‘Increasingly liberal, capitalist, stable and rich’. Critically assess this characterization of the modern international system

Increasingly liberal, capitalist, stable and rich’. Critically assess this characterization of the modern international system.

QUESTION

‘Increasingly liberal, capitalist, stable and rich’. Critically assess this characterization of the modern international system.

In addition to module material, you must also refer to and discuss material drawn from outside the module including at least one academic journal article and one other online source.

Approach
The statement in the question reflects views such as those of Francis Fukuyama, which were used to introduce the flat or uneven debate (Week 5). Liberal ideas about the spread of liberal democracy, the claim that this will lead to greater stability in the international system, and economic analyses (such as neoclassical economics) and evidence that the world is becoming richer all form part of the context for this statement. In critically assessing it, you will need to unpack the components of the statement and evaluate them (are they all accurate?) as well as consider the plausibility of the overall claim about the trajectory of change that they present.
Key challenges to the statement can come in the form of detailed consideration of the different components (whether the states in the international system are more liberal, more democratic and richer) as well as broader challenges to this notion of change. Here, the Marxist idea of uneven and combined development is a key contribution you should consider. It suggests that a focus on the spread of capitalism need not necessarily go together with an assumption about the spread of liberal democracy, wealth or stability. The ideas about networks and global civil society, as well as the evidence of political instability, could all be used to present a different view of the trajectory of change, as could realist ideas, which were introduced in Block 1 and touched on again in Block 2.
In tackling a question such as this, you will need to give careful thought to overall essay structure as well as selection of the material you want to draw on. Don’t feel that you have to try to include everything in the block in your essay. Instead, select those areas that allow you to develop and present your analysis of the statement given.
A rounded answer will require good organization and synthesis, and comparison of different ideas.
Finally, in your answer you need to refer to and discuss two non-module sources – at least one academic journal article and at least one other web-based source. You can also draw from the further sources suggested in the block including sources of up-to-date data. Searching, evaluating and finding sources.

KEY SOURCES:

• Chapter 4 ‘A world after its own image? The state system, capitalism and unevenness’, which reviews the political evolution of the modern international system
• Chapter 5 ‘Divergence or convergence in the international economy?’, which looks at the historical record of economic change between the component national economies of the international system and different economic theories about future convergence or divergence
• Chapter 6 ‘When it all kicks off: revolution, social protest and networks in international politics’, which focuses on the question of political instability and its impact on international relations
• Chapter 7 ‘Theoretical reflections: Marxism and network theory’ covers Marxist ideas that are directly related to the question and ideas about networks that present a different view of the trajectory of change from the one in the question

Please use chapters 4 to 7 for reference as well as three external sources

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