Document Type


Publication Date

January 2008

Journal or Book Title

International Studies






Thomas Hobbes has been hailed as a major intellectual precursor of realist theory among international relations scholars. Such veneration has brought about ample reactions from various scholars who aver that the use of Hobbes and his vision of anarchy as analogies for building greater theories of international relations is problematic at best. Yet while such critiques of the realist analogy have been abundant, they have devoted scant attention to important passages in the Leviathan (i.e., the tale of the fool in Chapter 15) that would produce greater clarity about Hobbes’ logic regarding the state of nature. Indeed, a careful textual analysis of the tale of the fool demonstrates that Hobbes’ vision of anarchy is even more problematic, then previous critiques suggest, as an analogy for a state of war (i.e., as an environment void of cooperation). Indeed, the tale strongly reinforces critical scholarship that embraces ample opportunities for cooperation (covenants) in a Hobbesian state of nature (i.e., without a Leviathan to impose order). The precise Hobbesian logic evident in this tale, in fact, reflects both strong neoliberal and constructivist elements in what many would consider a least-likely place: in Hobbes’ vision of anarchy. So while Hobbes has been hailed as the first early modern realist, he could also be cited as the first early modern neoliberal and constructivist. In this respect, Hobbes’ own synthesis of elements of realism, constructivism and neoliberalism holds much promise for inspiring a new and more sophisticated vision of international relations: Cosmopolitik.