Dominant discourses of international relations construe the international sphere in terms of the global extension of liberal discourses of universality, statehood, democracy and markets. Counterintuitively, this paper suggests that discursively the liberal sphere of understanding is, in fact, diminishing and that international statebuilding approaches increasingly construct the limits of liberalism as external - embodied in the allegedly non-liberal states and societies which constitute the sphere of international statebuilding policy-intervention. It suggests that the critique of liberal universals and Cartesian linearities is not the only the preserve of critical sociology but has been central to neoliberal, new institutionalist and biopolitical discourses which have been increasingly sharply articulated in the statebuilding literature, casting light on discussions of Third Way post-political approaches which construe the international in terms which discredit ideas of non-Western autonomy as well as of Western capacity and responsibility. In the light of the 'lessons learned' of the limits of liberal framings, a post-liberal world is emerging where the inculcation of resilience is held to be central to overcoming the liberal/non-liberal divide. This paper draws on the author's recently published monograph International Statebuilding: The Rise of Post-Liberal Governance and on material for a forthcoming book on Resilience, Adaptation and Vulnerability.
David Chandler is Professor of International Relations in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Westminster, London, and editor of the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding. Among his numerous publications are International Statebuilding: The Rise of Post-Liberal Governance (Routledge, 2010), Hollow Hegemony: Rethinking Global Politics, Power and Resistance (Pluto, 2009) and Empire in Denial: The Politics of State-Building (Pluto, 2006).