Failed states, failed empires and the new paternalism
in Cosmopolitan dystopia
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This chapter considers how influential strains of theorising in International Relations have fed what is described as a ‘vulgar Leninism’, in which the basic problems of the contemporary international order are distorted and misconstrued. Instead of imperial rapacity, this chapter argues that it is imperial failure that must be explained. Alternatives to intervention and empire, such as state-building, are also considered and shown not to get around the problems posed by the need for self-determination. The new form of state authority emerging from the era of permanent intervention is considered, its paradigmatic statement being the doctrine of the ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P). It is argued that to do proper justice to this paradigm it needs to be considered not purely as an international norm or emerging form of law, but rather as a theory of state. Once analysed like this, it becomes apparent that this doctrine embodies a paternalist legitimisation of state power that cuts against ideas of representative government in favour of simply providing security. It is shown that the implications of this new paradigm are even more authoritarian than the traditional Hobbesian accounts of state power.

Cosmopolitan dystopia

International intervention and the failure of the West

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