Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
Since the interwar period, Germans antagonized liberalism which had a strong English orientation, warring against it militarily and ideologically through Nazism. Neo-liberalism has matured to stand dominant and authoritarian, peerless in national and international politics – not only that, it cemented and integrated itself via neo-liberal institutionalism into the international framework, totally subjecting other systems. Another causant for neo-liberalism’s ascendancy is attributed to the fall of Communism destroying along with it the bi-polarity of the world dominance. Communism’s overthrow ushers in a Western triumphalism, ironically ushering in a totalitarian, neo-liberal system.
The emergence of neo-liberalism can be traced from the waning of socialism, where capitalism vanquished it during the Cold War. The collapse of Communism triggered capitalism’s pre-eminence as democratic governments permanently installed capitalism into its socio-economic structure. What astounds thinkers and critical observers is that neo-liberalism is mysteriously unquestioned and universalized, standing out among other ideologies. This universal, neo-liberal doctrine boasts of and has been characterized by truth, objectivity (rationality) and progress.
Another superlative trait of neo-liberalism is its Anglo-Saxony or Anglo-Americanness, merely reflecting the order of the current world. Although purporting freedom to be one of its greatest hallmarks, Neo-liberalism has succeeded in cloaking and advancing the interests of the few and the powerful. Other ideologies empowering neo-liberalism are neo-conservatism, Christian democracy and social democracy. Neo-liberalism reflects and justifies other fundamental structures which both enable and constrain market(s). It expresses its doctrines as a given and must be accepted. Western ideology meshes with liberal modernity and can only be understood in a larger context. In turn, neo-liberalism validates itself and legitimizes itself as a shaper, moulding and imposing values, embraced as universal truths. E.g. US superpower, these truths are self-evident.
Western modernity is another key contributor to Western ideology, mainly constituted on the grounds of Christianity. Christianised structures ensured an East-West polarization (see Eastern religion Buddhism; Hinduism; and Islam). In addition, revolutionized systems coupled with Christianity give birth to another strand in Western ideology – Christian democracy (and infused in into its politics, education and economy). Juggernaut European states claimed and commanded superiority; however these states are not united. On the other side, the US, the child of Europe has the attributes it needed to wield world power and attain global reach: European creeds and nationalism. The US is violently opposed to hierarchy, the French ancien régimes, Nazism, and fascism; it could exert influence and brute force to democratise, institutionalize (spreading and imposing) Western ideology, and revolutionize (through its adoption of French and English Revolutionary and Enlightenment values). From this, one has a specially branded US neo-liberalism which simultaneously evolves, perpetuates and transforms. The liberal political economy is centered on openness of market and openness of mind (innovation and creativity).
One of the greatest critiques of western ideology proceeds primarily from Counter-Enlightenment thinkers which cast in doubt the theory of rational or logical progress. Also critics are opposed to the trend of Western ideology to transition from modern nationalism to cosmopolitanism. Another critique of Western ideology is the survival and even flourishing of ancien-regimes (modern oligarchy) embedded in the conservative politics. Socialists are different, they object to modern liberalism through Western ideology but end up complementing it – asserting that it has socialism possesses the keys to fulfill the promise of liberalism by addressing social inequalities, advocating social emancipation and removing the barriers of class/ social stratification. Socialism recognizes that institutions and private property laws have been an underlying agent that discriminate and work against the masses.
Post-modernism questions Western ideology and the authority for neo-liberalism (From which authority does neo-liberalism proceed?). Post-modernist thought (the inveterate sceptic) rejects truth, objectivity, universality and the definite. Instead, post-modernism challenges Western ideology by embracing pluralism, multilateralism, and relativism. Another fallacy of Western ideology is that most societies are not modern but in transition to full modernity.
Neo-liberalism has succeeded in both westernizing and polarizing the East and the West. Irrespective of political convictions or location, left or right, democratic or authoritarian – all must operate under a uniform and global capitalism, with capitalist policies and institutionalised embeddedness – all of which merely reflect US priorities, interests, agenda. With concern, Gamble observes the growing unilateralist policy of the US, along with a plurality and multilateralism which engraves the citizens of the world with the image of America via cosmopolitan liberalism and hardening of moral norms to legal norms. Meanwhile, Western ideology via Neo-liberalism continues to strive towards perpetual world peace and enlightenment thought in which issues such as security, economy, environment and specific problems are brought to the table.
None of these problems are a product of liberal modernity. It is the particular intersection of capitalism, science and democracy that has given rise to an ever-expanding global market, an ever-increasing rate of technological change, and an ever-rising demand for individual rights and political self-determination. The solutions cannot be simply technical or market solutions, they have first to be political solutions. To solve them would require at the very least new global public spaces for deliberation, new transnational agencies, acceptance of new international laws binding national governments, and new global public realm where differences could be accommodated and the basis for consensus and legitimacy for transnational action could be created. Kant rejected the case for a single world government, wisely it might be thought in view of the history of the last two hundred years. A world government still appears a utopian prospect. Kant favoured instead the building of a league of nation-states, composed of republican states able to trust one another and committed to a set of universal principles that would allow the gradual subjection of international relations to the rule of law…
It may also be fanciful to think that they can be addressed by adopting cosmopolitan principles. But notwithstanding the difficulties it would seem our best hope, perhaps our only hope. A realistic cosmopolitanism accepts the continued existence of nation-states as the fundamental source of political legitimacy and identity, but seeks to supplement them with a range of new institutions and public spaces at regional and global levels
The way forward is not to impose a version of the western ideology on everybody else and oblige everyone to become western. What is needed is to distinguish between the genuinely universal aspects of the western ideology, those that need to be accepted as the common basis for all societies that make the transition to modernity, and those aspects that are related to particular historical features of European societies. Different cultures have no problem in discussing basic human values and in agreeing what are the most important ones. Such a universalist perspective has been explicit in the United Nations Charter from the beginning. What is proving much harder is moving to the next stage.