Symposium on regionalism and the transformation of liberal international order
In the forthcoming issue of Polity (the University of Chicago Press), the symposium focuses on the transformation of the liberal international order through studies of regions located at Europe’s margins, where new dynamics of power relations are on the rise and the appeal of illiberal ideas and forms of governance is growing. The symposium has been put together by Professor Andrey Makarychev from the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies (JSIPS) at UT.
The symposium includes six articles, in which a variety of analytical perspectives on different types, forms, and modalities of regionalism unfold in the institutional, normative, cultural, and economic spaces where Europe meets its neighbors. Two central questions in the contributions are: Is the European Union losing its grip on its periphery? Do the new regionalisms that are emerging contribute to illiberal international relations, liberal international relations, or both?
In his article “From Utopian to Distopian Regionalism: A Study of Unfulfilled Expectations in The Baltic Sea Region,” Andrey Makarychev argues that the Baltic Sea region (BSR) is moving towards a multi-order and multi-layer entity, due to three policy areas: good governance, energy, and security. When it comes to the European Union and Russia as regional actors, the consistency of their approach in BSR depends on the particular policy field: while having good cooperation in one sector, they can be “reluctantly cooperative” or non-cooperative in others. While the three regionalisms are an obstacle to developing a coherent region-wide agenda, detaching security from the other policy fields actually helps avoid geopolitical conflict between Russia and the West.
The article by Shota Kakabadze, a PhD researcher at JSIPS, examines the ways that the republics of South Caucasus position themselves on the East-West nexus in the age of post-liberal world order. Relying on the notion of stigma, Kakabadze analyses the policies of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan and finds that countries use multiple liminal strategies in their discourses. He also finds that the European Union does not have normative power as a region builder in the South Caucasus, due to the simultaneous inclusion and exclusion of the Eastern Partnership countries by the EU. It is thus difficult to speak of the South Caucasus as one region, because the EU has failed to create a shared region agenda.
In the article “Transition and Regional Cooperation in Central Asia: What Can They Tell Us about the (Post-)Liberal World Order?” Leonardo Pataccini (JSIPS) and Numonjon Malikov (University of World Economy and Diplomacy, Uzbekistan) analyse Central Asia as a region between multiple regional actors. They argue that the Central Asian countries have never been part of the currently liberal Western hegemony, and their divergent paths of national transition now have to coexist with the interests of Russia and China, which makes for a complex web of economic and political interdependence and interaction in a region that is far from unitary.
In the concluding analysis, Aliaksei Kazharski (Comenius University Bratislava) and Andrey Makarychev sum up by proposing a dichotomy of “thick” and “thin” liberalism, as a possible alternative to post-idealist liberalism. While thick liberalism presupposes liberal democracy as the “default domestic political norm and the Western model of liberal capitalism as the consensual model for organizing economic life,” thin liberalism relaxes these standards and would allow for greater variety both in economic as well as political dimensions. They argue that the concept of liberalism is in the process of redefinition and cannot be used as a fixed reference point.
Full references to all articles in the Symposium:
Andrey Makarychev, “Introduction: “Bad Weather” Regionalism and the Post-Liberal International Order at Europe’s Margins”, Polity 52 (2020), https://doi.org/10.1086/707789
Andrey Makarychev, “From Utopian to Distopian Regionalism: A Study of Unfulfilled Expectations in The Baltic Sea Region,” Polity 52 (2020), https://doi.org/10.1086/707790
Aliaksei Kazharski, “An Ad Hoc Regionalism? The Visegrád Four in the ‘Post-Liberal’ Age,” Polity 52 (2020), https://doi.org/10.1086/708182
Shota Kakabadze, “The East in the West: South Caucasus Between Russia and the European Union,” Polity 52 (2020), https://doi.org/10.1086/708183
Leonardo Pataccini and Numonjon Malikov, “Transition and Regional Cooperation in Central Asia: What Can They Tell Us about the (Post-)Liberal World Order?” Polity 52 (2020), https://doi.org/10.1086/708184
Aliaksei Kazharski and Andrey Makarychev, “Concluding Analysis,” Polity 52 (2020), https://doi.org/10.1086/708214