After another solid year of IR research and learning, I would like to go back over the blasé and naive mistakes that I made in my original epiphany to pursue liberal IR theory. (On a side note, I am now leaning towards the Liberal Party of Canada, damn you Stephen Harper).
To clarify, constructivists theory is NOT a minority viewpoints nor something to be taken lightly, as demonstrated by Alexander Wendt . I meant minority in the sense that it has not gained as much hype as realist or liberal theory. Actually minority theory would be attributed to the postcolonial school of thought which is also very promising. Another point: I am NOT a neoliberalist, but merely the traditional liberalist with the cosmopolitan/idealist flair. By neoliberalism I had meant the structural liberalism/neoliberal institutionalism: the branch of liberal IR theory that dealt with the importance of institutions, though unfortunately this branch has succumbed to political economy as the proof of international cooperation presented in a way that realists can contend with, with little exploration of other international political, social, humanitarian, and cultural institutions. Lastly, as shown by previous posts, I am a fan of Fukuyama’s unique addition to liberal philosophy but again, I do not subscribe to the notion of the end of history as preceded by the advent of the capitalist democracy.
The novel reason that I have decided to adhere to this particular school of IR thought is simply because I believe it has the potential to incorporate the other critical or reflectivist theories in order to unify the field, but of course with gross modifications and generalizations that would entail vast theoretical restructuring, not to mention enraging the purists in the branch. Given the liberal tradition of John Stuart Mill and Jean-Jacques Rousseau that wished to extend equality to all men by abolishing slavery and promote the emancipation of women, it is not entirely impossible for liberal IR theory to include the contributions of prominent feminist and postcolonial IR theorists. Granted the positivist aspect and political economy that liberal IR theory has been forced to accomodate to an unbalanced degree due to the prominence of realist theory in US foreign policy will tremble in disgust of being conjoined with “reflectivist” notions which do not embrace scientific method nor empirical exactitude nor rational utility. However, the constructivist theory of Wendt seems to provide some sort of bridge between accomodating modern and postmodern aspects to liberal IR theory and separating it from realist theories in terms of accurately portraying a international systemic theory. Namely, that liberal theory is unsettled by the self-help system and wishes to believe the inclinations of states and non-state actors are not reducible to game theory, but have inclinations to cooperate as well. This basic disbelief or aversion of liberal IR theory to the concept of a “might is right” realist attitude is the core basis for incorporating the valid insights of critical theory with the substantive problem-solving aspect of liberal IR theory.
***Thank-you for reading. Believe me, this is EPIC.***