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Chapter 1

POLI 243 - Ch. 1: Liberalism.doc

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Department
Political Science
Course
POLI 243
Professor
Mark Brawley
Semester
Winter

Description
Ch. 1 – Liberalism Lecture on: Jan. 11 Core Assumptions of Classical Liberalism 1) Individuals (plus households or firms) are the most important actors 2) Individuals are rational actors 3) Individuals maximize their utility 4) Everything can be traded 5) Individuals' indifference curves can be aggregated into social indifference curves Classical liberals argued that everyone would benefit from participation in markets. It began as a challenger to absolutism and mercantilism. Mercantilism generated enormous tax revenues for the state by inhibiting the development of the international political economy. Liberalism aimed to free the individual politically and economically from the state. It promised that national wealth would increase if individuals were free to compete in a market absent of state intervention. Ricardo and Smith argued that trade would benefit both parties in an exchange. Cobden took this one step further, arguing that liberalism would provide not just economic benefits, but political ones as well. This view became commercial liberalism. Core Assumptions of Commercial Liberalism 1) Individuals (plus households or firms) are the most important actors 2) Individuals are rational 3) Individuals maximize their utility 4) Everything can be traded 5) Therefore, trade is the route to cooperation and peace Commercial liberals argued that if all states participate in free trade, they will learn to meet their desires through exchange rather than war. Thus, free trade would be the route to international peace. Cordell Hull observed the economic barriers erected by the fascist governments of Germany and Japan prior to WWII. These countries lacked vital industrial resources such as oil; how would they obtain them if not through trade? As Hull feared, they sought the resources through conquest. A competing strain of liberalism placed greater emphasis on politics and political institutions. This view, indebted to the philosopher Immanuel Kant, is known as republican liberalism. Core Assumptions of Republican Liberalism 1) Individuals are the most important actors 2) Individuals are rational actors 3) Individuals maximize their utility 4) National self-determination, where individuals can express their preferences, is the route to international peace and understanding Republican liberals argued that what shapes national policies is whether political liberalism is established domestically. When individuals have a say in the formation of national policy, national policy will favour peace and the creation of wealth. Specifically, Kant noted that wars are fought by the people, not by kings and monarchs. The latter do not bear the brunt of the suffering. If the people reserved the right to war, they would almost never use it except in cases of self-defence, for the people understand the costs of war. Republican liberals also note that democratic states behave differently— peacefully—to each other. Indeed, historical evidence shows that democracies have very rarely waged wars against each other. This observation, termed 'democratic peace,' is the closest thing to a law in political science. One last strain of lib
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