”Reason of State” As an Organising Stance for the World As We Find It

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


A number of partly interlinked crises have traversed Western societies in the 21st century – from terrorism, financial meltdown, and political polarization, to increasing inequality, climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and war in Ukraine Whereas late 20th century intellectuals hubristically claimed that we had reached ‘the end of history’ (Fukuyama, 1992), history is now again on the move, throwing up crucial political and organizational questions related to survival, security, and stability In attempting to respond to this, commentators, theorists, and public intellectuals are now debating which ‘new’ organizational principles and political arrangements might be adequate to cope with the somber outlook facing Western societies Fewer, however, pause to consider
whether already existing – but now largely denigrated and ‘old fashioned’ – organizational principles, public institutions, and political moralities can still be of assistance in fostering political order, security and a civil society, in the literal meaning of that contested term In this piece, I want to explore the latter route More precisely, we focus on ‘reason of state’ as an organizing principle and form of ‘political morality’ through which prudential leadership can be cultivated and exercised Over the last forty years, and increasingly since 1989, however, reason of state as a prudential political and organizational stance has been swept away on a tide of cosmopolitan, neo-liberal, and globalist enthusiasms, and the backlash to these evident in recent and ongoing populist discontents As we once again stare crisis and disasters in the face, the time has come to reconsider the extent to which the key comportments and organizational principles making up the foundation of the Western territorial state continue to be of use as guidelines for prudential conduct in an insecure world.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2023
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventXX ISA World Congress of Sociology: Resurgent Authoritarianism: The Sociology of New Entanglements of Religions, Politics, and Economies - Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 25 Jun 20231 Jul 2023
Conference number: 20


ConferenceXX ISA World Congress of Sociology
LocationMelbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
Internet address

Cite this