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Realism Interpretation of the State and the State System

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Look at the United States, in every global or domestic issue they are always there either as an ally or enemy of a certain state. When you think of it, United States is currently the sole superpower of the world. How does one become a superpower or eliminate a rival superpower? Realism has the answers. Based on realism, as long as a state gains power, its chances of survival are high. Among the theories of international relations, realism is the theory that is pessimistic in nature. In line with this theory, human nature is explained as ruthless, selfish and savage. States cooperate with others because they have an ulterior motive. Some wants to gain an advantage over the others to easily see the weakness of the latter.

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With the concepts, assumptions and ideas inside realism, there are those that I agree and disagree on.

Starting with the things that I agree on, first are the key assumptions of realism. States desire power so that they can fulfill their main goal which is to survive. If the state becomes the most dominant one or a hegemon so to speak, weaker states will not attempt to challenge it because it will threaten their chances of survival. States gain more power through military, economical, or political growth. Just like China today, since they are slowly gaining power economically, maybe 50 or more years from now, they can overthrow US as the sole superpower of the world. Another key assumption that I agree on is that the international system is anarchic because there is no state that rules over the whole international system. If the states in the system clash because of differences in ideologies, there is a probability that it will result to a war, major or minor who knows. Unlike liberalism where liberal states do not go to war with one another, in realism, if a state is threatened by another state or because of the unbalance of power, the former will declare war on the latter or even vice versa. If a war breaks out, affected states do not have someone to call unto to save them because there are no government over governments since states are not willing to give up their sovereignty.

Second, I agree on the principles of Nicolo Machiavelli. It talks about the state leader or ruler not having to follow Christian ethics because a should cater the needs of all of its people, not just those who are favored by it; no one is above the law. This is also found in the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Article II Section 6, the separation of the state and the church shall be inviolable. Also pertaining to Machiavelli, he talked about a ruler being deceptive and ruthless while defending self-interest. A state leader must know how to fool the other states because the harder it is to read and analyze a certain state’s plan, it will not be attacked by the others because the attack might backfire. After all, a state should never be certain of the other states’ intentions; states lie and hide things from one another in order to survive.

Moving on, I also acknowledge the three “S” of political realism: statism, survival, and self-help. As mentioned earlier, since the international system is anarchic, there are no government over governments so the states must know how to help itself in times of conflict. There is no one they can ask for aid and support because states realized that war is unprofitable, it will only bring them more liabilities than gains. Each states’ main goal is survival so if a weaker state falls, they will have lesser competition for being the dominant power. Although there are a lot of concepts that I acknowledge, there is something that I disagree with. I beg to differ on the first principle of the Westphalian sovereignty which states that whose realm, his religion. This is also in contrary to the principle of Nicolo Machiavelli. I believe that states shall let its people to choose and have freedom over the things that they prefer because it is the right of every individual to do so. The states shall not associate itself with the church and must learn how to make laws that will cater every one.

In conclusion, realism tends to focus on the pessimistic view of the state and the state system. It is also the complete opposite of liberalism because the former believes that other states shall not be trusted because today, it can be an ally but tomorrow, it will be the enemy and vice versa will the latter believes that states can cooperate to reach a common good and achieve world peace. It is so ironic that international states are created to prevent further conflicts from arising and check on each state but when they cannot settle differences, they will go to war thus breaking the organization since it is anarchic. Lastly, realism explains that states will do anything to survive even if it means killing or do things that will lead to the destruction of other states. After all, the end should justify the means and it is all part of the human nature.

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