The Wages of Discipline: Rethinking International Relations as a Vehicle of Western Hegemony

Kees Van der Pijl


In this paper, based on the keynote speech at the METU Conference on Rethinking International Relations, 15-17 June 2011, I argue that academic discipline functions as an extension of the class/state discipline on the population. Disciplinary division of labour in academia began when the classical political economy perspective, which had been turned into a political programme of the labour movement by Marx, was reformulated as marginalism in the late 19th century. International Relations (IR) after World War I was also turned into an academic specialisation, targeting, along with the Russian Revolution, the critique of imperialism. The third part of the paper discusses how the ostracism of Marxism has entailed deleting the crucial Kant-Hegel-Marx transition in philosophy from static antinomy to historical dialectics. As a result social science stagnates into a repetition of identical positions under new labels. What this entails will be discussed by taking the example of Andrew Abbott’s argument about “syncresis”. The paper concludes with a brief outline of a historical materialist alternative to the mainstream IR canon.

Keywords: Western Hegemony, International Relations, Social Discipline,
Academic Discipline

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