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Reactionary Internationalism: the philosophy of the New Right

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)748-767
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number5
Early online date3 Jul 2019
Accepted/In press12 Apr 2019
E-pub ahead of print3 Jul 2019
Published11 Nov 2019


King's Authors


What does the New Right want from international relations? In this article, we argue that the philosophy of the New Right is not reducible to a negation of internationalism. The New Right coalesce around a conceptualisation of the international driven by analytics and critiques of specific subjects, norms and practices, that should be treated as a distinct international theoretical offering. We refer to this vision as Reactionary Internationalism. This article examines and locates this vision within the intellectual history of nationalism and internationalism by drawing on poststructuralist approaches to intellectual history and drawing evidence from a discourse analysis of recent Lega, Front National, Brexit, and Trump campaigns. We find that, rather than advocating for the end of internationalism, the New Right seeks to reconstitute its normative architecture on the basis of inequality among identities. This entails dismantling liberal economic and rights-based norms and reframing them around transactionalism and power grounded on identity. Reactionary Internationalism emerges as a distinct philosophy that identifies a hegemonic normative bind and advocates its unravelling so as to liberate subjects understood as defined by their birth-cultural identity.

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