Power, Postcolonialism, and International Relations: Reading Race, Gender, and Class

By Geeta Chowdhry; Sheila Nair | Go to book overview

5

CULTURAL CHAUVINISM AND THE LIBERAL INTERNATIONAL ORDER

“West versus Rest” in Asia's financial crisis

L.H.M. Ling

Pushing reform after Asia's financial crisis (1997-8), the West's liberal international order has effected a strategic, triple move. 1 Not a cloak-and-dagger conspiracy, as some would dismiss it, this triple move rather reflects an openly calculated coordination of institutional interests to sustain Western capitalist hegemony in the global economy. 2 In this case, the liberal international order has sought to (1) (re)feminize Asia by discrediting the region's claim to a muscular, alternative capitalism; (2) (re)masculinize the role of Western capital in the region by buying out Asian capital at bankrupt prices; and (3) (re)hegemonize relations in the region, both domestically and internationally, by mimicking cold war power politics.

Neither conventional nor critical understandings of international relations (IR) adequately explain this triple move. 3 Conventional IR's Hobbesian scenario of “warre of all against all” might suffice if not for its liberal belief in the universal rationality of economic logic (Waltz 1979). That is, why would Western capitalists discipline Asian capitalists if they all think alike? 4 Moreover, why would such ideological disciplining take on gendered, neocolonial overtones? Critical theorists fare no better. Assuming the same of all capitalists, they are seen as either overlords of the state (Panitch 1994), exclusive members of a “neoliberal civilization” (Gill 1995a, 1995b), or suffering from capitalism's internal contradictions (McNally 1998). If so, then why would national identity or culture matter where corporate profit is concerned, especially in our current age of globalized finance, trade, technology, and production? Even if critical theorists recognize that rival camps of national capital may compete, they fail to answer a corollary question: Why do stereotypes of masculinity and femininity still drive this competition? These queries beget another: How does the liberal promise of “development” implicate the relationship between “developed” and “developing” economies, the West and the Rest? 5 Put differently, both conventional and critical IR overlook the meaning of global interactions, especially where

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Power, Postcolonialism, and International Relations: Reading Race, Gender, and Class
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Postcolonial Criticism 33
  • 3 - Situating Race in International Relations 56
  • 4 - Beyond Hegemonic State(Ment)S of Nature 82
  • 5 - Cultural Chauvinism and the Liberal International Order 115
  • 6 - “sexing” Globalization in International Relations: 142
  • 7 - In One Innings 170
  • 8 - The “new Cold War” 184
  • 9 - A Story to Be Told 209
  • 10 - Postcolonial Interrogations of Child Labor 225
  • 11 - Human Rights and Postcoloniality 254
  • Bibliography 285
  • Index 312
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