Traditional Liberalism and International Relations_Saed Kakei

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Understanding Traditional Liberalism and International Relations.
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  Kakei| 1 Traditional liberalism and International Relations By: Saed Kakei, Ph.D. Student,Theories of Conflict and Conflict Resolution I   (CARD 7040-DL2)Professor Dustin Berna, Ph.D. Nova Southeastern UniversityDepartment of Conflict Analysis & Resolution – PhD ProgramMarch 24, 2012  Kakei| 2 Traditional liberalism and International Relations Introduction As one of the two dominant philosophical outcome of the European Enlightenment, liberalism isconsidered to be a challenge to the pessimistic claims of realism about human nature. Aside from promoting limited government and scientific rationality of individuals and their potential for  progress in the domestic realm, liberalism has had a deep impact on the characteristics of international relations of all modern developed societies. Just as it has considered individualsshould be free from subjective state power, persecution and poverty, Liberalism has argued that thequest for power among nations increasingly outlines the destructive character of warfare whichshowcases the enormous scale of violence now present in the nuclear and globalization age. To break the cycle of international competition and violence, liberal theorists have been advocatinguniversal standards to protect human rights, defend political freedom, and promote democracy bywhich the liberty of the individual and equality before the law become added values to the threecenturies old liberal heritage. This is particularly true after the end of Cold War during whichindividual competition in civil society and the expansion of market capitalism have jointly beenable to efficiently promote the welfare of all by allocating scarce resources within our internationalcommunity. Thus, liberalism remains a powerful and influential doctrine.There are many concepts of liberal thought which influence the study of internationalrelations. This paper will begin with a descriptive analysis to show the nature of the liberaltradition and explain its diverse ideas on international relations. During the course of my analysisof the historical revival of liberal thought, I will explain liberalism by highlighting its coreassumptions. I will then lead my discussion to elucidate how traditional liberal attitudes viewwarfare and the importance of democracy and human rights continue to inform contemporary  Kakei| 3 thinking. The conclusion will judge the contribution of liberalism to the theory of internationalrelations. Historical development of liberal tradition According to the Oxford English Dictionary (1989), liberalism is a political thought whichis “favorable to constitutional changes and legal or administrative reforms tending in the directionof freedom or democracy.” While this definition is somewhat revealing, it needs further elaboration.The term liberal took on a political meaning with the establishment of liberal party in Spainand later on throughout Europe, in the last decades of the eighteenth century (Gray, 1995). Whenthese developing political parties coined the expression liberal, they wanted to signal their favorable assessment of the emerging democratic systems in Great Britain and especially theUnited States, as opposed to their conservative opponents, who wanted to return to pre-revolutionary forms of government (Sartori, 1987, 367). The description, however, held aconsiderably older phenomenon, dating back to the political theories of John Locke, and his philosophical and theological defense of popular sovereignty at the end of the seventeenth century(Gray 1995).Partly because of its long history, the term “liberalism” has become an indefinable concept.Over time and in accordance with varying regional experiences, liberalism has tended differentmeaning. For example, in the opening sentences of his article entitled “Liberalism,” Alan Ryan provides that:“Anyone trying to give a brief account of liberalism is immediately faced with anembarrassing question: are we dealing with liberalism or liberalisms? It is easy to list  Kakei| 4 famous liberals; it is harder to say what they have in common. John Locke, Adam Smith,Montesquieu, Thomas Jefferson, John Stuart Mill, Lord Acton, T. H. Green, John Deweyand contemporaries such as Isaiah Berlin and John Rawls are certainly liberals – but theydo not agree about the boundaries of toleration, the legitimacy of the welfare state, and thevirtues of democracy, to take three rather central political issues” (Ryan, 1993, p. 291).The usage of liberalism as a generic term by many for the purposes “of praise or obloquy inthe political struggle” has not been helpful. In fact, attempts by many liberal theorists to “defineliberalism in such a way that only the very deluded or the very wicked could fail to be liberals”have not been fruitful as well (Ryan, 1993, p. 292). Adding more to the confusion, various liberal parties, politicians, and political philosophers have often put forward differing opinions of what thesrcinal or true meaning of liberalism is. This is often what happens when advocates of economicliberalism disagree with more left-leaning adherents of social liberalism on such basic politicalquestions as with what, and how far, the state ought to concern itself. That been underlined here,one could easily identify some of the common varieties of liberalism and liberal thought byrecognizing the distinctions between classical and modern types of liberalism (Ryan, 1993, pp.293-6). Classical liberalism According to E. K. Hunt, classical liberalism has four assumptions about human nature:People were egoistic, coldly calculating, essentially inert and atomistic (2003, p. 44). Becausethey are egoistic, people are motivated exclusively by pleasure and pain. Being calculating, theymake decisions with the intention to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. If there were noopportunity to increase pleasure or reduce pain, they would become inert. In such a condition, and
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