Rethinking the Multilateral Order Between Liberal Internationalism and Neoliberalism/Neoliberalisation Processes

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

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Rethinking the Multilateral Order Between Liberal Internationalism and Neoliberalism/Neoliberalisation Processes


  • Karim Knio Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands


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Abstract:  Discourses on multilateralism and liberal internationalism are replete with warnings about crises. However, theories often only address crises in pragmatic terms, as if they were discreet and isolated phenomena that have little to do with globalized structural tendencies and the specific limitations of knowledge production within the field of international relations (IR). This article initiates a process of reflection on the nature of the crisis of liberal internationalism and the multilateral world order with the help of the pedagogy of crises framework. It identifies the biases contained within IR research and knowledge production as integral to the crises themselves because of the limitations of their engagement with crises solely at the crisis management level. Acknowledging and situating these biases allows us to build a perspective around the notion of crisis of crisis management. This perspective entails a combination of the study of liberal internationalism and neoliberalism to better explain the nature and dynamics of the multilateral world order. This endeavour can offer a fresh take on analysing case studies related to developing countries and outlines a critical focus to inform further research. A brief review of the Chilean example is featured to support this argument, as it shows how the processes that unfold within the multilateral world order are articulated within a local context, and also points to the intimate relations between knowledge production and policy implementation. The article demonstrates the impossibility of understanding the multilateral world order without due consideration of the dialectical relationship between neoliberalism and liberal internationalism. Historically, analyses have focused on neoliberalism as something embedded within liberal internationalism while, in fact, processes of neoliberalisation have become a framework of reference in themselves. That is to say, liberal internationalism, and the study of it, are but a few of the elements that comprise contemporary neoliberalism. Given this, it is argued that systematic academic engagement with neoliberalism/neoliberalisation is essential for a proper understanding of the multilateral world order.

Keywords:  commodification; crisis management; developing countries; knowledge production; liberal internationalism; marketisation; multilateralism; neoliberalisation; neoliberalism; world order

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v10i2.5116


© Karim Knio. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.