Phuong tran – university of sheffield
Critically compare the neorealist and neo-Marxist approaches to globalization. Which approach is most useful in your view?
According to Jackson and Sorensen (2003), the leading contemporary neorealist thinker is undoubtedly Kenneth Waltz (1979). His starting point is taken from some elements of classical and neoclassical, such as independent state existing and performing in an anarchical international system. Waltz’s Theory of international Politics (1979) seeks to provide a scientific explanation of the international political system. A scientific theory of international relations leads us to expect the certain pattern that states to behave in predictable ways. In Waltz’s view the best IR theory is a neo-realist systems theory that focuses centrally on the structure of the system, on its interacting units, and on the continuities and changes of the system. In classical realism, state leaders and their subjective valuation of international relations are the center factor of valuation. In neorealism, however, the structure of the system, in particular the relative distribution of power, is the central analytical focus. Actors are less important because structures oblige them to behave in certain ways. Structures more or less determine actions. Chris Brown (2001) in his book ‘Understanding International Relations’ states that once we concentrate on the system we can see, he suggests, that there are only two kinds of accessible system – a hierarchical or an anarchical system. The distinction between hierarchy and anarchy is crucial to Waltz; the present system, he claims, is obviously anarchical, and has been since its late medieval origins (Brown, 2001). In hierarchical system, different kinds of units are organized and adjusted under an absolute layer of authority. Meanwhile, in an anarchical system, units which are the same in nature, even though they differ severally in capabilities, operate relations with one another. States, to some extent, are alike in all basic functional respects. In spite of the difference in cultures or personnel or ideologies or constitution, they all perform the same basic tasks. All states have to collect taxes, conduct foreign policy, and so on. States significantly differ only in regard to their greatly varying capabilities. (Jackson and Sorensen, 2003) In their book ‘World politics in the 21st Century’, Duncan, Jancar-Webster and Switky (2006) stated that Waltz agrees that people by nature are self-fish and that they are driven by a hunger for power. But Waltz no longer considers power an end in itself. States, in his view, hunt power for the sake of survival. For Waltz, the single most important property of the international system is the unavailability of central governing institutions. Overall, neo-realists agree with the 3 following points stated. First, states stay the primary actors on the world stage. The main target of all states, however, is not power but survival in a ‘dog-eat-dog’ environment. Second, the primary difference between states is not different goals but their own particular capabilities to influence the course of international events. The last thing to note is neo-realists believe that the unequal distribution of capabilities characterizes the structure of the international system and shapes the ways states interact with one another. As stated above, Waltz takes classical and neoclassical realism as a starting point and develops some of its core ideas and assumptions. For example, he employs the concept of international anarchy and focuses absolutely on states. He also concentrates on the core feature of anarchical systems of state: power politics. He assumes that the key and necessary concern of states is security and survival. He also believes that the major problem of great-power conflict is war, and that the major task of international relations among the great powers is that of peace and security. In...
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