[Guan Huang] 5 Things about Anarchy


1, “Anarchy” is a realist concept. Anarchy is a state where there is no higher authority than states, and it emphasises on sovereignty, self-determination, non-intervention and autonomy of a state. In an anarchical international system, states are the highest governing level, i.e. there is not a central world government to administer world affairs, or any sort of policing department to whom a state can turn to amid conflictual situations.

2, The current state of International System is anarchical although there are organisations and institutions dedicated to changing this, for example, the United Nations, World Trade Organisation, and International Monetary Fund who endeavours to introduce “rules” and “regulations” to the system in bid to avoid “chaos”. However, their legitimacy has been hotly contested because questions over their biased conducts raise and these organisations and institutions mainly operate in a Westphalia State System which leaves no space for non-state-actors. Anarchy in turn facilitates the activeness of NSA.

3, Does this call for a global governance? Debates around this subject attract many scholars and politicians around the world but the central argument goes back to the clashing view on “anarchy” between realism and liberalism. According to realism, which sees anarchy a neutral given condition in the International System, the anarchical nature of the International System actually protects smaller states from being harassed by stronger powers. However, it also leaves rooms for strong states to act however they please because of the absence of a checking mechanism.  According to liberalism, anarchy is the source of conflicts and is something to be dealt with, by ways of co-operation or regulation (neo-liberalism).

4, Why does anarchy exist? Or, does it really exist? Different International Relations theories have different answers to these questions. For example, constructivism sees anarchy as being socially constructed, which suggests anarchy is not an unchangeable status. Marxism even questions the very existence of anarchy because from a Marxist World System Theory perspective, the world is deliberately categoried into there camps, the cores, the peripheries, and the semi-peripheries, so it’s hierarchical, as opposed to anarchical.

5, On the two ends of the anarchical spectrum, both extreme anarchical status (a more realist approach) and global government (a more liberal approach) have intrinsic problems. For example, transnational issues that require collective international response tend to be persisting because international cooperation is difficult under an anarchical world, but under a global regime, any issue is an internalised one and can quickly escalate because information and ideas transmits resistencelessly in a borderless society.

To cite this article:
Huang, G. (2015) 5 Things about Anarchy. Available at: http://magazine.bisconia.com/guan-huang-5-things-about-anarchy/ (Accessed on: DATE)


Featured Image: The Philosopher Accountant (http://philosaccounting.com/a/5-points-that-define-a-societal-collapse/)

Guan HuangGuan Huang is the founder of Bisconia and also a concerned International Relations student at University of Sussex.


About Author

Guan Huang is the Co-Founder of Bisconia and is right now studying International Relations at the University of Sussex in the UK. He is from China and his interest lies mainly in ethnicity and China-related issues.

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