Liberalism Essay

2025 WordsFeb 23, 20139 Pages
Liberalism has contributed to the understanding of International Relations as an academic discipline and through organizations such as the United Nations, the European Union, the League of Arab States, and others in what many consider to be a very influential manner. To start, Liberalism traces its roots back to the Enlightenment period (Mingst, 2008) where many philosophers and thinkers of the time began to question the established status quo. Such as the prevailing belief in religious superstition and began to replace it with a more rational mode of thinking and a belief in the intrinsic goodness of mankind. The Enlightenment period influenced Liberalism’s belief that human beings are thinkers who are able to naturally understand the laws governing human social conduct and by understanding these laws, humans can better their condition and live in harmony with others (Mingst, 2008). Two of the most prominent Liberal Internationalists of the Enlightenment period were Immanuel Kant and Jeremy Bentham who both thought that international relations were conducted in a brutal fashion. It was Kant who compared international relations as “the lawless state of savagery” (Baylis and Smith, 2001, pp 165). It was also Kant who believed nations could form themselves into a sort of united states and overcome international anarchy through this (Mingst, 2008). This was probably the beginning of a coherent belief in a sort of union of sovereign states. Toward the end of the seventeenth century William Penn believed a ‘diet’ (parliament) could be set up in Europe, like the European Union of today (Baylis and Smith, 2001). We can see much of this liberal thinking today in organizations such as the United Nations. Another influential work to have an impact on liberal thinking was John Locke’s ‘Two Treatises of Government’ which influenced future liberals thinking on a range of

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