Realism

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How would you feel about explaining all of human world history with just one theory holding a few basic assumptions? Maybe it’d be easier to start by trying to explain one event or time period as a warm-up. There are many theories of how the world’s political arena works, i.e. realism, liberalism, constructivism, Marxism, green theory, and a multitude of others along with variations of those just mentioned. There of course is some truth in all theories, yet each is flawed to a certain extent (Lisinski). Realism functions under the assumption that states are the only actors on the political stage, also known as statism (includes individualism). Additionally, the states work in a system of anarchy. By this it is meant that in the absence of a higher, trans-governmental and universally recognizable authority, as it is in the world, no rules exist or are followed in the international arena. The other assumption is that politics are driven by aspects of human behavior – numerous motivations such as the drive for power, will to dominate, self-interest and ambition (Lisinski). One of the much-disputed problems of international relations is explaining the occurrence of war. Defining war is easy – it is a military conflict between two or more parties. However, difficulties come about when we question why wars break out. A realist would posit that war is linked with human behavior, so wars are naturally occurring phenomena, and also that the system of anarchy resulting from the absence of a higher power leads to a state of war (Lisinkski). So realism offers a rather cynical explanation: we are destined to wage wars, since all politics is a struggle for both power and survival. Wars may be fought either to protect or expand security of... ... middle of paper ... ... but also than any other theory. Its focus on social factors and importance of ideas allows it to address problems that are not even in the scope of other theories. Additionally, the example of liberalism, Christianity, and socialism, among others, prove that ideas and ideologies can really change the world – as was already mentioned, a core belief of constructivism. The superiority of constructivism may be seen in that it is capable of explaining realism, while realism cannot do the same back (Lisinksi). Also, as my International Politics professor once said after another student asked what constructivism is, “No one really knows,” meaning there is much to be accounted for in the theory since it is simply a consideration of ideas and human interpretation and consciousness as they relate to international relations. I like that. Sometimes it’s better not knowing.

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