Debating liberalism and political economy in the changing global order


University of British Columbia

Date Issued


Document Type



Master of Laws - LLM




In the first chapter, this thesis exemines the legal, political and economic foundations of the liberal state. Drawing upon the works of Hobbes, Locke, Hume and Rousseau the first chapter focuses upon how the idea of natural "good" was replaced by a political "right" manifested through the law. In chapter one, the thesis criticises neo-liberalism and corporate theory in their attempts to strip nature of all intrinsic values except self-preservation. In the context of neo-liberal domination, the first chapter further argues that the legal and political foundations of the liberal state have been miscast. It defends reform liberalism against criticisms and attacks the assumption common to such criticisms that the landscape of liberalism is barren ethically. From this perspective, the second chapter injects competing neo-liberal and reform-liberal ideas into debates about the role of the state and systems of governance in, what is claimed to be, the globalized world. Troubled as the years of nationhood have been, the thesis suggests that it is misleading to summarize contemporary transformations in legal, political and economic systems under the term "globalization". The changes in the global order do not imply the withering away of the nation-state, but rather suggest a re-interpretation and transformation of its role. Besides the nation-state, macro-regional and local entities are emerging as the new sources of political, legal and economic identity. In the third chapter, the thesis explores the nature, content and legal aspects of privatization as the dominant and hugely misused tool of liberal policy. The thesis discusses the analytical framework of the term "privatization" and suggests that privatization may not be regarded exclusively as an economic process but rather should be seen as a policy tool with political, legal, economic and ethical repercussions. In chapter three, the thesis further suggests an elusive line between public and private ownership and argues that the state has direct or indirect rights in practically every economic activity under its jurisdiction, whether undertaken by individuals or public authorities. Our demand for democratization and "liberalization" of liberalism should not be devoted only to the improvement of economic efficiency and the empowerment of private ownership, but rather to the affirmation of the public sphere and changes in the structures of power. The thesis approaches ideology, government and ownership from a theoretical perspective that sees law as a constitutive part of the political, social and economic field.


Liberalism; International economic relations; World politics; Privatization

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