206817659765150001134110455004864735Theories of INTERNATIONAL RELATIONSREALISM
7340036300Theories of INTERNATIONAL RELATIONSREALISM
Main theoretical assumptions of Realism and how does it differ from Idealism.
TOC o “1-3” h z u 1. Introduction PAGEREF _Toc518228855 h 21.2 What is a theory and what are the main theories of international relations? PAGEREF _Toc518228856 h 32. Realism PAGEREF _Toc518228857 h 42.1 What is realism? PAGEREF _Toc518228858 h 42.2 Six principles of Morgenthau PAGEREF _Toc518228859 h 52.3 Assumptions of realism PAGEREF _Toc518228860 h 72.4 Neorealism PAGEREF _Toc518228861 h 93. Power PAGEREF _Toc518228862 h 104. Idealism PAGEREF _Toc518228863 h 124.1What is idealism? PAGEREF _Toc518228864 h 124.2 Main assumptions of the idealist theory. PAGEREF _Toc518228865 h 135. Differences between idealism and realism PAGEREF _Toc518228866 h 156. Conclusion PAGEREF _Toc518228867 h 167.References PAGEREF _Toc518228868 h 17
1. Introduction International relations is the study of relationships among nations. In other words it is the study of interstate relationships. In here these relationships are mainly described via national interest and power. Many philosophers and social scientists have different views on international relations. For example Stanley Hoffmann, Holsti, Quency Wright, Fredrick Hartmann and etc…had given different definitions on international relations.
In order to understand the relations among states and to analyze the international system many approaches and theories are used by the scholars. As a result we can see multiple number of paradigms or schools of thoughts in the international system to understand the world. In this document I’m going to discuss about the international relation theories focusing on the main traditional theories of idealism and realism. And also I’m going to discuss about the concept of power in realism. Couple with that at the end there will be a comparison between the above mentioned theories of IR.
1.2 What is a theory and what are the main theories of international relations? A theory is an idea or a view used to account for a situation or to justify a course of action. In other words it can be said that a theory is the generalized ideas of data. In the field of international relations (IR) a theory is use to explain how the international system works. And also through the theories of international relations we are able to understand the world around us with different lenses, since different perspectives are represented by each theory. According to Ole Holsti international relation theories act like a pair of sunglasses that allows the wearer to see only salient events relevant to the theory. This statement indirectly implies that no single theory can always explain everything.
There are many theories and approaches used in International Relations. And as a result multiple number of schools of thoughts were established in the international system. And these theories mainly come under classical theories, scientific theories modernist theories and post-modernist theories. Considering those categories Marxism, feminism, constructivism and liberalism can be presented as some major theories found in international relations. Other than these theories there are two major theories in international relations. Those theories can be identified as the basic theories of international theories. And these two theories come under the traditional or classical theories of international relations. They are as follows,
Idealism was the first theory emerged in international relations, and it was labeled as a utopian theory while realism emerged as a response to the idealist theory after the cold war. Realism was labeled as an empirical theory which was more practical than the idealist theory.
2. Realism2.1 What is realism?Realism is a political concept, however it also can be determined as a traditional theory in International Relations. Realism developed as a theory during the 17th and 18th century and became famous by 20th century. And also it seems to be that realism was emerged as a response to the idealist theory. Realist theory is based on the nature and behavior of states. Therefore in realism “state” acts as the primary actor in the international scenario. In addition to this in realism they focus on the human behavior and nature. According to realists human nature is flawed and selfish. Realists define International Relations in terms of “power”. To that end realists primarily emphasize on national interest, power politics, security and centrality of nation state.
According to realist theorists world should be viewed as how it currently exists, and not how one imagines or wants it to be. Though the name “realism” came into use after 2nd world war period it seems to be that this realist idea was there among the early political philosophers also. Kautilya’s “Arthashastraya” which was written during the 4th century BC is a good example to prove the above mentioned point.
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469 –1527), Thomas Hobbes (1588 –1679), E.H Carr (1892 –1982), Hans Morgenthau (1904 – 1980) and Kenneth Waltz (1924 – 2013) are some well-known realists in International Relations. Among them E.H Carr and Hans de Morgenthau are known as the founders of classical realism. And Kenneth Waltz can be identified as an initiator in Neorealism. According to the classical realists such as Morgenthau and Reinhold Niebuhr war is the final product of the selfishness of states. In addition to that they believed in the constancy of human nature, which could be good and bad. However in neorealism, realists like Kenneth Waltz ignored human nature and focused on the effects of anarchy on the international system.
2.2 Six principles of MorgenthauMorgenthau had introduced 6 principles as the base of realism. They are as follows,
Politics governed by objective laws based on human nature.
According to Morgenthau politics or the international system was controlled by the objective laws. And these laws were based on human nature. Since the classical period human nature is a constant one, the laws which the society was governed were identified as eternal laws. As a result Morgenthau further stated that in order to build a better world those laws should be followed without reasoning them. The society which Morgenthau defined was governed by the concept of “power”. Power also can be identified as an objective law. Hence human nature is rude and selfish according to Morgenthau, imposing power to govern human society was justified by his view. One can understand and study International Politics or International relations by understanding these objective laws. In order to understand these objective laws they have to study about the history of human relations.
Morgenthau defines national interest in terms of power. Accordingly statesmen or state leaders acts, in order to achieve these national interests. And it portrays the use of power in achieving the national interests. As a result national interest can be define in terms of power.
No fixed meaning for national interest.
According to Morgenthau national interest change with the changes in the environment. Whereas human actions are based on their interests and these human actions directly affects the political, cultural and economic aspects of a state, which are generally identified as the national interests. To that end national interest affects by the political actions taken nationally or internationally. As a result Morgenthau further implies that the environment plays an important role in determining the national interest.
Incapability of abstract moral principles.
In here Morgenthau depicts that universal moral principles cannot be applied to actions of states. Because human moral values differ from the political moral values as the primary responsibility of a state is to satisfy and protect their national interest. As a result according to realism ‘prudence’ gets an important place rather than moral principles. Because realists consider prudence as a weighing of the consequences of alternative political actions, therefore they regard prudence as a supreme virtue in politics.
Difference between moral aspiration of a nation and universal moral values.
Actions of a state is always based on their national interest. And they use power in order achieve their national interests and for the safeguard of it. As a result nation states might act ignoring the moral values in their journey to achieve national interest.
Morgenthau believed that field of politics is autonomous as the economic and legal field. To that point economists define utility in terms of wealth likewise national interest is defined in terms of power. This does not mean that there are no other alternatives to define politics or national interest but it means that all the definitions should be based on the view of political autonomy.
By considering the above mentioned points it seems to be that Morgenthau’s realism is based on the following assumptions,
Statesmen’s desire to pursue their national interest.
The interest of nations lies in expansion of their power and influence through economically, politically, culturally and territorially.
States use their power in order to protect their nation and to fulfill their other interests.
2.3 Assumptions of realismRealist theory is based on some assumptions, and these assumptions helps the scholars to understand the international system in a realist view.
State is the most important actor in International politics
(The state is a unitary and rational actor.)
According to realists “Nation state” plays an important role in the international system. And also state is considered as a unitary and rational actor. To that end, states are autonomous as they have the sovereignty power. As a result they try to pursue their national interest by acting as a rational individual. Foreign policy of state is a reflection of their national interest. Accordingly they use foreign policy as tool to fulfil their national interest. However realists believe that nation state had become influential because of their economic and military power. Taking this to consideration realists gave a minor place to individuals and non-governmental organizations in the international system.
International system is an anarchy.
Realists believe that international system as an anarchy. However according to realist this anarchic situation is not about complete chaos or the absence of structure and rule. It is about the lack of a central governing authority who can implement rules. Nevertheless in such a situation states of the system may compete with each for security, market, influence and survival. And also in such a situation power become a comparative one as the power of one state is countered only by the power of another state. As a result the state with more power can survive in the international system. In addition to that realists consider prudence as a significant virtue in foreign policy in this anarchic world.
Human nature is selfish.
Machiavelli stated that human nature is fickle, false, and brutish since the past. And Thomas Hobbes stated that human nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short in his book “Leviathan”. Taking above statements to consideration it seems to be that these behaviors or the nature of humans affects the behavior of a state as the state is a cluster of individuals. The selfishness creates the desire for power among nations and gradually that desire become the desire of the state which is known as the national interest. And states are trying to pursue their interests using foreign policies and by any other mean.
War is inevitable.
As mentioned above human nature is selfish and greedy. As a result of that they try to accumulate power and expand their power in the international system using various tools.in here power can be the interests of the nation or the state. War can be identified as a product of that power struggle of selfish humans. Wars that were recorded since the ancient times are good examples to prove the above mentioned fact (eg: world wars). However according to realists war cannot be stopped or diminish from the world because war is a product of power struggle. And that power struggle is something that never going to end.
A theory is something that changes with time and the environment. Because new theories are formed as a result of grudges between the assumptions of the theory and the novel views of the world. This can happen inside the same theory itself. To that end realism also had two traditions as classical realism and neorealism. Classical realism was established during the 17th and 18th century while neorealism was established during the post-cold war period. Classical realism was taken under the guidance of Morgenthau and Kenneth Waltz is known as the initiator of neorealism.
Neorealism can be identified as a reinvention of the realism. Another name for neorealism is structural realism. Neorealism or the structural realism is mainly based on effects of the structure of the international system in explaining the outcomes of international politics. According to Waltz, neorealism was mainly focused on the anarchic nature and the power distribution or the balance of power in the international system. However there are some differences between the classical realism and the neorealism. To that end, classical realists mainly focused on the human nature, but Kenneth Waltz ignored the human nature and focused on the effects of anarchy on the international system. Because according to Waltz human nature is not responsible for the conflicts and the wars occurred in the international system whereas the anarchic nature is responsible for such conflicts. In addition to that Waltz also emphasizes that in an anarchic system balance of power is automatically happens. As all the states are always trying to maximize their relative power and stabilize their autonomy in international relations.
After taking the points into consideration it seems to be that both classical and neorealism is mainly about the behavior of the state and its power.
3. PowerPower is the central concept of realism or in international relations. There is no definite definition for power. Generally power can be defined as the ability of a state to protect and achieve their national interests. National power is an absolute one, whereas it can be defined in terms of military, economic, political and also through cultural resources. However realists define power as a relative one. Because in realism international system is an anarchy and for the safeguard of national interests all the states have to rely on their own resources. And also they may have to enter in to whatever the agreements with other states to protect their nation or the territory. As a result they use power as an influence or a force. And the way they use force and their strength, portrays their powerfulness before the international system. As a result realists believe in relative power rather than absolute power.
Many theorists and philosophers had given different definitions on power. According to Morgenthau “power is the man’s control over the minds and actions of other men.” Holsti defines power as “the ability of a state to control others behaviors.” Couple with that Karl Deutch defines power as “the ability of a state to prevail in conflicts and to overcome obstacles.” In addition to these definitions power can also be identified as the ability of a state to influence another state.
Role of the “Power” can be identified within 2 levels as,
Level of Nation state.
Level of International system.
It can be said that power of all the states are equal. However power can be changed according to the environment and the one who use it. Power is always there in the international system but use of power cannot be seen very often. The points mentioned above portrays some characteristics of power. They are as follows,
Power is dynamic.
Power is relative.
Power is situational.
Power is multi-dimensional.
In conclusion it can be said that power is a key concept in International relations and power is going hand in hand with national interests of states.
4. Idealism4.1What is idealism?Idealism is a traditional/classical theory in international relations. However idealism is a political concept. In addition to that idealism can be identified as a utopian or a normative concept. Because idealism is mainly about expectations and normative ideas regarding a peaceful world. This theory is based on human nature and on the hypothesis on the supremacy of states and moral values of the society. Generally idealism stands for the development of international relations through the elimination of hunger, war, inequality, tyranny, force, suppression and violence from the international system. In other words it means that the removal of evil from the international environment can improve the relations among nations.
Idealist theory became famous during the post 1st world war period. Whereas the worst experience of the world war bring forth the necessity of a world peace in the international system. According to idealists in order to establish world peace there should be a system of moral values among human beings. For that idealists emphasizes the need and the importance of having international organizations and international law in the world. 14 proposals of Woodrow Wilson, the former president of USA and the establishment of the League of Nations in 1920 are good examples that portrays the use of idealist concept in the international environment.
There are multiple number of personals who worked for the progress of idealism. Accordingly idealism is based on the concepts developed by the philosophers like Thomas Hobbes (1588- 1679), John Locke (1632 –1704) and Immanuel Kant (1724 –1804). These philosophers can be identified as the initiators of the idealist theory. Other than them, Bertrand Russell, Woodrow Wilson, Aldous Huxley, William Ladd, Richard Cobben and Margret Mead are also can be identified as the main supporters of the progress of the theory.
4.2 Main assumptions of the idealist theory.Idealism is based on some hypothesizes made on the behavior of the states and the nature of human beings. They as follows,
Human nature is essentially good and they are capable of doing good deeds in the international relations. According to this assumption idealist believed that since the origin of mankind they are selfless and always work for the progress of others, rather than for themselves. Couple with that idealists believed that humans will work with co-operation in the international system. As a result power is not needed to control man, other than that set of moral values could govern the people in the international system.
All are concerned about the human welfare and the progress of civilizations. In here it means that everyone in the world are very much concern about the welfare of the society or the humankind. Through that they imagined about a developed society.
Bad behaviors of humans are a product of bad environment and bad institutions in the society or the international system. According to the idealist view human nature is essentially good one as mentioned above. Taking that to consideration idealists depicts that bad human behavior cannot be identified as a fault of humans themselves, but certainly it is product of the environment they live and the institutions around them. And this bad human behavior can be eliminated by making reforms to the environment or by reforming the institutes.
War represents the worst side of international relations. In here it says that war represents the darker side of international relations. Whereas the war is a product of bad human behavior, bad human behavior create conflicts in the international system or relations. These conflicts lead the way for a war. In other hand war portrays the relations among nations through violence.
War is evitable. According to idealists war can be stopped or eliminated from the international relations by reforming the international relations or by destroying the institutional plans that encourages the war.
Global efforts are needed to end war, tyranny and violence in the international system. This emphasizes that whole world should took steps with cooperation to eradicate war, violence and tyranny from the world since war is an international issue. And through that world peace could be established.
International community should work for eliminating such global instruments, features and practices which lead to war. As mentioned above global community should work together in order to eradicate war from the system. And they should prevent happening a war in the future.
International institutions committed to preserve international peace, international law and order should be developed for securing peace, prosperity and development.
Considering the points mentioned above it seems to be that idealists were more concern about the human behavior as good and selfless who are working for the progress and the welfare of the society. Therefore they identify war as a product of bad environment and bad institutes of the international relations. As a result idealists introduces that set of moral values can govern humans in a better way than power politics.
5. Differences between idealism and realismIdealism and realism are two classical theories in international relations. However realism emerged as a response to the defects/criticisms of idealist theory. Therefore some major differences can be seen between these two theories.
Idealism is mainly based on imaginations or expectations, whereas idealist look at the world with the thinking of “what could be?” In other words they build up hypothesis about a world that is yet to be created. As result idealism is considered as a utopian or a normative theory which is difficult to use in a practical world. However in realism they concern about “what actually is?” To that end, according to the realist view they do not look at the world based on hypothesis. Their theory is an empirical one, as they analyses the international relations base on logical and existing factors in the world.
According to realism human nature is nasty and bad. In other words since the origin of the mankind humans were selfish and greedy. This selfishness of humans created competition among each other. Even that competition pave the way for conflicts in international relations. But according to the idealist view human nature is good and they work with co-operation for the development of the society. In addition to that idealists believe that bad human behavior is product of bad environment and bad institutes in the world. As a result in idealism they try to eradicate tyranny and violence from the international system.
Idealism and realism have two different views about “war”. To that point according to idealists’ war is evitable, which portrays that war can be stopped by destroying the institutional plans that encourages the war and also by reforming international relations. It seems to be that idealists consider war as an unnecessary incident in the international system. But realists believe war as an important scenario in international system. Because according to realists war is inevitable. Hence they consider war as a part of international relations. This means that war can be used as a medium to develop relations in the international system.
Power in realism, moral values.international organizations in idealism. (Anarchic) state
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