Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Arthur M. Eckstein
Anarchy is a word of Greek origin denoting the absence of the rule of law or (more broadly) of settled government. The prevalence of anarchy is the first and primary assumption of realism, a term given by scholars to a family of theoretical models of interstate behavior that is central to contemporary international systems theory. Realism is founded on several pessimistic assertions about interstate life, among them anarchy. The argument is that, historically, the interstate world has most often consisted of a multiplicity of sovereign entities; these sovereign entities recognize little by way of international law and have almost no way of enforcing it. There really are no enforceable rules of conduct—especially for strong states. The term scholars employ to describe this situation is anarchy. The harsh interstate environment is both literally an anarchy in the strict sense of the absence of enforceable international law and an anarchy in the ...