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Globalisation and peace in the twenty-first century: a structuralist approach

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The potentially disruptive trends of globalisation.
    1. The issue of trade.
    2. Trade and war: The lessons of history.
    3. The liberal view of free trade as a factor of peace.
    4. The alternative view of free trade as a threat to international stability.
    5. The issue of cultural globalisation.
    6. The classical view of cultural globalisation as a factor of peace.
    7. The alternative view of cultural globalisation as a potential threat to international security.
  3. Civilising globalisation.
    1. Regulating trade.
    2. The case for reforming the world economic system.
    3. International integration organisations as a way to civilise globalisation and international relations.
    4. The need for world governance.
    5. Multilateralism and legitimacy.
    6. Multilateralism and efficiency.
  4. Conclusion.
  5. Bibliography/notes.

In his Glance at today's world (1931), French poet Paul Valà ry wrote "Le temps du monde fini commence" (1). By "monde fini", he meant that the world now had well-established geographical limits, implying there was no more Terra incognita or utopia where to transpose our dreams, either in reality or mentally, and that countries were to become increasingly interdependent. Problems were to become world-scale ones, which should only be dealt with on the international level, through an increased cooperation between states. At the eve of this new century, the first part of Valà ry's prediction has come true. For a number of technological and political reasons, the world has come through a process of cultural and economic "globalisation" which has not yet come to an end. By "globalisation", I mean the increasing economic interdependence and the multiplication of trade and cultural relations between regions of the world that barely had any contacts a century ago. Now, trying to know if the 21st century be less conflictual than the 20th makes it necessary to examine the long-term trends of world politics, such as globalisation. Globalisation will certainly go on in the 21st century, and we need to know if it will be more a factor of peace or a factor of trouble. Many politicians, economists and IR theorists argue that globalisation is a factor of peace, arguing that increased economic interdependence cannot but lead countries to cooperate.

[...] International integration organisations as a way to civilise globalisation and international relations As the nation-state is doubtlessly not the right unit to tackle economic problems nowadays (national economic and financial self-help have proved themselves counterproductive : if everyone takes protectionist measures, then everyone loses), the most probable alternative apart from a World Trade Organisation unable to take in account the diversity of its member-states and applying the same measures to all lies in regional organisations, such as the North American Free Trade Association or the European Union. [...]

[...] Now these policies, although legitimate from a purely ?accountant? point of view, often have disruptive effects on states : - Civil servants, whose wages are frozen or who do not get paid for a number of months, may turn to corruption (especially in countries where there is no real transparency of public administrations.) - The state may have to dismantle its welfare system, or neglect infrastructures, which undermines its development and breeds resentment among its population, especially if economic problems are intertwined with ethnic strife and dictatorship thus making international (especially intrastate ones) more likely. [...]

[...] In his work on The International Economy, economist Philippe Legrain rightly states that ?Western ideas about liberalism and science are taking root almost everywhere.? Whether they argue cultural globalisation makes people more tolerant by connecting cultures and promoting diversity, or by making societies more alike, liberals believe this ongoing process is a good thing for world peace : societies that have come to know each other, or which now share the same values, are less likely to go to war than alien societies with no common values. [...]

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