Mastering the Mysteries of Diplomacy: Karl Marx as International Theorist

  • Roger Epp University of Alberta
Keywords: Marx, international relations, Franco-Prussian War, Paris Commune

Abstract

The field of international relations is one of few corners of the social sciences in which it has been relatively easy to avoid an encounter with Karl Marx and Marxist thought. Arguably, the reverse has also been true. Whatever the reasons for that mutual ambivalence, this essay claims Marx as a serious theorist of the international, not just a pamphleteer or tactician. It does so primarily by rereading his response to the suppression of the Paris Commune, The Civil War in France. Marx’s essay, lively and provocative, challenges the distinction between ‘domestic politics’ and ‘international relations,’ and suggests that the ontological building blocks of international theory – the state and war – are revealed as historically unstable by ‘the most tremendous war of modern times.’ While Marx later reconsidered some of his analysis, The Civil War in France retains its interrogatory power especially in relation to contemporary instances of international political violence.     

Author Biography

Roger Epp, University of Alberta
Professor of Political Science

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Published
2017-05-29