Political thought, international relations and a Tale of Two Modernities
Keywords:Hardt and Negri, Modernity, International political theory, Sovereignty, Contemporary political thought
In their book Empire, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri develop a narrative about the transition from the mediaeval to the modern, secular, world, showing that there were two projects of modernity at first, but that one prevailed over the other. The prevailing modern worldview did not do away with a transcendental form of control. Instead, it offered a post-mediaeval view of transcendence, which was then imported into politics, leading to the state as a transcendental apparatus of control. This article applies their thesis to the analysis of the development of political thought on international relations. It is argued that modern international thought was constrained and enabled by the project of modernity which prevailed. It is far from clear whether contemporary international thought can rid itself of the notion of the Westphalian state as the transcendental apparatus of control, yet it is reluctant to accept the notion of a world state as the ultimate, natural, implication of the transcendental grounds for the modern state.