London School of Economics and Political Science: New book on Conflict, War and Revolution available free from LSE Press

The book is open access and free to read from today through LSE Press, the School’s publisher of high-quality, open access research in the social sciences.

Long before the emergence of the modern state system, violence and war were ubiquitous features of politics, and raised key issues in the historic political thought around international relations. Since the late 18th century major revolutions across the world have further challenged the idea of the state as a final arbiter of international order. This book discusses ten major thinkers who have questioned and re-shaped how we think about politics, violence and relations between states – Thucydides, Augustine, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Clausewitz, Lenin and Mao, and Schmitt.

Conflict, war and revolution have generally been seen in political thought as problems to be managed by stable domestic political communities. In different ways, all the paradigmatic thinkers here acknowledge them instead as inevitable dimensions of human experience, manifested through different ways of acting politically – while yet offering radically distinct answers about how they can be handled. This book dramatically broadens the canon of political thought by considering perspectives on the international system that challenge its historical inevitability and triumph.

Each thinker is considered in a free-standing chapter rather than as a placeholder in a debate such as ‘realism versus idealism’. The book broadens international political thought debates by drawing on history, theology, and law as well as philosophy. And Paul Kelly introduces thinkers who challenge fundamentally the ways in which we should think about the nature and scope of political institutions and agents. In doing so the analysis illuminates a myriad of troubling contemporary conflicts with a crucial critical and historical perspective.

Professor Duncan Ivison, Professor of Political Philosophy, University of Sydney says: “In this accessible but distinctive account of international political thought, Paul Kelly puts his analytical and historical tools to work to provide students and interested readers with a compelling overview – from the ancient world to the present – of the intellectual and political forces shaping our thinking about the nature of international affairs.”

This book is primarily intended for second year and upwards undergraduate students in general political theory and international theory, and advanced international relations students. Each chapter is also downloadable on its own for use in courses considering only some of the ten theorists covered.