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In Re-Situating Utopia Matthew Nicholson 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. Contesting the dominance of this blueprintism, Nicholson argues that this approach 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. As an alternative, Nicholson 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.

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.

In: Brill Research Perspectives in International Legal Theory and Practice

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.

In: Re-Situating Utopia