Liberalism Theory in International Relations

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Department
Political Studies
Course
POL 140
Professor
Dr.Heather Mc Keen- Edwards
Semester
Fall

Description
International Relations Liberalism Is conflict inevitable? Liberals are the most direct in answering the question about conflict. Approach supported by many leading states, international organizations and multinational companies. There is a long tradition of liberal thinkers in political philosophy. Some key thinkers for IR: - Kant - Keohane - Fukuyama - Locke - Smith o They want to explain everything. Which is a critique of Realism for a Liberal? 1. States aren’t unitary actors 2. Rationality doesn’t necessarily lead to self-help, states can focus on absolute gains 3. Claims about anarchy are only partially true 4. Military force isn’t the only or even the main form of power. Key Assumptions of Liberalism - Belief that progress is possible o Goes back to foundations with early philosophers o It doesn’t have to improve, but it can - Individual rights, individual choice and free market are basis of cooperation o Main focus of liberalism o Individual rights vary depending on what type of liberalism you follow o “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” o All humans possess these rights, just by being a human - Cooperation leads to societal progress - International institutions/organizations can provide order and control anarchy o Can give you some kind of structure IDEALISM - An early form of liberalism, a predecessor. - Emerges right after WWI - These theorists don’t call themselves idealists. - Idealists tend to believe that peace isn’t a natural condition, but it can be built. - Central element -> the need to build an international institutions to facilitate peaceful state interactions. - Best exemplified in the League of Nations, but even more so in Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points. - Point 14 is THE MOST IMPORTANT. Attempting to create collective security. - An education aspect in the League of Nations - Two key conditions to Idealism. o Leadership of states is necessary in order to buy into the discussion o Although anarchy causes self-interest, it must be controlled or mitigated. - The problem for Idealists was WWII, as it brought about its decline as a theory. LIBERALISM IN GENERAL - States aren’t the only actors, and they can’t be in a liberal world. - Image: cobweb. Because the relationships between all the actors gets complicated. - There isn’t the guiding principle of liberalism, and that’s the downfall of it. - STATES o Most liberals assume that domestic political processes shape state behaviour (states aren’t unitary) o Different concep
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