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Chapter 1

POLI243 Chapter 1.rtf

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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 243
Mark Brawley

Chapter1:CompetingTheoriesandtheEvolutionofParadigms The Modern Study of International Relations -the carnage of WWI produced the first real drive towards understanding international relations via more scientific methods -modern study of international relations resulted from the desire to prevent another world war from happening, so there was an emphasis on developing predictive and prescriptive theories The Realist vs. the Idealists -idealists: built on the public revulsion after WWI, dominate the field of international relations -but first debate soon emerged, between those who focused on historical patterns, and those that worked in international law -those who stressed the potential for international law to create more peaceful society of states became known as utopians (idealists) - stressed the possibility of perfecting the behaviour of man and thus perfecting the actions of states -idealists stressed choice, rationality, and the potential or actual existence of a harmony of interests between individuals and therefore states -realists stressed the importance of power in international relations; stressed continuity in states' behaviour, especially in the willingness to use power to resolve differences -realists assumed that humans were basically selfish, greedy, and interested in dominating each other Realism Emerges Dominant -E.H. Carr: one of the earliest proponents of realism; argued that idealists were overly optimistic -Carr also pointed out that realism had its own weaknesses: failure to develop normative goals, inability to present emotional appeal or render moral judgements -WWII: proved Carr's point about idealists more strongly, gave realists control over agenda of IR -realists argued that morality played no role in the foreign policies of other states, so moral objectives were luxuries that Western states simply could not afford -some of the rivals to realism are currently flourishing, but in the 1950s/60s realism was clearly dominant Core Assumptions of Classical Realism 1. Humans have a will to survive, which makes them selfish 2. The will to survive means a will to dominate the environment, including other humans 3. Since this creates competition to dominate, the will to survive creates a search for power The Cold War and the Evolution of Realism -West was locked in an ideological struggle and arms race against the Soviet Union; these demands stimulated theoretical analyses of security affaires -Waltz's underlying argument was that the particularities of the situation influenced how humans (states) behaved -proposed that it did not matter whether one assumed human nature to be basically good or basically evil; in certain situations, good people acted the same as evil people Another Great Debate: Behaviouralism and Realism Transformed -1960s and 70s: scholars disagreed over the best ways to uncover causality, the best methods for interpreting evidence, and the best ways to go about asking questions -traditionalists: argued for emphasis on history; behaviouralists: stressed the need to aggregate information in order to apply methods of data analysis to interpret the evidence -one of the most important aspects of realism: sovereignty - concept that states hold the ultimate legitimate political authority -states, as sovereign entities, are assumed to be the primary actors in IR; states also assumed to be rational and unitary -international system is anarchic; in such a system, states are under constant threat and therefore must do what they can to defend their own interests: must maximize power -Waltz: we can understand states' policies by understanding the system in which states operate; key concept = structure: is a way of depicting the relations of units, the composition of the system -structure has three characteristics: 1.ordering principle: refers to whether the system is hierarchical or anarchic 2.differentiation of units: refers to the similarity in functions that actors perform 3.distribution of capability: units differ in their capabilities to perform functions well, and some states have greater capabilities than others -Peace of Westphalia: began the recognition of a shift away from dual hierarchical forms of international organization (feudal system) towards a more anarchic situation -structural realism: distribution of power is the key variable (on the causal side); focus on how systemic factors constrain the behaviour of states -security dilemma: concept used to describe relations between sovereign states in the context of international anarchy; fear f being dominated causes states to treat neighbours as potential sources of threats -one state's attempt to enhance its security via power maximization, threatens other states -realists assumed that the goal of survival comes before all other since; since power was necessarily for survival, power was the most important goal -however realism was modified because was seen that citizens demand more from their governments than just functioning national defence -neo-realists: think of security (survival) as only a minimal goal; instead, assumed that states maximized utility Core Assumptions of Structural Realism 1. States are the most important actors in international relations (but are not the only actors) 2. States are unitary, rational actors 3. The international system is anarchic 4. States, in order to protect their own interests in this environment, will seek to maximize their power Core Assumptions of Neo-Realism 1. States are the most important actors in international relations (but are not the only actors) 2. States are unitary, rational actors 3. The international system is anarchic 4. States will seek to maximize their utility Realism's Challengers -Hedley Bull: considers an international system to exist when a group of states see themselves as bound by a common set of rules governing their relations -this consideration brought in notions of community and interaction -radicals such as Marxists may agree with Waltz that, politically, all states claim to perform the same functions, but in the international economy, there is a great degree of specialization and differentiation -whenever trade takes place, there is a division of labor; Marxist critique of this division: it creates classes -classical Marxism: social classes, not states, were considered the most important actors; classes act in their own material interests -economic output ultimately produced by labor of workers; some of the rightful earnings of the working class were being taken from them via market transactions -Classical Marxism: was not designed to explain or predict state behaviour; was simply an alternative to liberalism -two variants of Marxism: first - developed in the late 19th century by scholars seeking to explain European imperialist (instrumental marxism); second - emphasized how states acted politically to maintain the overall political economic structure of capitalism (structural Marxism) -instrumental marxism: explained imperialism in terms of states acting in the interests of each country's capitalists form other countries; states are interested in maximizing the economic benefits of their own capitalists, not national power -structural marxism: assumed that states acted to protect the workings of capitalism itself -another approach emerged: modern world systems - analyzed the coaction of the international political and economic systems in the modern capitalist era Core Assumptions of Classical Marxism 1. Social classes are the most important actors in politics 2. Classes act in their own material interests 3. The expropriation of surplus value is exploitation Core Assumptions of Instrumental Marxism 1. Social classes are the most important actors in politics 2. Classes act in their own material interest 3. The expropriation of surplus value is exploitation 4. States act in the interest of their national capitalist class Core Assumptions of Structural Marxism 1. Social classes are the most important actors in politics 2. Classes act in their own material interest 3. The expropriation of surplus value is exploitation 4. States act to maintain capitalism, even if such actions are inconsistent with the interests of their national capitalist class in the short-run The Modern World Systems Approach -Immanuel Wallterstein: emergence of capitalism required the creation of an international economy; the development of this international economy had profound consequences for the evolution of domestic political economies -this approach does not develop an explicit theory of international relations -depicts international system as a hierarchical structure; at the top = core states, combination of economic and political power, are most economically developed, highest concentratio
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