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7- Governing the Global System: Realism vs liberalism vs Pluralism

-Realism vs Liberalism vs pluralism


To understand today's world politics the discipline of international relations has 2 dominant schools of thought: the "realism" and the" liberal" perspectives.


Realism is the belief that the State should be 1) the main actor and 2) all States pursue national survival because the international environment in which they interact is fundamentally an hostile one. Based on these principles, realists argue that it is the responsibility of the State to act and make decisions that will ensure the survival of the state by prioritizing national interests above the interests of the larger global community.


Liberal political theory offers a counterweight to realist theory. It gained traction during the wars period when it was recognized that, to prevent a future world war, states needed to create institutions for global governance that would create stability and ensure cooperation. Liberals see the possibility for global cooperation, compromise, and peace if states act collectively and honor liberal values of democracy, liberty, free-trade, and equality.


In the last few decades within the liberal camp, a group of academics has extended the liberal interpretation of global governance. These academics, labelled “pluralists”, argue that global governance is no longer exclusively the responsibility of the state and that other global actors, including non-government organisations (NGOs), transnational organisations(IO) and multinational corporations (MNCs) have an increasingly important role to play in the dynamics of global governance. From the pluralist interpretation of international relations has emerged the concept of “complex interdependence”, They recognize the influential role of non-state actors, which causes the decline of state authority. Pluralists see interdependence as a strength and say that events in one region of the world can have a significant impact on events in another( both economic, cultural, political of social impact) .The liberal values are key to modern globalization, particularly in the West but the pluralist interpretation has recently come under fire.



-Neo-liberal ideas in crisis : competition states vs welfare states


For the Neo-Liberals of today the path to growth has been raising states' economic competitiveness in order to attack FDI (foreign direct investment). Following this logic States that have policies and taxes and regulatory restriction are unattractive to FDI. This however is contradicted by evidence which shows that welfare states have also experienced high level of FDI end economic growth .


The mainstream agenda to expand global governance via multilateral policies has met a fundamental obstacle: the strong, pervasive notion of the “Nation” and of the Sovereign State. Nation States are the results of many Centuries of war, evolution, cultures and values. The World is now Globalized, flat and complex and requires a global management,say the pluralist, but the lesson emerging from today's unstable Society is that the welfare state has the advantage of creating a better economic environment that produces skilled and productive workforce where innovation thrives and superior economic goods and services are created and the sense of shares "Identity" is retained.


-From Global to local


New production technique like 3D printing and Automation are to the horizon and will fragment further global value chains that could not be economical anymore because automated machines can now compete with the cheap workforce of the emerging economies. If we also consider the realism vs pluralist social battle, globalization, as we know it, could be in retreat in the coming years. Global Companies will start bringing back production at home (at least the physical aspect of production) and closer to consumers. De-globalization could potentially benefit Companies and Consumers but what about the workforce ?


De globalization and Automation together have now the potential to produce more job disruption (for unskilled jobs) in emerging markets. This could bring populism, born in the de-industrialized advanced world to more parts of the world (lower-income countries employing largely young population) .


A new set of questions starts already to emerge: Will Politics create the universal basic income and possibly taxing the robots to minimize large unemployment? Will these solutions be taken at global level or more probably at a National level ? Maybe at regional level?


This would mean a new world more integrated at a regional/local level and more fragmented at global level. Obviously this will mean that the Multilateral-ism we have seen in the last two decades will be in retreat.Hopefully people in charge will try to study and understand the world as it is and no longer pretending to as it has to be to find new solutions


Is the" think global, act local" the new paradigm for tomorrow?




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