A Theory of Peace

The Place of Realism In Current IR Thought

Putting aside the tedious task of studying US Foreign Policy, I’d like to reflect on some texts I’ve read earlier this week.

The assertion was that international relations theory will continued to be flawed so long as we start from the premise that international relations is primarily based on the principle of war. That is, there is a significant gap in political philosophy (which should be the foundation of any good theory of international relations) that seeks to derive social relations from a state of peace. For instance, the Hobbesian state of nature is depicted as one premissed on the idea of war and conflict such that the surrender of rights and the necessity of social contract is the only way to coerce human into a cooperative stance (which does not necessarily exclude the possibility that such contracts may come int0 conflict with other contractual or non-contracted entities). Very few early modern theories begin with the premise that the state of nature can be peaceful in the collective sense, largely due to Rousseau and Kant affirming that human have asocial sociabilities.

Indeed, if we look at current international relations theory, all of them acknowledge or found themselves on the notion of war. Realism preoccupies itself exclusively with it, idealism/liberalism begins with realist assumptions on anarchy and sees peace as a (faroff) end, marxism/neogramscianism critiques the violent nature of imperialism as the real implication of the sovereign state, and critical/constructivist IR thought acknowledges these narratives in the same fashion. Though the latter theory of useful in terms of bringing ethics back into IR, it will continue to be flawed insofar as it does not propose an alternative foundation.

Here I shall therefore propose to work towards a new theory of peace within international relations. Such a theory must seek to challenge the processes of subjugation and dismantle aporias in sovereign power (especially surrounding discipline and security) that expose the moral “lack” in state institutions. At the same time, it must propose a more ethical reformulation of the sovereign state or propose an alternative structure. The problem lies in the implementation of an ahierarchical political unit in an ahierarchical international system. Such a theory will include and theorize about current parallel structures of governance such as geoeconomics (economic globalization), the marketization of citizenship, or cyberpolitics (among other social revolutions tied to info tech flows)  and how such parallels can be used as precursors or part of a new reformulation of (the) basic political unit(s) in international relations. Such an endeavour may very well become a life’s work, but I hope to engage myself with current philosophical and IR thought in order to find a solid basis for a new direction in the field.

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