Resilience is one of the dominant tropes in contemporary policy, practice and academic debate. This paper situates resilience within historical and contemporary approaches to international intervention, governance and analysis. It contains three related arguments suggesting that resilience reflects and seeks to offer a positive alternative to the loss of modern frameworks. First, it is argued that resilience emerged in international intervention as a response to the limits of liberal internationalism in the 1990s. Second, that resilience has emerged as a post-liberal episteme that reflects and seeks to engage the ‘reality’ of complex life as an alternative to modernist frameworks of analysis. Today, rather than being seen as a limit, complexity is positively foregrounded under resilience frameworks as an active force that has moved beyond the limitations of modern frameworks. Third, this emergence of resilience as a post-liberal episteme that actively responds to complex life can be usefully explained through reflecting on recent work that engages Foucault's notions of biopower and biopolitics.