Theory in Action: Liberalism


A college campus or a high school I think
is a good metaphor, because in a sense you’re kind of stuck there. But there’s all sorts of opportunities to
join organizations, to make friends, to be part of all sorts of activities that are not just fun but kind of mutually beneficial to lots of people. Or you can be the high school bully and get in fights all the time, or you can…there are all sorts of possibilities
to do anything. So opportunities are there for bad things
to happen, but also there are lots of possibilities for
good outcomes. But at the same time you’re stuck, right, so it’s not like an environment that you
can transcend and get out of. But you can make of it whatever you like to
make out of it in cooperation with the people around you. The basic definition of liberalism is that the international system creates opportunities for cooperation and conflict. And it’s up to the states and other actors
in the international political system to either take advantage of those or not. And there’s an important distinction here
between realism and liberalism, where for realism the only real important
actors are states. So you’ve got 160, however many states are in the international
system right now. And those are the important actors, and those are the only real actors that matter. For liberals we can talk about — states are obviously important, some more important than others, but also businesses, churches, religious movements,
social movements. Other sorts of organizations also matter. Probably the biggest misunderstanding is that when we start talking about cooperation, people start thinking that, you know,
it’s all kittens and rainbows, we all sing Kumbaya, we all love each other,
everything is wonderful. That’s actually not true. What liberals think about international politics is that we have lots of opportunities to cooperate, lots of opportunities to pursue goals that
are beneficial to everyone, not just me or not just you. That doesn’t mean that we always do it; that means we often have the opportunity. Where other theories such as realism really
stress conflict: if it’s good for me, it must be bad for you. Yes, states go to war sometimes, and states
are really important, and conflict is a major component
of the international system. But that’s not all that’s there. There’s a whole other world out there beyond conflict and concerns about security that realism just
really fundamentally doesn’t have a good grasp on. I think if you start with a realist lens, you get very security-driven answers, which often involve conflict and often involve
arms. And when you start from a liberal perspective, you may get to that same solution. Again, we are not opposed to war or the use
of force, but we want to exhaust absolutely every other
opportunity first. And we are convinced that along those lines, as you exhaust every opportunity before you
get to military conflict, 99 percent of the time, something in there
is going to pan out. Something in there is going to work. We don’t know what that is all the time, but when we work through international institutions, follow international law, 99 percent of the time we can come up with
acceptable solutions to our problems short of violent conflict. I think if you look at the root of lots of
the major institutions in the world today, they come out of a clearly liberal logic. The United Nations, the European Union, these are things, for example, the UN, that was created after World War II explicitly with the goal of saying, you know, after we just slaughtered a big chunk of the
world in World War II, how do we make sure we don’t do this again? How do we set up rules and institutions and
authorities to make sure that, for example, a country like Germany before
World War II, you know, when they start behaving aggressively
towards their neighbors, we can rein them in before they essentially
light half the world on fire. And so you get this concept of collective
security coming out of the UN that says, maybe what we should’ve done in World War II
is when the Germans invaded Poland, we shouldn’t have said, oh, too bad for the
Poles, right, they’ve got a problem and they need
to defend themselves. We should’ve said, this is an attack on everyone; this is a global problem, not just a problem
for Poland, and so we need a global response, or a collective
response. So the United Nations was set up with that
goal in mind. Obviously it’s expanded into lots of other
things. The European Union is probably the best example of a liberal institution that really has taken
on massive powers, and it actually does a lot. The UN I think is criticized a lot for not
being very effective, and I think that’s fair. But the European Union actually does an incredible amount in terms of making economic policy, in terms of setting immigration policies. You know, it really does a lot for the countries
that are members.

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. I'm not gonna argue with you, are so glued to your ideas.

    The U.S. Congress is a product of a democratic phenomenon called 'election'. Hamas is not an elected government of the palestinian people, because there is no state gathering all palestinians in it.

    What I mean is that I read a lot about this a year ago, so I knew a lot more about the details. Now I don't, but it doesn't deny me the ability to draw basic conclusions.

    I'm neither jewish or palestinian, or descend from them. FYI.

  2. You realize that liberalism in international relations has nothing to do with liberalism in American Politics, as in the the left spectrum of ideology.

  3. Well having watched these vids I think i've determined that i'm a constructivist, realist liberal… among other things… is that an oxymoron? Well maybe but their are truths and falsehoods in all these theories, so I guess you could say that my fundamental principle's are balance and truth, a little bit of everything while recognising the banality of it all.

  4. Yep, that Euro Union shure has worked wonders with economics, hasn't it. Socialism has not, does not, and will never work. The UN is a great example. Humans are corrupt and will seek power to benefit themselves. Capitalism is the way to go.

  5. WRONG. You are just excusing the deaths of palestinians by inaction. lets let israel stale the conflict into a stagnant brick so they can carry on the apartheid and injustice that they do. they do.

  6. Realism and liberalism have now been redifined as per this video. Liberals are defined in that everything is relative and the ends justify the means. This is why a liberal in this video can say that the "players" to be included are the same groups that the liberal media marginalizes becuase their goal of reshaping the world justifies their means no matter who is hurt. The UN and EU were formed for very different reasons not global fairness. The world was on the brink of nuclear annihilation!

  7. Liberals want a global government and they want the US to pay for all of it becuase we supposedly have been too wealthy for too long. ie They love making up new terms to sound really wise like social justice and collective this and collective that. You would think that if liberals were so smart, they would be fans of the legendary show star trek. The borg were a collective and in the act of consuming other societies the borg were evil in assuming that the collective was what mattered the most.

  8. Collective anything will never work becuase the liberal ideology has it backwards. Each individual has as much worth and value as the entire universe. When each individual first grows and learns to love himself/herself with this in mind. Then secondly to love all others with this same value/worth when people come together in selfless love the real exponential potential of each individual is magnified thru people coming together. This is why liberalism and all other ism's will fail spectacularly

  9. Becuase they try to perfect the collective made up of screwed up individuals! Individuals with no real love for themselves or others. Try loving your shopping addicted family member without getting to the root cause/issue. You will feel good about you helping until you are broke. There will be less and less people able to help you becuase the whole world is try this very insanity and expecting a different better result.

  10. Is it that we must come together for peace to occur or is it that peace cannot naturally occur so we must come together to prevent the natural order from occurring?

  11. Good presentation, though I wonder when it was shot. The realists have been having a field day over the last few years with the EU.

  12. The title of the video should be changed. This is not about liberalism, but about some american notion of liberalism regarding international affairs.

  13. People, you have to understand that they are not discussing 'liberalism' in terms of economics. This is liberalism in INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS theory. Within the American school, liberalism is one of the three major theories, opposed by realism & constructivism. Liberalism INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS theory is about viewing the world as a 'system' and understanding how states create and obey (or break) rules within a system. Rules through institutions secure security. Its a different 'liberalism'.

  14. This video is not about 'economic liberalism' or 'philosophical liberalism'. It is about the theory of 'liberalism' within the academic topic of international relations. It is indeed about liberalism, just not the one you thought. The description of the video points out that this video is part of a series on the theories within International Relations.

  15. This video is not discussing political liberalism or economic liberalism. There is a major theory within the school of 'international relations' called Liberalism. This is what the video is about. Both what this video discusses and what your comment discusses are theories called 'Liberalism', but they are theories about 2 different things. This liberalism is concerned only with the actions of countries in the international system.

  16. It is not about political (which is based on economics and philosophy, of course) liberalism, the one you find on the Wikipedia entry for "Liberalism". The description section is useless, since it doesn't say "This is a liberalism which is totally different from what you are used to".

    Sure, one can use an established word to mean something else. But it's a generally bad thing to do, since words should refer to one thing only, for easy and intelligent communication. So, the title should change.

  17. That does not make sense at all. What he's trying to imply is that liberalism work because everybody cooperates. not true! People pursue their own separate interest and that includes opinion.

  18. You argued, very correctly I must say, that when the Germans invaded Poland it was everyone problem. The same goes to Iran and It's nuclear abilities. It's EVERYBODY'S PROBLEM.

  19. Liberalism's metaphore is a highschool or college. Highschool has always and will always feel like a jail. College, wasn't as restricting, but it's a collection of people stumbling around in the dark. Liberalism – you're stuck there; I ask, why would you want to be stuck there? Conservative ideals dictate that if you can find a light to see in the dark, you make your own and lead others out of the dark. It's wierd to say, but conservative ideals now adays are more dynamic, they encourage people to make their own way and progess their lives, not be held back by fear or regulation. 

  20. Highschool  and College , both totally controlled societies from the to down  . both are totally socialistic in every facet , you must join a group or collective to be heard / have power , they are no place for the individual

  21. When he discusses how we try to avoid conflict as much as possible surely thats just defensive realism? States will avoid conflict especially with states who have greater power but that doesn't mean they arn't prepared to engage in war if they feel they need to? Only thing I don't agree with in realism is that there cant be mutual gains from interaction between states. E.g America helping countries out after second world war – America gets foothold in European economy by helping country, country in turn is aided in recovery..

  22. J.D Bowen has some idealist liberal views about co-operation within the International bodies but what sadly he has failed to acknowledge, is that China and Russia has at every opportunity used the veto with every resolution within the UN for the sake of it as it does not agree with their policies of involvement, especially with conflict prevention. This is hardly the liberal view of co-operation and one that deserves and will be forcing concentration in terms of UN reforms in the near future

  23. Professor Bowen does an excellent job of explaining the definition of liberalism. There are elements of realism within the liberal institutions, because at the core of institutions are individuals, and each individual has a self interest, and in turn an obligation to protect those interests.  Iran, North Korea do work within these institutions because it's in their best interests to do so, and when it's not in their interest, they seek other means to obtain their objective.  Contrary to some on the right liberalism is not a system of ideas, it's a philosophy that has grown throughout history.  The conservative side of the aisle have perverted this term to the point it's no longer distinguishable from the proper definition.

  24. Yeah?  Tell that to the isis beheaders!  Sometimes you just
    gotta pull your loaded gun out and instantly defend yourself
    because there really are intensly evil and monstrous "people"
    out there.

  25. First off its not the germans which invaded poland its the nazis…… please dont say that gemans and nazis are the same thing i know that he didnt say that directly in this video BUT he mad a big mistake by saying "the germans invaded poland" IT WAS THE NAZIS

  26. This theory might sound splendid on paper, but containing a regional threat is quite impossible without the notion of universal accountability. Russia is not being accounted for.

  27. collective security narrative of liberal institutionalism is a product of insidious realism, this is how strong realism is!

  28. Whatever, the premise that liberalism presents more opportunities is vacuous w/o preparatory argument to support conclusion. So what is he saying? Starting w supercillious claims its possible to ramble on citing any number of other preposterous claims. The Unicorn mentality. It's far simplier start with things that work & base your argument from a known. Pragmatism seems to constraining to unicorn chasers.

  29. A metaphor for a liberal? A person that lives in a make believe world of unicorns and rainbows where everything's free. While everyone else (firmly grounded in reality) works hard only to have it taken by liberals.

  30. oh no. he is mentioning Germany as an agressor, from the USA. so maybe it is a classic xample of the pot calling the kettle….

  31. Whats wrong with Liberalism?? I would like to know your opinions if thats okay I just took a test online to see what I am and it says I'm a solid liberal. And I barely see anything wrong with it. I'm very new to this and have a taken a sudden interest in politics so I would appreciate it if you left me some thoughts. Thanks.

  32. "There's what, 160 states right now?"
    "Maybe the world should've responded to Poland being invaded by Germany during WWII."

    Is this man a joke?

  33. Rather than the difference between Classical Liberalism and Social Liberalism, I wonder what is the difference between Social Liberalism and Social Democracy or Libertarianism and Classical (Laissez-Faire) Liberalism, respectively.

  34. I wonder how surprised this guy was to see the wonderful example of a Liberal institution called the European Union starting to crumble and 'Brexit' was just the beginning… Liberalism always looks great… on paper.

  35. His metaphor about the international system as being "stuck" in a highschool/college and having all sorts of opportunities to make friends & engage in mutually beneficial activities or be the "highschool bully" is completely flawed. In a school, you can talk to the principle about the kid who is bullying you and get them suspended, in the international system you cannot do this.

  36. Funny – UN after WWII wants to prevent a massive slaughter, collective security, Germany invading Poland is "an attack on everyone." And that's what the UN is there for. Where were is the UN now? Russia invaded Ukraine, and is still there.

  37. The bottom line is there is no perfect theory that can work all the time and everywhere. Every group of people should embrace what they think is suitable for them in that specific time …some people could have extremely liberal system and some others could be better off with autocratic totalitarian system. We need to respect each other and accept our differences … right ?
    PEACE

  38. A majority Liberal Politbeaureau is dangerous to the National Security of America. They try to destroy countless innocent lives. Even the sick and not just the unborn. They try to overturn the Laws that protect us from internal destructiveness from our criminals. And the like.

  39. One Liberalism iis being flagrant about their disgusting sexual practices. Keep it to yourself scum. And your discussing. Keep that shit in your bedroom. Not everyone else's.

  40. Merry Christmas and Felix Navidad to America. 'Cause we're all Americans now. And we're now saving Mexico just like at McieDees.

  41. As far toward liberalism as you can go, the government controls Everything and Everything is equally distributed to everyone. So why then would anyone work, when there is no payoff, and why would ANYONE think that a government philosophy where that is the result of putting it in complete motion would be a good direction to go even a little bit!?

  42. It seems that more often than not liberals have become so closed minded that they will attack anyone who doesn't agree with them.

  43. A liberal believes that men can solve all social and personal problems through application of intelligence, and through use of technology and education. A liberal believes that we "evolve" both as individuals and as a society. A liberal believes that every man is basically "good." In other words, liberals don't pay attention.

  44. As of 2017 Euro currency is having trouble and he forget to mention how U.N. was total failure stopping genocide in Rwanda in 1994. When will these liberals start to have honest intellectual fact based debates, if they did they would be realist

  45. Useless video that shows exactly what colleges teach about concise question and answers. Zero information was offered only a confused opinion from someone appearing to be knowledgeable

  46. Just curious as to why liberals, especially men, seem to be effeminate and suffer from speech deficiencies as in lisps etc as in they're likely homosexual men. Understand, this isn't something that lessens their points, points of view, or insights, rather its almost an overwhelming correlated observation that sadly upsets me that its almost that simple and easy to place someone in a camp or position based upon said characteristics.

  47. So many people are confusing Liberalism (the International Relations Theory) with liberal (the political ideology). They are not even remotely the same. Liberalism as an IR Theory places emphasis on the importance of international cooperation and organization, as well as the role of states. It is useful in explaining the creation of certain international organizations i.e. the EU and UN as mentioned in the video, but less so in explaining phenomenon like the collapse of the USSR. As a theory it is more of a tool for explaining how the international system functions, rather than an ideology of how it should. If you don't agree with the philosophy behind it you should check out their videos on realism and constructivism.

  48. Since this is about liberalism as an IR theory, the example of a high school is deeply flawed. A high school has a hierarchy of teachers and principle who enforce the rules. In international relations that does not exist. Thus, a more fitting example would be of a prison of some sort where the guards are on the outside, the inmates are on the inside where it is every man for themselves. How would they act? Would they form organised groups to promote multilateral cooperation or would they seek to maximise their share of power?

    This is the classic neoliberalism vs neorealism debate.

  49. The UN, European Union,Excetera, excetera every Global organization is a joke. all of the global unions are just tools for the big States or the superpowers to use to their advantage.

  50. Notice when he said liberals …. he said WE? So he’s liberal scum. Notice how he doesn’t answer straight out and give the definition of a liberal?

  51. lets not forget that liberal institutions like the UN did not do anything when the USA invaded Iraq, why? because these institutions serve the will an interest of the stronger countries (The Security Council is a joke). Only a powerful country can create and protect these institutions. Other Neoliberal institutions like the World Bank did not manage to solve poverty, but they managed to facilitate the economic exploitation of weak economies. Liberalism is not based in reality, is based on an utopian power structure controlled by a dominant power. These institutions are tools to control other nations, specifically Germany.

  52. Realism for me is whats happening in the moment and how best to takle the proplems at the moment in the moment..whilst talking about how best to prevent.
    Ideas are not always reality driven ✌🌱..

  53. Maybe what you should have done is to tell Poland to stop fucking Germany over and provoking conflict! You brainwashed liberal ass wipe! Intellectualism in the social sciences and humanities has been hijacked by cultural Marxism and post modernism. And yes, it is mainly jews! To the the detriment of all other Jews unfortunately!

  54. Liberalism is a mental disorder created by fear. You will either hunt for food or scavenge for food. Which one are you? A patriot or a trader?

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