Realism vs liberalism constructivism Marxism and feminism are 5 main theories in international relations that have defined global governance. Through history we have seen these theories be used within states in the international system. Each theory has different belief systems on how they view Cooperation, Balance of power and decision making methods.
Realism is a very historical theory. The origin of the realism theory can be traced back to the conflict between Athens and Sparta. Realists see states as the main actors who pursue their own national interests before any other state. They believe all states live in a world were anarchy exists. They believe there is no international authoritative hierarchy. There is no need for cooperation. International institutions and agreements have no real power. Due to this the state must maximize their absolute gains by themselves.they want to have maximum security. States do not want to become dependent on other states to survive. Each state is responsible for its own survival. So states can only survive if they gain power in military economics and social culture. In contrast the liberal theory is all about cooperation between states.
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liberal views tend to believe that human nature is good in contrast were realists believe the world is full of anarchy. Liberalism believe social progress between states is possible. Author Karns states “progress can be obtained through democracy and market capitalism”. An example of 20th century liberalism can be studied after world war 1 in the fourteen points president Wilson presented at the league of nations. It strengthened the idea of international law and institutions to promote trade, cooperation and peace . However the realists would say liberalism doesn't work because it did not stop world war 2 or the cold war. Both in which states primarily used unilateral moves and did what was best for them. the Collective group and individuals suffer when a realist approach of unilateral actions take place.
Another theory that is based on liberalism and realism is the regime theory. This is the coordination of common interests between hegemonic states. The goal here is to achieve national interest for both parties and decreasing the uncertainty in the international environment. Examples of regime theory would the the US and great britain. They realize that in the public good theory actions of states affect each other. Karns, p 53 2015. The US and great britain are trying to cooperate in a positive way and manage the public goods.Coordination of common interest allows both states to achieve their own national interest. States only coordinate and work together if it maximize gains for each individual state. So there is a possibility for the common interest to diverge This would be where the realist view is integrated in the regime theory. When national security is at risk states tend to fall back on realist approach and stop cooperating.maximize gains for each individual state.An alternative to states controlling public goods collective good theorists establish organizations with power to protect public goods and help states work together. This is also a constructivism view point. However they dive deeper and study the behavior of organizations and states.
Social constructivism is based in sociology and social theory. Unlike realism, interests and identity are not given. interests and identity can be shaped by constructed and shared beliefs, rules and cultural practices. For example Author karns explains that after world war 2 germany's identity changed to a multilateralism joining international institutes. These IGO’s like north atlantic treaty organization and the United Nations have all the real power, not the states. This might be one of the biggest differences between realism, liberalism and constructivism. Authors barnett and finnemore believe IGOS purpose is not to exercise power instead they should serve others.
The english theory also deemphasizes power. One flaw realist would argue against the english theory. Karns states “The English theory Merges liberalism, realism, and social constructivism”. English theory believes that the law establishes the identity of the states. These states acknowledge power is limited. The international rule bindes all states together to act as a check and balance.Rather than looking at states the critical theories look at class system. The critical theories look at how the class system in the world is flawed.Karl marx states there will be a clash between capitalists and the working class. There is suppression under the capitalist system that needs to change. Marxists believe there should be a restructuring of the international system. It is based on capitalism and thus exploitative to all lower class. For example latin america has been suppressed by the capitalist system. They are dependent on dominant states. Like many colonial states that are under the capitalist system females have been suppressed for fully engaging in government and international organizations.
The 5 theories are very complex and have shaped the way the world functions. States all have interests and depending on if the extent of cooperation there is always going to be some sort of conflict. The main takeaway is that the international system is ever changing. In Today's world china russia and the united states seem to be the states influencing the rest of the world. These three countries have different cultures and different belief systems on how the world should work. There will be a need for increased cooperation and change from all if we want to live peacefully on earth.