• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Does realism or liberalism better explain the core dynamics of the international system?

Extracts from this document...


Transfer-Encoding: chunked ´╗┐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. ...read more.


It has had many successes including settling territorial disputes, punishing war crimes through the use of war crime tribunals like those following the Cambodian War and it deserves credit for the fact that there have been no major world wars since it?s creation. The end of the Cold War is arguably one of the most significant events in the history of the International Relations discipline and during it?s course, realism was the dominant theoretical system in terms of providing an explanation for it, however, realists failed to predict or anticipate the end of the war and it?s following peaceful developments into a new era. The realist theory of power balancing does help to explain the clear potential for a third world war; regardless of international institutions like the UN, the Soviet Union or the US could have easily acted as they pleased. However, it has been argued by thinkers such as Moravcsik that the realist power balancing was only temporary and served to prop up the status quo but it was actually a change in the preferences of the state which led to the eventual end of the conflict. ...read more.


These examples directly contrast with the realist view, which assumes that all individuals are selfish by nature and incapable of cooperation. If human beings are inherently selfish and egoistic to the degree that self-interest trumps all morality then how can such positive developments for mankind have occurred? So continues the debate as to which theory best explains the core dynamics of the international system. It is clear that there arguments for and against both schools; some say that realism is the way things actually are whilst liberalism is an ideal world. This essay has concluded that liberalism has provided a more clear explanation than realism throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, however, international relations is a work in progress and as we continue to study the field, we will continue to ask questions about foreign policy and international issues in order to improve our understanding of the system today. Whichever theory one chooses to side with it is clear that they are both capable of providing robust and noteworthy explanations for the way the international system has worked thus far. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree International Relations section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree International Relations essays

  1. An initial statement on your choice of case study: Why have you chosen that ...

    The Bolsheviks organised rebellions against government which were based on force and were violent. In the end they successfully overtook power from the Provisional government and established communist regime. According to Pipes new regime had no alternatives but to turn dictatorship- but not the proletariat dictatorship but dictatorship over all classes.

  2. Today is an era of movement and migration and human uprootedness.

    Therefore, knowing the actual statistics of those illegal immigrants that are exploited is, "...hampered by the absence of systematic and reliable data" (Barry Chiswick, 1988: 4). Exploitation can occur at various stages and in different circumstances as with the Mexican nationals who believe that they have lower earning power than any other person.

  1. How Useful is the Realist Conception of Power in Contemporary International Relations?

    The best example used by Neo-liberals is the integration of European states that is still continuing in the positive direction (Baldwin, 1993,:5). Realism is not alone with complexities. Liberals stress the importance of cooperation and the possibility that human nature might change, but they do not explain why with such an increased cooperation, wars still happen?

  2. Which balance of power system is more stable: Unipolarity, Bipolarity or Multipolarity?

    Multipolarity is a stable balance of power system because it creates an international system in which there are many great powers all on the rise, as well as states there are also alliances and blocs. This makes the decision for war much harder for states because if one attacks another

  1. International Relations Theory. The following analysis will outline the influence of the theories of ...

    their survival in a system where no other state or authority will come to save them if they fail to do so. (Waltz, 1979, p. 104). Kenneth Waltz defines anarchy as a condition of possibility for or ?permissive? cause of war, arguing that ?wars occur because there is nothing to prevent them.? (Waltz, 2001, p.

  2. Sino-Japan Relations: Fishmongers or Warmongers?

    Whether China achieves sovereignty of the Diaoyu islands or not, increase land ownership is not the main objective. The fundamental message China portrays here is that it is establishing and challenging the Asian status quo. In other words China is reclaiming its throne as the regional hegemon.

  1. Compare and contrast Hegel and Marxs understanding of Alienation

    In addition, the second aspect of the alienation of labour according to Marx is alienation through the process of production itself or work, labourers working on a systematic ?monotonous? production line have very little to no job satisfaction and to emphasise Marx?s theory, most production line workers rarely see the

  2. What are the main differences between classical realists and neorealists? Why did most realists ...

    In classical realism, they view the scientific aspect of their practice as having deep roots in necessity. To further explain this point, even earlier scholars like Machiavelli and Thucydides cited ?order of things? and ?laws of behaviour? in their texts (Ashley 1984, p.227).

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work