On Being Anti-Imperial: Consensus Building, Anarchism, and ADR

Law, Culture and the Humanities, Forthcoming

Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 153

27 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2011 Last revised: 15 Sep 2011

Amy J. Cohen

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Date Written: July 22, 2011

Abstract

This Comment examines the reach and possible limits of “imperial legality” by comparing two kinds of practices intended to enable actors to resolve conflicts and make collective decisions without the force of sovereign impositions: contemporary anarchism, which has become an influential part of the anti-neoliberal globalization movement, on the one hand, and professional consensus building, which is rapidly emerging as part of the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) movement, on the other hand. Although both sets of practices are intensely focused on generating consensus, this comparison highlights the different conceptions of process that they employ. Professional consensus building’s capacity to render itself “merely” procedure - a means to further another set of ends - makes it remarkably easy to scale up to imperial proportions. By contrast, anarchism’s vision of process aspires to collapse distinctions between means and ends, refuses to constrain anyone who does not participate, and seeks transformation deep in the minutia of selves, social practices, and political relations. As a result, it is much more recalcitrant - and, perhaps more to the point, much less desirable - than ADR to redirect for imperial ends. The Comment thus explores how consensual processes offer their subjects an ideal of legality that is alternatively amenable or hostile to imperial ambitions.

Keywords: anarchism, consensus, radical democracy, imperialism, alternative dispute resolution

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Amy J., On Being Anti-Imperial: Consensus Building, Anarchism, and ADR (July 22, 2011). Law, Culture and the Humanities, Forthcoming ; Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 153. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1889319

Amy J. Cohen (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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