back and forth between the extremes that have come to be coded as political realism and political idealism. Realism in this sense is the code that affirms the limits of modern politics. Idealism is the prior code that idealizes the moral community within the state that produces realism as the limit, although now projected outward and forward into a world that is apparently without limit. This oscillation generates a discourse of tremendous power. It induces illusions of permanent hopes and permanent tragedies. It legitimizes an account of political necessity that can excuse the most intolerable barbarism. Indeed, intolerable barbarism, in this account, cannot be separated from the highest aspirations of modern politics. Modern politics, the political realists insist, is inherently hypocritical. And in this insistence, political realism works as a mode of political critique as well as a mode of normative legitimation. The moment of critique may have been largely effaced by the hyper-idealism that has recently masqueraded under the guise of a neo- or structural realism, but it would be a mistake to lose sight of the degree to which, for all its association with the crudest of reifications, the most dogmatic of disciplinary practices and the most tedious repetitions of the apparently obvious, discourses about security have necessarily expressed a critical edge because modern politics has always teetered critically on the edge.

Changing subjects Viewed in this way, attempts to rethink the notion of security through a process of broadening pose significant problems. Some fear that once the concept begins to

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open out to encompass new accounts of what security means, or to whom it refers, it will cease to have any specific referent at all. At least, one might argue, established accounts do permit us to refer to identifiable threats, to concrete dangers, to institutions and people who do things. Security, it can be said, is the proper preserve of the Department of National Defence; or perhaps of the Ministry of the Interior and the police force; or the Ministry of Finance; or the Minister of Health, or Environment, or even Culture; or at least to some such Ministry of Uncertain Things. The uncertainty of certain things is, of course, precisely the problem. For in the end it has never been possible to pin security down to concrete practices or institutions with any great precision, no matter how insistent the voices of military and defence establishments might be. The whole point of concepts of security that are tied to the claims of state sovereignty is that they must expand to encompass everything within the state, at least in its ever potential state of emergency. So, in this context, broadening the concept as such is not really the problem; difficulties arise only with the kind of broadening that is envisaged. Similarly, some fear that to try to broaden the notion of security will lead to the extension of behaviours deemed appropriate to the demands of national defence to the rest of social life. The fear here is primarily democratic in inspiration. Democratic politics depends on the exclusion of the state of emergency from the interstices of civil society quite as much as the democratization of states and civil societies depend, in the last instance, on a willingness to declare a state of undemocratic and very uncivil emergency. Concerns about extending the practices of security policy into other spheres of political life may be well founded in this respect, but the extent to which practices of security are already part of the broader social, political, economic and cultural arenas is not something that can be simply wished away. Again, the problem involves the kind of broadening that is envisaged. Furthermore, there is a crucial sense in which it is necessary to refuse many of the sentiments associated with the more familiar attempts to broaden our understanding of what security involves in a rather different direction than the expansive potentials inherent in claims about security within states. These are the sentiments that affirm the need to make a move from the particular to the general, from the territory to the planet, from the citizens of states to citizens of the world. For the need to broaden out in this way is exactly the wrong conclusion to draw from the more convincing claim that the state is in some trouble as the place in which to gamble that Hobbes was right. It is a conclusion based on the false premise that modern insecurities arise from a system of political fragmentation. Because there are many states, and because these many states tend to be in conflictual relations with each other much of the time, the familiar narrative goes, it is necessary to move from a state of fragmentation to a state of greater integration: to broaden out toward cooperative, or common, or world security. Yet the state and the states system do not express a principle of fragmentation, at least not in the first instance. Some, indeed, would argue quite the reverse: that the fragmentation of the states system depends on the prior existence of some underlying unity, whether of a European or modern culture that requires, for example, all states to

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organize themselves on the modern principle of sovereignty, or of a specifically capitalist global economy that ultimately drives the geopolitical behaviour of all states. In my view, however, this opposing stance also misreads the historical achievement of modern states, and of the principle/practice/institution of state sovereignty, in forging a very specific relationship between the claims of universality and those of diversity. It is this specific relation between these opposing claims that is in trouble, and it is not obvious that we might cope with the consequences of its dissolution by hoping to erase one set of claims in favour of the other. It is because of its insistence on the absurdity of this move, in fact, that the old junker of political realism can remain on the road and even keep some of its critical potentials alive in some places. The modern state expresses the modern aspiration to be able to resolve all contradictions between universality and particularity through the body of the modern subject: through the autonomous individual and the sovereign territorial state. The upside of this resolution is expressed inside, as the possibility of reconciling our autonomous subjectivity as individuals with some universalizing account of humanity as such; Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative can be read as the crucial regulative principle in this context. The downside is expressed outside: all our grand hopes for unity in diversity, for humanity through citizenship, depend on the potentially violent inscription of the boundary between inside and outside that makes the resolution possible in the first place. Thus, any attempt to simply broaden our understanding of security by taking the inside outside, by extending the upside of statist community to the world of conflict outside, is fundamentally misguided. Any such attempt will necessarily lead back to an insistence on the adequacy of the modern resolution of all relations of unity and diversity on the terrain of the modern state. All that is then left to argue about is the extent to which the modern principle of autonomy is compatible with some kind of social and political order, whether inside or outside the modern state. Hobbes will still serve to remind us that a basic liberal account of equal individuals leads to anarchy, and Kant will continue to name the utopian hope of reconciling all particularities in the perpetual peace of universal reason.17 Thinking about security under these conditions has gone on for long enough. Whether under the auspices of Hobbes or Kant, it harbours nostalgia for a normative vision that never did say much about the way the world is, only as it must be. If the subject of security is the subject of security, it is necessary to ask, first and foremost, how the modern subject is being reconstituted and then to ask what security could possibly mean in relation to it. It is in this context that it is possible to envisage a critical discourse about security, a discourse that engages with contemporary transformations of political life, with emerging accounts of who we might become, and the conditions under which we might become other than we are now without destroying others, ourselves or the planet on which we all live. Where so much recent debate about security has been predicated on the impossible dream of absolute invulnerability (the counterpart of the impossible dream of absolute freedom), a critical engagement with security would envisage it precisely as a condition of being vulnerable to the possibility of being otherwise than one has already become. A latter-day Machiavelli might even consider this a species of virtù.

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Notes 1 This chapter was originally published with a commentary by Stephen Toulmin as Working Paper on Rethinking Security no. 7, Los Angeles: Center for International Studies, University of Southern California, 1995 and the version reproduced here is slightly revised from that published in Keith Krause and Michael C. Williams, eds, Critical Security Studies: Concepts and Cases, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997, 61–82. 2 See Bradley S. Klein, Strategic Studies and World Order: The Global Politics of Deterrence, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994; David Campbell and Michael Dillon, eds, The Political Subject of Violence, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993. 3 The fate of the ambitions of peace research are especially interesting in this context; for an analysis that has implications considerably beyond its explicit focus, see Peter Lawler, A Question of Values: Johan Galtung’s Peace Research, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1995. 4 The relevant literature here is enormous. Typical examples, each referring to extensive literatures and debates, include Barry Buzan, ‘New Patterns of Global Security in the Twenty-First Century’, International Affairs 67:3, 1991, 431–51; Jessica Tuchman Mathews, ‘Redefining Security’, Foreign Affairs 68, 1989, 162–77; Thomas F. Homer-Dixon, ‘Global Environmental Change and International Security’, in David Dewitt, David Haglund and John Kirton, eds, Building a New Global Order: Emerging Trends in International Security, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1993, 185–228; Simon Dalby, ‘Security, Modernity, Ecology: The Dilemma of Post-Cold War Security Discourse’, Alternatives 17:1, Winter 1992, 95–134; Daniel Deudney, ‘The Case against Linking Environmental Degradation and National Security’, Millennium 19, 1990, 473–4; David V. J. Bell, ‘Global Communications, Culture and Values: Implications for Global Security’, in Dewitt, Haglund and Kirton, eds, Building a New Global Order, 159–84; Robert Cox, ‘Production and Security’, in Dewitt, Haglund and Kirton, eds, Building a New Global Order, 141–58; James Rochlin, ‘Redefining Mexican “National Security” during an Era of Post-Sovereignty’, Alternatives 21:3, July–September 1995, 369–402; Costas M. Constantinou, ‘NATO’s Caps: European Security and the Future of the North Atlantic Alliance’, Alternatives 20:2, April–June 1995, 147–64; Caroline Thomas, In Search of Security: The Third World in International Relations, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1987; J. Ann Tickner, ‘Re-Visioning Security’, in Ken Booth and Steve Smith, eds, International Relations Theory Today, Cambridge: Polity, 1995, 175–97; Gregory D. Foster, ‘Interrogating the Future of Long Term Threats’, Alternatives 19:1, Winter 1994, 53–97; Phil Williams, ‘Transnational Criminal Organizations and International Security’, Survival 36:1, Spring 1994, 96–113; Gabriel Sheffer, ‘Ethno-National Diasporas and Security’, Survival 36:1, Spring 1994, 60–79; and the special issue on ‘Searching for Security in a Global Economy’, Daedalus 120:4, Fall 1991. 5 Thus, to give one example among many that can be culled from contemporary public debate, in the wake of the UN Cairo conference on population and development, US Secretary of State Warren Christopher was quoted as saying that ‘I see proof every day that population [that is, the population explosion] harms regional and global and ultimately jeopardises America’s security interests. It strains resources, stunts economic growth, it generates disease, it spawns huge refugee flows, and ultimately it threatens our stability.’ ‘Third World Population Threatens US: Christopher’, Times of lndia, 22 December 1994, 15. 6 Again, among many others, see Ken Booth, ‘Security and Emancipation’, Review of International Studies 17:4, October 1991, 313–26; and Richard Falk, On Humane Governance: Towards a New Global Politics, Cambridge: Polity, 1995. 7 Andrew Mack, ‘Concepts of Security in the Post-Cold War World’, Working Paper 1993/8, Australian National University Department of International Relations, Canberra, December 1993; Michael Klare and Daniel Thomas, eds, World Security: Trends and Challenges at Century’s End, New York: St. Martin’s, 1991. 8 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. C. B. Macpherson, London: Penguin Books, 1968. 9 The tendency for many attempts to rethink the concept of security to reify the modern subject is most tellingly exemplified by what is often regarded as the most sustained

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12 13 14 15 16 17

recent attempt to rethink the concept of security, Barry Buzan, People, States and Fear, Second Edition, London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991. Critiques of reification in this context are developed in R. B. J. Walker, Inside/Outside: International Relations as Political Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993; Campbell and Dillon, eds, The Political Subject of Violence; David Campbell, Writing Security: United States Foreign Policy and the Politics of Identity, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992; and, in the context of recent attempts to develop alternative accounts of security in the Third World by affirming modern statist subjectivities, Mustapha Kamal Pasha, ‘Security as Hegemony’, Alternatives 22:3, July–September 1996. Among a rapidly expanding feminist literature, see, for example, J. Ann Tickner, ‘Inadequate Providers? A Gendered Analysis of States and Security’, in Joseph A. Camilleri, Anthony P. Jarvis and Albert J. Paolini, eds, The State in Transition: Reimagining Political Space, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1995, 125–37; J. Ann Tickner, Gender and International Relations: Feminist Perspectives on Achieving Global Security, New York: Columbia University Press, 1992; V. Spike Peterson, ed., Gendered States: Feminist (Re)Visions of International Relations Theory, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1992; Christine Sylvester, Feminist Theory and International Relations in a Postmodern Era, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994; and M. Cooke and A. Woolacott, eds, Gendering War Talk, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993. For literature on postcolonialism, see for example, Sankaran Krishna, ‘Cartographic Anxiety: Mapping the Body Politic in India’, Alternatives 19:4, Fall 1994, 507–21; and Ashis Nandy, ed., Science, Hegemony and Violence, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1988. For exemplary analyses in this mode, see Michael J. Shapiro, ‘Images of Planetary Danger: Luciano Benetton’s Ecumenical Fantasy’, Alternatives 19:4, Fall 1994, 433–54; Timothy W. Luke, ‘Discourses of Disintegration, Texts of Transformation: Re-Reading Realism in the New World Order’, Alternatives 18:2, Spring 1993, 229–58; William Chaloupka, Knowing Nukes: The Politics and Culture of the Atom, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992; and James Der Derian, Antidiplomacy: Spies, Terror, Speed and War in International Politics, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1992. R. B. J Walker, Inside/Outside; Jens Bartelson, A Genealogy of Sovereignty, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995; Cynthia Weber, Simulating Sovereignty: Intervention, the State and Symbolic Exchange, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Ken Booth, ‘Steps towards Stable Peace in Europe: A Theory and Practice of Coexistence’, International Affairs 66:1, January 1990, 17–45. Albert O. Hirschman, The Passions and the Interests, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977. R. B. J. Walker, ‘From International Relations to World Politics’, in Camilleri, Jarvis and Paolini, eds, The State in Transition, 21–38. This is seen most explicitly toward the end of chapter 13 of Leviathan, although the entire argument can be read as a denial of a simple isomorphism between individuals and states. Kant’s name, of course, has become associated with many things that are difficult to reconcile with the texts he wrote. For helpful recent readings in this context, see Michael C. Williams, ‘Reason and Realpolitik: Kant’s Critique of International Politics’, Canadian Journal of Political Science, 25, 1992, 99–119; Jens Bartelson, ‘The Trial of Judgement: A Note on Kant and the Paradoxes of lnternationalism’, International Studies Quarterly 39:2, 1995, 255–79; and Mark Franke, ‘Immanuel Kant and the (Im)Possibility of International Relations Theory’, Alternatives 21:3, July–September 1995, 279–322.


Protection of nature No doubt quotation marks are called for.1 The claim that we might somehow ‘protect’ ‘nature’ retains enormous appeal, for reasons that require scant elaboration. As in so many other areas of contemporary political analysis, neither evidence of trouble nor competing accounts of the relevant causalities is in short supply. There are all too many reasons for concluding that what we call nature is in need of some sort of protection, and it is difficult to assign credibility to any account of contemporary political life that does not respond to this need in some way. Nevertheless, all three terms at the heart of this claim – protection, nature and, especially, of – express deeply problematic assumptions about what we are trying to talk about and how we are supposed to go about doing so. As in so many other contexts, also, neither evidence nor causal analysis lead automatically, or even easily, to persuasive or responsible judgements. The assumptions expressed in this claim become most obviously troubling if we attend to what is at stake in the notion that we should be concerned with the protection ‘of’ nature rather than with, say, protection ‘from’ nature. A line between ‘acts of God’, as the insurance companies like to call them, and the effects of human action on the various ‘environments’, ‘ecologies’ and ‘systems’ in which they act is never easy to draw. Nevertheless, insurance companies are not alone in insisting that the line must be drawn. Definitions are called for so as to name which is one and which the other: a familiar, indeed crucial practice of modern political life, as we might already gather from Thomas Hobbes’s constitutive account of the conditions under which we might think politically as moderns.2 The problematic character of the terms nature and protection is magnified by the terms we use to relate one to the other. At the most obvious level, no serious analysis of modern political life can afford to forget that the very possibility of modern political life

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depends on negotiations of a profound rupture between man and nature, the rupture that many have seen as constituting the world of modernity: a world that is, in which the world, understood as nature, is cast out of the world of man, understood as that being who is what he is by virtue of not being natural, despite various sorts of evidence to the contrary.3 Many paradoxes and contradictions find a footing here. Modern man knows himself to be and instantiates himself as modern precisely because he is a subject cut adrift from the objective world of nature: a subject that might be protected from, or might protect, that from which he is apart, not a part. Is it nature or nurture, as we have so often asked? Is it man or nature, man and nature, man over nature, nature over man or something in between: something that is somehow both at once, both natural and human, both naturally given and historically cultivated, part beast or part genetic but also part of a radically undivine creation, a work of art and artifice? To imagine that modern man can protect nature or that he can be protected from nature is already to work within a dualism that is at once the great glory of modern accounts of what it means to be a proper, mature and free human being and the source of great angst and alienation.4 Negotiations of this rift and the multiple contradictions it has generated have been complex and contested. They have been at play in struggles to reconcile secular with sacred, universal reason with particular conscience, bodily being with conscious judgement, natural law with the law of sovereign states, abstract space and legal property with blood, sweat and soil. In a narrative that captures much of what is at stake in attempts to link protection with nature, Hobbes bequeathed an especially influential way of retaining a ruthlessly minimalist understanding of ‘natural right’, a right to physical existence within a maximalist understanding of a secular sovereignty; a secular sovereignty, that is, not entirely at odds with a theological injunction that man ought not destroy what God has made.5 Very clever, we might well say. Every modern account of political authority has had to negotiate a similar accommodation. Modern man had to be invented anew from the ruins of neoAristotelian hierarchies of natural inequality. This man had to be protected: secured as we are more used to putting it in quasi-Hobbesian style, to be made subject, obedient and safe; or safe, subject and obedient. Disenchantment set in, as Weber put it much later. Magic went out of the world. Continuities and qualities were displaced by discontinuities and quantities. Nature, like God, disappeared; and then reappeared in a new form, the transcendent God immanent within conscience, the mysterious nature made visible by the categories of a specifically modern duet of rationalism and empiricism. Man was (re-)invented. Nature was (re-)invented. Now we live with the consequences, worrying not only about a richer palette of dangers than Hobbes or even Weber knew how to portray but also about who this we is that might yet learn how to protect nature. So yes, quotation marks are called for. They mark a specific account of the relation between modern and thus unnatural man as protector and protected, as both secured subject and securing subject, and a nature that is at once beyond

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man’s subjectivity yet somehow brought within man’s conscious being, his reason, his deepest, brightest, darkest subjectivity. Modern man draws the line, sharply, cleanly, or so it always appears in retrospect. We know the trouble this brings when we discriminate between state and state, legal and illegal, friend and foe, peace and war. We know what troubles come from struggles to work out precisely who gets to draw the line, to discriminate and to authorize the discrimination, to decide where one stands, with Weber, able to do no other, to decide the exception that affirms the norm, as Schmitt would put it even more fatefully in his account of the sovereign delimitation of the modern state.6 Modern man can draw such lines in part because he once insisted on drawing a similar line between himself and the world outside of himself, the world he constructed as the exterior of his own interiority, the world we know, in part, as nature. Now, it seems, that nature is in need of protection by that very same man, that abstract archetype of the rational being who needs that exterior as a guarantor of its own being. Two obvious and daunting questions inevitably arise as a consequence. One question concerns whether the man constituted as a modern subject enabled within and limited by a nature external to itself is going to be able to respond to the damage his own subjectivisms and objectivisms have wrought upon the world in which he has acted. If modern political practices have been set up to enable and reproduce the human domination of nature, to revert to an older phraseology,7 there are obvious difficulties in expecting those practices to go against their ‘essential nature’, as some might be prepared to say, and do more than make a few ameliorative gestures, a reshuffling of chairs aboard a sinking ship. This is perhaps an especially difficult problem for liberal traditions of political engagement, for it is in these that one finds the clearest attachment to the kind of modern subjectivity that has been most liable to reify nature as its own internal externality. Liberals are never fond of confronting the limits within which they articulate their seductive claims to universality, substantively or procedurally, but their claims do work only within limits, and the limit at which modern man meets the modern delineation of nature cannot be ignored forever. Many other traditions also run into great difficulties in this context, of course, including those which seek to return to neo-Aristotelian notions of natural law so as to avoid hard questions of political responsibility, or which construct Romantic oppositions to Enlightenment rationalities, thereby reproducing the original dualism in a different form, or which seek to overcome capitalist commodifications in a grand gesture of apocalyptic revolution. Here one might follow many trails of political imagination and creativity, attempts to find alternatives to failed alternatives, probably in practice more than in theory, and certainly not in relation to a nature or environment understood as separate from man. The other question concerns the uneasy relation between the external world of nature that has come to be constructed within a discourse of man and nature and any other possible understanding of the world in which we live. What we call nature has been constructed as an externality within a discourse of internalities and externalities, a discourse that in bringing nature into modernity must always leave

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something outside, unknowable, mere phenomena, as Kant would say.8 Despite the degree to which some of the most rigorous intellectual traditions since Kant have been shaped by this sense that nature or the world as such is not simply transparent to the self-conscious human subjects seeking to know it, most moderns suspect that they can know this outside by knowing their own outside, that they can conflate their own construction of the phenomenal world as coextensive with the noumenal world from which they are, as modern subjects, formally alienated. They are prone to think the same way about humanity, to assume that the modern account of human possibility is what all of humanity must necessarily be, or become. Both modernization theory and much of the theory of international relations affirm this particular way of thinking about inclusion and exclusion, particularity and diversity, the modern world and the world. Nevertheless, where the standardized clichés structuring many debates about science, or philosophy, or method might keep reproducing dogmatic forms of empiricism and rationalism of the kind that Kant sought to evade, it remains the case that the tension between claims about our knowledge of nature and the world as such and claims about the modern subject whose freedom from nature enables a specifically modern (rather than naive or essentialist) knowledge of nature remains deeply unsettling. It is largely as a consequence of disturbances expressed in such questions that this account of what is involved in talking about the protection of nature has been put into critical suspicion in many quarters, and even framed as the deeper problem from which we need protection, or towards which it is necessary to develop greater resistance. While it may make considerable sense in many contexts to speak unproblematically of the protection of nature, in another sense it is precisely the form of social, cultural, economic, ethical and political order that can think that a claim to protect nature is unproblematic that is the core problem we have to confront. Many people, of course, simply want to do what they can with the resources already to hand: to get a New Labour government to at least act more in accordance with its occasionalist environmental agenda, for example, or to get intergovernmental agreement on at least something like the Kyoto protocols. Others insist that such hopes are already too little and too late. The problem is deeper, they say, more systemic, more a matter of capitalism, modernity and the Western way of life. Caught between such debilitating options, contemporary political actors are often tempted to shrug at the impossibility of the task ahead; tempted, that is, by the most debilitating option of all. What is at stake, however, is not a false choice between parochial pragmatisms and grand historical/structural transformations, but the need to pay attention to how larger historical/structural forces are always at play in specific practices and sites. Any attempt to protect nature will necessarily involve challenges to and reinstantiations of prevailing accounts of both man and nature, and of political possibility. To start thinking about the enormous historical forces that are expressed in apparently innocent phrases like the protection of nature all too easily leads to both extremist forms of liberal arrogance (masquerading as the sensible, the pragmatic,

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the progressive, the ethical and so on) and equally arrogant repudiations of liberal modernity in the name of some alternative outside, some world that is somehow more natural, more authentic, more real. But leaping outside is an especially difficult trick for modern man, who certainly knows well enough the outside that he has himself produced but also too easily assumes that to escape to this outside is to escape himself, his own limits, his own responsibilities. It is a familiar pattern. We know how to travel from the domestic to the wild but not how to think otherwise about the domesticated opposition between the domestic and the wild. It is unlikely that people trying to work on immediate and concrete problems of the kind that can be framed as the protection of nature can afford to tolerate either form of arrogance. It is more likely that they will be forced into complex and contradictory attempts to renegotiate the line that modern man has drawn between himself and the world in the process of inventing a modern subject who must be protected and a modern nature that this modern subject might exploit or perhaps protect. This renegotiation will no doubt involve struggles over the material conditions of life, over what it means to have life, over patterns of production and ownership, over claims to rights under law, over technologies that crush categories and categories that resist technologies. References to nature, like references to that man that invented himself against nature, will seem increasingly quaint. The effect of this renegotiation will be profound, and unpredictable. It will involve a renegotiation of assumptions about where and what we take political life to be. A convergence between ‘political’ discourses that can speak about protection and ‘environmental’ discourses that can speak about nature should expect nothing less. To start moving in this direction is to begin to remember some other related dilemmas that have long been familiar, even if not always forcefully present, in discourses about how the modern world is to be made safe for human beings. Hobbes, for example, once told us that if we are indeed all to be understood as moderns, as free and equal subjects, then we are all ‘naturally’ in what is now called a ‘security dilemma’. That is, we can really become who and what we already are as the kind of modern being against which a Hobbes could project a world of nature simultaneously ‘back then’ in time and ‘out there’ in space and from which we had to return to the present here and now, where we already were, through a stunning, and logically impossible, contractual myth of foundation. The ‘state of nature’ is both history and geography produced as a negation of the present; it is an invention of the present. He also told us that the only way out of this situation was to get into what could equally be called a security dilemma, the calculated gamble that sovereigns would not do more damage in the act of protection, in the securing of the modern subject, than would occur otherwise. Sovereignty was portrayed as a certainty but Hobbes knew full well that it presented an enormous risk, just as he knew that the claim to certainty rested on a cute set of contestable assumptions and rhetorical gestures. States still promise to provide both liberty and security, under the law, but the provision of security has always threatened to overwhelm liberty, within the law if possible, beyond the law if necessary. The cure has not always been better than the disease, even when incantations about democracy and rights mask some of the pain.

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Similarly, the modern international order has attained widespread legitimacy because it has offered to reconcile claims to cultural diversities, particularistic freedoms and national self-determinations with some sort of overarching order. The problem, of course, has been to know how the competing claims of overarching order and the particular authorities who both constitute and are enabled by that order are to be reconciled. This remains the unbridgeable aporia of modern political life, despite all the waffling that has sought to drive a grand bridge across the claim to citizenship within states and the claim to a humanity expressed in a system of states, as if polis and cosmopolis are not already mutually constitutive parts of the same contradictory order.9 For all its achievements, it is an order that always seems to be on the brink of bringing ever greater disasters, of wars to defend freedom and selfdetermination, on the one hand, or hegemonies and proto-empires acting in the name of some greater humanity, on the other. Again, conventional wisdom affirms that this is the best we can hope for. Modern man wants his freedoms and equalities, so he must obey, must trade his natural state for his civil potentials within the sovereign state. A natural right to mere life can expand to a more mature sort of freedom, as a Kant might hope. Put controls on the institutions of government under and within the sovereign law and the threat that the state might devour its citizens in the process of protecting them will hopefully diminish, at least in times of peace abroad. Similarly, multilateralism survives, perhaps. Wars have been averted through systemic adjustment and accommodation. Kant’s vision of a system of autonomous states internalizing a moral law that applies to all the world, to all of humanity, retains a powerful grip on the contemporary political imagination; to the extent that liberals are once again prepared to use force to impose a particular version of such a moral law on other states, and the remaining hegemon has allowed principles of imperial rule to override principles of international order with increasing vigour. In relation to the structural logic of both the modern sovereign state and the modern states system, we have become used to thinking about the limits within which it is possible to sustain hopes for modern man, for the kind of subject that can play out a life between conflicting principles of a popular sovereignty and a state sovereignty, or between competing claims to particular citizenships and some broader humanity; who can internalize a universal reason within a particular subjectivity, enact difference while retaining a recognizable humanity. Or at least, we have become so used to taking these limits for granted that entire literatures have turned them into a convenient backdrop, the Rawlsian curtain dropped over all background conditions, so that questions about politics are simply turned over to the philosophers, moralists and students of cultural fantasy. The difficulties of our time, however, are broadly recognized as putting those limits into very serious and dramatic question. We are uneasy about the way claims about security so easily trump claims to liberty. We are concerned that established forms of international order are not up to the job of preventing wars of increasingly destructive capacity. We are concerned about the degree to which the idealized form of an international order that has served since the seventeenth century as a

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regulative ambition of a modern politics seeking to reconcile claims to unity and claims to diversity is being swept away by appeals to imperial and global hierarchy, and the relegitimation of both new forms of violence and new forms of inequality. The we I am referring to here, of course, is presumably different from the we with which I began.

Nature of protection It is in this context that it is worth reflecting both on what was at stake in those claims about ‘national security’ that dominated all discourses about the relation between a politics of protection and claims about political subjectivity for much of the twentieth century. These claims still provide a paradigm of what it means to be realistic in political life, to be able to stipulate the limits of possibility and the necessities that must bring such limits. This is the paradigm in which nature was entirely erased from discourses about politics except insofar as it could be translated into a calculous of state power, as an inventory of capabilities. There are many grounds on which such claims might be dismissed, but their vulnerability to easy criticism should not detract from the enormous resources, of principle as well as of material force, that such claims were able to express. Three difficulties are especially worth noting. First, the claim to national security masqueraded as an answer, a given, when it was in fact the name for a massive array of questions about who precisely must be secured. The primary subject of national security has been precisely the securing of the modern subject. Claims about national security were always draped in rhetoric about political realism but were first and foremost claims about a political ideal, a normative claim about the necessary self-identity of modern citizen-subjects and the legitimacy of those statist institutions. Insofar as one can identify a primary tradition of international relations theory, and of those forms of security predicated on it, it is what we have come to call idealism not realism. Kant is the canonical text to think about here, along with the various Hegelian and Weberian traditions he enabled. Any attempt to think about either the state or the modern system of states by starting with a claim about a political realism, or ending with a claim about Kant as a solution to the problem of political realism, can only end up in caricatures. These caricatures ensure the loss of any sense that claims about the state, or the nation, or sovereignty, or the relation between the sovereignty of states and the demands of the system of states are first and foremost responses to problems, not a simple given. If state sovereignty is taken to be the proper solution to all problems of authority in a secular modernity, or the nation is assumed to be the proper answer to all problems of political identity, or a specific relation between the claims of sovereign states and the demands of a system of states that makes the existence of states possible is taken to be the proper way of resolving all relations of universality and particularity in political life, then certain (though always contestable) implications follow. Claims about a political realism and national security may or may not have much to say

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about such consequences, but they follow a prior conditionality. If one idealizes a particular conception of authority, of political community, of humanity, of man, then the demand for national security may follow, but the demand rests on an idealistic conditionality first and a consequentiality second. There are many ways of playing out the effects of the reversal of conditionality and consequentiality in discourses about the state, the international and the necessary relation between liberty and security in modern political life, but it is a fairly straightforward matter to see how our most influential account of what it must mean to protect depends on an affirmation of a modern subject that is radically severed from anything we might want to call nature. Though the narratives of national security might make appeals to human nature, it is a nature invoked as a way of filling out the behavioural characteristics of an already idealized modern subject, the citizen of the modern state radically severed from any common humanity. Though these narratives might appeal to the consequences of a possessive territorialism, it is a territoriality expressed in the most abstract form as an idealized spatiality, a spatiality expressed as the limits of sovereign law not as a line that nature has somehow carved through its own joints. Second, it masqueraded as a claim about state/nation as the highest form of political authority and thus about the essentially pluralist, fragmented or even anarchical character of the modern system of states. In this sense it reproduced the modern statist claim to sovereignty within a specific territoriality. As any serious theorist of international relations will insist, however, this can only be half the story, though we might endlessly debate about which half – the sovereign state or the states system – has priority in the story of what international relations must be. The modern sovereign state itself depends on the existence of the states system, which, although it may not embody an account of an overarching form of legitimate authority of the kind associated with states, as the condition of possibility of state sovereignty in effect works as an even higher principle of authority. We might read this in relation to various historical claims about the need to be European, or secular, or modern, or civilized, in order to participate in the states system. We might read this in terms of the implicit obligation to preserve the state system against any relapse into empire, and thus of the crises induced by various ‘hegemonic’ states from the post-Revolutionary France of Napoleon to the post-Cold War America of our own time. Or we might read this in terms of the relation between the modernizing dynamic through which capitalism and a globalizing economy are expressed in and through the states system and the responses of particular states seeking to modernize. The concept of national security as it emerged in the Cold War era expressed a systematic erasure of much of the ambivalent or dialectical character of the relation between state and states system. It especially encouraged accounts of a possible shift from the plural fragmentation of the states system to some kind of unity, and discouraged attempts to think about the ways in which both the state and the states system already expressed less an account of pluralism and fragmentation than of the proper, necessary, relation between plurality and unity: a relation expressed by the

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claim to state sovereignty as well as between state sovereignty and its systemic conditions of possibility. It still encourages claims that we might be able to do much more to protect nature, among other things, by moving from a world of fragmented national interests to some more cosmopolitan and universalizing community. To try to rethink relations between universality and particularity, whether in relation to questions about these extraordinary densities we know as sovereignty, man and nature is going to require a lot more critical imagination than this familiar dead end has to offer. Third, both of these points – that realism expresses a prior idealism, and that modern political life expresses a fundamental contradiction between the sovereignty of particular states and the sovereignty of the system of sovereign states – converge to explain how the concept of national security tended to masquerade as a claim about power when it was primarily a claim about authority, albeit a claim that worked so as to ensure that questions about authority could always be answered through claims about the necessities of power. The claim to national security worked so as to present norms as realities, possibilities as necessities, necessities as impossibilities, historicities as structures, processes as contingencies, dualities as dualisms, problems as solutions. It is all too easy to dismiss the claim to national security as the simplistic rhetoric or propaganda deployed by aggressive nationalists, militarists and governments desperate to hang on to power, as of course it often was and continues to be. But it is only a claim that works this way because it expresses ideals that have come to seem massively legitimate. It is also all too easy to suggest that we have somehow left the claims of national security behind, replaced them through our willingness to speak about interdependences, multilateralisms, the engagements with development, environment, identity and all the rest. Few people working in and around concepts of security now resist the notion that they are indeed responding to a ‘new security agenda’ of some kind, partly as a consequence of processes we identify with the dates of 1989 and 9/11/2001 and partly in relation to those multiple processes that are both known and made mysterious by the term globalization. Thus we have seen the elaboration of notions of ‘alternative’, ‘common’, ‘democratic’, ‘environmental’ and ‘human’ security as well as the establishment of supposedly ‘critical’ forms of security analysis and accounts of a new form of ‘risk society’.10 On the upside, we might say that at least ‘security’ has become a question, a name for concepts and practices that have come to seem increasingly problematic and in need of more sustained, more sophisticated and more critical scholarly interrogation. Security has been in encounter groups with ‘development’, battered by competing claims about the relationship between physical, political and social security, cast a knowing nod to ‘environment’, offered a tentative hand to ‘identity’, not least in relation to claims about gender and culture, and understood itself to be mixed up with, and by, ‘discourse’, sometimes even somewhat embarrassed to be associated with the stereotypical world of guns and bombs. On the downside we might say that the problematic character of what we mean when we talk about security has come to exceed our capacity to imagine a security

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that is somehow alternative, common or human. Apparently novel accounts of what security must be have been deployed in various situations: in the name of humanitarian interventions in Bosnia and preventive interventions in Iraq, to take the most obvious examples. We have certainly seen a shift from accounts of security that assume a logic of competitive insecurities in a pluralistic system of states to accounts that assume both a somehow more ‘global’ context and a more elaborate array of political actors and sources of danger and insecurity. Yet while the need for something other than the ideological mantras about national security we were forced to repeat over and over again in the era of Cold War bi-polarities has been difficult to ignore, it is not clear that all the talk about what this something other might be has taken us very far. A few brave souls have kept their faith in the old mantras. Others have revamped their thinking in line with claims about an end of history, a coming anarchy, a conflict of civilizations, a democratic peace or a war to defend democracies against some global terror: claims that are interesting as an expression of something important about the limits of the modern political imagination but not of any great insight into the complexities and contradictions that have undermined so many of the assumptions that once gave claims about security such an air of natural necessity. Yet if we do conclude that ‘security’ has become a question, a problem, then we need to come to terms with the ways in which claims about security are constitutive of modern claims about the possibility of politics at all. To make claims about the need for a ‘new security agenda’ is to pose questions about what we mean by notions of security, and the relation between security and politics, that are not alternative, not critical, not about humans, but are somehow conventional, or – the word I want to stress here – normal; normal in the double sense of being an assumed ground of normality, continuity and presence and of being a normative aspiration for a world that is somehow better, different from what has become the norm. A lot hangs on how something is said to be normal, and thus on how we distinguish it from that which is something else: an exception as we say. Not least, I want to draw attention to the connection between the problem of framing some notion of a security that is different from some normalized account of security and the framing of the relation between norm and exception that is at the very core of the way we came to construct a normalized account of security over the course of the twentieth century. For it is here that we can see an exemplary case of the practice of seeking an alternative to the present and the conventional when the present and the conventional are themselves at least partly understood to be practices that are framed as presence and absence, or convention and alternative, or norm and exception; or, to invoke terms that draw attention to the uneasy tensions between theological and secular traditions at work in modern political life, the immanent and the transcendent. Insofar as one can summarize the key moves that have been made in and around the more critical literatures on security I would say that they involve three primary claims. First, they point to a broader and more pluralistic account of the threats from which we need to be secured; broader and more pluralistic, that is, when

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compared with the claim that the primary threat to people’s security comes from states operating within a states system. Second, they point to a more differentiated and pluralistic account of the people, and peoples who are threatened; more differentiated and pluralistic, that is, when compared with the singular account of people and peoples expressed in the claims of the modern nation state. Third, they point to the various ways in which the practices of modern security are precisely practices, rather than objectively identifiable necessities; that is, they are practices, discourses, institutions and principles that do things, authorize decisions, produce situations, deploy and legitimize violence and reproduce/transform the conditions under which violence is taken to be a necessary and legitimate part of contemporary political life. Fairly predictably, all three moves have run into major difficulties. I think of two in particular. They are closely related. First, as both the sources and subjects of (in)security have multiplied, the term ‘security’ has come to seem less and less precise, to evaporate into too many different meanings, to have become both analytically obscure and politically promiscuous. It is not obviously the case that it has been wrong to insist that the sources and subjects of security have in fact multiplied. It is not all that difficult to tell a convincing story about the many vulnerabilities of human and other forms of life on an ecologically vulnerable planet. Rather, the decreasing precision that the term has come to have is an effect of a radically transforming political context in which terms that could once be assumed to have a more or less fixed meaning have become less effective at suturing fundamental principles onto emerging practices. Second, as the sources and subjects of (in)security have multiplied, the practices through which security is to be achieved have multiplied also. Many scholars have worried about the implications of attempts to work out less overtly militaristic or realist accounts of security for quite some time. They have tempered their suspicions of the old security agenda with concerns about the degree to which more and more aspects of our life have been securitized. Be careful about what you wish for, they have suggested, because if you demand a more elaborated account of security, then a securitized world will indeed be elaborated for you. Thus we might read at least some of the attempt to work out better accounts of security since the end of the Cold War as a variation on the longstanding theme of the tension between liberty and security that animates liberal accounts of political life in the modern state. We might also read much of the concern about the increasing securitization of various societies since 9/11 – the mobilization of security against terror, against Islam, against migrants and refugees, against crime and all the rest – as a response to a shift along an axis from liberty to security; as working within an account of politics that relies on the state to provide security while recognizing, along with Hobbes, that the state is always likely to get you killed in the process of protecting you: as securing you for its own purposes quite as much as securing your capacity to act out your own liberties under the law. In this account, we confront yet again the need to find an appropriate line between declarations of a state of emergency and struggles to sustain a civil society of democratic rights and freedoms under the law. Much might be achieved by reading recent debates about the need to rethink security in relation to some of the key moments in which the claims of security

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and the claims of liberty have previously been in serious tension. The title of Norberto Bobbio’s book Democracy and Dictatorship comes to mind here, as does Michael Howard’s War and the Liberal Conscience, the former alluding to many longstanding concerns about the conditions under which democracies are subverted through appeals to collective necessities and the latter reminding us that far from being intrinsically peaceful, liberal democracies have a long history of justifying the suspension of democratic norms in the name of wars of conscience.11 This is also one of those contexts in which Hobbes is important for thinking about security precisely because he identifies a problem, a contradiction, that is central to the working of the modern sovereign state, the workings of a we that can distinguish itself, authorize the distinctions that it makes and then struggle to modulate the violence that is the consequence of its contingent conditionality. Claims about national security did a lot of work to affirm the natural necessity of a specifically modern (statist, nationalist, subjectivist) account of what it means to be human: the human that understands itself to be radically split from other humans, as always aware that it must affirm its freedom, autonomy, identity, interest, security and subjectivity from all others. Attempts to find alternative forms of security are drawn to imitate the same logic they explicitly seek to resist. Searching for an alternative to a structure of norms and alternatives, to find a way out of a structure of insiders and outsiders, attempts to renegotiate what it could possibly mean to achieve security and identify new modalities of protection inevitably lead to the most basic questions about human subjectivity, identity and the rest that claims about national security worked so hard to insist need never be asked again. One of the effects of the claim to national security was to legitimize an extraordinary narrowing of the discourse, and of the ranks of those enabled to discourse about what it means to be secure, to protect, to be the kind of being worthy of protection. The specialists in violence at the margin, the military strategists, the secret services, were the ones who were permitted to answer all hard questions about political subjectivity, usually through the simple reproduction of statist accounts of what the answers must be. One could blame the specialists in violence at the margin. It would be more appropriate to blame all those more cosily domesticated specialists of the centre, those who have been content to work within the lines that have been drawn and protected, kept the veils drawn around the naturalized limits of modern political life. The lines that have been drawn and protected, however, have not just been the lines drawn at the margins of sovereign states. The discourses of national security have themselves been secured by the drawing of other lines. The human has been distinguished from the non-human, partly as a rift between man and nature and partly as a rift between those who are properly human and those who are rather less so: those who are rather closer to nature, not quite worthy of participating in the world of modern man. It has been one of the characteristics of contemporary political analysis and debate that it has been difficult to see any connection in principle between the difficulties that have been abundantly discussed in relation to what we now call the environmental and difficulties that have been even more abundantly discussed in

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relation to a politics that is simultaneously statist and international. That environmental problems are also statist/international problems is quite evident. That statist/ international problems are environmental problems is quite evident also. Extensive literatures have emerged in both contexts. The advantage, and the challenge, of thinking about any notion of a need to protect nature, however, is that it ultimately demands much more sustained engagements with the interplay between the discriminations we authorize between ourselves as modern and properly human rather than ‘merely’ natural subjects and the discriminations we authorize between ourselves as citizens aspiring to be properly human subjects. The invention of a modern subjectivity posed in opposition to an invented nature enabled modern man to get caught in all the fundamental contradictions of freedom and security in a statist/international politics. Accounts of human subjectivity affirmed by the apparently simple phrase ‘protection of nature’ and by the dense and anything-but-simple phrase ‘national security’ are both falling apart. It will not be enough to think we can try to protect nature without also placing our capacity to protect the modern subject into the deepest suspicion. If it has been said, with mixed emotions, that we are at the end of the era of man, then it must also be said that we are at the end of the era of nature; though of course one can only speak about ends if one knows where things begin. In this case, we might hope that ignorance may lead in positive directions.

Nature/protection Looked at from the perspective of the ‘protection of nature’, we see the strange contradiction that nature is specifically excluded from the world of humanity that is set up as having a capacity to act in the world, and thus to engage in protection. Modern man secures himself only by excluding that which enables his very possibility as a human being. At the same time, modern political life is constructed as a project of securing modern citizens as subjects in a way that excludes the very possibility of a human being, a humanity. Modern political man secures himself by privileging the secured subject within the state and states system, deferring the arrival of humanity to the moment of utopia or the final arrival of development. The binary opposition of man and nature affirms the opposition of citizen and human, political subject and humanity. Both oppositions are celebrated as the great achievements of modernity. Both are increasingly intolerable. There is little chance of thinking productively about either one without thinking about the other.

Notes 1 This is a slightly revised version of an essay originally published in Jef Huysmans, ed., The Politics of Protection, London: Routledge, 2005, 189–202. 2 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, edited by Richard Tuck, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991, especially chapters 4 and 5. 3 These phrases struggle to sustain some control over vast and contested literatures. Mere intimations of just how vast can be found in Clarence J. Glacken, Traces on the

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7 8 9

Rhodian Shore: Nature and Culture in Western Thought from Ancient Times to the End of the Eighteenth Century, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1967; Alfred North Whitehead, Concept of Nature, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1920; R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of Nature, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1945; E. A. Burtt, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science (1924, revised 1932), New York: Doubleday Anchor, 1952; Gerd Buchdahl, Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science, Oxford: Blackwell, 1969; Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1977; Andrzej Rapacynski, Nature and Politics: Liberalism in the Philosophies of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987; John M. Meyer, Political Nature: Environmentalism and the Interpretation of Western Thought, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001; and Neil Evendern, The Social Creation of Nature, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. Again the literature is almost as vast as the critique of modernity itself, not to say the concern of many academic sub-disciplines. Some of the suggested directions I have in mind here are marked by Alfred Schmidt, The Concept of Nature in Marx, London: New Left Books, 1971; William Leiss, The Domination of Nature, Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1974; Timothy W. Luke, Capitalism, Democracy and Ecology, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999; Donna Haraway, The Haraway Reader, New York: Routledge, 2004; Noel Castree and Bruce Braun, eds, Social Nature: Theory, Practice and Politics, Oxford: Blackwell, 2001; William Cronon, ed., Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature, New York: Norton, 1995; Philip E. Steinberg, The Social Construction of the Ocean, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001; and Warren Magnusson and Karena Shaw, eds, A Political Space: Reading the Global through Clayoquot Sound, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003. Hobbes, Leviathan. There are of course many controversies about the precise manner in which Hobbes did or did not manage to reconcile either physis with nomos and secular sovereignty with divine sovereignty. Whatever one makes of these controversies, it is enough for my purposes here simply to stress that the opening of huge gaps between the secular authority of modern man and an authority derived from either physis or from a transcendent God posed a problem that had to be solved by thinkers like Hobbes, and that it has subsequently proved exceptionally convenient to be able to be able to affirm the priority of the sovereignty of man while maximizing the appearance of continuities between secular sovereignty and the authority of nature, God or both. As with the interpretation of Hobbes, modern political life becomes intensely problematic once the appearance of continuity is dropped, or when attempts are made to equate secular with either natural or divine authority. The continuities that are of most interest here are those between the modern scripting of always difficult lines containing a purely immanent secular authority in the age of Hobbes and the increasing difficulty of scripting such lines under many contemporary conditions. Carl Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (1922), translated by George Schwab, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1988. Cf. Max Weber, ‘The Profession and Vocation of Politics’, in Max Weber: Political Writings, edited and translated by Peter Lassman and Ronald Speirs, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Leiss, The Domination of Nature. Here I think especially of Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, translated by Norman Kemp Smith, London: Macmillan, 1983, but the theme runs right through to the later writings on political possibility and the philosophy of history. The opposition in international law between Schmitt’s reading of sovereignty and Kelsen’s ‘pure theory of law’ has been a particularly important expression of this aporia. I have tried to develop readings of the significance of contemporary attempts to ignore this aporia in a sequence of essays on a wide range of literatures; see especially R. B. J. Walker, ‘Polis, Cosmopolis, Politics’, Alternatives: Local, Global, Political, 28:2, 2003, 267–86; Walker, ‘War, Terror, Judgement’ (see Chapter 11 below), in Bulent Gokay and R. B. J. Walker, eds, September 11, 2001: War, Terror and Judgement, London: Frank Cass, 2003, 62–83; Walker, ‘On the Immanence/Imminence of Empire’, Millennium: Journal of International

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Studies, 31:2, 2002; Walker, ‘Conclusion: Sovereignties, Exceptions, Worlds’, in Jenny Edkins, Veronique Pin-Fat and Michael J. Shapiro, eds, Sovereign Lives: Power in Global Politics, New York: Routledge, 2004, 239–49; and Walker, ‘L’International, l’impérial, l’exceptionnel’, Cultures et Conflits, 58, Eté 2005, 13–51, the English version of which appears as Chapter 11 below. 10 Among many: Keith Krause and Michael C. Williams, eds, Critical Security Studies: Concepts and Cases, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997; and Simon Dalby, Environmental Security, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002. 11 Norberto Bobbio, Democracy and Dictatorship, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1989; Michael Howard, War and the Liberal Conscience, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976. Both texts express mid-twentieth century recollections of debates that centred on Carl Schmitt’s writings on sovereignty in the 1920s.


Discursive economies of scale To place the two terms ‘social movements’ and ‘world politics’ into conjunction is to invite serious conceptual trouble.1 On the face of it, the elusive transience of the one is no match for the monolithic presence of the other, fables of David and Goliath notwithstanding. Two initial considerations are especially important in this respect. To begin with, there are the apparently obvious disparities of scale. Judged from the regal heights of statecraft, social movements are but mosquitos on the evening breeze, irritants to those who claim maturity and legitimacy at the centres of political life. Some mosquitos, of course, can have deadly effects. Some movements, it can be claimed, have had tremendous impact on states, societies, economies and cultures. But even large movements are difficult to take seriously once compared to the might and reach of a properly world politics. Whatever world politics is taken to be, it is difficult to imagine it as somehow smaller or weaker than those ephemeral groups of people struggling for this and that in particular places. Little David’s big victory only serves to confirm the general expectation of inevitable victories by giants, by the big fish who supposedly feed on small fish. Despite occasional claims that small is beautiful, miniaturization profitable, the explosion of little atoms traumatic, or the predations of guerrilla bands frustratingly effective, greater size is difficult to dissociate from images of strength, virility and importance. Contemporary political life still draws on discursive economies of scale that inform our understanding of what and where power is. These economies, these productions, reproductions and distributions across the multiple sites of modern political life still largely determine the contours of contemporary political judgement, still constrain our capacity to distinguish the significant from the insignificant, and even the political from the apolitical. The analysis of social movements is especially susceptible to the illusion that bigger is always better.

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More crucially, difficulties arise from the apparent disjunction between the realms in which social movements and world politics are usually said to exist. Whether as a simple synonym for ‘international relations’ or as a label affixed to some more complex array of forces, ‘world politics’ seems to refer not only to some grand – and therefore presumably determining – structure, but more significantly to things going on ‘out there’, to processes that occur in realms somewhere ‘beyond’ society. Social movements are supposed to be precisely social movements, phenomena that occur within a society; and societies in turn, the conventions insist, can only exist within those political structures that allegedly make them possible, namely the state and the states system. Social movements and world politics are supposed to be understood as expressions of two distinct ontological realms, the inner and the outer. Moreover, even within the inner realm of society, social movements are, to the modern political imagination, most easily fixed within a sphere of social life that is distinguished from and even counterposed to the sphere of politics; within the so-called civil society that has been so carefully, though problematically, distinguished from the explicitly political affairs of the modern state. To make contact, social movements and world politics require some kind of mediating agent. First, the social has to find some expression within the explicitly political practices of the state. Then the state has to mediate with other states. To show how social movements might be relevant to the emergence of some kind of world politics is therefore to confront the double exclusion that is sustained by the prevailing codes of modern political discourse. Or rather, it is to confront the double exclusion that is sustained by one specific reading of those codes, the one that affirms the priority of the principle of state sovereignty over all other claims to political possibility. The ontological disjunction between what goes on inside and what goes on outside the modern state that defines statist readings of modern politics makes the apparent incongruity of scale between social movements and world politics even more compelling. The merely domestic must obviously submit before the demands of the international or global. Moreover, both the incongruity and the disjunction are affirmed in what is arguably the most profound but only sporadically acknowledged reification of modern political discourse: the seemingly innocuous classification of all ontological possibilities that has found its dim and epiphenomenal expression among modern theorists of international relations as the so-called ‘levels-of-analysis’ schema.2 It is striking that much if not most of modern social and political analysis can be understood as an exercise in classification of some kind, even if the literature on classification tends to be minimized in many claims about the methodological practices of the social sciences.3 The scarcity of literature commenting on what is achieved by taking this particular classification for granted is especially telling. As an expression of the inbred common sense of modern political discourse, this schema hides most of its ontological significance under a chaste appeal for analytical clarity and explanatory parsimony. Yet categories that manage to frame an account of the horizontal territorialities of the modern state as a hierarchical arrangement of inclusions and exclusions are neither modest nor simply analytical in their accomplishments,

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and parsimony often comes at the high cost of conceptual oversimplification and ideological conceit. Freezing the contingent and horizontal relations between territorial states into a natural hierarchy, the levels of analysis schema affirms the eternal legitimacy of the modern state. The dangerous line between inside and outside is turned into a series of apparently secure distinctions between above and below, big and small, universalizing and particularizing, strong and weak. A merely contingent point of transitions, transgressions, comings and goings is rendered as an ontological absolute. As a specifically modern reconciliation between the old theological categories of heaven and earth and the secular categories of here and there or self and other, this classification is both aesthetically elegant and rhetorically persuasive. As a specifically liberal account of a world of individuals, states and anarchies, it renders all other political categories – of class, race, gender, capitalism, modernity and so on – entirely superfluous. As in many other contexts, the theorists of international relations deserve credit for making explicit what the political theorists have usually assumed but rarely spoken about or even acknowledged. They deserve much less credit for affirming the assumptions of the political theorists as the way things are and must be. The categorical expression of an historically entrenched common sense provides a dubious ground on which to pitch the tents of empirical method. Accounts of political life, within states or between them, that take the ontological densities of this classification for granted are explicitly normative and explicitly ideological. They affirm a specifically modern articulation of spatiotemporal relations and a specifically liberal account of political identity. The modern self-identical subject is assigned its proper place in the universe and told what its fate must be. Framed in this context especially, the conjunction of social movements with world politics offers a clear case of ontological impossibility. Small cannot compete with large, and lower/inner cannot impinge on higher/outer. On both grounds, social movements and world politics can have only the most tenuous of connections. This sense of disjunction is produced, reproduced and exchanged throughout the political discourses of modern societies. Consequently, it is usually very difficult to see how things are, once were, or still could be otherwise. Even so, the obvious judgement informed by this discursive economy begs two rather important questions. These questions have become more pressing as evidence accumulates that the world is not – and perhaps has never been – the way modern translations of spatial exclusions into hierarchical necessities suggest it must be. One question concerns the assumed scale on which disparities of size and power can be measured; for it is not clear that political life has yet been completely organized in relation to some universal standard of measurement in the way that most economists believe it possible to use money as the universal arbitration of all differences. Political life tends to thrive on contradictions, contingencies and unintended consequences. Things are rarely quite what they seem to be, let alone what they are supposed to be. The mysteries of power and authority have not yet been revealed either from on high or by the instrumental calculus of collective choice. Abundant traces of this insight can be found in many of the classic texts of

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international relations theory, but it is an insight that has been largely occluded by the prior assumption that contingency and determination can be reconciled at the boundaries of inner and outer or lower and higher. Even the most ‘Machiavellian’ of ‘political realists’ have found it difficult to resist the great divides between truth and illusion or time and eternity that are so elegantly but firmly inscribed on the spatial boundaries of the modern state. The other question concerns the ontological categories through which disparities of scale are represented as expressions of different realms of political life. The juxtaposition of claims about social movements with claims about world politics invites serious conceptual trouble in that the obvious way of framing their relationship rests upon prior categories of analysis, and prior conceptions of what and where politics must be, that are arguably being challenged both by processes that are usually described as world politics and by some of the explicit practices evoked under the label of social movements. Even on a superficial glance, the practices of social movements do not always conform to the codes of inner and outer, to the account of spatiotemporal relations that informs the normative horizons of modern politics. Indeed, they would hardly be very interesting if they did. If social movements are to be taken seriously in relation to claims about world politics, then, at least some attention will have to be paid to ways in which they do, or do not, challenge the constitutive practices of modern politics. It is futile to try to gauge the importance of social movements without considering the possibility that it is precisely the criteria of significance by which they are to be judged that may be in contention. The criteria that seem to me to be especially significant in this context concern the extent to which some social movements, in some situations, implicitly or explicitly challenge the normative/ideological order reified by the levels-of-analysis schema and its constitutive modern articulation of spatiotemporal relations, both as the way things are and as the way things must and should be. This is not least because whatever they are – and what they are is far from clear to anyone – social movements are usually designated precisely as social movements, as phenomena that are explicitly at odds with the spatial framing of all ontological possibilities, of greater and lesser, higher and lower, inner and outer, that have made it so difficult to envisage any form of politics other than that associated with the modern state and its self-identical subjects.4 Yet if the discursive economies of scale and disparities between inner and outer imply serious conceptual trouble for any attempt to place social movements and world politics into conjunction, there always seem to be other – more cosmopolitan or universalist – readings of the codes of modern politics waiting to suggest an easy way out. The Stoics and Immanuel Kant are often invoked in this context, despite the extent to which Stoic and Kantian philosophies have either been appropriated by (in the case of the former) or explicitly framed in relation to (in the case of the latter) the particularistic discourses of the modern state. More generally, it is possible to appeal to some supposedly already existing world politics or universal ethics as if the grungy skin of modern statist politics can be cast off to reveal some essential or potential humanity beneath. Such appeals are scattered freely in the contemporary

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literature.5 Social movements can then be read as agents of this revelation, and world politics can be read as the communion of the humanity thus revealed. More interestingly, perhaps, it is possible to appeal to a rather less abstract and apparently more politically engaged account of an emerging global civil society. Indeed, much of the recent literature attempting to make sense of social movements/ world politics has begun to draw quite heavily on the notion of a global civil society, not least so as to avoid falling back on some prepolitical or even antipolitical claim about an already existing ethics or world politics through which social movements can act without confronting the limits of modern politics in the modern state. Yet, I will suggest, the notion of a global civil society, though often suggestive, and though offering an apparently easy but still politically engaged way out of the impasse of modern statist discourse, is the site of some especially serious conceptual trouble. Many of the difficulties of analysing social movements in relation to world politics arise less from the categories of inclusion and exclusion that insist that the task is impossible in principle than from readings of those same categories that make the conjunction between them seem so easy and even entirely unproblematic. Claims about an emerging global civil society usually reveal the reproductive powers of statist discourse more than they do the capacity of social movements to challenge that discourse. I will develop this argument, first, by making a few brief comments about the analysis of social movements in general; second, by emphasizing a crucial and exemplary contradiction expressed in the neo-Habermasian account of social movements offered by Jean Cohen and Andrew Arato; third, by shifting attention to some related puzzles posed by one social movement currently active in parts of India; fourth by trying, and largely failing, to find an entry into the political practices of social movements in some of the recent literature in international relations that begins with some kind of countersovereignty discourse, especially in relation to claims about a global civil society; and fifth, by insisting that it is because social movements are precisely movements, and because they do not always conform to the prevailing discourses of sovereignty or a simple countersovereignty, that they can be read as interesting forms of political practice. What is at stake here, I believe, is the need to recast questions that are conventionally posed in the analysis of social movements in a manner that does not automatically reproduce the expectations of modern statist discourse. Considerable empirical research needs to be done in this field, but it is unlikely to add very much to our existing knowledge without a more sustained interrogation of the theoretical assumptions that inform the procedures of empirical enquiry in this context. The following comments are thus intended to explore the possibility of understanding the conjunction of social movements and world politics without mimicking the usual statist critiques of the modern state or lapsing into a romantic strategy of ‘listening to the movements’. The conjunction of social movements and world politics is interesting for my purposes here for what it tells us about the conditions under which we are now able, or unable, to engage in an analysis of world politics. The conclusion to which I am drawn is that it is less interesting to ask how powerful

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or influential social movements are, or how they fulfil established expectations of what they must be and must become, than how they might contribute to the reconfiguration of what we mean by politics under contemporary conditions.

Merely social, always moving Most of the literature suggesting that a conjunction between social movements and world politics might be a serious focus for research and analysis tends towards description and affirmation rather than theoretical elaboration. There are many social movements that act across established political boundaries, it is often suggested, and their significance in relation to some of the crucial issues of contemporary politics is frequently affirmed. Think of any of the grand issues of our time, of peace, environment, gender, development or identity, and the depiction of some kind of social movement seems to follow automatically. Think of who or what is being affirmed as the relevant political subject and the citizens of particular states are not the only possibility that come to mind. To act in relation to ‘the environment’, for example, is to act explicitly in the name of allegedly ‘natural’ forces and interests that refuse to acknowledge the merely historical boundaries of states; nevertheless, exactly what it means to speak of the environment, or act in the name of nature, or how the relationship between the supposedly natural and the supposedly historical should now be mediated, or who has the authority to act in the name of rainforests and dolphins, is more difficult to specify. To speak in the name of ‘women’, or to complain about the constitution and dangers of ‘masculinity’, is again to refer to identities claimed across territorial boundaries, to speak against the convergence of gendered privilege and sovereign authorities; yet what it means to speak on behalf of all women, or even what it means to invoke any unitary identity around the category of gender, are matters of considerable complexity and dispute. Similarly, to speak of ‘peace’ or ‘development’ is presumably to be sceptical of the binary inscriptions of peace and war or developed and developing upon the territorial delineations of us and them; yet the meanings of peace or development certainly do not become any clearer with the recognition that violence and injustices legitimized through the reification of others as Other are intolerable. To suggest that the modern categories of citizen and subject cannot possibly exhaust the dynamics of contemporary identity politics does little to indicate how identities are now being reconstituted or how they might enter into forms of political life that do not gamble everything in the casinos of the modern state. To suggest that rights inhere in something that is somehow ‘human’, or that capitalism is becoming organized globally rather than internationally, is perhaps to recognize the limits of statist modes of reconciling all contradictions; but these suggestions say relatively little about what it might mean to refer to the human or the global given the continuing hold of modern citizenship and modern subjectivities on the contemporary political imagination. Like it or not, modern political discourse still largely equates all political identities, whether of class, race, gender, religion, humanity or planet, with citizenship, with

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the fusion of universality and particularity in the legitimate authority of the sovereign state. The account of political necessity expressed as a typology of levels is neither arbitrary nor a mere methodological convenience. Its normative and ideological roots are very firmly entrenched. That many forms of contemporary political practice appeal to and act on the basis of forms of identity and solidarity that are not constrained by statist territorialities is hardly controversial. The migration of birds, the flows of capital, the solidarities of women and the streets of Miami, Los Angeles and Leicester all offer compelling images that are often sharply at odds with the official story. The precise significance of what it means to act across established political boundaries, on the other hand, most certainly is controversial. Contemporary political life is increasingly strung between two narratives that have both achieved the status of the obvious and banal. One, the official story, affirms the territorial state as the only place in which meaningful political life can occur. The other, usually framed as a universalizing negation of the official story, affirms the relative triviality of the state in relation to the flows of technology, imagery, values and people. Each narrative has spawned considerable literatures that are effectively oblivious of the other. When these narratives do come into collision, under the banner of an international political economy, for example, doctrinal heat often overwhelms theoretical light. In any case, and perhaps understandably, the difficulties of rethinking the political in this context have taken a back seat to attempts to make sense of rearticulations of the economic.6 Not surprisingly, the criteria upon which the significance or insignificance of political practices that cross borders are to be judged are widely understood to be sharply contested. Description is one thing, but coming to terms with the theoretical problems posed by such descriptions is quite another. Even literatures that do seek to develop sophisticated analyses of social movements find it easier to pose questions about criteria of significance in relation to claims about the novelty or otherwise of the so-called ‘new social movements’, than about the tendency for some kinds of movement to spill out of the official boundaries of political life. To speak about the ‘new’ social movements is at least to do so in relation to presumptions about what the ‘old’ ones were like. It is to measure their achievements against other familiar political practices and institutions. There may well be considerable uncertainty about how a movement is to be distinguished from an interest group or political party. There may be ongoing disputes, for example, about the continuities and discontinuities to be discerned between, on the one hand, the movements of women, environmentalists, peace activists and so on that began to emerge in the wealthier parts of the world in the 1960s and, on the other, the paradigms associated with the labour movements of an earlier era. There may even be a growing consensus that those new social movements have succumbed to co-optation, degenerated into special interest groups among the most privileged. But at least there is some kind of (idealized) analytical base from which to evaluate similarity and difference, continuity or discontinuity, radical potential or cynical capitulation. According to the established conventions, social movements have had a profound effect only by mutating into something else: into mass movements,

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coalitions, organized institutions of interest articulation, revitalization of the institutions of civil society or political parties capable of taking on maturity and legitimacy where it really counts, in relation to the state. There are other, perhaps more serious problems provoked by the notoriously slippery game of evaluating the significance of social movements in contemporary political life. To begin with, movements are precisely movements. They will not stand still. Look carefully, be wary of the tendency to reify human energies into inert institutions, and movements proliferate. Look more carefully still and everything moves. What, the frustrated sceptic might ask, is not a social movement? They come and go, rise and decline, provoke a fuss and wither on the vine. They take the familiar path from charisma to regularized routine, from inventiveness and passion to bureaucracy, hierarchy and instrumental reason. Or, alternatively, they fracture, mutate, dissipate, gather no moss. To be in motion is to be at odds with many of the criteria on which serious politics has come to be judged. Like rivers that cannot be stepped into twice, social movements cannot be pinned down, cannot keep their powers in place. In terms of the stereotypes captured so effectively in Weber’s typology of legitimate authority, the authenticity, energy and dynamism of movements in the making must give way to institutions that take root in the structures of society. Movements that remain movements may register protest, mobilize resources, articulate interests and identities, but cannot become really serious or important. They must remain, according to categories that still retain their capacity to mesmerize, merely social and not political. The discursive economy of scale is matched by a discursive economy of relative movement in which a premium is assigned to stasis and longevity. As the canonical traditions of modern political theory have kept insisting, a serious politics requires that temporality and movement must be tamed upon the certain ground of spatial form. As Warren Magnusson’s analysis reminds us, for example, it now takes considerable effort to recapture Marx’s account of capitalism as a movement.7 In political analysis, it is almost impossible to think except in terms set by Hobbes’s paradigmatically frozen architectures. It is thus not surprising that so much of the literature on social movements is caught in a definitional vortex. To seek a definition of a social movement, let alone a judgement as to whether any particular movement is progressive or emancipatory, is to work along the slippery edges of prevailing political categories, to demand clear distinctions where the social and the political, the transitory and the static, the particular and the general cling together as well as slide asunder. Nor is it surprising that the study of social movements has remained largely the preserve of sociologists rather than students of politics. This is a division of labour that cuts both ways. Sociologists have undoubtedly offered the richest descriptive and even theoretical analyses of social movements.8 They have to some extent evaded the narrow readings of what counts as political practice prevalent among students of politics and international relations. But this has not often translated into accounts of social movements precisely as challenges to established accounts of where and what politics must be. On the one hand, the singular statist community

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often remains the tacit ground on which the advantages of, say, resource mobilization or identity articulation theories are developed. On the other, attempts to understand social movements in relation to a broader world system of historical capitalism have more to say about such movements in relation to universalizing categories of class than to categories of political life constituted in relation to the legitimate authority of sovereign states.9 Both the definitional vortex and the tendency in much of the literature to either tacitly and uncritically assume the presence of the singular state or subordinate the state to the constitutive monologic of global capitalism are symptomatic of the difficulty of thinking about politics on other than statist terms. The sociologists are certainly right in thinking that statist categories offer only limited assistance in understanding many social movements, or that the politics of the modern state must to some extent be framed in relation to the historical and structural dynamics of a universalizing capitalism. But whatever the global articulations of capitalist economies, it is the state that has captured and reproduced a particularistic account of political possibility, an account that cannot simply be shed like a tattered overcoat, no matter how threadbare the discourses of the modern state have become. This is precisely why claims about the importance of some kinds of movements in relation to structures and practices that exceed the limits of the official political boundaries must be taken seriously. Such movements may or may not be successful on their own terms. They may or may not influence states, international organizations, policies, programmes, levels of violence or forms of injustice in particular places. They may or may not be judged to be powerful or influential in relation to the established understandings of power and influence. But there is a reason why those who affirm the significance of such movements are wary of theoretical exploration, and why those who invoke theory tend to shy away from a direct encounter with the international or global dimensions of so many social movements. This reason is simply that once one crosses the official boundaries of the established conceptions of politics, the boundaries of the modern state, it becomes very difficult to speak about any kind of politics at all. Again, it must be the capacity of some social movements to speak to the poverty of the contemporary political imagination that gives them significance beyond their immediate demands, achievements, and even failures.

Domestic bliss In one of the more sustained attempts to make sense of the theorizing about modern social movements since the 1960s, Jean Cohen and Andrew Arato have developed a line of analysis that is at once highly sophisticated and highly circumscribed, in ways that are especially telling for an understanding of the limits of contemporary attempts to make sense of the conjunction of social movements and world politics.10 Their analysis is sophisticated both in the sense that it seeks to take account of the two primary theoretical orientations that have dominated the recent literature on social movements, those which focus on resource mobilization and identity articulation, and because it seeks to develop an account of civil society consistent

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with the political project associated with and largely stimulated by the work of Jürgen Habermas. By drawing on Habermas, especially, Cohen and Arato are able to interpret the disparate experiences of diverse movements as contributions to a coherent and sustainable account of an emancipatory politics. This account has undoubtedly found important expression in many recent political struggles and continues to be one of the primary inspirations for a progressive understanding of politics in a global context. Yet it is precisely in relation to attempts to think about social movements in a global context that the limits of the Habermasian account of political possibility that informs Cohen and Arato’s analysis become most visible and vulnerable. Habermas is now known primarily for his endorsement of the potentials for a universal reason, one linked historically to the age of Enlightenment and conceptually to the notion of a hypothetically universalizable communicative competence. The theoretical elaboration of this position is complex and subtle, and rooted in a sustained encounter with and appropriation of many of the most influential intellectual currents of the twentieth century. But the subtlety and sophistication with which the argument is developed does little to counter the central contradiction between the universalizing impulse that informs Habermas’s political and ethical aspirations and the single-minded determination with which this impulse is channelled into an account of the kind of civil society possible within the singular state. In this sense, Cohen and Arato’s account of contemporary social movements can be read as a sharp expression of the limits of conventional accounts of political life, and as an expression of the presumed relationship between social movements and assumptions about the character of universality that needs to be challenged rather than affirmed; or perhaps that needs to be both challenged and affirmed. In the context of Anglo-American debates about positivist social science and modernity/postmodernity especially, Habermas has become known as a defender of some kind of emancipatory and universalist reason both against the more limited instrumentalism of sciences, bureaucracies and ‘systems’ in general, and against the supposed relativisms and conservatisms of those who share postmodern suspicions of Enlightenment and universality. Consequently, and paradoxically, Habermas has been abstracted from the specificity of many of his guiding concerns. From the beginning, however, Habermas clearly articulated an interest in the fate of particular societies, and specifically in what he called the ‘public sphere’ in those societies, quite as much as with the fate of any universal reason in general. Cohen and Arato are able to draw upon Habermas in their account of contemporary social movements as participants in the revitalization of particular civil societies, and to critically recast Habermas’s more recent observations about social movements in line with what they take to be the implications of his own earlier analyses of the public sphere, precisely because for all his vaunted concern with universal reason he has been, first and foremost, an essentially domestic thinker. Habermas’s extensive attempts to save the emancipatory potential of universal reason cannot be divorced from his early attempts to recuperate and extend the democratic and socialist potential of what he understood of the civil societies of eighteenth-century bourgeois states.

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In some ways The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, originally published in 1962 but only translated into English in 1989, remains Habermas’s most creative and provocative text.11 It places him within traditions of explicitly political thought, especially in relation to the idealizations of the Greek polis associated with Hannah Arendt, to various republican attempts to sustain autonomous political communities in the face of incipient empires, to attempts by writers like Locke, de Tocqueville and J. S. Mill to articulate an account of a democratic civil society as a counterpoint to the governance structures of the sovereign state, and to various currents of suspicion about the emancipatory prospects of bourgeois civil society associated with Marx, Weber, Freud and the early Frankfurt School, among others. While clearly persuaded by Marx, Weber and the rest that commodification and instrumentalization had indeed wreaked havoc on public life in late modern capitalist states – a havoc depicted most vividly for those of Habermas’s generation in the terminal pessimism of Horkheimer and Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment12 – and while clearly critical of the polis and the republic as models of what the public sphere could become, Habermas was still concerned to recover the moment of rational discussion which he saw as the crucial achievement of eighteenth-century civil society, especially in the British case. For Habermas, civil society originally grew out of the vital energies of urban life, court society, property ownership and especially out of new forms of discussion and communication. The early mass media, journals of opinion, coffee houses and salons, education and literature figure centrally in his analysis. More crucially still, he focuses on the rise of the modern family as the key institution mediating between public and private. Inside the family, the modern self could be constructed, with the helping hand of the appropriate literary guides, as an interiorized self-conscious subject. Outside, this now properly autonomous subject could look beyond its own private sphere to take account of the public interest and develop a reasoned ‘public opinion’, reasoned in a sense that owes something to both Kant and J. S. Mill, a sense that offers a beguiling possibility of moving from political to more abstractly philosophical concerns. Even in this early text, Habermas is clearly persuaded of the enormity of the task of retrieving what he regards as the emancipatory kernel of bourgeois rationality from the predations of a modern capitalist economy, the mass media, the engineering of consent, the problematic character of representative democracy and so on. His critics have certainly taken him to task for imagining a world that probably never existed and for failing to examine the political economy of gender construction in the modern family.13 Most telling, perhaps, has been the increasingly abstract – and thus apparently universalizing – character of Habermas’s subsequent accounts of the rational discussion he once located so precisely among the institutions and practices of civil society. The more recent aspiration for a communicative competence framed as an evolution of reason and communication in general is a far cry from the earlier attempt to grapple with the legacy of historically specific forms of political life.14 The influence of Kant is present in both cases, even if Kant’s mathematical reason has now mutated into a less ambitious willingness to be reasonable.

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As with so many careless readings of Kant, also, it has been easy to slide from a consideration of the potentials of a universal rationality within a particular political community to claims about a universal rationality as such. Habermas has been appropriated as a universalizing philosopher, indeed as one of the great universalizing philosophers of the age, and he has to a significant degree participated in the appropriation. Even when his horizons escape from the mid-century barbarisms that clearly and understandably animate his struggles to reconstruct a very specific modernizing political community along more democratic and progressive lines, he rarely looks beyond the boundaries of an enlarged European Community. There is something distinctively awkward about Habermas’s function as a symbol of universal reason given his firm rootedness within the particular experiences and hopes of a singular continent. Read in the context of his early work, at least, Habermas is a theorist of particular communities first and of universal reason second, and there are clear difficulties in assuming that his ambitions for a universal reason can be easily translated into a realm of global rather than of statist politics. For those who are convinced that universalizing principles must guide our attempts to work towards an understanding of a properly world politics, or can at least inform a reading of the globalizing practices of social movements, Habermas presents a very difficult problem, not an already constituted standard of judgement. Cohen and Arato present a prismatic example of one of the consequences of the slippage from civil society to an abstract universality that has characterized so many Habermasian readings of contemporary politics. At least, one might say, Cohen and Arato take social movements seriously. At least they have tried to think through the implications of Habermas’s critique of instrumental reason and to distinguish the potentials of civil society from the ‘colonisation of the life world’ that characterizes not only the state but also economic life, which was once seen as a crucial component of civil society. Quite so. Still, their extensive reading of peace, feminist, ecology and local autonomy movements receives not a single reference to the possibility that such movements might often exceed the boundaries of a singular community, except in the crucial sense that similar things occur elsewhere. The problem of international relations is, in effect, turned into a problem of comparative politics, that is, of comparison across a common field that makes the identification of differences possible. The principle of international relations, of course, arises precisely from the claim that there is no common field, no common interpretive community, except within the realm of sovereignty.15 In this sense Cohen and Arato remain true to the spirit of Habermas’s early ambitions. They remain focused on what were once understood as the ‘new’ social movements of Western Europe, with an eye turned carefully towards some of the remarkable transitions further east before and after the geopolitical dissolutions of 1989. Their work thus stands in especially sharp contrast with that of David Held, who, while inspired by many of the same Habermasian tendencies, clearly recognizes that contemporary patterns of globalization constitute a profound challenge to all attempts to encourage a dual-track democratization of both state and civil society.16 For Held, world politics, and

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especially the kind of politics appropriate to an age of globalization, is a problem, while for Cohen and Arato it disappears entirely. As I note below, however, it is suggestive that Held’s analysis says little about the relevance of social movements in this context, focusing more on the possibility of entrenching certain political rights. Within its own limited horizons, the twin-track strategy offers an account of democratic possibilities it would be silly to ignore, especially in what is arguably a world of shrinking democratic possibilities. Even so, and contrary to the impression left by Cohen and Arato, this is not a focus that plausibly exhausts either the ambitions or the achievement of social movements that continue to act in the name of peace, women, nature or even local autonomy. The notion that such movements have been engaged in struggles in and around civil societies within states alone seems quite absurd, and it remains unclear why so many attempts to comprehend the politics of social movements should be so wary of political practices that seep around the edges.17 Whatever strengths may be attributed to accounts of contemporary social movements that locate their significance in relation to the reconstruction of state and civil society within the presumed boundaries of a territorial community, they are unlikely to be very instructive in analyses of those movements which explicitly seek to transgress the boundaries of the sovereign state within which the duality of state and civil society could, in some places, develop in the first place. Comparative politics is in fact not quite the same thing as either international relations or world politics. The observation that social movements participate in the creation or revitalization of civil societies in particular places does not say much about systemic processes and relations between such societies. The notion of civil society itself makes little sense apart from the notion of the state against which it was originally articulated as a form of politics contained within its boundaries, a form of domesticity, sometimes public and sometimes private, that depends first and foremost on the capacity of states to carve out the spatial domains necessary for any kind of politics worthy of the name to be constituted. The slippage from a framing of rationality, or democracy, or civil society, within a particular community to a framing that encompasses the world as a whole simply commits the domestic fallacy. The assumption that different societies are more or less the same depends on a claim that Kant’s conditions for peace are already upon us. Thinking about philosophical problems or normative ambitions is no doubt made much more pleasant in this way, but thinking about politics seems to have been left behind.

Immanent revivals There are obvious, though still curiously neglected dangers in taking the experiences of those social movements that have recently been thriving in modern European and North American societies as paradigmatic of all social movements. As analysts of international relations/world politics ought to recognize more clearly than most, Europe and North America are not the world, and the experiences of the so-called new social movements or attempts to revitalize the civil societies of modern states do not always translate easily into accounts of what are taken to be social

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movements elsewhere. To the difficulties of being misled by inappropriate discourses of scale, level, relative movement and the relation between the social and the political, it is necessary to add the danger of insensitivity to the diversity of experiences and practices that could plausibly depict the contemporary convergence between social movements and world politics. Consider, as only one example, a reading of a movement in western India that has drawn the attention of scholars concerned with the possibilities of what is still called ‘development’ in what used to be called the Third World. It is an example that poses many of the same problems associated with Habermasian readings of the ‘new social movements’, but in perhaps an even sharper manner. Although in no way to be considered a typical example of movements in this context, especially given the continuing hold of nationalist projects in so many places, it does place the question of the cultural and situational specificity of social movements, and the claims of universality they inspire, into rather bold relief. The Swadhyaya movement has had a substantial and rapidly growing presence in hundreds of fishing and farming communities of the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, especially, but also in the city of Bombay (now Mumbai). Although active since the mid-1950s, it has neither sought nor received much publicity. And although it has yet to receive much in the way of sustained scholarly analysis, it has certainly caught the attention of some of India’s leading students of development movements in general, some of whom regard it as the most interesting social movement to have emerged in the country since independence.18 On the ground, it is difficult to ignore either the scale or the effectiveness of its achievements. Conservative estimates suggest that active participants in the movement number several hundred thousand, and that they have had a major impact on well over 1 million and perhaps up to 4 or 5 million people. By the standards of most development movements, and indeed by any standard one would want to apply to attempts to improve the life circumstances of poor peasant and fishing societies, the Swadhyaya have been able to transform the social, cultural, economic and – crucially – the spiritual life of communities in ways that attract enormous admiration from observers who come into contact with them. In its present phase, at least, this movement presents an uplifting success story, though the precise reasons for its success are not easy to unravel. It is especially difficult to separate the more practical aspects of its success – the revitalization of communities, the adoption of appropriate technologies, the sharp decline in domestic violence and so on – from the fact that this is essentially a spiritual movement; one of a familiar cycle of Hindu revival movements, perhaps, but certainly one that presents a sharp contrast with the secular movements that have become so paradigmatic in other contexts, as well as with other, and better known, revivalist movements that have taken more chauvinistic and nationalist directions. It has been generated largely through a highly creative reworking of spiritual (Vedic) traditions that have very deep roots in the region. Even though the movement is characterized by an extensively articulated political economy that marks it off from most other Hindu revival movements, or even from the Gandhian movements that arose out of the same general region, it is a movement that is

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probably unimaginable in purely secular terms. Moreover, this is a movement (the terms ‘family’ and ‘stream’ are preferred) that is rooted in a specifically immanent account of divinity. God is assumed to be within us and with us all. Notions of the brotherhood of man notwithstanding, it is an account that is not going to find an immediate resonance with cultures informed by theologies of transcendence, whether Christian or Islamic, let alone with cultures that affirm themselves against theologies of any kind. The term swadhyaya refers to self-knowledge, and the central characteristic of this movement is that its practices are grounded in the cultivation of self-respect. This self is construed as potentially open to ‘higher’ values, to action informed by the laws of dharma. The achievement of self-respect is in turn assumed to generate a sense of command over one’s destiny, a sense of justice in a larger order, and thus a sense of participation in a broader community. This notion of self within an immanent cosmic order provides the primary basis for an extensive practical programme of community building rooted in a ‘divine-brotherhood’. The rule of dharma, for example, has been recast as the notion of one’s ‘efficiency’, of the skills and potentials that can be contributed to the common good of the community for so many days a year (the two days in every lunar month conventionally reserved for devotion, but now directed to helping others to realize their divine but untapped capacities). This notion of efficiency has in turn been extended into an account of ‘impersonal wealth’, wealth that is not quite collective in the sense of the familiar traditions of secular socialism but in the sense of being devoted to the god who is in us all. A proper consideration of a movement like this would require a more extensive elaboration than is possible here, but a number of themes are especially pertinent in the present context. On the one hand, it is possible to compare Swadhyaya with other development movements elsewhere and to conclude that it affirms many of the patterns that are often said to characterize such movements. On the other, many of the characteristics of this movement are so specific to its locale, and especially to its roots in Vedic cosmologies, that the possibilities of comparative generalization, let alone claims about universalization, are bound to be highly contentious. The possibilities of comparison are especially apparent if one thinks about the kinds of problems a sizable movement like this is likely to experience as it gets bigger. As a grassroots movement, for example, one whose energies are most dynamic within the rural communities of Gujarat, one would expect it eventually to become attracted to a different kind of ‘efficiency’, to the instrumental reason of modern ‘systems’. This is especially so insofar as much of the recent energy in the movement has been directed by activists among the ex-patriot communities in North America and Europe (among the large Gujarati community in Leicester, for example), many of whom are quite successful businessmen. The attractions of grassroots movements in the villages back home are presumably considerable, and for many reasons, but the principles of organization on the scale encompassed by a growing international network of affluent activists are at the very least going to be in some tension with those which have become so effective in the villages. A sense

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of ‘efficiency’ derived from the law of dharma is not easily reconciled with a sense of efficiency derived from the principles of instrumental reason and the supposedly immutable laws of bureaucracy, though it may well be that the capacity to effect such a reconciliation could turn out to be one of this movement’s greater achievements. Similarly, one would expect problems to arise from the transition from the charismatic authority of the movement’s founder – Pandurang Shastri Athavale, also known as Dadaji or elder brother – to a more routinized form of organization, from the teachings of the guru to the construction of a more formal doctrine and programme of action. Indeed, one would especially expect this to become a problem in that Athavale is a remarkably self-effacing guru, one who consistently encourages his followers to come to terms with the god in themselves and who seems systematically to refrain from telling anyone what they ought to do. In a frequently invoked metaphor, the emphasis is on the fertilizer and not the seed, on the realization and cultivation of one’s divine potential. In ways that are perhaps comparable with some modern liberal accounts of self (something like a Kantian account of autonomy rewritten in a much less Lutheran mode perhaps, or a Jungian account of self-realization), this movement’s focus on self-respect is intrinsically at odds with the rational codification of any substantive programme of action. To this observer, much of the success of this movement seems to depend on a fairly radical reworking of traditional Vedic concepts, and on a degree of openness and tolerance that would be severely compromised by any attempt to construct the kind of doctrinal package that would be useful for mass-mobilization. Nevertheless, some forms of mass-mobilization are certainly at work here, not least in the prolific use of the new video technologies that add an unmistakable post-modern aura to a reconstituted tradition. Precisely how the emphasis on self-respect and self-initiative will be reconciled with the demands of a systematic doctrine remains to be seen. Perhaps the underlying Vedic traditions will sustain a sufficient degree of coherence. Perhaps post-modern forms of knowledge and communication make the tension less fraught than the Weberian conventions would suggest. Perhaps the notion of a self imagined in relation to an immanent cosmology will prove to be especially attractive elsewhere given the widely acknowledged frailty of notions of selfhood framed through a cosmology of transcendence. This movement poses many other uncertainties that are also typical of movements elsewhere. Its relations with established forms of government, for example, are quite ambiguous. The movement itself explicitly avoids what it calls politics, the conventional politics of parties and government, though as with so many other movements this form of antipolitics is part of the key to its own politics. In effect, it has managed to set up parallel forms of social organization in particular communities. Even so, some activists do have positions within the secular bureaucracies. Conversely, it is not difficult to see how the established political authorities might be drawn to take a benevolently instrumental view of the movement given its impressive organizational and community-building capacities. Something like the interface between state and civil society appears to be developing here, though the parallels are potentially misleading, and as an interface between secular and sacred forms of organization

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and authority it could well become at least as explosive a site of political tensions and contradictions as anything associated with the development of modern secular states. Similarly, Athavale’s rereading of Vedic traditions in terms of self-knowledge and self-respect has quite radically equalitarian implications. Indeed, one might see one of its most important achievements to be a sustained attack on the caste system, one with potentially more far-reaching implications than, for example, Gandhi’s reworking of untouchability. Even so, for all that the movement has had a profoundly beneficial impact on levels of domestic violence, the emphasis on equality remains quite sharply at odds with more traditional notions of gender difference that are still sustained even in this radical rereading of tradition. One would expect, in fact, that questions about gender identity and gender equality will become increasingly volatile as the movement begins to take root in the larger urban centres and to absorb, or react against, forms of gender politics articulated elsewhere. These themes clearly suggest patterns of specificity quite as much as they do patterns of comparability, perhaps even more so. Four considerations seem to me to be especially important here. First, questions may be raised about the extent to which the success of this movement is grounded in conditions that are quite specific to the region. It has grown most determinedly in an area that has experienced serious dislocations in relation to the world economy and has had a fairly extensive history of similar movements. It might be argued that conditions even in, say, Bihar, are unlikely to prove as hospitable as those in Gujarat. Furthermore, despite its spread to the city of Bombay, it might be argued that as a movement that has had its greatest successes among the villages, it will find distinct limits in those cities that are becoming most fully integrated in new patterns of global capitalism. Second, there is the cultural specificity of the notion of self that informs the entire movement. This self is not separable from notions of the ‘divine’. It is not the quasi-Kantian self assumed by Habermas, which retains the distinct imprint of a thoroughly transcendentalist culture. It is not the modern self caught midway between time and eternity, the finite and infinite, the large and the small, the ego and the other. It might be possible to make sense of this movement by imposing on it a claim that, say, the personal is the political, or that a politics of emancipation demands autonomy and reason, but it would clearly be a sense attained only by imposition. After all, Hindu conceptions of the self are one of the great Others against which modern conceptions of the self have been constituted, even though it occasionally may have been attractive to some modern or post-modern thinkers who have been rather sceptical about the plausibility of a conception of personal autonomy and rationality that rests upon a radical alienation of self and world.19 Third, although many of the achievements of this movement could be read as an attempt at a revitalization of civil society, the civil society in question is not strictly comparable with the phenomenon invoked by Habermas or Cohen and Arato. Given the centrality of the spiritual impulse here, public life cannot be reduced to civic life. Perhaps the appropriate comparative imagery would be provided less by the idealized coffee shops and democratic theorists of eighteenth-century Britain, as for Habermas, than the early-modern radical Protestant sects, or even the contemporary

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Mormons. In this context, public life is infused with religious idealism, not with secular rationalism. Arguably, and contrary to many of the entrenched dogmas of Indian nationalism, public life in this particular context must be infused with spiritual idealism in order to generate any kind of civic order, an assumption that would certainly generate considerable controversy elsewhere. Fourth, no matter how much they may have been reconstructed by the movement’s founder, or how much they have been adapted in order to generate a plausible political economy of appropriate development, the Vedic premises that inform this movement are rooted in claims about an immanent divinity. These premises do not always travel well. As far as modern or Western cultures are concerned, God may have been dead for a long time, certainly for much longer than Nietzsche’s belated reminder a century ago, but the effects of modern secularizations of Christian dualism are still omnipresent. Its transcendentalisms, quite as much as its capitalist commodifications, render Hindu immanence as mere exotica. In any case, if God is immanent, the world is immanent as well. While there are undoubtedly a few participants in Swadhyaya who are given to a universalizing proselytization, the integrity of the movement would seem to depend more on finding God and the world in the particular locale, within the grassroots communities, for example, than in trying to spread the word ‘out there’. Like Habermas, and the culture he has somehow come to symbolize, this movement is not shy about professing a certain universality. But it is by no means the same universality. The more ecumenical among us might be drawn to underline the universality hiding in all claims to universality. Others will remember that the great divisions of the modern world, the divisions drawn in the territorial conventions of Westphalia and the notalways-territorial delineations of Civilization and Other, have been constructed precisely around competing claims to universality. Many attempts to think about social movements without the constraints of the territorial state tend to draw on some kind of universalizing discourse like the one now indelibly associated with Habermas. But the key lesson of Habermas’s political theory is that even as a regulative principle his universalizing rationality is ultimately rooted in a once explicit but now often only tacit account of a particular domestic community. Attempts to turn Habermas into a champion of a neo-Kantian universal reason can only be disingenuous at best. At least Kant recognized that the articulation of a universalizing rationality must produce the problem of international relations. In Habermas, by contrast, international relations has mysteriously disappeared from view, presumably on the assumption that the community that might be able to sustain a universal speech situation is simply the world as such. The ease with which this less-than-subtle slide has been negotiated in so many areas of contemporary social and political analysis is both puzzling and disturbing, and will remain so as long as the close conceptual and historical relationship between cosmopolitan and imperial conceptions of universality, and diversity, remains a tacit ground for liberal complacency. It is in this context especially that it is useful to divert one’s attention to a movement like the Swadhyaya, not least because it expresses a universalizing

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impulse that bears some, though only some, comparison with neo-Habermasian tendencies, but which is also likely to provoke a long line of prejudices against the universalizing ambitions of cultures that have been more or less read out of the modern script. Whatever its secular achievements, it is not a secular movement. Whatever its resonances with the more familiar cultural and philosophical traditions of Europe and North America, they are more likely to be dissonant than consonant. Similar comparisons might be made with other movements that express distinctive cultural and ethical traditions: the Christian Base Communities, for example; or some of the struggles of aboriginal peoples; or some forms of environmental politics. It is unfortunate that so much contemporary debate on such themes has been subverted by claims about the dangers of religious fundamentalism and cultural nationalism, or by the gothic tales about the ‘end of history’ and the ‘coming clash of civilisations’ put about by Francis Fukuyama and Samuel Huntington, respectively.20 The self-righteous discourses of good and evil have clearly not disappeared, but they are not going to be of much help in coming to terms with the continuing diversity of universalizing impulses, let alone with contemporary rearticulations of political identity rooted in claims about culture, race and gender.

Global civil society? There are, then, some quite serious problems arising from attempts to analyse the conjunction of social movements and world politics when we move ‘out’ from specific locations, that is, when we extrapolate away from those places in which we have learnt to recognize what a social movement is and to judge its significance or insignificance. Starting with claims about such movements in relation to established forms of civil society in the modern state, the impulse is to read the construction of a world politics as the discovery of similarities elsewhere, that is either as a comparative politics, or as a global space that is more or less the same as a statist space only larger. Shifting attention to what are, from a Eurocentric perspective, less familiar cultural experiences, it is also possible to give a reading of the emergence of similarities elsewhere, of the diffusion of ideas or an elaboration of diasporas, for example, but also to become more acutely aware of the specificity of locations and traditions. To focus on a Hindu revival movement, albeit one that sustains many possible accommodations with modern secular development movements, is to be reminded of the deep suspicions that are engendered by forms of political practice rooted in religious or philosophical experience, especially ones informed by traditions of immanence. How could such a movement sustain a demand for emancipation, one might expect to be asked. The modern answer is that it cannot, whatever the evidence to the contrary. The spectre of cultural relativism is always readily produced to affirm a reading of world politics as a cultural convergence. The spectre of fundamentalism likewise affirms the necessity for a common ethical basis on which a proper world politics can be constructed. The difficulty here, however, is that while the prejudices of modernity tell us how we can and must escape from the

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statist limits of modern politics, these same prejudices tell us that politics must be more or less the same as, or radically different from, what it is here. Consequently, once the statist limits of modern politics are abandoned as a theoretical ground, and claims about the already existing character of something like a world politics are taken more seriously, it is very difficult to identify a moment of political practice, or to find a location from which social movements could plausibly be said to act. This becomes especially clear once one reads some of the better known and most suggestive theoretical literatures that seek to resist the statist narratives of modern politics. Indeed, such a reading tends to confirm two general propositions: that the more an appeal is made to claims about the priority of global processes and structures, the more difficult it is to identify a site of political practice in which social movements might be accorded some significance; and to the extent that such sites are identified, they tend to be framed in terms of spatially defined structures and institutions in which the character of social movements as movements disappears from view. One familiar strategy here arises from the insistence that the primary condition under which modern statist forms of politics have been possible has been the development of a globalizing capitalism. The world-system perspective associated with Immanuel Wallerstein, for example, has had the undoubted merit, among others, of taking social movements seriously in relation to global processes. Perhaps predictably, however, the resulting level of generalization is so high, and the logic of the world system which popular resistance movements and class struggles are read as having helped consolidate is so mechanically specified, that it is difficult to see very much of the variety and flux of social movements either historically or in what is claimed to be a fundamentally new era of transnational assertiveness.21 A more interesting variation on this theme, not least because it exemplifies an increasing resort to the notion of civil society in the literature of international relations theory, is Justin Rosenberg’s reading of the modern states system in terms of Marx’s theory of value and class domination, and thus of an historical-materialist account of capitalism as a social totality.22 Much of the critical impetus here seems to me to be especially helpful, but, leaving aside some perhaps not quite so minor quibbles about Rosenberg’s reading both of Marx and of the historical record, the most striking tendency of this analysis is its drift away from questions about the historical constitution of the political into a more or less positivistic historical sociology. Questions about the political make a brief appearance at the very end of the analysis when Rosenberg invokes the possibility of recovering ‘our own collective human agency in the anonymous social forces and processes around us’.23 It is very difficult to know how this is to be achieved, however, unless, as Rosenberg claims, people somehow come to see the capitalist mode of production and reproduction of social life as an historically specific set of social relations between people. Consciousness raising on this scale is a daunting prospect at best. It is especially unclear how a positivistic historical sociology (or even the recovery of some ‘international imagination’24) does more than obscure a rather long and not very edifying history of attempts to work out a political practice capable of challenging the reifications of

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capitalist society. The relationship between a politics that might be articulated in the context of a globalizing capitalism and the forms of politics that have coalesced around the modern state remains a great mystery, and the kind of historical sociology recommended by Rosenberg clearly emphasizes how important the mystery is. But it is especially difficult to see how such a perspective can generate an account of contemporary movements that is any less overgeneralized and reductive than the one developed by students of world-systems analysis. Another but more disturbing variation on this theme is provided by Fred Halliday’s attempt to canvass contemporary currents within the study of international relations by affirming the continuing vitality of an historical materialist understanding of the broadly capitalist context of contemporary politics.25 Halliday is especially reticent about contemporary struggles over the meaning of the political. Where Rosenberg concludes with a brief allusion to a politics of consciousness raising, Halliday chooses instead to conclude with yet another appeal to ‘ethics’, an appeal that at least has the virtue of being unembarrassed by the kind of ethics it wants to affirm but at the same time expresses a degree of conviction that continues to make many people nervous about the politics of universalizing narratives. Halliday insists that on matters of primary normative and political concern there is a measure of international consensus around a set of values that, on grounds quite independent of their origin, can be based on reason and which bear, for reasons that social scientists can happily argue over, some relationship to economic prosperity and peace, both domestic and international … (I)ndependence, secularism, equality, the rule of law, and a range of economic and social privileges, constitute a good life as internationally defined.26 As a claim that animates a good deal of contemporary political controversy, this is perhaps familiar enough. As a descriptive account of a hegemonic discourse, it may even have a limited accuracy. Those who speak on behalf of states would no doubt happily concur. Nevertheless, Halliday’s portrayal of the alternatives to this discourse as either somehow ‘fundamentalist’ or ‘relativist’ betrays a rather constrained reading both of the key disputes of modern philosophical debate and the history of intercultural relations. Halliday begins to broach key themes here, but, in a manner that has been all too familiar in the sorry history of international relations theory, quickly lets us know what the correct answer to complex problems must be. There is no doubt much to be gained by attempts to understand the rise of modern politics in terms of the rise of a universalizing capitalism or world system, but there is also much to be lost by simply assuming that one-dimensional renditions of the history of Western reason and caricatured confrontations between ‘the good life as internationally defined’ and ‘antihegemonism or plain post-modernist whimsy’27 can solve the mysteries of the universe, or guide the way we should all live, once and for all.

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The kind of faith expressed by Halliday becomes especially problematic when it informs what are intended to be more sustained accounts of the place of ethics in international relations/world politics. There is surely sufficient reason to believe that questions about ethics are especially pressing at this historical juncture, but it is disconcerting, to say the least, to find that so many influential and otherwise constructive texts on such questions remain so indifferent to anything not rooted in the received canon of modern Western philosophy while blithely canvassing claims to universality.28 Indeed, it is reasonable to assume that many forms of political practice, not all of them ‘fundamentalist’ or ‘relativist’, grow out of a sustained challenge to such assumptions. It is difficult, for example, to see how the Swadhyaya movement could be understood as fundamentalist in the sense that has taken such a firm grip on so much popular and even scholarly debate. Indeed, it is not clear how, in principle, any Hindu traditions can be framed as fundamentalist at all; the highly publicized violence perpetrated by people associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party, for example, probably makes as much or even more sense in terms of the codes of modern nationalism as of any fundamentalist religious assault on modernity as such. In any case, like analyses that begin with an account of an already constituted global structure, claims about ethics have all too often become a way of avoiding questions about the political conditions under which ethical claims can be sustained. It then becomes enough to analyse social movements, for example, in relation to the extent to which they do, or do not, conform to what are taken to be already constituted ethical traditions rather than to ask how emerging political practices challenge and reconstruct such claims. A second strategy for thinking about the relation between social movements and world politics is offered by traditions that are less fixated on the historical trajectories of a universalizing capitalism than on an account of an international society of some kind – an ‘anarchical society’ in Hedley Bull’s teasing phrase – that is assumed to be the condition under which the claims of the sovereign state can be sustained in a states system. Here at least questions of cultural specificity are not swept under the carpet completely, and the question of whether, under contemporary conditions, such a society simply sustains an international pluralism or enables a more universalist or solidarist account of a properly world politics, has been a central concern.29 Arguably, what makes this line of analysis interesting is less the promise of a sustained account of the overall coherence of international society than the way in which it expresses the deep tensions between the claims of universality and particularity that are crucial to the constitution of modern sovereign states. The work of Martin Wight, Hedley Bull and John Vincent, for example, may be criticized on a variety of grounds, but they represent a school of thought that recognizes that the categories of international relations theory express some quite profound philosophical and political problems. Modern politics, they insist, is a politics of spatial divisions that claim to reconcile the competing claims of universality and particularity as these have been framed by historically specific cultures and societies. It is precisely because those who have tried to understand the historical emergence of

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the spatial society of states (and to do so with some attention to comparative as well as historical literatures) have been forced to grapple with the slippery slide back and forth between the demands of universality and particularity in a system of spatial exclusions that they have also been driven to focus on some of the difficult questions that must arise at the spatial edges of modern political life: the question of humanitarian intervention; the question of international/global human rights; and, with an instructively lesser emphasis, the questions of citizenship, migration and refugees.30 What is in many ways the great strength of this line of analysis, however, is also its great weakness. Bull, especially, continued to oscillate between the competing demands of universality and particularity without becoming sufficiently suspicious of the supposed inevitability of the binary options available to him, and in the end the demands of particularity prevailed. The modern statist resolution of all claims to identity and difference in space and time once again proved quite irresistible.31 The modern state, and the modern principle of state sovereignty, could then be read as having captured all claims to cultural diversity, and all claims to political innovation. The official codes of modern politics, with their clear sense of where social movements are supposed to be, remain more or less undisturbed. Thus, whatever its other merits, it is even more difficult to see how one might think about social movements and world politics through this perspective than through literatures that pursue an historical sociology of global capitalism. It is in the context of these two lines of analysis that recent attempts to speak of some kind of international or global civil society gain some of their plausibility as a way of framing the practices of contemporary social movements. If the global structuralists or those concerned with ethics tend to shy away from questions about the political, and if the society of states theorists tends to relapse into an affirmation of the state as the proper locus of any serious politics, then perhaps one might postulate the emergence of a new realm of political action that is neither structurally determined nor fixated on states. The current popularity of claims about a global civil society can thus be read as a partial response to the dearth of ways of speaking coherently about forms of political life that transgress the bounds of the sovereign state. As such, it is sometimes quite illuminating. Nevertheless, as an attempt to extend to the global context a concept that is so historically rooted in the historical experiences of states, and of only some kinds of states at that, it is a concept that also expresses distinct limits to our ability to reimagine the political under contemporary conditions. At least three quite different usages of this concept can be distinguished. Perhaps the most common but also the most misleading is its use as a label to describe the site of an apparent accumulation of cross-national movements, non-governmental organizations and so on. Ronnie Lipschutz, for example, presents a reading of an extensive range of phenomena in an account of global civil society as an emergent ‘politics of collective identity’ that is supposedly ‘developing around the world’.32 The primary narrative in this case follows the familiar story about the withering away of the state in response to a multiplicity of interacting phenomena that challenge the functional utility and political legitimacy of sovereign

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authorities and open up spaces for new connections and alliances, especially among non-state actors. Unfortunately, global civil society is an awkward label to attach to such a narrative despite a certain immediate appeal. Like many prevailing attempts to make sense of ‘the global’, this appeal comes largely from a projection of a familiar form of ‘inner’ life onto an ‘external’ realm. Bounded only by the world itself, global civil society is envisaged partly as a check on the state and partly as an alternative to it. But, of course, the appeal of this way of framing the concept depends on the assumption that the world itself can be constituted as a bounded political community modelled on the state written large. Just as civil society is read as having checked the untrammelled powers of the sovereign state and participated in the emergence of modern democracies, so also a global civil society is understood to be the vehicle for a more democratic politics for a global community. The state is read as the problem and global civil society is read out as the solution. But the state is not the central problem; it is itself a solution to a problem, that of founding a political community and establishing some kind of legitimate authority over time and within a particular space. It is a solution, moreover, that was articulated against the universalizing and hierarchical claims of empire and the Great Chain of Being. The notion of civil society is a modification of, not an alternative to that solution. To simply translate that modification into a global arena is to conveniently evade most of the hard and interesting questions about contemporary politics. Like many who are attracted to use the term global civil society in this way, Lipschutz has not really thought through the implications of what it means to claim that states are losing their functional grasp or their legitimate authority. It may be true (and on this I think Lipschutz is quite right) that new connections are being made and new alliances forged, but this does not mean that the projection of what are in any case rather loose accounts of civil societies within states onto a global arena offers a very persuasive strategy for interpreting their character or significance. On the contrary, it feeds into both the spatial metaphors of containment that are so at odds with a politics that takes networks, connections and movements seriously and a convergence theory of history that may provide some comfort to those with quasi-Habermasian inclinations but none at all to those who are denied entry to the promised feast. It is possible, for example, to read out such an account of global civil society in quasi-Habermasian terms, to countenance the gradual emergence of a democratic public sphere rooted in a cosmopolitan account of communicative rationality. Yet such a reading seems difficult to understand in political terms. Once ripped out of its specificity in the civil societies of modern states, this line of analysis seems inevitably to dissolve into an ungrounded ethics or philosophy. Indeed, much of the impetus for such a reading seems to draw on a nostalgia for a fancifully imagined prepolitical world, a world before the fateful rift between man and citizen. In this sense, the notion of a global civil society may recall an image of a universal religion, secularized perhaps, but nonetheless universalizing in its embrace of humanity as such. But as the authors of the Treaty of Westphalia were painfully aware, there are universalizing religions and universalizing religions.

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It is probably possible to construct an image of a global civil society in keeping with a revival of Hindu traditions of immanence at least as easily as on the basis of Habermasian readings of modern reason without the transcendental subject. But taking Hindu revivals or immanent cosmologies seriously is not what is usually implied by references to a global civil society, and it is rather difficult to imagine the conditions under which it might: certainly not when the more progressive defenders of modernity prefer to cast all others into the twin hells of ‘fundamentalism’ or ‘relativism’. If Lipschutz expresses a fairly loose use of the notion of global civil society that betrays an uncritical deployment of what used to be called idealist assumptions, others have tried to work out a more systematic and critical stance. But it is striking that those who have tried to elaborate this notion most creatively have tended to move in a structuralist direction. Stephen Gill, for example, develops a line of analysis that resonates to some extent with that of Rosenberg but, with the help of a more Gramscian understanding of politics, a more Braudelian account of historical sociology and even a more (though not quite) Foucauldian account of power, offers a more elaborate account of the structures of contemporary global stratification.33 The development of a global civil society is read in relation to the structural logic and contradictions of an increasingly globalized capitalism, and not least in relation to the emergence of a ‘global panopticon’ associated with a ‘disciplinary neo-liberalism’, on the one hand, and the possibility that counter-hegemonic social movements might be able to challenge these emerging social forces on the other. As with Rosenberg, however, the structural analysis of changing forms of state and civil society in relation to the dynamics of global capitalism is more persuasive than the analysis of political possibilities for resistance or reconstruction. And despite the emphasis on the historicity and dynamism of global structures, it is instructive that Gill still tends to frame his analysis in terms of a hierarchy of levels. Perhaps even more explicit in its commitments to a hierarchical account of civil society in a global context is David Held’s attempt to work out an account of a cosmopolitan democracy. Held’s analysis is probably the most fully developed and imaginative attempt to think through the implications of an account of democratization as a double process involving both state and civil society under globalizing conditions. It is certainly one of the few attempts to drag modern political theory out of the comforts of statist domesticity. Even so, Held’s vision of a potentially cosmopolitan democracy is resolutely predicated on a hope that it might be possible to capture the dynamics of an increasingly globalized economy, for example, within what remain spatially conceived institutions. Held envisions a world of elaborated rights of self-determination, clusters of rights within and across various networks of power, new institutions of law making and law enforcement ‘at a variety of locations and levels’, including regional and global governance structures, and a conception of democratic processes that sustain a revitalized account of political autonomy.34 It is an analysis that shows what can be done within the liberal or Kantian framework once the essential domesticity of Habermas’s universalism is recognized as a serious problem. As might be expected,

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it is an analysis that emphasizes a politics of rights and of representations. World politics comes to be understood more or less as an extension of statist politics, with the extension being mainly in the direction of additional levels of governance to be added ‘above’ the state. In this account social movements are read primarily in terms of their location, as phenomena of the ‘local’ or the ‘grassroots’, rather than as phenomena that are in motion. Held is careful not to fall into the usual trap of treating local and global as simple binary choices. He is also careful to sketch out in some detail the kind of practical institutional arrangements that his understanding of a cosmopolitan democracy might entail. Still, it remains a vision of a politics of containment, of the possibility of capturing global contingencies within extended institutional arrangements, within a hierarchy of levels. As such, it takes a considerable gamble on the capacities of modern conceptions of rights, representations and laws to tame and capture a world of flows. Social movements, like the flows of capital, communications and technology, pose interesting problems for this analysis precisely because it is not entirely clear that they always take notice of the spatial fix. Even though all these analyses to a great extent challenge the statist narrative of modern politics, they all offer a readily accessible way of thinking about the conjunction of social movements and world politics. Indeed, it is very difficult to work around this conjunction without drawing upon such analyses to some extent. The notion of a global civil society is especially seductive in this context.35 I believe, in fact, that it is too seductive. It is overdetermined by modernist discourses about what and where politics must be. And it runs into all the usual difficulties of modern political discourse confronted by the parochialisms of its statist universalisms and the contingency of its gamble on the spatial fortress of the modern subject. Much of the animosity that is currently directed towards a variety of critical literatures in the name of Enlightenment, ethics, foundationalism and so on is, I believe, usefully understood in relation to these difficulties of explicitly modern discourse, which never did reach any uncontested foundations and never did expunge its fear of contingency and death. If the conjunction of social movements and world politics is to be taken seriously, as I think it must, then it is precisely the categories through which we have been seduced into thinking about what social movements must be (even if it is clear that we do not know what they are) that must be put into question.

Nomadic connections Fine lines often delineate very dense practices. They can both trace and erase the scars of trauma. Historical ruptures and civilizational confrontations disappear beneath legal scripts and cartographic cleanliness. Problematics are put under sedation and the arbitrary becomes symmetrical. The fine lines between ‘social movements’ and ‘world politics’, I have argued, have become especially elegant, and especially seductive to the modern political imagination. The brutal chasm between inside

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and outside is too easily rewritten as an inclusive metaphysics of above and below. It makes intuitive sense to countenance the spatial extension of a movement here to a movement there, to envisage a convergence of progressive forces acting across those merely artificial boundaries that offend planetary integrity and species identity. Similarities and connections are all too readily translated into grand philosophies of history that point upwards to the projected vision of a global civil society, a global governance and a properly world politics. A politics of connections is, I believe, absolutely crucial. Movements do connect, converse, learn from each other and sometimes develop partial solidarities. But a politics of connection is not necessarily a politics of a united front or a counterhegemonic strategy. Exactly what a politics of connection would look like is not clear. Whatever the rhetorical and tactical appeal of a woman’s movement, or an environmental movement, in the singular, it is an appeal that cannot disguise the differences and even intolerances among such movements. Whatever it might come to mean to establish a politics of connections, however, it is unlikely to look like the politics of inclusions and exclusions, of the reconciliation of identities and differences, expressed by the modern territorial state. A politics of movement is crucial also. For the great strength of social movements is that they are capable of expressing a politics of temporality, a politics that always looks like weakness to those who believe that states, for example, really are unchanging structures, to those whose view of politics affirms the truthfulness of space against the apparent illusions of time. As Machiavelli understood much better than most, this conception of illusions is an especially dangerous illusion. It is necessary to ask how it has become so easy to forget that capitalism is a movement, that states are always in motion, that histories cannot always be captured by territorial form. It is necessary to ask how it has become so easy to believe that movements act ‘down there’ among the locales, among those forms of life that are contained within the grander structures ‘above’. Social movements that work entirely within the modern reification of spatiotemporal relations simply affirm the limits of their ambition. The limits of this ambition are conventionally framed in relation to the eternal identity of the modern self-identical subject. This is the identity inscribed both by the modern state and by projections of the modern state onto the world as a whole. It is also the identity that informs the categories through which alternatives to the state come to be framed as projections of the state. These are the categories, I have argued, that tell us about what social movements are supposed to be. Even though most literatures seeking to explore the conjunction of social movements and world politics tend more towards the descriptive and the affirmative, they tend to express the normative codes of modern politics. An empirical exploration of this conjunction would more usefully begin by examining whether particular movements do or do not express these codes, in their explicit aspirations or their collective practices. It would ask about the articulations of identity and difference, self and other, space and time that constrain and inform their capacity to rearticulate their understanding of the political under contemporary

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conditions. It would ask about the connections between such rearticulations in different structural locations. A politics of movement cannot be grasped through categories of containment. A politics of connections cannot be grasped through a metaphysics of inclusions and exclusions, whether of insides and outsides or aboves and belows. A politics that encompasses ‘the world’ cannot be envisaged on the assumption that that world already exists along with the categories through which it must be known. An empirical analysis of social movements, and an interpretation of their significance for what a world politics might become, does not have to be bound by the prejudices of modernity. On the contrary, these prejudices can only ensure that the fine lines separating us from them can never be transgressed. An empirical reading of social movements might show that these fine lines are being transgressed all the time.

Notes 1 This chapter was originally published in Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 23:3, 1994, 669–700. 2 The classic typology of supposed ‘levels’ in the analysis of international relations is Kenneth Waltz’s, Man, the State and War, New York: Columbia University Press, 1959. For an account of attempts to work through the analytical difficulties that ensue once an ontology of such levels is accepted, see Barry Buzan, ‘The Level of Analysis Problem in International Relations Reconsidered’, in Ken Booth and Steve Smith, eds, International Relations Theory Today, Cambridge: Polity, 1995, 198–216. For critical commentary on the ontological assumptions affirmed by this literature, see R. B. J. Walker, Inside/Outside: International Relations as Political Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993, 125–40, and Nicholas Onuf, ‘Levels’, European Journal of International Relations, 1:1, 1995, 35–58. 3 The practices of classification typically stand in sharp contrast to the attention given to the much rarer practices of explanation, empirical confirmation, theory construction and so on. For two especially instructive meditations on the politics of classification, see Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988, especially chapter 1, and Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, London: Tavistock, 1970. For a range of relevant discussions, see Alasdair Maclntyre, ‘Is a Science of Comparative Politics Possible?’ in his Against the Self-Image of the Age, London: Duckworth, 1971, 260–79; David Collier, ‘The Comparative Method’, in Ada Finifter, ed., Political Science: The State of the Discipline II, Washington, DC: American Political Science Association, 1993, 105–19; Jack Goody, The Domestication of the Savage Mind, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977, especially chapters 4 and 5; Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984, especially the conclusion; lan Hacking, ‘Making up People’, in Thomas C. Weller et al., eds, Reconstructing Individualism, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1986, 222–36; Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and Ambivalence, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991, especially the introduction and chapters 1, 2 and 3; William Connolly, The Terms of Political Discourse, Second Edition, Oxford: Robertson, 1983; and Linda Nicholson, ed., Feminism/Postmodernism, New York: Routledge, 1990, especially part 3. 4 For a brief synoptic account of this general theme, see R. B. J. Walker, ‘International Relations and the Concept of the Political’, in Booth and Smith, eds, International Relations Theory Today, 306–27. 5 It is perhaps appropriate to emphasize two points in this context. First, my concern with the way claims about ethics and an already existing world politics are so often used to avoid questions about the political is not to suggest that the discourses of the modern

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7 8

9 10 11 12 13 14 15

16 17

state provide the only context in which the concerns of this chapter might be framed or that ethical concerns are unimportant. On the contrary, claims about world politics make the problems of ethics even more difficult than they are in relation to the modern state, not least because they put into question accounts of the modern subject that have become the common point of departure of the canonical accounts of modern ethical traditions, whether individualist or communitarian. Second, my concern with the categories of modern politics is not to be taken either as an affirmation of the priority of those categories or as a straightforward defence of some supposed postmodern position. The continued resort to binary categories – modern/postmodern, critical/poststructural, ethical/political, objectivist/relativist and so on – in so many recent commentaries about postmodern or poststructuralist literatures in this field is, to me, simply puzzling, especially given the extent to which the politics of such categories have been addressed by such literatures. The distinction between critical and dogmatic, on the other hand, still seems to me to have a lot of useful life in it in this context, despite the varieties and difficulties of the critical option. The correlation between deployments of a simple distinction between modernity and postmodernity, the rallying cry against ‘relativism’ and the appeal to an ‘ethics’ that appeals to the appealer remains far too high for comfort. For a brief but helpful discussion of the conceptual issues at stake here, see Stephen J. Rosow, ‘On the Political Theory of Political Economy: Conceptual Ambiguity and the Global Economy’, Review of International Political Economy, l:3, Autumn 1994, 465–88. See also Rosow, Naeem Inayatullah and Mark Rupert, eds, The Global Economy as Political Space, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1994; and Ronen P. Palen and Barry Gills, eds, Transcending the State–Global Divide, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1994. Warren Magnusson, ‘Social Movements and the Global City’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 23:3, 1994, 621–45. See, for example, Alberto Melucci, Nomads of the Present: Social Movements and Individual Needs in Contemporary Society, Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1989; and William K. Carroll, ed., Organizing Dissent: Contemporary Social Movements in Theory and Practice, Toronto: Garamond, 1992. See, for example, Giovanni Arrighi, Terrence K. Hopkins and Immanuel Wallerstein, Dilemmas of Antisystemic Movements, London: Verso, 1989. Jean Cohen and Andrew Arato, ‘Social Movements and Civil Society’, in Cohen and Arato, Civil Society and Political Theory, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992. Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, translated by Thomas Burger with Friedrich Lawrence, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989. Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, translated by John Cummings, New York: Herder and Herder, 1972. See especially the essays collected in Craig Calhoun, ed., Habermas and the Public Sphere, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993. Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, vols 1 and 2, translated by Thomas McCarthy, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989; but more recently see Habermas, ‘Further Reflections on the Public Sphere’, in Calhoun, ed., Habermas and the Public Sphere, 421–61. A different expression of the same problem appears in Larry Ray’s reading of Habermas in relation to what he calls ‘the age of global social movements’. In this case, informed by a form of world-system sociology, the field of comparison is differentiated by certain regional locations and types of polity: Eastern Europe, Iran and South Africa. Apart from brief references to centre–periphery relations and dependent development, the meaning of ‘global’ in the description of the social movements identified in these contexts remains unexplored. See Larry J. Ray, Rethinking Critical Theory: Emancipation in the Age of Global Social Movements, London: Sage, 1993. David Held, ‘Democracy: From City States to a Cosmopolitan Order’, in Held, ed., Problems of Democracy: North, South, East, West, Cambridge: Polity, 1993, 13–52, and Held, ‘Sites of Power, Problems of Democracy’, Alternatives, 19:2, Spring 1994, 221–36. This tendency finds perhaps its most systematic expression in Habermas’s accounts of writers like Georges Bataille and Michel Foucault, from which one could scarcely

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20 21 22 23 24

25 26 27 28

comprehend their concerns with the construction of limits and the politics of transgression. See Habermas, The Philosophical Discourses of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, translated by Frederick Lawrence, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987. The following comments, which give only a superficial sketch of a complex phenomenon for purposes of a more general argument, are informed by my own brief observations of various Swadhyaya communities in December 1994 as well as by extensive discussions with and in some cases as yet unpublished papers by several experienced analysts of such movements; I am especially grateful to Dhirubhai Sheth, Ashis Nandy, Imtiaz Ahmed, Madhu Kishwar, Bharat Wariavwalla, R. K. Shritvastava, N. R. Sheth, Majid Rahnema, Marc Nerfin, Christian de Laat, Bjorn Hettne, Mats Frieberg and Daniel Gold, as well as to innumerable Swadhyaya for their openness and hospitality. For a general account see Ramashray Roy, ‘Swadhyaya: Values and Message’, in Ponna Wignaraja, ed., New Social Movements in the South, New Delhi: Vistaar Publications, 1993. (More recent literature includes M. L. Dantwala, Harsh Sethi and Pravin M. Visaria, eds, Social Change through Voluntary Action, Delhi: Sage, 1998; Ananta Kumar Giri, Self-Development and Social Transformations? The Vision and Practice of the Self-Study Mobilization of Swadhyaya, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2009; and Pankaj Jain, ‘Dharmic Ecology: Perspectives from the Swadhyaya Practitioners’, Worldviews 13, 2009, 305–20.) For some of the broader background shaping my own encounter with this particular movement see R. B. J. Walker, One World, Many Worlds: Struggles for a Just World Peace, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner; London: Zed Books, 1988; and Walker and Saul Mendlovitz, eds, Towards a Just World Peace: Perspectives from Social Movements, London: Butterworths, 1987. On the politics of self-construction in postcolonial contexts see the extensive writings of Ashis Nandy, especially The Intimate Enemy: Loss anal Recovery of Self under Colonialism, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1993; Traditions, Tyranny and Utopias: Essays in the Politics of Awareness, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1987; and The Illegitimacy of Nationalism: Rabrindrinath Tagore and the Politics of Self, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994. Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man, New York: Free Press, 1992; and Samuel B. Huntington, ‘The Clash of Civilizations?’, Foreign Affairs, 72:3, 1993, 22–49. Arrighi et al., Dilemmas of Anti-Systemic Movements. Justin Rosenberg, The Empire of Civil Society: A Critique of the Realist Theory of International Relations, London: Verso, 1994. Ibid., 173. Justin Rosenberg, ‘The International Imagination’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 23:1, 1994, 85–108. Cf. C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination, New York: Oxford University Press, 1959, and the commentaries on Rosenberg’s article in Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 23:2, 1994, 351–406. Fred Halliday, Rethinking International Relations, London: Macmillan, 1994. Ibid., 241. Ibid. The two otherwise most helpful recent surveys in this area are especially circumscribed in this respect. See Terry Nardin and David R. Mapel, eds, Traditions of International Ethics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992; and Chris Brown, International Relations Theory: New Normative Approaches, New York: Columbia University Press, 1992. For an interestingly nuanced discussion see Chris Brown, ‘International Political Theory and the Idea of World Community’, in Ken Booth and Steve Smith, eds, International Relations Theory Today, 90–109. For more extensive recent discussions which exemplify a developing debate on this theme within international relations theory, see Yosef Lapid and Friedrich Kratochwil, eds, Rethinking Culture and Identity in International Relations Theory, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1995; David Blaney and Naeem Inayatullah, ‘Prelude to a Conversation of Cultures: Todorov and Nandy on the Possibility of Dialogue’, Alternatives, 19:1, Winter 1994, 23–52; Philip Darby and A. J. Paolini, ‘Bridging International Relations and Postcolonialism’, Alternatives, 19:3, Summer 1994, 371–97; Syed Farid Alatas, ‘On the lndigenization of Academic Discourse’, Alternatives,

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31 32 33

34 35

18:3, Summer 1993, 307–38; and the special issue, ‘Culture in International Relations’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 22:3, 1993. See especially the incisive discussions in Nicholas J. Wheeler, ‘Pluralist or Solidarist Conceptions of International Society: Bull and Vincent on Humanitarian Intervention’, and N. J. Rengger, ‘A City which Sustains All Things? Communitarianism and International Society’, both in Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 21:3, 1992, 463–88 and 353–70, respectively. On the first two of these themes, see especially Hedley Bull and Adam Watson, eds, The Expansion of International Society, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984; Hedley Bull, ed., Intervention in World Politics, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984; John Vincent, Nonintervention and International Order, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974; and John Vincent, Human Rights and International Relations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986. Questions about global human rights, intervention and, now perhaps even more crucially, refugees are among the most important and difficult challenges to modern political discourse; one way of evaluating the significance of contemporary social movements would be to examine their capacity to frame these questions in ways that do not simply reproduce the usual binary contradictions between statist citizens and the universal subject. For a more extended discussion, see Walker, Inside/Outside, 50–80. Ronnie D. Lipschutz, ‘Reconstructing World Politics: The Emergence of Global Civil Society’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 21:3, 1992, 398. Gill’s position is sketched in a series of exploratory essays: Stephen Gill, ‘Reflections on Global Order and Sociohistorical Time’, Alternatives, 16:3, Summer 1991, 275–314; ‘Structural Change and Global Political Economy: Globalizing Elites and the Emerging World Order’, in Yoshikazu Sakamoto, ed., Global Transformation: Challenges to the State System, Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 1994, 169–99; and ‘The Global Panopticon? The Neo-Liberal State, Economic Life and Democratic Surveillance’, Alternatives, 20:1, Winter 1995. For a related and suggestive analysis that begins from rather different premises, see Scott Lash and John Urry, Economies of Signs and Space, London: Sage, 1994. Held, ‘Democracy: From City States to a Cosmopolitan Order’. See, for example, the interplay between all three usages of the term global civil society in Richard Falk, On Humane Governance: Towards a New Global Politics, Cambridge: Polity, 1995.


Europe as known quantity/quality Europe is at the centre of modern political life; at least this has long been the prevailing understanding of Europe’s place in the world. Politics started in Europe.1 Modernity spread from Europe; capitalism also. The modern system of sovereign states gradually expanded from, or was imposed by, or was wrested from, Europe throughout the world. That world is still located and measured from Greenwich, in arbitrary units guaranteed by Paris. Many roads still lead to Rome. The most comforting stories still begin with Greek and Hebrew myths and end with the universalization, or rejection, of Enlightenment reason. No one really believes these stories, of course, at least when the details are pressed. Its starting points, its year zero as well as its appreciation of zero, were not European. The pretence to centrality rests on colonial conquests and rapacious appropriations. In any case, any sense of a centre has now surely moved: to ‘America’ most obviously, but perhaps, some now say, to the world as such. Still, a sense of the centrality of Europe remains. This sense is expressed not only as a claim of pride, or arrogance, about historical achievements, or a sense of loss and resentment at having been usurped as the apex of power and knowledge, but also as the assumption that there must be a centre, an apex, a certain subject capable of mastering all selves, and all others. To identify the spatiotemporal coordinates of Europe, to try to fix its historical and geographical place in the world, is also to identify specifically European practices of fixing the world in spatiotemporal coordinates. Strangely enough, these practices do not always place Europe as such at the centre of the world, not least because, despite the power of the metaphor, any notion that there is a centre of the world is difficult to take seriously. Unlike Swift’s story about Gulliver travelling to foreign parts only to discover that they are most different in terms of size, of quantity

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rather than quality, Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth is not one of the indispensable texts of European sensibility. On the one hand, the centre is dispersed among multiple sites within Europe, in the sovereignties of a plural system of states. Europe is thus projected as a vaguely cultural or structural condition of the possibility of some unity among conflicting centres of a world without a single centre. On the other hand, these multiple centres, and the consequent interactions among centres, are articulated abstractly: as formalities, as legal codes, as structural necessities and the homogeneous spaces of modern territorial states. Abstracted from its spatiotemporal place, the European system of states became the modern world of universal political space. The world was enclosed, modernized in form if not in content. While, as place, Europe may be located by its spatiotemporal coordinates, as the place that generated a world of modern spatiotemporal coordinates, Europe might now be identified everywhere. Nevertheless, Europe, as so many analysts once insisted, is changing, growing, developing. Frequent references are still made to the New Europe: to somewhere – a geographical place – or something – a cultural, political, economic or military presence, or achievement, or possibility – that is bold and dynamic, its revered traditions now tinged with auras of millennial or globalizing innovation. The precise character of such change, growth or development is strenuously contested. It is framed in many ways in voluminous literatures, not least because the terms change, growth and development connote quite diverse possibilities of temporal movement. In the form that is perhaps most familiar to theorists of international relations, these literatures express well-rehearsed debates between those who fixate on changing patterns of intergovernmental relations and those entranced by utilitarian accounts of economic, and consequently political ‘integration’. The term integration is especially interesting in this context in that it manages to combine images of growth in scale or size with progressivist (modern, liberal) accounts of development, and thus carries more than its fair share of metaphorical baggage.2 More broadly and often more provocatively, though often in sprawling narratives and loose characterizations, some of these literatures tell bold stories about a globalizing economy or an emerging condition of postmodernity. Clearly, something is going on ‘in Europe’, as one says. Its novelties demand explanations and responses: especially, I want to emphasize here, explanations and responses that do not rely on unchallenged assumptions about where and therefore what Europe already is.3 Despite the many variations on the theme of change in Europe that might be identified, the prevailing narratives striving to make sense of the various patterns of transition that scholars have examined in contemporary Europe tend to be expressed in highly constrained metaphors of scale and teleologies of emergence. These narratives simultaneously tell us where Europe is, what it is and what it is becoming in terms set by specifically modern discourses of spatiality and temporality. Not only does knowing where Europe is, fixing it in a cartography inscribed by, say, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the North Sea/Scandinavia/the Baltics to the north, the Mediterranean/Africa to the south, and the Urals/Balkans/Serbs/ Albanians/Turks to the east, enable us to know what is contained in that (not quite

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so) obvious territorial space, but knowing what Europe is because we know where it is also shapes our capacity to know what Europe must become, and is becoming. Whether in the popular imagination or the categories of scholarly analysis, and whether as a somewhere or a something, Europe is often portrayed as somehow becoming bigger. More states seek to join the European Community. NATO incorporates eastwards. It thus seems natural enough to claim that Europe is expanding, enlarging, becoming grander both in territorial reach and in institutional capability. Accounts of change are thus subject to narratives of growth framed through metaphors of size, although any strutting that might be warranted as a consequence is sharply circumscribed by the acknowledged hegemony of American military force and economic competition on a global scale. Claims about increasing size permit and even encourage claims that Europe is somehow growing up, attaining some kind of maturity, though perhaps not quite the kind of autonomous subjectivity that Kant once envisaged as the ultimate ground of freedom and moral conduct. Europe is understood as becoming somehow more European. For many observers, there is a clear and increasingly pervasive sense of an emerging European identity, even of the development of some kind of European citizenship, one that is being established at the expense of already entrenched national identities and citizenships.4 This emerging sense of a more European Europe accompanies hopes for new institutions of governance, policy making and law which have become inscribed across the familiar landscapes of national communities and jurisdictions, as well as by some sense that Europe is something that requires its own currency and even its own security policy. Here the narrative is less about scale as a matter of mere size than about a pattern of integration that is both creating new levels of transnational solidarity and governance that are somehow above existing states and, as a consequence, eroding the powers and authorities of those supposedly lower jurisdictions. Europe, it seems, is not only growing up in the sense of maturing, leaving its supposedly more primitive nationalist past behind, but – and this is the apparently obvious but quite strange possibility that provokes my remarks here – is being constructed upwards, vertically, erected on some lower realms of state, nation, region or locale. Whether read quantitatively or qualitatively, as growth or development/maturation, Europe is easily envisaged in metaphors of higher and lower, of levels of authority and subordination. We know where and what it is, and must be, in geographical or territorial space; after all, what could be more natural? But we also know where and what it is within vertical spaces that are being erected above that territorial space, and we are easily persuaded that this is natural as well.5 All we then need to ask, perhaps, is how high Europe can go: a question that already hints at a degree of absurdity, more than a dash of metaphysics, and a large repertoire of political practices, hidden in modern discourses of higher and lower. These narratives of size and emergence are difficult to resist. They constitute a powerful common sense. Indeed, it is quite difficult to think about whatever it is that is going on in Europe without them. Europe is bigger than France. Europe is more mature than the UK. Europe is above Italy, above Barcelona, Frankfurt and

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Amsterdam. Consequently, as the seemingly perennial argument goes, Europe may, or perhaps may not, become integrated at a higher level than all its constituent parts, its recalcitrant nationalities, its parochial regions, its merely local villages, towns and cities. These narratives may provoke certain well-known forms of resistance. Bigger may usually be understood to be better, but the growth of new bureaucratic regimes in Brussels encourages familiar complaints about instrumental rationalities and local sensitivities. Moreover, so many forms of ‘power’ now seem to be characterized more by exquisite miniaturizations and deft mobilizations than by large and immovable force. But what could Europe possibly be if not something emergent, a new hierarchy of levels above the parochial and increasingly constrained states below? Europe promises greater cosmopolitanism, greater efficiency, greater power and perhaps above all, greater legitimacy.6 Away with the petty parochialisms, put local identities in their proper – local – place, elevate more universal principles to facilitate both more efficient modes of social and economic organization and more inclusive forms of cultural and political community. Resistance may not be entirely futile, but, in the dominant codes, it is certainly reactionary, chauvinistic, nationalistic and outmoded, the preserve of Gaullists, Thatcherites and political realists obsessed with the inevitability of state power and interstate conflict. As with much common sense about modern political life, however, it is wise to be cautious about what it presumes to tell us about contemporary structural and political transformations, whether in Europe or elsewhere. Indeed, one might argue that the very obviousness of the equation of scale with maturity and verticality ought to ring many warning bells. Neither Brussels nor Strasbourg is as high as the Alps or Pyrenees, and Kantian Reason is not quite as high as the Moon. More crucially, metaphors of scale, especially, and the teleologies of emergence they enable, are closely associated with the practices of modern sovereignty, which among many other things enacts an account of authority inscribed simultaneously on vertical and horizontal axes, on a vertical (legal, ethical) scale of higher and lower authority and a horizontal (territorial) scale of inclusion and exclusion. Indeed, one of the important characteristics of the contemporary literatures on the New Europe is that they so often reproduce the practices of sovereignty even as they argue that the sovereignty of European states is being eroded, undermined, dissolved, superseded, transcended, or any of the many other terms that are so firmly implicated in sovereigntist discourse and which now converge in claims about the integration of Europe at some higher level. In a nutshell, much of the literature on the New Europe, whether in relation to its political economy, cultural identity or security interests, expresses a profound nostalgia for an imminent return of the Great Chain of Being, for some kind of hierarchical universe reminiscent of medieval Christiandom, as a replacement for the horizontal universe of modern nation states. Given the ways in which claims about the modern sovereign state were established both against such premodern hierarchies and as ways of incorporating such hierarchies into the new territorial spaces of early-modern Europe, contemporary re-enactments of an old debate between territorial and vertical forms of authority should come

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as no great surprise. But it should also come as no great surprise when Europe, wherever and whatever it is, refuses to be cast in the moulds of either territorial or vertical forms of authority; refuses to be where it is supposed to be. Such, at least, is the possibility I want to canvass here. I especially want to do so by attending to the ways in which we refer to Europe both as a something and a somewhere. If we assume that we can understand what Europe is by examining where it is, and then examine where it is in terms of the kinds of accounts of political space that encourage us to shift automatically from a horizontal grid of territorialities to a vertical grid of supposed levels, we will, like both the nationalist/intergovernmentalist and integrationist schools of analysis that inform so much of our understanding of emerging forms of European politics, miss much of what makes it possible to make claims about a New Europe that exceed the legitimation strategies of existing political elites. In this respect, not much has changed since the heyday of the literature on European integration in the 1960s and 1970s.7 In an interesting and still relevant commentary on this literature, Ernst Haas once noted that for all its theoretical and methodological sophistication, most scholars of European integration were all too easily seduced by an imagery of Europe as an emerging state, a bigger version of the states being incorporated into it, a higher version of the states being incorporated below it.8 Then, as now, the central theoretical debates hinged on a debate between those who claimed that European politics would continue to be structured as a system of states or would gradually be reconstructed, become integrated, in ways explainable in utilitarian (functionalist or neo-functionalist) terms, so as to create a Europe that grows both larger and upwards. Contemporary advocates of the states-system view now tend to draw less on a post-Westphalian model of statecraft and diplomacy among sovereigns than on so-called neo-realist (that is, utilitarian) and liberal-institutionalist accounts of conflict, cooperation and bargaining strategy. Advocates of supranational institution building now draw less on images of the sovereign state writ large than on more disaggregated images of state formation, sometimes federal, sometimes multicentric, but almost always rooted as a hierarchy of levels within a spatially defined community.9 Those who – in my view quite rightly – reject the territorial imagery of intergovernmentalism that is shared by Stanley Hoffmann’s traditional institutionalism of three decades ago and, say, Andrew Moravcsik’s economistic liberalism more recently, especially tend to look to some kind of return to the metaphysics of continuity from lower to higher, from earthly to heavenly, that everyone thought had been finally destroyed by the flat spaces and autonomous subjectivities of modernity. It is not difficult to read the history of debates about European integration as largely a story of claims about the relative priority of horizontal space and vertical space, of territorial space and a spatially conceived hierarchy of higher and lower. There is some irony in the extent to which these debates reproduce a central struggle in the transition from medieval to modern forms of political authority. Irony turns into a more puzzling contradiction when attempts to understand

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historical and structural change are automatically translated into categories of spatial containment, whether horizontal or vertical.

Europe as puzzle It may well be that these two images, of a territorial states system driven less by strategies of conflict than by calculi of cooperation and of an emerging hierarchy of levels of community and governance, do indeed offer most of what is needed to explain and understand the change in contemporary Europe. Still, once attention strays away from the explicit debates about integration and intergovernmental cooperation, Europe can easily appear more as a puzzle than as a known quantity/ quality. This, as Thomas Diez has emphasized, is what makes the recent attempt to analyse the European Union resemble attempts to name an unknown animal.10 In very general terms, there are three fairly obvious general reasons for this. One is that Europe seems to be a very complex phenomenon. One might, for example, want to think about Europe in terms of political economies of production or the circulation of capital, or patterns of population movement and immigration, or the place of it largest cities, or the constitution of regions, or its flows of information, or its negotiations of an eastern boundary, or its struggles over specific sites of authority over this, that and the other. That is, one might want to begin not with assumptions about what and where Europe is but with some sense of wonder about how it is that all those processes and dynamics that might be identified as relevant to an understanding of Europe can indeed be imagined in terms of a coherent geographical and ontological whole. As with concepts of a state or a nation, it is all too easy to assume that Europe simply exists and thus to stop thinking about the conditions under which this assumption comes to be taken for granted or how this assumption is put into practice. In this context, one of the most striking characteristics of the debate between intergovernmentalists and integrationists has long been the wilful simplicity of the primary categories of analysis deployed on both sides. Much descriptive fat hangs on thin conceptual bones. The search for anything like a plausible theory of the state is a long hard slog. Extraordinarily crude distinctions between high and low politics (the very condition of the possibility of functionalist and neo-functionalist theories and the basic ground of intergovernmentalist responses to them) or material practices and immaterial ideas (like the pre-nineteenth century accounts of language, culture, ideology and discourse favoured by more recent liberal economists11), serve to undermine almost every attempt to claim some degree of rigour in either conceptualization or method. In this context, the imageries of both a states system and a hierarchy of levels seem just too simple, as Haas rightly insisted. Another is that if Europe is changing and developing as dramatically as most commentators suggest, it would be unwise to rely on deeply entrenched accounts of what such change and development must be like. Evidence supporting either the continuing presence of states or emerging patterns of integration and proliferating levels of governance ensure that scholarly judgements easily imitate the dyadic logic

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that politicians use to rouse sentiments for or against Europe, for or against sovereign jurisdiction. These are the great alternatives, after all, that have long been articulated by the most influential European political thinkers. They define the most prominent contours of European achievements and tragedies, its hopes of Enlightenment and universality, its counter hopes of Romanticism and specificity, its investments in reason and sentiment, its arrogances, its memories of brutality, its landscapes of inclusion and exclusion that are even now being reinscribed on its eastern (and all other) horizons. Despite the historical and discursive force of these dyadic alternatives, however, they seem to be at best partial, incomplete guides to more elusive phenomena. Any plausible account of what Europe is arguably demands multiple perspectives and proliferating labels. Its states and its integrations are embedded in flows of capital, technologies and peoples, in resurgent regionalisms, in decentrings of identity and authority, in layered institutions, in overlapping jurisdictions, in global hegemonies, in local sites of global productions, communications and exchanges, in networks of relations between cities and corporations and so on. Perhaps most instructively, far from resting easily on the classical imagery of a potential shift from fragmentation to integration, from a pluralistic system of state communities to an integrated community, contemporary shifts towards some kind of common identity or structure of governance are accompanied by renewed emphases on diversity, on pluralisms, on differences.12 As a great outpouring of recent pluralistic political theory suggests, this emphasis on diversity, pluralism and difference increasingly eludes the conventional modern political translations of all claims about difference into affirmations of sovereign statehood and autonomous individuality.13 Differences have come to seem somehow more diverse, at the same time that the ideal of Europe as a familiar-looking even if rather large state has come to seem increasingly chimerical. The guarantees of pluralism affirmed by a system of national states have come to seem increasingly problematic not only because of the challenges of integration but also because the sovereign state and the system of sovereign states has always offered a very limited understanding of the possibilities of cultural and political diversity. Once one is forced to take the claims of diversity in Europe seriously, that is, as not identical to a limited array of national and individual subjectivities, the teleologies and metaphors of size and development, indeed the entire discourse counterposing a logic of state systems to a logic of integration, loses much of its force. Indeed, it might be argued that perhaps the least useful interpretation of any evidence that European states have limited sovereignty is also that states are withering away and that a supranational European authority is emerging. And perhaps the least useful interpretation of any evidence that Europe is a place of cooperations, common institutions of law and governance and so on, is that states are in the process of withering away. The dyadic logic of national and supranational alternatives is very deeply entrenched in the modern European imagination, but suspicion of its classical accounts of what it is and must be is probably the primary condition under which any more useful scholarly enquiry must proceed. Europe is in many ways a

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profoundly unknown phenomenon, and not least in terms of questions about subjectivity and agency, about the character of political authority and the subjects who do or should constitute that authority. Furthermore, and crucially, while the prevailing forms of debate about intergovernmentalism and integration proceed on the basis of assumptions about what politics is, the character and location of politics is increasingly the greatest mystery of European life. Symptomatically, even the most cursory examination of recent literatures bears witness to the degree to which the very term politics has been more or less superseded by the twin obsessions with ‘policy’ and ‘governance’, terms that explicitly affirm either the obviousness or the irrelevance of questions about the conditions under which one might claim to be able to govern or make policy. Integration theory grows out of the kind of nineteenth-century utilitarianism made possible by prior distinctions between the political and the economic, which in turn grew out of prior distinctions between sovereignty and governance effected by the likes of Hobbes and Locke. Paradoxically, sovereignty is simply not an issue in this literature for all that it is articulated as an account of the decreasing relevance of sovereignty. In this context, integration theory remains interesting as a site of political analysis mainly because it has been so easy for it to assume what it seeks to deny. It has been able to do so because it has been able to ground itself in apparently apolitical discourses of utility, policy and governance that already assume a sovereigntist account of what politics is. Conversely, aided by distinctions between high and low politics and so-called realist (in fact paradigmatically idealist) accounts of the inevitable convergence of nation and state, intergovernmentalists simply rely on stipulative definitions of change as that which occurs within that which remains the same, the territorial state as the natural container of all political life. So push the nationalist button, and the illusions of change, integration and even Europe will simply fall away. Like the entire edifice of so-called political realism in the theory of international relations, everything hangs on affirming the necessary and sufficient condition of sovereignty without paying the slightest attention to what and where sovereignty is or what it does. Consequently, on neither side of this debate is it possible to find much engagement with the political, though it is precisely with the political that any claim about Europe as something other than a collection of sovereign states must engage. The only way out of this dilemma, it seems, is upwards, or perhaps both upwards and downwards: to redistribute an already known conception of the political in vertical rather than horizontal space, to aim for some kind of federalist mediation of the horizontal and the vertical, to spruce up notions of subsidiarity from the world of Aquinas and hope they still work in the age of the microchip.

Sovereignty as spatial practice The degree to which contemporary thinking about Europe is framed by theoretical traditions that encourage us to choose between a horizontal axis of territoriality or a vertical axis of integrations, levels, subsidiarities, federalisms and cosmopolitanisms

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should come as no surprise once we remember that modern politics has always been constituted on spatial assumptions. This is the legacy of the polis and the republic quite as much as of the modern sovereign state. And not the least of the dilemmas involved in thinking about contemporary Europe is that if Europe is not appropriately conceived as a modern state, or a republic, or a polis writ large, then it is far from clear what it means to think about Europe as a site of political life at all. This is why the modern political imagination strives to retain some kind of spatial community – like Europe – as the only alternative to the modern state. This is also why it is so tempting to read the problem of political community vertically rather than horizontally. Without a spatial community to contain spatially diverse subjects, it is difficult to make much sense of the most basic categories of modern political life; no need to reconcile citizens and sovereigns, no democratic participations or representations, no public or private realms. This is why it is sometimes possible to read preoccupations with ‘policy’ or ‘governance’ as attempts to think more creatively about politics in some other terms rather than as the more usual attempt to avoid it like the plague. This is also why comparisons are sometimes made with an image of medieval Europe constituted less by Thomistic hierarchies than by multiple disorders and partial authorities; that is, as an exotic place in which we hardly have to think about questions of – to use what in such contexts can seem like an increasingly quaint term – authority, and get on with identifying the powers that govern as they choose. And this is also why, most of all, once we look beyond the siren reifications of the realists/intergovernmentalists and the integrationists, the questions that prove to be most urgent and contentious are precisely those involving claims to authority. Claims to authority, of course, take us directly to claims about sovereignty; to sovereignty not as some simple given or some cartographic colouration, but as a complex practice of authorization, a practice through which specific agencies are enabled to draw the line. Theorists of international relations find themselves in a very odd position in this context because questions about authority and sovereignty are technically beyond their jurisdiction. Authorization is an internal matter. In the great division of labour generated by the formation of the modern sovereign state as a field of territorial extension with a clear line drawn between inside and outside as well as between the legitimate and the illegitimate inside, theorists of international relations are expected to take authority as a given, or at least something subject to the appropriate attentions of the political theorists. International relations are supposed to deal with mere power rather than authority, with relations rather than politics. This may be why those theorists of international relations who have turned their attention to Europe – who have, so to speak, crossed the line – have tried either to reproduce the inside/outside distinction as eternal or to apply the most depoliticized forms of utilitarian analysis to claims about integration. In crossing the line from mere relations to politics, from power to authority, from anarchy to community, they have reversed polarities, shifted from horizontal to vertical, but hardly even thought about what it means to cross, or draw, the line, to shift from power to authority, or to treat

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vertical space as an alternative to horizontal space. In taking sovereignty for granted, they have taken politics for granted also.14 There are many people who have argued that we must indeed take sovereignty for granted as if our lives depended on it. Thomas Hobbes was perhaps foremost among them, and he certainly made the most brilliant attempt to persuade the world that the force of this ‘must’ comes from nature rather than from mere convention. Therein lies the importance of recent attempts to come to terms with sovereignty as something that cannot be taken for granted precisely because it works so as to naturalize, to authorize, the merely conventional, and not least to authorize all claims to be able to distinguish the internal from the external and the legitimate from the illegitimate. These attempts are liable to be far more important to thinking about the future of Europe than the constant reproduction of all those political realisms (idealisms) and utilitarianisms that work only because of a continued willingness to believe in old Hobbes’s admittedly brilliant portrayal of arbitrary convention as natural necessity. They are liable to be more important simply because they force us to confront the limits of modern conceptions of the political and not just the territorial limits of the state as the modern container of politics. It is possible to distinguish three pervasive themes in the recent literature in international relations theory seeking to dislodge claims about state sovereignty from its strange status as an uncontested concept marking the ultimate site of all political contestation. Analyses of these three themes overlap and even contradict each other in different texts, but they amount to three different forms of the more general critique of the reification of the modern subject that has been taken up in so many other areas of contemporary social and political thought.15 First, and perhaps least controversially, there is the insistence that state sovereignty is not a permanent and unchanging principle or institution but a practice with a history, or better, a genealogy, and a practice with characteristic modes of performance. State sovereignty is historically constituted and historically variable. Rather than being fully formed in the writings of, say, Bodin and Hobbes, or in the Treaty of Westphalia, state sovereignty must be understood in terms of the macro-history of modern state formation;16 as a practice that has been fundamentally reconstructed as a popular sovereignty of peoples capable of reorganizing themselves in response to changing conditions;17 as an historically constituted institution of the international system or society;18 as a social construct produced by historically specific agents and resistances;19 as a product of a complex intellectual history;20 as a genealogy that is closely concerned with parallel claims about epistemology;21 as an effect of modern practices of representation that are currently being challenged by practices of simulation;22 as an impulse that is always in tension with the impulse of exchange, a tension that is being reshaped in response to ‘global flows’;23 and as an effect of a specifically modern, and gendered,24 conception of man as an individual subject,25 a subject that also participates in the mutually constitutive relationship between sovereignty and modern nationalism.26 In one way or another, all these lines of analysis converge on a sense that state sovereignty has no essence or unchanging being other than its historically variable modes of

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performance, a performance that is also constitutive of the world in which the performance occurs. Second, there is the insistence that state sovereignty works to obscure/reify and by obscuring/reifying a multiplicity of potential identities and interests under the (paradoxically) universalizing banner of a single sovereign identity/interest. It is in this context especially that many of the historical/genealogical specificities of sovereignty and its multiple techniques of legitimation have been framed. For as almost everyone concerned with what has recently come to be known as the ‘politics of difference’ has complained, where state sovereignty, and those accounts of nations and citizens that simply reproduce it, insists on the effective homogeneity of each of the societies that constitute modern states, such societies are in fact constituted by a multiplicity of groups, interests, classes, races, nations and genders. For the early-modern European theorists confronting the universalizing pretensions of Christianity and empire, some account of citizenship within a specific sovereign community offered the basis for constructing an alternative account of political legitimacy that effectively dispensed with God as the explicit source of earthly authority (whether as natural law, natural rights or natural reason, of course, He remained, and still remains, a crucial implicit presence in this respect). Paradoxically, but crucially, these theorists outlined the possibility of an alternative account of universality – a universality of law, rights or reason – that might be constituted in a particular community, the sovereign state located in a specific territorial space. A great many difficulties were generated by this move, not least questions about how to authorize authorization (or the paradox of founding), about how precisely to reconcile specific earthly authorities with theological universals, and about how to reconcile claims to universals within particular states with different claims to universals in other states. These difficulties are still visible in some of our most passionate political debates, not least those involving claims about reason, citizenship, the theory of international relations and, not surprisingly, security. They lie at the heart of the opposition between political realism and political idealism in the theory of international relations. Though many familiar debates may have been set in motion, however, modern political life gradually congealed around the claim that one could only properly be, or become ‘human’ by being a citizen of a specific political community. It may well be that in practice the priority of citizenship over humanity was rarely clear cut. Dual allegiances to God and State, the splitting of a specifically political identity from all other, somehow more human identities, the reconciliation of earthly and heavenly duties through notions of property or an ethical imperative and so on, have all served to muddy the stark choice that accompanied the ‘huge outbreak of dualisms’27 that characterized early European modernity. Yet if the choice was rarely clear-cut, the implications of pushing the choice into clarity were well understood: allegiance to the sovereign has priority over allegiance to God;28 and the priority of a singular conception of citizenship requires a monolithic conception of political community, the erasure of most diversities and identities in the flat spaces of Euclidean territories.

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Third, there is the insistence that state sovereignty works as a spatially and temporally specific, and spatially and temporally expressed, answer to all questions about the proper relation between the universal and the particular, between the finite and the infinite, between self and other and so on, that affirms both its natural necessity as an answer and the impossibility of reopening the questions to which it responds. State sovereignty, it has been claimed by many analysts, works as a genealogically constituted and reconstituted performance. Yet the performance seems to be enabled by the core claim of state sovereignty to be able to express a specifically modern subjectivity, the subjectivity that is at once always potentially universal but always embodied in a particular space,29 whether a territory or a body.30 The challenges posed by claims of difference within specific societies, however, come up against the capacity of modern sovereign subjects to insist on a singular identity. In relation to the sovereign state, the appeal of a nationalist machtstaat may have lost some of its allure, but appeals to some kind of autonomous republic or democracy are still alive and well; though they may be in better health in the rhetorics of professional politicians than among those who have to grapple with emerging patterns of transnational production and trade on a daily basis. Moreover, state sovereignty has enabled a variety of institutions and practices through which to save the claim that all particularities can indeed be reconciled in a more or less homogeneous territoriality. Principles of formal equality, both of individuals and states, serve as a regulative and legitimizing principle despite obvious disparities of wealth and power. Federalisms, devolutions and regional organizations provide spaces in which the sharp edges of state sovereignty are dispersed across a gradient from centre to periphery. Spatially conceived distinctions between public and private spheres, or urban and rural jurisdictions, or the architectures of institutions and public spaces, make the transitions seem smooth and seamless. But these solutions are precisely spatial, and for all its apparent seamlessness, the space is organized hierarchically. Private is subordinate to public (though in an age of global capital this is subject to interesting reversals); the global city is a contradiction in terms, or at least an experience that does odd things to our understanding of local government; social movements are supposed to be small events among the many small events that push interests upward to the great sovereign power; subnational provinces/states are supposed to be clear about the hierarchical rules governing their allocation of national tax receipts – no foreign embassies, no armed forces, no pretence to national security. The twin sirens at either end of this spatially organized hierarchy are clear enough. One can go down to the local, the regional, the small, the weak, the individual; or up to the EU (or, elsewhere, to NAFTA or ASEAN) and then to the international/global, and eventually to the human. The Great Chain of Being, it seems, has not been erased by the advent of modern spatial subjectivities. It has been reconstructed as an effect of modern spatial subjectivities.

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Integration/politicization It is in this context that we can see how the term ‘political integration’ expresses a widespread habit of claiming to analyse political change while affirming the principle that no change is possible. The term ‘political’ here refers to the already known phenomenon that allows us to know both what is being integrated and what the end result of integration must or should be: a reproduction of what we already have that effectively negates what we already have. Politics is understood to be something that is already integrated somewhere – in the sovereign state – but consequently also to be disintegrated in this same somewhere – in the sovereign state in a system of states – and as a further consequence available for reintegration somewhere else, in this case in Europe. The term thus expresses a logical consequence of taking sovereignty, and the distinction between politics and international relations, at face value, as an apolitical given rather than a political production. As long as one is prepared to buy into some universalizing and essentialist definition of what politics is, all might be well. One can keep shopping at the supermarkets of political science, and the shelves marked ‘struggles for power’, ‘rational self-interest’ or ‘who gets what from whom’ will be restocked according to demand. Among the many problems raised by this familiar procedure, however, is that the very act of defining what is political is itself political. It is what is enacted by the practice of sovereignty, by the authorization of authorizations. While the theory of political integration is most often framed in relation to the presence of (state) sovereignty, it invariably assumes and reproduces the practices of sovereignty. As a practice of authorization, modern sovereignty works by affirming an ontology of spatial separations, of inclusions and exclusions, that enable a capacity to draw the line between the legitimate and the illegitimate, the legal and the illegal, the normal and the exceptional. In Hobbes’s paradigmatic rendition, sovereignty is constituted in an instant of fear and reason, and it either is or it is not. Given this structure of inclusions and exclusions, it is possible to constitute new inclusions and exclusions, or superiorities and inferiorities, within any given community of inclusion. Change is possible within unchanging structures. Governments and regimes may come and go but sovereignty goes on for ever. Modern sovereignty affirms an account of politics in space. The modern sovereign state affirms an account of politics in a geographical territory. Europe names an alternative geographical territory and invites a reproduction of state sovereignty on a larger scale. This is also an invitation to reproduce an account of politics in space, the presence of an authority that can draw the line. And if the lines cannot be drawn quite so effectively in territorial space, they can be drawn vertically instead. Thus attention is directed to the question of whether modern politics will play itself out in territorial space in terms familiar from those who have sought to explain the external – international or intergovernmental – practices of the sovereign state, or in some combination of territorial and vertical spaces in terms familiar from those who have sought to explain the internal practices of sovereign states. But attention is directed away from both the question of sovereignty – about

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the conditions under which authorizations of authority become authorized – and from the spatial practices of modern sovereignty articulated as a capacity to draw the line. What both sides of the debate about European integration have missed so often is that the conception of politics they take for granted, and thus the most basic questions of identity, community and legitimacy, are exactly what must be up for examination. The future of Europe does not hang on the fate of political integration. It hangs on the fate of the political. It hangs on a refusal to assume that Europe is where it is supposed to be, that is, where the practices of sovereignty tell us it must be. It hangs on a willingness to open up questions about the character and location of politics that the practices of sovereignty insist are already answered in an account of a capacity to authorize subjectivities and agencies, inclusions and exclusions, the legitimate and the illegitimate, by drawing lines in a universe of static spatial coordinates. It is in this context that the most interesting puzzles in contemporary Europe can be framed less in terms of a simple move from sovereignty to integration, from horizontal/territorial space to vertical/hierarchical space, than of a rearticulation of principles that modern sovereignty articulates as a spatial resolution of the relation between unity and diversity. One key field of examples here is offered by contemporary debates about the principle of citizenship. Where entrenched conventions encourage us to choose between the ideal of the unitary citizen of states, framed as free and equal member of a unitary community, and the ideal of a citizen of Europe, similarly framed in relation to a unitary though now larger, higher community, it seems likely that both the identities/subjectivities of citizens and the communities in relation to which such identities/subjectivities are being constructed will have to be understood in increasingly pluralizing rather than universalizing terms. Citizenships are becoming functionally disaggregated, migrations multiply communitarian attachments, and while the liberal political theorists blithely assert their faith in the rational and selfidentical individual, everyone else is becoming used to a world of multiple and overlapping identities/subjectivities.31 Much the same can be said in relation to the dissolution of entrenched claims about national security and the conventional claim that the only alternative to it is some kind of human security. Instead, discussions of security are now more likely to engage with a multiplicity of insecurities for a multiplicity of peoples and situations.32 Notions of multiple identity or subjectivity tend to discourage concern with the problem of how to reconcile an identity or a subjectivity, whether individual or national, and a political community or state, and encourage concern with the multiplicity of relations between multiple sites. To the extent that the term political community, as a singular totality, now retains much meaning, it is more as a network of relations than as a container of agencies, subjects and representations. Sociologists, urbanists, geographers and systems theorists have long argued that networks offer a much more useful metaphor for social life than the spatial container assumed by modern political analysis. Moreover, networks do not organize

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themselves either horizontally or vertically. They also resist the notion that change is something that only occurs within a container that stays the same. It does not take much imagination to think of Europe as a site of multiple identities/subjectivities, or of networks, or of movements that consistently exceed boundaries trying to contain them; nor is there much risk in suggesting that such an imagination will increasingly inform analyses of the rearticulation of European political life. Such a Europe would not be free of spatial boundaries, though it is unlikely that the historical experience of sharp territorial borders at the edge of states, or the projection of clear hierarchies of authority upwards, would do much to help us understand the complexity, the constant mutation or the productive/ destructive capacities of such boundaries. Unlike Hobbes, we now have great difficulty imagining the line between before and after as a magical instant of creation, or between here and there as a straight line of zero width. But we also have the difficulty of imagining politics in other terms than those given by Hobbes, by a metaphysics of horizontal and vertical lines, by the assumptions of a sovereignty we may all be ready to dismiss but which still authorizes our account of what and where politics must be. The very existence of a theory of international relations, as of the political theory to which it is counterposed, depends precisely on this authorization. Europe presents a situation in which neither side of this spatial divide has very much to say, except to repeat the stories that have kept them apart. Theories of European integration are an effect of this divide. Many people still struggle to force Europe into the apolitical categories these theories have produced. This is an effect of an idealization of political life rooted in a misplaced claim to know where Europe is. Consequently, to rethink the possibilities of politics in this context must be to conclude that Europe really isn’t there.

Notes 1 This chapter was originally published in Morten Kelstrup and Michael C. Williams, eds, International Relations Theory and the Politics of European Integration: Power, Security, Community, London: Routledge, 2000, 14–32. 2 For a helpful introduction to the various ways in which theories of European integration express a politics of language, see Thomas Diez, ‘Speaking “Europe”: The Politics of Integration Discourse’, Journal of European Public Policy, 6:4, 1999, 598–613. 3 The argument I develop here assumes and seeks to augment a wide range of observations about the political effects of spatialized analytical categories in the contemporary social sciences, perhaps most obviously those distinguishing the so-called First, Second and Third Worlds and those which reify territorial regions; see, for example, Carl E. Pletch, ‘The Three Worlds, or the Division of Scientific Labor, circa 1950–1975’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 23, 1981, 565–90; and Martin W. Lewis and Karen E. Wigen, The Myth of Continents: A Critique of Metageography, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997. Recent texts exploring some of the challenges to conventional categories within which Europe has been imagined include Christer Jonsson, Sven Tagil and Gunnar Tornqvist, Organizing European Space, London: Sage, 2000; and Peter Van Ham, European Integration and the Postmodern Condition: Governance, Democracy, Identity, London: Routledge, 2001. 4 For analyses of this issue which continue to work within assumptions about the range of possible alternatives that I seek to challenge, see Anthony Smith, ‘National Identity and

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5 6

7 8 9 10 11

12 13


the Idea of European Unity’, International Affairs, 68:1, 1992, 55–76; and Jürgen Habermas, ‘Citizenship and National Identity: Some Reflections on the Future’, Praxis International, 12:1, April 1992, 1–19. Smith’s scepticism about an emerging European Identity is framed in terms of a projection of nationalist assumptions about what it would mean to refer to a European Identity, a projection that is neither plausible nor evidence of the plausibility of existing statist nationalisms. Habermas’s greater optimism is framed through an account of a continuity of state citizenship and world citizenship (he concludes by saying that ‘State citizenship and world citizenship form a continuum which already shows itself, at least, in outline form’) that simply fails to understand the contradictions expressed in and enabled by modern claims to sovereignty. While both Smith and Habermas articulate positions that make sense to a great many analysts, they seem to me to be more usefully read as expressions of the limits of the modern political imagination. The same may be said about the continuing tendency to posit the only alternatives before us as either cosmopolitan or communitarian, or as somewhere in between. As in so many other contexts, there is no middle ground between impossible extremes; in this context, sovereignty is the middle, the line of discrimination, that produces apparent extremes, and sovereignty is an act, not a ground. For a recent synoptic discussion that should dispel such assumptions, see Edward S. Casey, The Fate of Place: A Philosophical History, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997. Questions of legitimacy are increasingly central to debates about the future of Europe, some invoking degrees of progress, others invoking a major legitimation crisis. Part of the burden of the present argument is to suggest that these questions are indeed important, but also not obviously susceptible to standards of judgement that permit easy claims about either progress or crisis. For helpful discussions of this theme see, for example, Lene Hansen and Michael C. Williams, ‘The Myths of Europe: Legitimacy, Community and the “Crisis” of the EU’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 37:2, June 1999, 233–49; and J. H. H. Weiler, ‘Legitimacy and Democracy of Union Governance: The 1996 Intergovernmental Agenda and Beyond’, Working Paper no. 22/96, Oslo: ARENA, Research Council of Norway, 1996. Still helpful commentary on this literature may be found in Charles Pentland, International Relations Theory and European Integration, London: Faber and Faber, 1973; and J. K. de Vree, Political Integration: The Formation of Theory and Its Problems, The Hague: Mouton, 1972. Ernst Hass, ‘The Study of Regional Integration: Reflections on the Joy and Anguish of Pretheorizing’, International Organization, 24:4, Autumn 1970. See, for example, Gary Marks, Liesbet Hooghe and Kermit Blank, ‘European Integration from the 1980s: State-Centric v. Multi-Level Governance’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 34:3, September 1996, 341–79. Diez, ‘Speaking “Europe”’, 598. I am thinking especially of Moravcsik’s recent claim to take ideas seriously, a claim that serves more effectively to affirm the Lockean social ontology that enables his categorizations of the economic and the political. See Andrew Moravcsik, ‘The Future of European Integration Studies: Social Science or Social Theory?’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 28:2, 1999, 371–91. Here I am especially thinking both with and against Andrew Linklater’s attempt to develop a difference-sensitive vision of a cosmopolitan European community. See Linklater, The Transformation of Political Community, Cambridge: Polity, 1998. Among many, see William Connolly, The Ethos of Pluralization, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995; William Corlett, Community without Unity, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1989; James Tully, Strange Multiplicity: Constitutionalism in an Age of Diversity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995; Judith Butler and Joan Scott, eds, Feminists Theorize the Political, New York: Routledge, 1992; and Anne McClintock, Aamir Mufti and Ella Shohat, eds, Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. For a more elaborate version of this argument, see R. B. J. Walker, Inside/Outside: International Relations as Political Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

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15 For example, John Rajchman, ed., The Identity in Question, London: Routledge, 1995; Eduardo Cadava, Peter Connor and Jean-Luc Nancy, eds, Who Comes after the Subject? London: Routledge, 1991; Judith Butler, The Psychic Life of Power, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997; Rosi Braidotti, Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994; Alberto Melucci, The Playing Self: Person and Meaning in the Planetary Society, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996; Anthony Elliot, Subject to Ourselves: Social Theory, Psychoanalysis and Postmodernity, Cambridge: Polity, 1996; Margrit Shildrick, Leaky Bodies and Boundaries: Feminism, Postmodernism and (Bio)Ethics, London: Routledge, 1997; Thomas C. Heller, Morton Sosna and David E. Wellberry, eds, Reconstructing Individualism: Autonomy, Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1986; Toby Miller, The Well-Tempered Self: Citizenship, Culture, and the Postmodern Subject, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993; Ashis Nandy, The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonialism, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1983; and Hent de Vries and Samuel Weber, eds, Violence, Identity and Self-Determination, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997. 16 Janice E. Thomson, Mercenaries, Pirates and Sovereigns, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994; Hendryk Spruyt, The Sovereign State and Its Competitors, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994. 17 As well as the standard references to Locke, Rousseau and the rest, see Edmund S. Morgan, Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular Sovereignty in England and America, New York: Norton, 1988. 18 Stephen Krasner, ‘Sovereignty: An Institutional Perspective’, in James Caporaso, ed., The Elusive State: International and Institutional Perspectives, Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1989. 19 Thomas J. Biersteker and Cynthia Weber, eds, State Sovereignty as Social Construct, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 20 F. H. Hinsley, Sovereignty, London: C. A. Watts, 1966; Andrew Linklater, Men and Citizens in the Theory of International Relations, London: Macmillan, 1982; Nicholas Greenwood Onuf, ‘Sovereignty: Outline of a Conceptual History’, Alternatives, 16:4, Fall 1991, 425–46. 21 Jens Bartelson, A Genealogy of Sovereignty, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. 22 Cynthia Weber, Simulating Sovereignty, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. 23 Michael J. Shapiro, ‘Sovereignty and Exchange in the Orders of Modernity’. Alternatives, 16:4, Fall 1991, 447–77. See also Michael Shapiro and Hayward R. Alker, eds, Challenging Boundaries: Global Flows, Territorial Identities, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996; James Der Derian, Antidiplomacy: Spies, Terror, Speed and War, Oxford: Blackwell, 1992; and Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Civil Wars: From L. A. to Bosnia, New York: New Press, 1994. 24 For brief guides to large literatures on both the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ of the modern state, see Christine Sylvester, ‘The Contributions of Feminist Theory to International Relations’, in Steve Smith, Ken Booth and Marysia Zalewski, eds, International Theory: Positivism and Beyond, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, 254–78; and Wendy Brown, ‘Finding the Man in the State’, in Brown, States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995, 166–96. For the themes pursued in the present paper, however, the forms of feminist analysis developed explicitly as critiques in international relations and the state are much less interesting than those developed in relation to the claims of a sovereign subjectivity more generally, especially those developed in the complex conversations among what are now categorized as poststructuralist and postcolonial feminists. 25 Richard K. Ashley, ‘Untying the Sovereign State: A Double Reading of the Anarchy Problematique’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 17, 1988, 227–62; Richard K. Ashley and R. B. J. Walker, ‘Reading Dissidence/Writing the Discipline: Crisis and the Question of Sovereignty in International Studies’, International Studies Quarterly, 34, September 1990, 367–416. 26 David Campbell, Writing Security, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992; Roxanne Lynn Doty, ‘The Double-Writing of Statecraft: Exploring State Responses to

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27 28 29

30 31 32

Illegal Immigration’, Alternatives, 21:2, April–June 1996, 171–89; Doty, ‘Sovereignty and the Nation: Constructing the Boundaries of National Identity’, in Biersteker and Weber, eds, State Sovereignty as Social Construct, 121–47. R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of Nature, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1940. It is surprising how rarely this theme has been discussed with any clarity in the modern theory of international relations. The major (Hegelian) exception is Andrew Linklater, Men and Citizens in the Theory of International Relations, London: Macmillan, 1982. John A. Agnew, ‘Timeless Space and State-Centricism: The Geographical Assumptions of International Relations Theory’, in Stephen J. Rosow, Naeem Inayatullah and Mark Rupert, eds, The Global Economy as Political Space, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1994, 87–106; Agnew and Stuart Corbridge, Mastering Space: Hegemony, Territory and International Political Economy, London: Routledge, 1995. Elizabeth Grosz, Space, Time and Perversion: Essays on the Politics of Bodies, London: Routledge, 1995; Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Matter of ‘Sex’, New York: Routledge, 1993. For a more sustained version of this claim, see R. B. J. Walker, ‘Citizenship and the Modern Subject’, in Kimberly Hutchings and Roland Dannreuther, eds, Cosmopolitan Citizenship, London: Macmillan, 1999, 171–200. I develop this argument in R. B. J. Walker, ‘The Subject of Security’, (Chapter 4 above) in Keith Krause and Michael C. Williams, eds, Critical Security Studies: Concepts and Cases, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997, 61–82.


Clayoquot Sound as a political puzzle There are many ways of making sense of events in the early 1990s articulated in relation to the apparently marginal, merely local site identified as Clayoquot Sound; many ways of interpreting the multiple struggles and contentions centred on the logging practices rapidly erasing one of the planet’s last remaining temperate rain forests.1 These events have provoked considerable commentary and analysis, at least ‘in Canada’ and ‘in British Columbia’, the political jurisdictions in which Clayoquot Sound is to be found, as well as in the literatures on contemporary ‘environmental movements’. There has been so much specialized commentary, in fact, that it is not all that easy to see what else might be said.2 Still, even now there is much about these events that is difficult to characterize, and even more that is difficult to evaluate, even though there are many familiar characterizations and evaluations that have been, and continue to be deployed to keep things simple. There is also much to be said for keeping things simple. Some people judge simplicity to be a good in itself. Many of those engaged in environmental movements, for example, strive for forms of simplicity understood by contrast with the supposed complexities of modern urban and industrial life. Scholars often invoke the principle of Occam’s Razor, the epistemological virtues of economy and minimalist elegance, when judging among competing explanations and theorizations. Many political actors prefer to tell the same old story over and over again so as to keep the journalists and social scientists happy, or to tidy up the messy narratives and jurisdictions so as to keep everyone from thinking too much about the clichés and caricatures that keep public debate on manageable terms. It may be that many events in Clayoquot Sound can be understood in relatively simple terms, perhaps even productively so. Nevertheless, there is also no doubt that these events provoke difficult interpretive puzzles. In what follows, I want to suggest that they

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ultimately raise more questions – and very interesting questions – than they provide illustrations of familiar narratives and comfortable theorizations. They especially provoke questions about judgement: questions about the conditions under which we judge political practices to be important or unimportant, successful or unsuccessful, or even political or non-political, as well as about who gets to decide what counts as good judgement and how they get away with their decisions. Most obviously, as with all social and political phenomena, the empirical data available for interpretation elude any single theorization. As sites of political contestation, the many theoretical traditions that have been deployed to interpret and explain these struggles in Clayoquot Sound attract readings and explanations that respond to different interests, identities and authorities. These readings and interpretations, however, are not infinite. They can be articulated only within certain limits of intelligibility. The literature shows traces from rich and often provocative intellectual traditions. Not least, it is possible to draw upon theories of corporate capital, state structures, bureaucratic competition, public policy formation, democratic representations, the ‘new’, ‘environmentalist’ or ‘green’ social movements, as well as relations between federal and provincial governments or between centres and peripheries of globally organized economic systems. As with all other attempts to understand social and political phenomena, such theorizations are highly selective in their choice of data and their interpretations of competing narratives. Moreover, these theorizations have fed back into and helped shape the practices that they have sought to understand and explain. Whether through attempts by actors to understand what they are doing and what might still be done, or attempts to privilege and legitimize some possibilities rather than others, competing understandings of how we might – perhaps even must – understand the events articulated in relation to a site identified as Clayoquot Sound are part of the complexities that ought to undermine any claim that these events are fully susceptible to any simple analysis. To speak of Clayoquot Sound is to identify a contested interpretive field, one in which the difficulties of discriminating among interpretations mesh with very specific struggles over the discriminations and judgements that are at play in everyday practices of politicization and depoliticization. This is perhaps most obvious in relation to the competing conceptions of legitimate knowledge, of ‘science’ and ‘tradition’ that have been prominent in this context. Political life hinges on questions of legitimacy, on what counts as a legitimate claim to authority in, say, the legislature, the courtroom, the evening news or the faculties of forestry. Whether in terms of the underdetermination of theory by data, the convergences and divergences of competing theoretical traditions, or the slippery slope from scholarly categories to ideologies and legitimation strategies and back again, there are both scholarly and political reasons to resist the narratives – not least about small if heroic environmental social movements acting in marginal locations – that affirm and reproduce the common sense of modern politics. But there is another, related sense in which the most common readings of these events are highly problematic, one that has struck me both as I have watched these specific events unfold and as I have been able to think about these events in

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relation to a range of other seemingly small and parochial sites of political action in various parts of the world. This sense is driven by three broad observations, each of which informs the analysis I want to develop in this chapter. First, I have been impressed not only by the difficulty of keeping track of the empirical complexity of events in and around – a long way around, and never entirely in – Clayoquot Sound, but also of identifying the grounds on which we might usefully make judgements about what these events were and how important they might be. It is not clear to me what criteria of evaluation one ought to be applying to various attempts to explain what has been going on. Nor is it clear that even those very few scholarly texts that have to be taken seriously in this context have said very much about such grounds for judgement. Second, and also as in many other contexts, I have been impressed by the enormous capacity of the prevailing analytical categories to insist on an authority to make judgements about the character and significance of events despite what seems to be a troubling absence of clear grounds for judgement. On the whole, I find the presumed authority of the prevailing analytic categories to be more troubling than my sense of the absence of clear grounds for judgement, especially insofar as the most authoritative categories of analysis have been framed in relation to something identified as ‘Canadian politics’ or the ‘politics of British Columbia’. While it may be heresy to many people who find that these labels apply quite well to something that seems consequential to their daily life, I find them to be singularly unhelpful: the tips of large icebergs, perhaps, or toes identified as elephants, though neither metaphor quite captures the political practices involved in applying blandly homogenizing names to complex political sites. Here I am influenced not only by a longstanding bemusement at the kind of (‘comparative’) political analysis that has been mobilized by such labels applied to apparently discrete though structurally interrelated places (and thus comparable only as moments of commonality rather than as moments of difference), but by the way in which the many claims to realism and common sense in political life trading on such labels so often work as a normative insistence on what must be. Such claims effectively dissuade people from asking questions about the conditions under which the claim might be plausible as something more than a normative ideal. Indeed, the normative, and paradigmatically nationalist or self-determining claim of the modern sovereign state to be the be-all and end-all of modern political life seems to be just about the last ground from which to make claims about contemporary political realities while still retaining some scholarly or political credibility. Perhaps this is a consequence of my living too long in what seems to be a peripheral part of a highly decentralized state failing to resist the effects of an American empire and obviously subject to the effects of internationalizing and globalizing economic practices. I suspect, however, that it is because this place is far more typical of most of the world than the idealized self-images that count for reality in parts of Europe and the United States, the twin sources of our most authoritative political categories. In any case, as I have thought more and more about the ways in which various scholarly traditions have been deployed in relation to Clayoquot Sound, I have

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been much more impressed by their normative commitments to a very specific account of what and where political life must be than by their capacity to capture political practices that only partly conform to these normative commitments. They are interesting mainly as an indication of the tremendous energy that goes into insisting that the ideal is indeed what is to be found in the world, and thus of the practices with which one has to engage in order to act in the world. Third, many of the events in and around Clayoquot Sound are interesting precisely because they express a practical necessity to challenge, evade or even ignore the normative commitments that constitute both our prevailing sense of political realism and the authoritative grounds for judgement assumed by most of our prevailing traditions of political analysis. Not least, they challenge a deeply rooted connection between claims about what politics is and claims about where politics is. Much of the difficulty of interpreting these events, and much of what is so suggestive in thinking about the relationship between what has been happening in this specific place and in many other specific places, is that politics has not always played out where it is supposed to play out. In working through this sense that events in Clayoquot Sound significantly exceed the plausibility of prevailing analytic categories, I do not wish to be read as saying that this is the only way of reading these events or even that prevailing analytic categories are irrelevant. On the contrary, precisely because prevailing scholarly categories express established accounts of what and where politics must be, they will both have access to structures and actions that affirm these accounts and play an important role in shaping the events they seek to explain. In political life there are many complex reciprocities between the authority of theoretical discourses and the authority of sites, practices and actions that claim authority over political identities, communities and obligations. There is a politics to the ways in which various authorities tell us what and where politics must be. In Clayoquot Sound, the politics of authorizing politics has a lot to do with proper orientation, with claims about where it is. My own response to both the place and the events articulated in relation to this place has been primarily one of disorientation. Clayoquot Sound can indeed be identified as a specific place, but it is not entirely obvious where this place ought to be placed in relation to what we claim to know about contemporary forms of power, authority, obligation, identity or community. Much of the politics in Clayoquot Sound has not occurred where it is supposed to occur, to the point at which we have to question the notion that we need to examine events in Clayoquot Sound, or treat this place as a mere locale in a bigger – national, global – space. Much of the politics associated with events in Clayoquot Sound has involved intense struggles over precisely where politics there should and must occur. It is wise to be aware that theoretical traditions that take the location of politics for granted are likely to misread and minimize the significance of certain kinds of events, to make judgements that work primarily to affirm prior normative and ideological commitments. This suggests that we should start asking questions about what it means to have a politics that does not occur where it is supposed to occur.

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The events centred on Clayoquot Sound involved not only a complex set of challenges to the exploitation of natural resources but also challenges to the naturalization of political resources enabled by historically and culturally specific accounts of nature, accounts that are ultimately ‘grounded’ in abstract naturalizations of where Clayoquot Sound is in modern political space. These events are interesting not because they can be claimed as models of success or failure judged according to established criteria of success or failure in political life, but because they suggest that such criteria hardly begin to get at the degree to which these events involved suggestive renegotiations of what we mean by political life and of success or failure in it.

Authority/space The struggles to exploit environmental resources in and around Clayoquot Sound, or to resist such exploitation in the name of ecological integrity, sustainable development, community control and so on, seem to fall quite easily, and naturally, under the rubric of ‘politics’. These events may have been framed as somehow ‘different’, as somewhat peculiar variations on a form of politics-as-usual: as confirmation that politics in British Columbia (BC) is somewhat aberrant even in its most ordinary moments; or as evidence that environmental struggles in BC manifest interesting signs of innovation and creativity. For the most part, however, they have been read as if politics is simply politics, whatever politics is presumed to be. The authentic norm or the sensible conventions may be locatable elsewhere, and BC in general and environmentalists and logging companies in particular may be read as often spectacular deviations from them, but it is difficult to resist the assumption that there is indeed some norm or sensible and natural convention against which these events can be explained and understood. It is especially difficult because some of the most persuasive discourses about BC and its resource industries affirm narratives of marginality, of a resource-dependent periphery, for example, or a remote outpost of the Canadian federation or even of a Canadian empire centred somewhere between Ottawa, Toronto and Quebec City and still demanding tribute from its far-flung subjects. Politics in BC is supposed to be somewhat off the wall, close to the edge, and it can certainly be a disconcerting place, though the grounds on which it is judged to be more disconcerting than, say, Ontario or Ohio, are not entirely clear. These narratives in turn affirm a broad range of conventions about who we are, where we are and where we are going as inhabitants of a place called BC, of what we consider to be the natural and necessary conditions under which we may engage in political action, especially action that is concerned with struggles over that which is taken to be somehow natural. After all, modern politics was established in relation to a specific set of understandings of political subjects as somehow – once upon a time, or potentially at some future time, or all the time by virtue of our reason, our science, our maturity – natural. It is unlikely that struggles around environments and ecologies will attain any long-term significance without these understandings coming into serious contestation.

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In this context, it is possible to mobilize various narratives about the range of perspectives about what ought to be done in Clayoquot Sound and the various interests they express, whether in relation to governments, environmentalists, indigenous groups, logging companies, corporate business, workers, emerging forms of tourism and so on. At best, these narratives stress the incompleteness of events: an incompleteness that is especially difficult to appreciate given the extent to which so much of the discourse about these events has been framed by a grand metaphor of a game with clear winners and losers among a well-known cast of competing interests. The temptation to ask when the game will be over so that someone can post the score has sometimes been overwhelming. This temptation has been reinforced both by the broad influence on modern political thought and practice of the kind of utilitarian analysis exemplified by theories of rational choice and liberal micro-economics, and by a long history of thinking about electoral politics in this province (as in so many other places) as little more than a spectator sport. Still, this is a metaphor that can be and has been pushed in ways that disrupt the familiar story of competing interests, as well as the corollary assumption that it might be possible to say who has come out ahead in Clayoquot Sound. It is possible especially to provoke questions about who is doing the refereeing, in which league and at whose behest, for in political life it is just as important to keep one’s eye on how the rules are set and maintained as on the ball that is in play according to a specific set of rules. Hence, the enormous consequences of disrupting basic constitutional principles, or basic concepts of sovereignty, security and citizenship that most people would prefer to consign either to dusty libraries or to the unquestioned bedrock of common sense. In this context, narratives about competing interests are much less interesting than conflicts about appropriate sources of authority, especially in relation to ways these conflicts seem to exceed, undermine and reconstitute the authority of the official authorities. I think here, for example, of the conflict between the Nuu-chah-nulth people and the provincial government and the crucial intervention over land claims that led to the creation of the Central Regional Board; or the struggles to maintain legitimacy through diverse media campaigns; or the sophisticated debates about knowledge that were expressed in relation to the constitution of the Scientific Panel; or the many micro-decisions over what counts as research procedure, as expertise, as economy, as value or as culture; or the succession of attempts by the provincial government to impose various decision-making entities on the situation and subsequent attempts to reconstitute these entities by various actors, not least by insisting on the legitimacy of local authorizations and agencies beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the provincial government. It is in such contexts that the fluidity and open-endedness of politics in Clayoquot Sound are most resistant to the prevailing narratives of victory and defeat, of episodic struggles on the same old playing field. The narratives of a politics as usual, even of a marginal politics as usual, are dangerously overdetermining. They work as expressions of a hegemonic common sense, or a sovereigntist disciplining of appropriate spaces for political action. But many of the events they seek to explain and discipline can also be interpreted precisely as

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challenges to the natural necessity of those narratives about norms and conventions of a politics as usual. Hence, as Warren Magnusson and Karena Shaw rightly stress,3 the significance of the many different spatial contexts in which it is necessary to understand various attempts to challenge, reconstitute and create sites of authority in Clayoquot Sound. Thinking about the rapaciousness of the forestry industry, for example, one is immediately drawn to accounts of a globally organized capital, and of what has been done in New Zealand, Indonesia, Finland and so many other places. It is not so far from a primitive slash and burn to sophisticated corporate strategies of ‘talk and log’4 and ‘the living forest’.5 Thinking about a province dominated by the city of Vancouver and the surrounding urban life of what is called the Lower Mainland, one thinks about the kinds of networks that link the populations of the so-called global cities, and the ways in which they disrupt our distinctions between urban and rural, or centre and hinterland, or even big and small. As Magnusson, especially, has rightly insisted elsewhere,6 it is not difficult to think of Clayoquot Sound precisely as an urban space, as a neighbourhood of a global urban community, even, judging from recent architectural trends in Tofino, as a kind of global garden suburb. Indeed, perhaps the previous event of any significance in BC politics was the mobilization of a coalition against the Social Credit regime in the early 1980s, one that faltered on a classic deal between a corporate union (the International Woodworkers of America) and the provincial state, thereby ensuring the reproduction of crudely corporatist and populist forms of party politics for several more decades. In this context, Clayoquot Sound appeared on the horizon as an event more in touch with the progressive urban agendas and ‘new social movements’ found in Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle and Portland than with the colonial and class politics that had come to seem the norm.7 Thinking about the ways in which many people talk about this part of the world as a region, one tries to understand the forms of community and authority that are being constituted under vague labels such as the Pacific Northwest, or Cascadia, or the Vancouver-Seattle-Portland Corridor.8 Perhaps most instructively, thinking about the specific place identified as Clayoquot Sound, one wonders about the stereotypes that equate locale and place either with a sense of community or with something small and weak. One might also think about some of the central motifs at play in the media campaigns, which often imply spatial framings available for rhetorical deployment: the spaces of culture and nature, the spaces of industry and the spaces of romanticism. Then we might start thinking about how various writers have drawn attention to the multiplicity and historical construction of lived spaces, to the phenomenologies, poetics and productions of spaces examined by Gaston Bachelard, Yi-Fu Tuan, Clarence Glacken, Michel Foucault, David Harvey, Edward Soja, Henri Lefebvre and many other scholars in many contexts.9 One might especially meditate, like James Clifford thinking about the extraordinary historical geography/anthropology of a small site like the Russian settlement of Fort Ross on the central California coast,10 about the many peoples, cultures, directions and histories that have played out in this specific place.

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There is a simple cure for all such speculation, all such sensitivities to historical and cultural difference, all such engagements with urban spaces, global spaces, regional spaces, cultural spaces, all such wonder about where we are. It is the simple cure that is invariably mobilized by the apparently simple question: Where is Clayoquot Sound? It is, no doubt, a reasonable question. Most people already find it hard enough to distinguish between the city of Vancouver and Vancouver Island (though the island is about the size of a small country such as the Netherlands, and with a population about the size of Cyprus), let alone locate a couple of small towns at the end of an often tricky road from the other coast, or the even smaller and mainly aboriginal communities accessible only by boat or floatplane. I have been vaguely aware of the existence of a place called Clayoquot Sound since the late 1960s, though for most of that time I had not the slightest clue even how the name was pronounced. I came in close proximity to it in the early 1970s, having travelled to western Canada a few years after escaping the damp depression of Harold Wilson’s Britain to study in Ontario. But I drove south instead, wandering slowly down the coast to trendy San Francisco, and Clayoquot remained an outer limit of my experience. It might as well have been Alaska or what was then still called the Queen Charlotte Islands, some vague beyond of cold seas, warm dragons and colonial memories. It came no closer to my experience even when I moved to Vancouver Island to teach at the University of Victoria in 1980. Tellingly, the first time I began to link Clayoquot with the kinds of social movements that I had begun to notice in other parts of the world was when I saw an impressive poster of old-growth trees in an academic office in Frankfurt in mid-1986. Far away, in a modern urban office block, trying to get a sense of the broader significance of the emerging German Green movement/party, I recognized a scrap of what had begun to be my ‘home’. Since then I have watched events, mainly from a distance, though with enough contacts through students, friends and family to read between the lines of the local reportage. I now know how to negotiate most of the bends in the road. I can at least find my way there. An archetypal imaginary of wilds beyond has shifted to a place of familiar experience. As usual, of course, experience is incomplete and insufficient. The most authoritative answers to questions about the location of Clayoquot Sound invoke the skills of the official cartographer, or at least of those cartographers who work from the established conventions for carving up geographical space. So, to identify a coordinate of about 126 degrees west and just over 49 degrees north will get us to more or less the right spot. A long way west of Greenwich. A picturesque strait and a few mountain passes west of Vancouver. Just over halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. Out on the west coast, out on the periphery of a spatial entity addressed, as the peculiar but instructive hierarchicalization of political space would have it, c/o BC, Canada, North America, the World, the Universe. For curiously, but significantly, the coordinates of the compass tell us not only about the mappings of space in a horizontal plane but also guide our understandings of what is above and below. To speak of events in Clayoquot Sound is to invoke a powerful metaphorical field in which claims that we can distinguish what is in and what is

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out trigger a now almost automatic geopolitics of scale, a translation of claims about specific places into a common sense of big and small, local and global. The concrete specificities of place are turned into abstractions, enabling normative claims to be solidified into repeated assertions about what it means to be realistic. Even more curiously, these abstract, mathematical answers have the distinct advantage of affirming everyday experiential realities. Drivers, sailors, pilots and trekkers all get a sense from these coordinates of where they are and where they are supposed to go. Global positioning satellites will tell us where we are to the nearest few meters. In an era in which so many have lamented the collapse of all intellectual and moral foundations, it turns out that no one needs to be lost, not even in the remotest wilderness. Just tune in to the satellites parked in orbit; and all for less than a few hundred dollars. Even so, the very precision of these coordinates already betrays a sense of arbitrariness, a sense of history, a sense of disorientation. We specify west of Greenwich because of the historical experiences of maritime empires. Notions of East and West retain their connection with doctrinal distinctions between socialists and capitalists, orientals and occidentals, and the forty-year geopolitical freeze that turned to dirty slush in 1989. The parallels of latitude and longitude have been used to carve up entire continents in ways that have little to do with a nature understood as topography, or geomorphology, or ecology, and everything to do with nature as a phenomenon described by a mathematical science of straight lines and angles adding up to 360 degrees. Moreover, it is not entirely irrelevant that these coordinates can be constructed so as to privilege accuracy of, say, directionality, area or scale. Not all map projections are created equal. The most interesting thing about the way we use modern cartographic coordinates to answer questions about where Clayoquot may be is that we are enabled to reconcile our most persuasive accounts of the most concrete realities of the world in which we live – the supposedly hard ground of territory, place and rock, the material experience of planet Earth – with a highly formalized, abstract and nominal account of what those realities must be. It is an inherently unstable reconciliation. The map, we know, is not the territory. The experience of place, as most geographers are now primed to tell us, must not be confused with abstract Euclidean conceptions of space. This reconciliation of map and territory – of nature as an apparently concrete and already existing world and nature as the representation of that supposed world in the categories of modern science and culture – is, of course, not simply a matter of improving the maps so as to better conform to the territory. The entire question of the relationship between map and territory, or between language and world, is constitutive of modern philosophical speculation – indeed of modern culture in general. More important, this question has been central to the development of modern accounts of political authority and subjectivity. Here it is necessary to recall only four key moments in this development (recognizing that each of these moments have been treated to massive and contested elaborations in the literature). First, the rewriting of Aristotelian conceptions

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of place in terms of a modern (Euclidean, Galilean, Newtonian, Kantian) account of space.11 Second, the rewriting of ‘essentialist’ (or in Platonist terms, ‘realist’) accounts of nature, or physis, as the ‘laws of nature’ by nominalists like Hobbes. Third, the further rewriting of the ‘laws of nature’ into the legitimacy of private property in a world in which, as Locke put it as a problem to be solved by a labour theory of value and the accumulation of money, God had given the Earth to everyone in common. Finally, the massive elaboration, by Hobbes, Locke and most of the other canonical figures of the modern traditions of political thought, of a theory of representation through which modern citizens could be reconciled with each other through their participation and representation in, and thus legitimation of, the sovereign authority of the modern state. This is a long and contentious story, with even more twists and turns than the road from Port Alberni to the Pacific Ocean. But it does suggest that there are some very high stakes involved in the claim that Clayoquot Sound can be located, given its proper place, in the coordinates inscribed by the children of Euclid. Contemporary philosophical debate arguably turns more on a sense that this question of the relation between map and territory or language and world is badly posed than on a sense that answers might soon be forthcoming. Even so, the philosophers have not persuaded very many people that language is more complex than a simple representation of the world. Contemporary political debate arguably also turns more on a sense that seventeenth-century European metaphysics, with its dualistic accounts of man and nature, language and world, the national citizen and the universal human, has come to seem inadequate to contemporary conditions; but the notion that nature, territory and abstract space come in the same neat package is very hard to shake. It is thus no surprise to find that the easy answers to questions about the location of Clayoquot Sound that are framed in terms of the apparently natural authority of cartographic coordinates tend to encourage an account of the political practices in Clayoquot Sound in terms of the established forms of a politics of representation. To answer a question about location in these terms is already to answer questions about what politics must be as well. Thus we find ourselves among the familiar routines of ‘policy’ and ‘governance’. An account of location framed in terms of an apparently incontrovertible claim about the hard realities of nature is also a way of framing an explicitly normative account of what must be treated as appropriate forms of political practice and of the criteria by which they may be judged. This, after all, is to work within the established limits of political authority. To read the politics of Clayoquot Sound in these terms is to engage with a specifically modern account of place/space and the politics of representation. Place is interpreted in terms of a prior concept of space; just as ‘nature’ enters into modern politics only on terms set by a prior law of nature; that is, modern politics is constituted on a ground of law, of a sovereign authority to define that which is legitimate/included and that which is illegitimate/excluded. It is constituted as an order of precedence: sovereignty before governance, law before nature, citizen before human.

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This space expresses a familiar contradiction between extension across an area and the representation of that area at a single point, a contradiction that we have become used to calling the problem of democracy, though it is only one form of the problem of democracy, and a form that suggests that democracy is certainly a problem. On the one hand, the political space of British Columbia is in principle homogeneous. It offers a site from which modern individual subjects can be represented equally under a common law. The most important practice flowing from this requirement involves the construction of voting constituencies, the attempt to get as close as possible to a mechanism through which claims to equality translate into something recognizably close to equal representation in the provincial legislature. On the other hand, the political space of British Columbia is in principle centred in one place, the provincial legislature in Victoria (which also doubles as a kitsch palace of lights, a mock Taj Mahal and certainly a mockery of something, presumably to amuse the tourists from Texas, Tokyo and Tinseltown). This contradiction is, of course, the standard contradiction expressed by all modern systems of political representation under sovereign authority. It is resolved, in principle, by the practices and institutions of democratic citizenship. The regulative principle at work here, as in all modern systems of representation under sovereign authority, is the claim that the popular sovereignty of all free and equal people can be reconciled with the legitimate authority of the sovereignty that both constitutes and is constituted by the sovereign people. This claim has always been highly problematic, not least with respect to the possibilities of reconciling principles of individual freedom with those of individual equality and the possibilities of ever drawing a clear and acceptable line between the spheres of popular and state sovereignty. Nevertheless, as a relationship between ‘the many’ spread out in territorial/ abstract space and ‘the one’ centred authority representing these many, it affirms the priority of abstract space over territory, of the language of modern reason over the nature this reason claims to name. This resolution in principle suggests a range of appropriate sites and strategies of political engagement. These include the practices of electoral and party politics, interest group articulation, the varying roles of executive, legislative, bureaucratic and judicial dimensions of the state apparatus and so on. The details of this resolution are complex, in BC as elsewhere. They absorb most of the energies of most of those who seek to analyse what goes on in what is generally called politics in BC, again as elsewhere. Both the general formulation of appropriate practices and institutions of democratic representation and of the appropriate sites and strategies of political engagement are often widely contested. This contestation occurs within well-known limits, usually articulated as some sort of national consensus, as the realm of plausible electoral popularity among political parties or as the possibility of erecting quasi-republican institutions or practices of civil society that can lend some form of stability to the essentially unstable tension between popular sovereignty and state sovereignty that lies at the heart of any modern politics of representation. As must be expected of a modern system of representation, however, attempts to cope with this tension or

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contradiction between the sovereign representer and the sovereign represented have two especially critical limits: those involving the ‘big’ and those involving the ‘small’; or alternatively, those involving the ‘local’ and the ‘different’ and those involving the ‘global’, the ‘international’ and the ‘human’. The fundamental reasons for this involve the peculiar character of the claim to spatial homogeneity, the claim that all territorial, ecological, cultural or any other kinds of difference must be capable of equal representation within the space of a bounded political community, at least in principle. This claim is enshrined not least in Hobbes’s account of the necessary relation between sovereign and subjects, Kant’s account of the necessary if only potential relation between mature autonomous subjects and the universal moral law, and Jonathan Swift’s satire on the Newtonian world in which the only significant differences are those of scale. It is enshrined most effectively in the resolutions of space/time/identity reified in the principle/ institution/practice of state sovereignty and sovereign subjectivity. Given the need to reconcile space with place, to mediate between the abstract homogeneous space of freedom and equality under a sovereign law and the sensuous concrete differences that appear to be in tension with these abstractions everywhere, and given also the ontological necessity of homogeneous space, as well as the requirement of sovereign authority to constitute all judgements about authority within that space as the condition under which judgements about sensuous concrete differences might be made, it is not surprising that the primary forms in which it has been possible to accommodate ‘difference’ have involved a judicious return of hierarchical ‘levels’ within the space of the modern state as a way of coping with the obvious incongruities between empirical tendencies and the normative claims of modern democratic states. For example, Hobbes may now be viewed as the paradigmatic subversion of theological hierarchies in favour of a horizontal account of subjects in the homogeneous space of the world-machine, or what was subsequently framed as the perfect market, but he simultaneously reintroduced the vertical dimension both as a series of constitutive distinctions between the sovereign and the people, the legal and the illegal, the political and the mere freedom under the law and as a rather light-handed account of social (and, not least, gendered) inequalities. Similarly, contemporary attempts to ‘solve’ the problems of representation, to save the appearances of a modern politics constituted through a reconciliation of territory and abstract spatiality on terms set by the priority of abstract space, tend to appeal to a re-hierarchicalization of authority as the only possible alternative. This eternal return of the Great Chain of Being, the necessary counterpoint to a modern politics constituted on a ground of horizontal spatiality, continues to inform many aspirations for some other kind of future, and some other kind of politics. It is in this context that one can read five major themes that have long been at play in the constitution and reconstitution of modern politics. These themes seem to me to be central to an understanding of the events in Clayoquot Sound in the 1990s. Moreover, these themes suggest that these events must be understood less as a slightly weird local aberration in a minor periphery than as an interesting exemplar of challenges to the possibility of reading the politics of a place from an

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extrapolation of a cartography that may be helpful for drivers, pilots, sailors and hikers but not for understanding contemporary rearticulations of power, authority, identity or political practice. First, the theme of the apparently ‘local’. Swift’s Lilliputians may have been able to tie Gulliver to the ground through a majestic feat of collective action, but it remains the case that the local has absorbed all the resonances of an early-modern metaphysics of scale and size so that local implies small, weak and parochial. By this measure, the little towns of Tofino or Ucluelet barely count as a speck of dust in the modern political calculus. A few villages and a hinterland of large trees do not quite measure up to something serious. Press the button and a thousand stories of David and Goliath go into automatic replay. Small men chop down large trees, and small groups of activists sometimes achieve great things, especially if they are capable of the tactical brilliance and collective intransigence that has somehow been sustained in this place. But David is the exception that proves the rule. For the most part, large corporations and states gobble up loggers and activists alike. But the same also applies, in principle at least, to Vancouver, Seattle, New York and a variety of other merely urban centres, other merely local sites with mayors and street cleaners rather than presidents and ministers; which may suggest a slight problem with the laws of modern political calculus. Two interesting questions emerge in this context. One concerns what it means to act ‘locally’, not least in view of simple-minded injunctions to ‘think globally, act locally’, injunctions that reproduce dualisms of both thought/action and local/ global that affirm a very conventional account of where and what we are as political subjects.12 Another concerns what it means to refer to political practices under the heading of ‘social movements’, a heading that reinscribes political practices as both ‘small’ and in some crucial senses as apolitical. Clayoquot Sound is, in the modern political imagination, simply a local site, but in many respects it is difficult to understand what goes on there simply as a form of local politics. Moreover, events in Clayoquot Sound have been articulated around claims about the appropriate politics of nature – about forests, environments, ecosystems and the planet – but many of these claims challenge the ways in which accounts of nature have been written into the most basic accounts of space/time/identity that inform the primary categories of modern politics. They especially challenge the dualistic modern accounts of ‘man and nature’, or ‘culture and nature’ that are expressed by the framing of ‘territory’ in the formal/legal/representational codes of an abstract homogeneous space – the space of the modern state that claims to resolve all contradictions between local and global within its sovereign jurisdiction. Clayoquot Sound is an interesting focus for contemporary political analysis precisely because it sometimes exceeds our modern expectations of what it means to engage in a politics of the local and sometimes exceeds modern expectations of how nature must be constituted in the practices of modern politics. Second, this modern metaphysics of scale implies the necessity of nesting all locals under the hierarchical authority of the sovereign state, or at least under the provincial authority which is in turn relatively weak in relation to the federal

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authority under whose authority the provincial authority must be nested. Events in Clayoquot Sound express distinctive accounts of political life in relation to the different communities and identities that have been involved: provincial and federal governments, indigenous peoples, loggers, multinational companies, environmentalists, town councils, officials of government departments and so on. But these accounts are supposed to be orchestrated according to a common score, to invoke a metaphor of harmony rather than one of competitive games. Modern political life is founded on the assumption that whatever the diversity of accounts of politics in a specific territory, they are all ultimately subordinate to one privileged account of politics, the account that constitutes a monopoly on legitimate authority over all that territory. All accounts of difference are ultimately subordinated to a single account of a common identity, community, territory, polity, obligation, law and representation. The small and the weak must gather together under the hierarchical embrace of the spatially disaggregated sovereign state, just as Hobbes said we must. Democracy is thus miraculously transferred away from local places to those institutions of state that can maximize their claims to legitimate representation while minimizing the damage from local participation. And states that find it difficult to reconcile their territoriality, or their cultural diversity, with the demands of the homogeneous space of modern sovereignty are driven to construct institutions of federalism. The characteristic forms of federal politics are then shaped by negotiations and compromises both across territorial space (whether between provinces or between two nations, in the Canadian case) and across hierarchically arrayed jurisdictions (whether federal or provincial). Whether it is now possible to sustain even such loosely articulated federations as the Canadian state, which might be read as operating close to the limits in which it is possible to reconcile contradictions between territorial differentiation and the homogeneity of sovereign spatiality, is not clear. This subordination is ultimately expressed in the principle of state sovereignty, a principle that is broadly considered to be in some trouble in many contemporary contexts. Clayoquot Sound is one of those contexts. It is a site at which political practices express not only competing conceptions of politics that ultimately can be contained within the tidy jurisdictions and subordinations of state sovereignty, but some often serious disruptions to the politics that constitutes the appropriate contours of modern politics. Third, the apparent weakness of the ‘local’, and the consequent need to construct elaborate forms of hierarchical subordination within what is in principle a homogeneous space, are specific manifestations of the difficulty of reconciling claims to difference of any kind with the sovereign claim to represent all differences across the space of political community in which all subjects are, in principle, equal. The history of modern politics can be and often is told in terms of the various ways in which reconciliations have been attempted, or even partly achieved. It remains the case, however, that modern political life is still beset not only with claims about massive failures on the ground of ‘equality’ but also on the ground of various kinds of ‘difference’, especially differences in ‘culture’ and ‘gender’. It is not surprising, therefore, that so much contemporary political theory takes the form of implicit or

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explicit explorations of the potential contours of a political pluralism. It is not surprising, either, that most of these explorations either assume some common space of political community within which differences and pluralisms may be articulated or, in recognizing the somewhat unfortunate experience of liberal nationalisms in the twentieth century, have begun to think about what pluralisms and differences would look like without the ultimate arbiter of the sovereign state to decide what constitutes acceptable differences, or acceptable conversations/negotiations/disputes among those differences. Which brings us, fourth, to the so-called problem of ‘international relations’, the problem that arises when claims about ‘difference’ in relation to the homogeneous spaces within the modern sovereign state are also played out in the context of a ‘world’ that is constituted as a system of such homogeneous spaces. Contrary to assumptions sustained by all the major traditions of modern political thought, it is necessary to insist that although modern states may claim sovereignty, a monopoly of legitimate authority within their territory, the very possibility of modern politics depends on the organization of the system of states. No states system, no sovereignty. Many paradoxes, with crucial consequences, can be unpacked in this context, but for present purposes it is necessary only to note that the problem of international relations sets the primary limit condition of modern politics. It is the point at which politics is always liable to turn into an appeal to the exception, to the state of emergency, the point at which the claims of citizenship clash most ominously with claims to humanity. Crudely, politics is supposed to occur in those spaces in which modern subjects can be represented, and the only way that it has traditionally been possible to be represented outside the space of the modern state is to move further up the hierarchy of subordination; at which point the modern political imagination has scant resources to even name all those strange phenomena that, in addition to the familiar logics of the states system, have also become conditions of the possibility of political life almost everywhere. Hence the paucity of credible accounts of what it means to speak about politics under conditions of ‘globalization’. Which is where, finally, and again not surprisingly, we begin to see the limits of the modern attempt to reconcile an account of nature as something concrete and primordial and an account of nature as the great law of reason, of science, that can also tell us how we, as humans/citizens radically split off from nature, can nevertheless reconcile ourselves with it. ‘Nature’ may appear to us now as an existential and increasingly global problem, even a threat, but it is also becoming clear that the way in which ‘it’ is coming to be seen as a ‘problem’ is also a problem. Neither the great split between Aristotelian essences and modern nominalisms that allowed seventeenth-century thinkers to construct our accounts of modern political subjectivities, nor the great split between Enlightenment universalists and Romantic subjectivists, which articulates key aspects of the tension/contradiction between abstract universal space and concrete nature (to take only the two most obvious historical episodes that might be invoked in this respect), offer much help in thinking politically in this context. Put slightly differently, given that ‘nature’ is already a constitutive aspect of the way in which modern political subjectivities

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have been constructed, there are obvious difficulties in now simply trying to add nature to the politics that have thereby been constituted. ‘Nature’ is implicated not only in many of the most intractable political problems, but also in the problem of what we mean when we say that a problem is somehow political. These five themes are being explored in a wide range of contemporary literatures and across many disciplines. To follow these literatures is to see not that the easy answer to the questions about the location of Clayoquot Sound is entirely wrong, but that it brings with it some enormous baggage as a consequence of the historical experiences through which the character of modern politics, and our identity as modern political subjects, is tightly interwoven, and indeed constituted by, accounts of a representational space. This representational space has always been problematic and inherently unstable, in ways that are familiar from many of the great controversies that have shaped the rearticulation of modern political principles over at least three centuries. Political life is increasingly characterized by practices that are even more difficult to accommodate either through forms of representation that rest ultimately on claims about the necessary convergence between territoriality and homogeneous spatial sovereignties or through the hierarchicalizations of identity, community and authority that have been constructed within such spatial sovereignties. Moreover, political life is increasingly characterized by other sorts of answers to questions about location. Events articulated in relation to a site identified as Clayoquot Sound are difficult to analyse as if they were happening in Clayoquot Sound, or in BC, or in Canada. They are interesting both because the limits of the representational model are fairly obvious to almost all the important actors and because it is a site at which politics came to be articulated in large part specifically as struggles over very different answers to the question of where it is, and thus over what politics must be.

Clayoquot Sound as political space There are other ways of responding to questions about the location of Clayoquot Sound that are perhaps just as obvious, just as much a part of contemporary forms of common sense, but that are usually framed as less important, less necessary, less real than the grids of representation on which we judge the victories and defeats of political life. These other responses conjure up somewhat different claims about political possibilities. One might start with the usual conventions of radical alterity, or ‘otherness’, as they play out in that part of the world and suggest that Clayoquot Sound ought to be understood as part of a place, or territory, or land associated with the Nuu-chah-nulth people. In this context, both an account of location by geometrical coordinates and an account of ‘nature’, of land, or territory, or property dependent on a prior account of abstract homogeneous space are immediately suspect. The projections of early-modern accounts of subjectivity onto the ‘state of nature’ in ‘the Americas’ still have profound effects. However else one tries to understand the complexities

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and diversities of ‘indigenous peoples’ or ‘First Nations’, it is difficult to avoid the double concern with often very basic struggles for physical and collective survival and sophisticated readings of the need to engage with prevailing political authorities by resisting the rules of engagement. The longstanding struggles over ‘land claims’ have been central here in relation to what it means to refer to ‘land’ and what it means to stake a ‘claim’. At which point, we encounter vast libraries on the politics of cultural imperialism/relativism/ethnocentrism, and the centrality of ongoing contestations about treaties (or their absence) and territorial jurisdictions grounded in competing accounts of the relationship between ‘nature’ and political legitimacy. This competition has generally been resolved on terms set by the authority of a sovereign representation in homogeneous space, by an abstract law that decides the possibility of all exceptions on terms set by itself. Hence the primarily legal procedures through which contestations are enabled, and the familiar option of affirming the rules of inclusion and scientific rationality, for example, or adopting the status of a radically other. Still, this alternative account of location, and the alternative accounts of the relationship between ‘nature’ and political authority have clearly been of tremendous importance in this context. It has been important not least because the Nuu-chah-nulth are not alone. They express accounts of nature and legitimate authority that find resonance, although not necessarily complete agreement, among many other peoples, including among other indigenous peoples elsewhere in BC. Thus on the one hand, to start thinking about where Clayoquot Sound is in terms of the Nuu-chah-nulth people is to remember other historical accounts of nature, place, land, ownership, tradition and value; but on the other it is also to start thinking about largely unheralded connections through which various peoples in similar situations have sustained networks of information, exchange and solidarity that do not quite mesh with any immediate experience of small villages out in the back of beyond. Another line of analysis would suggest that Clayoquot Sound has to be understood as a specific site in the contemporary global circuits of capital. It is in this context that we see a focus on the forestry companies engaged in stripping the forestry cover as internationally or globally organized practices, subject to globally organized commodity prices and mobilizing globally organized capacities to discipline provincially organized labour forces and institutions of political authority. Here nature comes to be understood primarily in terms of a particular kind of abstract and homogeneous spatiality, namely as property and as commodity amenable to exchange on a world market. Given the historical experience of an industry rooted in nineteenth-century forms of commodity extraction married to modern cutting techniques that can do to trees what the modern machinery of war did to soldiers in the Somme, a marriage organized primarily for the short-term profit of distant shareholders, it is easy to be persuaded of the invincibility of Goliath. This is one of the reasons why it is so pointless to examine events in Clayoquot Sound as some form of local or provincial politics, rather than as a site of international relations or global politics. But although the imagery of Goliath encourages a monolithic and determinist reading

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of the impact of the global on the local, the big on the small, it is also possible to engage with a much more complex and more open field of contestation. From one direction, for example, we can see attempts to construct an alternative account of the potentials of Clayoquot Sound in relation to the circuits of global capital as a site for a globally organized but ‘locally controlled’ eco-tourism. Even as a commodity, a tree, one might say, is not a tree. As the old neo-Kantian philosophers would say, a tree can be viewed in the categories of the physicist, the chemist, the painter and the carpenter. As the contemporary entrepreneur would say, there is more than one way to boost the bottom line. In both cases, we are faced with conflicts over which perspective, which source of value, has priority. These conflicts can be read in terms of competing interests. Port Alberni might change its allegiance from pulp mill to retirees. The eco-tourists and storm-watchers will berate the lunacy of towns that strip-mine their best views. But in the process, the meaning of ‘nature’ will also be rescripted, the value of the commodity or resource will also be contested and revised. Consequently, and from another direction, we can also identify some of the key strategic decisions made by apparently small and weak forms of activism, of social movements that by rights stood little chance of making any kind of voice heard in the channels sanctioned by a politics of representation in Victoria or a global political economy of resource extraction. These decisions were predicated on the simple observation that Clayoquot Sound was in part to be found in the global markets in which its products were being taken: hence the international campaign, as well as the development of networks of relations among environmental activists in many other supposedly local places. Here, of course, ‘nature’ becomes an extraordinarily mobile political resource, capable of tactical rearticulations, and always subject to counter rearticulations, in the struggle to constitute trees as raw material, as tourist destination, as wilderness, as Mother Earth, as, indeed, natural. References to globalization invoke claims not only about transformations in contemporary economic life, but also claims about the globe or the planet or the human species as somehow capable of being grasped as a single entity. Thus a further alternative answer to questions about location would be to situate Clayoquot Sound as a specific site on the globe or planet or a specific part of some community that is envisaged as encompassing humanity as such. At this point we run into some of the most stressful contradictions of modern political discourse; for there is no modern account of politics that might enable claims to be able to represent the globe or the planet or humanity as such, popular readings of the United Nations notwithstanding. Insofar as there is a political system on a planetary or global scale, it is a system of spatial fragmentations, of sovereign jurisdictions that might be able to sustain forms of cooperation and accommodation but ultimately privilege aspirations for autonomy over those for human, or planetary or global solidarity. Hence all the usual complaints about the difficulty of responding to environmental and ecological problems in a world of divided jurisdictions. Moreover, if it is the case, as it seems to be, that some forms of political community and governance are emerging so as to respond to, say, ecological disruptions that

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demand some kind of global/planetary/human response, the political character of these forms of community and governance is not entirely clear. We may refer to the emergence of international ‘regimes’ on this and that, or refer to Greenpeace as a ‘transnational social movement’, or speak of the development of something labelled a ‘global civil society’ that is not always quite so civil, but it remains unclear how these phenomena fit into a conventional account of legitimate authority within sovereign states. Terms such as regimes, transnational social movement and global civil society are aspects of a widespread fudging of political categories, a widespread sense that these terms refer to something important yet refer neither to a world of simple territorial sovereignties nor to a world that can be spoken of as in any way a political unity. It is clear, however, that the widespread sense that these terms refer to something important is at odds with the demands of a politics of representation strung between a clearly bounded and homogeneous space guaranteeing equality under the law and a single centre of authority in Victoria. Contemporary forms of governance have far outstripped contemporary institutions of democratic representation. Yet it is clear that events in Clayoquot Sound have indeed been enabled and consciously articulated in relation to some or another version of this account of where Clayoquot is located. Much of the animating force of environmental protest comes from a deep sense of the ecological integrity of the planetary biosphere, of the need to privilege the long-term sustainability of a global habitat, of the dangers of political fragmentation in a world of ecological interdependences and fragilities. Many and often competing narratives converge here, often in ways that sustain cultural and spiritual attachments that mesh only at odd tangents with the rationalities of modern life, and certainly with accounts of nature and territory as representable in abstract homogeneous space. In any case, Clayoquot Sound is indeed situated among networks of international regimes, transnational social movements and global civil society, whatever such terms are taken to describe, though it is also clear that none of these terms really begins to get a grip on the puzzling phenomena they seek to describe. There are probably other answers to questions about location. It could also be said, for example, that Clayoquot Sound is situated everywhere and yet nowhere; that is, that what is most important about it is that it is merely one site among many similar sites and thus a place in which precedents can be established or challenged. It is not that any of these answers are in some way intrinsically correct. They all provide some degree of contextualization for specific events and contestations, but none has either the aesthetic clarity and elegance or the broad cultural legitimacy of the strange abstractions that sustain our primary accounts of big and small, global and local, here and there, real and ephemeral. In some ways, in fact, the very metaphor of a ground, of a foundation, expresses a radical instability. All these other accounts get at aspects of the ways in which Clayoquot Sound is situated in modern political discourse, and they do so by resisting the assumption that we can somehow go looking for politics in Clayoquot Sound. Moreover, all these other accounts carry with them different accounts of what and where Clayoquot Sound is to be situated in relation to, what one might mean by the

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‘nature’ that is at the centre of political dispute, what political community or identity might be invoked as the source of legitimate authority, what kinds of judgement might be appropriate in any given situation and so on. There is literally no ground, no homogeneous and neutral space on which all practices can be judged from some sovereign centre, although of course, the claim that there is constitutes one of the primary practices at play in this context. Given the plurality of answers to what can seem like a very simple and indeed politically irrelevant question, one would expect there to be a politics at play in the practices through which some answers to this question are privileged over others, and through which the very question is made to seem politically irrelevant. These contested accounts of location work to destabilize or restabilize accounts of the supposedly proper place of ‘the local’; the structures of hierarchical authority vested in sovereigntist and federalist mediations of the local and the global, or small and large; the necessary mediation of all claims to difference by an ultimately sovereign centre; the proper articulation of all claims to community and identity within the spaces of sovereign citizenship; and the proper place of nature and territoriality in modern political life as that which can be described and represented through an abstract homogeneous space set among other such spaces in a horizontal system of sovereign jurisdictions. In this sense, Clayoquot Sound resembles many other places and sites of contemporary politics, but not because a David beat a Goliath, or because, despite a few minor setbacks, Goliath eventually clawed back all his old privileges, though both of these narratives do have their place. Clayoquot Sound is interesting because it is just an ordinary, and sometimes extraordinary, site at which it is impossible to act as if here is here and there is there, local is small and global is big, citizens are in and enemies are out. What this means for the multiple sites of legitimate authority that so clearly exceed the tidy jurisdictions preferred by those who prefer to keep their stories simple, their ministry of forests omnipotent and our democratic options massively constrained is still to be negotiated. Such negotiations, and renegotiations, in many different places, and against powerful normative claims about where and thus what politics must be, may constitute the most important political practices of our times.

Notes 1 This chapter was originally published in Warren Magnusson and Karena Shaw, eds, A Political Space: Reading the Global through Clayoquot Sound, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003, 237–62. 2 The texts I have found most useful, even though my argument tends to run against the grain of the account of political life they express, have been less about Clayoquot Sound specifically than attempts to read the broad historical-structural context of resource exploitation and forestry policy formation in British Columbia more generally; see, especially, Patricia Marchak, Green Gold: The Forestry Industry in British Columbia, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1993; and Jeremy Wilson, Talk and Log: Wilderness Politics in British Columbia, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1998. For a range of attempts to examine recent events in this specific place as a challenge to

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3 4 5 6 7 8 9

10 11


established accounts of politics more generally, see Magnusson and Shaw, eds, A Political Space, from which the present chapter is reproduced. Magnusson and Shaw, eds, A Political Space. Wilson, Talk and Log. The corporate slogan designating tree plantations, ‘natural’ places in which scarcely anything can live. Warren Magnusson, The Search for Political Space: Globalization, Social Movements, and the Urban Political Experience, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996. See also Engin F. Isin, ed., Democracy, Citizenship and the Global City, London: Routledge, 2000. Warren Magnusson, William K. Carroll, Charles Doyle, Monica Langer and R. B. J. Walker, eds, The New Reality: The Politics of Restraint in British Columbia, Vancouver: New Star Books, 1984. For some comments, see R. B. J. Walker, ‘Does It Make Sense to Envisage a Regional Politics in the Pacific Northwest?’, in Sukumar Periwal, ed., PNWER in the 21st Century, Victoria, BC: British Columbia Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat, 1999, 1–7. Among others: Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1965; Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1977; Clarence Glacken, Traces on the Rhodian Shore: Nature and Culture in Western Thought from Ancient Times to the End of the Eighteenth Century, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1967; David Harvey, Spaces of Hope, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000; Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, Oxford: Blackwell, 1991; Roger Friedland and Dierdre Boden, eds, NowHere: Space, Time and Modernity, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994; and Paul C. Adams, Steven Hoelscher and Karen Till, eds, Textures of Place: Exploring Humanist Geographies, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001. James Clifford, ‘Fort Ross Meditations’, in Clifford, Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997, 299–347. See, for example, Edward S. Casey, The Fate of Place: A Philosophical History, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997; Max Jammer, Concepts of Space: The History of Theories of Space in Physics, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1954; Alexandre Koyre, From the Closed World to an Infinite Universe, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1957; Kenneth W. Strikkers, ‘Ambivalences of Modernity: The Great Escape from Place into Space’, International Studies in Philosophy, 28:1, 1996, 87–101; and Stephen Kern, The Culture of Time and Space, 1880–1918, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983. Hence the popular use of such concepts as ‘glocalization’; see Roland Robertson, ‘Glocalization: Time – Space and Homogeneity – Heterogeneity’, in Mike Featherstone, Scott Lash and Roland Robertson, eds, Global Modernities, London: Sage, 1995, 25–44; but also the difficulty of making sense of claims about globalization in political terms.


Violence/limits/subjects The resort to organized violence continues to disturb the contemporary political imagination.1 Over there. Over here. In peace as well as war. So much, it is often said, for grand visions of Reason and Enlightenment, for hopes of progress and the end of ideology/history. And so much evidence, perhaps, for those who would point to the essential malevolence of human nature or the supposedly permanent tragedies of the human condition. At the very least, contemporary patterns of violence might be read as affirmations that we still live amidst a familiar contradiction. Visions of reason and progress have indeed found material expression in a political economy of abundance, at least for some peoples, in some places. Yet we also live in a world capable of unleashing violence, even species extermination, on an unprecedented scale. Despite all chauvinistic myopias, violence is indeed prone to erupt here quite as much as there, in the urban ghettos of righteous capitals as well as in internecine cruelties far away, and in the routines of everyday life as well as the grand grotesquery of war. Violence does not always know its proper place or its proper time. Versions of the contradiction between Enlightenment and despair have inspired influential currents of critical social and political enquiry for at least the past century.2 It continues to disturb and to provoke. The Somme, Auschwitz, Hiroshima, Vietnam, Bhopal, Chernobyl and Desert Storm all name stains on a modern soul otherwise flushed with pride; a litany that is at once conventional and partial. Laments for a civilization that is either late or posthumous celebrate the established rules by which to stave off the barbarisms without. For much of the twentieth century, also, attempts to respond to this contradiction informed a broad but sharply contested front of critical enquiry, whether as nostalgia for a nobler past, as hopes for a final victory of Enlightenment and emancipation or as diagnoses/traumas of a postmodern

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condition that has either given in to quiescent despair or, as I would prefer to believe, sometimes sustained an appropriate scepticism towards the discursive currencies through which the contradiction came to be articulated in the first place. The continuing resort to violence is posed most urgently as a problem for policy, as a demand that something be done by established authorities. What is to be done about the continuing resort to force in international disputes? What is to be done about indiscriminate terror by revolutionary groups or about the gross abuse of human rights by claimants to the legitimate power of state? What is to be done about the cycles of destruction encouraged by, say, the international arms trade, the debt policies of international banks or the transnational traffic in illicit drugs? What is to be done about continuing stockpiles, and redeployments, of weapons of mass destruction, even if some of the most obsolete and superfluous of these have been dismantled with great fanfare? Specified as problems of policy, these are perhaps intractable enough. Yet as problems of policy, they are also widely understood as indictments of a civilization. They raise fundamental questions about the character and location of political life in the late twentieth century. They especially raise questions about exactly who this ‘we’ is that is supposed to respond to the patterns of violence that have become so familiar, so much a part of what has come to be taken for granted. Having learnt to live with the contradiction, to take the possibility of a relapse into violence at the margins of our normal existence as a condition of the continued possibility of our normal existence, problems of policy incite, or should incite, a profound unease about how we have learnt to tolerate the inevitable presence of violence as the condition for its apparent absence in some places, and at some times. With the all-too-common exception of those who have been content to invoke essentialist and ahistorical accounts of human nature, most social and political analysts have sought to explain the primary contradictions of the modern world in terms of the structural dynamics of capitalism and/or the states system. Even though generalizing terms like economy and society are used to avoid explicit references to the specificities of capitalism, although depictions of particular states are made without reference to the wider system that permits their particularity, and claims about culture and gender have come to challenge the explanatory monopoly of capitalism and the states system, these are still the most persistent starting point for contemporary understandings of structural necessity and historical opportunity. Each of these, but most especially capitalism, has been treated to diverse theoretical specifications. Significantly, explorations of their conjunction have been pursued less frequently than the binary choice between apparently alternative logics. Explanations of violence in relation to capitalism on the one side and the states system on the other are readily familiar. In relation to capitalism, violence may be understood as a consequence of struggles that are, at least in the final instance, economic in inspiration. Here violence may be known under many names: oppression, injustice, inequality, crime, punishment. It may be associated especially with the practices that are considered to define capitalism as an historically specific form of social life, with alienation and commodification, with instrumental technologies

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and homogenizing subjectivities. It may also be associated with processes whose relationship to capitalism is never quite clear, with industrialization, for example, or modernization. Or it may be analysed in terms of a multiplicity of logics that have no master key yet which seem difficult to understand at all unless they are somehow grasped in relation to the fundamental ruptures of society and economy wrought by capitalism everywhere. Caught up in grand doctrinal disputes about capitalism and its consequences, the precise character and significance of violence becomes more and more contentious. Like the concept of a natural right to physical survival affirmed by Thomas Hobbes, accounts of violence easily shift to encompass an extensive range of other conditions necessary to ensure survival as a human being – a human being, that is, who is more than the physical body subject only to the light and dark of life and death. Even so, while the specification of violence is often rather ambiguous in this context, accounts of violence in relation to capitalism often come with at least some hopes for its eradication. Violence is written into philosophies of history in which the dynamics of temporal realization, or destruction/transcendence, promise the eradication of violence over time. In the context of the states system, by contrast, violence is more obviously violence. Wars no doubt bring ambiguities of their own, but the unleashing of organized violence on such a scale has long seemed to involve a clear move across a sharp boundary. Moreover, the possibility of the eradication of violence is usually viewed with the intense scepticism of those who know that here, beyond the limits of the privileged community safe within the modern state, the grand ambitions of peace and reason must falter before the necessities of a world beyond politics, or at least beyond a politics in which the recourse to violence outside has become the condition for a life without violence inside – a world of relations beyond the spatial boundaries of the modern state. The promises of temporality and history give way before the prohibitions of space and territory. Even from these brief remarks, it should be clear that the pursuit of alternative logics, of capitalism or of the states system, involves an easier task than their conjunction. It should also be clear why pursuit of the conjunction is so easily mired in various forms of reductionism or assertions of an almost absolute autonomy of the state from its own conditions of possibility. These problems currently absorb much of the energy of those trying to elaborate a credible global political economy out of the ruins of totalizing theories and nineteenth-century sociologies. They also explain much of the immense difficulty faced by theorists of the modern state and of its role in the mediation of relations of violence both inside and outside its borders. Still, despite the tendency for explanations of violence to privilege the dynamics of either capitalism or the states system, and despite the relative paucity of analyses that can credibly claim to do some justice to both – as opposed to insisting yet again on the need to do so – contemporary accounts of violence can hardly avoid coming to terms with two forms of analysis in which both capitalism and the states system are intricately implicated. In one, attention falls on the central and yet still enigmatic feature of modern political life: the state. In this context, it is significant

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that despite affirmations of its importance, neither theories of capitalism nor, especially, theories of the states system have been very convincing in their portrayal of the modern state. In the other, attention falls on capitalism, the states system and the state itself as expressions of a specifically modern world – a world characterized less in terms of specific modes of production or political institutions than of some more vaguely designated cultural form or way of life, albeit a form that may be difficult to disentangle from capitalism and which certainly finds expression in all kinds of political institutions, not least those of the modern state and the modern system of states. To place the discussion of violence in the context of a broadly specified modernity is perhaps to lose the possibility of any serious analysis entirely. The very term modernity, together with complex theoretical universes constructed around claims about the dynamics of capitalism and the states system as well as widespread puzzlement about the enigmatic character of the modern state, all invite theoretical turmoil, a vertigo of the imagination to daunt all but the most totalizing of ambitions. Nevertheless, this is precisely the context in which one of the most crucial discussions of violence has been situated, and situated in a manner that remains constitutive of our capacity to think otherwise about who this ‘we’ is that lives with and sustains contemporary patterns of violence. The most important name here, one that is both elusive and allusive, is that of Max Weber: not Weber the anti-Marxist and pro-positivist proto-sociologist who soothed the liberal conscience for so long, but Weber the quintessentially political theorist of a century of both reason and violence: of the double-edged reason of capitalist modernity that issues in renewed demands upon the autonomous identities of state and individual, demands implicated in a knowing violence since Machiavelli and Hobbes first calculated the price of liberty amidst the collapsing hierarchies of Christendom. It is with Weber that we can grasp at least some aspects of the constitutive role of violence in modern life, including capitalism and the states system, and – my primary interest here – the complicity of modern theories of international relations in affirming this role as both natural and inevitable. Weber’s voluminous writings do not attest to any great concern for brevity. Moreover, neither his texts nor the peculiar process through which those texts have been disseminated and interpreted – processes involving attempts to distinguish them from certain features of fascism on the one side and Marxism on the other, as well as attempts to conflate them with a crudely positivist social science3 – have made it easy to grasp what he was trying to do or why. Yet it is one of his sharper and more concise formulations that has sustained some of his reputation among those who have been aware of his continuing significance as a political thinker, and who have been suspicious of his (now surely threadbare) reputation as a founding father of empirical sociology. This formulation is his famous definition of the state, given, almost in passing, at the beginning of his speech on ‘Politics as a Vocation’ delivered in Munich in January 1919.4 The state, he says there, is ‘a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory’. This definition is surrounded by two explicit points of emphasis. First, he is careful to stress its

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historical specificity: many institutions ‘have known the use of physical force as quite normal’, but ‘(t)oday the relation between the state and violence is an especially intimate one’. He also specifically insists that ‘“territory” is one of the characteristics of the state’. The discussion then proceeds quickly to a consideration of the italicized ‘monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force’, and specifically to his influential typology of forms of legitimate domination, one of which, charismatic domination, is the ‘root of the idea of a calling in its highest expression’ that Weber wants to discuss for the remainder of the lecture. This particular text presents some difficult problems of exegesis, not least in relation to the place of politics in Weber’s writing in general.5 Moreover, the definition he offers is not likely to appeal very strongly to those, including Weber himself in other texts, who have struggled to understand the state as a highly complex and historically variable phenomenon. Here I want only to notice both the insistence on territory, and then the rapid move to an account of the forms of legitimate domination within that territory, before returning to his emphasis on historical specificity. For his treatment of territory involves a familiar strategy, as seemingly benign as it is frequently made, and it is made in many of the most sophisticated and historically sensitive treatments of the state quite as easily as in the most simple-minded analogies with billiard balls, black boxes or omniscient economists. Taken by itself, Weber’s definition of the state falls neatly into two parts: territory and monopoly. By quickly insisting that territory be treated as merely ‘one of the characteristics of the state’, however, these two parts are immediately conflated, and conflated in relation to a specific claim about the spatial location of the violence over which the state claims monopoly. As a consequence, Weber effectively ignores the crucial significance of the spatial separation that he simply takes for granted as an initial assumption. The relevant territory is a spatial segment among other spatial segments, and the state of which he speaks is only a monopoly among other monopolies. It is the ‘sole source of the “right” to use violence’, but only within a specific territory among other territories. Moreover, Weber seems to assume that all spatial realms are alike. What goes on within one territory is more or less the same as what goes on between territories: ‘Hence, “politics” for us means striving to share power or striving to influence the distribution of power, either among states or among groups within a state’. All these quotations come from a single paragraph,6 which obviously cannot be expected to bear the entire weight of Weber’s conception of the modern state. Still, there is rather a lot going on in that paragraph and its tentative separation and then forthright conflation of territoriality and the monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. Four themes are worth special attention. First, there is the apparent – but only apparent – lack of differentiation between politics within and between states. Politics, it seems, is politics, no matter where it is or what it involves. So much, it might be said, for all those traditions that have insisted that there is a crucial difference between politics inside and outside the modern state, whether because of a contractual transformation from anarchy to community within, or the absence of an overarching authority without, or simply

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because states are not individuals or groups writ large and thus interact in ways that are sui generis. Second, there is the lack of any significant differentiation between forms of violence specifically associated with the state as such, especially in exceptional situations of crisis, and forms of violence associated with, say, (civil) society or the household. When Weber says monopoly, he means monopoly. The state is understood as a totality, and for all his concern with the analysis of social and economic processes, the concern that has established him as a paradigmatic sociologist, his account of the state affirms the subordination of all social processes, all divisions between state and civil society, public and private, national and local, within the ‘compulsory association which organizes domination’.7 Third, and underlying the previous two, Weber portrays the state in terms of a specific resolution of the relationship between universality and plurality. The state is defined pre-eminently in terms of a monopoly, a claim to universal legitimacy within a specific territory. Within, all differences are subject to subordination: ‘the state has combined the material means of organization in the hands of its leaders, and it has expropriated all autonomous functionaries of estates who formally controlled these means in their own right. The State has taken their positions and now stands in the top place.’8 Without, other particularities – other states – engage in the universal struggle for power that is political life. Finally, there seems to be some tension between parts of the text that portray the state in terms of an underlying continuity and parts that depend on a sense of historical transformation. Historicity is insisted upon, but it is a historicity with a distinctive though obscure feeling of déjà vu. In the context of the first three of these themes especially, it is no surprise to see that the task Weber sets for himself in the remainder of the speech is a specific version of the familiar problem of establishing the grounds on which some sort of universality – effective legitimations of domination, in his terms – may be established within the particular state. It comes as no surprise, either, to hear echoes of Machiavelli and Kant among the many voices that speak through the subsequent text. From Machiavelli there is the explicit aspiration for the virtù of the polis, the problem of sustaining a republic in which charisma has become routine, and, above all, the fate of the autonomous hero cast adrift from the comforts of divine grace in a sphere that admits of no transcendence or higher authority. Except that virtù is articulated not against the seductive energies of fortuna, but against specifically modern forms of contingency and chance.9 From Kant there is the remembered promise of both autonomy and peace; but only the memory, one shaped by the knowledge that the promise had yet to be fulfilled. For despite the echoes, Weber was especially keen to insist that times had changed, and that old responses would not do. Indeed, for Weber the situation had become quite desperate: ‘today, one cannot yet see in any way how the management of politics as a “vocation” will shape itself’.10 It was a situation that required that ‘we enter the field of ethical questions’, and ask, specifically, ‘What kind of a man must one be if he is to be allowed to put his hand on the wheel of history?’11

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A man, or better a community, of virtù, Machiavelli would have said, believing in the possibility of imitating those who had already achieved the greatness that can sustain memory. A community of rational men would have been closer to Kant’s ambition. But for Weber, old virtuosities had been lost, and reason had come to seem by no means as beneficent as Kant sometimes may have thought. The contemporary situation called for something – or rather someone – new, someone able to stand up to the specific demands of the modern age, able to unite passion and responsibility, to combine a commitment both to ultimate ends and the calculation of consequences. Machiavelli knew that whatever virtù might make of fortuna would ultimately crumble in the corruptions of time. For Weber, however, the moment of achievement is already a ‘polar night of icy darkness and hardness’ in which politics, the specifically modern politics that demands a combination of passion and perspective, can only be ‘a strong and slow boring of hard boards’.12 ‘Politics as a Vocation’ begins with the state, but it ends with modernity, and with Weber’s understanding of what it could now mean to be political, or indeed human,13 under specifically modern conditions. Beginning with the state, Weber affirms a conception of politics that is quite unremarkable in many respects, one that takes a pattern of territorial inclusion/ exclusion as a given. Elements of his analysis repeat key refrains from some of the paradigmatic expressions of what political life must be once this pattern is assumed. Attempts to link Weber with Machiavelli are especially suggestive in underlining autonomy as a problem rather than a simple fact of life. By the end of this text, however, Weber affirms a conception of politics that is in some other respects radically novel, one that adopts a characteristic stance towards the possibility of the specifically modern state. Moreover, the reference here is not just to a claim that the modern state has succeeded in wrestling all legitimate authority over violence away from all other forms of social organization, but to the dilemmas of living in modernity as such. Indeed, by the end of the speech, it is clear that the state is less the problem than part of the solution to a problem that is specified in much broader terms, in relation to modernity as a new historical condition. In this sense, the text seems to be written in reverse. The challenge of historical innovation is obscured by the initial claim that historical innovation had led to a situation that was already familiar, the crystallization of the territorial state out of the dissolution of premodern empires. After all, this was the situation that forced early-modern thinkers like Machiavelli to pose questions about the possibility of autonomous political communities in the first place. But questions about political autonomy have been posed rather differently in different times and places. For much of the political theory that developed in the Anglo-American context, autonomy was something that could be more or less taken for granted. The complex problem of ‘founding’ that exercises Machiavelli could shrivel into the instant magic of contract, making space for a new politics of interests and rights. Genealogies are then traced to Hobbes and Locke rather than to Machiavellian hopes for Florentine virtuosity. But Weber was writing in the context of a recently united

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Germany, a context in which autonomy certainly was a problem. In this sense, part of the difficulty in coming to terms with ‘Politics as a Vocation’ is less that it is written in reverse than that it is a text that came very late in a prolific career. The famous definition of the state already has an interesting history, a history of reflections upon the demands of German nationalism, demands in which claims about the state as a spatial territoriality converge with claims about the state as part of an historical process of modernization. This convergence is particularly clear in the other text to which one is usually led in search of insight into Weber’s understanding of the state, one that comes from the beginning of his career almost a quarter century earlier. ‘The National State and Economic Policy’ was given as the Inaugural Address at the University of Freiburg in May 189514 and offers a very sharp expression of Weber’s indebtedness to a nationalist form of liberalism. It is concerned with both the problem of East Elbian social structures (especially the consequences of Junker land ownership and immigrant workers from Poland) and the character of economics as a science in relation to the difficulty of sustaining national unification. As such, it is explicitly interventionist in character, seeking to identify the political forces appropriate for a modernizing national economy. In 1895, Weber made his appeal to what was obviously a weak middle class, an appeal that had a very strong imperialist component. By 1919, the programme of imperialism had largely disappeared, and the appropriate substitute for the Prince had become even more problematic: hence his reflections on charisma but also his treatment of democratic organization as an inhibition against any bureaucratic stifling of the national economy. While his appeals to imperialism as policy and the bourgeoisie as agent had been muted, however, the underlying nationalism remained very powerful. Hence the sense of déjà vu. Weber’s classic definition of the state is introduced historically. It is ‘today’ that we have to say that it is a human community that (successfully) claims the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. Yet the stress on territory identifies an admission of spatial continuity. Moreover, this spatial continuity is then affirmed by invocations of a theory of history – one that finds only a minimal elaboration in this particular text – that is rooted, not unlike the final chapter of The Prince, in an appeal to nationalism. Weber’s definition refers to the nation-state, to a state that reconciles not only universal and particular but also fixes history on spatial terrain. Weber’s history is an account of economic and political modernization. It picks up the element of temporality by specifically invoking Machiavelli. But this is no longer fortuna. Nor is it Progress. Temporality is, for Weber, more deeply troubling than either, though also closely related to both. It is also rooted in particular circumstances. For it seems that politics is not just politics after all. States may be monopolies of the legitimate use of violence within particular territories, and thus engaged in geopolitical struggle with similar monopolies in other spaces, but they are also monopolies that are temporally related to each other through a universal but uneven process of modernization. The situation of Germany is different from that of the Anglo-American democracies. Some states have already managed to modernize, and some still have to find

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a way of doing so, and doing so in a manner appropriate to the new historical conditions of modernity. Weber’s definition of the state thus presents a familiar paradox. Feudalism has given way to capitalism and modernity. Modernization has proceeded apace. But the territorial space in which the state has now come to hold a monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force remains the same. For many students of international relations and globalization, processes of modernization have come to be interpreted as a threat to the very survival of the state, as the driving force behind the integration, interdependence and transnationalization that will eventually erode old geopolitical certainties. But not for Weber. History has been at work inside, it has created new problems for political organization inside, but for some reason it has not disturbed the initial assumption that there is an inside, a clear correspondence between the historical community and the spatial territory. The paradox is familiar, but to frame it in relation to Weber in particular is to underline the extent to which it has remained both acceptable and troubling. For Weber’s nationalism has long been deeply embarrassing. To invoke Machiavelli, with all that his name implies for the necessity of violence in affairs of state, is bad enough. But Machiavelli’s ethical effrontery has come to seem rather abstract, another all-purpose Shakespearean caricature to be invoked whenever righteousness requires relegitimation. Weber’s nationalism has had more specific and much worse associations. To affirm both historicity and territoriality, a temporal process of modernization and a territorial division of political space, is to contemplate possibilities for violence that Machiavelli could scarcely imagine. The claims advanced by Wolfgang Mommsen, Raymond Aron and Herbert Marcuse in the early 1960s linking Weber to ideas and tendencies that became influential in fascism, caused something of a furore that has not yet completely subsided.15 Whatever the substantive merit of these claims, they at least succeeded in showing that Weber still spoke to many of the dilemmas of contemporary political life. Weber was finally turned from a comfortable patriarch, a stock caricature of Cold War sociology, into a serious interpretive problem. It had become clear, for example, that the existing texts and translations were in a mess, and that the historical context in which Weber wrote was increasingly difficult to appreciate.16 Scholarship was visibly fretting over what guiding themes or questions could possibly have held all those texts together. Even if some of the more extreme claims about the connection between Weber and fascism were quickly muted, there has remained a strong sense that something disturbing was going on. In any case, similar controversies had arisen before. Much of the intensity that characterized such controversies arose precisely because of the implications that could be drawn from Weber’s writings on the state. Not least, Weber’s reflections on the charismatic hero and plebiscitary democracy, the apparent endorsement of a nationalist machtpolitik, as well as the possibility of drawing connections between Weber and the more explicitly fascist leanings of Carl Schmitt and others, threatened to turn Weber from a safe bulwark of Cold War liberalism into a very dangerous person indeed.

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Even so, Weber resisted easy interpretation. The real difficulty, it seemed, was not that of recovering the unsavoury sympathies lurking behind a facade of liberal virtue, but to know how to engage with the historical – and philosophical – problematic to which Weber may have been responding. Thus attention quickly turned to an attempt to recover something of Weber’s deeply ambiguous response to modernity as an historical achievement, a response informed by Nietzsche quite as much as by Kant, and one that has since been an archetype of readings of a world torn between reason and despair. Even the claim that Weber is best understood as the analyst of ‘the rise of Western rationalism’17 has seemed only partly convincing,18 not least because of all those questions about the kind of person who will be permitted to put his hand on the wheel of history that turn Weber’s classic definition of the state into something of a mystery. Whatever the diversity of contemporary interpretations of Weber, there is at least some agreement that the peculiar rationality or instrumental efficiency of the capitalist West is crucial. As with Marx, Weber treated capitalism as the most ‘fateful’ force in modern life, but the most important characteristic of capitalism is assumed to be less the alienation of labour than the inexorable drive towards rational calculability.19 Market exchange is understood to be the archetype of all rational action, rational in the negative sense of being free of the constraints of tradition and in the positive sense of being purely instrumental. This process is analysed in relation to the processes of production, the development of legal and administrative environments and the gradual emergence of a ‘disenchanted’ culture and ethical way of life. Weber’s account of this relentless process of rationalization is far from straightforward. On the contrary, he portrays it as inherently contradictory. This portrayal builds on a distinction between two different forms of rationality. The formal rationality of means that drives modernity so relentlessly is portrayed as sharply in contradiction with a substantive rationality of ends. The demands of economic and administrative procedures is increasingly at odds with ultimate values. Trapped within the so-called ‘iron cage’ of instrumental efficiency, individuals are caught up in a more and more desperate search for meaning, a meaning that is to be found only in forms of social life that are increasingly marginalized in an administered and disenchanted world. The drive to instrumental efficiency generates not a cultural convergence, as so many have claimed on the basis of a dubious Weberian pedigree, but a proliferation of different value spheres. Modernity may be disenchanted, but it also intensifies wars among many gods. Individuals are forced to choose between competing accounts of what rational action entails. Contrary to all hopes of Reason, Enlightenment and Progress, the choice itself cannot be rational. Decisions must be founded on a value choice, and a value choice is precisely a choice between competing values among which there can be no rational arbitration. There is more than a little irony in the transformation of Weber’s ‘decisionism’ into an apology for value-free social science. Although he does articulate a crucial distinction between facts and values, it is a distinction that seems to have been directed as much to keeping science out of values as to keeping values out of

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science. Science could indeed perform a key role. It might provide knowledge about the likely consequences of an action once taken, but it could not provide guidance about the values from which the significance of those consequences might be judged. Similarly, a knowledge of the consequences of one’s actions might be treated as a necessary part of the ethic of responsibility that Weber believed crucial to an authentic ‘calling’ for politics in the modern age. But to have a calling was precisely not to be a bureaucrat. It was to have passion as well as an ability to calculate consequences. The Weber who coined all the good lines castigating those who espoused an ethics of absolute ends because they cannot stand up to the ‘ethical irrationality of the world’ was equally adamant about those who espoused merely an ethics of means and calculation. The modern world calls neither for ‘idealists’ driven by an ethic of absolute ends nor ‘realists’ who submit to an instrumentality of means, but for someone – or is it really something? – new, someone who can be ‘measured up to the world as it really is in its everyday routine’,20 or ‘bear the fate of the times like a man’.21 In short, Weber is concerned not simply with the developmental tendencies of modernity, but with the kind of ‘personality’ that is able to act in modernity: with questions about subjectivity and freedom. In the Cold War stereotypes, Weber was often portrayed as a counterpoint to Marx because of his ‘individualism’. But contrary to those stereotypes, Weber portrayed the individual as an exceptionally problematic being, a long way removed from the simple utilitarian souls who engage in the fantasies of public choice theory or the micro-economics-writ-large that passes for so much contemporary social science. Indeed, much of his discussion of the kind of person it is possible to be under specifically modern conditions involves a fundamental recasting of the problem of freedom and necessity through which accounts of modern subjectivities have been shaped. Again, the resonance is with Machiavelli – and Nietzsche, Thomas Mann22 or Michel Foucault23 – rather than with, say Hobbes. It is neo-Kantian rather than Kantian, historical and sociological rather than ontological. Weber is concerned to explore the contemporary fate of individuals who have a capacity for freedom, a capacity that both results from and is in turn objectified by historical conditions. Under these conditions of rationality, disenchantment and warring gods, one can adapt cynically to the demands of the day, or flee from the warring gods to a universal ethics of conviction, or engage in the mystical search for unity within an erotic or aesthetic life. But such flights away from the world as they really are bring their own terrors, whether as the pathologies of private life or the self-righteousness of tyrannies. As Weber describes them, the freedoms possible within modernity seem almost as hopeless as the freedoms available in Hobbes’s state of nature. For Weber, too, though in a resolutely historicist vein, the situation calls for a new conception of freedom, a new personality, a new subjectivity. Exactly what Weber means by this is not very clear. He appeals to an ethic of responsibility and to qualities like courage, integrity and dignity. He encourages a sense of perspective, a distancing both from the world outside and from one’s own convictions inside. Weber’s new personality requires the cultivation of a power over one’s self and

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one’s fate, an inner strength, a calling, a vocation, an integration of passion and perspective, a subjectivity that finds its specifically modern freedom among the determinations of inexorable rationalization and warring gods. Read in this way, Weber engages with a theme – the problematic character of human subjectivity – that has obsessed much of the social, political and literary thought of the twentieth century. Though he has much to say about macro-sociological structures, this reading fixes his guiding concerns in a kind of philosophical anthropology. As such, he takes his place – awkwardly – among a motley crew, among John Stuart Mill as well as Nietzsche, among poststructuralists and feminists as well as existentialists. Moreover, as much as any of these, he stands out for his insistence that the pursuit of subjectivity is inherently dangerous. It is especially dangerous when this pursuit occurs in relation to political life. For whoever wants to engage in politics ‘lets himself in for the diabolical forces lurking in all violence’.24 It is in the face of such forces that one will be driven to say ‘Here I stand; I can do no other’.25 This general specification of the diabolical forces lurking in all violence, however, is crucially misleading. It is the state, after all, that has a monopoly on such things. Yet Weber is here referring to the capacities of the individual. The analysis has slipped from the macro-forces of history, from the contradictions of the modern condition, to the character of the new hero. The relationship between this new hero and that which has the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force, and which is thus deeply implicated in diabolical forces, is especially unclear. Unless, that is, this new hero really is the new Prince of virtù, the embodiment of society, the constitutive agent of collective identity. ‘Politics as a Vocation’ begins with the modern state, and it moves to assess the kind of person who is able to bear the fate of modern times, but the relationship between this modern person and the modern state is left disturbingly unresolved. This is precisely the problem that has been so troubling to those who saw some resemblance between Weber and certain authoritarian and even fascist tendencies. For in trying to elaborate his own version of the proper relationship between state and people, Weber had come to favour a form of plebiscitary democracy and nationalist machpolitik that seemed much less subtle than his discussion of the existential dilemmas of the modern personality,26 or even his earlier discussions of ways to enhance the public and parliamentary controls of state officials. It is one thing to try to work out a new subjectivity for the individual, a new personality of self-mastery within able to withstand the iron cage and warring gods without, but it is quite another to articulate a new subjectivity for the state. To speak about an ethics of responsibility in the abstract, or at least only in relation to the individual, begs the question of responsibility to whom. The obvious answer, certainly one that is obvious in Weber’s case, is the nation – the nation understood as an autonomous value sphere subject to no higher form of reason. From the dilemmas of a temporal process of universalizing modernity producing its own differentiation of moral spheres in time, we return to what was not only the beginning but also in fact the implicit end of the text, the spatial delineation of particular territories each having a universalizing monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force.

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Weber, then, is especially interesting as a political theorist because he both assumes and problematizes the possibility of autonomy – of the self-identical subject capable of acting on the basis of some inner ‘freedom’, some capacity to take advantages of chance. In Kari Palonen’s terms, for Weber, ‘(t)he politically important question is not, primarily, whether one can use chances, but, rather, whether one can construct different chances in the situations to weigh their degrees of risk and to choose between them’.27 But as an initial assumption, autonomy is read into both his preoccupation with the constitution of the modern individual and his definition of the state, and especially into his characterization of the state as a monopoly situated in a specific territory. It is framed spatially. His problematization of autonomy is worked out in relation to the individual, understood as both a specific achievement of the modern West and as an achievement that is threatened by the very dynamics of rationalization that are characteristic of the modern West. Asking questions about the kind of personality it is possible to be under new historical conditions, Weber may be understood as part of a much broader concern with the dilemmas of subjectivity, with the possibilities of freedom, authenticity and identity given the determinations and contradictions that have informed specifically modern accounts of the self. As a precursor of existentialism and of more recent debates about the end of ‘the era of man’, or as an inheritor of accounts of subjectivity that might be linked to Descartes, Hobbes, Luther or Augustine, Weber can be read as a participant in an ongoing puzzle, in a struggle to affirm the possibility of freedom and identity against the constraints of time and society.28 Asking such questions in the context of the demands of modern life in the modern state, however, Weber is driven to affirm the adequacy of old resolutions. The mature man, the follower of an ethic of responsibility who Weber finds ‘genuinely human and moving’,29 is required to fill the role of the Prince, to become the embodiment of the autonomous community as well as an expression of an autonomous individuality. Assuming autonomy as a given, historicity is introduced as a dynamic of modernization that produces autonomy as problem. It is articulated as a problem primarily in relation to the micro-autonomy of the individual struggling to become a modern personality in the face of an iron cage and warring gods. As a solution to this problem, Weber offers an account of individual subjectivity that is characterized above all by the need for spatial distancing, by the personality capable of creating distance both from a substantive rationality inside and an objective or instrumental rationality of the modern world outside. The macro-autonomy of the state is also subject to historicity, but the recourse to spatiality is even more explicit. The initial assumption of territoriality is rewritten as an autonomous nationalism that fills the spatial form, that gives life and agency to the abstract claims of the modern state. Against the soothing caricatures of Cold War sociology, Weber has begun to reappear as an interesting political thinker. Against the glazed repetitions of the famous definition, Weber’s understanding of the state has begun to reappear as part of a disturbing characterization of the modern condition. In a culture that celebrates autonomous subjectivity as both aspiration and achievement, Weber suggests that

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the very conditions of its achievement render the aspiration increasingly elusive. Articulated as a possibility in space, as an affirmation of subjectivities through spatial distancing, autonomy is rendered problematic through an analysis of modernity as temporal trajectory. The guarantees of reason, of Euclidean geometries, Newtonian certainties and Kantian categories, dissolve into the temporal assertions of will. The apparently benign subjectivities of modernity, fixed in mysterious resonance as micro and macro, self and state, appear both fragile and dangerous, although the fragility of the one seems only to amplify the dangers of the other. Specified as a problem of individuality or personality, Weber becomes an interesting political thinker precisely because he participates in a potentially radical problematization of the modern subject. Yet the glazed repetitions of the famous definition mark a crucial refusal of just such a problematization in relation to the macro-autonomy of the state. The problematization of the modern individual may issue in a demand for a new, specifically modern personality, able to bear the fate of modern times like a man – and I assume that the implications of this particular chauvinism do not require commentary here30 – but the possible consequences of this reading for the spatial autonomies of the modern state are altogether more traumatic. The possibility of perpetual peace dissolves into the necessities of power politics. The modern territorial state is acknowledged to be the modern territorial state. The primacy of reason acknowledges a complicity with warring gods not just within the modern personality but within and between those monopolies of legitimate violence. Violence erupts not simply in the spaces between states but out of those processes of modernization that have been set in motion within states. Within, states may affirm their modernity, their efficiency, their liberty and their ambivalent superiority. But this affirmation does not shirk from its complicity with violence. It is the modern state that is defined in terms of a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. It is the modern state that finds its limits, and the conditions of its possibility, in the deployment of violence beyond all limits, except, perhaps, in an appeal to responsibility towards a national subjectivity that is itself defined as an absence of all collective responsibilities. Weber’s ambivalence towards modernity is clear enough. But his articulation of this ambivalence is itself ambivalent. In relation to the micro-subject of individuality, Weber acknowledges modernity as a dialectics of tragedy, of both rationality and disenchantment, emancipation and the iron cage. Attempting to save the modern subject, he is led to demand a new personality able to withstand the imperatives of modern life. Yet by rewriting modern individuality as a new variation on an old theme, he is also led to affirm the state – the modern state but also the territorial state – as the ground on which the new hero might now engage in politics, and thus act out of both conviction and responsibility. Though the text might in some sense be written in reverse, or come near the end of a longer sequence of meditations on nationalism in a system of modernizing states, ‘Politics as a Vocation’ does indeed start in the right place. The spatial delineation of an inside and an outside, of a spatial terrain on which both individual subjectivities and historicities might be articulated, is precisely the condition under which modern accounts of political life can made at all.

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In Weber’s text, the modern state is presented both as the site on which the problematic character of modern political life can be understood and as the place in which this problematic character might be resolved. Weber may be ambivalent about modernity. He may have displayed a famous honesty in laying out the demands of personal integrity required by modernity. But he is even more honest, and conventional, in asserting that the problems of modernity can only be resolved within the parameters of modernity. And these parameters are set nowhere more clearly, politically speaking, than in the spatial differentiation of here and there that Weber reproduces so casually in his account of the territorial state. It is not surprising, therefore, that Weber’s definition of the state has become so well known. It does capture something crucial. This something seems to transcend Weber’s own analysis of the developmental tendencies of modernity, and to involve an apparently more benign affirmation that monopolies on violence do obey the laws of here and there even if these laws deny the possibility of law that applies both here and there. This something is the account of the character and location of political life captured by claims about state sovereignty. Far from something that transcends the account of developmental tendencies offered by Weber, the constitutive claims of state sovereignty as the specifically modern account of political identity and historical possibility is precisely the condition that permits Weber to articulate his account of a modern politics rendered rootless by those developmental tendencies. Weber’s modern individuals may be existentially adrift, but at least they seem to be quite aware of the political borders within which they can exercise their angst. The lasting virtue of Weber’s struggle to articulate the dilemmas of a modern subjectivity caught between Enlightenment and despair is that it makes the violence implicit in the codes of modernity visible, tangible, as obviously dangerous as they have otherwise come to seem so bland and benign, so oblivious to the violence of their ahistorical abstraction. Weber’s contradictory account of history as both progress and disenchantment merely reads as temporal trajectory what is already established as spatial differentiation. The contradiction that emerges in history is already apparent in the resolution of all contradictions affirmed by the boundaries of the territorial state. The claim to universality that informs the aspiration to modernity is already articulated as an explicitly parochial possibility. Universality, after all, has been the historical prerogative of empires. It has sustained claims to hierarchy and subservience. Transitions to modernity were explicitly framed in relation to the acknowledged difficulty of all universalistic claims in a world of proliferating autonomies. Hierarchies and connections dissolved. Spaces opened up. Subjects and objects accelerated their dance of dualisms. Modern philosophy identified its founding fathers. The barricades of epistemology were erected to stem the slide to scepticism. And politically, the possibility of a common humanity gave way before the demands of citizenship, the affirmation of inclusive identities within the particularities of states. Universalism is not so easily renounced, but the universalistic aspirations of modernity have come with a characteristic shadow that acknowledges the limits within which claims without apparent limits might be sustained. Modern philosophy has been

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obsessively devoted to the management of doubt, an obsession driven by reflection on and within a particular sovereign space whose borders insist on the specificity of philosophical reflection that aspires towards the universal. Politically, several responses to this dilemma are possible. Perhaps particularistic states might participate in a broader society or community arising from a broader attachment to the civilized values of Christianity, Europe, the West, modernity, freedom-loving nations and so on, so that the terrain of exclusion is drawn less in the borders of territorial states than in the primordial divide between civilizations. Perhaps all particularistic states might internalize the universalistic principles of reason that are assumed to lie in some realm beyond the particularistic communities of contemplation. Perhaps the ontological options framed within an archetypal community might be universalized within a single planetary community, a global society of modern individuals no longer in need of the state to mediate between their particularity and their humanity. But which state, precisely, is to be universalized? Where is the realm of transcendent universals beyond the societies that would universalize their own particularity? And how, exactly, have the primordial divisions between civilizations been constructed if not through empires of self-righteousness and exclusions of the damned? Attempts to manage philosophical doubt may have shown considerable dexterity and invention, yet a sense of spatio-temporal limits has never been quite erased. Attempts to establish a political order within a sovereign state may have been guided by laudable ambitions for universality, but as exponents of civic virtù(e) have been least shy about admitting, such ambitions imply sharp limits between an authentic politics within and a more brutal response to an absence of authenticity without. Even, or perhaps especially, the most universalistically ambitious societies acknowledge the necessity for war, for supreme sacrifice, for a violence that marks the space and time of their own particular universalities within. Even the most ambitious readings of universalizing history must either acknowledge the dispensability of more parochial forebears – the characteristic response of nineteenth-century progressives – or bring the violent inscription of limits into universalizing history itself, the option that Weber tends to read as tragedy without even a hint of farce. With Weber, at least, the apparently benign identities of modernity – the autonomous personality adrift without meaning and the autonomous state adrift in geopolitical space and uneven development, are at least encouraged to recognize their own complicity in a world that can never quite erase its insecurities in the discourses of its own perfection. With Weber, benign identities betray the violence of their exclusions. Weber’s presence in the literature on contemporary international relations is often difficult to detect. When detectable, it is curiously muted.31 Even though Weber might plausibly be nominated as the single most influential voice to be heard in this literature, the historical constitution of dangerous autonomies that is such a central focus of Weber’s analysis has been almost entirely erased. Violence there may be in the modern world, but the only part of Weber one needs to know about concerns the spatial separation of monopolies of power, on the one hand, and the necessities of nationalistic antagonisms on the other. The dangers of

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modernity as historical condition are thus conflated with those of modernity as spatial disaggregation. This possibility is already encouraged by some aspects of Weber’s own analysis, not least in his definition of the modern territorial state. Modern theories of international relations have taken ample advantage of the opportunity he provided. But Weber’s reading of the limits of a modern spatial politics as simultaneously a reading of the limits of a modern temporal politics also retains a capacity to destabilize the benign accounts of an abstract state that have enabled theories of international relations to naturalize and legitimize the violence of the modern world. As the supposed source of so much ‘political realism’ he offers a much more profound sense of what might be involved in the claim that the theory of international relations is somehow in crisis than do those who still seek to use naive claims about rationality to discipline a discourse that has almost lost its capacity to take the problem of modern violence seriously.

Notes 1 This chapter was originally published in G. M. Dillon and David Campbell, eds, The Political Subject of Violence, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993, 137–60. 2 See, among many articulations of this theme, Geoffrey Hawthorn, Enlightenment and Despair: A History of Social Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987; Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1989; Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, Dialectics of Enlightenment, translated by John Cumming, New York: Herder and Herder, 1972; and Jürgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourses of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, translated by F. Lawrence, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987. 3 On the complex ‘reception’ of Max Weber, see Stephen P. Turner and Regis A. Factor, Max Weber and the Dispute over Reason and Value, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984. 4 Max Weber, ‘Politics as a Vocation’, in From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, translated and edited by H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, New York: Oxford University Press, 1946, 77–128. 5 Perhaps the most important text for understanding recent discussions of Weber’s politics is Wolfgang Mommsen, Max Weber and German Politics, 1890–1920, translated by Michael S. Steinberg, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984, the first edition of which was published in 1959. See also Mommsen, The Political and Social Theory of Max Weber, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989; David Beetham, Max Weber and the Theory of Modern Politics, Second Edition, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1985; and Lawrence A. Scaff, Fleeing the Iron Cage: Culture, Politics and Modernity in the Thought of Max Weber, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989. 6 Weber, ‘Politics as a Vocation’, 78. 7 Ibid., 82. 8 Ibid., 83. 9 The central place of contingency and chance in Weber’s writing, especially in relation to Weber’s distinctive conception of freedom, has especially been emphasized by Kari Palonen; see e.g., Palonen, ‘Max Weber’s Reconceptualization of Freedom’, Political Theory, 27:4, August 1999, 523–44. 10 Ibid., 114. 11 Ibid., 115. 12 Ibid., 128. 13 In this context, see Wilhelm Hennis, Max Weber: Essays in Reconstruction, translated by Keith Tribe, London: Allen and Unwin, 1988. Hennis makes a strong case, which has guided much of my analysis here, that Weber ought to be understood not only in

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14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

24 25 26 27 28

29 30


relation to Nietzsche and Kant (relations stressed in much of the recent literature), but also to a conception of politics associated with Machiavelli, Rousseau and de Tocqueville. Max Weber, ‘The National State and Economic Policy’, Economy and Society, 9:4, November 1980, 428–49. Mommsen, Max Weber and German Politics; Turner and Factor, Max Weber and the Dispute over Reason and Value; Otto Stammer, ed., Max Weber and Sociology Today, translated by K. Morris, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1979. Some of the historical context is helpfully explored in Wolfgang Mommsen and Jürgen Osterhammel, eds, Max Weber and His Contemporaries, London: Allen and Unwin, 1987. Wolfgang Schlucter, The Rise of Western Rationalism: Max Weber’s Developmental Theory, translated by Guenther Roth, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981. See especially Hennis, Max Weber: Essays in Reconstruction; and Sam Whimster and Scott Lash, eds, Max Weber, Rationality and Modernity, London: Allen and Unwin, 1987. A distinction already made in Karl Löwith, Max Weber and Karl Marx (1932), translated by Hans Fantel, London: George Allen and Unwin, 1982. Weber, ‘Politics as a Vocation’, 128. Max Weber, ‘Science as a Vocation’, in From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, translated and edited by H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, New York: Oxford University Press, 1946, 155. Harvey Goldman, Max Weber and Thomas Mann: Calling and the Shaping of the Self, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988. See for example, Michel Foucault, The Use of Pleasure, translated by Robert Hurley, New York: Pantheon Books, 1985; Foucault, The Care of the Self, translated by Robert Hurley, New York: Random House, 1986; James Bernauer and David Rasmussen, eds, The Final Foucault, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1988, 1–20; and Luther H. Martin, Huck Gutman and Patrick H. Hutton, eds, Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1988. Weber, ‘Politics as a Vocation’, 126. Ibid., 127. Mommsen, Max Weber and German Politics. Palonen, ‘Weber’s Reconceptualization of Freedom’, 536. Cf, e.g., Thomas C. Heller et al., eds, Reconstructing Individualism: Autonomy, Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1986; Eduardo Cadava, Peter Connor and Jean-Luc Nancy, eds, Who Comes after the Subject? London: Routledge, 1991; Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989; William E. Connolly, Political Theory and Modernity, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988; and Fred R. Dallmayr, Twilight of Subjectivity: Contributions to a Post-Individualist Theory, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1981. Weber, ‘Politics as a Vocation’, 127. For extended discussions, see Roslyn W. Bologh, Love or Greatness: Max Weber and Masculine Thinking – A Feminist Inquiry, London: Unwin, Hyman, 1990; and Wendy Brown, Manhood and Politics: A Feminist Reading of Political Theory, Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1988. For some comments on Weber’s place in the gendered construction of modern theories of international relations, see R. B. J. Walker, ‘Gender and Critique in the Theory of International Relations’, in V. Spike Peterson, ed., Gendered States: Feminist (Re)Visions of International Relations Theory, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1992, 179–202. For a survey of Weber’s influence on theorists of international relations that is especially muted in its account of Weber’s ambivalence towards modernity, see Michael Joseph Smith, Realist Thought from Weber to Kissinger, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1986. Weber sometimes appears as one of the names strung together in a presumed canon of political realism. The rules for entry into this canon are somewhat flexible. Almost anyone can qualify who is prepared to admit that life on Earth will

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never be as peaceful as heavenly inertia. Still, Weber’s name is rarely prominent. Caricatures of Thucydides, Machiavelli or Hobbes are much preferred. This is especially curious in that Hans J. Morgenthau, undoubtedly the most influential exponent of the claim to political realism in modern international relations theory, once admitted a serious debt to Weber, and certainly wrote as if he had carefully absorbed Weber’s writings on nationalism and machtpolitik. See especially Hans J. Morgenthau, ‘Fragment of an Intellectual Autobiography: 1904–1932’, in Kenneth W. Thompson et al., eds, Truth and Tragedy: A Tribute to Hans J. Morgenthau, Washington, DC: New Republic Book Co., 1977. See also, Turner and Factor, Max Weber and the Dispute over Reason and Value, 168–79. Nor is it difficult to detect Weber’s influence on other major figures like Raymond Aron. See Raymond Aron, ‘Max Weber and Power Politics’, in Stammer, ed., Max Weber and Sociology Today, 83–100. Even so, signs that Weber might have been struggling with the dilemmas of modernity as an historical condition are rather elusive. Even Morgenthau and Aron were relatively quiet about Weber when they came to write their international relations textbooks. The sense of tragedy certainly remains, but it emerges primarily from an identification of geopolitical fragmentation with a nationalistic power politics, as if nationalism, and the forms of power available to modern nations, emerged simultaneously with the territorial state.


Hobbes introduced Leviathan by claiming that ‘He that is to govern a whole Nation, must read in himself, not this, or that particular man; but Man-kind’.1 Furthermore, of the method he adopted for such a reading, he claimed that ‘this kind of doctrine admitteth no other demonstration’.2 Neither claim is trivial. One speaks to the possibility of a politics encompassing not only particular individualized and physiologically psychologized men but also to both a particular nation and a particular understanding of mankind in general; and thus, perhaps, when read retrospectively, to what we have come to call the international system understood as an expression of a common humanity as well as to the state understood as an expression of a particular group of individualized citizens among other such groups of citizens. This is a claim that, among other things, engages the double possibility, or impossibility, of reconciling ‘men’ and ‘citizens’ that still shapes much of what we know (and the conditions under which we make judgements) about modern political necessities and possibilities, both within states and among states. The other claim speaks to a particular way of framing relations between possibility and necessity; and thus to the construction of characteristically modern or even liberal ways of thinking about freedom within and beyond various kinds of conditionality, as well as to an affirmation of the positive relationship between claims about method and the expression of political ambition. These claims have a rich and contested historical lineage. They continue to have a daunting presence in the way we engage with the possibilities and limits of contemporary political life. They retain their presence not least in relation to the rituals, whether plausible or implausible, through which Hobbes’s name has become implicated in thinking about a politics that is somehow international. Like much of the rest of Hobbes’s text, however, these claims say very little directly about any interstate or international system as we might now understand it. There is little doubt that the primary force of Hobbes’s argumentation is directed

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internally, to the formation of modern individualized political subjects within a sovereign state conceived as a larger, collective and thus distinctive kind of political subject. On the face of it, in fact, the link that has often been made between Hobbes and various theories of international relations seems fairly tenuous, as I think it is in many respects. Hobbes fits much more easily into the canonical literatures on the rise of the modern sovereign state than he does into any canonical account of an international political theory, assuming that any such accounts can be clearly identified. Nevertheless, as with even the most solipsistic conceptualizations of modern subjectivities, Hobbes is forced to gesture towards some external conditions of the very possibility of the politics of modern sovereign subjects that he brings into focus within a particular concentration of legalized authority. It may be difficult to argue that Hobbes’s gestures in this direction are especially systematic or persuasive, even if one is prepared to accept the popular but misguided analogy between individuals in a state of nature and states in a state of war. Still, Hobbes does require some conception of an external order of some kind even to begin his account of an internal political order; and the politics of beginning is a fairly significant, not to say decisive, part of Hobbes’s concerns. It is thus encouraging that increasing attention is being paid to how we might understand not only what Hobbes had in mind when referring to phenomena we would now call international in some (anachronistic) sense but also what might be involved in thinking about some (international or postinternational) politics that might be less indebted to his commanding presence. Even so, it seems to me to be less useful to go hunting for those relatively few occasions in which Hobbes does say something of theoretical interest about what we might call international relations than to think about the way Hobbes sets out a general account of modern political possibilities and impossibilities in which some kind of external world clearly plays a crucial role. This is partly because Hobbes really does not say all that much about how an international order might work. This may have been simply because, for all his extraordinary prescience, it was rather difficult to decipher exactly how the decaying hierarchies and mingled jurisdictions of late medieval Europe might eventually generate the systemic relations and structural determinations of a modern international system, complete with nineteenth- and twentieth-century nationalisms rather than the sorts of nations that Hobbes seems to have had in mind. Kant was certainly more prescient than Hobbes in this respect, and has a much stronger claim than Hobbes as the figure who sketches the broad outlines of a political order that is simultaneously and precariously predicated on principles of sovereign authority distributed among individuals, states and a system of states. Yet, I want to argue here, it is helpful to think about the way Hobbes already presumed an external order of some kind in order to construct his account of sovereign authority within a particular state. In my view, in short, Hobbes does offer a very useful site for thinking about the achievements and troubles of a modern internationalized political order; but this is less because of his sporadic comments on a state of war, instructive as they are in some respects, than for the way he sets up the very possibility of a political order,

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internal and external, into which both ‘Man-kind’ and those who are to be governed in ‘whole nations’ might enter. If it makes sense to think about contemporary political possibilities and their conditionalities by thinking about an international political theory after Hobbes, I would say that it would help to become more sensitive to some of the general problems to which Hobbes was trying to respond, and with what conceptual resources. As usual, it is a great mistake to try to engage this material as if the internal and external moments of modern politics can be simply cut in two and distributed to mutually exclusive disciplinary discourses. Hobbes, I want to suggest, is interesting for contemporary engagements with an internationalized politics because of conceptual moves that he was able to make without much reference to any kind of international as we would now understand it, though they did require him to refer to, indeed to construct, a particular understanding of what must lie both beyond and within his imaginary universe of modern subjects.

**** Hobbes’s two introductory claims might be read, in a philosophical mood, in relation to a specific understanding of a general logic of argumentation, one that was then shaping a decisive (though in historiographical terms still indeterminate) shift towards what we now call (a particular form of) modernity. They might also be read, in a more historical mood, as normative advice to somebody in particular caught up in the shifting fortunes of revolutionary England. Indeed, much of the most impressive recent literature on Hobbes has been shaped by the specific concerns of distinctive philosophical and historical traditions, though it is worth emphasizing that such traditions do not automatically, or even easily, translate into a political understanding of Hobbes’s significance as a political thinker, especially but not only under contemporary conditions. Either way, however, and whatever one makes of the logical rigour of his deductions or the rhetorical force of his narratives, or perhaps especially of his extraordinary ability to write in ways that spoke to both epoch-shaping shifts and volatile local manoeuvres, his introductory claims have not exactly guaranteed agreement about what his precise doctrine was or even what his most crucial premises were. On the contrary, competing interpretations of Leviathan have flourished ever since it was published. They continue to animate much of the form and substance of contemporary political theorization. Attempts to contextualize his work historically have been especially popular in recent decades, even to the point where they have the rather paradoxical effect of entrenching his status as a canonical figure, as the primary exemplar of early-modern European political innovations. Conversely, attempts to work through the logic of his argumentation quickly dissipate across multiple fields of scholarly engagement with intellectual worlds that remain fairly obscure to us. Just like the supposed transition from medieval to modern in which he is supposed to be a pivotal figure, Hobbes may still appear to us as a stubborn cliché but also as a site of mysteries still demanding far more scholarly spadework by philosophers and historians alike.

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Many people have noted that stubborn clichés, and not only about Hobbes, have been a pervasive characteristic of Anglo-American theories of international relations as these were constructed over the course of the twentieth century. Many of these clichés, some involving Hobbes, have been challenged by the work of various historians and philosophers that has gradually seeped through to what has often been a rather hermetic enterprise. Read in the scholarly terms that would be congenial to both philosophers and historians, challenges to the received accounts of Hobbes as the archetypical source of the political realism that is supposed to have been the primary form of international relations theory were fairly straightforward; even akin to shooting fish in a barrel. Even so, fairly elementary complaints about the clichéd names of established canons are easily shrugged off for reasons that need to be engaged, sometimes with resources that might be available from a political sociology of institutions and disciplines, sometimes from accounts of the legitimation practices of modern states, and sometimes from whatever might still be found useful in the wreckage of various forms of ideology critique. Along with Kant, Hobbes has long been forced to lend his name to one of the two possible positions it was advisable to adopt on all matters of ontological and axiological controversy when thinking about an internationalized political order, in ways that have tended to confirm a specific normative order of sovereign states acting within a determinate system of such states. No single thinker could possibly be forced to take such responsibility for very long; just as no single category of political realism could possibly encompass the range of ontological and axiological positions that were bundled together as the privileged pole of a bipolar discipline. Even a casual engagement with the secondary literature, not to say some reading of Hobbes’s texts (or at least anything more than the eleventh and thirteenth chapters of Leviathan), could quickly provide grounds to suspect that Hobbes’s supposed realism was not quite what it seemed. For the most part, however, readings of either Hobbes’s text or the secondary literature were rare events. Clichés remained and still remain pervasive. This is not because of any scarcity of scholarship offering more sophisticated accounts of what Hobbes was trying to do, with what resources, and with what effects. Moreover, some of the more obvious obstacles to engagement with such material (like the constraints of Cold War, demands for a pragmatic orientation to state policy and the disposition against theoretical enquiry that came with influential forms of social science) have receded slightly, if only slightly, and quite unevenly. Novel orientations to theoretical questions and the reading of texts have flourished, even if in some places more than others. Still, clichés flourish also. They flourish especially where the scholarly disciplines meet the textbook trade, perhaps, but also where the most sophisticated forms of research are conducted and where the most difficult questions are asked about what it means to speak about internationalized forms of political life, or to imagine what political life might involve if its international forms could not be sustained. Many resources have been available for a long time to challenge not only claims about Hobbes as the exemplary political realist but also many categories and debates that achieve much of their plausibility through the ways in which Hobbes is invoked in this guise.

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Thus, while I certainly accept that recent Hobbes scholarship has much to say about how it would be possible to construct more historically persuasive, conceptually rigorous and politically productive accounts (and I stress the plural form in this respect) of Hobbes as a figure who has something to say about international relations, past, present or future, I think that it is necessary to pay some attention to the way Hobbes has been read, and in some respects must have been read, within this specific field or discipline. The recovery of a different, more complex or less onedimensional Hobbes is a useful exercise. Greater recognition that Hobbes has been and continues to be open to sharply different interpretations, with profound consequences at stake in judgements about rival interpretations, would be even more useful. Nevertheless, an appreciation of what might be involved in thinking about international political theory, or even about politics, after Hobbes, also requires some attention to how some specific and clichéd inscriptions of Hobbes within prevailing forms of international political theory have come to work so effectively. In order to engage what is at stake in shifting away from Hobbes’s more explicit comments about an international order, or at least a state of war, to his general framing of a politics of internalities and subjectivities that nevertheless requires some kind of externality as its necessary condition of possibility, I will briefly engage three sorts of responses to questions about why modern theories of international relations seem to have required a figure like Hobbes to anchor assumptions about a dominant tradition of political realism that can be either confirmed or resisted. I do so because there seems to be little point in continuing to reproduce a set of conceptual manoeuvres by either affirming or resisting a figure who has been set up precisely to encourage either affirmation or resistance. One response concerns claims about his ethics, very broadly conceived. One concerns his depiction of a condition of anarchy, and the crucial tension between individualist, statist and systemic accounts of this condition. One concerns his framing of a spatiotemporal order within which relations between modern subjects might be envisaged. The third of these, already prefigured in his two introductory claims, is, I believe, by far the most important, and offers some possibilities for converting Hobbes from a canonical cliché to a provocative site of questions that remain difficult. The most pressing thing that is at stake in this third response is the way in which international political theory seems to be concerned with an array of political possibilities orchestrated spatially whereas its primary achievement has been to authorize this specific spatialized account of political possibilities, and necessities, through a claim about a philosophy of history. This philosophy of history can be understood as the temporality that is so often repressed in thinking about modern forms of sovereignty modelled on something like Hobbes’s innovations, but which so often returns as an exception in the spatiotemporal moment of sovereign decision. If there is to be a politics after Hobbes, it is one that, in the first instance, needs to get to grips with the constitutive effects of that particular philosophy of history, one Hobbes largely shares with his supposed opposite, Immanuel Kant. In the second instance, however, I will suggest that it is also important to come to terms with the implications of the relative absence of what we would call an international

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system from Hobbes’s analysis. The mere existence of other sovereigns does not add up to a system of states. We have been far too influenced by radically nationalist, or at least radically statist accounts of the international as merely the added sum of state interests. This may be convenient for those states that have largely generated the most privileged accounts of international relations from a statist perspective, and may partly explain how a theorist of the sovereign state like Hobbes has been transformed so easily into a theorist of international politics. It is nevertheless not especially helpful for anyone seeking to think beyond a political order in which sovereignty is always sharply contested between, at least, the state, the system of states and those quasi-Hobbesian individuals who have managed to articulate claims about a popular sovereignty. In this sense, my comments are partly directed to the possibility of using Hobbes to gain some critical purchase on the figure of Kant, whose name arguably presides over even greater difficulties than those identified with Hobbes, largely because he has a much sharper sense of what it means to engage with a system of states as seriously as with any particular state.

**** The most general use of Hobbes in the construction of a modern theory of international relations may simply be his fairly jaundiced view of a human condition. This is a construction that might draw upon a variety of distinct formulations: on his psychological egoism; on his exemplary account of a generalized dynamic of desire encompassing a plurality of different desires that nevertheless cease only in death; or his account of the structural contradictions that ensue within an array of such modern desiring machines under conditions of unregulated competition. Throw in some bitter flavours from the Old Testament and a few other sources, and it is not too difficult to boil everything down to a usefully generic pessimism. This may then be used in turn as a primary ingredient in the blackened stew that is so persistently celebrated as political realism and which has become the main overt source of intellectual sustenance for so many forms of international political theory, including forms explicitly seeking to resist Hobbes’s influence. Hobbes is a subtle thinker, certainly much more subtle than most references to a political realism in international political theory that invokes his name. At best, political realism is a claim that might be specified in terms of some very different and indeed powerful traditions of political thought, although whether any of these traditions is usefully framed as a political realism is unclear. Hobbes may or may not be understood in relation to one of these traditions; but so also may Machiavelli, to take the most obviously disruptive partner to Hobbes in any supposedly singular tradition. From a certain universalizing ethical standpoint, it may be that all sceptics and pessimists tend to look alike. Yet from a different sort of standpoint – historical, philosophical and political – Hobbes and Machiavelli are more familiar as exemplars of contrasting positions: as a republican and a sort of liberal, for example, or as a thinker obsessed with questions about contingent judgements in time and a thinker obsessed with authorizing a lasting authority within a spatialized order. In a similar

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way, the historically and nationally oriented traditions of power politics extending from (at least) Max Weber to (again at least) Hans Morgenthau is regularly conflated with the structural, systemic and utilitarian analyses of spatialized orders associated in recent years with thinkers like Kenneth Waltz. The great genius of claims about realism in international political theory, in fact, lies in a capacity to shrivel dramatically different positions into a discursive monolith, though a monolith that reserves an impressive capacity to cover a great many ontological, epistemological and axiological options. It takes only a little reflection to appreciate that the black and bitter stew of political realism once contained many ingredients that really don’t work very well together, unless there is a pressing and rather unscholarly hunger for something so unpalatable; as there has been in some contexts. Indeed, what might deserve considerable scorn on grounds of scholarship also deserves some appreciation on grounds of rhetorical and discursive resilience. To simplify a little, but only a little, what is of pressing interest for theories of international relations is less any specific concern with the consequences of individual egoism and conflict among individuals than the possibility of transposing a broadly negative view of ‘human nature’ to an international context in which a jaundiced view of the human condition is largely understood by contrast with the more optimistic conditions that are supposed to be in place domestically, not least as a consequence of the social order shaped by something like a Hobbesian account of sovereign authority within states. In this context, detailed readings of Hobbes’s writings are largely beside the point. Hobbes has been much more attractive as the protoEnlightenment thinker who can be used to affirm more characteristically counterEnlightenment views: perhaps as a more foundational (and Anglo) source of pessimism than can be provided by historicists and nationalists like Weber. The structuring of modern politics on the basis of a distinction (but not separation) between domestic and international politics has required a similar distinction between two different forms of political possibility and impossibility: in Martin Wight’s influential terms, between a domestic arena in which progress is possible and an international arena which can expect only repetition or the same old game of contingency and conflict;3 in rather more dramatic terms, between a domestic realm within which norms may be taken more or less for granted and an external realm in which exceptional conditions tend to prevail.4 I would say that, in practice, Weber’s analysis of a process of modernization that works simultaneously as a process of disenchantment, that is, a process of formal rationalization that is simultaneously a process demanding existential choices about substantive value, has been more influential than Hobbes in the construction of modern theories of international relations. Hobbes may have offered a nice way of thinking about modern subjects as both similar yet different, as unified in their ‘nature’ as desiring machines but different in their expression of their universal nature. Weber’s account of modernization as a universalizing process demanding commitments and responsibility towards particular nation-states offers an altogether more pressing formulation, though Hobbes’s more ahistorical psychologisms offer useful corroboration, especially given the need to minimize connections between a newly

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established American social science and dubious traditions of German nationalism. In any case, Hobbesian formulations may be broadly pervasive but they are scarcely decisive. Pessimistic views of what counts as human nature are not exactly rare. The primary need is not to work from first premises about human nature, whether understood psychologically or structurally, but to orchestrate the divide between the internal and external realms of modern politics: the divide that can only become a complete rupture under the most exceptional conditions: exceptional conditions, that is, which only confirm the normality of less dramatic orchestrations of the divide. Here Hobbes has proven to be a very useful symbol, but mainly because it has been possible to transcribe an overgeneralized account of his pessimism from the domestic realm that preoccupies him for most of the time to the international realm which concerns him only marginally.

**** This transcription is also central to a second primary use of Hobbes in international political theory, the use of the analogy drawn between individuals and states in claims about an international anarchy. This is the context in which chapters 11 and 13 do sometimes find readers in this field. There are two obvious and related problems with this analogy. Both have been noted by most scholars who have looked at Hobbes’s comments about extra-domestic phenomena. One is that a very large part of Hobbes’s primary argument is concerned to insist that individuals and sovereign states are very different things. Individuals contract with other individuals to create something that cannot be reduced to individuals. This is in part a matter of a difference in legal status, one that generates many characteristic problems about the relationship between state sovereignty and popular sovereignty, to use a later language. It is also in part a matter of scale, one that generates many characteristic problems about the ways in which the micro might be represented in the macro, to use a language that gets at some of Hobbes’s more Euclidean inclinations. It is also partly a matter of capabilities in that states are not as vulnerable to mortality as individuals and can even thrive on warfare. The weapons may point outwards, but the life of states is not necessarily nasty, poor, brutish or short, though it may not be pretty.5 Consequently, if the analogy is indeed found to be useful, it must be in ways that are seriously at odds with Hobbes’s own analysis. While the analogy may or may not be useful in the construction of explanatory strategies, along with analogies from many other structurally determinate practices, it works to dissolve some of the most difficult problems of modern political life; most specifically to convert the problematic and continually contested relationship between state sovereignty and popular sovereignty into homogenized accounts of the nation-state and some national interest. It is scarcely surprising that forms of political realism (or indeed claims about the political) that are constructed in this way tend to exclude quite a lot of politics. On the other hand, the analogy can be made to resonate quite nicely with some other accounts of rational action that were beginning to be articulated not so long

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after Hobbes by people we now tend to classify as the early political economists and by various other traditions through which the pursuit of self-interest was being understood as a source of some common good rather than of egoistic anarchy.6 Much of the impetus behind what has come to be called structural or neo-realism might be understood more productively less in relation to a political tradition privileging Hobbesian understandings of state sovereignty than to broad historical antagonisms of principle between the authority of states and the authority of capitalist markets. Hobbes himself, of course, was famously wary of metaphors and a little overgenerous to analogies, but any attempt to think about international political theory with and against Hobbes, as I would frame much of the task before us, will require considerable wariness about the way an analogy that Hobbes himself could not draw still enables far too many important questions about the principles guiding modern forms of political life to be passed over in relative silence. The specific interest of Hobbes in this respect is less his version of the logic of conflict under competitive conditions than his bold acknowledgement that if one starts from an account of modern individuals as both free and equal, in very specific understandings of these terms, it is possible to construct a very negative story about the consequences of commitments to what are generally taken to be two of the most foundational values of modern (liberal) societies. Yet, and to come to the second problem, the equality condition is specifically denied by Hobbes in relation to states. Hobbes’s commitment to an equality condition among individuals is quite striking given the prevailing practices of hierarchical subordination and Aristotelian essentialism (or philosophical realism), and notwithstanding the various forms of inequality that find their place within Hobbes’s brave new world of modern subjects. Prevailing claims about natural hierarchy are deftly swept away and the structural instability of a universe of modern subjects is revealed in all its apparently primordial depravity. It is nevertheless precisely the absence of this condition that governs his sense that the state of war is not quite the same as the state of nature that he depicts among individuals, no matter how negatively he sometimes portrays a state of war. Both individuals and states may be prone to rational calculation but their calculus is likely to have a very different character, and not only because of the constitutive difference between individual and collective subjects. Here it may be useful to think about the difference between a commitment to formal equality in the General Assembly of the United Nations and the commitment to inequality expressed formally by the capacities of the Security Council and informally by the practices of great power hegemony. Rhetorical claims about an international anarchy rest upon the tacit analogy with Hobbes’s reading of modern individuals. Yet there cannot be many scholars or practitioners who think these claims offer a useful way of understanding either the structures or practices of modern international politics. No one claiming a mantle of political realism is going to affirm that the principles shaping the authority of the General Assembly are ever going to trump the principles shaping the authority of the Security Council, although it might be argued that they should, or that neither set of principles can or should be sustained under contemporary conditions. Conflicts and wars there

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may be, but there is some significant difference between a condition in which just a few states have a capacity to deploy nuclear weapons and a condition in which all states have a more or less equal capacity to do so. This is why Hobbes is much more easily read, in the manner of Hedley Bull, as a precursor of what has come to be known as a ‘society of states’ tradition of international political analysis rather than as a theorist of an international political anarchy or even as a theorist of rational calculation on some kind of level playing field of competing interests.7 Hobbes leaves open many questions in this respect. One concerns the possibility of any great power becoming great enough to tip a nascent system of states back into a hierarchical order or imperium; the possibility against which both Hobbes’s conceptual innovations and the claims of a modern international order were most sharply delineated. Another concerns the constraints imposed on any specific sovereign by the systematic relations among sovereigns: one reason why Hobbes can scarcely be counted as a serious theorist of international relations at all, and why any attempt to think about international political theory after Hobbes has to engage with much more than Hobbes.

**** While Hobbes says relatively little about international relations as such, he does say a lot about the specific conditions under which modern forms of politics, including what we now call international relations, could be imagined at all. Here we move rather gingerly onto interpretive terrain long occupied by writers who are prone to very grand narratives about the general (though not necessarily timeless) character of modern political thought (like Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss, Michael Oakeshott and Sheldon Wolin) rather than by the currently more influential historians whose search for detailed contextualization rightly makes them suspicious of any grand narratives about the constitution of political traditions. Still, the theory of international relations is itself one of the grandest narratives we have about what the historical emergence of modern politics must have been like, and detailed histories are not necessarily the most appropriate way of getting at what might be involved in thinking about Hobbes’s relationship to it. Many themes might be emphasized here. I will simply note five of the most obvious in order to point to the scope of what must be engaged. None are explicitly about international politics; indeed, that is my point. They all concern a modern conception of politics that is always potentially international as well as domestic. While, as I have suggested, there are problems using someone like Hobbes who is primarily concerned with the relations between states and subjects internally in order to think about relations between states, it is also a mistake to think that Hobbes’s relevance for thinking about relations between states comes only from those parts of his analysis which specifically speak about external relations. Hobbes is working with modern subjects, understood as a site of the great modern move inwards, into the world of Cartesian, Protestant, Kantian and many other subjectivities as well as into the world of sovereign subjects. These internalities always presume

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an externality. Hobbes’s account of the externality of states may not be very well developed, but much of its basic configuration is clearly in place, and in time. First, there is the way in which Hobbes simply affirms at least a recognizable outline of modern (liberal) subjects in order to enable ‘He who is to govern a whole Nation’ to ‘read in himself, not this, or that particular man; but Mankind’. Even though international relations theory has been organized so as to minimize the apparent relevance of questions about subjectivity and subjectivities to the big affairs of states and international system, Hobbes, like Kant or Weber, and like some currents of critical analysis more recently, would have no trouble seeing subjectivity as in fact the primary object of concern. Whether that subjectivity is to be understood as, say, liberal, democratic, individual, collective, gendered or cultured is doubtless a more complicated matter. Hobbes may have been quite prescient about what was at stake in setting out an analysis of relations between free and equal persons, more so in some ways than some of his supposedly more liberal successors, but quite a lot of work has had to be done to flesh out his very basic abstractions. One might also say that much remains to be done in order to be confident that even the most minimal principles of liberty and equality can be sustained under contemporary conditions. It has become easy enough to say that we need to do without Hobbes, but it is by no means easy to see how we can sustain plausible claims about modern subjects and subjectivities without working through many of the problems Hobbes was forced to engage in order to affirm this particular rendition of human possibility and impossibility as the centre of attention. Second, there is Hobbes’s nominalism, the nominalism that marks him as neither an old-fashioned philosophical realist nor a naive modern philosophical realist. The details are complicated, of course. Still, even the briefest acquaintance with the way Hobbes hones in on problems of language, definition and the authorization of what might count as authority in relation to science, religion and law is sufficient to upset many of the standard clichés encountered in some theories of international relations. Hobbes confronted some quite dramatic conflicts over competing interpretations of the world, and his solution involved the instantiation of an abstract legal authority, not a totalizing power of a state. In this respect, Hobbes was engaged with problems of authority, law and even ‘discourse’ that are conventionally engaged by thinkers who have been sent to the trivialized boxes reserved for idealists and critical theorists. Again, to read Hobbes not through the caricatures but as one of the most brilliant accounts of what it means to authorize authority – to claim sovereignty over what it means to claim sovereignty – is to see that the stakes involved in thinking about any kind of politics that might somehow leave Hobbes behind become a little clearer, and a lot more daunting. Third, there is the secularism that is never quite secular: the question of whether Hobbes might be part of the process through which the apparent secularism of modern politics still expresses old theological concepts in a new guise, or not, especially in view of many contemporary debates about various forms of sovereignty that still legitimize the taking or giving of life in ways that legitimize their own sovereignty. The recent popularity of Carl Schmitt has certainly been useful

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in illuminating the degree to which competing readings of the secularization thesis, and the ambivalences expressed in Hobbes’s concepts whatever his own relation to theological questions, remain central to any attempt to think about international political theory in more creative ways. Fourth, and perhaps a little less obviously, there is Hobbes’s resolute commitment to a politics of finitude, a commitment that nevertheless works through an arbitrary distinction between the finite world within which universal truths may be possible and some world beyond in which such truths are unimaginable. This may be the most important thing that Hobbes learned from Euclid; define the line in relation to the two points at either end, thereby obviating the need to think about the way those lines would just go on and on, and a universe of necessary truths – of truths guaranteed by authorized definitions – becomes possible. The geometry that is usually identified in terms of mere method has profound ontological preconditions, and these preconditions find significant expression in Hobbes’s account of the authorization of universal claims to authority, and of their delimitation. Hobbes simply includes infinity among an array of absurd or enchanted entities whose dismissal Weber would later use as a way of charactering the essential character of the rationalizing process of modernity.8 Yet the distinction between finite and infinite may have been quite as central to the construction, reproduction and delimitation of modern forms of rationality as have theological distinctions between immanence and transcendence; Kant is only the most obvious figure that comes to mind in this respect. Attempts to ‘go beyond’ the established conventions of international relations, and of modern forms of politics in general, betray some of the continuing capacity of these two distinctions to construct desires for the impossible while affirming the necessities of both the possibilities and impossibilities within the finite and immanent world of modern subjects and subjectivities, big and small. Again, think about the delineation of internalities and externalities in these terms, and the continuing grip of Hobbes on the modern political imagination obviously works on a very different register than his specific comments about a state of war. Finally, Hobbes is the theorist of sovereignty who most clearly insists that sovereignty always requires authorization. Most of the hard work done in Leviathan is already completed long before we arrive at anything resembling a security dilemma in chapter 11. The main thing theorists of international relations had to recover before any critical interrogation of the ossified categories of the discipline erected during the Cold War became possible was not some body of normative ideals to throw in the face of self-proclaimed political realists but something like Hobbes’s sense of what is involved in the authorization of sovereign authority. Tactical inspiration may have come from an array of ‘postmodern’ thinkers like Jacques Derrida, but this is largely because such thinkers had been engaging precisely with the founding practices of so many claims to traditional authority, though usually, and annoyingly, in relation to apparently philosophical rather than explicitly political texts. So, Hobbes may be treated simply as someone who gave the standard definition of sovereign authority that has shaped a form of political order in which it is easy enough to feel eternally trapped and helpless, as the source of answers we have to take for granted.

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He may also be read as our most brilliant analyst, and thus potential critic, of the conditions under which these answers, the trap, the impossibility of any other conclusion, came to be set.

**** The most explicit, well-known and yet underappreciated expression of what Hobbes achieves in this broader context is the central narrative of founding that Hobbes proceeds to tell after constructing his account of the conditions under which one might think about a narrative of founding: what we know as his social contract theory. This is so well known, and naturalized, that it is taken to be just a simplified version of the history through which we, or at least some of us, became modern. Once upon a time we lived in a state of nature, then we became cultivated, cultured, civil, properly human, though we have become used to thinking about the shift as a temporal (Kantian, Hegelian, Darwinian, developmental, modernizing) process rather than a logical moment. Yet the most striking feature of Hobbes’s portrayal of this state of nature is precisely that it is a formal account not of some historical past but of a negative reading of Hobbes’s account of modern, protoliberal free and equal subjects. Hobbes’s view of history is a history of the present, or at least of Hobbes’s imagination of how the present must be understood. In this way, Hobbes was helping to shape a characteristically modern understanding of what history must be, primarily by articulating a conjectural account of what must have happened in order for modern subjects to become as he thinks they are. In effect, the past is projected backwards from the present. That past is also given a spatial dimension, in America, the space over there where one might find evidence of a time back then. The geometric lines of spatiotemporal extension reach out from Hobbes’s own constitutive subjectivity, mapping the coordinates by which modern man might navigate his way to where and when he had already been, but in a different, positive condition, civil rather than natural. Mercator, the archetypal cartographer of the modern world, may have been good, but he was not quite that good. Moreover, Hobbes seems to have understood quite well that such lines of spatiotemporal extension, of historical and geographical perspective projected from the eye of Hobbes the grand portraitist of modern political subjects, might well go on to infinity, that great unknown that might destroy all attempts to work out a secular but universal reason. Hobbes knew he could not go there, and so stopped just this side of the unreachable and unknowable, just where he could say that it was indeed never quite so, but also where there still remained the possibility of moving ever closer to that infinity that could never be reached. This did not save him, however, from the obvious objection that must attend his account of the way man returns along the lines of projection by way of an instantaneous moment of decision to agree to give up one condition in order to take on another: if the situation was as bad as advertised there could be no way of switching conditions short of the introduction of exceptional capacities that might momentarily turn negative to

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positive, while if the situation was benign enough to permit such agreements, then the rationale for switching conditions simply lost its plausibility. It is a merely hypothetical history, and a hypothetical geography. Yet what Hobbes is doing here is no less than setting out a spatiotemporal field within which it is possible to imagine an international order of some kind. This order was itself imagined as finite, but this finitude was constructed with its own externality, the unknown and always potentially infinite world beyond the one that might be known. Hobbes was thereby participating in the construction of specifically modern accounts of both spatiality and temporality; and this may have been the most important thing that Hobbes does for the way we understand the specifically international dimensions of modern political order. There is still little sense of a system, the system that may be universal in some sense but still does not quite reach out and touch the world. There is even less of a sense of a system with a claim to authority that is necessarily antagonistic to, even aporetic with the claims of any particular sovereign state. But Hobbes supplies the broad framing of an interiority within which it has been possible to construct a systematic array of internalities and externalities, what we call the modern international political order. It is a modern order, of modern subjects and modern subjectivities. Come within and all will be well, as long as – security dilemma indeed – the solution doesn’t become worse than the problem it solves. Hobbes thought only about coming into the state. We are forced to think about coming into both the state and the system of states. As a result, we are forced to think about the consequences of a political order that distinguishes sharply between zones of peace and zones of war, a political order in which the possibility of war is supposed to offer some hope for the maintenance of zones of peace. This generates desires to do it all some other way. We must act in relation to the entire world, it is said; and quite rightly so. Except that Hobbes, along with many others, has already distinguished the world of modern political possibilities from all other worlds, temporal and spatial. It is on this basis that he works out a story about the conditionalities of modern political subjects. Hobbes himself is a bit vague and imprecise about it all. His imagery is that of speculative history. Kant again does a much more incisive job on what it means to work out a politics of finitude and the dilemmas of representation and scale attending a modern world strung between universality and particularity but blocked from going beyond its specific understanding of universality and particularity out to some unknowable infinitude. Hobbes and Kant really have to be dealt with together in this respect, and certainly not as mindless representatives of a political realism and a political idealism.

**** Many hard questions come into sharper focus if we think about Hobbes in relation to the conditions under which we have been able to imagine an internationalized political order that has been constructed in relation to an ambition for modern free and equal subjects that have been brought into the modern world and thereby

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excluded from any other world.9 To think about an international political theory after Hobbes must involve a more intense engagement with the conditions under which Hobbes himself was able to imagine his elegant modern universe of free and equal subjects and subjectivities: with the narrative of an included present that enabled a narrative of a doubled exclusion from the present, one internal and one external; with the narrative of an impossible but necessary return generated by that doubled narrative; and then, but only then, with the narratives of how sovereignty must work given the way it has been authorized to work. To focus only on Hobbes’s explicit account of a state of war is to miss just about everything that makes Hobbes such a challenge to contemporary political life, just as to focus on sovereignty as a centralized site of authority is to miss everything that is important about how Hobbes lays out a story about the necessary origin of things and thus the necessary limits of things, between which it might, but only might, be possible to construct a centre of sovereign authority. It may be that the centre cannot hold; but it is more important to think about whether the spatiotemporal limits that Hobbes sketched in ways that have encouraged us to look for politics only where the centres may hold are still sustainable. I certainly think it very unwise to accept Hobbes’s assumptions in this respect. Without those assumptions, however, thinking about the possibilities of a political theory, international or otherwise, becomes considerably more difficult than complaining about the condition of theories of international relations or thinking that one can improve them simply by ignoring Hobbes’s achievements; or rather, the achievements for which Hobbes is merely one textually incisive expression. On the other hand, reflecting on the condition of theories of international relations does help us to understand that a political theory that does not engage with the international conditionalities of modern politics must also have very little to offer. Ultimately, the story that Hobbes told about the external conditions of a politics of sovereign states may be even more fateful than the story he told about what goes on within such states. This is not a story about a state of war. It is a story about how we are supposed to think about our origins and limits as modern subjects. International political theory cannot ignore it.

Notes 1 This chapter was originally published in Raia Prokhovnik and Gabriella Stomp, eds, International Political Theory after Hobbes: Analysis, Interpretation and Orientation, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2011, 168–88. 2 Thomas Hobbes, ‘Introduction’, Leviathan, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991, 11. 3 Martin Wight, ‘Why Is There No International Theory?’, in Herbert Butterfield and Martin Wight, eds, Diplomatic Investigations, London: George Allen and Unwin, 1966, 17–34. 4 These are more or less the terms in which I try to engage the spatiotemporal articulation of modern political analysis in R. B. J. Walker, Inside/Outside: International Relations as Political Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. 5 Hobbes, Leviathan, chapter 13.

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6 As canvassed, for example, by Albert Hirshman, The Passions and the Interests, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1977, and many others. 7 Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society, London: Macmillan, 1977. 8 Hobbes, Leviathan, chapter 3. 9 For a more elaborate way of framing what these questions might be see R. B. J. Walker, After the Globe, Before the World, London: Routledge, 2010.


The most profound challenges provoked by the suicidal and murderous assault on the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan and the Pentagon in Washington, DC have been to prevailing accounts of political judgement.1 What are we to make of these dramatic acts of violence? On what grounds were we able to make sense of them, to fit them into established expectations about how the world was unfolding after the turn of the millennium? On what grounds were we able to respond to them as challenges to prevailing accounts of legitimate political action: as acts of violence that, while contravening most people’s sense of the general illegitimacy of violence, nevertheless occurred in a world in which most people’s lives ultimately rest on a willingness, sometimes tacit, sometimes explicit, to deploy violence on an even greater scale than we saw on one stunning day in September? On what grounds were we encouraged to make sense of them by the narratives that, after a day or so of frantic conceptual scrambling, began to cohere in the official briefings and newsrooms? On what grounds are we now able to reflect on our ability to respond to the place of violence in contemporary political life given the capacities for violence and counterviolence expressed in this specific series of events? Many responses to such questions have been offered by political actors and commentators across the spectrum of established political and ethical debates. Thankfully, not all have been as crude as those used to justify the military action taken by the Bush, Blair and many other governments. Nor, also thankfully, has it been easy to attain credibility by articulating equally crude indictments of these governments’ violent responses to violence. Unless one has been entirely blind to the conflicting and conflictual patterns of contemporary world events, or prepared to accept the extraordinary self-righteousness expressed both in these specific events and in most of the official reactions to them, our responses to all this violence necessarily draw us into some very difficult questions about the grounds on which we

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now make political judgements, or have our judgements made for us by those who claim all authority to make political judgements. In some places at least, the recourse to easy moralisms on any side of the debate has become a sure sign of political and ethical bankruptcy. I take this to be one of the few positive things that can be said in relation to these events and their immediate aftermath. Yet while we may be cautiously positive about the degree to which many people have been able to resist the easy moralisms preferred by so many political elites, finding any kind of secure ground on which to develop more responsible political judgements has become very difficult, both in relation to this specific set of events and to the dynamics of the contemporary international/global (dis)order more generally. Some of the more difficult questions we now confront are familiar and have long made modern thinkers a little uncomfortable, though perhaps not uncomfortable enough. They grow out of established accounts of assumptions about the necessity and ethical legitimacy of violence in a world of modern sovereign states. They rest ultimately on the fundamental hypocrisy, the institutionalized double standards, through which the modern world in general and liberals in particular have tried to make claims about universal standards of truth and justice while defending their own nation-state’s parochial claim to truth and justice. God, or civilization, or virtue is always on someone’s side, and we have come to know all too well what this means for those who are not. Some, second, have to do with the difficulty of interpreting the structural dynamics of power and authority in the contemporary global order. The Bushes and the Blairs may speak as if they are acting in a world of sovereign states, and shape their rhetoric accordingly. But we, and they, know enough about globalization, militarization and inequalities on a global scale to discount their rhetoric, though probably not enough to come up with a more coherent account of a world that has become much too complex to comprehend in the simplistic categories of the speech writers and international relations textbooks. Consequently, third, even those who are used to dealing in the established hypocrisies of modern political life find themselves in difficulty attempting to respond to the events of September 11 on the basis of forms of internationalism that, while especially popular among statesmen, lawyers, academics and commentators in Europe and many other places, seem to rest on assumptions about how the world is organized politically that don’t quite fit most people’s instincts about what is going on. This is where the difficulties of judgement are most intense. Whatever the specificities of September 11, they have to be understood as part of a broader pattern of events that express profound challenges to established accounts of legitimate violence in a system of modern sovereign states. These challenges are not new. Nevertheless, the kind of crisis precipitated by the dramas of that day offers a degree of insight into processes many people vaguely sense yet which elude even the most sophisticated forms of political analysis. Groping in the blinding light of new world orders, unfolding globalizations, a new liberal peace and an apparently victorious civilization, a flash of darkness exposes new pacts with violence, and still more violence.

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Here I want to make some brief comments about each of these three sources of uncertainty about our grounds for judgement before concluding with an even briefer comment about the relationship between the difficulty of making judgements in this case and a broader set of concerns about the possibility of meaningful political practice under contemporary – perhaps hegemonic, perhaps quasi-imperial, in some respects quite familiar but in others quite perplexing – conditions. Many judgements have been articulated about the significance of the specific events of September 11, some wise, some quite irresponsible. Judgements about these judgements vary. In my view, wisdom has generally combined some sense of a tradition of internationalism with a sense that these specific events must be placed in some broader historical and structural context, while irresponsibility has been cloaked in the familiar garb of nationalist hypocrisy masquerading as universal morality. In the end, however, much of the difficulty of making judgements in this case arises from a broader fragility in the established internationalist consensus and from patterns of historical-structural transformation that have been challenging established accounts of legitimate authority for quite some time.

Modern hypocrisies The attacks on New York and Washington rightly provoked outrage in most, though not all places. Indeed, for many people, the grounds for judgement were as clear and firm as can be imagined. For most Americans, hit for the first time with such violence within their own territories, and on such symbols of political power and authority, outrage remains the only serious ground for judgement. In the USA, especially, political judgement has been powerfully shaped by an elemental ethic of revenge. This ethic has been amplified by crudely manipulative mass media, by profound incomprehension among many but certainly not all Americans of their effects on the wider world, by a variety of distinctively American cultural traits, and by the mobilization of nationalist and patriotic sentiments in a daunting exercise in something like state building as well as short-term party-political manoeuvring. This ethic has in turn served to legitimize massive displays of military and diplomatic power and to delegitimize any politics that challenge the sovereign decisions of the Bush regime. There is no doubt that at that specific moment of crisis, and for some months thereafter, politics was condensed to an awesome decisionism: a decisionism, it must be said, that recalls all too many of the worst moments of twentieth-century history. An emergency was declared, an enemy was defined, violence was unleashed, democracy was once again subordinated to the claimed necessities of state. Still, political life is never so simple, even in a state of emergency, and even for what looks like the greatest of great powers. What kind of emergency was this? And for whom? What kind of decision was made, what kind of violence was unleashed, with what kind of ambition, and what kind of legitimacy? As many commentators noted almost immediately, events like this do not appear through magic or devilry. They are episodes in a broader series of events, processes, structures, necessities and freedoms. Decisions that respond to the specific event

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alone risk a loss of political judgement and its replacement with, in the terms Max Weber used to capture the defining contradiction of modern political life at the end of the First World War, an ethics of commitment.2 Unsurprisingly, the primary critical response to the immediate ethics of revenge that seemed to drive the Bush regime was to contextualize, to draw attention to other outrageous displays of violence, many with explicit and brutally unapologetic American involvement. They sought to unravel various patterns of historical and structural causation that might somehow explain the violence that simply did not make sense to many people except in the religious categories of good and evil: categories that privilege a theology of saved and damned over all the political categories that the modern world has constructed so carefully so as to avoid the degeneration of politics into wars of religion and ethical conviction. Here we get right to the heart of the problem. Appeals to self-righteous conviction have long been understood to be effective ways of mobilizing support for political ends, especially in moments of crisis. Yet at least since the end of the seventeenthcentury wars of religion in Europe, even since the emergence of Renaissance humanism challenged the primacy of religious authority in the name of a secular political community, one of the primary ambitions of modern politics has been to avoid the reduction of politics to any simple ethics of conviction. This is why the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 at the end of the Thirty Years’ War, a war fought primarily on religious grounds, is so often seen as the basic founding moment of modern international relations. Wars of religion are said to be especially nasty, and modern accounts of international relations are predicated on the assumption that it is possible to ameliorate their nastiness by constructing purely secular institutions and forms of statecraft resting on more prosaic forms of self-interest and pragmatic accommodation. In practice, of course, religious or quasi-religious sentiments have often threatened to swamp a purely secular power politics. Both nationalism and the ideological struggles of the Cold War period expressed very powerful even though secularized forms of religious conviction and self-righteousness, bringing extraordinary levels of violence and militarization to societies that prided themselves on their civilization and enlightenment. Modern secular life is not immune to the dynamics of self-righteousness usually associated with religious conflicts. The twentieth-century experience of mass destruction offers an awesome warning to all those shameless commentators who offered simplistic accounts of Islam as the source of all contemporary troubles or who tried to pretend that liberal modernity has not been complicit with violence. Nevertheless, the hopes of modern internationalism have rested on a gamble that the structures of the modern system of secular sovereign states – peace-loving democracies as we are encouraged to call them – remain strong enough to prevent yet another eruption of ideological fervour. September 11, 2001 marked a moment at which this gamble came to seem exceptionally risky once again. It seemed risky not only because violence was unleashed on parts of an American/global order in the name of a specific religion, but also because the response of the Bush regime, the identification of all opposition

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to Bush the Younger’s own political agenda as evil, as susceptible to the all-purpose and highly mobile status of Terrorist, goes against the grain of every traditional account of what it means to act in a responsible way in a modern system of sovereign states. While it is possible to see how the appeal to good and evil works politically – as a tactic in a state of emergency, as a procedure to promote nationalism, patriotism, state building and the shoring up of quasi-democratic regimes – it is also possible to see how it works to undermine all semblance of responsible politics in a modern system of secular and democratic states. This is a dynamic that goes back right to the beginning of the modern states system. It is expressed in the tension between judgements rooted in some kind of private or religious ethics and an ethics rooted in the preservation of a state capable of sustaining a human community of ethical people, and of a states system that can guarantee a variety of ethical possibilities in the form of those diverse cultures that make up the community of nations. It is a dynamic that was played out yet again in the wake of the attacks: between the extreme nationalism, or something like it, of most of the Bush administration and Colin Powell’s more internationalist tendencies; between Bush and most of the European states; and in Tony Blair’s attempt to hold onto both positions simultaneously, or to pretend that good internationalism is the same as the defence of good against evil. Blair, of course, can be understood as a clever political player, playing the well-established role of intermediary between the US and Europe. He can also be read as someone who is personally driven more by an ethics of conviction than by an ethics of political responsibility. In either case, the degree with which he has been able to fudge the central contradiction between an ethic of conviction that he is on the side of some universal morality and an ethic of responsibility within a pluralistic system of sovereign states tells us about a more important dynamic than one small politician’s career, or one small state’s place in the world. Many of the difficult questions of judgement in this case might indeed be understandable in terms of something like Weber’s distinction between an ethic of responsibility and an ethic of conviction. Those who urged caution in the resort to violence, or the importance of maintaining an international coalition, or the need to respect established procedures of international law, or the need to contextualize one violent event in relation to the many other violent events that remain a normal part of everyday life for so many people, have tended to make judgements on the ground of international responsibility. Others who thought that this was simply a matter of good and evil were opting for something else: perhaps the righteous nationalism and patriotism of their own state; perhaps for a set of values they believed should apply to every person on the planet; or, the difficult and very dangerous case, for both. Bush and even Blair have been forthright proponents of the latter position, the always difficult case. Sometimes this has been the prerogative of the leaders of ‘hegemonic’ states, those states that were more equal than other states, and with more responsibility for maintaining some semblance of international order. Sometimes this has been the prerogative of ‘revolutionary’ states, those which sought to

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impose their own values more widely as a condition of their own hoped-for hegemonic status. The obvious danger of both hegemonic states and revolutionary states, of course, is that in seeing themselves as more equal, and more righteous, than other states, they see themselves in terms of empire rather than of system of states. Hence the more daunting difficulties of political judgement in this case. It is not only that we can try to respond to one violent assault and its violent aftermath by replaying the familiar struggle between righteous conviction and international responsibility, but that the very ground on which this way of formulating judgements about political judgement may be in the process of giving way to something else. This possibility has been canvassed many times before, not least in relation to the classic eras of Pax Britannica and Pax Americana, but it has been canvassed with renewed vigour since the end of the Cold War. In this context it has been canvassed especially in the form of a claim to humanitarianism made up from a combination of selected aspects of right-based liberalism and the more benign accounts of globalization as a process that is finally taking us away from that old-fashioned world of competing nation states with its impossible choice between an ethics of conviction and an ethics of responsibility. Predictably, these claims have been challenged as a simple imposition by the most powerful; challenges that have had limited purchase given their popularity with the most thuggish of dictators seeking legitimacy under a fig leaf of state sovereignty, but challenges nevertheless that warn against any simplistic shift from a pluralistic community of nations to any New World Order, or Democratic Peace, or End of History ordained by a small elite of highly militarized governments acting in the name of the common good. It is possible that we are living in a world in which all states are democratic and peace-loving, all in control of their own domestic affairs and yet miraculously all at one with the kinds of convictions so proudly espoused by Bush and Blair. Or at least, it is possible that with just a bit more help, and a bit more violence, this is the world that is just around the corner, just as soon as we rid ourselves of a few more thuggish dictators, and a few more of those who don’t quite believe that Bush or Blair represent the last word in humanitarian virtue. Relying on something like this story, we might restore some solidity to the ground on which we make political judgements. Bush will come to be known as a great internationalist. The multilateralism associated with Powell and articulately defended by intellectuals of the old foreign policy establishment like Joseph Nye,3 rather than the revolutionary unilateralism of Donald Rumsfeld and others, might eventually be judged to be the proper way of articulating America’s place in the global political order. Stranger things have happened. But of all the stories currently going around about where in the world we are now, it has to be said that this one is not the most obviously persuasive.

Still more violence The hardest part of analysing any political event is deciding where to begin. Some people hanker after some big bang that explains everything. Political actors count on the frailties of human memory. To all but the most naive, it was immediately

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clear that no serious commentary could begin with September 11, 2001. To do so would be to underestimate both the significance of this specific set of events and the complexity of the processes that gave rise to them. If part of the difficulty of making judgements in this context can be framed in terms of the traditional tension between an ethics of conviction and an ethics of responsibility, a further part can be framed in terms of the increasing difficulty of interpreting the broader context in which contemporary claims about an ethics of responsibility might now be understood. There have been some obvious obstacles to any such understanding. The passions of the moment always tend to cloud our analytical judgements. It has also been very difficult to get basic information, and the information we do have is so obviously corrupted by the dynamics of the mass media and the demands of propaganda, especially given the convergence between technologies and practices of information and communication with new forms of military strategy, tactics and weaponry. Moreover, it has been all too easy to appeal to situations we think we understand in order to make sense of events that seem to defy understanding. Many analogies have been deployed to make sense of these events in relation to the presumed lessons of history. The analogies initially favoured by US and UK politicians referred to a cancer that had to be cut out and to the attack on Pearl Harbor, but these were soon challenged by more complex and more worrying references: to a great iceberg of which September 11 was but a small tip; or a very unstable structure of tectonic plates; or 1914; or aspects of Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, or even the fall of the Roman Empire. The more that commentary sought grounding in the lessons of history, the more history seemed a treacherous guide to a situation that attracted at least as many claims about novelty as about continuities. The standard images of wars between states seemed to be especially misleading, as they have been for some time, recent assaults on Iraq and Serbia notwithstanding. Was this a proper war? Or was it a crime? If it was a war, precisely what states were at war with each other? If it was a crime, precisely who was it a crime against – America? Humanity? Modernity? Liberalism? Confusion increased as the response to a specific act of violence quickly morphed into a range of other conflicts. Even for a more than usually engaged public it was difficult to keep an eye on the ball partly because there were so many balls and partly because it was not clear either what the game was or where exactly it was being played. The response to specific terrorists became both a generalized War against Terrorism (promising a broader war against all and sundry beginning with Iraq) and a specific intervention into a civil war in Afghanistan (promising yet another exercise in ‘state building’, itself building on a longer and often dubious story about ‘failed’ and ‘rogue’ states and inviting worries about the troubled relation between failed/rogue states and military intervention). By early November 2001, the defining voices seemed to have switched from the more internationally oriented State Department to the more intransigent militarists among Bush’s closest advisers, and extraordinary military force was unleashed on the terrain of Afghanistan, a place between places. Yet the clarity with which power was centralized and authorized in Washington at the expense of an internationalist

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coalition, or of any role for regional states, or the United Nations, only made the interpretation of events more difficult and contestable; or perhaps easier, and even more contestable. That destruction was rained on those specific sites in Washington and New York points to the broad structures of meaning in which these sites had acquired massive symbolic value. That 9/11 provoked a war on Terror anywhere in the world points to the broad global context of these specific events. That the enemy was so quickly identified as Bin Laden/Al-Qae’da already points to a much broader and tangled web of conflicts whose centre might be a specific somewhere – Saudi Arabia according to the discourses of immediate causation, Afghanistan according to the discourses of immediate location, Palestine/Israel according to the discourses of proximate injustice, or the geopolitics of oil according to the discourses of underlying interest – but also with an indiscriminate everywhere that Terror might be found. There have been many ways of attempting to draw a more complex picture of the context in which the events of September 11 might be understood and assessed. Seven broad forms of analysis can be identified fairly easily. All have some reasonably obvious bearing on how we might try to make sense of the September 11 attacks and their aftermath, but it is far from clear how they might converge on some more comprehensive picture. First, we might try to understand the geopolitics of a specific region as a crucial site of global geopolitical structures. Here we might focus especially on Saudi Arabia, recognizing that while physically expressed on the territories of the USA and Afghanistan, both the assault of September 11 and many features of the civil war in Afghanistan had their most immediate source in dynamics played out there. Or on the festering sore of the Israeli terror state and the endless cycle of violent Palestinian resistance to decades of colonialism, the massive scandal and counterscandal through which a broader set of injustices in the region have been interpreted. Or on Pakistan, as another major state implicated in the organization of specific terror networks. Or, on various attempts to depict a complex pattern of alignments and realignments, including those involving Iraq, Iran, various ex-Soviet republics, Somalia, Sudan and Russia. Second, we might try to recognize that this complex regional geopolitics is intricately connected to regional aspects of a changing international political economy. Here we might point to the geopolitics of energy supply, especially in relation to the relative importance of oil in the Arab world and in the Caspian basin, both in the short and long terms. Or to the imperatives of a globalizing market economy subject to recession and the imperatives of consumption, to the global organization of financial flows, informal economies of wealth creation of all kinds, not least those involving both criminal and terrorist organizations, and a shift in the role of the state and interstate institutions of governance in managing a certain kind of world economy. Third, the need to understand regional aspects of a changing international political order in which the logic of a multicentric states system is in tension with a logic of

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global hegemony driven partly by the US state and partly by the dynamics of global capital. Here we are liable to come up against one of the great conceptual challenges confronting all forms of contemporary political analysis. This challenge is helped neither by the widespread tendency to treat ‘America’ and ‘global capital’ as unitary and intensely conspiratorial actors pulling all the strings on the world political stage, nor by the apparent paradox that, in some respects at least, the US can be understood less as a global hegemon than as one of the very few states that can still plausibly claim to resemble the old internationalist imagery of an autonomous sovereign state pursuing its own national security. At the very least, it seems clear that we are witnessing a profound change in the character of the old tension between international or multilateral order and great power hegemony. Within the US, this change is expressed as a modulation from the old tension between multilateralism and unilateralism in the sense of isolationism to a tension between multilateralism and unilateralism in the sense of global hegemony. The usefully double meaning of the term unilateralism as both a withdrawal from international responsibilities and the equation of international responsibilities with purely national interests has long provided a helpful way for American foreign policy to fudge one of the central contradictions of modern international politics in this respect. Many people have rightly become suspicious that a unilateralist rhetoric legitimizing a national defence has now finally pushed well beyond the conventions of a hegemonic power within an international system to something much closer to a hegemony subordinating an international system to its own unilateralist – imperialist – form of global order.4 Hence, the increasing structural tensions between the US state and the multilateralist conventions still urged by Europe; tensions that had been increasing in any case, not least after the war over Europe’s eastern borders waged against Serbia by the US on Europe’s behalf and in relation to the demands of EU enlargement, the development of ideas about an EU security policy and so on. Hence, also, Blair’s attempts to make a seamless equation between the multilateral and unilateral aspects of the coalition. Moreover, lingering in the background is the apparent realignment of Russia with the West as well as the tension between the US and China and all the other longer-term considerations that had, among other things, persuaded powerful American elites to push for new forms of missile defence systems that threaten to undermine all progress on the reduction of weapons of mass destruction. These three considerations lead by an all too direct path to, fourth, some familiar observations about the broader pattern of violence in the contemporary world. Many figures might be cited here, but I will choose just one: the death toll in the US from the September 11 attacks was only about 1 per cent of the estimated average number of people killed worldwide from political violence each year in the 1990s; political, that is, in terms which exclude those who die from economic exclusions/exploitations or ecological collapse. It is in this context that one can understand the massive levels of hypocrisy in which we are all implicated and which connect us all, willingly or unwillingly to forces that were at work both in the attacks and in the responses to them.

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Here we might pause to remember the largely unreported massacres from the Gulf War, the direct effects of the ongoing siege of Iraq, the Srebrenica massacre, the millions who died in Afghanistan over the past two decades, or perhaps especially the ongoing production and trade in weapons that is so central to the everyday production of social life in supposedly civilized parts of the world. The numbers are always contestable, of course, and there will always be someone to justify this or that mass killing, this or that shipment of weapons, this or that investment in the local community that survives on the production of killing machines. What seems quite incontestable and unjustifiable, however, is the ongoing militarization of all societies, including and in some respects especially those which claim to be bastions of liberty and international virtue. It is hardly news that violence breeds violence, and that the more we continue on the path of national security with missile defences and the rest, the less security anyone will have anywhere. Hence all the demands for some kind of human security rather than national security that have been developed over the past two or three decades, and the claim that we have been living through some especially virulent symptoms generated by pathological forms of militarization on a global scale. This is related to, fifth, a need to understand the changing forms of violence in the contemporary world. Much of the recent debate about security and military affairs has been taken up with a well-publicized shift from overtly international wars to civil wars in the so-called failed states, on the one hand, and the development of mobile and communications-intensive (netcentric/infocentric) technologies, on the other. Claims about the threat of terror are inseparable from both. The violence unleashed on Afghanistan may well have been military but it has not been a conventional war between states, and the proper way of associating whatever went on there with the resort to terror is no doubt going to be a matter of endless conjecture. Sixth, we might try to understand a range of large-scale globalizing changes that both contribute to and are an effect of all of the above. Here we might focus on the novelty of a global rather than an international political economy; or a global rather than an international political order; or an emerging political system of interurban networks rather than of the old nation states; or the dynamics of long-term climate and environmental change. In all cases, whatever globalization might involve, it diverges considerably from the popular image of a move towards some kind of supranationality involving the demise of states, and probably involves an unprecedented proliferation of constantly changing networks and profound reworking of the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion. In this respect, and whatever its substantive appeal to an old-time religion, Al-Qae’da, like the ‘war’ waged against it, expressed a highly contemporary world of networks and flows familiar to analysts of organized crime, finance, information and the movements of peoples. Finally, we might begin to acknowledge that interpretation and judgement will be influenced by where one is, by one’s location within the structures of international or global order. It may be, for example, that much of the debate between European defenders of multilateralism and the kind of unilateralism preferred by most of the

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Bush regime turns on a concern about a shift from international to some kind of imperial order, but many peoples have long experienced various kinds of imperial order as the natural order of things. Judgements about legitimate violence that assume a world of equal and sovereign states are likely to sound especially hollow in places where the most obvious facts of life are inequality and the continuing reproduction of inequality in the name of a globalizing liberal capitalism. There is, after all, more than one way to analyse the normalized and institutionalized hypocrisies of the contemporary global order, hypocrisies that cannot be ignored either in attempts to explain the events of September 11 or in the challenges they present to prevailing accounts of political judgement.

War by other means All these and other starting points offer potentially endless scope for analysis and debate. The way I have begun to sketch the various directions in which these lines of analysis might have been taken may give some sense of the structures and forces I would especially want to emphasize, but also of the scope for disagreements about what would count as a persuasive explanatory narrative. More significantly, however, they also imply a series of overlapping and mutually reinforcing challenges to some fundamental principles of modern political life, especially as these principles are expressed in the structures and determinations of the system of states that has been the primary enabling condition of modern political life for some centuries. Modern theories of international relations usually begin with some version of the observation that the states system is fragmented and thus governed in only the most rudimentary way. The consequence is a sequence of more or less peaceful periods of accommodation and adjustment between states – hedgehogs in a bag, as the nineteenth-century thinker Schopenhauer once called them – and periods of violent change as various states became more powerful; that is periods of war, which has traditionally been seen as necessary for adjusting to change in a system without an overarching source of governance, and thus as legitimate. This is the basic idea that still comes through in images of the great wars of the twentieth century – the wars that some still want to fight but anyone with any significant memory of that century knows are now either impossible or insane. Behind this familiar if increasingly archaic account of the organization of modern political communities in a states system are two very basic principles that are still very much with us. There is the principle that the states system must be organized on more or less rational secular terms; wars must only be fought to pursue pragmatic and materialistic state interests, and not to ensure the universal adherence to any religious or quasi-religious doctrine. There is also the principle that the states system must not be allowed to relapse into the kinds of empires from which modern states managed to free themselves in order to claim their right of sovereign self-determination. Things have not stood still since the emergence of the modern states system, and these two principles have been under massive challenge from the beginning. On

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the one hand, explicitly secular practices have often come to be driven by what looks very much like religious fervour, by an ethics of conviction. The worst excesses of nationalism come to mind here, as do some aspects of fascism and the ideological dynamics of the Cold War era. But many apparently more benign tendencies must also be understood in this context, as when we are encouraged to think that we might all be humans united by a common bond of universal brotherhood, even sisterhood; think humanism, universal peace, progress, modernization and Blair’s speech to the Labour Party in Brighton in October 2001. In either case, we can see the consequences of the great pact we have made with ourselves as moderns, of our claim to be human, ethical, somehow nearish to God even when denying his, her or its existence. In this pact, we are all good humans except when confronted by, say, Napoleon, Hitler, the Communist Threat, Third World revolutionaries, the Islamic hordes or, most recently, the terrorists; in which case God help them. We might feel righteous in making any of these exceptions, but when driven to extremes, our righteousness is precisely a self-righteousness. For all our attachment to various moralities, we are always prepared to make an exception, and to believe that violence, mass violence, is legitimate. God, or at least reason, common sense, civilization, the society that can be both religious or moral without being fanatical, and all the other synonyms for our version of the good, the true and the beautiful, is on our side. In the conventional story, ‘our side’ is interpreted as a national or statist identity of some kind, though the play of friend and enemy has not always been completely contained by the structures of the states system. We know about our hypocrisies. We often worry about them. At moments of crisis especially, however, we let our hypocrisies loose upon the world. On the other hand, the principle of the sovereign equality of states has long been in tension with the realities of hegemony and great power domination (Pax Britannica, Pax Americana, colonialisms and neo-colonialisms, a Cold War between two superpowers), the rise of a globalizing capitalist economy and now the emergence of just one superpower, or hyperpower, or global hegemony, or perhaps some new kind of empire. This tension is expressed, for example, in the institutional distinction between the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations. It is now unclear whether we are to understand the primary dynamics of political life in relation to some kind of state system (the great game, the balance of power, the rules of multilateralism and so on), with the US playing the role of hegemonic great power, or in relation to an empire read partly in relation to ‘America’ and partly in relation to ‘globalization’ or ‘postmodernity’. According to the conventional wisdom of modern internationalism, we are supposed to expect that when the hypocritical logic of the modern states system meets the logic of a universalizing empire we are likely to be in trouble. It is not unreasonable to think that we may be living in such a moment, and have been doing so for some time. Again, September 11 appears to be just an episode of a longer story, but in this case it is a story that goes to the heart of the most basic principles through which we have claimed to make sense of our possibilities as modern political beings.

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It is no doubt possible to keep on telling the story of modern internationalism. We are, it might be said, witnessing a hegemonic power seeking to be the great responsible in order to sustain order in a world beset with revolutionary and in this case explicitly religious fervour. In the process it also generates a certain kind of fervour, perhaps a bit too ‘religious’ in flavour, but ultimately positively expressed as an understandable nationalism, or perhaps a patriotism, and in any case harnessed to its international partners in a properly international system that is still capable of maintaining the basic principles of modern political life. This is the great hope of all internationalists, the hope that permits various traditions of liberalism to find some accommodation with yet another resort to mass violence and the support of dubious allies. The difficulty here arises from three suspicions. First, the suspicion that for the Bush regime, internationalism has become a convenient fig leaf for an imperialist form of unilateralism complete with an array of client states who may whine ungratefully but remain unable to compete on a level playing field of international order. Second, that what some prefer to interpret as the legitimate patriotism of a hegemonic power has turned into a quasi-religious ideology of universal superiority. Third, the suspicion that where conventional fears about hegemons focus on the danger of revolutionary or quasi-imperial states mobilizing quasi-religious ideologies of nationalism and patriotism in order to generate absolutist distinctions between friends and enemies in a totalizing war between states, we have been witnessing signs of a struggle between the saved and the damned, or the civilized and the barbarian, inscribed less on the territorial space of the modern states system than in a globally articulated and territorially contingent space between competing civilizations. In this context, we see, in part, fears of a return to a world that is, in the modern political imagination, associated with life before the Treaty of Westphalia, with wars of religious or quasi-religious fanaticism, fears that are triggered as much by Bush’s presidential speeches as by videos of Bin Laden. We also see fears of the kind of distinctions between the supposedly civilized and the supposedly barbarian that go back much further in time and are remembered less in relation to the conventions of the modern states system than to 500 years of crusades, conquests, colonialisms and civilizing missions of all kinds. The most striking feature of Bush’s declarations of war has been that they have been understandable less in relation to a sovereign capacity to declare a state of emergency, a capacity to suspend all norms of everyday behaviour, in relation to another sovereign state than in relation to an enemy that is essentially intangible and disconnected from any territorial state and which can be projected almost at will onto any convenient territories, bodies and peoples. This may be sovereignty, but it is not sovereignty as we are supposed to know it. And if this is not sovereignty as we are supposed to know it, then we may either hope that internationalism will eventually rescue us from the unilateralist or forthrightly imperialist America, whether as championed by a small clique of fanatics or driven by huge historical forces, or face up to the ways in which the basic rules of the modern states system, and the internationalist institutions that have made this system workable despite the necessary recurrence of wars, really are now breaking apart in a serious way.5

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The point can be made not only in relation to the spatial logic of a system of modern states, but also to the temporal logic of what we have come to call modernization. For all the appeal to tradition and Islam, the phenomenon we call Bin Laden has been a production of (late or even post) modernity. He expresses yet another in a long line of modern inventions of tradition used to challenge those who have adapted modernity to their own purposes. The standard image here is that of Frankenstein, and it is not so far from trying to understand Bin Laden as a phenomenon to remembering the contradictions built into modern nationalism or the fascist state. Bin Laden grew out of social conditions in which modernization did not mean the gradual process of democratization many fondly imagine to have led ‘the civilized West’ to where it is now, but the collusion of this civilized West, or at least specific parts of it, in sustaining antidemocratic states for its own purposes. Hence the acute tension between the more or less modernist regimes of states in this region and the various forms of social antagonism that have become increasingly expressed in what many would characterize as pathological or fundamentalist forms of Islam, though they have also been expressed in attempts to articulate a pan-Arab resistance to various forms of colonialism. At the very least, it is a mistake to assume that the events of September 11 were aimed simply or even primarily at the US; rather than, say, against the House of Saud and all it stands for as an expression of modernist authoritarianism, and as an agent of global/American political and economic hegemony. What might be said of Saudi Arabia might also be said, with important variations, in relation to Egypt, Iran, Syria, Iraq, the Gulf states and so on. By this route we end up with the specific dilemmas of Afghanistan; the combination of a rich but militantly antimodern Saudi, possibly in association with Islamic jihad and others, and a society massively wrecked by the predations of many outsiders, including the world’s most highly modernized societies. Whatever one might say about the specific peculiarities of Bin Laden, Egyptian Islamic jihad, Al-Qae’da or the Taliban, it is crucial to understand that they express social contradictions and forces that arise from intense social struggles against globally articulated forms of economic, military and political power. As such, they resonate not only with a so-called fundamentalist or extremist retreat into some imagined age of the prophets, but also with many characteristically modern, liberal, feminist and other progressive critiques of the arbitrary and undemocratic forms of government in the region. However outrageous, September 11 was not aimed simply at ‘America’, but at the destabilization of massively corrupt forms of politics in a region in which ‘America’, among others, is the great friend of corrupt regimes. Much of the debate, even critical debate, around this conflict is portrayed as if the options are a simple matter of good and evil, of modernity or barbarism, of the West versus Islam, of America good or America bad. In many places, however, the primary and much more telling response has been less to invoke simple Manichean dualisms than to point to blatant forms of hypocrisy: the hypocrisy of the most powerful who have set up the system to their own advantage and then resort to bombs and self-righteousness when it backfires on them; and the hypocrisy of the

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less powerful who have bought into the system and colluded so as to sustain corrupt regimes and generate the conditions under which extremists respond with violence to widely acknowledged injustices. These hypocrisies play out in many contexts. Authoritarian regimes are unlikely to give up their monopoly on oil wealth, and the Americans are not going to give up on cheap and dependable oil supplies. But the positive consequence of stressing patterns of hypocrisy is that analysis shifts from theologies of good and evil to attempts to understand a world of contradictions and relations, not least in relation to what we so easily characterize simply as modernity as some kind of benign condition. The thinker who has largely presided over how we think about modern war over the past century has been Carl von Clausewitz. He is most famous for the notion that war is the continuation of politics by other means; by which he was referring to the need to ensure that war was conducted in relation to some kind of political rationality rather than driven by the uncontrollable passions of post-Napoleonic nationalism allied with rapidly modernizing technologies.6 In this respect, Clausewitz was working within an understanding of a world of states; states in which the normal practices of politics could be conducted at home but could not apply in relations with other states, for which one had to prepare for the state of war, or the state of emergency, for the use of other means. Much of the history of the twentieth century can be read in relation to the question of whether this distinction between a rational world of politics and a world of ‘other means’ could be sustained. Clausewitz’s understanding of rationality was informed by the philosopher Hegel, and depended on a claim about the general direction of human progress, at least human progress within the modern rational state. By the early twentieth century, this kind of progressive rationality had come to seem a bit dubious. Max Weber was developing a powerful account of the peculiar dialectic of modern rationality through which the greater the grip of a rationalizing instrumental efficiency, the greater the appeal of non-rational value commitments – an account that may say something about the experience of extermination camps and nuclear deterrence, the bloodbath of a supposedly progressive century, and the hypocritical moralizing of a modernity that prefers to deny its responsibilities for mass violence.7 Carl Schmitt subsequently offered cryptic reminders that whatever the pretensions of liberals, democrats and other progressives, the modern state depends on an arbitrary and always potentially violent capacity to define those who are violent.8 Perhaps more disturbingly still, Walter Benjamin looked ahead to see not war as politics by other means but politics as war by other means, the inscription of a war-like violence into the practices of daily life and perhaps even the attempt to securitize everything everywhere.9 These are all rather depressing thinkers, but they do get at some of the profound paradoxes of a modernity that has brought both progress and despair, inclusion for some and exclusion for others. Again, their insights might be taken in many directions. Conventional accounts of international relations, for example, assume that the positive side of modernity can be experienced within states and we just

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have to put up with, or somehow mitigate, the violence between states that makes the good life at home possible. Conventional accounts of modernization give this story a temporal spin and identify the good life with some mid-Atlantic ideal and then insist on the necessity of violence, or limits on democracy, or International Monetary Fund conditionality, as the price of moving towards this ideal. In either case, we can get some sense of the spatial and temporal dynamics in which the forces of a regional-global geopolitics and political economy get worked out in relation both to a modernizing state with all the usual authoritarianisms and corruptions and a globalizing hegemon/empire expressing every hypocrisy that can be packed into stories about modernity as a perfectly benign journey to an enlightened future. The conventional wisdoms that are generally lined up to respond to this more critical and depressing account of modernity tend to rest on hopes for the supposedly free market or some kind of cosmopolitanism, whether of republics or individual subjects, articulated in relation to some kind of universal reason; some combination of Adam Smith and Immanuel Kant. Again, these wisdoms used to be given an internationalist twist. All universals could find expression in the self-determining jurisdictions of sovereign states, the place where normal everyday life could unfold, helped along by a bit of modernization from above or external intervention if necessary. Sam Huntington, once the great teller of stories about the necessities of modernizing states, put a popular name to the shift away from that old story to the new world of competing civilizations.10 But civilizations don’t coexist in a system of states. They don’t have political systems either. While there may be very few, if any, positive things to say about Huntington’s scholarship, however, he does have a very good nose for the decisive transformation, even if he does give it a misleading name. Huntington makes a very good apologist for an empire in need of a snappy historical script.

After the slack Over the decade or so before the planes hit, the fall of the Berlin Wall had become the ground on which claims about a rapidly changing world had become the new currency of scholarly and policy-making credibility. The freezer was unplugged, allowing the accumulated rot to smell and threaten. The New World Order was announced, to be followed by the Coming Anarchy, the Conflict of Civilizations, the promise of Globalization and all the rest. It seemed that we were living through an era of transitions, of multiple trajectories, a world that had become much looser and differentiated than the rigid divisions of the Cold War. Insofar as one can appeal to slogans, I prefer to think of it as an era of slack, a loose proliferation of trends punctuated by the occasional attempt to bring some discipline to a few selected slackers – Iraq and Serbia most notably – though not others. September 11 generated a rapid tightening of this slack, a tightening that was more dramatic and determined than had happened in relation to the Gulf War or the redrawing of European boundaries after the dissolution of Yugoslavia. The lines have been pulled tight again, but, crucially, they are being drawn less around a

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world of sovereign states than around something else: a worldwide defence of civilization against a worldwide threat of Terror. Nevertheless, between 1989 and 2001, the grounds of political judgement had shifted. Where the Cold War had still been understandable in terms of a basic distinction between friends and enemies articulated on the ground of sovereign states, this distinction is now articulated in relation to something dramatically different. To look for some broader context in which to situate the events of September 11 is not to evade the need to condemn those who resorted to such violence. I have no doubt that these actions constituted an enormous crime, and ought to be dealt with as such. The really terrible thing is that it was an enormous crime among many enormous crimes, and as we know all too well, some of the worst criminals have been our friends, even our heroes; indeed, we are still recruiting them. Worse, some of the greatest crimes against humanity have been generated by huge social forces that destroy the lives of vast numbers of people every day, forces on which some of us thrive at other people’s expense, and against which we have absolutely no legal recourse. We cannot take whole economic, social, cultural or religious systems to court, and we cannot bomb them out of existence. We confront a political problem, not just a legal or an ethical one. Like it or not, arresting or exterminating those who were directly responsible for September 11 is not going to solve the problems of which these events are a symptom. We are likely to see a continuing resort to self-righteous fanaticism on both sides. On one side is a fanaticism generated by extremes of violence, injustice and exclusion, sustained by the bizarre invention of religious dogmas, and led by networks of people who have benefited both from our own indulgence and willingness to manipulate others to kill for us and from their own long experience of wars of resistance against colonialism. On the other side is a fanaticism sustained by selfrighteous belief in civilizational superiority as well as by much less civilized forms of superiority. Both are dangerous, and both have to be opposed. Some of the world’s most dangerous people hide out in the mountains, and others have legitimate access to the most devastating weapons of mass destruction the world has ever known. The late great Thomas Hobbes had a fairly good idea of the way those who claimed to protect us were always liable to do us serious damage.11 This basic insight is now much more disturbing than it was in the age of the English Civil War. We are also likely to see attempts to revive various forms of internationalism or multilateralism as various states seek both to support the American campaign against terrorism (not least because terrorism is directed at them, in many cases even more so), and also to resist further slippage from a pluralistic state system to unilateral empire. Hence the insistence on coalitions and consensus and, hopefully, resistance to the crazy slope that runs from taking out Bin Laden to taking out Saddam and other highly selective undesirables. In the end, however, the events of September 11 and their aftermath point to a multiplicity of dangers in a world in which prevailing accounts of power, authority and security are making the world a seriously unsafe place for everyone. It is becoming increasingly difficult and costly to assume we can organize and control

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the world by drawing the line, both physically and metaphorically, between here and there, this state and that state, America and the Middle East, between the included and the excluded, the citizen of this state and the citizen of that state, the nice people here, the weird or dangerous foreigner there. The most basic assumptions of the internationalist position are increasingly shaky, as a look at the pattern of refugees, financial flows, the drugs trade, the organization of terrorist cells, the organization of military force and all the rest have begun to suggest so clearly, though this certainly does not seem likely to prevent various states seeking to police the line between included and excluded with ever greater degrees of discrimination. The extremists on both sides believe we can and must draw the line, and they do it in the most simplistic way possible. It is especially troubling that the crusading language so many public figures have endorsed in relation to Islam is only an extreme form of the crusading moralism that all kinds of people have used to cover up and legitimize intolerable everyday violence generated by global patterns of economic and military practice. The road to hell has been very brightly polished with good intentions. Any attempt to draw the lines tightly, to paint the world as either a conflict of religions or as a play of the great game of sovereign states, is going to make a bad situation worse. One can fear that we are back either to some even more awful version of the Thirty Years’ War or to the final collapse of modern politics into the demands of a self-righteous empire; or both. One can hope, with the internationalists, that these fears are overdrawn. But both spectres mask a complex geopolitical and geoeconomic transformation that goes far beyond the search for specific terrorists in Afghanistan or anywhere else. This is the context in which we should be talking about emerging forms of legal order, more creative forms of cultural relations and dramatically less scope for a marriage between a globalizing market and a revival of social Darwinism on a global scale. The tragedy of our times is not that we don’t know how to talk about such things but that our capacities to do so are increasingly divorced from the political processes that might allow us to do so in a meaningful way. In the meantime, General Sharon receives the blessings of the most powerful, the multilateralists are sounding very, very worried, very basic questions about legitimate authority in a rapidly changing world are increasingly difficult to answer, and everyday politics is indeed increasingly becoming the continuation of war by other means. There is certainly a problem here, but it does not go by the name of Terror.

Notes 1 This chapter was originally presented at Keele University in late 2001 and published in Bulent Gokay and R. B. J. Walker, eds, September 11, 2001: War, Terror and Judgement by the Keele European Research Centre in 2002; a revised and expanded edition of that text under the same title was published in London by Frank Cass in 2003. 2 Max Weber, ‘The Profession and Vocation of Politics’ (1919), in Weber: Political Writings, edited by Peter Lassman and Ronald Spiers, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. 3 Joseph S. Nye, Jr., The Paradox of American Power: Why the World’s Only Superpower Can’t Go It Alone, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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4 Evidence for such suspicions can be found not only in the more volatile comments emerging from Bush and his advisers, but in the kind of analysis expressed in Stephen Brooks and William Wohlforth, ‘American Primacy in Perspective’, Foreign Affairs, 81:4, July/August 2002, 20–33. 5 The most provocative recent discussion of this possibility is Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001, which develops an analysis that both converges and diverges with the underlying argument informing my analysis here. Cf. Richard Falk, Lester Edwin J. Ruiz and R. B. J. Walker, eds, Reframing the International: Law, Culture, Politics, New York: Routledge, 2002; Michael Cox, Tim Dunne and Ken Booth, eds, Empires, Systems and States: Great Transformations in International Politics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001; Robert Biel, The New Imperialism: Crisis and Contradiction in North/South Relations, London: Zed, 2000. 6 Carl Von Clausewitz, On War (1832), translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984. 7 Hence Weber’s concern in ‘Politics as a Vocation’ with the kind of politician, or man, or personality, who could live up to these spiritually difficult modern times. 8 Carl Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (1922), translated by George Schwab, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985; and Schmitt, The Concept of the Political (1932), translated with an introduction by George Schwab and new foreword by Tracy Strong, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. 9 Walter Benjamin, ‘On the Critique of Violence’, fragmentary translations in Benjamin, Illuminations, edited with an introduction by Hannah Arendt, New York: Schocken Books, 1969. 10 Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, London: Penguin, 1997. 11 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1651), edited by Richard Tuck, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.


I In very general terms that nevertheless speak to complex, contradictory and very dense historical achievements, prevailing accounts of modern politics tend to be expressed in two distinct discourses: those concerned with possibilities and necessities within the sovereign state and those concerned with necessities and possibilities elsewhere.1 In this way, they presume, affirm and reproduce an understanding of a politics that works both internally and externally: that is, within spaces and times contained within a sphere of domesticity beyond which lie other spaces and other times characterized by their relative lack of domestication. These terms may be very generalized, but they express the degree to which modern forms of politics express characteristic claims about human subjectivity: claims that rest on sharp distinctions between self and other, state and state, nation and nation, and both intensive cultivations of the potentials of interiority and extensive uncertainties about spaces, times, energies and identities beyond. Claims about modern political life tend to be centred on a specific account of the singular human subject, whether individual or collective, in the name of citizenship or of humanity. Nevertheless, as with monotheistic accounts of divinity and universalistic accounts of human rationality – accounts that were both resisted and reproduced in multiple formulations of what it means to be a modern subject – claims to singularity generate claims to diversity, not least because it is so easy to claim that divinity and reason belong to an ‘us’ rather than to some ‘others’. Hence the fateful distinctions, indeed famously stubborn oppositions – between being and becoming, heaven and earth, man and nature, reason and unreason, subject and object, citizen and human, among others – that betray legacies from Athens, Jerusalem and Rome, to name the conventional sites implicated in claims about the origins of modern political life that simultaneously name spatiotemporal

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fields lying far beyond the domesticated horizons of the modern political imagination. Consequently, accounts of politics affirming clear spatial distinctions between possibilities and necessities within the sovereign state and those concerned with necessities and possibilities elsewhere have very deep, complex and contested roots that still shape not only prevailing accounts of where and what modern political life must be but also of what any alternatives to that kind of politics might be possible or impossible. For the most part, the alternative to politics within sovereign states has been understood in relation to the spatialized structural order of a system of states, the container and condition of the very possibility of sovereign states, the scarcely acknowledged sovereignty of which is necessarily in profound conflict with the sovereignty of its constituent states. There, conflict, the absence of a domesticated normality, is conventionally blamed on some combination of the quasi-anarchical structures of the system of states, or on patterns of inequality in what is claimed to be a structure of freedoms and equalities, or on the relatively ramshackle character of its sovereign capacity to coerce recalcitrant sovereign states. Sometimes the alternative is understood in relation to a presumed absence of the historical achievement – conventionally but inadequately identified as modernity – that enabled and expressed a political order of states and interstate relations: a condition that has been grasped in temporal and developmental rather than spatial and structural terms as a condition of coming into a political order that is subject to sovereign authorities defining the beginning, ending and predictable norms of modern politics, both internally and externally. In this case, the absence of domestication is framed more as a matter of immaturity, of a relative lack of development along a teleological and linear trajectory of becoming, of modernization, than of the structural incoherence or slippery authority of the normalized condition of the system of states or international order. These twin discourses of doubled spaces and doubled times obviously express many variations, both in form and in substance. Yet much of their overall form, even if not their substance, has remained fairly consistent since their broad outlines were sketched by the now canonical political thinkers of early-modern Europe. They work, both separately and together, as a regulative ideal: as an exemplary idealization of what it means to act individually and collectively as modern subjects and modern subjectivities, under certain conditions and within certain limits. They thus work also as a ground on which to identify people and peoples who have not attained some status as modern subjects and subjectivities, as citizens of states in a structural order that is the best expression we have of the claim that modern citizens might also aspire to some status as human beings. In the cases of the sovereign state and also the sovereign system of states especially, each discourse is seemingly self-sufficient, in conformity with claims to national selfdetermination, singular authority and sovereign jurisdiction. Most modern scholarship tends to divide internal or domestic forms of politics (political theory, national governance, theories of society, the comparative analysis of politics within states and so on) from external, foreign, international or global politics. The division

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sometimes implies a radical difference (society/anarchy, state law/international law, citizenship/humanity and so on). Sometimes it implies very little difference at all, except for a sharp differentiation in scale (the hierarchical ordering and concepts of subsidiarity attending many hope for a properly global or world politics). Nevertheless, as expressions of a specifically modern account of the sovereignty of spatialized – territorial – states, internal and external forms of politics are necessarily interdependent, sometimes deeply antagonistic and sometimes mutually productive. This should have significant consequences not only for the prevailing division of labour in the scholarly analysis of modern politics, but also for the possibilities of engaging with forms of politics in which the constitutive rift between internality and externality seems to be less and less persuasive as a foundational premise upon which scholarly analysis can be mobilized. Both prevailing discourses offer accounts of political possibility grounded through densely reiterated claims about where political activity can and must occur; the heritage of the classical polis has been very powerful in this respect, as have various historical shifts that have allowed us to make sense of our planetary home through concepts of property, territory and the boundaries that contain and differentiate them. These accounts are temporally contingent, but they naturalize a spatial ground on which temporality can unfold and the contingencies of earthly existence can be brought to order; brought, that is, to an ordering of order and disorder. This spatial ground is itself contingent, affirming specific practices for distinguishing space from space and space from time: practices of drawing the line in space, time and law, and of authorizing the orders and disorders that are thereby distinguished. The line that has been drawn between the two discourses affirming where and what modern political life can and must be is at once an expression of the specific spatiotemporality assumed by all forms of political life that are taken to be specifically modern, the crucial condition of the very possibility of such forms, and the site at which contemporary political analysis goes limp and silent, or hard and very nasty.2 This line, however, is itself enabled by other distinctions, other authorizations of lines drawn and authorized at the limits of modern subjectivity, at the limits of the modern, at the limits where all claims that modern political life is somehow at home in the world, as nature or as humanity, are irrevocably shattered.3 Thus there is already an overdetermining politics to the production of those prevailing accounts of modern politics that have come down to ‘us’ – to that ordered and disordered being of beings that knows itself and its selves to be at home in modernity yet cut adrift from all other worlds in which it seeks to be at home – in these two distinctive discourses. To suggest that we ought to be thinking about contemporary political life in terms that invoke claims about new forms of empire/ imperialism or new forms of exceptionalism in addition to or even instead of claims about an internationalism, as many recent literatures suggest we should, is to confront a need to re-engage much more seriously with the politics of modern politics; the politics of a politics, that is, that has been produced in relation to two distinct yet interdependent discourses. The boundary that both discriminates between and produces these two discourses is of crucial consequence for contemporary debates

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about whether the broad context in which we now try to make some sense of political life ought to be understood as international (the usual assumption), as imperial (as suggested by various accounts of a globalizing capitalism and/or a unilateral militarism on the part of the USA) or as increasingly exceptionalist (as suggested by new distinctions between the saved and the damned in the so-called war on terror, by the privileging of security over liberty in contemporary rearticulations of sovereign authority, and by the practices of authorization now enacted by sovereign authorities of various kinds). On this basis, my broad intention in this chapter is to explore the consequences of an increasingly widespread sense that neither international nor imperial are entirely persuasive terms through which to understand the dynamics of contemporary political life, even if neither of them is simply dispensable, while claims about the exceptional seem to be increasingly important, and increasingly disturbing in their implications. More specifically, however, I want to recover some sense of how all three terms are already mutually implicated in each other in many complex ways even though it has become increasingly difficult to see these three concepts as having anything to do with each other except as regulative opposites. By sketching this mutual implication in fairly simple terms, I especially seek to come to some preliminary understanding of what is at stake in the increasingly influential claim, which I endorse, that however else one tries to make sense of contemporary political life, it will not be by assuming that exceptions are made where and how they are supposed to be made according to the statist conventions of modern (international) politics and law. Moreover, while not doubting that aspects of contemporary political (or antipolitical) life can be understood in relation to some sort of imperium, the play of (international) horizontalities and (imperial) verticalities that is expressed in conventional accounts of the limit – the border, the declaration of a sovereign exception, the site of sovereign immanence/transcendence – is likely to offer a profoundly misleading way of thinking about the limits, and exceptionalisms, that confront the political imagination now. In this manner, I hope to draw attention to the broad historical and structural context in which we now make judgements about the specific practices and conflicts over political principle that have been generated by claims about the need to respond to novel forms of violence and insecurity. If novelty is to be identified, I will suggest, it will probably be in relation to all three of the concepts I canvass here, in complex spatiotemporal rearticulations rather than in the grand leaps from one structural condition to another that have become the norm within disciplines reared on sharp rifts between discourses of interiority and externality.4

II One prevailing discourse affirms that we live in modern sovereign states; in which case the primary political activity is understood to be the reconciliation of a multiplicity of people who live within the spatially inscribed jurisdiction of such a state with the unity of a specific people. Sometimes we know this as the relation

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between popular sovereignty and state sovereignty, and think about it in terms of constitutions, representations and democratizations. Sometimes we think of it as the relation between the nation and the state, and think about it in terms of the structuring of social forces; of societies, cultures, economies, most usually of nations, though perhaps increasingly of a biopolitics, in Michel Foucault’s sense, that works in relation to living populations rather than to either abstract law and abstract subjects or nationalist appropriations of all cultural identities. In either case, the focus is internal; state centric as it is said. This is the site of our characteristic struggles between competing ideologies, between left and right, in all the colourful permutations of our traditional liberalisms, socialisms, conservatisms and nationalisms, and in all our earnest searching for a sensible middle ground between the extremes expressed in the spatial and legal limits of sovereign authority. Here toil the political theorists, and all who thrive in the rich terrain they have cultivated while staring at the ground they so readily imagine to be complete unto itself: the particular that suffices for universality; the contingency that suffices for order; the extraordinary achievement lost in the mundane cliché. The other discourse affirms that we live in a collectivity or system of modern sovereign states; in which case the primary political activity is the reconciliation of the multiplicity of states and their people/peoples with the unity of a specific system of states. Sometimes we know this as the management of conflict arising from a pluralistic and self-interested diversity. Sometimes we know this as the management of cooperation that arises when pluralistic and self-interested states recognize common interests bringing them together. This is the site of our characteristic struggles between the progressive possibilities of peaceful coexistence and the terrible necessities of war. Here toil the theorists of international relations, and all who thrive in the gaunt terrain they have cultivated with their backs to the wall while staring at the abyss, the limit, the necessity, the tragedy, the order that is always palpably contingent, the ideal that must always defer to the real, the violence that is the always possible fate of a universality riven into particularities, the extraordinary ambition for something else, something more global, more humanitarian, more planetary, and the inevitable deferral of any alternative. In both cases, we recognize the distinctively modern concern with the liberty of specifically modern subjects, with the freedom or self-determination of both the modern individual and of the modern nation-state, whether read as the achievements of a specific spatiality or the possibilities of a specific temporality, as modernity or as modernization. We also come to appreciate that liberty is a name for many tricky puzzles, of the possible translation of hopes for freedom from necessity into possibilities for liberty under necessity, of liberty both within and under the law, whether for one or for many, within one or within many, with one or with many. In both cases, also, we come to be daunted by the many ways in which the puzzles posed by claims about freedom collide with puzzles arising from claims about equality, not least puzzles about whether equality is to be understood in terms of political and legal representation or of property and economic wealth, whether in the name of some unified understanding of man or some differentiated

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subjectivity of gender, culture, class or other category of an idealized humanity and its subordinate constituents. Indeed, for all the many ways in which these two discourses may, and indeed must be distinguished, they both expresses characteristic difficulties coming to terms with fundamental contradictions between claims to liberty and claims to equality, contradictions that (as both Hobbes’s account of the definitive condition of modern subjectivity, or ‘state of nature’, and Kant’s account of the maturity demanded of modern subjects who might eventually achieve the precious status of autonomy, showed with prescient clarity5) work as both the regulative ambition and regulative impossibility of modern political life. To aspire to both liberty and equality at the same time and in the same place is to invoke very specific conditions, and limits, of possibility, and to produce rich arrays of theorization seeking to resolve specific contradictions of possibility and impossibility within these limits. The practical consequence of this aspiration has been to mobilize controversies about whether it is necessary to privilege liberty or to privilege equality so as to enable the long temporal march to the promised land of both liberty and equality: to that place/time and time/place we are encouraged to call by the double name of democracy and peace, a name that may be written in many different – especially liberal, socialist and nationalist – scripts. In relation to the sovereign state, discourses about liberty are always deeply qualified by hierarchical structures of class, caste or status and the privileging of claims to universality over those of plurality. The qualification gives rise especially to questions about the legitimacy of forms of political authority articulated in the name of subjects who are free and equal in principle, in the abstract, perhaps even in law, but which requires practical compromise and various kinds of unfreedom generated by inequalities, and inequalities generated by various kinds of unfreedom. While liberty and equality combine to name the regulative ambition, the story of desirable possibility, of modern political life within the sovereign state, it is a regulative ambition that has been sharply at odds with the social, economic and representational practices of all societies that have nevertheless affirmed the aspiration as both necessary and desirable. The prevailing response to the more or less extensive gap between aspiration and achievement has been to affirm principles of democracy, or better, competing principles of democracy. These principles seek to enable a double mediation: between sovereignty as the unitary expression of a people and sovereignty as an expression of the multiplicity of people as individual subjects; and between the horizontal practices of people as separated subjectivities operating in some sort of free (social and territorial) space and the vertical practices of people differentiated in various social, economic and cultural hierarchies. For the most part, these mediations are sustained through distinctions between a formal sphere of political liberty and equality (‘one man one vote’) and other spheres in which the stringent ideal of modern subjectivity is supposedly less pressing, not least in relation to the mediations enacted through principles of private property, which work both as a practice of spatial discrimination and of hierarchical subordination.

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A large part of the analytical difficulty of understanding political life in this context concerns questions about when one crosses the line from democracy to something else – from democracy to authoritarianism, as we used to say in relation to the crises of the 1930s, or to regimes articulating socialist and nationalist principles that some suspect of being too ‘collectivist’, or to regimes that can be understood as somehow corrupt or, as we increasingly tend to say now, in relation to formally liberal jurisdictions that are prone to resort to distinctly illiberal practices. In principle, the line between the democratic and the authoritarian is always very difficult to identify. We know that while freedom, equality and democracy express high ideals, they do not go very well together at the same time in the same place either in principle or in practice. Any theory of the modern state that attempted to explain what states do on the basis of such ideals would attract little but ridicule; as would any theory that did not attempt to show how these ideals have been sustained, or how it is impossible to have one without the other, despite all the evidence about the inequalities, unfreedoms and illiberalisms of modern democracies. In practice, many hard questions about the relation between power and authority converge at precisely those sites at which judgements are to be made about whether the line between democracy and something else has indeed been crossed, on what (normative and territorial) ground, and on what authority. They converge, that is, at those sites that constitute what we call sovereignty. Similarly, within the interstate system we see the official discourses about national self-determination as always deeply qualified not only by the many forms of inequality that are of interest to students of political economy and colonialism but also more formally by the massive hierarchies we have tended to call great power hegemony. Here the qualification is expressed with great symbolic clarity in the UN Charter and the difference between the General Assembly and the Security Council. The former expresses a formal commitment to equality and freedom while the latter expresses a more ‘practical’ wisdom that order requires recourse to vertical principles of organization. Here we run into the strange incongruence between explicit invocations of an ‘international anarchy’ (usually predicated on a quasi-Hobbesian reading of the necessary consequences of competition between free and equal – ‘modern’, ‘liberal’ – subjects subject to ‘rational choice’ but entirely innocent of any Hobbesian understanding of sovereign limits), and both explicit and tacit understandings of the radical inequality, the special role of the ‘most responsible’ states, necessary for maintaining ‘international order’. This incongruence has long given rise to questions about whether the discourse that offers to tell us about political life in relation to a system of states is indeed properly to be understood as a world of national self-determinations, of free and equal sovereigns, or as something rather different, especially a world that looks more like some kind of ‘empire’. The suspicion that claims about the international are as deeply problematic as claims about democracy in the way they express ambitions for freedom and equality while sustaining systematic structures of inequality and unfreedom is hardly novel.6 Such claims shadowed the articulation of a universalizing story about ‘the expansion of international society’ for most of the twentieth

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century. It is, however, a suspicion that has arisen with considerable force since the end of the Cold War confrontation between bipolar hegemons, each with their own imperial subordinations, and especially since the declaration of a ‘war on terrorism’ provoked widespread claims that the US Bush regime, supported by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, has been acting ever more unilaterally rather than multilaterally: imperially rather than internationally, and thus, formally, as an illegitimate or ‘rogue’ actor transgressing the established criteria of international order.7 Like the line between democracy and authoritarianism, or dictatorship, however, the line between the international and the imperial is also very difficult to identify with any clarity, though it is also a line that expresses a limit condition of the regulative ambitions of modern political life. To cross this line is to shift from legitimacy to illegitimacy, from the acceptable to the unacceptable, from the normal to the exceptional. It also is a line on which hard questions about power and authority converge and hard judgements need to be made about whether the line between the international and something else has indeed been crossed, and on what normative ground, again raising the question of who gets to have the authority to decide when the line is crossed. It converges, that is to say again, on questions about sovereignty, the still sleeping dragon of modern political analysis and debate. Both the traditions that analyse politics within the modern sovereign state and the traditions that analyse what we often call merely relations between states are adept at working through the contradictions, structural dynamics and conflicts of principle that have come to be expressed in each realm. This is the positive story that is told about each of our two prevailing political discourses: the positive story that is always shadowed by the negative possibility that the regulative ideal of freedom and equality has been subject not only to the practical compromises wrought by the need for ‘order’, but that these compromises threaten to cross the line of political illegitimacy, the line marked as the authoritarian in one discourse and the imperial in the other. Large and rich literatures might be invoked in both contexts. In both we see the affirmation of an idealized account of modern subjectivity, the relations between the free and equal subject written as citizen and state, on the one hand, and state and states system, on the other. Within certain limits, the inherent contradiction between claims to liberty and claims to equality are assumed to be resolvable by privileging one value or the other, whether in a formulation that is almost entirely spatialized (the Hobbesian ideal of the free-because-obedient subject under the law of the sovereign state, the toleration of great power hegemony in an interstate order that might be reshuffled but never change its structural form) or increasingly temporalized (the move towards increasing freedom in the historical time imagined by Kant and Hegel within the sovereign law of a universalizing reason/state, and thus the gradual progress towards a Kantian peace or Hegelian wars between increasingly rationalized states). Whether framed spatially or temporally, the possibility of reconciliation in both cases depends on the affirmation of two sets of limits: the limits articulated horizontally as spatial borders (at the edges both of the state and of the states-system); and the limits articulated vertically (at the point where the valorization of inequality

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comes to render any claim to freedom within and under the law widely implausible, where democracy gives way to the authoritarian and the dictatorial and the international gives way to the imperial). To broach these limits in either case is to confront the possibility that the specific framing of all relations of universality/ particularity, identity/difference and space/time that are articulated in relation to and contained within each jurisdiction might be unsustainable: that, to use terms that have many familiar resonances from European thinkers shaped by the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary pressures of the 1920s and 1930s, order will collapse into anarchy, particularity will be lost in homogeneity, generality will be lost in parochialism, politics will revert to theology, and the achievements of modernity will be swept away in some revolutionary apocalypse; or, in what is usually taken to be the more positive tone of voice emanating especially from contemporary Anglo-American sources, the traditions of the polis will finally give way to cosmopolis and universal law, or to cosmopolis and the presumed wonders of the market.

III It is a central feature of modern political life, however, that neither the sovereign state nor the system of sovereign states can exist without the other. Both the simplest and most daunting way of expressing this is in terms of a rather elementary question about what we have come to take sovereignty to be in relation to the modern state and the modern states system. As we know, it is states that always make claims about their sovereignty, and when we think about sovereignty we usually think about the legal status of states, as, ideally, a monopoly of both power and authority within a jurisdiction that is both territorially and legally specified, as supreme over all other authorities. Nevertheless, states cannot exist alone, any more than individuals can survive in the solipsistic condition they sometimes idealize as the great achievement of modernity. They need to participate in a common system of states to enable their particular sovereignty. Thus just as modern political life within the state is beset with demands to privilege the free and equal individual or the free and equal collectivity, so modern political life within the system of states is beset with claims about the relative priority of the sovereign state or of the system of sovereign states. Put in a way that may sound naively simplistic but which cuts to the core of many contemporary debates, modern political life works, in part, through a constitutive choice as to whether the ultimate source of political authority lies with the sovereign claims of any particular state or with the sovereignty of the system that makes the supreme authority of the state possible. Clearly, the international system does not have a sovereign in the same sense we understand in relation to the singular modern state, any more than there is a direct homology between sovereign states and sovereign individuals. Nevertheless, any account of sovereignty that restricts itself to the claims of the modern state has no chance of any analytical let alone critical purchase on what it has meant to invoke a claim to sovereignty in modern political life, in principle or in practice. Among

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many lines of analysis that need to be taken up so as to make sense of how the sovereignty of modern states works as a very specific enactment of the origins/ grounds and limits of political possibility/impossibility, it is necessary to come to terms with certain ‘rules’ of international order8 that are widely taken to be sacrosanct, that must be accepted by all states as the condition of possibility of any specific claim to state sovereignty, though there is no doubt enormous room for dispute about whether these conditions of possibility are to be understood in terms of logical principle or empirical history. Four such rules of what we have come to call the international seem to be crucial, and may be read both in relation to the textual expressions of foundation and delimitation identified in relation to the Treaty of Westphalia in the mid-seventeenth century and to the Charter of the United Nations in the mid-twentieth century; and I intentionally oversimplify the historical difference in order to underline the stakes involved in contemporary claims about historical difference.9 Rule one: no empire. Hegemons, yes, imperialisms also, but hegemons that threaten to turn the system of states into an empire, in the singular, no. On the one hand, we can read this rule in relation to the constitution of the modern states system as a critique of hierarchical forms of political order associated with theologically legitimated notions of a ‘great chain of being’, classically legitimated accounts of knowing one’s place in an aristocratic order, and other accounts of imperial order against which modern politics has been framed as a celebration of freedoms and equalities in horizontal space. On the other, we can read it in relation to those paradigmatic moments in which attempts to sustain contradictions between freedom and equality within the legitimate bounds of hegemony and great power responsibility in an interstate order have been judged to have been transgressed, thereby inducing various crises of legitimacy in that order and, historically, (counter-revolutionary) violence aimed at the restoration of that order: the post-Revolutionary France of Napoleon; Nazi Germany; Soviet Russia; and the USA in its recent unipolar moment. In neither reading has the distinction between the horizontal and the vertical been achieved as an absolute. Neo-Aristotelian accounts of the differentiated qualities of beings and multiple forms of hegemonic, colonial and imperial subordinations have so far been brought within the horizontal orders expressing the regulative possibility/impossibility of freedom and equality. Nevertheless, modern political life is predicated on the assumption that while the system of states might accommodate particular empires, even celebrate them as a source of interstate order, or ‘development’, the system of states itself cannot be allowed to collapse into a single imperial form. Some imperial formations may be compatible with and even necessary for multilateral practices, but once multilateralism shades over into unilateralism, we have a problem that promises to destabilize the way modern political life has been established on the assumption that the sovereignty of any particular state is dependent on, subordinate to, the continued presence of a system of states as a specific orchestration of all relations of universality and particularity. This is why Bush/Blair found so little support among scholars of international law or international relations, whether conservative, liberal or radical, and had to

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rely instead on those who insist on throwing universalizing moralisms (often of a highly contestable character) at difficult political conflicts. The point is perhaps contentious at the level of popular political debate, but it would certainly be very difficult to sustain a scholarly claim that the recent deployment of military force by the US/UK works so as to stabilize, sustain or enhance principles of an obviously international order. At some moments the line between the international and the imperial has been very difficult to identify. It may be argued, of course, that this is all for the better, that the principles of international order are precisely the core problem that has to be overcome, that claims about human rights, global democratization and so on can be deployed in a narrative about human progress ‘beyond the state’. Here the intellectual going gets very rough indeed, and not just because of disputes about the merits, or otherwise, about the invasion of Iraq in particular or the threat of further such invasions to come. They become rough because these disputes dance around fundamental principles of freedom, equality and political legitimacy that have come to define the character of political life throughout what we generally call the modern era. While there may be some force to claims about deficiencies of freedom, equality and legitimacy in any particular state (indeed in rather a lot of particular states, not all of them subject to invasion, or even admonition), claims that these deficiencies should be rectified by violent transgression of these principles in the organization of the states system is clearly a matter of immense historical importance. Hegemons, the conventions suggest, are probably necessary; some kinds of imperialism are perhaps marginally tolerable; but empire, in the singular, is prohibited. This is, after all, what it means to celebrate the international as the political articulation of modern freedoms and securities, as the place within which modernity can institutionalize its specific understanding of the possibilities of universality within particularity: the understanding that has come to identify Kant as the regulative ideal of modernity as a regulative ideal. Rule two: no religious wars. Even though we may just about tolerate the passions of conviction when they are articulated as nationalisms contained within states that are nevertheless prepared to act in a secular and rationally self-interested manner, we cannot tolerate a return to the wars of religion. In this sense the Treaty of Westphalia is said to affirm the promises of a secular modernity that can keep all religious convictions in check, subordinate their authorizations under the authority of earthly sovereignties. As with all modern secularisms, however, the shadow of the theological production of the authority of modern sovereign states is never far away. The Cold War, like nationalism, was yet another reminder that something like religious passions are difficult to keep out of modern political life; that, as Weber’s neo-Lutheran rewriting of Machiavelli’s most disturbing insight suggested with particular intensity, an ethics of conviction and an ethics of responsibility are always at war in a politics that frames war as the necessary consequence of modern (un)freedoms and (in)equalities. It is said that we have survived the dangers of nationalism and Cold War, not without cost, but in ways that affirm hopes that the promises of modernity, of

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secularization, of the subordination of all other convictions to the authorizations of the sovereign state and system of states, might be closer to realization. For a brief moment, claims about a universalizing and democratic peace enabled us to recapture glimpses of the guiding light that brought us from the world of Kant to the world of ethical foreign policies, even if it also brought all the Kantian corollaries of claims about various states of immaturity, and failed states. Now wars of religion, or at least of competing monotheisms, are on the agenda once again, in ways that provoke suspicions that the politics of conviction ride roughshod over the politics of responsibility, and that the politics of conviction now has more in common with the celebration of imperial universalizations than with the nationalist particularities celebrated by Weber and twentieth-century traditions of realpolitik. Rule three: keep political life inside. Apart from the rules necessary for the maintenance of the states system, including this rule, what counts as a properly political life, the life perhaps worthy of the polis, or the free city/republic, or the properly autonomous, sovereign nation-state, must be sustained within specific spatial and legal borders, and these borders must be congruent, all in the same place, or at least all aligned at the edge of the same abstract space. The only legitimate recourse to violence derives from the necessities of self-defence within these borders, and interference in the jurisdiction of other sovereign states is not permitted, as Article 2, paragraph 7 of the UN Charter affirms. Rule four: no ‘barbarians’ or non-moderns. That is, modern political life must involve a decision about who gets to be treated as a properly human being and who is not fit to participate in the modern international order, not fit to be recognized as a legitimate member of the international community. This rule applies in two contexts: as a condition of entry and as a condition of continued membership. In one context, it works as the rule of admission to modern politics. Modern political status is expressed through membership in a modern sovereign state, and through recognition of such status by existing members of the states system. It is in this context that we know stories about ‘the expansion of international society’, the shift from colonialism to national self-determination, the so-called ‘standard of civilization’ in international law, and the teleology of modernization as a process of development, maturity and the internalization of a supposedly universal reason/ humanity. In this guise, we confront the problem of the outside of the international, or the outside of the modern, the regulative outside against which all teleologies can be articulated as a leap across the divide from premodern to modern, from a state of nature to a state of civil society and civilization: from an infinite regress at the beginning of time (though ‘there never was such a time’, as Hobbes admits) to an infinite deferral at the end of history (peace is always the stop after the next purchase of technologies for mass murder). In this context, the rule works as a philosophy of temporality/history, and it works as a claim that the entire world has been brought into the international and into the modern; though, as every theory of modernity insists, it has been precisely the externalization of a world of nature or humanity, the rift between a world of objectivities and the world of modern subjectivities and citizenships, that enables us

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to conceive of modernity, and modern politics, as a distinctive way of being somehow in and yet alienated from the world.10 In the world of modern politics, the politics of a specific understanding of human subjectivity, the possibility of coming in, of becoming a subject, has been enabled by the necessity of forcing out. In the other context, it applies as a standard to be applied to all states that have already achieved their modern status, the standard that insists that all states must conform to basic standards of democracy, rights and so on, whether as international law, principles of cosmopolitan justice and conduct, and all the rest. The trouble here involves the precise relation between the standard that is taken to be common within the modern/international and the standard taken to be common within any state; that is, how the demands of the system that makes the sovereignty of any particular state possible are to be reconciled with the sovereign claims of domestic jurisdiction, on the one hand, and with the possibility that standards articulated in terms of system integrity might turn out to be claims to universality that express and legitimize imperial rather than interstate order. Whatever status might be assigned to these ‘rules’, or historico-structural conditions of possibility and, thus, claims to (sovereign) necessity, all have always been problematic and beset with familiar contradictions. Many hegemons have been tempted to strike out for empire and/or to assert their particular understanding of all relations of universality/particularity as universal. Modern secular politics easily turns religious in form even if not always in substance, perhaps most especially in nationalisms but also whenever self-righteousness leads to the attempt to assert particular values as universal. Boundaries between internal and external have long been far more complex and contested than we might suppose from statist narratives about their own integrity, and seem increasingly tricky as sites of political analysis and judgement. Most recently, we have seen the double attempt to give (highly selective) priority to supposedly international (usually understood as humanitarian or simply universal) values over the principle of non-intervention and the related attempt to frame various peoples as barbarians, as both beyond the limits of the modern/ international (the figure of the Islamic Terrorist) and beyond the limits of acceptable behaviour on the part of a sovereign state (the figure of Saddam Hussein as murderous tyrant). Temporally articulated criteria for entry into the international as the proper setting for modern political life (one must have become a properly modern subject/sovereign) have converged with spatially articulated criteria for continuing to be authorized as an authorizing sovereign and authorized subject. As has been widely noted, undoubted atrocities have come to legitimize a rather profound shift in the relation between the sovereign necessities scripted in the name of the states system and the sovereign freedoms scripted in the name of the territorial state. In effect, the logic of finitude has kicked in as a shift from form to substance, from the merely modern sovereign/subject to the appropriate expression of modernizing democracy, so as to intensify the contradiction between the rule affirming domestic jurisdiction and the rule affirming the need to include/exclude domestic jurisdictions on grounds of systemic integrity. Just as a Hobbesian

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(‘natural’) right to a minimal life is always open to substantive expansion as accounts of what it means to have a life are given greater elaboration as a narrative about development, maturity, liberalization and democratization, so it is possible to elaborate ever more extensive attributes of a legitimate statehood, and thus ever more extensive conditionalities for membership in a modern system of states, as democracies, as open-market economies, as suitable players in a game dominated by particular sorts of players. Thus system sovereignty begins to trump state sovereignty. An account of expanding systemic legitimacy increases the force of claims about the necessity and legitimacy of intervention, at least up until the point at which systemic legitimacy articulated in the name of an international begins to clash with systemic necessities articulated in the name of unilateral fiat by specific claims to be able to speak for a sovereign system of states: the point at which all rules of international order are pushed back so as to reveal the always potential possibility of empire as the regulative negation of modern political life; the point at which claims about the international slide into claims about the humanitarian and the universal, or the hegemonic and the imperial. At the same time, longstanding problems involving claims about citizenship, democracy, liberty and security are widely understood to exceed the regulative bounds of statist jurisdictions, and the pressures to enhance the capacities of statist authority in response to the perceived dangers of contemporary political life increasingly involve declarations of various ‘states of emergency’ and ‘states of exception’ that are all too reminiscent of disturbing historical transgressions of the line distinguishing democratic from authoritarian forms of rule. There are, no doubt, many grounds on which such declarations might be justified. But declarations of states of emergency and states of exception are not trivial. They raise questions about the most basic principles of modern political life. These principles involve the authority of a sovereign capacity to authorize emergencies and exceptions, questions that immediately force engagement with the simple but ultimately unavoidable question about whether priority is to be assigned to the sovereign capacity of the state or the system of state; unavoidable, that is, except for hegemonic states and those who speak on their behalf, for whom the particular universality of state sovereignty, or specific grouping (alliance, axis) of sovereignties can be assumed to coincide with the universality of a system of particularities. This is precisely the condition under which the two discourses of a statist political theory and a systemic theory of international relations came to achieve their institutional solidity in the second half of the twentieth century, even though such questions had been very much at the centre of concern in earlier decades. Two key figures come to mind in this respect: Hans Kelsen and Carl Schmitt. Kelsen is now sometimes remembered as an influential international lawyer both of a so-called neo-Kantian persuasion and an extreme legal positivist, author of a ‘pure theory of law’.11 Again to oversimplify for my specific purposes here, he can be understood as affirming the sovereignty of the international system; international law is law and may be applied to all political authorities. On the other hand,

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Schmitt, at least in one crucial formulation among many formulations, affirmed the principle of the sovereignty of the state and in the process gave us a devastatingly elegant account of sovereignty as a capacity ‘to decide upon the exception’.12 Both of these figures spring from complex intellectual traditions, bringing especially strong inheritances from Kant, the key figure in any attempt to make sense of the modern international, and from Weber’s neo-Kantian/neo-Nietzschean reading of a disenchanted secularizing modernity. Put into the context of recent developments, we might say that it appears as though Kelsen has begun to trump Schmitt, that a sovereign law of the international has come to have increasing authority over the law of the sovereign state, or that latter-day versions of Kelsen’s affirmation of international law have come to legitimize new forms of exceptionalism. Many difficult problems are at stake here. On the one hand there are judgements to be made about the limits of a sovereignty of states understood as the capacity to enact limits, to decide exceptions: judgements about a sovereign capacity that is both within and without the law. Here we might appreciate the various ways in which the Schmittean problematic of a limit binding a moment of immanence/ transcendence in space has been re-engaged by the likes of Jacques Derrida,13 Michel Foucault14 and Giorgio Agamben15 so as to reimagine a politics that is not so overdetermined by ontologies of spatial limitation. On the other hand there are judgements to be made about the limits of a states system that is in some sense sovereign over the claims of sovereign states. Thus one might appreciate the various ways in which the Kelsenian problematic of an international law has been re-engaged by the likes of Jürgen Habermas and other proponents of a supposedly nontranscendental but nevertheless universalizing reason so as to imagine a politics that speaks to the cosmopolitan aspirations of a modernity that must not be limited by the divisive jurisdictions of a system of states.16 In between, there are judgements to be made about the relative priorities to be assigned to the claims of sovereign states and the claims of a system of sovereign states. And thus one might also appreciate the various ways in which all such thinkers have enabled us to re-engage much more productively with the aporia that marks such a decisive site of antagonism, indiscriminate slaughter and extraordinary selfrighteousness. Unfortunately, there is surprisingly little to appreciate, at least in the literatures that are most widely deployed to engage with the grand theoretical principles of modern political life. Blind reiterations of a binary choice between a state sovereignty and a system sovereignty informed by some cosmopolitan reason remain the common currency of both popular and, much less excusably, scholarly debate.

IV Three features of this debate are worth noting briefly. First, it is enabled by the degree to which it is the separation rather than the mutual dependency of the two discourses of modern political life that has been naturalized in the institutional practices of Anglo-American scholarly life in the second half of the twentieth century. The magical silences wrought by John

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Rawls’s imaginary veils perhaps mark one extreme and the founding of autonomous academic departments of international relations perhaps marks the other. Organize scholarly enquiry on either side of an aporia and everyone will dutifully read every contradiction of modern political life from one side or the other, thereby translating all limit conditions into a convenient division of labour. This is precisely how the relevant scholarly disciplines are organized, with predictable consequences.17 Second, it encourages a suspicion that there must be some other ground on which to make judgements about the judgements enabled by either the sovereignty of states or the sovereignty of a system of states. Three alternatives are often canvassed. One might oppose a sovereign politics with a claim to an ethics; or oppose sovereign politics as the formation of a specifically modern culture with a claim to a politics that might be imagined in other cultural terms; or oppose an understanding of politics as defined in relation to the sovereign state and states system rather than in relation to (specifically capitalist forms of) economic value. Each marks sites of enormous potential creativity. Yet, each also offers a seductive shortcut back into the aporias of state/system sovereignty as well as promises of long and difficult struggles to reimagine our political imagination. It remains all too easy to appeal to ethics as an alternative to politics, thereby wishing away the antagonism between a political ethics and some other kind of ethics that has been constitutive of modern political life since Machiavelli articulated what was at stake in privileging earthly political freedom over eternal salvation. It is certainly no easy matter to imagine that there is some outside to a culture that managed to construct an overdetermining discourse of insides and outsides as the condition under which a properly constituted humanity/human being can imagine all possibilities of similarity and difference in space or in time. We know all too well how modernity looks at its own insides, its own limits, and in the face of the unknowable phenomena beyond the knowing capacities of modern subjectivities tends to insist that all other cultures be known as the other of our own modern subjectivity. Moreover, while economic value understood in relation to private property, commodified labour and market equilibrium have long been understood as providing a challenge to the sovereignty of state and states system, albeit one that has found remarkable (mercantilist, nationalist, social democratic, Keynesian) forms of accommodation with state and states system, most contemporary analyses of economic life point to a radical undermining of what we mean by politics in the name of a market that promises certain kinds of freedom for some and radical inequality for many. In all three contexts, we might say, the need for greater political imagination provides many opportunities for gainful employment, but also enormous scope for the seductive repetition of attempts to transcend modern accounts of immanence and transcendence, again with predictable consequences. Unfortunately, and third, shortcuts seem to have become especially impossible to resist given the possibility of converting the site of indetermination between state sovereignty and system sovereignty, the aporia expressed in the opposition between Schmitt and Kelsen, into a grand highway from one to the other. Like so many

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contemporary highways, this one is jammed to capacity, in this case with claims about a shift from a discourse centred on the claims of the sovereign state to a discourse centred either on the international conceived as a unity, the expression of (international) law in Kelsen’s sense, or as a new unity conceived as somehow loosened from its ties to sovereign states and suspended in some new community of cosmopolis, of humankind.18 Sporty speeders follow the signs apparently leading to globalization. There are more sedate plodders with rocky suspensions, and a tendency to crash, that would be more appreciated by friends of Kantian enlightenment. Still, even Kant himself might have been rather perplexed by how this highway came to be constructed in the first place, for it is indeed a strange sort of highway that can be driven as a straight line through an aporia, that can produce a necessary linearity out of a contradiction. Two complementary dynamics are powerfully at work in modern political life in this respect. One rests on a simple misidentification of the logic of modern sovereignty, a misidentification that is systematically reproduced in the institutionalization of two apparently autonomous yet necessarily interdependent discourses about politics within a sovereign state and politics (or mere relations) in a system of sovereign states that is itself in some sense sovereign. The interstate system is read as a matter of fragmentation, of pluralism, of anarchy, of mere order, rather than as a matter of a very specific ordering of the relationship between fragmentation and integration, between pluralism and universalism. Similarly, the sovereign state is read as simply a particularity, a parochialism, a mere polis, rather than as a very specific ordering of the relationship between particularity and universality, between the parochial polis and the (modern) cosmopolitan ambition for universality within the particularity, for the human within the citizen, for moral reason within the autonomous subject. In both cases, the relationship between conflicting principles of order is always contingent, never certain, but also never entirely a monism. Neither relationship is even thinkable without the other. What we are dealing with here, rather, is a complex structure of relations between particularity/plurality and universality, between polis and what might be called a cosmopolis of sorts, the modern cosmopolitical expressed as the international of the modern states system. It is a structure in which claims of identity and difference are worked out in one way within the sovereign state (the possibility of realizing universality within the particular, the moral law within each mature subjectivity) and another way in a system of sovereign states (the possibility of realizing diversity within a singular universality), the modern international. The history of modern politics expresses a continual renegotiation of the relation between these two ways of resolving all contradictions of universality and particularity through claims about sovereignty. If this doubled structure of relations between universality and particularity is determined to be problematic it hardly makes sense to assume that the solution must be a shift from particularity to universality. A much more sustained engagement with questions about what it might mean to reimagine relations between universality and particularity is called for, not least in relation to what this might mean for the regulative ambition for a free and equal

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modern subject, macro or micro, that might realize universality within. Drivers on the highway from polis to cosmopolis may think they know where they are going, and demand that we follow them in the name of an ethical humanity, a humanitarian intervention, an escape from the petty parochialisms of the sovereign state, but it is not a road that will be taken by anyone who has the slightest clue about what it means to put the regulative ambition for a free and equal modern political subject into serious doubt. The other dynamic rests on the tendency to assume that the appropriate solution to the contradictions of modernity, understood as a delineation of political possibility arrayed in a horizontal territorial space of the sovereign state within a system of such states, is to move back in the direction of the hierarchies against which modernity was articulated in the first place. Just as secular accounts of sovereign authority never quite abandoned their theological form, they also never quite abandoned the regulative ideal of hierarchical order. This might be understood, in part, as both a holdover from Aristotelian accounts of a qualitative, aristocratic universe and the grip of a (more Platonist) mathematical sense of scale and harmony. It is the move that frames modern freedom as both within and under the law, and the sovereign representation of the people as higher than the sovereign people. The registers of inequality are orchestrated upwards. But upwards is both a desirable and a dangerous direction. Above lies not only the sovereign but also the authoritarian, the emperor and, it is said, God, the eternal universal, the regulative model of the modern sovereign, the ground that might still be deployed to legitimize a politics that has lost its footings in the territorial space of the sovereign state within a system of sovereign states. There is something very odd about the way in which the return to hierarchy, to some new great chain of being, is so often mooted as the appropriate response to the troubles of modern sovereignty; though also something rather comforting about the scales and harmonies of a modern universe that can countenance a highway pointed up without fearing that it will soon encounter those troubling lines distinguishing the sovereignties of a secular modernity from authoritarians, emperors and theologians. When modern man fell to earth and restructured all relations of immanence and transcendence from a vertical to a horizontal plane, it was doubtless predictable that some sort of return to verticality was on the cards. Nevertheless, assumptions that the Earth is flat are widely acknowledged to place far too many limits on the modern political imagination. Unfortunately, the modern political imagination has become much too comfortable with the assumption that verticality offers a reasonable solution to problems of horizontality.

V When, in the early 1920s, Schmitt declared that ‘Sovereign is he who decides the exception’,19 he did so in a way that spoke to at least three very different though related contexts. One concerned the specific struggles over the fate of the Weimar

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constitution. One concerned the fate of the revolutionary dynamics that had been unfolding in Europe since 1848. One concerned the characterization of a specifically modern politics and especially the status of concepts of politics, though primarily sovereignty, in relation to various theses about secularization. Much could be said about all three, but here it is sufficient to stay with the one-line definition of sovereignty, which manages to pack an extraordinary density of reference into an almost banal formulation of the relation between sovereignty and the delineation of a limit condition. Other formulations by Schmitt, like the familiar existentialist dualism of friend and enemy, are much easier to deal with, even though the friend–enemy distinction has done much to legitimize the specific accounts of the international found in the Cold War writings of so-called political realists like Hans J. Morgenthau.20 The capacity to decide exceptions invokes a much more difficult conceptual arena: the theorization of borders and limits not simply as forms of discrimination and demarcation but as sites of mutual production. Dualistic distinctions between friend and enemy are quite compatible with depictions of the state and states system as a world of monads, of separate powers. As with Morgenthau’s depiction of international politics, the presence of any systemic order can be minimized, and the determinations of foreign policy as an expression of state power and national interest can be maximized. To the extent that the states system is taken seriously, it can be depicted as a more or less determinate structure, a machinery of forces and balances, the kind of abstractions that have been popularized by Kenneth Waltz and various forms of rational choice theory.21 It all seems entirely appropriate for an ‘American Science of International Relations’, which has been driven far more by the demands of one particular state than by any interest in an international system that might express a different understanding of sovereignty. It is only when we start to move towards more legalistic or historical traditions, or even to the so-called English School of international relations (which is simply closer to traditional European understandings of what it means to speak about an international order, and not just of the machstaat), that it becomes possible to see the workings of a states system not in terms of crude dualisms (of the idealism versus realism kind), but of profound contradictions, relationalities, mutual productions and aporias. Schmitt himself was quite capable of dualisms, or at least of worrying that the dynamics of modernization seemed to be generating a world destined to push everything into radically dualistic friend–enemy relations: his version, perhaps, of Weber’s rationalization thesis. The formulation of sovereignty as a capacity to decide exceptions, however, cuts considerably deeper. Even at the simplest level, its implications can be quite brutal. The claim to an ethics, for example, can be rendered as a comparatively simple matter. The claim to universals likewise. Thou shalt not kill, we might say. Or we must work towards a universal principle of justice or communicative competence. And then the exceptions kick in: thou shalt not kill, except in self-defence; except for those declared guilty in Texas; except for the men in black hats or funny clothes; except for enemies of the state; except for those who have yet to be civilized; except for those who have

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some other notion of justice or refuse to communicate in the language of highminded Kantians. Sovereignty is a serious business, a lot more serious than we might suppose from all those political theorists who prefer to subordinate political judgement to principles that are somehow beyond politics. Moreover, for Schmitt, this capacity to decide must be brought under law. This is why the position has an appeal not only for the extreme right (as with Schmitt’s Nazi affiliations), or for realist theories of international relations (the kind of power politics associated with Morgenthau), but also for liberals and most other moderns, including those who make such extravagant appeals to principles that are somehow beyond politics. It can be expressed in the most noxious nationalisms (in which the exceptionalization of an enemy can be made in terms of race, culture and so on); in the tragic forms of realism that insist that everything be done to prevent an absolutism of friend and enemy but that one should nonetheless prepare for the worst; but also in those forms of liberalism that keep insisting that yes, our universality must prevail and we must regrettably beat the barbarians into shape until it does. Throughout the twentieth century, the declaration of exceptions was associated with unprecedented levels of mass violence. That capacity haunts our own era. The question is whether we are now dealing with the kind of exceptionalism that is expressed in relation to a world of an international or of something else. I pose this precisely as a question, one to which it is difficult to see any clear answer.

VI The two distinctive yet mutually constitutive accounts of modern political possibility expressed in relation to an international affirm a specific though variegated claim about the limits within which it is possible to reconcile collectivity and particularity, or similarity and difference, both in space and in time. These limits are articulated both horizontally and vertically. In relation to the sovereign state, the regulative ideal is expressed as a convergence of (state) law and territory, and a popular sovereignty or democracy under (state) law. Limits are scripted out on the border and up where democracy becomes autocracy, where popular sovereignty does not quite equate to state sovereignty. At these limits, exceptions may be enacted as the state of war or the state of emergency, as the moment that affirms both a capacity to exceptionalize and the normality that is placed into suspension. This is the context in which we think about the contemporary relevance of the Schmittean inheritance, of the affirmation of politics as a relation between friends and enemies and the drift from democratic possibilities to authoritarian disasters. This is where contemporary concerns about the claimed need for trade-offs between liberty and security are especially intense. Construct the other as enemy, as absolutely alien or absolutely threatening, and the way is open to the declaration of exceptions that affirm the suspension of liberties and the authorization of absolute authority. To exceptionalize at the limit horizontally, at the border of a territorial jurisdiction, is to risk exceptions at the limit vertically,

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where liberal democracy gives way before invocations of sovereign necessity, to the privileging of national security over all other values. In relation to the sovereignty of the states system, the regulative ideal is expressed as convergence of (international) law and the modernity that is assumed as the condition of entry and continued membership in the international. Limits are scripted out there in time and up where hegemony gives way to empire. At these limits, exceptions may be enacted as a claim about inhumanity (the primitive, the barbarian or the merely colonial fit for development, democratization or trusteeship) or as a claim about the final collapse of a world of politics scripted as an antagonism between citizens and other modern humans who are also citizens of (other) states; as a claim, that is, that the international has given way to empire, to a community of humanity, to universality. This is where contemporary concerns about the claimed need for trade-offs between the achievements of a specifically modern politics and the necessity for violence to ensure, and extend, those achievements are especially intense. Construct the other as barbarian, as that which must be civilized or destroyed, and the way is open to the declaration of exceptions that affirm the suspension of modern achievements and the authorization of absolute authority, whether understood as empire or as the final victory of a singular way of being human. This is the context in which we think not about the Schmittean inheritance and the legacy of authoritarian states but of the very possibility of a modern politics understood as an affirmation of the possibility, but also impossibility, of a world of free and equal subjects/states in a modern states system. The reappearance of Schmitt as a site of political analysis since the declaration of a ‘war on terror’ is striking. Positively we might say that it marks a serious re-engagement with difficult political questions about the limits of politics and law, and about the limits of supposedly political analyses that prefer to talk about anything except politics, and the legitimation of violence. It marks a recognition of the futility of pretending that one can celebrate liberties, diversities and the rest without assessing their complicity with the practices of securing those subjects who are to be permitted their liberties and freedoms. It also marks the possibility of focussing not on essentialized friends and enemies among competing states, nor on Schmitt’s own account of the abstract moment of sovereign decision when exceptions are declared, but on the precise social, economic and institutional practices through which insiders and outsiders are constructed under different conditions: on the governmental as well as ontotheological practices that are at work in contemporary sovereignties. Schmitt, that is to say, may be taken both as a reminder of what has all too often been taken for granted in modern political analysis, of the legitimation of violence that has been at play in the articulation of modes of political universalization that work within and across spatial and legal limits, and as a challenge to rethink what we mean by a sovereignty that can declare exceptions, thereby affirming what is to be assumed to be normal, normative, even universal. Nevertheless, Schmitt’s texts from the 1920s and 1930s remained largely within the camp of statist political theorists, or more narrowly, constitutional law, and they speak fairly clearly to those theorists of international relations who are primarily

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concerned with the external projection of state power. In his texts on exceptionalism, at least, and unlike his post-war Nomos of the Earth, there is little sense that state sovereignty works within the determinations and possibilities of a system of states.22 His account of the possibility of putting the capacity to decide exceptions under the law of particular states is articulated against a highly generalized concern with the revolutionary potential of modernity as a temporal dynamic. Indeed, in textual though not quite historical terms, the crucial counterpoint is not with Kelsenian claims about (international) law but with Walter Benjamin’s claims about the dynamics of modernity as leading to the revolutionary, indeed apocalyptic overthrow of all particular exceptions.23 Consequently, it is unsurprising that Schmitt has made yet another provocative reappearance in relation to contemporary claims about a contemporary shift from the particular to the generalized exception, from an international to something closer to the imperial. The case is made especially by Giorgio Agamben.24 The force of Schmitt’s account of sovereignty, for Agamben, was to respond to the revolutionary tendencies of the Weimar era by affirming the possibility of making exceptions under the law of a particular territory. In other terms, he affirmed the congruence between law and territory that had gradually become a regulative ambition of modern politics since the time of Hobbes. He also showed remarkable clarity about the relation between this congruence and the problematic relation between immanent and transcendent authority that has haunted modern politics since Hobbes, Kant and many others had sought ways of reimagining political possibilities in a secularizing world. Yet for all that Agamben’s recovery of the antagonism between Schmitt and Benjamin, between the particular and the generalized exception, may tell us a great deal about what was at stake in the struggles and failures of Weimar Germany, and about what it might mean to read the present as an era that can envisage yet another declaration of imperial/universal authority, it is a recovery that reproduces a binary choice between the particularity of state sovereignty with the universalizing dynamics of modernity as such. The international simply disappears yet again. Modernity, it seems, has indeed been globalized, just as in the 1920s modernity was assumed to have been Europeanized, and the rest of the world simply left out of account. In the version popularized by Hardt and Negri, for example, the inside/outside or immanence/transcendence problem at the core of modern politics has been solved by a move to immanence, to an internalized world within, to Empire.25 In the version popularized in so many other texts, contemporary politics is imperial, is global, is simply an American/capitalist hegemony that has finally breached the limits of international order. Starting from the singular exception it is no difficult matter to move to the general exception, just as it is no difficult matter to move from polis to cosmopolis. The aporia marking the relation between state sovereignty and system sovereignty can be ignored yet again and another sort of highway can be constructed in its place, one heading towards apocalypse rather than to Enlightenment. The world of modern politics expressed in the international does not reduce to the Schmittean exception at the edge of the state, no matter how crucial it is to

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insist that the kind of political ideal expressed within the sovereign state, the idealization of a possible/impossible reconciliation between claims to freedom and claims to equality, work within the kind of spatial and legal limits expressed in Schmitt’s dense definition. Read as a moment in the theory of the state that takes us through Hobbes, Kant and Weber as theorists of the internalization of modern reason within modern subjects, Schmitt’s account of the particular exception offers a still devastating account of the limits of a particularistic subjectivity. It tells us what it means to court the destruction of liberty, and liberalism, so as to secure a world of modern subjects. But modern politics does not depend only on sustaining the capacity to decide exceptions at the horizontal and vertical edges of the state. It depends precisely on sustaining the capacity to decide exceptions at the horizontal and vertical edges of the states system. Schmitt marks the boundary at which we have learnt how to articulate a politics of friends and enemies within an international order. That boundary in turn depends on the way we have learnt how to articulate a politics of the civilized and the barbarian outside an international order. The international expresses a theory of temporality and history (‘modernization’) before it expresses a theory of spatiality and territoriality (‘anarchy’).

VII To speak about a politics of the exceptional now must therefore involve a triple move against Schmitt while also recognizing the force of Schmitt’s critique of what has come to pass for liberalism. It must involve, first, a refusal of the abstract spatiotemporality expressed in Schmitt’s analysis. It is an abstract spatiotemporality that reproduces the regulative ambition of modern political subjectivity to be able to draw the line cleanly around itself, to render place as space, subjectivity as nothing but subjectivity, history as simple linearity and the crucial act of political authority as a mere moment, the existential decision, the cut that includes and excludes, saves and damns, renders freedom under necessity and security under duress. It is a politics of a certain kind of constitutional law, and a law of a certain kind of radically schismatic politics. Most troublingly, perhaps, it is an expression of the regulative ambition of modern political life, one that is still able to legitimize the more mundane social and institutional practices through which liberties are traded for securities and sovereignties are enabled in the multiple practices and governmentalities of everyday life. Thou shalt not kill; except. We are all human; except. Liberty and equality for all; except. The abstract spatiotemporalities expressed in the Schmittean understanding of sovereignty grant little purchase on how these exceptions are in fact made, how they come to seem legitimate, and how they manage to destroy the liberties they are supposed to secure. They are indeed closer to theology than to politics, to a specific spatiotemporal rendition of a metaphysics of immanence and transcendence than to any account of how that rendition works so as to generate limits, borders, citizens, aliens, administrative procedures, legal protocols, military deployments, policing,

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surveillance, classification and cultural valorization, or how those limits in turn generate identities, agencies and institutions that work through practices of selflimitation, and transgression.26 Schmitt’s account of the exceptional character of modern politics returns us to the abstract presence of the limit condition, to the Kantian vision of a modern subject that knows itself within while knowing itself to be cut adrift from any world without. To move against Schmitt is to be concerned with the long history of rejections of Kant’s account of an almost but not quite transcendental subjectivity, with the profusion of (sociological, governmental) neo-Kantianisms that seek to explain how the constitutive categories of modern subjectivity are produced in practice not simply given by universal reason. It is also to cast a sceptical eye towards Kant’s role as the most treasured source of what it means to work with modern/liberal accounts of the possibility/impossibility of a free and equal subjectivity. Just as Kant has been so readily turned into the ‘idealist’ opponent of a Hobbesian ‘realism’, rather than, like Hobbes, someone trying to work through the consequences of modern accounts of subjectivity/ objectivity under secularizing conditions, so Kant has been turned into the ‘cosmopolitan’ opponent of Schmittean conceptions of an exceptionalist particularism rather than, like Schmitt, someone with a very sharp sense of what it means to pose questions about modern subjectivity at the limit.27 It is not difficult to see why we might want to resist Schmitt’s account of the limits of modern subjectivity, but it is difficult to see how it is possible to resist Schmitt without worrying about Kant as our paradigmatic expression of what it means to speak about modern subjectivity within limits. Kant is not the opposite of Hobbes. Kant is not the opposite of Schmitt. To be concerned with the practices of exceptionalism that may be identified in contemporary political life is also to be concerned with the limits of a Kantian account of a modern subject that has limits. It must involve, second, a refusal of the choice between particular and general exceptions. Schmitt himself was clearly obsessed with the threat of revolution that was sweeping much of Europe after the Russian Revolution and the war to end all wars. In that context, an opposition between a particular exception under state law and a generalizing and even apocalyptic dynamic of modernization can be appreciated as a coherent response to problems arising at a specific time and from a specific place: Europe, understood precisely as the place where the trajectory of human history was playing itself out, as a place defined by processes of a universalizing temporality, as the site of state and/or revolution. In this context, Schmitt was victorious. He helped shape a tradition of state-obsessed theories of international relations that were articulated explicitly in terms of an ‘anarchical’ system of self-determining sovereign states (which no ‘realist’ could possibly take seriously except as their own regulative ideal) but implicitly in terms of the threat of global revolution. No state is or can be autonomous. To the extent that any state is sovereign, it is so only by virtue of the system of sovereignties that make it possible. Curiously, for all that Schmitt’s account of a sovereign exceptionalism invokes the spatialized territorial state, it is an exceptionalism that is primarily temporal in form. The decision to render an exception is momentary, the temporal instant that might

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guarantee a spatial boundary. The alternative is a temporal flood, the overturning of modernity that demands a counterrevolutionary politics that works as, but does not reduce to, a theology. Any sense of a spatially organized international system recedes into the deepest background. There is little sense that the structural sovereignty of a system of states works by making its own exceptions, and that the interplay of statist and systemic exceptions might lead to a complex pattern of negotiation rather than a mad rush from particular to general or from general to particular. It is no doubt unfortunate that so much of the opposition to Schmitt in the name of some kind of systemic sovereignty has followed Kelsen’s tendency to repudiate politics in favour of law read as both international and universal, or the associated tendency to repudiate politics in favour of ethics. Both tendencies have permitted Schmittean accounts of a realistic politics to bully other possibilities into submission. Again Kant enters the picture as the regulative ideal of what it means to posit a regulative ideal of another kind of politics. Given the insistence that peace can only come about, if it can come about, through a process of the internalization of reason, through the particularization of universality within modern subjects and the universalization of particularized universalities within the international/cosmopolitan community of modern subjects, the historical negotiation between the sovereign claims of states and states system must convert the aporia between these claims into a site of eventual harmony: perpetual peace. As someone who understood better than most what was at stake in negotiating at sites of aporia, and in the framing of human possibility as a matter of finitude in the face of an apparently infinite universe, it seems likely that Kant himself was sceptical about such a harmony anywhere on Earth, except the graveyard. Nevertheless, the philosophy of history that is inscribed in this idealization of a future harmonization remains crucial to the contemporary political imagination. For Kant, of course, is not a philosopher of peace at all, but of antagonism and conflict, of a process, both abstract and concrete, through which ‘antagonism can be led to unity’.28 Kant is the crucial figure through whom the international begins to figure as a significant site of modern political life, and it would be absurd to see him simply as a theorist of international relations. Kant is a theorist of modern subjectivities, both macro and micro, both horizontal and vertical. Though his philosophy of history might be seen as partly enabling the kind of apocalyptic vision of modernization that scared Schmitt, it was one that was much more attuned to the contradictions involved in positing modern subjects as the agent of history: an agent that would not only ‘think for itself but obey’ in relation to a state sovereignty, but also become ever freer as it traversed the necessities of violent antagonism in a system of sovereign states. To locate Kant among the theorists of peace, or as a theorist of either the state or the international is to lose all critical purchase on Kant’s articulation of the problem of modern politics, let alone on the force of his own never quite certain response. In this sense, Kant can indeed be deployed against Schmitt, even while we might recognize so many continuities between these two paradigmatic theorists of

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the limits of modern subjectivity. He can be deployed precisely so as to refuse the singular choice between the particular and universal exception and to insist on the doubled form of exceptionalism in a system of states, the exception to the norm within the sovereign state and the exception to the norm in a sovereign system of sovereign states. It is in this sense that Kant is the paradigmatic theorist of a modern politics that is simultaneously statist and systemic but never one or the other. Which is, of course, precisely the problem. It must involve, third, a refusal of the assumption that the world of modernity that Schmitt takes for granted is indeed the world. This is where the figure of Kant comes right to the front of contemporary political debate, in two different ways, both arising from the philosophy of history that animates Kant’s account of a universalizing Enlightenment, Schmitt’s fears about a revolutionary modernization and the standard narratives about what it means to organize political life in terms of an international. Schmitt’s account of a sovereign exception under state law expresses an account of modernity as a more or less achieved condition. There is no going back to premodern theologies. Modern politics must work as a secularized theology. We have all become modern and must save our modernity even at the cost of sacrificing our liberalism. That is, it is an account which tends to assume that the world has been brought into modernity much as Kant had hoped, though for Schmitt, as for Weber and many others, the promises this had seemed to imply for Kant had been undermined by the collapse of any faith in a transcendental subjectivity. Here Kant can be put to work critically, as he would have said, to point to the radical impossibility of bringing the entire world into modernity because one can never know the world as such, only its appearances.29 In an earlier century, Hobbes had found it necessary to project the dilemmas of modern subjectivity back in time and out in space so as to constitute an outside that could never be fully reached but from which it was possible to construct a history through which modern subjects could magically return to the present in properly civil form; the history of the present embedded in the myth of a social contract.30 Kant was a bit clearer about what such a history must involve and managed to articulate the myth precisely as history, the progressive History taking us from immaturity to a possible condition of Enlightenment.31 Thus on the one hand, Kant may be read as insisting, quite rightly, that modern subjectivity works within limits. For Kant’s critical epistemology this implied a radical scepticism about any knowing of the world as such. One can only know what one’s categories permit. Such a scepticism might be deployed so as to underline the extraordinary ethnocentrism upon which the Schmittean account of sovereignty rests. On the other, of course, it is Kant himself who articulates the prior ethnocentric account of a potentially universalizing history that is the crucial condition of possibility for Schmitt’s account of sovereignty. Kant’s universalizing history is a narrative about the bringing of the world into modernity, the interiorization of universal reason within modern subjectivities, micro and macro. The world is not simply unknowable, it is simply left behind, or force-fed into the dream of a

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modern world of heterogeneities that might be accommodated within an overarching homogeneity. Kant’s account of the international is an account of colonialism and erasure. The account is familiar enough. In some circumstances, against a Schmittean exceptionalism, it retains some critical purchase. Otherwise, it is precisely the problem that confronts us all.

VIII Since the last few fateful months of 2001, we have seen the exercise of a sovereign exceptionalism in many spheres of contemporary political life. Has this been an exceptionalism of a Schmittean kind at the edge of a state in a states system? Has this been an exceptionalism at the edges of a sovereign system of sovereign states? Have we seen a renegotiation of the line marking the aporia between these two sources of sovereignty in modern political life? These are indeed plausible ways of making some sense of contemporary events, but they seem to me to be insufficient, even perverse, a symptom of the familiar rush from one moment of a conceptual opposition to its apparent opposite. Contemporary exceptions have been made in a variety of conceptual spaces, by invoking religious differences between saved and damned and Christian and Islam as well as by civilizational differences between the modern and the barbarian. The exceptionalisms that we associated with the spatial limits of the modern state (friends and enemies) and the temporal limits of the states system as the political expression of the modern world (civilized and barbarian) have been conflated, not for the first time, but certainly in many places and contexts. We have not all come inside. We live in a world of new inclusions and exclusions as well as of established ones; a world of more borders, and more sovereignties rather than less. We can shift our capacity to decide exceptions around. Terror is Islam is Afghanistan is Iraq is Arab is Iran is dark-skinned is criminal is immigrant is whatever. Moreover, where Schmitt’s account focusses on the big exception, the declaration of war, exceptions are now made as a continual mode of action, and they can be made by bureaucratic machinery and functionaries, even by machines, quite as easily as by grand sovereigns. The costs of the sweeping generalizations that would take us from an international politics to a universalizing politics of the world, or from an international politics to some new global imperium, or from a specific site of exception at the edges of the state and the system of states to a generalized exceptionalism mobilized in some more or less apocalyptic ambition are all too clear: a loss of analytical clarity and a deferral of all questions about political necessity, possibility and responsibility. Better, I would say, to imagine the extent to which transformations are possible in relation to all three of the categories canvassed here, acknowledging that these are not the only categories in need of more imaginative scholarship and political practice. Thus, if one thinks of the increasingly urban character of human existence, or the extent to which capitalism and many new technologies work as processes converging at specific sites, it is not difficult to imagine forms of multipolarity less

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in the familiar sense of the late nineteenth-century concert of powers in Europe or more recent formations involving the so-called BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) than of networks generating novel forms of authority, even novel forms of sovereignty, in particular places, though not in any sense that either Hobbes or contemporary constitutional lawyers would easily recognize. Where networks converge at specific points, temporal or spatial, we must expect practices of authorization to appear, along with struggles to authorize what counts as authority. Similarly, there are many reasons to suspect that the category of empire retains some purchase on contemporary trends, but it is probably unhelpful to assume that it must name either a single hegemonic centre or a singular hierarchy of authorities. And as for the category of exceptionalism, the oppositions that may be conveniently named as Schmitt-Kelsen or Schmitt-Benjamin may retain considerable rhetorical force and even impressive theoretical commentary, but are not obviously persuasive in relation to contemporary complexities. A politics of exceptions is certainly in play, but now tends to be expressed in multidimensional and contingent moments in plural domains and/or a restructuring of patterns of inclusion and exclusion that look increasingly like global maps of social indicators than maps of territorial borders and legal jurisdictions. The relationship between these three categories is also likely to look strange to analysts familiar with the traditional routines I have sketched here. Above all, I would say, if it is indeed the case that contemporary dynamics are sufficiently significant to challenge the conventions of an internationalized political order, and thus the conventional accounts of what it means to speak about imperialisms and exceptionalisms that have shaped conventional accounts of an internationalized political order, then the ways in which we have understood political boundaries, both as spatial borders and as legal limits, will require a lot more attention. This is, of course, another way of saying that we need to pay a lot more attention to the concept of sovereignty and to refuse the usual stories about an eternally centred presence or an impending disappearance. As it is, current wars can be read as a kind of Schmittean politics unleashed from its statist moorings. They can also be read as only a part of a much broader restructuring of the capacity to decide exceptions – not the disappearance of sovereignty but the multiplication and proliferation of sovereignties, though not sovereignties that look much like the forms of sovereignty we associate with modern states. Kant speaks to this context not as the expression of an aspiration for a universal history, but as an expression of the limits within which a politics contained within the limits of a sovereign state and system of sovereign states can so easily assume that progress lies in the internalization of its own limited universalities within its own limited subjectivities. Schmitt also speaks to this context not only as a reminder of what is at stake when sovereignties define their exceptions at the limits of a territorialized state, but also of what it means to apply that understanding of sovereignty to a system of states that expresses such a pervasive distinction between a modernity expressed as membership in the world of the international and the world that is left outside: left behind, the exception that proves the

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necessity for all moderns to live as they are supposed to live. As for the others, we already know all too much of what their fate must be.

Notes 1 This chapter was originally prepared for the International Studies Association Meeting, Honolulu, Hawai’i, March 2005 and revised for various presentations over the course of that year. The present version was translated as ‘L’International, l’impérial, l’exceptionnel’ and published in Cultures et Conflits, 58, Eté 2005, 13–51. A shorter version appeared as ‘Lines of Insecurity: International, Imperial, Exceptional’, Security Dialogue, 37:1, March 2006, 65–82. 2 The implications of this claim are explored in R. B. J. Walker, Inside/Outside: International Relations as Political Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. 3 This argument is developed in a forthcoming manuscript, R. B. J. Walker, After the Globe/Before the World (subsequently published in London and New York by Routledge, 2010). 4 By invoking concepts of a rearticulation of political spatiotemporalities, this chapter re-engages with formulations initially sketched in very schematic form in Walker, State Sovereignty, Global Civilization and the Rearticulation of Political Space, World Order Studies Program Occasional Paper no. 18, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Center of International Studies, 1988. 5 Compare Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, edited by Richard Tuck, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991; and Immanuel Kant, Kant’s Political Writings, edited by H. S. Reiss, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. 6 R. B. J. Walker, ‘International/Inequality’, in Mustapha Kamal Pasha and Craig N. Murphy, eds, International Relations and the New Inequality, Oxford: Blackwell, 2002, 7–24. 7 R. B. J. Walker, ‘War, Terror, Judgement’ (Chapter 11 above), in Bulent Gokay and R. B. J. Walker, eds, September 11, 2001: War, Terror and Judgement, London: Frank Cass, 2003. 8 I use the term ‘rule’ in a sense that might be traced to Aristotle and Hume but has been developed most systematically in an international context by Nicholas Onuf and Friedrich Kratochwil. It is a sense that differs from formal legal rules, from notions of an international ‘society’, and from the superficial versions of ‘social constructivism’ devoted to ‘norms’ that have become popular in recent forms of international relations theory. However, my use of this term here speaks to a much more general range of principles than either Onuf or Kratochwil engage, and tends towards more structural than historical concerns. For much more sophisticated discussions, see Friedrich Kratochwil, Rules, Norms and Decisions: On the Conditions of Practical and Legal Reasoning in International Relations and Domestic Affairs, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989; and Nicholas Onuf, World of Our Making: Rule and Rules in Social Theory and International Relations, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1989. 9 The following highly oversimplified comments intentionally work both with and against a broad range of political and legal traditions seeking to resist the ‘state-centric’ accounts of international relations, especially as these traditions have come to be represented in texts like Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society, London: Macmillan, 1977; and Martin Wight, Systems of States, edited by Hedley Bull, Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1977. These foundational texts of the so-called English School or international relations theory contain the germ of many interesting ways of thinking about the structural form and substantive practice of the modern international order. I tend to share the emphasis this school places on historical, social, cultural and legal processes as well as its suspicion of more ‘American’ traditions of socio-scientific explanation; but for the most part I have never been persuaded by the specific accounts of history, society, culture, law and especially politics that have become conventional within the now extensive literature provoked by these two texts.

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10 This theme is developed further in R. B. J. Walker, ‘The Protection of Nature and the Nature of Protection’ (Chapter 5 above), in Jeff Huysmans, ed., The Politics of Protection, London: Routledge, 2006. 11 Hans Kelsen, Essays in Legal and Moral Theory, Boston, MA: Reidel, 1974; Kelsen, Introduction to Problems of Legal Theory, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992. 12 Carl Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty (1922), translated by George Schwab, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985. 13 Jacques Derrida, ‘Force of Law: The Mystical Foundations of Authority’, in Derrida, Acts of Religion, edited by Gil Anidjar, New York and London: Routledge, 2002, 228–98. 14 Michel Foucault, ‘Society Must Be Defended’: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975–1976, New York: Picador, 2003. 15 Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998; Agamben, Means without End: Notes on Politics, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000. 16 Jürgen Habermas, ‘Kant’s Idea of Perpetual Peace, with the Benefit of Two Hundred Years’ Hindsight’, in James Bohman and Matthias Lutz-Bachmann, eds, Perpetual Peace: Essays on Kant’s Cosmopolitan Ideal, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987. 17 It is perhaps unfair, though certainly easy enough, to single out Rawls as the primary culprit in this respect. It is nevertheless hardly going too far to say that the assumption that the national/state/domestic community and the states system/international community must be analysed separately, or that one must be analysed as if it were the other, has been one of the primary conditions under which the scholarly analysis of contemporary political life took institutional shape in the second half of the twentieth century. 18 R. B. J. Walker, ‘Polis, Cosmopolis, Politics’, Alternatives: Local, Global, Political, 28:2, 2003, 267–86. 19 Schmitt, Political Theology. 20 Hans J. Morgenthau, Scientific Man versus Power Politics, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946. Cf. Schmitt, The Concept of the Political (1932), translated with an introduction by George Schwab and new foreword by Tracy Strong, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. 21 Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics, Reading: Addison-Wesley, 1979. 22 Carl Schmitt, The Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of the Jus Publicum Europaeum, originally published in 1950, translated and annotated by G. L. Ulman, New York: Telos Press, 2003. As with the founding texts of the English School, this is a text I have had in mind in developing this analysis, though again without any systematic account of where I (sometimes) converge with or (more frequently) diverge from Schmitt’s method of analysis. 23 Walter Benjamin, ‘Critique of Violence’, in Benjamin, Selected Writings, Volume 1, 1913–1926, edited by Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings, Cambridge, MA: Belknap/Harvard University Press, 1996, 236–52. 24 Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004. 25 Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000. 26 See especially the writings of Didier Bigo for the European Union research programmes ELISE (FP5) and CHALLENGE (FP6). 27 For critical commentary on the peculiar readings of Kant that have managed to thrive in Anglo-American theories of international relations, see Mark F. Franke, Global Limits: Immanuel Kant, International Relations and Critique of World Politics, Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2001; and Jens Bartelson, ‘The Trial of Judgement: A Note on Kant and the Paradoxes of Internationalism’, International Studies Quarterly, 39, 1995, 255–79. 28 This is Hans Saner’s phrase. See Saner, Kant’s Political Thought: Its Origins and Development (1967), translated by E. B. Ashton, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973, 313 and passim. 29 Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, translated by Norman Kemp Smith, London: Macmillan, 1929. 30 Hobbes, Leviathan. 31 Kant, Kant’s Political Writings.


I Few weeks pass without sharp reminders that democracy remains an open question everywhere; in some places more than others, perhaps, but in no place does a claim to democracy warrant complacency.1 Democracy names a question, indeed a large bundle of questions, some of them more difficult to engage than the concept of democracy itself. Are we to understand democracy as a form of legitimate power/authority/ constitution/sovereignty/law? Or as a practice/technique/art of government? Plato already had much to say about this tension. Much of the subsequent discussion of democracy has followed Plato’s lead in this respect, and novel forms of both sovereignty and governmentality have only amplified its contemporary significance. Are we destined to understand democracy as a form/practice that is always in danger of resolving into tyranny as its corrupt other? Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau and many other canonical writers remain essential reading here; and there is no shortage of self-proclaimed democracies that might be deemed corrupt by the standards they articulate. Can we talk about democracy without engaging in some depth with concepts of civil society, republicanism, a rule of law, liberty, equality, freedom of thought and information, practices of representation, the structure of party systems and many other things; or is some much narrower definition acceptable? Are we simply going to have to invent new variations on the familiar struggle between state sovereignty and popular sovereignty, assuming that we know what it means to talk about sovereignty, a state, or a people? Or must we hope/fear that we will have to reimagine sovereignty in some other terms, or envision some kind of politics that avoids principles of sovereignty altogether? Are we to understand democracy as a form or practice that is always conditional upon some prior delimitation of a polis/ demos, some spatiotemporal/social condition of possibility and limit, which may be

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endlessly contested by the form/practice that is constituted or permanently fixed in some apparently natural place and time? All these questions are closely related, of course, but it is the last set, about the spatiotemporalities expressed in prevailing concepts of a polis or demos, especially in relation to whatever it is we know by the name of Europe, that is my initial concern here. Many commentators seem to be exhausted not only by the conceptual breadth and density of all such questions, and by their reach into the most basic assumptions about what we mean by politics, but also by a widespread sense that so many empirical tendencies suggest that many great hopes for democracy are being sharply constrained or even extinguished. Can’t go on, but must go on, they seem to suggest. Jean-Luc Nancy’s formulation speaks for many: Is it at all meaningful to call oneself a ‘democrat’? Manifestly, one may and should answer both ‘no, it’s quite meaningless, since it is no longer possible to call oneself anything else’, and ‘yes, of course, given that equality, justice and liberty are under threat from plutocracies, technocracies, and mafiocracies wherever we look’. Democracy has become an exemplary case of the loss of the power to signify: representing both supreme political virtue and the only means of achieving the common good, it grew so fraught that it was no longer capable of generating any problematic or serving any heuristic purpose. All that goes on now is marginal debate about the differences between various democratic systems and sensibilities. In short, democracy means everything – politics, ethics, law, civilization – and nothing.2 Democracy may or may not name a question that is now more difficult than ever before. Still, it is especially difficult to engage with it now not only because judgements about whether the name is appropriate in any particular place are so vigorously contested but because it is once again unclear what kind of political practice the concept of democracy could possibly name. To ask whether, say, Canada (my implicit starting point here), Turkey, Brazil, the USA (my intermediate stops) or Europe (both my eventual destination and the initial provocation for this chapter) deserve to be called democratic is to juggle with indices of both yes and no; and to rely on precarious understandings of how we ought to interpret indices. To ask what we mean when we connect such places with such a concept is to risk seduction by many official stories that do not quite satisfy demands for either scholarly scruple or discriminating political judgement. Despite many self-serving rhetorics, we clearly live among quasi-democracies at best. This is certainly not to denigrate many historical achievements. On the contrary, it is to insist that many historical achievements have been smothered and appropriated by many self-serving rhetorics. Few dare to shun the name; many doubt the connection between the name and its supposed referent. The gap between rhetoric and achievement breeds both bracing scepticism and corrupting cynicism, and is possibly making it more difficult to tell these opposing political modalities apart. Many of the great achievements of even quasi-democracies have been hard won. It

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is also clear that many of these achievements have been seriously eroded in many places, my starting point included. Sometimes they have been eroded in the name of democracy itself, or at least in the name of concepts of democracy that are profoundly at odds with more established democratic norms. For there is, of course, no historical record of a single understanding of democracy, no matter how hard some of the most powerful forces of our time have tried to impose their preferred brand upon others, especially as a condition of appropriate policies of ‘development’ in more vulnerable societies. One of the necessary conditions for any kind of democratic politics, one might say, is the possibility of contesting what it means to engage in democratic politics, and it is the possibility of such contestation that might yet permit us to move on from the sense of exhaustion understandably expressed in so many contemporary commentaries. Democracy is one of those ‘essentially contested concepts’ demanding their own application to any process that seeks to define them, so that, to stay with my example, the imposition of ‘multiparty representation’ as the appropriate definition of democracy for ‘developing states’ should always be met by an insistence on democratic discussion of what democracy should mean for those involved. In this respect democracy is closely related to the concept of sovereignty, a concept that, as Thomas Hobbes recognized with unmatched clarity, always demands sustained analysis of the practices of sovereign authorization constituting a sovereign capacity to authorize sovereign law. Many of the most worrisome trends of our time depend on a strong preference for essentially uncontested concepts in both cases. It is a preference that still counts as both scholarly authority and sustainable political judgement in far too many situations. It should not. Democracy is an open concept as well as an open question, and those who claim expertise in definitions of what democracy must be always risk authoritarian tendencies when they try to make their definitions stick. To root a discussion of democracy in fairly remote – classical and other – historical sources would be to see that the name has referred to a great diversity of ambitions, many of them at odds with more recent conventions. Historical records may confirm a wide range of ‘transitions to democracy’, but they also confirm many struggles in the name of competing understandings of democracy. For my purposes here, just two traditions, both firmly in play in early twentieth-century Europe and still shaping contemporary events but already formulated with some clarity sometime between the eras symbolized by, say, Hobbes and Adam Smith, will be sufficient to begin with. Specifically, contemporary discussions about the status of democracy are still shaped by longstanding tensions about whether democracy is a political condition ultimately rooted in state law and enacted within the jurisdictions of sovereign nation-states, within some kind of Hobbesian commonwealth, or in the laws of economic value generated by capitalist markets and the privatization of common wealth. Many in ‘the West’ are now nostalgic for some kind of social democracy, for a political order predicated on something like a Keynesian accommodation between states and capital, or between states and markets in the current conventions. Others retain hopes for accommodations made in the name of a stronger flavour of

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nationalism: in the name of the kind of ‘modernization from above’ that has been familiar from the time of Otto von Bismarck and Max Weber to the strategies of the so-called BRICS countries attempting to create a multipolar antidote to excessive expressions of American unipolarity or Western hegemony. For all their differences, both social democrats and statist nationalists at least have some sense of what they are talking about in relation to democracy because they can refer to some kind of state, and thus a familiar kind of demos, marked by a familiar kind of sovereign law, that can contain and sustain some form of democratic practice in which economic processes are more or less subservient to state law, with the difference between the more and the less being of critical consequence. On the other hand, many of the dominant forces of our time care less about generalized categories of society or nation than about the promises of a market. This is the so-called neo-liberal move that has been reshaping not only the conventions of Keynesianism and liberal democracy but even the character of nation/state-led modernization from above. The general inspiration here comes less from Hobbes (and many others) than, again among many possible sources, from John Locke’s account of private property and accounts of the transformation of private vices into public virtues celebrated by those we now think of as ‘economists’. Here the character and even the location of the demos is not quite so clear, although official stories still confirm its congruence with the demos of state law. The concept of private property may have much in common with the concept of the sovereign law of states, but once hitched to the mobile strategies of market processes and the universalizing tendencies of capitalist forms of production, distribution and exchange, the two primary sites of ultimate value in our supposedly post-theological modern political order – sovereign state law and an also sovereign economic law (or simply money) – became more obviously in dramatic tension. The differentiation of ‘political’ and ‘economy’ is a complex matter historically and conceptually. Many canonical sources invoke both concepts rather than any single alternative. Nonetheless, the degree to which they came to express very different accounts of ultimate value in a secularizing Europe continues to be expressed in, not least, the difficulty of speaking about a political economy that does not ultimately reduce to one value or the other, deeply entrenched historical and institutionalized antagonisms and accommodations between states and markets, and accounts of contemporary transformations that simply presume a starting point of either a universalizing capitalism or a fragmented system of states. The questions about demos and democracy broached here are especially shaped by the third of these expressions but in a manner that seeks to affirm the profound importance of the other two. Attempts to resolve the tension between these two expressions of ultimate value have shaped and still shape many of the most important achievements of our most familiar forms of democracy, all of which struggle to reconcile claims to both liberty and equality in the context of the competing dynamics of states and markets. This is why so many accounts of democracy are still haunted by versions of the elite theories of democracy, once associated with the Italians Roberto Michels, Gaetano Mosca and Vilfredo Pareto, which valorized democracy as a practice of inequality

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that is fundamentally at odds with narratives about democracy as an equalitarian practice of representation or equal rights under a rule of law.3 Contemporary concerns are expressed in relation to the ever more extreme divergence between an extremely wealthy minority and the rest of us. From, say, some ugly experiments in Chile shaped by figures like Milton Friedman to the rush to the radical shifts associated with Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and their many heirs, and on to more recent attempts to justify bold policies of unequal redistribution as mere responses to a necessary austerity, claims about democracy have been caught ever more tightly between competing accounts of the demos to which democracy is supposed to refer. As with the achievements of social democracy, Keynesian political economy and the privileging of the ‘high politics’ of national-state power over the ‘low politics’ of economic power, much of the received wisdom about democratic possibilities has rested on the assumption that the demos constituted by state law and the demos constituted by capitalist markets can be made to converge, again more or less. Much of the substantive repertoire of modern democratic politics has hinged on the difference between the more and the less, on the appropriate forms of regulation, representation and redistribution necessary to sustain a political order ordained by these two gods of a modern secular political order. As divergence has become more and more apparent, not least as expressed in popular accounts of ‘globalization’ as well as in relation to the corruption and collapse of financial markets, democracy has become even less susceptible to assumptions that we know to which demos the term is supposed to refer. So democracy is an open question, and an open concept, and it is especially open in relation to competing accounts of which demos, or which constellation of demoi, the concept is supposed to refer. The tension between ‘political’ and ‘economic’ versions has been with us for a long time, and now seems to lie behind much of the widespread scepticism or even cynicism about whether the name of democracy can be anything more than a rhetorical mask expressing an increasingly impossible ambition. The question of democracy becomes even more elusive as it becomes ever more obvious that it is indeed a bundle of questions, some of which are even more difficult to engage than the concept of democracy as we have come to know it: questions especially about what democracy might mean when the demos seems to be losing some of its moorings in any singular political community, or systemic order of singular political communities, rooted in state and international law.4 This is why some scholars are prepared to countenance other understandings of what it means to speak about a demos, whether larger (cosmopolitan, global) or smaller (local, urban) in scale. It is also why it is so difficult to speak about democracy in relation to Europe, whatever and wherever that may be; but not only in Europe.

II Many recent events offer further reminders that democracy is both an open question and an open concept. I pick just two sorts of event, from a few months in

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mid-2013. These events are not explicitly European, and intentionally so. They nevertheless speak to questions about democracy in the specific case of Europe in ways that I hope will become obvious as I move along. One sort of event, the eruption of popular dissent within highly centralized and rapidly modernizing states, occurred both in Turkey and in Brazil, amidst reverberations from other events in Egypt and elsewhere. Another sort of event, disclosure of still more information about the surveillance of entire populations through powerful networks of computerized agencies, some of them nominally public and some nominally private, occurred primarily in the USA. Neither sort of event, however, is easily contained within these particular states, or separated from the dynamics shaping and limiting democratic practices in Europe. My intent is not to offer detailed interpretations of these cases but to insist on various ways they speak to ongoing debates about democracy in Europe, both conceptually and historically. In Turkey, very local protests against yet another imposition of ‘development’ sponsored by the familiar combination of large corporations and a modernizing state provoked an also familiar heavy-handed response from police and security forces. These local protests quickly triggered much broader expressions of discontent. These events in turn generated speculation about the possible retreat from an at least partly quasi-democratic government towards something more directly authoritarian, as well as about the potential for new forms of democratic action by groups expressing new social forces thrown up by new forms of modernization. Despite occasional orientalist commentaries trying to invoke supposed legacies of Ottoman rule, the underlying pattern of interpretation here has been shaped by the standard narratives about the need for modernization from above, the narrative articulated with particular force in Weber’s exemplary diagnosis of the need for some functional replacement for the middle class as the driver of modernization given the desire to ‘catch up’ with hegemonic states in an increasingly internationalized political order. This, it is worth noting, is precisely the narrative that has largely gone missing from most Anglo-American accounts of that internationalized order, which prefer to erase history in favour of more elegantly spatialized accounts of structural form while simultaneously pushing history into ideologically driven narratives about ‘development’ that have so corrupted many comparative literatures about politics and their highly constrained accounts of democracy. Within these narratives, it is easy enough to interpret these particular events as yet another variation on the struggle between popular sovereignty and state sovereignty within the context of a modernizing state seeking to catch up with the status of a powerful and fully legitimate actor in an international order while managing the stresses and strains of social and economic transformations required for modernization. The great unknown concerns the degree to which this pattern, the kind of quasi-democracy enabled and limited by a nation-state engaged in highly centralized forms of modernization and development from above, is likely to be seriously disrupted by some other kind of democratic practice rooted in the

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energies of the young, the urban, the technologically savvy, the environmentally aware, or even just a new middle class. Moments later, something very similar but more sustained seemed to be signalled by a sudden eruption of widespread protest in Brazil, where I happened to be struggling to make sense of what it now means to make claims about democracy in Europe in order to start writing this chapter. In Brazil, too, the tradition of modernization from above has been deeply entrenched. Many of the achievements of democracy here have rested on the negotiation of shifts from highly centralized forms of military rule to still highly centralized forms of civilian rule. As in Turkey and elsewhere, however, it is not clear either that this is sufficient or that the pattern is likely to change in any significant way. Contradictions are palpable, but contained. The centralization of power that expresses this particular form of democracy is at odds with the highly diverse geography and culture of the country. The construction of a cohesively national politics despite the scale and diversity of the place has required all the usual strategies of modern nationalist politics inspired by French, German and other models of nation building by a modernizing state. At this point, it is not easy to identify many significant social, political or cultural movements in Brazil that are not supported and shaped by the state. The most obvious, and even startling feature of the recent protests has been the presence of national colours and flags, of solidarity with a very strong nationalist identity. The possibility that democracy might be reconstituted through the kind of creative antagonism of civil society and the state, of the kind that was once celebrated in the democratization movements of Eastern Europe, for example, seems quite remote. Still, in Brazil as elsewhere, centralization of authority and nationalist mythology, or even the highly monolithic media, cannot completely obscure radical differences within the national demos. The top-down model of modernization has lost some of its legitimacy. Many people are troubled by the convergence between political interests acting in the name of centralized state power with various forms of corporate and international capital that has so obviously led to a preference for profitable megaprojects like sports stadiums rather than education, healthcare and other social services; though it is also the case that the many opportunities for specific corruptions by particular groups and individuals easily deflect attention from the much more worrying degrees of complicity between state structures and huge multinational conglomerates and the distortion of developmental priorities this has brought. The media are unlikely to redirect attention in ways that give citizens the kind of knowledge necessary to make informed judgements about the national/international and transnational structures of power shaping their lives. Levels of inequality are notoriously extreme despite many impressive achievements. As in Turkey, it is thus unsurprising that the specific grievance triggering mass protests quickly morphed into much broader and diffuse demands, but also opportunities for some elites to promote new stories about the efficiencies of market capitalism as the obvious alternative to a centralized state. But it is one thing to force a retrenchment of an increase in bus fares, the initial trigger in this case, and something else entirely to engage with the state-corporatist organization of

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Brazilian transportation more generally, or policies promoting the consumer-driven growth that it has enabled. It is thus equally unsurprising that the specialists in instant interpretation have been forced to admit considerable uncertainty about the significance of it all. Uncertainty is undoubtedly the right response. What is nevertheless fairly clear is that two different dynamics are in motion in both contexts. The better-known dynamic is shaped within more or less well-known parameters: along a continuum running from some form of authoritarianism towards a form of statist democracy that is nevertheless largely under the control of a single ruling order, a party, an elite, a political class: corporatism, cronyism and all the rest. The less obvious dynamic is shaped by struggles against these well-known parameters. As in many other places, much attention has been focussed on new tactics of mobilization, on the role of new communication technologies, social networking, social learning (not least about the reach of corruption and the extent of social deprivation) and the occupation of specific and mainly urban spaces. The multiplication of substantive demands points in exactly the opposite direction to the old Leninist or even Gramscian concern with capturing centralized power, whether of party or state. Established politicians and political institutions have been broadly delegitimized, but any single alternative understanding of political life beyond state and market is hard to identify. For some commentators, this shows that the protests lacked serious political purpose. For others, there are signs that democracy is being enacted through different rules. After all, one does not expect to get very far when the rules of the game are set by those one seeks to challenge, and it is no longer obvious that seriousness of purpose can be defined by nostalgic desires to capture centres of power and authority. There is certainly at least some sense that new understandings of basic political principles – those questions that are sometimes even more difficult than the question of democracy itself – are being articulated in some settings: new conceptions of liberty, probably; new conceptions of equality, perhaps; new understandings of citizenship, almost certainly, perhaps mainly in relation to the narrowly but increasingly functional middle class or perhaps as an expression of new forms of civil society, or a shift to the city as the primary site of political life, or even new forms of republicanism. Still, new forms of reactionary politics cannot be discounted either; on the contrary. So in both cases, much of the interpretive terrain is familiar enough, but there is also sufficient scope to imagine that something more interesting is at stake. There may be grounds for pessimism, for fears that unrest may bring some kind of authoritarian backlash or just that the diversity of demands can lead only into unfocussed and ultimately futile agitation. There may be grounds for optimism, for a few more concessions, perhaps, but also for hopes that new energies and values will stimulate alternatives to the highly centralized and tightly controlled forms of democracy shaped by the dynamics of modernization from above. Much remains unpredictable. It remains unpredictable not least in relation to the degree to which the polis expressed in the claims of statist law remains consistent with the polis shaped by the

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demands of emerging forms of economic value. Even on familiar nationalist terms, the possibilities for democracy hinge on struggles to define which and what kind of demos can sustain which kind of democracy, and on which kind of democracy can constitute and sustain what kind of demos, especially in relation to the twin gods of modern political life. In principle, state law remains paramount. In practice, other sovereignties are in play. Law is one thing, but legitimacy is quite another, and a widening gap between legitimacy and law invariably spells trouble. Europe has considerable historical experience of this respect. In the different but related events centred in the USA, a single whistle blower added yet more information to our still hazy but deeply disturbing knowledge of the capacity of various intelligence and security services, in still uncertain degrees of alliance with many small companies as well as with large corporations, to enlarge their presumed right to detailed information about citizens and foreigners alike. The word treason was mentioned, even by relatively progressive politicians, and thus the relation between legality and legitimacy has also begun to open up with some virulence, but in a rather different way. This capacity for unprecedented knowledge/power rests partly on the legitimacy of a claim that it is justified by the need for security, as well as by claims that the relevant procedures are covered by appropriate legal safeguards. It also rests partly on massive advances in technological capacities for surveillance of many kinds: for data mining, for computer simulation, for the tapping of transmission lines, for making judgements about ‘persons of interest’ through probabilistic generalizations, worst-case scenarios and so on. The extraordinary scale and reach of the technical systems in question and the complex institutional apparatus that is somehow supposed to be in control of it all has given rise to horrified comparisons with other famous historical cases of Big Brother politics, from the Nazis, to the Soviets, to J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, to the Stasi, to any number of terrifying police states in many places. The scale of operations alone may well warrant such comparisons even if these specific cases may be profoundly misleading on other fronts. These twin foundations have extensive historical roots. It is not exactly news that states spy on their citizens, or on the citizens of other states. And the claim that fundamental political principles, especially liberty, must reach some limitation when trumped by threats of insecurity is hardly novel either. A version of it is found in Hobbes’s famous account of liberty under law. Another version is found in Carl Schmitt’s account of sovereignty as a capacity to decide on the exception to established norms. Both are echoed in the familiar claim that democracy must stop at the edge of the apparatus guaranteeing national security. That edge, of course, was the boundary of the state itself, the place where territorial limit and the limit of sovereign law must coincide, at least in principle. But the scale, scope and reach of contemporary surveillance operations points to a very different kind of political order, although precisely what kind of political order this may be is far from clear. Mapping networks is not the same as mapping the territorial limits of sovereign states. The geopolitician’s atlas and the diagrams in an electrician’s handbook are only distantly related except in their ability to identify points of connection.

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Much of the immediate critical commentary on the capacities for surveillance that have been revealed so far arise from a concern for the erosion of privacy. Privacy is undoubtedly one of the key values embodied in the more overtly liberal forms of democratic politics. It is one of the characteristic expressions of a political culture grounded in citizens being able to be subjects for themselves rather than the subjects of others. It speaks to the many traditions in which freedom of conscience and the most basic ideas about what it means to be a person, about how one might reconcile one’s citizenship with one’s humanity, about personhood, have been expressed through the possibilities of democratic politics. Laws may or may not prevent the spying machines from snooping on the substantive content of phone calls and electronic correspondence, but there seems to be relatively little safeguard against the collection of so-called metadata, aggregate information that treats people once again as mere objects, made subject to external rule rather than self-rule, and to ever mutating forms of what various recent literatures seek to understand as governmentality, bio-politics and the manipulation of paranoia rather than anything resembling a democratic society. Democrats, especially liberal democrats, have ample reason to be angry and afraid. As Hobbes himself also saw very clearly, the sovereign power promising to bring subjects a more secure form of liberty could well be the very same power that destroys subjects in the name of the security of subjects. From this angle, it is not silly to suspect that the scale of the contemporary capacity for surveillance has the capacity to destroy much of what we have come to name as democracy, even in its more obviously constrained forms.5 But privacy, subjectivity and liberalism are not the only principles at stake here. At the heart of the matter, as it has been for the dozen or so years of the supposed ‘war on terror’, is what we are supposed to make of the relationship between principles of liberty and the demands of security. In the present context, many military figures have been deployed in order to make claims about the degree to which surveillance has prevented many acts of terror. The loss of liberty, the explicit argument goes, is simply the price to be paid for security under contemporary conditions. The implicit argument, of course, is that these are exceptional conditions, conditions under which the cost in liberty is worth the price we are asked to pay. Between them, the explicit and the implicit capture an enormous terrain of competing political principles. The same can be said for the constant appeal to the figure of a ‘balance’ between liberty and security, the apparent choice, as if in a supermarket, between competing commodities purchasable with the same currency.6 President Obama elegantly expressed the underlying premise of a homogeneous but scalar order at work here when he said that ‘You cannot have 100 per cent security and then have 100 per cent privacy and zero inconvenience’.7 He went on to remark: ‘You know, we’re going to have to make some choices as a society’.8 A demos is invoked. A choice is going to have to be made, by someone. A line must be drawn, at some point along the scale. The question of the relation between sovereign authority and the demos, between the sovereignty of a people and the sovereignty of a state – the relation upon which all claims about modern forms of democracy, and law, and legitimacy, are grounded – is broached. But this question

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has already been depoliticized by the framing of the problem as a choice between two equal values on a continuum, a choice framed in relation to what amounts to a normal curve of distribution, the bell curve on which the relative price of competing but equal principles can be calculated at a point of balance somewhere along the curve, or at the point at which two such curves meet. Balance is such a seductive concept, perhaps one of the most seductive of all political concepts, and it shapes the tacit ground on which the concept of democracy has been given meaning, not least in relation to concepts of representation. In this particular context, and with the insertion of a logic of markets into the logic of state law, it is entirely misleading. Liberty and security are simply not competing values of equal status. These do not constitute a pairing like liberty and equality, which at least nominally have equal status among the highest principles of modern politics, even if their relationship is better understood as aporetic rather than as a choice to be made along a curve of rational distribution. Security names the condition of possibility under which the relation between liberty and equality might be negotiated, not least through democratic procedures. Security is the name we give to a limit condition, to the edge of the curve, to the exception to the normal rule, to the point at which it becomes legitimate to suspend the law, to invoke the necessity for secrecy, for surveillance, for sovereign decision. This is partly why we remember Hobbes, and Schmitt, and why we fear the manipulation of fear and paranoia; it is why the illiberal character of modern liberal societies is becoming so insidious. When Obama invokes a ‘we’ that must make choices, he coolly avoids the central question of which sovereign authority is supposed to be in play, effectively passing responsibility onto society, onto a social negotiation over exchangeable norms while legitimizing a sovereign decision of the state to suspend norms. When he treats the spatiotemporally expansive apparatus of surveillance that has been revealed over the past few years as just another moment in a normalized routine in a spatially contained statist politics of norms and exceptions that is then masked by rhetorics of balance and consumer choice, he simply reveals the enormous gap between legality and legitimacy that is now opening up in so many situations in so many places. The relative autonomy and the public/private and globally networked character of contemporary intelligence agencies undermines the regulative ideal of a sovereign state acting to secure the liberty of its citizens. The whistle blower has been named as a traitor, but even if the accusation is deemed to be plausible in law it remains to be seen whether it is an accusation that is grounded in legitimate authority, or in relation to which polis we are supposed to identify either the law or the authority. In this case, the relation between democracy and demos opens up in especially confusing ways, as long-established tensions between sovereignty expressed in state law and sovereignty expressed in economic value converge with tensions between the sovereignty we know from the history of states and the international system and the kind of sovereignty we vaguely remember from systems of empire. Empire, we might recall, is precisely the form of rule against which the modern state struggled, against theologies and emperors, to affirm a new basis for political

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possibility, eventually enabling the possibilities of democracy within a singular demos. Which democracy for which demos are we talking about in this particular context? After all, some of the most startling revelations about the scale of contemporary forms of surveillance have been made in relation to Europe – at least if the UK is taken to be part of Europe, and especially if this part of Europe is engaged in snooping into the lives of citizens throughout Europe, or into European institutions within the USA. Laws of imperium are officially obsolete, having been replaced by the modern double of state and international law. Laws of economic value are officially subordinate to state law and international law. Such regulative ideals have been implausible guides to empirical practices for a long time. They nevertheless remain powerful guides for the ways in which we think about democracy and its possibilities. In some places, these ideals still have purchase. In some they seem increasingly perverse. As all these situations mentioned here flow along, as they will, one notices many other stories about events that seem to have little to do with democracy but probably have a lot to do both with the concept of democracy and with the prospects for democracies everywhere. One is probably the observation that at least three quarters of the arctic ice has disappeared over the past 35 years or so. A lot of other observations refer to dynamics working on a similarly enormous scale. At the very least, we might say, the kind of modernization project, whether from above, from below, from inside, or from outside, that has shaped what it means to engage in democratic aspirations at least since Kant’s gamble on a providential teleology taking humans, as citizens, towards greater freedom, with greater and greater scope for self-determination, is in very deep trouble.

III The specific question provoking my discussion here – ‘how does the European Polity meet the challenge of its European democratic, legal and cultural heritage?’ – was posed by a conference concerning whether, at a moment of multidimensional crisis, the interaction between law, market and community in a transnational setting might be ultimately associated with a sustainable model of European democracy.9 This is, to say the least, a loaded question; so loaded, in fact, that it is a question to which it may be impossible to give any plausible or even coherent answer at all. The question that I pose in the title of this chapter specifies my initial indirect response to it. My very brief discussion of a few recent cases that are not conventionally situated in Europe specifies a way of thinking about what is at stake in the terms presupposed in the question that was initially asked. Although it is largely unanswerable as formulated, it is nonetheless an instructive question. Its very formulation tells us a lot about how we can and cannot think about many of the most pressing problems of our time, including the status of the concept of democracy when put into conjunction with a place called Europe. Stated so boldly, it is obviously a question that takes far too much for granted. To begin with, it refers to a singular heritage, one that can be understood

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simultaneously to be democratic, legal and cultural, though not, perhaps, social, or economic, or even political. Yet there is clearly no singular democratic, legal and cultural heritage that can be identified as European, in the singular. To put it politely, pluralisms rule, and attempts to insist on a unifying narrative express various political agendas more than they do any concern with scholarly procedure. Among the plurality of democratic, legal and cultural forms that might be described as part of some European heritage, some (notions of civil society, perhaps, or of republican virtuosities, or the rule of law) may deserve praise, but the record is, shall we say, mixed. It is mixed not least where, for example, plebiscitary and elite theories of democracy slide into various forms of authoritarian rule or practices of representation enable various heavy-handed arts and techniques of governance and governmentality. In any case, many concepts that are readily said to be European are scarcely only European, that singular name for many things that neither originated in nor are limited to a place or identity we call Europe. Moreover, there is no European polity, but again a plurality of polities; not only of member states and the various formal jurisdictions through which the European Union has been constituted but also of many other forms of polity that have been largely ignored by much of the academic industry of European studies that doggedly imagined the conceptual and normative opposition between states and a singular Europe to be the necessary ground for thinking about politics in this part of the world. Europe has its regions, its easts and its wests, its norths and its souths, its cities, its transatlantic alliances, its entanglements that may or may not be usefully described as global, or colonial, or imperial. It may even be that insofar as there is an identifiable European polity, it is one that exists by virtue of multifaceted debates about what it means to be a European polity and even about how polities that attract some other categorization – as urban, or transnational, or diasporic, or migrant, or cosmopolitan, or civilizational, or planetary – fit within or themselves encapsulate a European polity. Some worry about the capacity of the Euro currency to sustain a common political community. Some worry about the fate of Greece and other societies that have been subject to disciplinary austerities, subordinations and exclusions in the wake of corruptions and crises in both European and American financial institutions. Some worry about the increasingly hegemonic role of Germany. Some try to make sense of a ‘two-speed’ Europe, a Europe with and without the UK, a Europe both with and against the USA, a fairly civilized Europe desired by constitutional lawyers and a much less civilized Europe desired by economists, financiers and many others with at least one eye on globalizing opportunities. Perhaps there is even a popular sovereignty of some sort that might eventually assert its voices in some sort of harmony. But no one can doubt that there are an awful lot of competing claims to a demos writhing within the seemingly innocent appellation of Europe. Furthermore, Europe is not where it is supposed to be, as I have put it in a different context.10 This is why I opted to refer to cases that may be elsewhere in a conventional geographical sense but are much more difficult to differentiate from Europe in other and no less important senses. Events in Turkey are related to the

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conflicting dynamic shaping formal decisions about whether or not Turkey is or is not to be counted as European. Brazil is significantly shaped by European accounts of what Brazil must be, and not only in relation to the effects of planning for a World Cup or an Olympic Games. The line between Europe and the USA is very hard to draw in relation to emerging regimes of surveillance, and considerable energy is devoted to affirmations and resistances to the lines that have been drawn in the past. The kind of modernization from above that has shaped political life in so many other places has been a central part of European experiences, and resistance to those experiences has shaped much of the attempt to create a Europe that is precisely not that kind of Europe. Many Europeans, like many Americans, have fond hopes for the universalization of what it means to be civilized, and democratic. Europe is subject to many of the same forces that are at work well beyond European territorial borders and legal limits. And so on. For all that Europeans may cling to a privileged attachment to place, their lives are shaped by spatiotemporal dynamics that disrupt all such attachments and the expectations of political necessity and possibility they have enabled. So, constructions of what counts as Europe, whether in historical or contemporary terms, are clearly contestable, and strongly contested. There is much that might be said about the complexity and contestation on both counts, as well as about the ways in which narratives about singularity maintain their purchase on both scholarly and popular debate. Europe is not alone in this respect; far from it. Still there is something distinctive about the ways in which Europe has been framed as a presumed singularity, both spatially and temporally. Insofar as one might be able to get a grip on a thematic that seeks to put claims about some specific heritage together with claims about a European polity, we would need to have some understanding of what it means to speak about a polity, and a politics, that somehow has historical and contemporary presence as well as future possibility. Thus, put simply, many contemporary claims about democracy, law and culture work to affirm that we know what we are talking about when we refer to something as a polity. I doubt that this is the case. Claims about democracy are conventionally grounded in claims about a demos, a people, or community, or population, or jurisdiction, or a place within which democracy might be envisaged. Most conventions identify this collectivity as the modern, sovereign nation-state. This was always a dubious convention, not least because the modernity, sovereignty and nationality of states are conditional upon the presence of external formations, sometimes more or less imperial and sometimes more or less international. As I have argued fairly extensively elsewhere, the obsessive focus of political and social theory on the internal claims of states, and the sharp distinction of these internal claims with theories of an international has more or less crippled thinking about many fundamental political principles, not least when claims about democracy, law and culture have been at stake. Alternatively, references to a European polity are often deployed precisely so as to resist the supposed parochialisms of statist political and social theory, but also to resist supposedly old-fashioned obsessions with an international. As we all supposedly

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know, we live in a moment of probably quite profound structural and historical change. As with claims about changes in planetary climate, we probably tend to underestimate the degree and significance of such change even while we overestimate our capacity to interpret it. To ask about the degree to which a polity, any polity, meets the challenge of its heritage, may be to ask whether it lives up to established principles that are worth defending, which I take to be at least part of the positive intention behind the specific question to which I am struggling to respond, but it is also to risk a defence of established even if contested principles in a moment in which such principles may seem increasingly nostalgic. The watchword here has been ‘integration’, and the measure of ‘progress’ has been extended along an historical line projected from a dangerous plurality, and principles of national/statist self-determination, to a more consensual universality, and principles of common rights, legal jurisdiction and cultural aspiration. In this context, references to a European polity express a fundamental ambivalence, not to say contradiction, and not just between a claim to a singular European polity and claims about a multiplicity of polities. On the one hand, they lay claim to a polity that finds its place in yet another form of an international order, the world of the new multipolarity that many Europeans, along with the BRICS countries, now champion as a welcome change from the unipolar moment of recent memory, with Europe in the role of what used to be called a ‘great power’. On the other hand, they lay claim to a polity that claims to have left the international behind in an ascent to a higher reason and a new hierarchical order. This is the narrative that would scarcely know what to say if the word ‘level’ were not available to organize the categories of modern politics in a vertical rather than a horizontal direction. This ambivalence speaks to the continuing grip of a profound puzzle that has provoked and shaped modern conceptions of politics since the early-modern period. Machiavelli formulated one version of this puzzle as a rupture between an ethics of salvation and thus virtue, and an ethics more attuned to the salvation of the city, and thus virtù. Others soon understood the centrality of a fundamental rift between the claims of citizenship in the secular polis or city and claims about the priority of humanity in general. This rift has shaped modern – and European – conceptions of polity for a very long time. Insofar as one can speak about a singular European political heritage, this problem would be difficult to ignore. Indeed, insofar as one can identify anything resembling a European political heritage, it would have to be first and foremost some kind of problem: of scepticism rather than some mythologized Enlightenment; of the very possibility of liberty in a condition of finitude rather than the various creeds proclaiming liberty to be achieved condition; the even trickier possibility that liberty and equality might be achieved at the same place and the same time despite their profound incompatibility in many situations; the at least equally tricky possibility that principles of liberty might be reconciled (but not balanced) with principles of security; and so on. The antagonistic character of claims about citizenship and claims about humanity that have shaped so many accounts of what it means to be political falls into this familiar pattern.

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Claims about a European polity are often used to give the impression that this particular antagonism has been resolved in favour of a higher citizenship, one that is closer to humanity, and indeed might sometimes speak as if its conception of citizenship should simply be taken, universally, as the proper conception of humanity – with entirely predictable consequences. The idea that we can speak of a European polity, in the singular, is the outcome of that famously determined philosophy of history which insists on the necessity for or evidence of a progressive teleology through which European nation-states, or statenations, get their act together to constitute a common – integrated – Europe. Indeed we might say that more than most other places on Earth, Europe has often seemed to know what it means to speak about change. In this sense, Europe is itself not only a geographical space but also a spatialized temporality, one in which change is officially read as a movement from plurality and fragmentation to universality and integration. Hopes embedded in this understanding of a European polity may have been frustrated in various ways, but the overall aspiration has been difficult to dislodge. This aspiration encourages the idea that the heritage remembered from the old world of fragmented nation states might or should be reproduced in the new world of an integrated polity. The key assumption, of course, is that the term polity, and the term demos, means much the same thing in the old Europe as in the new: that the difference is largely one of scale, so that the shift from old to new, from fragmentation to integration, is envisaged as a move up a scale from lower to higher. This is a striking way of thinking about novelty given that much of what is now celebrated as the heritage of Europe involved a profound struggle to move down much the same scale: from the City of God to the City of Man, from divine right and natural law to a politics of subjectivity, self-determination and the rule of a man-made law. The much more likely probability is that Europe will not become new in the way predicted by this very specific and conceptually dubious understanding of change. Not only is it possible that we tend to underestimate the character and significance of change in contemporary political life, but we tend to get rather nervous at suggestions that what we mean by change is probably not what the standard clichés of a teleological modernization tell us it must be. It does not take much to appreciate that such a possibility has disturbing implications for the way we think about both traditions and contemporary practices of democracy, law and culture. Most fundamentally, it implies that it makes little sense to think about either of these concepts without putting concepts of polity and demos into some fairly serious questioning – and without automatically assuming that this involves grandiose claims about the demise of the state, the rise of some all-encompassing globalization and the erasure of all contradictions between citizenship and humanity.

IV The different contemporary cases that I sketched earlier are all deeply implicated in any possible account of the status and potential of democracy in Europe. The model of statist modernization from above is inseparable from the European

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experiences in the twentieth century. That model in turn is inseparable from the principles of freedom as autonomy, as self-determination, as an emancipatory challenge to practices of dependence, that promised the capacity for thinking for oneself, as Kant had it. Claims about democracy in Europe are caught up in both the more uplifting and the more depressing moments of this ambition: depressing both in relation to the internal formation of authoritarian and fascist tendencies and to the external experience of war between self-determining nation-states. Europe has both celebrated this heritage – a still to be realized ambition, some say – and has come to define itself against it, to overcome the traumas of the twentieth century by constructing a different kind of polity, a European rather than an international order, all the while seeking to build upon principles of self-determination. This is a tough ambition, in principle as well as in practice. It is not surprising that eyes have been lifted upwards, to try to solve the problems of a politics articulated in a horizontal plane by appealing to a vertical hierarchy, an integrated order of subsidiary authorities. Not surprisingly, contemporary Europe has turned out to be a much messier, untidy and fragile affair. Europe celebrates its achievement of many of the aspirations for democracy, for the rule of law and so on, that could be ascribed to contemporary struggles in Turkey, Brazil and elsewhere. But the celebration must be tempered by the degree to which in Europe, too, one needs to speak about media monopolies, about structural and personal corruptions, about the possibilities and limits of civil society, about multiple threats to principles of liberty and equality and so on. Europe, too, encompasses practices of surveillance. Moreover, Europe is deeply implicated in the problems of democracy elsewhere. Still, what seems especially clear from the European case, for all its specificities and for all its complexity, is that it shares in the two great tensions that are intensifying questions about our capacity to speak about democracy anywhere: the tension between state (and international) law as the ultimate ground of political possibility and the ‘laws’ of (capitalist) market as the ultimate ground of economic possibility; and the tension between state/international law and the hierarchical claims of imperium, both internally as the construction of a different kind of Europe and externally as the implication of Europe within much wider networks of power and rule whose contours we have barely begun to understand. Much of the upside of democracy in contemporary Europe, I would say, comes from forces struggling to adapt the rule of law to contemporary developments; from, for example, those trying to resist the erosion of liberties through dangerously promiscuous claims about security, or to affirm the rights of migrants and reimagine the possibilities of citizenship in many novel settings. Much of the downside has come from forces affirming an economistic understanding of the relevant demos on the one hand and an imperious understanding of security on the other. The privileging of banking and financial systems may be compatible with – indeed part of a revival of older forms of – those old elite theories of democracy, but the Europe that has come to think of itself as a beacon of light in a darkening world is nothing if not a principled repudiation of that inheritance.

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We may live in a world of many terrors, terrorists among them, but the apparatus of intelligence, security and systematic fear mongering that is being normalized on a transnational scale challenges many of the most basic assumptions about what it means to be a human being; these assumptions go to the heart of what Europe has come to mean, in principle even if not always in practice. It may be that the days of that understanding of humanity are numbered, and in any case may be challengeable on many grounds. But it is also the case that the potential for new (and perhaps very different) forms of authoritarianism and/or populisms that mock democracy has not been erased anywhere, and Europe is certainly not an exception. In this context, it may be useful to meditate on the two abstract but empirically dense topologies that have shaped our understanding of a demos and its limits that have long been in tension in European aspirations for democracy: the demos within state and international law, and the demos enacted through economic practices that seem to be more difficult than ever to contain within jurisdictions of state and international law. Put in the simplest possible terms, the regulative ideals of state law, as of international law, are easily encompassed on a Gauss (or bell) curve of normal distribution that I have mentioned already. This is what gives all the rhetoric about balancing liberty with security its seductive plausibility. It is what gives us our prevailing sense of a realm of normality and its margins, of laws and its exceptions, of the promise of equalitarian distribution, liberty and justice bounded by regulative borders and limits. The Gauss curve, we might say, is a pervasive formalization of the forms within which modern forms of democracy have been imagined. In this way, enormous complexities of social, cultural, economic and political life can be articulated as a distribution of population on a flat territoriality, and an accommodation between formal equalities and material inequalities. Its characteristic indicator of trouble is its sharp edge, the zone where the curve flares out like a bell into a very short tail. This is where it is easy to imagine the official limits of the state, the sharp point distinguishing law and its necessary derogations, the moment of exception that confirms the norm and legitimizes normalizations. The topological form may be a misleading guide to a lot of empirical practice of course, not least when claims about liberty meet claims about security not at the edge of the curve but supposedly somewhere nearer the middle, somewhere closer to a point of an imagined balance. Still it symbolizes an idealization of the limits within which democracy may be thought: the ideal in which a politics of friends and enemies may be expected, or overcome, between statist polities. The norms that can be identified within these limits might be shaped by Hobbesian accounts of citizenship, Kantian accounts of autonomous subjects, or Weberian/Schmittean accounts of a nation, among other canonical possibilities, but to identify them in relation to a statistical distribution, the normal curve as defining topology of a ‘society’, or a ‘community’, or a ‘popular sovereignty’ – of a demos – is to shift the authority to speak about politics not only towards Weberian accounts of bureaucratic rationality and Foucauldian accounts of governmentality but towards economistic accounts of what it means to be political or social more generally.

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The alternative curve, celebrated by the older elite theorists of democracy and contemporary neoliberals alike, is of course the one named after Pareto, one of those once notorious elite theorists of democracy. Gauss (or 50/50) distributions may symbolize a politics in which equalitarianism is a plausible ideal. Pareto (or 80/20) distributions affirm the greater value of a minority over a majority. It is precisely the curve favoured by proponents of capitalist markets and others for whom equality is far from being a regulative ideal. It is the curve, the topological form of normalization, that increasingly comes with economistic accounts of politics and society. Trouble here also occurs on the edge. But in this case the tail on the side of the majority is long. It is not a curve suggesting a politics of friends and enemies, nor of equalitarian norms. Its norms are specifically elitist, but its margins are not precipitous; they slowly tail away. The point of distinction is less determinate, more a matter of indifference, one might say. Distinctions between norms and exceptions require no obvious sovereign in the sense we have from state and international law, just the hidden hand of market forces, statistical probabilities and bureaucratic processing. It signals not a world of always potential friends and enemies but a world in which it might become ever easier to distinguish between human beings who may well think of themselves as citizens of the world in some sense and others who effectively live in some other place, in some other time. If it is indeed the case that questions about democracy in Europe, as elsewhere, are especially difficult because it is becoming ever more unclear which demos we should be talking about, then it is probably the case that we should be worrying rather more about the implications of the Pareto distribution. It speaks both to recent attempts to read political necessities through a logic of capitalist markets and attempts to act in the name of some new imperium. In both cases, many of the details and most of the technologies seem to affirm claims about radical novelty, but the underlying dynamics have been around for a while. They are legacies of Europe: legacies to which we all need to find alternatives very quickly, both within Europe and elsewhere, and especially under conditions under which it is increasingly difficult to know what it means to distinguish a Europe from an elsewhere.

Notes 1 A very different version of this chapter was given at the Conference on Democracy and Law in Europe at the Centre of Excellence in Foundations of European Law and Polity, Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki with the Academy of Finland, September 2012. The present version is a revision of the chapter subsequently published in Massimo Fishera, Sakari Hanninen and Kaarlo Tuori, eds, Polity and Crisis: Reflections on the European Odyssey, Farnham: Ashgate, 2014, 171–88. 2 Jean-Luc Nancy, ‘Finite and Infinite Democracy’, in Giorgio Agamben et al., eds, Democracy in What State? New York: Columbia University Press, 2010, 58. 3 Tom Bottomore, Elites and Society, London: Penguin Books, 1964, remains a very useful introduction to this material. For an important attempt to read democratic practices through struggles over electoral reform in various twentieth-century contexts that had been shaped by elitist traditions, see Denis Pilon, Wrestling with Democracy: Voting Systems as Politics in the Twentieth Century West, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013.

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4 I have engaged with aspects of this general problem in other contexts, especially One World, Many Worlds: Struggles for a Just World Peace, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner; London: Zed Books, 1988; ‘Decentring the State: Political Theory and Canadian Political Economy’ (with Warren Magnusson), Studies in Political Economy, 26, Summer 1988, 37–71; ‘On the Spatio-Temporal Conditions of Democratic Practice’, Alternatives, 16:2, Spring 1991, 243–62; ‘Conclusion: Cultural, Political, Economy’, in Jacqueline Best and Matthew Paterson, eds, Cultural Political Economy, London: Routledge, 2010, 224–33; and ‘Democratic Theory and the Present/Absent International’, Ethics and Global Politics, 3:1, 2010, 21–36. Complementary formulations of the challenges of engaging with contemporary debates about democracy can be found in, for example, Barry Hindess, ‘Imaginary Presuppositions of Democracy’, Economy and Society, 20:2, May 1991, 173–95; and Warren Magnusson, Politics of Urbanism: Seeing Like a City, Abingdon: Routledge, 2011. 5 For exemplary topical discussions, see Didier Bigo et al., ‘Open Season for Data Fishing on the Web: The Challenges of the US PRISM System for the EU’, CEPS Policy Brief, no. 293, Brussels, 18 June 2013; Jennifer Stisa Granick and Christopher Jon Sprigman, ‘The Criminal N.S.A.’, International Herald Tribune, 29–30 June, 2013, 8. 6 In relation to the European context, especially, see Didier Bigo, Elspeth Guild, Sergio Carrera and R. B. J. Walker, eds, Europe’s 21st Century Challenge: Delivering Liberty, Farnham: Ashgate, 2010; and Didier Bigo and Anastasia Tsoukala, eds, Terror, Insecurity and Liberty: Illiberal Practices of Liberal Regimes after 9/11, London: Routledge, 2008. For a more generalized formulation see R. B. J. Walker, After the Globe, Before the World, London: Routledge, 2010, 246ff. 7 Barack Obama, quoted in International Herald Tribune, 8–9 June 2013, 5. 8 Ibid. 9 Conference on Democracy and Law in Europe, Centre of Excellence in Foundations of European Law and Polity, Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki with the Academy of Finland, September 2012. See Massimo Fishera, Sakari Hanninen and Kaarlo Tuori, eds, Polity and Crisis: Reflections on the European Odyssey, Farnham: Ashgate, 2014. 10 R. B. J. Walker, ‘Europe Is Not Where It Is Supposed to Be’ (see Chapter 7 above), in Morton Kelstrup and Michael Williams, eds, International Relations and the Politics of European Integration, London: Routledge, 2000, 14, for a more ‘internalist’ but complementary reading, see Étienne Balibar, We, the People of Europe: Reflections on Transnational Citizenship, translated by James Swenson, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.


Raia Prokhovnik: Can you tell us about how you first became interested in political theory? Where did you start from intellectually, and which political theorists influenced you most when you were starting out?1 Rob Walker: You start with what is for me a very tricky question. I cannot say that I have a straightforward answer. Much obviously depends on what one means by political theory. This depends in turn on where and what politics is taken to be and how distinctions between politics and anything else come to be authorized. I should admit upfront that while political theory is certainly the scholarly category with which I feel most comfortable, not least because it is one that names a very privileged vocation, I also feel uncomfortable with much that is done under this name. Indeed, much of my work has turned on a critique of the narrowness and parochialism of its most influential contemporary forms. I would also say that I am more interested in how political theory has been enabled, authorized and put to work in its prevailing forms than in defending any specific tradition. In any case, the response I can give with the benefit of hindsight is doubtless different from what I might have thought I was doing when I made choices to go in some directions rather than others. I am acutely sensitive to the structured contingencies of personal trajectories. I remember being aware of Oakeshott, Wittgenstein and even the very young Quentin Skinner as influences shaping my first formal courses in political theory in Swansea. On the whole, however, I have been able to pursue problems and literatures without worrying too much about the tradition, field, discipline or method to which I should formalize my allegiance. I already had a fairly clear sense that I was attracted to both politics and theory while still at school. The fact that the school in question was neither fee paying nor meritocratic meant that I had a lot of time to explore on my own, not least in a decent second-hand bookshop – a crucial resource and inspiration. The politics came partly from what seemed like the dramatic events of the early 1960s in

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Britain, especially mobilizations around nuclear weapons. Given that I grew up in Reading, less than a day’s walk from the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment in Aldermaston, I developed an early sense of the close conjunction between the immediately local and the potentially global, as well as of the very different positions that could be framed as leftist or progressive. It came partly from an innovative (and I think short-lived) school curriculum in social and economic history that, among other things, gave me the life-long illusion that all political analysts have a basic background in political economy and the mechanisms of social reproduction. I also grew up in a particular social world in which I experienced both the promises of radical cultural rupture and the continuing grasp of Edwardian and even Victorian ways of life; and family connections to the mining communities of South Wales gave me some sense of class politics and the immediacy of colonial relations. My understanding of politics is closely shaped by this sense of historicity, and of the stakes involved in contested historiographies. By contrast, my concern with the politics of spatialities, which is more explicit in my work, was probably shaped much more by my experiences in Canada, to which I moved in my very early twenties to avoid options that felt more like closures. The theory came from literary, cultural and musical sources, especially as these were being reshaped through figures like Marcel Duchamp. Badly digested though they may have been, I would still say that these sources have influenced me more than any formally identifiable tradition of political theory. Indeed, I only reconciled myself to this particular identity when I started teaching political theory on a permanent basis when well into my thirties; and it did not take long before I helped create an interdisciplinary graduate programme in cultural, social and political thought in order to broaden the horizons beyond the in