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About this book

Political ideologies shape the behaviour of states, international institutions, terrorist groups, political elites, non-governmental organisations, and other international actors. The book analyses how the most important of them affect today’s world politics, and contribute to build a new and complex world order.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introduction: Ideologies in World Politics

The chapter offers an introduction to the book by defining and problematizing the concepts of ideology and world politics. It also briefly introduces the individual contributions and shows the connections between them.
Klaus-Gerd Giesen

Chapter 2. Islam and Ideology in World Politics

This chapter offers a broad perspective on the ideological use of Islam in a global context. It begins by challenging the perception of the political use of religion in the Muslim world as an Islamic resurgence, because this obscures the continued and continuing political relevance of religion to Muslims throughout history. The chapter surveys the political significance of Islam’s universality claim, both institutionally and symbolically; the conflation and deconflation of religion and statehood; and the post-Cold War role of Islamism on the global stage. To capture the wide variety in which Islam features in public life and international relations, the chapter introduces an alternative taxonomy for categorizing different ways of engaging politically with religion, distinguishing between traditional, reactionary and progressive approaches. It also examines how Sunni-Shi’a polarization features in the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran for control of the Persian Gulf and wider Middle East. The chapter’s scope extends beyond the Middle East to include the most populous Muslim country in the world: Indonesia and the unique dynamics of Islam in this second largest democracy in Asia. It also addresses counter-narratives, such as Post-Islamism and Moderatism.
Carool Kersten

Chapter 3. Humanitarianism and the Migration Crisis

The chapter aims to discuss humanitarianism theoretically and empirically, the ways through which is adapted to changes in the global security environment, and how it faces most recent crises and emergencies, producing capabilities and responses. Humanitarianism is defined here as being a broad and comprehensive set of principles, values and norms which make all people in need deserving protection, relief, and support. This definition is investigated as an ideology, as a set of generalizing ideas designed to explain the social reality (namely conflicts, crises, and emergencies), as well as a practical and operative one, aiming at legitimizing and guiding those political action and decisions designed to mitigate the effects of war and deprivation. Migration is a paradigmatic case study. It represents a humanitarian emergency which has seriously challenged the capacities of the global system to properly manage human mobility.
The chapter aims at contributing to the scholarly debate, by replying to the following research questions:
  • To what extent has humanitarianism changed and adapted to developments in the management of crises and emergencies’?
  • How did this influence human mobility, migrants and refugees’ issues and the policies to cope with them?
  • What innovations have been brought in this policy field, in particular as for actors involved and practices developed?
Daniela Irrera

Chapter 4. Ideology and International Security

This essay examines both the epistemological underpinnings and implications of ideology in international security. It does so with an eye toward assessing the benefits of a constitutive approach, as compared to a causal perspective that understands ideology as falling within a causal-effect cognitive process. We then put our theoretical argument to work by studying neoconservatism’s influence on US foreign policy under George W. Bush. This case allows us to disclose competition between ideologies, understand the role of ideology in the process of decision-making and vet the extent to which ideology acts on policy choices. The essay advocates a social theory of ideology that can tap into the moral stances that shape discussions about ideology in international security.
Thierry Balzacq, Pablo Barnier-Khawam

Chapter 5. Environmental Ideologies in Global Politics

This chapter begins by identifying the main elements of the most prominent groupings of environmental ideologies, drawing attention to the main differences between them as well as those ideas that some of them share. The influence of these ideologies is assessed within different of areas of global politics. This assessment is conducted by determining how well various developments in global politics reflect the positions advocated in each of these ideologies and by seeking evidence of deliberate efforts to promote them. What this survey indicates is that some of these environmental ideologies have had a much greater impact than others, although there has been some variance in each one’s influence over time and depending on the area of global politics one examines. Finally, consideration is given to the proposition that those ideologies whose influence has hitherto been rather limited may experience greater prominence as the nature of global politics evolves.
David J. Blair

Chapter 6. The Ideology of the Global Commons

The degradation of commons, as non-terrestrial spaces accessible to all and owned by none, is a very well known tragedy explored by political theory and IR. But such a tragedy extends environmental issues. Nowadays, their militarization and even their weaponization shows a new interest for these commons, beyond the indifference that explains many behaviors towards them. The United States and the emerging powers tend to appropriate these global commons from high sea to extra-atmospheric space and of course cyber. A new front line arises between freedom of navigation in these spaces and the will of balkanization for protecting sovereignty by several States that adopt access denial grand strategies. A global state of war results from this opposition. It suggests new types of warfare (more opaque and clandestine). This context nourishes a contestation of american domination but also an unprecedented concern: global commons do not embody an object of disinterest but a source of confrontations per se beyond the quarrels of territories which punctuated the history of international relations in modernity.
Frédéric Ramel

Chapter 7. Revisiting and Revising World-Wide Neoliberalism

Ongoing controversies around the existence of neoliberalism can be resolved by way of more clearly delineating the neoliberal core. In addition to key concepts like property rights, freedom of contract and rule of law protecting property owners from discrete political intervention, the opposition to both laisser-faire liberalism and collectivism can be identified as central to the history and variety of neoliberalism within and beyond nation states. At the international level, neoliberals aimed at political arrangements that likewise protect property owners and promote economic globalization through GATT and the WTO, and a range of other international financial and regulatory organizations. To this end, neoliberal thought collectives within and around the Mont Pèlerin Society developed global performance indicators like the Economic Freedom Index, for example, which serve to direct and observe legislative and regulatory reform processes around the globe. Core values, principled beliefs and political approaches of the economic freedom movement subsequently have been institutionalized at the level of global financial institutions, where global performance indicators like the World Bank’s ease to do business index have started to exert epistemic authority way beyond the scope of the original neoliberal thought collectives and yet remain subject to contestations.
Dieter Plehwe

Chapter 8. Exportism as an Ideology in World Politics

Exportism is one of the most powerful ideologies governing the contemporary international political economy, since it has supported the stabilisation of export-driven growth models. The latter pursue a rather unbalanced combination of export-led growth with very little contribution of domestic demand. Core elements of this idea are wage restraint, undervaluation, low inflation guaranteed by independent central banks and low public expenditures. Exportism serves as an ideological glue that holds together the dominant social bloc in export-led economies, consisting of parts of unions, large parts of companies in the production sector as well their corresponding banks, political parties and independent central banks. Exportism, however, comes as a cost, because the pursuit of an unbalanced export-led model leads to economies that are very sensitive to changes in the global economy and can become easy victims of protectionist developments. At the same time, they are unstable because they lack a healthy dose of domestic demand that is typical for more balanced economic models. In recent times, exportism has also become a core ideology with regard to international institutions, given the German success of inscribing exportist ideas into the institutions governing the stabilisation of the Eurozone. Exportism, however, is not a purely European phenomenon but is also to be found in East Asia. In general, the radical pursuit of exportism leads to a rather unstable global economy, because it depends on the ability and willingness of other economies to run permanent deficits—factors that were available for many decades but increasingly look fragile since the establishment of the Trump administration in the US.
Andreas Nölke

Chapter 9. The Transhumanist Ideology and the International Political Economy of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

This chapter examines transhumanism from the perspective of international political economy. It shows in detail that it is a true political ideology which aims at promoting a “New Human Being”. By adopting a problem solving strategy, it fractures into numerous discursive fields specifically adapted to each specific context in order to achieve it. The analysis of the transhumanist discourse shows that it comes with, and justifies an additional commodification of human life as the result of the fourth industrial revolution through a massive use of NBIC technology convergence, leading to an important break within the evolution of capitalism. Hence, transhumanism—having now reached the level of a political “grand plan”—promotes at the international level the interests of the big high-tech multinational business companies which in turn support the world-wide dissemination of the ideology.
Klaus-Gerd Giesen

Chapter 10. The Global Uprising of Populist Conservatism and the Case of Brazil

Taking the case of Jair Bolsonaro as paradigmatic, the chapter argues that “political parasitism” is the fundamental characteristic of any far-right populist elected for the first time President or Prime Minister. Bolsonaro’s “antisystem tactics” benefits from the fact that the “system” continues to work, benefiting at the same time from permanently attacking this same “system” as evil. In Bolsonaro’s case, claiming additionally that the best possible political model for Brazil is represented by the military dictatorship (1964 to 1985). Examining the period prior to the arrival of the pandemic crisis to Brasil—roughly Bolsonaro’s first year as President—the chapter tries to understand the reasons for his victory in the October 2018 election as well as the governing model he established from January 2019 on, when he took office. It shows in which way this initial period is a direct result of the country’s recent history, as well its importance to understanding his way of governing. It shows how this form of governing is tied to wider global processes, prompting comparisons with Trump. Finally, it considers the results under the light of the debates on the crises of democracies.
Marcos Nobre

Chapter 11. Postliberalism in International Affairs

Building on Michel Foucault’s critical analyses of liberalism and neoliberalism, this chapter elaborates the concept of postliberalism as the epistemological if not ideological framework for contemporary global politics. It argues that postliberalism is a new truth regime that entails a new form of government(ality). Whereas liberalism arose in the late 18th century with the probabilistic and pragmatic empiricism of the human sciences and the critique of rationalist absolutism, neoliberalism introduced a social constructivist, relativist critique of liberalism’s naturalization of the market as an arbiter of effective government. Neoliberalism thus reoriented government towards the activist creation and stimulation of a market(ized) society and entrepreneurship of the self. It also made (self-)doubt and salutary crisis a tool of government. Concomitant to the financialization of the international economy and the securitization of international relations, postliberalism breaks with liberal probabilism and neoliberal constructivism, replacing them “plausibilistic” verisimilitude. Thriving in a context of incertitude, it makes crisis not the limit of government but its very essence.
Laurence McFalls
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