The Normative Shift by Coral Bell Summary
The only constant on planet earth is time, and as long as the clock is ticking, there will always be things changing. It’s the natural effect from time and this holds true in the international scene. The changes that I’m speaking of regard norms expected and required behaviors. There are norms in all facets of life; domestic, international, and even social. While we grow accustomed to the ones around us today, there will be a shift soon and Coral Bell looks to analyze that in here piece. She believes there is a normative shift in regards to international norms.
Bell states in here piece when speaking about the normative shift “by which I mean simply the social process of changing domestic or international rules about what is deemed acceptable or unacceptable behavior”(Bell). The shift that she that states she sees is from a “realist/nationalist” norms to an alternative which is called “cosmopolitan” or “internationalist”. Basically the shift is from a world where states where the rational actors who made every big shift. But now the world has shifted to a more universal model which includes all sovereign states.
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There are three factors for this shift which she identifies as the “institutionalization of diplomacy”, the end of the cold war/the beginning of a unipolar world, and the most important in her mind, the information/communications revolution. By institutionalization of diplomacy she means that all countries realized they needed to trade with each other for success and you must have diplomatic relations to ensure good trade. When the cold war ended and the United State took over as the unipolar power, there was a huge difference internationally.
As America tried to institute democracy worldwide they were seen as imperialists and treated as enemies or bullies. The third and most important factor from Coral Bell is the information/communications revolution which she states is created from the universalization of the internet empowering every international society and promotes a cosmopolitan world which is 1 world, unified. If global security is to be developed the international political actors of the time must push morally sound polices that push towards some version of global justice and equality.
For such an agenda to be developed, it is essential to establish a shared set of norms and values without a state as the actor as to contain interests that plague all of humanity rather than certain states. Cosmopolitism is the key to humanity’s existence and will show a normative shift of values in the next century. I believe there will be a normative shift in values of international politics because of advent of technology, promotion of diplomacy and a unipolar power.
Bell supports these in her piece but I plan to expand on them now using factors to support her such as the Kantian triangle and Democratic peace theory. Technology has been developing since the beginning of mankind, and it hasn’t slowed down since. The internet was the biggest invention to affect the international world ever. It created a seamless connection worldwide which let people communicate throughout the world. It opened up paths to a more peaceful world and a more peaceful existence. The internet has been used as a tool which empowers any international civil society.
But the Kantian triangle shows the system in which cosmopolitism operates. For those of you that are unaware, Immanual Kant created a theory of perpetual world piece that required all countries to share the same form of government, become economically interdependent, and be apart of a transnational organization which polices all. The Kantian triangle is a famous model for peace that has exponentially grown in popularity since World War II. The idea of fighting wars isn’t popular in democratic run countries and that shift has been seen worldwide.
Cosmopolitism and the Kantian triangle work hand in hand in the case of fighting wars. The normative shifts that have developed to support the Kantian triangle include anti-slavery norm in the 19th century, the declination of war norm, anti-colonialism norm, and last but not least the environmental policy norm. All four have been the biggest shifts of the past two hundred years and all show how the world can change its views. If there is ever a cosmopolitan world which is peaceful it must be supported by the three pillars of the Kantian triangle.
Another paradigm which supports cosmopolitism is the Democratic Peace theory, which simply states that all liberal democracies do not have the ability to go to war with each other. The peace theory works because democratic leaders share a set of norms in which they operate. These are domestic norms, but have been established as international norms because there are so many powerful actors who are liberal democracies. For example ever since the British created an anti-slavery norm in the early seventeenth century, the rest of the world has followed suit and there is a lot more racial equality in the world.
When another country does not share the same form of norms, war is a lot more likely. This is purely because misperceptions are the leading cause of wars (Jervis). Misperceptions can come in all shapes and forms but in the case of war there is far more severity than in most situations. Misperceptions are usually common when you don’t understand the subject and when a democracy goes to war with a non-democracy they don’t share the same set of norms, war can get out of hand very quickly.
Russet connects this in his article on Democratic Peace theory in what he calls the “Cultural/Normative Model”. The model states that decision makers follow historical norms, they assume the other countries will also follow historical norms, democratic countries will look for diplomatic resolutions but other countries will not which creates confusion and most likely a surprise attack. As the world keeps on turning there will always be war and there will always be individuals who try to seize power.
But the question has arisen, will there ever be an overarching form of government which dictates international policy and holds all national actors accountable? Will the act of warfare exist in the next century? Both are very hard questions to answer but I believe that cosmopolitism will continue to develop to create a one world, euphoric international government which holds all countries accountable to create a peaceful harmonious world due to the Kantian triangle and the Democratic peace theory.