Unformatted text preview: Liberalism
Poli 101, January 25 What is Liberalism?
What We are NOT talking about contemporary American “Liberalism”, as in the opposite of “Conservatism”.
The roots of Liberalism date back to Ancient Greece and Rome. “The idea of a polity administered with regard to equal rights and equal freedom of speech, and the idea of a kingly government which respects most of all the freedom of the governed" – Marcus Aurelius Roots of Liberalism
Roots Highly influenced by the Age of Enlightenment
Rejects notions like Divine Right, hereditary status, etc.
John Locke (16321704) rejected idea of Hobbesian “Leviathan”. Liberalism
Liberalism Holds that reason and ethics can overcome international anarchy to create a more orderly and cooperative world
Optimistic about the prospects of cooperation
Emphasizes establishing stable democracies as a way to reduce conflict
Politics is not seen as zerosum Emphasizes free trade because it helps prevent disputes from escalating into war
Stresses the importance of international institutions
Also called “idealism” Three Strands of Liberal Theory
Variant of Liberalism Level of Analysis Departure from Realism Liberal Institutionalism System. Retains basic
assumption of balance of
power theory. Anarchy does not
necessarily lead to conflict.
Cooperation is possible. Complex Interdependence
Theory Sub-state, but not
exclusively. Focuses on
individuals, firms, NGOs,
and organizations within
governments as key actors. States are not the only
important actors. Actors
have diverse interests in
international politics. Much
of IR has little to do with
military security. Democratic Peace Theory State. Focuses on what
kind of government the
state has. States are not all essentially
the same. Liberal
(democratic) states can
solve disputes without war. Liberal Institutionalism
Accepts many premises of realism, but arrives at different conclusions. See cooperation as way out of security dilemma. Institutions: A set of agreedupon rules and practices. Formal, in a treaty, or informal like the G8. Institutionalism in Practice
Institutionalism Concert of Vienna.
WWI as rebuttal or proof. Cold War, SALT I and SALT II (1972, 1977
Argentina and Brazil: Peaceful use of Nuclear Energy. Liberal Institutionalists insist that cooperation is not the result of idealism, but of rational pursuit of selfinterest. Anarchy breeds insecurity, so states have an incentive to overcome anarchy, even if that means a limitation in some elements of sovereignty. Thoughts??? Complex Interdependence
Three Essential Traits:
1) “Multiple channels connect societies”
2) No clear hierarchy of issues.
3) Military force not considered viable tool of policy. Variety of Actors
Groups within states (like companies, parties, interest groups)
A variety of transnational and international actors (NGOs, Corporations) PLURALISM: Focus on multiple actors. Variety of Goals Unlike Realism and Liberal Institutionalism, Complex Int. doesn’t assume that security is paramount.
Many other goals may not specifically interact with national security.
Economics, Finance, Environment, Health, etc.
Less conflictual than security concerns. Thoughts??? Normative Position and
Realist Reply. If anarchy can be mitigated through cooperation, why not cooperate?
Labeled “idealism” by realists, but Liberals contend that selfinterest is at the root of cooperation.
Place of military might brought into focus by 9/11. Thoughts? ...
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