Get access

Taking sides: cosmopolitanism, internationalism and ‘complex solidarity’ in the work of Fred Halliday



    1. Senior Lecturer in International Relations in the Politics Department, Birkbeck College, University of London where he directs the Masters Programme in International Security and Global Governance.
    Search for more papers by this author
    • This is one of a group of articles in this issue originating in a workshop held in November 2010 at the London School of Economics in honour of the life and work of the late Fred Halliday, and further developed through a study group held on 12 May 2011 at Chatham House. Many thanks to all the participants who attended both occasions, and in particular Amnon Aran, Barry Buzan and Roland Dannreuther for acting as discussants at the latter gathering as well as Benno Teschke and David Styan for additional comments. Thanks are also due to George Lawson, Toby Dodge, Mick Cox and Caroline Soper for their diverse roles in seeing through to publication what started out as a small tribute to Fred from his friends and former students.


Fred Halliday's life and work were intimately associated with the theory and practice of internationalism. In his later writings, the notion of ‘complex solidarity’ emerges as a key component of Halliday's worldview. This article explores the conceptual interconnections between different historical expressions of internationalism, cosmopolitanism and solidarity. It considers the intricate relationship between these categories and their place in our understanding of international affairs, emphasizing the divergence between liberal and revolutionary conceptions of internationalism and cosmopolitanism. The article discusses diverse understandings of ‘solidarity’ in International Relations, arguing that beyond the cosmopolitan and communitarian approaches, there exist other ‘Grotian’ and ‘republican’ ideas of solidarity. Halliday drew on these to present his own defence of universal human rights and solidarity, arguably developing a distinctive brand of republican internationalism. The latter part of the article gives content to ‘complex solidarity’ by suggesting it is built on three inter-related components: a methodological internationalism, an egalitarian reciprocity and a critique of global capitalism. Overall, these guiding features of complex solidarity deliver a unique rendition of internationalism which reflect Halliday's eclectic combination of radical liberalism with a residual historical materialism.