Anarchy and international law: The approaches of Hedley Bull and Noam Chomsky

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Are anarchy and the law antithetical? Not so, as for more than 350 years international law has governed a legal order based on anarchy; wherein no central authority exists and law functions not on the basis of coercion but on cooperation whereby States must agree to each specific laws before it is bound by its obligations. This article contemplates two manners in which an anarchist might consider international law interesting: first, as a legal system which governs an anarchical society as described by Hedley Bull in line with the English School of International Relations; and second, as a manifestation of a State system which, though illegitimate can be utilized, as Noam Chomsky does, for tactical reasons to demonstrate its inconsistencies and thus weakening the system with the ultimate aim being its implosion
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-47
Number of pages31
JournalReview of Contemporary Philosophy
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • international law
  • anarchy
  • Hedley Bull
  • Noam Chomsky
  • international relations
  • governance

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