Contending Liberalisms in World Politics: Ideology and Power

Contending Liberalisms in World Politics: Ideology and Power

Contending Liberalisms in World Politics: Ideology and Power

Contending Liberalisms in World Politics: Ideology and Power

Synopsis

"This critique of current endeavors to construct a world order based on neoliberal ideology comes not from a standpoint opposed to liberalism, but from within liberalism itself. After introducing the theme of contending liberalisms, Richardson traces the emergence over time of a distinctive liberal view of international relations and reviews the present state of liberal IR theory. He then turns to neoliberal ideology, examining it in detail - particularly in the context of globalization - and investigating the powerful forces that support and sustain it. His conclusion, offering modest grounds for optimism, assesses the prospects for an alternative, more equitable liberal order." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

The ending of the Cold War prompted a lively debate on the opportunities and dangers that were unexpectedly opened up and on the nature of the new international milieu. There was a flurry of colorful images: “the end of history,” “a borderless world,” “the clash of civilizations,” and “global apartheid,” to name only some of the most dramatic. They were polarized between extremes of optimism and pessimism: on the one hand, unparalleled peace and prosperity; on the other, genocide and environmental catastrophe. Few, however, really assumed that the future was predetermined, and the leading Western governments sought to establish ground rules for a new kind of international order they hoped would enable them to keep developments under control.

The purpose of this book is to examine the nature and prospects of that projected order. It is depicted as the realization of the liberal vision of a world of peaceful democracies, but the means by which it is being constructed, day by day, are economic: the rules policed by international institutions in which Western governments have the controlling voice, in particular the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. This is without historical precedent: earlier attempts to establish international order relied mainly on political and military means, the economic remaining in the background.

The ideology that guides and justifies this world order project is commonly referred to as neoliberal. As a first approximation it may be described as one that privileges markets over governments and proclaims the need for societies to adjust, apparently without limit, to the supposed imperatives of globalization. The ideology is uncompromisingly universalist; the same norms apply to all, irrespective of a coun-

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