Article: Forget Hobbes

Ondrej Ditrych: ‘Forget Hobbes’, International Politics, 53,3 (2016).

Abstract: This article has a threefold aim. First, it criticises the instrumentalisation of intellectual history in international relations (IR) that clouds issues of contemporary politics rather than illuminating them. Second, benefiting from the recent advances in Hobbes’ studies in the field of political theory and emphasising the importance of both textual plausibility and authorial intentions for preserving the ‘horizon’ of the possible interpretations, it suggests that ‘IR’ were of no particular concern to Hobbes, and the few scattered remarks on the ‘superpolitical’ state of the many governments interacting with each other are functionally subservient to the purpose of demonstrating the reality of the state of nature. Third, by pointing to the ‘security continuum’ of various states present in his political theory, the article challenges the reading of Hobbes as authoring the discipline’s foundational inside/outside difference. It concludes by making a case that the field would benefit from curing itself from the ‘Hobsession’ it seems to be suffering and from forgetting Hobbes to open space for rethinking international politics.