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Similarities And Differences Between Realism And Liberalism

1578 words - 6 pages

History of humanity is full of situations and events which is hard to understand and explain: wars, conflicts, successions to throne, or even local relations. During the history, many philosophers, thinkers, politicians, and scholars have tried to explain what the reasons behind those issues and what the possible results of them are. These efforts to explanation has led to creation of a social science: international relations. “International relations, seeks to go beyond ephemeral and common-sense: to reflect more deeply on events, structures, processes and actors, and to offer explanations, interpretations and normative analyses” (Devetak and Burke et al., 2012, p. 35). It can be concluded from this quotation that international relations’ main aim is to explain phenomena deeply. By doing explanation, international relations use some theories which were created and developed by thinkers with the help of historical process. Realism, liberalism, Marxism, constructivism, and idealism are the main theories of international relations but among these 5 mainstream theories, two of them have more validity and effectiveness: Realism and liberalism. These two theories of international relations have a very high reputation and efficiency to explain and understand of the historical process. Realism and liberalism may seem totally different from each other but at some certain points they nearly have the same ideas and features. This essay will explain what the main similarities and differences between realism and liberalism are and to what extend they have these similar and different features. But first of all, some main points and basics of these two theories should be given to understand the issue better.
According to many scholars, realism is the oldest and dominant theory of international relations. The reason of this claim is that its roots can be found at even ancient times. It may seem that realism started to spread at inter-war period (1919-39) but lots of modern realist believe that roots of realism reaches some historical figures such as Thucydides (c.460-406BC), Niccolo Machievelli (1469-1527), Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) (Baylis and Smith et al., 2008, p. 92). Other than those historical figures, realism also has contemporary scholars such as Kenneth Waltz who mention three core elements of realism in his works. These three core elements are statism, survival, and self-help which also can be found at Thucydides’ works. Realism also has some types within such as classical realism, structural realism, and neoclassical realism which has some differences with each other but accept main concepts. Another important feature for realism is power. Realist argue pursuit of power which serves to national interest is an iron law of necessity (Baylis and Smith et al., 2008, p. 93). Other main theory of international relations is liberalism. Liberalism has its first roots from the thoughts of John Locke in the late 17....

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