Democracy, the Arab Spring and the Future (Great Powers) of International Politics: A Structural Realist Perspective
DOI: 10.1080/02589346.2013.798461
Title: Democracy, the Arab Spring and the Future (Great Powers) of International Politics: A Structural Realist Perspective
Journal Title: Politikon: South African Journal of Political Studies
Volume: Volume 40
Issue: Issue 2
Publication Date: August 2013
Start Page: 299
End Page: 318
Published online: 22 Jul 2013
ISSN: 0258-9346
Author: Eben Coetzee*
Abstract: Liberal optimism about the future of world affairs continues to pervade discourse on international politics. Recent events, notably the Arab Spring, have ostensibly justified such optimism and have further bolstered democratic-peace-inspired notions of permanent peace. I challenge the validity of this optimism by drawing on Kenneth Waltz's structural realist theory and by arguing that, irrespective of the future democratisation of the world, the future of international politics is bound to be marked by increased complexity. This conclusion is buttressed by three observations: one, the crux of liberal optimism, i.e. democratic-peace theory, is flawed; two, the state of liberal Democracy within and beyond areas common to liberal thought is highly problematic; and three, with respect to international peace, the future (liberal) democratisation of China, Russia or of whomever else will matter less than usually presumed. In more ways than one, the future of international politics is likely to resemble its conflict-prone past.

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