By Jill Steans, Lloyd Pettiford, Thomas Diez and Imad El-Anis
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Additional info for An Introduction to International Relations Theory Perspectives and Themes Third edition
Our justification for doing so is that, despite some differences in the ‘versions’ of liberalism, there are, nonetheless, prevailing and constant liberal principles and core assumptions. It is useful first to offer a few qualifications and clarifications. It is important not to lose sight of the fact that the term ‘liberal’ has been applied to the political beliefs of a wide variety of people. Liberals have views about the economic organisation of society, for instance; here we can detect a division in liberal thought between those on the political ‘right’ who believe that individual liberty must extend into the economic realm: that is, people must be free to buy and sell their labour and skills as well as goods and services in a free market which is subjected to minimal regulation.
Liberal peace theory returns to a familiar liberal theme that the people have no interest in war, in the sense that war is not in their interests. It follows from this that wars are frequently the result of aggression on the part of belligerent leaders or states pursuing a particular interest. Many liberal peace theorists are of the view that it is only when an end is put to tyranny around the globe and when universal liberal democracy and respect for human rights exist that international peace will prevail.
While the application of Kantian thought to international relations has been dismissed as ‘utopian’, it is important to note that Kant recognised that, in order to achieve a just world order, certain conditions were necessary, including the establishment of republics, as opposed to monarchies or dictatorships (and, perhaps, a near-universal commitment to liberal democracy). Indeed, Kant held that only civilised countries, those countries which were already governed by a system of law and in which people were free citizens rather than subjects, would feel impelled to leave the state of lawlessness that characterised the international state of nature.
An Introduction to International Relations Theory Perspectives and Themes Third edition by Jill Steans, Lloyd Pettiford, Thomas Diez and Imad El-Anis