Contesting the state of nature
The chapter aims to discuss the underlying ideological factors which shape anarchism’s potential to shed light on the study of international relations, pointing to anarchism’s constraints, as well as benefits, when deployed as an activist ideology. It outlines conventional approaches to anarchy in International Relations (IR) theory and gives an overview of the minimal literature on anarchism and IR. The chapter explains the idea of an anarchist ‘tradition’ in the context of the salience of traditions of international thought in IR, asking if there can be an authoritative anarchist ‘tradition’ when anarchism is a thoroughgoing anti-authoritarian doctrine. It looks at anarchism as a critical moral discourse and the condition of anarchy as an analytical ‘state of nature’ concept in IR and the possibility of a non-critical anarchist theory in light of the ambivalence of anarchy as a descriptive and prescriptive category in IR.