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The aim of the essay is to access the extent to which liberal thought is still present in today’s society. To begin with it is necessary to outline what the world “liberal” means; the fundamental values believed by liberal theorists assert that “liberal states, founded on such individual rights as equality before the law, free speech and other civil liberties… and elected representation are fundamentally against war” (Doyle, 1986: 1152). This trail of thought became increasingly prominent, particularly following World War II as it was seen as a way in which multilateral political, economic and social structures could be established in which states pool their resources and in cases give up some sovereignty to promote peace, security and achieve collective aims. This school of thought maintains that the increase in cooperation and interconnectedness, particularly economic, would lower the chances of war and increase its cost thus, making it unlikely. This statement would be highly disputed by liberalists who would point to the increase in state participation in global governance organisations, trade and the increase of TNCs, as a result of globalisation which builds its foundations on and is only possible due to state cooperation and interconnectedness. However, the sphere of influence the liberal school of thought still hold is largely contested as the death of liberalism is seen to be on the rise particularly since 9/11 and the launch of the war on terror. There are many additional indications that suggest this is in fact the case including, the decline in democracy in Russia, the outbreak of human rights violations in Syria, corruption and the violation of the rule of law in many states in Africa as well as censorship and suppression of the freedom of speech in a number of counties including China. This consequentially, suggests there are large grounds on which this argument can be made and that the world is in fact moving away from liberal thought. It is argued by liberal theorists such as Joseph Nye that the international system is based on the concept of complex interdependence and that soft power and cooperation are too significant for the international system to be based primarily on anarchy as argued by realists. Consequently, liberal thinkers would point to successful examples of economic liberalism such as the European Union which created an effective structure under which liberalism can thrive and push European integration forward especially following the fall of Communism and the Berlin Wall in 1989 since which sixteen states have signed up to the EU. The 1990s particularly saw the EU move towards freedom of movement in terms of people, capital, products and services, in this sense it was a move towards liberal ideas such as interconnectedness, cooperation and integration however, the EU model is seen as one of the most successful example of multilateral governance. John Mearsheimer argues in his article (1994) against liberal thinkers, suggesting they have failed to understand the nature of man and the unequal distribution of power in the international system which limits the effectiveness of intergovernmental organizations. Yet, realists would argue that the success of the EU stems from participating states cooperating on a level playing field as they are all developed states. In addition to this, the implications of cooperation between core or developed states is more successful than that with lesser economically developed states due to states securing their own interests. Subsequently, Tarak Barkawi and Mark Laffey argue that “the use of force between these states is unlikely because they are embedded in geostrategic and political economic relations that buttress international states and capitalist power in hegemonic, I.e. non-violent ways” (1999: 419). On the other hand, economic liberalism under other institutions can be largely criticised. Although the Bretton Woods institutions have had some success including the vast implications on the emergence of China and India which are now both seen as superpowers and as this form of economic interconnectedness has enabled the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to monitor economic interdependence and effectively imposed sanctions allowing even more powerful states to be held accountable, for example the US providing subsidies for the airline company, Boeing, was declared illegal by the organisation which allowed European nations to impose sanctions. This example indicates that economic integration is successful among developed countries, however, this is less evident in relation to lesser economically developed states. One of the largest opponents to economic global institutions is Joseph Stiglitz who argues that the work of organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have largely exacerbated the balance of payment crises rather than relive it through enabling “lower wages, and less job protection” (Stiglitz, 2002: 84) in lesser economically developed states. He adds to his argument by suggesting the structures of these organisations are designed more to benefit the interests of banking and financial interests in the developed world as post-colonial economies are still linked to colonial economies through these institutions. These organisations have left states such as Zambia, Malawi and Ecuador in worse conditions, with fragile economies largely dependent on trade with the west. Consequentially, the Bretton Woods institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and the WTO are merely ways in which the west can exercise ideological control over weaker states. One of the largest indications of this is the Doha Round standing stagnant, this indicates that more powerful states will put their own interests first, undermining the purpose of international cooperation. Thus, economic liberalism has not delivered on its promise, particularly in recent years. Instead it has increased poverty, lack of education and bad living standards additionally, these organisations are heavily criticised for being seen as a neo-colonial method of maintaining a sphere of power, particularly through less economically developed countries who are incapable of competing with developed courtiers such as Germany and the US in organisations such as the IMF where voting rights are determined on a financial basis which consequentially, allows them to dictate the organisations agenda. The evidence indicates that there has been a move away from economic liberalism as despite the fact there are clear indications to suggest there are aspects of liberalism present in the modern economic structure, it is largely in favor of the west and more powerful countries nonetheless, the lesser economically developed countries are exploited to benefit those with more power. Therefore, this indicates that there has been a decline in the economic liberalism as a result of economic globalisation. Another aspect that should be looked at is the rise in conflict and instability. Immanuel Kant’s thesis which is now known as the Democratic Peace Thesis, argues that democratic states do not go to war with each other due to the fact they share common norms. However, the terms that define what a state is and “the forms of violent conflict they engage in change” (Barkawi and Laffey, 1999:406) over time therefore, the concept of the democratic peace can be undermined. It is largely recognised that since the end of the Second World War there has been a decline in wars fought between states however, there are forms of new wars emerging including proxy wars, as well as cyber terrorism therefore, the decline of large scale wars fought since the Second World War is not a result of an increasing emphasis on liberal values such as peace but due to new methods of conflict. These have particularly had an effect on states and has in some cases contributed to threatening their sovereignty due to the emergence of the influence of non-state actors. The most evident example is the emergence of the jihadist movements backed by groups such as ISIS which have successfully carried out a number of attacks against mostly western states. Political theorists such as Stanley Hoffmann argue that there has been a rise in tension resulting from demands for democracy in states such as “Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, and Haiti” as well as a number of states in the Middle East under the Arab Spring, as leaders have “waged open warfare against their subjects” and subsequently have heightened the “importance of humanitarian interventions” resulting in a “clash between the fragmentation of states (and the state system) and the progress of economic, cultural, and political integration” (Hoffmann, 2002: 104). Hoffmann also highlights that the backlash of the extent of globalisation has not only made states take action across state boarders, but also “countless individuals and groups are becoming global actors along with states, insecurity and vulnerability are rising” (Hoffmann, 2002: 104). In addition to this, theorists who agree with the Clash of Globalisation argued that as “terrorism is defined as itself a human rights violation” it has enabled “international intervention on a scale that could eventually resemble the neocolonial occupation of independent states accused of aiding or condoning the new transnational barbarians” (Meister, 2002:92) which could now be seen through the implications of the involvement, particularly that western states such as Russia, have had on states such as Syria. In this sense it could be argued that the world has now moved to an era which is increasingly characterised by conflict, a decline in Human rights and instability rather than liberal values such as peace and security, this is a consequence of both states who aim to spread their ideological beliefs as well as an implication of non-state actors, particularly terrorist organisations.  The CNN effect has made states and state leaders more accountable as the globalisation of media has meant that states are not only at risk of losing legitimacy but can also be sanctioned and trialed under international law. The Syrian Crisis however, has emphasised the lack of power of the international institutions and instead has backed the arguments of realists who argue that under the international system of anarchy, states are expected to defend themselves within the ‘self-help’ system and those who fail will fall victims to, a “brutal arena where states look for opportunities to take advantage of each other” (Mearsheimer, 1994:9), making state sovereignty the most important factor. One of the most prominent examples of this in contemporary politics is the fact that Bashar Al Assad’s regime was still capable of both using and stockpiling chemical weapons despite the existence of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention which band states from both using or withholding these weapons, in addition to this, these weapons were used again in 2017 after UN intervention following the first incident in 2013. Despite the emphasis on human rights that now exist, Assad has been left unaccountable despite his violations of human rights, the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine and international law. In addition to the existence of an anarchic international system, there has been a lack of military intervention and emphasis on the Kofi Annan’s Doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect. This highlights that despite liberal thought, in reality intervention on behalf of human rights are not a state’s primary concern in contemporary politics, particularly when this might pose an economic or military threat to their own interest, in this case through a scenario in which western states are against Russia and China. This can be seen by arguments such as “In this new geostrategic and political economic context… force is used in the service of defending and expanding economic and to a lesser extent political liberalism… beyond the capitalist core”(Barkawi and Laffey, 1999: 421), this indicates that there has been a decline on the emphasis on human rights in the west as well as defending them in other states. This would also back the statement as it indicates that there has been an increased emphasis on economic aspects while there has been a move away from states operating on a humanistic level. Additionally, this demonstrates that the realist interpretation of the international system being anarchic is to a large extent accurate and that the idealistic view of the liberal school of thought is both unrealistic and unachievable.   As a result of the discussion carried out, this essay has concluded that the world has in fact become less liberal. Following the end of the Second World War there was an increased emphasis placed on the importance of liberalism resulting in a period where liberal values such as cooperation and interdependence were embraced. However, this emphasis continues to grow in areas of economic interest to western and developed states, even at the cost of exploiting lesser economically developed states, as a result the world today fits a realist analysis which highlights states, particularly powerful ones, operate within an anarchic international system to benefit themselves rather than to follow liberal or democratic values. 

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