Global Justice and Social Conflict : The Foundations of Liberal Order and International Law book cover
1st Edition

Global Justice and Social Conflict
The Foundations of Liberal Order and International Law

ISBN 9780367406813
Published October 11, 2019 by Routledge
260 Pages

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Book Description

Global Justice and Social Conflict offers a ground-breaking historical and theoretical reappraisal of the ideas that underpin and sustain the global liberal order, international law and neoliberal rationality.

Across the 20th and 21st centuries, liberalism, and increasingly neoliberalism, have dominated the construction and shape of the global political order, the global economy and international law. For some, this development has been directed by a vision of ‘global justice’. Yet, for many, the world has been marked by a history and continued experience of injustice, inequality, indignity, insecurity, poverty and war – a reality in which attempts to realise an idea of justice cannot be detached from acts of violence and widespread social conflict. In this book Tarik Kochi argues that to think seriously about global justice we need to understand how both liberalism and neoliberalism have pushed aside rival ideas of social and economic justice in the name of private property, individualistic rights, state security and capitalist ‘free’ markets. Ranging from ancient concepts of natural law and republican constitutionalism, to early modern ideas of natural rights and political economy, and to contemporary discourses of human rights, humanitarian war and global constitutionalism, Kochi shows how the key foundational elements of a now globalised political, economic and juridical tradition are constituted and continually beset by struggles over what counts as justice and over how to realise it. Engaging with a wide range of thinkers and reaching provocatively across a breadth of subject areas, Kochi investigates the roots of many globalised struggles over justice, human rights, democracy and equality, and offers an alternative constitutional understanding of the future of emancipatory politics and international law.

Global Justice and Social Conflict will be essential reading for scholars and students with an interest in international law, international relations, international political economy, intellectual history, and critical and political theory.

Table of Contents




Introduction: Justice, Liberal Order and International Law

1 The ‘Failures’ of the Global Liberal Legal Order

International Law in Crisis?

Liberal Pragmatism and Moral Humanitarianism

Global Liberal Order, Global Security, Globalised Terror

Contained Prosperity, Global Inequality

Transnational Power, Transnational State Apparatuses, Transnational Law

2 Natural Law, Natural Rights and Property

Between Human Fellowship and Unsocial Sociability

Aristotle, the Stoics and Property

Cicero, Private Property and Belligerent International Law

From Natural Law to Natural Rights – Gratian, Aquinas, Ockham

Hugo Grotius and Contradictory International Law

Kant, Unsocial Sociability and Illegitimate Colonial Property

3 Liberalism, Violence and Inequality

A Paradox of Property

John Locke and the Right to Accumulate

Gerrard Winstanley, Illegitimate Property and Common Preservation

Rousseau, Virtue and Inequality

Adam Smith, Opulence and the Liberal Justification of Economic Inequality

The Pin Factory and the War Factory

War and Violence within Liberal Political Economy

4 Justice and Constitutional Antagonism

Constitutional Antagonism

Aristotle and Class Conflict

Polybius, Livy, Cicero and Constitutional Conflict

Machiavelli, Neo-Greek and Neo-Roman Republicanism

From Liberty to Liberalism – David Hume and James Madison

Hegel, Struggles for Recognition and the Ethical State

Marx and the ‘Republic of Labour’

Social Reproduction as Struggle – Benjamin, Gramsci, Poulantzas

Critical Theory and Social Antagonism

5 A Global Constitutional Question

Questions of Democracy and Legitimacy

Overlapping Global Constitutional Projects

The Danger of (Neo)Liberal Cosmopolitan Global Constitutionalism

The Public Role of International Law


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Tarik Kochi is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology at the University of Sussex, UK. He is the author of The Other’s War: Recognition and the Violence of Ethics (Birkbeck Law Press, 2009) which was awarded the 2010 International Studies Association, International Ethics Section, Best Book Award.



In his new book, Tarik Kochi makes a profoundly important contribution to the critique of liberal international law and order. Holding firm to the view that any account of global justice must by definition be an account of social conflict, Kochi shows the extent to which struggle is at the heart of global relations, and that recognizing this struggle must transform our understanding of liberalism and its law. Against liberalism’s violence, Kochi develops an account of constitutional antagonism via an engagement with a diverse set of thinkers, ancient and modern. The outcome is a provocative and compelling argument for an egalitarian and democratic global constitutional order, one that draws upon the radical heritage of struggles for social liberation.

-Mark Neocleous, Professor of the Critique of Political Economy, Brunel University London.

In Global Justice and Social Conflict Kochi has achieved an exceptional clarity of critical thought in exploring and explaining the relationship between the claims of global justice, the liberal orderings of international law, and the power and violence of capital accumulation. At the centre of both our modern liberal inheritance, and the contemporary neo-liberal political settlement, argues Kochi, is a longstanding agonism between ethic of sociality and the utility of unsocial private property and commerce. This book charts some of the many responses to this concern. Alongside his reading of the liberal tradition, Kochi also draws out a reading of the Marxist tradition of the quest for justice. He provides an outstanding account of the contest between political public sociality and private gain, along with a clear-eyed understanding of the lure of the claims of any egalitarian and democratic global constitutional order and the relationship of those claims to political economic structures, and violence. By showing the depth of the contest between social ethics and private property Kochi does not so much open new worlds as make our present one intellectually visible.

- Sundhya Pahuja, Director, Institute for International Law and the Humanities, University of Melbourne