Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Video: lecture on what's wrong with the democratic-peace hypothesis

     In early November, I gave a talk on the debilities of the democratic peace hypothesis at Illinois State University (many thanks to Amentahru Wahlrab and T.Y. Wang). The youtube address is below.  This hypothesis suggests that parliamentary regimes do not go to war with one another.  In terms of negative consequences, this hypothesis is arguably the saddest fantasy of American political science. It has been used by Presidents Clinton and Bush to justify harmful interventions - aggressions - in other countries, with the suggestion that somehow overthrowing dictatorships (often ones that we have previously aided like Iraq) will somehow at gunpoint lead to democracy.  It has coincided with the overthrow or attempted overthrow of many nonwhite democracies by the United States, for instance, elected Presidents Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti in 2004 and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 2002. For students of American foreign policy to maintain that the American elite is not belligerent toward other democracies takes some choutzpah. In this regard, Obama's ambivalent conduct toward the coup in Honduras is a move toward decency.  See here.

       Now there is an important truth in Kant's vision that republics would be more peaceful through the influence of citizens than monarchies; the latter waste the lives and wealth of subjects in the mere "pleasure party of war."  But in our era, that truth - or a national or international common good or in realist terms, a well-stated national interest - is brought about, to the very limited extent it is, by citizen protest movements from below and not by the policies of an oligarchic elite. In America, the tendency to belligerence is driven by a war complex (shorthand for military-industrial-politician-thinktank "expert"-media complex).  See Must Obama find the "right war"? here.   In contrast, as we can see in the anti-Iraq war movement, the greatest movement against a war before the war started  in the history of the world as Noam Chomsky put it, such protest inspires people in many countries; the good of peace or at least blocking Imperial aggression is international. Those aspirations were also visible in the movements against World War I and World War II, but in this case, the peace movement had no socialist or communist international to facilitate the organizing. It is thus a movement against aggression even more sharply from the grassroots.  This remarkable democratic movement from below would be the kind of thing that social "science," if it were not imaginatively imprisoned by the status quo, as well as political theory, would take up. 

      This talk is related to two previous posts "A Tale of 'Powerful Pacifists': Empire and Political 'Science" here and "Political Science and American aggressions" here and to a paper which will appear next spring in the philosophy journal Ethics and Global Politics and which I will post in a draft form shortly.  If you click on one of the parts, youtube will give you the others and so you can listen to the talk sequentially without returning to this post.   

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDbtiFdqceE

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDHxcJavjb8

Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY_gRdQu-hQ

Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpAjZKNa1ac

Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Du-KAWmyXus

Part 6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuYoTzZRfG4

Part 7: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaZq5LLktOU



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