Anarchy and Anarchism: Towards a Theory of Complex International Systems
The use of ‘anarchy’ in International Relations theory appears very different from its incarnations in political philosophy. Whilst realist scholars have used anarchy to describe an absence of centralised political authority in which states wield differential power, political philosophers in the anarchist tradition have mounted a critique of the coercive and compulsory powers of states themselves. This article argues for reconceptualising ‘anarchy’ in International Relations theory using insights from complexity theory. We would describe the international system as a complex adaptive system which has a tendency to self-organisation. Furthermore, in distinct contrast to Waltz, we argue that the international system has to be seen as embedded within a range of physical systems, and other social systems including those which reproduce a range of (gendered, racial, class-based, colonial) relations of domination. Here insights from anarchist social ecologism can be utilised to further accounts of hierarchy and dominance within International Relations.
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Citation : Cudworth, E. and Hobden, S. (2010) Anarchy and Anarchism: Towards a Theory of Complex International Systems. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 39(2), pp. 399-416.
ISSN : 0305-8298
Research Institute : Institute for Research in Criminology, Community, Education and Social Justice
Peer Reviewed : Yes