• Created by: KDallers-
  • Created on: 11-05-19 07:30

Introduction to Liberalism

Liberalism is a MAINSTREAM THEORY that accepts the status quo and attempts to change the world within the existing framework

HERITAGE: emerges in 17th century with Locke's response to Hobbes, decrying the 'state of nature'; later developed with Adam Smith, Jeremy Bentham, Immanuel Kant and J.S Mill

Has a few basic premises: - a positive view of human nature (belief that man is inherently good and can act accordingly), - positive-sum with absolute gains to be made, - anarchy can be overcome through cooperation (belief that humans can cooperate)

Summarised by Kegley's 6 principles:

- Human nature = good, - progress stems from a desire to improve, - structural influences are important, - anarchy does NOT render war inevitable, - cooperation can stop war, - international society needs to be reordered

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Utopian (First Generation) Liberalism

Following the 17th century/Enlightement, liberalism was particularly prevalent post-WWI with the ideas of WOODROW WILSON; believed in war being stopped through cooperation and the role of 'international organisations' - like the League of Nations - institutionalism

- Attempting to "make the world safe for democracy"; believed that LIBERAL DEMOCRATISATION would stop authoritarianism, which would stop war; also favoured SELF-DETERMINATION - overall, Wilson wanted COOPERATION through RATIONAL ORGANISATION

- Norman Angell - interdependence and globalisation made cooperation a necessity - called for greater diplomacy and cooperation due to this; no place for militarism; focussing on GOOD OF INDIVIDUALS rather than SOVEREIGN STATES

- Jeremy Bentham - the principle of the 'greatest good for the greatest number' applies to cooperation; believed we should guarantee this through 'international law'

- DEMOCRATISATION - stems from Kant 'Perpetual Peace' and Doyle's Democratic Peace Theory; democracies do not fight democracies, so DEMOCRATISATION is an objective; if DEMOCRACY could be transferred to the international system (domesticating it), ideal.                 - Undermined by the rise of 1930s authoritarianism and militarism, and the failure of the League, as well as the Great Depression

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Neo (Second Generation) Liberalism

Emerged towards the end of the Cold War; COOPERATION through various institutions showed that war was not inevitable; now new 'regimes', more globalisation and democratisation

- KEGLEY - predicated on the idea that "there is an international sosciety"; believed in the possibility of cooperation and a challenge to anarchy, without forming a hierarchy; relates to Kegley's 6 principles - WAR DOES NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN

- Led to regional integration (due to neofunctional beliefs - HAAS), the demise of protectionism and 'borders', and increased cooperation

- Saw DEMOCRACY as the ULTIMATE FORM OF GOVERNANCE; if domestically 'people' were in charge of government, the same can be done with states and the international system = cooperation and peace

- Based around REASON OVER FEAR and the "possibility of cumulative progress" (Keohane); a belief in a certain set of liberal institutions like THE MARKET, WELFARE STATES, THE RULE OF LAW and INTERCONNECTION/GLOBALISATION

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Forms of Neoliberalism (Jackson + Sorenson)

- SOCIOLOGICAL - belief in transnational ties over state borders developing peace; individuals in the world work to provide a SENSE OF GLOBAL COMMUNITY - operational on the STATE not being the only actor; supported by Karl Deutsch, and Rosenau, who said there was a "multi-centric world of diverse "sovereignty-free collectivities" - cooperation between individuals

- INTERDEPENDENCE - due to globalisation, nations now affect other nations more than ever; movement of labour and financial capital (both desirable) - trade is more important than militarism - more integration guarantees peace ("shifting loyalties to a new centre" - Haas); promotion of 'low' over 'high' politics (Keohane and Nye Jr.); overall GROWTH OF TRANSNATIONALISM over militarism

- INSTITUTIONAL - institutions are beneficial, and can be used to promote cooperation - can be organisations, or 'regimes'; Keohane's measure of STRENGTH an institution: - commonality of behaviour, - specificity and - autonomy; institutions help cooperation through integration (Haas)

- REPUBLICAN - based around Doyle and Kant; democracies don't go to war and are inherently peaceful, so we should spread liberal democratisation; a normative theory based around shared political culture, common morality and interdependency

- Overall; all share beliefs which suggest there is no alternative to liberalism - Fukuyama

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Criticisms of Liberalism

1) TOO OPTIMISTIC? Waltz 1959 "you have misestimated human nature"; there is less possibility of cooperation for progress, less chance of democratisation working and less chance of capitalist ideals succeeding

2) INSTITUTIONALISM - institutions fail to affect conflicts (Iraq), and undermine the idea that great powers and weak states exist; multipolarity is destined to fail (Mearsheimer)

3) DEMOCRACY ISN'T PERMANENT - some states are destined to revert back to authoritarianism due to their political cultures - for example, Germany post-WWI (Weimar Republic failed), also various Middle Eastern nations

4) WESTERN-CENTRISM - liberal democracy may not be an aim for ALL states; Western governance is not best for all and some may feel alienated from the "international society"

5) LIBERAL COLONIALISM - many liberals believe in the subversion of other nations in the name of 'democracy' or 'cooperation'; organisations facilitate this, and represents neoimperalism through 'Western liberal values' - CORE nations challenging the PERIPHERY (Wallerstein)

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Cox: "Theory is always there for someone and for some purpose"


- POSTIVIST - using existing structures to deal with things; accept limitations and deal with these within the framework; examples of realism and 'anarchy' and liberalism and peace

- POWER-RELATED - concerned with 'high politics' of power and security dilemmas resulting from power relations; all about the balance and accumulation of power - Mearsheimer and liberal view on BoP


- POST-POSITIVIST - challenging existing structures and changing the framework; an 'appraisal of the framework' (Cox); seeks historical change of the framework - poststructuralists and language, postcolonialists and imperialism/race

- NOT ABOUT POWER - challenging power relations and focussing on the marginalised; argue people need emancipating from power relations (Ken Booth and 'emancipatory theory')

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Key Liberal Thinkers

Historically - Locke, Smith, Kant, Bentham

Utopian - Wilson, Angell

Neo - Kegley, Keohane, Nye Jr., Haas (neofunctionalist)

Sociological - Deutsch, Rosenau

Critics: Waltz (REALIST), Said, Fanon (POSTCOLONIAL), Wallterstein (world-systems), Foucault, Derrida (POSTSTRUCTURAL)

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