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Topics Today: Realism

Topics Today: Realism

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Topics Today: Realism

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  1. Topics Today:Realism Finishing classical realism. Neorealism. Other contemporary realism.

  2. Classical or Traditional Realism • Hans Morgenthau – Politics Among Nations(1948). • First attempt at realist textbook. • Trying to create “science” of international politics. • Level of analysis: More emphasis on human nature than structure of system itself.

  3. Classical or Traditional Realism Morgenthau’s 6 principles of political realism: • Politics governed by objective laws with roots in human nature. • Interest defined as power. • Forms of state power will vary with time and place, but interest defined as power will remain constant.

  4. Classical or Traditional Realism Morgenthau’s 6 principles of political realism: • Political action has moral consequences, but morality cannot guide action. • There is no universally agreed set of moral principles. • Political sphere is autonomous from legal, moral, or economic spheres. Politics deals with power.

  5. Conclusion: What principles do classical realists share? • Must look at world as it is, not as it ought to be. • Interest of states and leaders is power. • Ambition for power comes more from human nature than structure of system. • Moral claims or arguments about justice have no place in foreign policy. • These principles are permanent aspects of international politics.

  6. Neorealism – Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979) Principles of neorealism: • To explain international system, must create system-level theory. • Units of system (states) functionally similar. • International politics different from domestic politics.

  7. Neorealism – Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979) Principles of neorealism: • Anarchy central defining aspect of system. Consequences: • Self-help – cannot rely on others. • Uncertainty – attack always possible.

  8. Neorealism – Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979) Principles of neorealism: • Consequences of anarchy  drive for power to attain security. • No assumptions about human nature necessary.

  9. Neorealism – Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979) Principles of neorealism: • Consequences of anarchy  states act similar under similar constraints.

  10. Neorealism – Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979) Principles of neorealism: • Search for power has limits – states really seek security. • Excessive power grab can prompt security dilemma.

  11. Neorealism – Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979) Principles of neorealism: • Alliance behaviour: • States will always balance rather than bandwagon in alliances. • Bipolar systems more stable than multipolar systems.

  12. Neorealism – Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979) Distinctive traits of Waltz’s methods: • Deductive. • Particular observations cannot ever lead to whole theories. • Level of analysis: • System-level only. • Only need to know power capabilities of states.

  13. Other Contemporary Realism -- Robert Gilpin – War and Change in World Politics (1981) • Theory of cycle of hegemonic power. • Hegemon: single, powerful state that controls or dominates lesser states. • E.g. Roman Empire, British Empire, American hegemony (empire?).

  14. Gilpin’s Hegemonic Cycle

  15. Other Contemporary Realism Robert Gilpin – War and Change in World Politics (1981) • More analysis of domestic processes of growth and decline than Waltz, in order to explain change. • This provides theory with greater scope and detail, but less definite predictions than Waltz’s strict neorealism.