Publication details

G.D.H. Cole’s International Thought. Dilemmas of Justifying Socialism in the 20. Century. The International History Review, 36:5, S. 858-875.


Author(s): Holthaus, Leonie
Year of publication: 2014

Abstract: This article examines G.D.H. Cole's international thought. It focuses on Cole's treatment of the state as well as his contributions to the tradition of international functionalism. It argues that Cole's thought is unique in its unorthodox use of various intellectual traditions as well as its commitment to civic activism. His social theory, which rejected the state as a desirable form of political organisation, was inspired by Rousseau's republicanism and French syndicalism, and led Cole first to a variation of anarchist internationalism, and then, in light of the economic depression and Fascism, to a version of international functionalism. In the 1930s and 1940s, he accepted the state as an agent of constitutional reform and international planning as a means to bring about change in international relations within a broader supranational economic framework, even if he remained unwilling to attach any intrinsic value to the state. This article argues that Cole's thought still provides a vital resource for those who seek to think beyond the welfare state and the liberal international order.

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