Does realism or liberalism better explain the core dynamics of the international system? Discuss in light of evidence from the 19th and 20th centuries.
The international system is a complex game with various key players ranging from states to multinational corporations to non-governmental organisations. Throughout the development of the international system, there have been various significant events that have led to the current state of affairs and in turn, scholars have developed various theories in an attempt to understand and analyse international relations. The two most prevalent theories are realism and liberalism. Both positivist theories, they exist as polar opposites and offer two different perspectives on the behaviour and relations between states. Some argue that realism best explains these relations and the core dynamics of the international system but this essay will argue that it is in fact liberalism which better explains it. This will be argued in light of evidence from the 19th and 20th centuries which will show that although realism has played a role in the evolution of the international system, it is liberalism which has been dominant in explaining historical global events.