Hollow Hegemony

(Pluto, 2009)

Hollow Hegemony David Chandler


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David Chandler explores the concept of 'global ideology' and how it impacts on conflict, security and development policy-making, explaining why 'the global' is such a damaging construction and exposing the political vacuum at the heart of common perceptions of global politics. He argues that the pre-eminence of the global, whether in terms of global governance, global security or global resistance, is predicated on a lack rather than a presence. It is the lack of clear sites and articulations of power, the lack of clear security threats and the lack of clear political programs or movements of resistance that drives the concept of international relations in global terms. This wide-ranging analysis is a perfect antidote for students frustrated with the abundant but vague literature on globalisation.


"This engagingly written book provides a lucid critique of the theories of global politics popular among scholars and policymakers alike. In the process of describing the fragility of such a politics, David Chandler illuminates the global arena as idea and reality in a nuanced and masterful way. Indispensable for anyone interested in politics and globalization."

Faisal Devji, St. Antony's College, Oxford, author of The Terrorist in Search of Humanity: Militant Islam and Global Politics (2009).

"'Globalization' is a watchword in economics and politics. But not so fast, counters David Chandler. The assumed hegemony of the 'global' is hollow, falsely encouraging a paralysis of national initiative and responsibility, which are needed especially for healthy international relations. Contrarian and controversial, Chandler's analysis questions conventional wisdom and offers alternatives that we ignore at our peril."

John K. Roth, Edward J. Sexton Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Founding Director, Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights, Claremont McKenna College

"This timely and provocative book looks set to be the next Empire in terms of its ambition and scope. Chandler argues persuasively that contemporary accounts of politics as a global phenomenon miss the reality of 'global politics' as an absence rather than a presence, an absence which allows both Western elites and their radical critics idealistically to project their values into this politically 'empty space'."

Gideon Baker, Griffith University, co-editor (with Jens Bartelson) of The Future of Political Community (2009)"




1. Introduction: The Global Ideology

2. The Security-Development Nexus

3. International Statebuilding

4. Human Security

5. Global Norms

6. Political Community

7. Global War

8. Hollow Hegemony

9. Conclusion: 'The Flight from Sovereignty'

More Reviews

Philip Hammond, Spiked Review of Books, Issue 27, September 2009. Demystifying the ‘global ideology’ David Chandler’s new book Hollow Hegemony draws on the work of Marx and Engels to explain how the political class’s embrace of ethics and ‘global politics’ springs from their political weakness and isolation.

Peter Hitchcock, Radical Philosophy, Issue 162, July/August 2010, pp.48-52: World Enough?: "Globality is not the battleground of the political but is the hollow metonym of sovereignty as the true site of political contestation and purposeful acts. I like this formulation not because it endorses sovereignty as a norm but because it continues to question its insinuation in otherwise value-laden discourses of the global with a concomitant persistence of territoriality in its suasion...In contrast to [R. B. J.] Walker's hobbling hesitation, Chandler offers the heurisic of the hollow that...is a call for reflexive theoretical clarification in the study of international relations."

Goodreads: "it can be without doubt said that Chandler's take in this one is extremely readable and in his account very sympathetic. A perspective of an (ontologically) critical theorist with a realist ethical commitment offers quite deep insights on topics such as human security and statebuilding." Full review available here.


























David Chandler
Professor of International Relations
University of Westminster
Design by Giovanni Navarria