13 Hobbes's Theory of International Relations

I

A strange asymmetry prevails in modern writings on Hobbes's theory of the relations between states. For specialists in international relations theory, Hobbes is a canonical figure, a key representative of one of the major traditions. He stands alongside Machiavelli (and, in many accounts, Thucydides) as an archetypal proponent of 'Realism'. E. H. Carr portrayed Hobbes as the second great Realist, after Machiavelli; Martin Wight, whose system of classification influenced a generation of modern theorists, called Hobbes an 'extreme Realist'; Michael Walzer located Realism 'at its source and in its most compelling form' in the works of Thucydides and Hobbes. One influential modern text, Charles Beitz's Political Theory and International Relations, takes what it calls 'the Hobbesian conception of international relations' as the basis of 'skeptical' or 'Realist' theory, and devotes twenty-three pages of detailed argument to refuting it. 1 No student of international relations theory, it seems, can afford to disregard Hobbes's contribution to that field.

And yet, if one turns from the international relations specialists to the Hobbes specialists, one finds that such disregard is perfectly normal. Writers who have devoted years of their lives to the examination of Hobbes's political philosophy seem content to pass over his theory of international relations in a few paragraphs or sentences: it is rare to find any full-length study of Hobbes giving more than a couple of pages to this topic. 2 Consequently, the insights or advances achieved by

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