Pessimism in International Relations

Provocations, Possibilities, Politics

  • Tim Stevens
  • Nicholas Michelsen

Part of the Palgrave Studies in International Relations book series (PSIR)

Table of contents

About this book


This volume explores the past, present and future of pessimism in International Relations. It seeks to differentiate pessimism from cynicism and fatalism and assess its possibilities as a respectable perspective on national and international politics. The book traces the origins of pessimism in political thought from antiquity through to the present day, illuminating its role in key schools of International Relations and in the work of important international political theorists. The authors analyse the resurgence of pessimism in contemporary politics, such as in the new populism, attitudes to migration, indigenous politics, and the Anthropocene. This edited volume provides the first collection of scholarly work on pessimism in International Relations theory and practice and offers fresh perspectives on an intellectual position often considered as disreputable as it is venerable.

Tim Stevens is Lecturer in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, UK. He is the author of Cyber Security and the Politics of Time and co-author of Cyberspace and the State.

Nicholas Michelsen is Senior Lecturer in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, UK. He is the author of Politics and Suicide: The Philosophy of Political Self-Destruction.


international relations theory IR political theory IR history Cold War history John Herz anthropocene 21st century politics global politics US Alt-Right migration world politics productive pessimism Indigenous politics origins of pessimism in politics contemporary politics European politics North American politics thought politics international relations

Editors and affiliations

  • Tim Stevens
    • 1
  • Nicholas Michelsen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of War StudiesKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of War StudiesKing’s College LondonLondonUK

Bibliographic information