POL 208 Realism textbook notes

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Ryerson University
Politics and Public Administration
POL 208
Abbas Gnamo

Realism Textbook Key points Pg. 89 Realism has been the dominant theory of world politics sice the beginning of academic international relations. Outside the academy, realism has much longer history in the work of classical political theorists such as Thucydides, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Rousseau. The unifying theme around which all realist thinking converges is that states find themselves in the shadow of anarchy such that their security cannot be taken for granted At the start of the new millennium, realism continues to attract academicians and inform policy- makers, although in the period since the end of the cold we have seen heightened criticism of realist assumptions. Pg. 93 There is a lack of consensus in the literature as to whether we can meaningfully speak about realism as a single coherent theory There are good reasons for delineating different types of realism Structural realism divides into 2 camps: those who argue that states are security maximizers (defensive realism), and those who argue that states are power maximizers (offensive realism) Neoclassical realist bring individual and unit variation back into theory Pg. 96 Statism: is the centrepiece of realism. This involves 2 claims. First, for the theorist, the state is the pre-eminent actor and all other actors in world politics are of lesser significance. Second, state ‘sovereignty’ signifies the existence of an independent political community, one that has juridical authority over its territory Key criticism: statism is flawed on both empirical (challenges to state power from ‘above and ‘below’) and normative grounds (the inability of sovereign stats to respond to collective global problems such as famine, environmental degradation, and human rights abuses) Survival: the primary objective of all states is survival; this is the supreme national interest to which all political leaders must adhere Key Criticism: are there no limits to what action a state can take in the name of necessity? Hegemonies-The predominant influence, as of a state, region, or group, over another or others Lecture Notes Realism and Globalization • For Realists, states hold sovereignty, and globalization does not cause obsolete the struggle for political power between states. • Globalization does not weaken the importance of the threat of the use of force Realism- To see the world as it is, not as it should be. The ‘timeless wisdom’ of realism • The dominant theory of world politics throughout history of academic IT • Even longer history outside academia o Classical political theorist: Thucydides, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Rousseau o Grounded in scepticism about capacity of human reason to deliver moral progress The salience of realist thought • Unifying theme: states in anarchy cannot take their security for granted and therefore complete for power and security • Today, continues to attract academics and inform policy makers Some questions about applicability of realist assumptions since the end of war • Structural realism o States as security maximizers (Defensive realism) o States as power minimizers (offensive realism) • Neoclassical realism o Includes individual and unit variation • Rational choice realism o Conceives of IR as bargaining process o Recognizes the importance of international institutions The essential Realism • Self-help no other state or institution can guarantee survival o Structure of system and absence of global government does not permit friendship, turst, and honour, only uncertainty o Coexistence through the maintenance of the balance of power o Limited co-operation possible in interactions where you stand to gain more o Key criticism: not inevitable but selected by states, and sometimes states select other option (collective security, security communities) Realism can Explain Realism cannot explain Cold war conflictual activities among sovereign Post-cold war realities of cooperation among states e.g. sovereign states e.g. “lust for power” March of democracy Appetite for imperial expansion Increase in liberal free trade agreements Struggle for hegemony Renewed role of the united nations Super powers arms race Proliferation of arms control agreements Obsession with national security International humanitarianism, Liberalism Key Points- Textbook Pg. 103 Liberalism is a theory of both government within states and good governance between states and peoples worldwide. Unlike realism, which regards the international as an anarchic realm, liberalism seeks to project values of order, liberty, justice, and toleration into international relations The high water mark of liberal thinking in international relations was reached in the inter war period in the work of idealists, who believed that warfare was an unnecessary and outmoded way of settling disputes between states. Domestic and international institutions are required to protect and nurture these values Liberals disagree on the fundamental issues such as the causes of war and what kind of institutions are required to deliver liberal values in a decentralized, multi-cultural international system. An important cleavage within liberalism, which has become more pronounce in our globalized world, is between those operating with a positive conception of liberalism, who advocate interventionist foreign policies and stronger international institutions, and those who incline towards a negative conception, which places a priority on toleration and non-intervention. Pg. 108 Early liberal though on international relations took the view that natural order had been corrupted by undemocratic state leaders and out-dated policies such as the balance of power. Enlightenment liberals believed that a latent cosmopolitan morality could be achieved through the exercise of reason and through the creation of constitutional states. In addition, the unfettered movement of people and goods could further facilitate more peaceful international relations Although there are important continuities between enlightenment liberal though and twentieth century ideas, such as the belief in the power of world public opinion to tame the interest of states, liberal idealism was more programmatic. For idealists, persuasion was more important than abstract moral reasoning Liberal though at the end of the twentieth century became grounded in social scientific theories of state behaviour. Cooperation among rational egoists was possible to achieve is properly coordinated by regimes and institutions. Pg. 111 The victor states in the wartime alliance against Nazi Germany pushed for a new international institution to be created the United Nations charter was signed in San Francisco in June 1945 by 50 states. It represented a departure from the league in two important respects. Membership was near universal and the great powers were able to prevent and enforcement action from taking place that might be contrary to their interests In the late twentieth century, the embedded liberalism of the post-1945 order has come under challenge. The ability of the USA to steer world order is diminishing, rising powers want a greater share of spoils, and new security challenges (weapons of mass destruction [WMD], climate change) have heightened the vulnerability of all peoples In the context of globalization, there is merit in contrasting a liberalism of privilege with radical liberalism. The former seeks to restore the authority of western states and the privileges they enjoy, while the latter believes that the liberal order can be sustainable only if it responds to the just demands of the excluded and the improvised. Lecture Notes Liberalism and Globalization • Liberalism focuses on a much wider set of interactions between states and non-state actors • For liberals, globalization is the end point of the transformation of world politics • Liberals are particularly interested in the revolution in technology and communication represented by globalization Elements of liberalism • Individual as primary unit of analysis • Rational actor model • Primary objective of economic activity is to improve human welfare • Role of market • Mutual benefit distribution • Politics and economics operate in separate autonomous spheres • Minimal role of state Basic tenets of liberalism • Liberalism is anchored around liberty of the individual • Significant variation e.g., those who believe freedom must be constrained for the greater good • Contemporary neo-liberalism shaped by the assumptions of commercial republican sociological and institution liberalism • Idealist view reached its height in Interwar period warfare unnecessary and outmoded way of settling disputes Divergences within liberalism • Liberal institutionalism o Look to international institutions to carry out function that state cannot perform. Focused on new actors (transnational corporations, non-governmental organization) and new patterns of interaction (interdependence, integration) • Neo-liberal institutionalism o Most conventional liberalism – concerned with the initiation and maintenance co- operation under conditions of anarchy Core Ideas in Liberal IR: early liberal thought • Natural order corrupted by undemocratic state leaders and out-dated polices (e.g. balance of power) • Enlightenment liberals: latent cosmopolitan morality possible through o Reason o Creation of constitutional states o Unfettered movement of people and goods Core ideas in liberal IR • International organization to facilitate peaceful change, disbarment, arbitration, and Where necessary) enforcement o The league of nations (1920): Collective security system, failed to prevent descent into world war I o UN (June 1945): Fifty states sign charter  Membership was near universal  Great power control over enforcement • Post-1945 increase in international institutions catalyzed integration theory in europe and pluralism in US • Early 1970’s: pluralism as significant challenge to realism o New actors (Transnational corporations, NGO’s) o New patterns of interaction (interdependence, integration) • Dominant strands of liberal IR today o Democratic peace liberalism o Neoliberalism • Neo-liberalism: more sophisticated theoretical challenge to contemporary realism o Explains durability of institutions despite changes in context o Institutions shape state preferences and lock them into cooperative arrangements BASIC TENETS of Neo-Liberalism • Deep faith in markets as the best allocator of resources in a society • Belief that government intervention in markets is almost always bad; markets work best when left to themselves. Non market considerations (e.g. inequality, poverty, etc.) should not intrude • Belief that in the long term, reliance on market forces will bring prosperity, liberally, democracy and peace to whole of human kind • Globalism links these ideas to globalization Policy prescriptions of the neo liberal globalization project • Liberalization (free markets) • Deregulation of markets and business • Removal of government controls on wages, prices, etc. • Privatization of state enterprises and functions • A business- friendly investment climate • Eliminations of tariff and other barriers to free trade • “individual responsibility” rather than provision of services Common themes in liberal thought Major strands of thought: 1. Market liberalism: Humans as utility- maximizing, free, competitive beings (utilitarianism and market capitalism) 2. Ethical liberalism: emphasis on political freedom, constitutionalism, individual human rights, democracy. Sees humans as striving to reach their potential Liberal Thought at the international level General principles 1. History is Progress: better ideas and conduct win out over bad 2. Durable institutions can be developed and international actors will abide by them 3. States have other objectives besides security 4. War is abnormal; cooperation is normal Marxism Pg. 133 Marx’s work retains its relevance despite the collapse of communist party rule in the former Soviet Union Of particular importance is Marx’s analysis of capitalism, which has yet to be bettered Marxist analyses of international relations aim to reveal the hidden workings of global capitalism. These hidden workings provide the context in which international events occur. Pg. 135 Marx himself provided little in terms of a theoretical analysis of international relations His ideas have been interpreted and appropriated in a number of different and contradictory ways, resulting in a number of competing schools of Marxism Underlying these different schools are several common elements that can be traces to Marx’s writings Pg. 137 Marxist theorist have consistently developed an analysis of the global aspects of international capitalism- an aspect acknowledged by Marx, but not developed in capital World-systems theory can be seen as direct development of Lenin’s work on imperialism and the Latin American dependency school. Feminist writers have contributed to the analysis of international capitalism by focusing on the specific role of women Pg. 140 Drawing upon the work of Antonio Gramsci for inspiration, writers within an ‘Italian’ school of international relation have made a considerable contribution t thinking about world politics Gramsci shifted the focus of Marxist analysis more towards super structural phenomena. In particular, he explored the processes by which consent for a particular social and political system was produced and reproduced through the operation of hegemony. Hegemony allows the ideas and ideologies of the ruling stratum to become widely dispersed, and widely accepted, throughout society. Thinkers such as Robert W. Cox have attempted to ‘internationalize’ Gramsci’s thought by transposing several of his key concepts, most notably hegemony, to the global context. Pg. 142 Critical theory has its roots in the work of the Frankfurt school Habermas has argues that emancipatory potential lies in the realm of communication and that radical democracy is the way in which that potential can be unlocked Andrew linklater has developed critical theory themes to argue in favour of the moral boundaries of the political community, and has pointed to the European Union as an example of a post- westphalian institution of governance. Pg. 144 New Marxism is characterized by a direct (re )appropriation of the concepts and categories developed by Marx Rosenberg uses Marx’s ideas to criticize realist theories of international relations, and globalization theory. He seeks to develop and alternative approach that understands historical change in world politics as a reflection of transformation in the prevailing relations of production. For Benno Teshke, the study of social property relations provides the means for analysing the key elements of international relation, and the transition between one international system and another Lecture Notes Marxism and Globalization • Marxists see globalization as a negative process. • for Marxists, globalization is not new process, and it is the latest stage in the development of international capitalism by west • Globalization further deepens the existing divide between the rich and poor countries. Karl Marx(1818-1884) • Dialectical materialism • Historical materialism: historical determinism- the communist manifesto, (1848) • The five modes of production o Primitive o Slave o Feudal o Capitalist and, o Socialist/communist Core of marx’s revolutionary theory Exploitation Contradiction/antagonismclass struggle the overthrow of capitalism the dictator shipconstruction of socialism The advent of communist society, without class, private property, and the state the ultimate goal in the evolution political society Marxism • The characteristics of capitalism include: • A ruling class • The bourgeoisie or capitalists who own the means of productions • A production system based on the exploitation of labour “surplus value” by the bourgeoisie to form the accumulated capital to drive the system • The alienation of the workers form the product of his work • The polarizing of society into two hostile classes, capitalist and the proletariat • Marx also maintained that self-consciousness is an attribute of class existence • Consciousness lead to one’s group collective solidarity and common interest in relation of productions • Marx viewed peasants as ambiguous Neo Marxism 1. Neo-Marxists see imperialism from the “peripheral” point of view, focusing on the indictments of imperialism on third world development. This deviates from the conventional study of imperialism from the “center’s” pers
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