Category Archives: First panel session: Political Economy and Security

Twenty First Century Circularity of Change

In his theory of justice, Michael Walzer states that power can only be acquired by those who possess the dominant good of the era. In contemporary society, where money is the current governing resource, those who understand the mechanisms of business and finance have formed an elite whose authority is based on their indispensability to the system. Progressively, these men have upgraded their area of expertise to such a complex level that governments are now dependent of their knowledge in order to maintain a grip on the economy. All this time, the masses are kept unaware of the phenomenon. Conveniently wrapped in terms like ‘decrease’ and ‘recession’, the global financial crisis of 2007/8 and the Euro crisis that followed still remain mysterious concepts to most people, who do not have the vaguest idea about what happens at the top of this new social hierarchy.

Although, recently, movements like ‘Occupy Wall Street’ have shown increased concern among citizens, their eagerness to raise awareness is highly unfocused. Very few people realise that our ambition for awareness does not entail a better degree of understanding. Given that the media floods its public with opinionated oversimplified information, the common man only lives under the impression of having clear views. Regardless of organisations like Anonymous and Wikileaks delivering the wish for transparency and revolution, the sources of manipulation will easily go undetected. Whomever we listen to, there is a risk we will engage in a misguided or illusory pursuit of happiness. Then why not take a step back and look at matters in perspective? Why not realize that, while we are all overthrowing each other, we are chasing after the same dominant good? We are in fact the products of our values and the change we are currently seeking is not radical enough to cancel this circularity.

Andreea Anghel

 

 

 

The securitization of HIV/AIDS: Its impact on norm setting through the provision of aid

Abstract: HIV/AIDS discourse is, to borrow a phrase from Treichler an “epidemic of signification”1. Such discourses construct the social meaning of HIV/AIDS, and the way in which they do so has a profound impact on the approach taken by those who work in the area, from the level of grass-roots activists to government departments. These discourses have created a social/political landscape in which the ‘securitization’2 of HIV/AIDS (the transformation of HIV/AIDS from a health issue to a security issue) is perpetuated (and in turn reinforces the discourses whence it came).

First, this paper examines these discourses, looking at the way in which they contribute to the ‘othering’3 and ‘worlding’4 of those who reside in third world countries, and arguing that the social meaning of HIV/AIDS thus constructed allows securitization to take place.
Second, this paper turns to securitization itself, and argues that it provides a justification for the use of aid to propagate the preferred norms and values of governments, (with a particular focus on the US ‘PEPFAR’ scheme, which Jones and Norton5 argue was used to further an agenda of abstinence, rather than the effective limitation of the spread of HIV/AIDS).

Finally, this paper shows the way in which the securitization of HIV/AIDS can be used to reinforce the very discourses that allow its existence, as it lies at a point of intersection between discourses surrounding race and sexuality, thus constituting a powerful biopolitical tool.

Amanda Moorghen

 

 

 

America: The Foundations of a Cultural Superpower

This paper uses a constructivist framework in order to examine America as a cultural superpower, exploring the dominance of an ‘American identity’ rather than state. In order to do this, the democratising foundations established by Wilson’s XIV Point Plan are determined as a turning point; a transition from isolationism to an active creation of a post-imperial world order, with the ‘American ideal’ as the defining normative principle. This shall be assessed as an evolved form of democratic peace theory in its attempt to establish not merely democratic government in Europe, but an international propagation of the American way of life. This shall act as the historical framework for a contemporary empirical analysis of the reified liberal-democratic ideals in which the ‘American identity’ becomes a collective ‘Western identity’.

The role of international institutions (particularly the World Bank and IMF) shall be used to examine the manner in which the liberalism’s normative spread is ‘encouraged’ in developing nations (e.g. SAPs) and perpetuated in developed nations (eg. the de facto imposition of austerity programs). This shall be used to extrapolate the manner in which ‘culturalisation’ can be deemed to occur through normative neo-liberalism.

Finally, the role of international corporations shall be examined in order to present the idea that the importance of ‘America’ has evolved beyond the boundaries of state to become a central part of Western socio-political culture. Through transnational companies (Apple, Coca-Cola, etc), the dominance of the American ideal is at the centre of Western society, and a normative desire within non-Westernised states (of which Apple’s position in China is ideally illustrative). This shall be used to conclude that notions of America’s national decline in the face of China, India, etc are not reflective of the socio-political reality: that the American ideal is more powerful now than at any other point in history.

Anthony Maher