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POLS 2940 (30)
Chapter 5

Chapter 5 summary - Realism
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Department
Political Science
Course
POLS 2940
Professor
Glenn Goshulak
Semester
Fall

Description
 Criticism of idealists o Realists believe that the approach of the idealists was fundamentally flawed because idealists:  Ignored the role of power  Overestimated the degree to which human beings were rational  Mistakenly believed that nation-states shared a set of common interests  Were overly optimistic about that humankind could overcome war o The Great Debate in the 1930s/1940s between idealists and realists  Realists emphasized the ubiquity of power and the competitive nature of politics among nations  The Realists won and the rest of IR is footnotes to realism  Key characteristics of realism o Focus on interests rather than ideology o Seek peace through strength o Recognize that great powers can coexist even if they have antithetical values and beliefs o Offers the ability/ways in which a state can maximize its interests in a hostile political environment o Dominant tradition in the study of world politics o Influenced by Thucydides, Machiavelli, Hobbes and Rousseau o Raison d’état = reason of the state  Things the state must do:  Maintain security  Be healthy and strong  Pursue power (previously defined in military terms)  Be an active leader in international politics  Plan to perpetuate itself in a hostile and threatening environment  Question of if the state must only pursue ethical means to get these objectives  Dual moral standards  State-centric assumption = the assumption that the state is of utmost importance and priority and any means should be used to make things happen in the interest of the state o Belief that statespersons must distance themselves from ethics/morality to bring about the best possible future for the state  Traditionally: caution, piety, greater good  Realistically: economic strength, perpetuation of the state, appearance in IR o Three core elements  Statism = idea of the state as a legitimate representative of the collective will of the people within it  Survival = self-perpetuation  Not guaranteed in IR (due to conflicting interests and anarchical relations)  Survival of the fittest o ↑ power = ↑ likeliness to survive  Must be in the national interest to survive  Self-help = principle of action in an anarchical system  Trust only yourself for ensuring your safety and well-being, not other international institutions (i.e. the UN)  Politics is the fight for power o Differences in domestic and international struggle for power result from the organizational structure differences  International:  Anarchy exists in IR,
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