The Liberal International Order and Peaceful Change - Values, visions, and passions
Ernst Haas was ahead of his time when he focused on emotions to explain peaceful change, but he was wrong about which emotions matter. What matters for achieving peaceful change is pride and enthusiasm rather than frustration and disappointment
The essay is part of a Roundtable on “International Institutions and Peaceful Change,” edited Kai He, T. V. Paul and Anders Wivel . The essay focuses on the role of institutions as agents of peaceful change. The essay emphasizes the importance of human emotions to better understand the less quantifiable but nevertheless important conditions for being able to sustain initiatives for peaceful change. In doing so the essay points to the often overlooked psychological and emotional hurdles standing in the way of peaceful change. The essay returns to the pioneering work of Ernst Haas and his important concept of “spillover”, showing that the neofunctional understanding of spillover was a theoretically important innovation, but that it was missing three essential elements: an understanding of the need for positive emotions and ontological security; an understanding of the link between values and identity; and a realization of the importance of a shared vision for the “good life.”
To illustrate the problems with Haas's version of spillover, but also to highlight the significant potential of Haas’s original writings, the essay turns to the crisis of the liberal international order as an example of a forum where the ability to undertake peaceful change seems to be faltering. The essay concludes that the ability of the liberal order to effect peaceful change is hampered because the order is characterized by negative emotions, contested values, and a vision of the “good life” that is seen as mainly a benefit for the cosmopolitan elite.