International Relations’ Theories Realism vs. Liberalism

Topics: Political philosophy, Liberalism, International relations Pages: 10 (3476 words) Published: March 19, 2011
Social humanitarian sciences focus on studying global political processes and the object of its research are social phenomena, which are defined as “international relations” in the world we know. International relations are comprised of many different categories, such as foreign policy, international politics or world politics. However, the central issue of international politics is the international relations. The term “international relations” has been first used by English philosopher J. Bentham at the end of 18th century. It is important to note that it is not accidentally that the term appeared at that particular time, as the border line of 18-19th centuries is marked by evolution of the international relations’ phenomenon. By the time the term emerged, most of the Europe has been divided into sovereign states, refusing monarchy, and thus, changing inter-monarchial relations to that of independent sovereign state to state interactions. World politics is the leading self-developing element of the international relations, though it does not cover the whole international relations structure; international economic relations are also part of the structure, based on the world economic relations and are an outside part of the structure. It is clear that interconnection between world politics and international relations is complicated and dynamic, though it is considered to be a young discipline, despite of the fact that it can be dated back a thousand years, as international relations are politics in its core nature. ~1~

The needs for study international relations as a science came with the start of the World War I, as this war has taken such a scale, encompassing most of the world, and lead to unthinkable amount of deaths and destruction, that international community realized that there is more to the politics of 19th or earlier centuries, than already known. The World War I gave start to many scholars and political actors to start questioning and analyzing in detail the system of world politics, with emphasis on international relations. There is a variety of theories present in the world politics science today; however the leading theories remain as follows: realism (including classical realism and neo-realism), liberalism (traditional idealism and neo-liberalism) and neoMarxism, each of those is based on its own understanding and view of the nature and character of international relations. Though, the last 30 years have been marked by the development of “sub-theories” under the main three mentioned: trans-nationalism, institutionalism, constructivism and postmodernism, the world political economy is becoming more independent alongside the sociology of the international relations. Nevertheless, the most popular theories of neo-realism and neo-liberalism, with their paradigms, remain prevailing in the global theory of world relations. Thus, this paper will focus on the two predominant in times world theories of realism and liberalism.


Political Realism
Illusion that World War I was the “last war” in human history was disappearing fast while approaching 1930’s, giving a feeling of a new global armed conflict to break out. The start of the World War II has sharply increased the views of many to the resolution of conflicts by force, adapting the traditional or “realistic” view. Central issue of the realism theory, of which most authoritative representative is considered to be G. Morgenthau, is the meaning of interest, defined in terms of power and the connected to it meanings of balance of power and geopolitical strategy, and etc. Though, in the neo-realism theory, mainly formulated by K. Waltz in 1970’s, these accents are somewhat shifted. Upholding structural understanding of power, neo-realism does not accent on military force only, but includes economic, informational, financial, scientific and industrial components. Neo-realism seeks new conditions for realism’s paradigm, including clauses...

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