Realism and Liberalism

An international policy is the core aspect of foreign relations. It is a political activity of the subjects of international law relating to the questions of war, peace, global security, environment, and the attitude to government regulation. The main reasons for the formation and development of international relations are the interests of countries. Thus, international policies aim to tackle questions of human progress and mechanisms of interest’s coordination among the subjects of world politics, prevention, and resolution of global and regional conflicts. However, to realize the position in the international arena and foreign policy, countries employed different theories of international politics. In fact, one of the most common concepts is liberalism. The theory posits that the idea that the best economic system is one that is based on private property and guarantees the freedom of personal initiative of economic subjects. The second well-known theory is realism. The concept holds the idea that the main purpose of international politics is a struggle for domination. Therefore, the basic concepts of international politics are realism and liberalism, which have their specific peculiarities, differences, and similarities.

The theory of liberalism was established in the state system of the Unites States, Great Britain, France, and several other European countries in the second half of the XIX century (Griffiths, 2013). In fact, liberalism is a set of ideological and political doctrines and concepts that are aimed at eliminating or mitigating various forms of state and social coercion, unlimited freedom of enterprise and trade, parliamentary system, pluralistic democracy, and freedom of individuals in all spheres of public life. Moreover, this concept refers to the idea that originates from the period of bourgeois revolutions in XVII – XVIII century. The theory of liberalism was widespread in the XIX century when a number of Western European liberal parties emerged in order to transform society taking into account democratic principles of equality and social justice and humanism (Griffiths, 2013). In fact, political liberalism is rooted in the political and sociological teachings of the Enlightenment, political philosophy of John Locke, Charles Montesquieu, and the ethics of legal philosophy of Immanuel Kant. The general ideologists of liberalism are Benjamin Constant, Jeremiah Bentham, and Charles Alexis de Tocqueville (Gismondi, 2008). It is worth noting that the theory of liberalism holds some general aspects of functioning. Apparently, the basis of liberalism is respect for civil rights of every person. The individuals are dependent on the rule of law that secures those rights if they want to freely organize their lives. Thus, freedom of thought is not only a moral precept of tolerance and the rule of law but also the way to the development of human consciousness, which exists only in the competitive environment of free ideas. In fact, civil rights include the right of the private property (Gismondi, 2008). Talking about the liberal policy, initially, it argued for the equality of chances of people, competition and pluralism. Moreover, the followers of this theory maintain free access to labor and capital markets, education, information, and commodity.

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The concept of liberalism is aimed at liberating man from the coercive actions of anonymous institutions and the governments. Hence, it demonstrates the desire to independently lead one’s own life. The next important aspect of liberalism is the striving for the expansion of horizons for people to rule their life and reduction of the role of the state to the required minimum. Moreover, the followers of this theory try to preserve the individual freedoms, provide protection for citizens against violence, and comply with legal constitution. Thus, the concept of liberalism tries to establish rules applicable to all people, while leaving everyone a free choice. Furthermore, the followers of this theory support the idea of a free world market and open culture. For liberals, the human community is more important than the division between foreigners and indigenous people. The liberalism worldview reflects the global society in which exchange, cooperation, a competition of different nations, public associations and culture are based on freedom. Moreover, this theory holds the idea of cooperation in order to develop free world trade and create independent civil societies in developing countries. What is more, the followers of this concept try to provide the liberalization of information technology products, services, currency and capital worldwide. Finally, this theory supports different regional associations (Puchala, 2003).

The main opponent of liberalism is a theory of political realism. It has become the dominant concept in the years of the Cold War and has not lost a value today (Guzzini, 2003). The theoretical origins of this theory are rooted in the ideas of Machiavelli and Hobbes, who regarded politics as a predominance of power. In fact, the followers of this theory believe that politicians should protect the national interest, exercise restraint and adopt the balanced approach to decision-making. Apparently, this is the general morality of the foreign policy from the perspective of realist theory (Guzzini, 2003). In general, the attitude of realism to the morality principles has a relativistic nature. In comparison with liberalism, the followers of realism support the idea that absolute moral values ??do not exist. Furthermore, this theory denies the identity of the particular nation’s morality and universal moral laws. Representatives of this concept believe that it is crucial to subordinate to the achievement of foreign policy goals and the protection of national interests. However, the realist paradigm involves the unconditional priority of politics over morality. Therefore, realists do not consider moral values ??as the foundation of the international order. Moreover, they believe that hopes of liberals for the achievement of the consensus in the world are a moral utopia (van de Haar, 2009). In fact, there are some general aspects of the realism theory. First and foremost, the followers of this concept think that the idea of anarchistic nature of international relations is a natural condition of a world politics. Secondly, this theory provides the idea that the major and significant subjects of international politics are states guided by their national interests.



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Moreover, the interests of one country are always in a conflict with the interests of the other because each side is interested in the possession of resources, which are always in short supply. The third aspect is the conviction that countries are always trying to insure their survival and seeking to dominate (Waltz, 2008). According to the views of the realist theory, the essence of international politics is the struggle for dominance. In fact, the possibility of dominance is dependent on the power of the country, the indicator of which is the ability to influence the behavior of other nations (Roach, 2013). Furthermore, the followers of this theory support the idea that each nation is trying to get the most benefits and advantages of their position, and the only realistic opportunity to insure peace is to find the balance of power between the countries. Due to the concepts of realism, only the threat of force and mutual destruction allows one to maintain stability in the world. Supporters of political realism are skeptical about the possibility of regulating international relations by the law and moral values as in the liberalism theory.

A common aspect of liberalism and realism is the attempt to explain the behavior of political subjects that act in their interests. However, there are some general differences between these theories with regard to international politics. First and foremost, the followers of liberalism focus on a privately organized social groups and businesses. Moreover, the multinational and domestic activities of these groups and companies are important for liberal analysts (Griffiths, 2013). What is more, liberals believe in the possibility of cumulative progress, while realists argue that humanity does not develop throughout history. The other sufficient difference is related to the fact that the followers of liberalism believe that there are more opportunities for the world political cooperation in comparison with convictions of the representatives of realism. Furthermore, the ideas of these two theories have diverse thoughts about the size of excessive conflict, which can be eliminated from the political relations. For example, realists believe that relations between nations are already reaching the Pareto efficiency. In contrast, liberals assume that only international institutions can bring the bilateral relations to the Pareto efficiency if countries lost their ability to pursue their interests (van de Haar, 2009). Finally, realists are confident in a thought that military institution is the general kind of power. In contrast, liberals are convinced that military force is not sufficient branch of power. The followers of liberalism are confident that the economic and moral powers are more considerable than a military institution.

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In fact, both aspects of these theories have a reasonable explanation for international politics. In my opinion, the theory of liberalism provides a stronger explanation for international politics. In fact, this position has some significant advantages because liberalism is closely examining how alternative governing strategies will work in practice and how can institutions protect human rights before the disastrous actions of the power holders. In contrast to realism, liberalism seeks the development of international political relations. Despite all of the shortcomings, liberalism helps people to understand the importance of international politics cooperation and the establishment of institutions, even within the fundamental constraints that are imposed by the world capitalism and the international political system (van de Haar, 2009). In fact, liberalism encompasses the ability to influence the future, thereby inciting people to seek the best theories and improve the understanding of international politics. Therefore, the theory of liberalism appeared as the antidote to fatalism and a source of the correct explanation of international politics aspects.

Consequently, the theories of liberalism and realism have some specific similarities and striking differences in their general aspects. In fact, liberalism supports the thought that people rights and free international relations are the general factors of international politics. Moreover, the realist theory provides a position according to which the struggle for dominance and world balance are the primary concepts of international politics. In my opinion, due to the progressive and fundamental aspects of liberalism, this theory insures a stronger explanation for international politics.


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