Concepts for International Law
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Concepts for International Law

Contributions to Disciplinary Thought

Edited by Jean d’Aspremont and Sahib Singh

Concepts shape how we understand and participate in international legal affairs. They are an important site for order, struggle and change. This comprehensive and authoritative volume introduces a large number of concepts that have shaped, at various points in history, international legal practice and thought; intimates at how the many projects of international law have grappled with, and influenced, the world through certain concepts; and introduces new concepts into the discipline.
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Chapter 25: Ideology

Walter Rech


This chapter provides an analysis of the use of the ideology concept in contemporary international law and suggests ways in which ideology critique might move forward. It argues that the major limitation of some traditional ideology critique has been its investigation of ideology as a totalizing discourse providing stable legitimation for certain economic structures. This view cannot capture how the ideological trends of the postmodern world, including ‘neoliberalism’, operate as ‘on/off’ discourses that are constantly subject to a process of activation, deactivation and merging with competing vocabularies, as visible for example in eclectic ‘populist’ discourses and practices of state capitalism. Current major challenges to international law and international institutions are precisely posed by such eclectic and flexible discourses that need to be examined by an ‘ideology critique in the small’.

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