Re-Envisioning Peacekeeping: The United Nations and the Mobilization of Ideology

By François Debrix | Go to book overview

1
Destabilizing Leviathan:
Revisiting the Order/Anarchy Debate
through a Postmodern(ized) Hobbes

To an international observer, it may appear that the events of the past decade have left humankind in a condition reminiscent of that situation, prior to the creation of the modern state, that Thomas Hobbes described in Leviathan.1 Some of the most blatantly alarmist depictions of world politics that have emerged over the past years— from John Mearsheimer's prognosis of a future multipolar chaos in Europe to Robert Kaplan's prophecy about a “coming anarchy” 2— are clear indications that one of Hobbes's most celebrated constructs, the “state of nature, ” has found a contemporary application. Today, human nature, left by itself in those places that once were organized by the logic of cold war politics, has once again turned for the worst. From the former Yugoslavia to Rwanda, from Somalia to Haiti, life in large areas of the world appears “solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.” 3 Of course, not everyone in the world experiences such a resurgence of “natural life.” Despite increased urban decay, social violence and pockets of extreme poverty, most Western democracies still enjoy the benefits of the “rule of reason” under the guidance of securing welfare states (even if some of the most pessimistic “prophets” of international politics announce that, eventually, Western states will be affected too).

Disciplinary liberalism—arguably, the dominant ideology/ discourse of contemporary international relations—builds upon such a commonly accepted vision of what may be called an “anarchic

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