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Lecture

Outline for Realism Lectures.pdf

4 Pages
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Department
Political Science
Course Code
POLI 244
Professor
Jason Scott Ferrell

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Highlights of Realism Lectures Classical Realism:  Usually identified with the work of Hans Morgenthau (German émigré from WW2)  Characterized by assumptions grounded upon a conception of human nature  Human nature usually defined in terms of a “will to power” or “desire to dominate” or some desire to have power over others o Insecurity arises from this competitive condition arising as a result of individuals intrinsic drives or motivations o Morgenthau (p. 27): “… governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature.”  Anarchy (the lack of hierarchy at the international level) exaggerates this natural drive, and heightens competition among states (and increases the possibility of war) o Desire to dominate  pursuit of power  leads others to respond the same way o Is NOT because of functional similarity of states (all states in the same anarchic condition) – is because statesmen pursue power, and this fuels fears about security  Power is defined as “control over the minds and actions of other men.”  Political power is not to be simply equated with physical violence, but the ability to INFLUENCE others (reflects “psychological relations”, of which physical violence is one manifestation)  Compare with domestic level where survival is not a concern (or as strong a concern) o Behaviour at domestic level is influenced by moral considerations o Can worry about doing what’s morally right when survival isn’t at stake o Not the case with international politics  Classical Realism ultimately defines state behaviour in terms of: o National Interest o Realpolitik o Both are amorphous concepts:  National Interest refers to whatever statesmen consider appropriate to secure the state’s survival  Realpolitik refers to the strategies they employ to achieve the national interest  Note: realpolitik implies that statesmen need to be “realistic” about their environment and opportunities – that they need to appraise properly their situation (uninfluenced by ideology and moral matters) – e.g. Nixon/Kissinger with Cambodia during Vietnam War and China negotiations (détente)  Balancing (or an equilibrium among states) is a tactic statesmen use to pursue goals in competition with others (want to prevent others from gaining more power by balancing against them)  Balance  peace  Imbalance  war  Strategies for this according to Morgenthau: o Divide & conquer o Compensate (distribution of territory) o Arming one’s self o Alliance building  Problems of: o Conflates explanations of what statesmen do with prescriptive statements about what they should do o Based upon a questionable assumptions (human nature: can’t be falsified; as a constant cannot explain variation [need to look at other factors]) o Predictive power could be much stronger Neo-Realism:  Attributed to the work of Kenneth Waltz, whose criticisms of Classical Realism led him to propounded a new version of Realism  Incorporates many of Classical Realism’s concerns (such as with power and survival) but rearticulates them to provide them with a better foundation (so similar claims between the two in various places)  Is primarily a structural (or systemic) level theory (focuses upon states as unitary actors, rather than individuals or groups within them)  Structure defined in terms of anarchy o No central authority o States are main actors (a
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