A sovereignty that is ‘useless to fascism’

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The recent rise of right-wing populist nativism has brought with it strident claims to national sovereignty apparently at odds with, and threatening to, liberal international law. This chapter problematises the apparent opposition between a liberal form of sovereignty which is consistent with the international order, and an authoritarian or proto-fascist form of sovereignty which threatens it. It explores the way in which the concept of sovereignty at work in liberal national and international law contains within it the seeds of sovereignty’s authoritarian and fascist forms. At the heart of this commonality is a claim to represent the authority of the people contained within an enduringly bounded community and to exercise that authority through law and by way of the organs of the state. Taking inspiration from Walter Benjamin’s attempt to ‘introduce into the theory of art’ concepts which are ‘completely useless for the purposes of fascism’, this chapter will attempt to sketch out a conception of sovereignty which is useless for the purposes of fascism and useful for the formulation of revolutionary demands in law.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of International Law and the Humanities
EditorsShane Chalmers, Sundhya Pahuja
Place of PublicationAbingdon UK
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781000385724, 9781003170914
ISBN (Print)9780367420741, 9780367773458
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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