POLS 150 midterm

POLS 150 midterm - Liberalism, characterized by the works...

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-1 Liberalism, characterized by the works of Grotius, Kant, and Bull, has also come to be know as "idealism," because clings to a belief that international sovereigns can live in peace. Hugo Grotius, the first of these liberal thinkers, separated war into public and private counterparts. Immanuel Kant laid out what he believed to be three necessary conditions for a state to become part of a perpetual international peace. Hedley Bull, while not strictly a Grotian or Kantian liberal in the traditional sense, wrote in the Grotian tradition but with the idealism tarnished by the World Wars and the disruptive and destructive times of the 20th Century. "Idealism" is a very condescending way to describe liberalism. I'll focus on Kant, who is the only man in the textbook who makes any attempt at laying out a plan for peace, while the others mainly snipe and snicker at one another. Kant took an atomistic approach to the state, seeing it as merely an aggregate of individuals, and the behavior of the state was inseparable from that of the individuals which comprised it. He identified three conditions which would allow a state to exist in "perpetual peace": (1) a republican constitution, instilling separation of powers and representative government, (2) a federation f other sovereign nations to form an international union, and (3) "cosmopolitan law to act in conjunction with the pacific union." There is obviously a few leaps of faith that must be made to buy into Kant's logic. For one, any republican constitution and representative government will place much power in the hands of a few elected officials, which then must be entrusted to serve the public interest even when it contradticts their own interest. In the excerpt from the book, the author omits the emphasis that Kant put on the necessity that leaders and each of their subjects believe in God. Another weakness, which was seized upon by Waltz and Morgenthau, is that states pursue power and security before peace. Thomas Hobbes took a much more cynical view of the state, the Leviathan. He harbored a deep mistrust in the state, but regarded it as a necessary evil for maintaining order. The cause of war, according to Hobbes, was each state's pursuit of competition, diffidence, and glory. He and other Realists insisted that these pursuits would ultimately doom any potential for Kant's "perpetual peace." Hobbes saw the potential for peace lying in the "Laws of Nature," including a shared fear of death, which fits nicely into Waltz's idea that states pursued security and safety, as opposed to Morgenthau who believed that each state pursued increased power.
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In many ways, I agree with the Realists in their critique of Liberalism. Kant too often seems to be comparing the actual to the ideal (knowing Kant's work, he might've been staring at the Milky Way too long). His prescriptions for peace assume what he seeks to prove-- if everyone lives in peace, then states will live in peace. He seems to be saying that perpetual peace is a matter of will, not way. But it's difficult
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POLS 150 midterm - Liberalism, characterized by the works...

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