Re-Situating Utopia

In: Re-Situating Utopia
Author:
Matthew Nicholson Durham University, Durham Law School

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Abstract

This article considers utopian international legal thought. It makes three inter-connected arguments. First, it argues that international law and international legal theory are dominated by a ‘blueprint’ utopianism that presents international law as the means of achieving a better global future. Second, it argues that such blueprintism makes international law into what philosopher Louis Marin describes as a “degenerate utopia” – a fantastical means of trapping thought and practice within contemporary social and political conditions, blocking any possibility that those conditions might be transcended. Third, it argues for an iconoclastic international legal utopianism – Utopia not as a ‘blueprint’ for a better future, operating within the confines of existing social and political reality, but as a means of seeking to negate and exit from that reality – as the only way to maintain the idea that international law offers a path towards a truly better future.

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