G. John Ikenberry on Liberal Internationalism

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By Justin Kempf. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Democracy is often imagined at its purest at a micro level. Town hall meetings are sometimes imagined as a simpler form of democratic governance, so international relations can feel as though it is miles away from democracy. Andy yet, it is the international liberal order which has brought about the vast proliferation of democracy around the world.

My guest, John Ikenberry, notes “Liberal democracy was both a national and an international project… Its institutions and ideals were premised on an expanding world of trade, exchange, and community.” Scholars talk about liberal democracy. Sometimes it is not clear whether liberalism depends on democracy or democracy depends on liberalism. It’s easy to assume liberalism is necessary to limit the dangers of democracy, but one of my favorite scholars, Sheri Berman, explains, “Liberalism unchecked by democracy can easily deteriorate into oligarchy or technocracy.” The two are linked.

G. John Ikenberry has written about liberal internationalism since the 1980s. He is a giant in the field of international relations. He is a Professor of Politics and International Relations at Princeton University and the author of the new book A World Safe for Democracy: Liberal Internationalism and the Crisis of Global Order. Our conversation explores political theory and international theory, but also American history and current events.

This is the first of my three-part episode arc about the global ascendance of China called “Liberalism, Capitalism, Communism.” We do not discuss China until the end of the conversation. This is not by accident. The purpose of this episode is to offer context. It’s impossible to grasp the impact of China until we explain the liberal international order and its importance.

My hope is you will have a stronger sense of what is at stake as we discuss China with two different scholars who have very different perspectives. This is a great conversation and a wonderful introduction for the next two weeks.
Thanks to Apes of the State for permission to use their tracks "The Internet Song" and "Bill Collector's Theme Song." You can find their music on Spotify or their Bandcamp.
Please visit my blog at www.democracyparadox.com. I have written 80 reviews of both classic and contemporary works of political science with an emphasis on democracy. This week I reviewed Mark Beissinger's Nationalist Mobilization and the Collapse of the Soviet State. Please visit the website and read my book reviews. And don't forget to subscribe to keep up with future episodes.

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