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Theorising Liberal Orders in Crisis Then and Now: Returning to Carr and Horkheimer

Molloy, Seán (2021) Theorising Liberal Orders in Crisis Then and Now: Returning to Carr and Horkheimer. International Studies Quarterly, 65 (2). pp. 320-330. ISSN 0020-8833. (doi:10.1093/isq/sqab006) (KAR id:98208)


This article pursues an original line of inquiry by placing E.H. Carr in direct relation with his contemporary, Max Horkheimer. Although Carr is often cited as a progenitor by Realists and Critical Theorists these invocations of ancestry rarely go beyond passing references to Carr in presentist terms – i.e., how he relates to their present-day projects. By means of an extensive engagement with Horkheimer and Carr the article reveals a shared commitment to ideology critique directed at bourgeois civilisation. The article demonstrates that Carr’s epistemology, critique of the harmony of interests, complex treatment of utopianism, and theorisation of social transformation all have their counterparts in Horkheimer. The recovery of Carr’s depth and sophistication as a theorist by means of a comparison of his positions with those of Horkheimer shows that at the time of its composition, The Twenty Years’ Crisis was a cutting-edge exercise in critique by a theorist working on an ambitious canvas of civilizational scale. The article concludes with a section that demonstrates the continued relevance of Carr and Horkheimer by reference to contemporary debates about the crises currently affecting the Liberal International Order.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/isq/sqab006
Uncontrolled keywords: E.H. Carr; Realism; Max Horkheimer; Critical Theory; Liberal Order.
Subjects: J Political Science
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Sean Molloy
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2022 15:09 UTC
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2022 14:51 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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