Realism in Government Essay

Submitted By ohmydayum
Words: 1767
Pages: 8

Joshua Graham
Pols 100
Assignment One: Realism

Realism has been the basis for world affairs and political interaction by nation states since the offset of the Treaties of Westphalia. Realism was spurned from the beliefs of such philosophers such as Hobbes. Hobbes believed that human beings naturally desire the power to live well and that they will never be satisfied with the power they have, always requiring more power. He believes there usually is a want for things like fame and glory or admiration from others. He also believed that all people are created equally. That everyone is equally capable of killing each other because although one man may be stronger than another, the weaker may be compensated for by his intelligence. Hobbes believed that the nature of humanity leads people to seek power. He said that when two or more people want the same thing, they become enemies and attempt to destroy each other. He called this time when men oppose each other war. He said that there were three basic causes for war: competition, distrust and glory. In each of these cases, men use violence to invade their enemies’ territory either for their personal gain. He said that without a common power to unite the people, they would be in a war of every man against every man as long as the will to fight is known. He believed that this state of war was the natural state of human beings and that harmony among human beings is fake because it is based on an agreement. If a group of people had something in common such as a common interest or a common goal, they would not be at war and united they would be more powerful against those who would seek to destroy them. One thing he noted that was consistent in all men was their interest in self-preservation. Such interactions are classified by a number of varying categories that attempt to explain this phenomenon. The first of these is that the state is the most important actor in international relations. This means that state governments play the largest role in the realm of international politics. The state is a unitary and rational actor. Unitary means that the state speaks with one voice. Although members of a nation may have many different views on the best approach to a situation, only one approach will be enacted. Rational means that the state is capable of identifying goals and preferences and determining their relative importance. Leaders act only in what they believe to be their national interest and are not diverted by political games. Another belief is that international relations are essentially based off of conflict. Just like children with no parents, without the government to punish them, nations will attack one another so long as they believe it in their best interest. If many states engage in this behavior all at once, the result is a turbulent environment which can easily erupt into violence. If, however, there two evenly matched powers launch an arms race, the result is a tense but more stable situation, with each side keeping incentive to keep the peace because a war would lead to a stalemate or mutual destruction. The most prevailing issue is security and strategic issues, which dominate the international agenda. This means that a states paramount goal is to maximize their power in the international community, and that they are primarily concerned with military power. From these basic assumptions, realism makes four claims about the nature of international organization: States value relative gains in power over absolute gains in power. Relative gains are advantages in comparison to a specific country or group; absolute gains are gains that propel a state toward the best or most power it can possibly have. States that value relative power care most about their place in the international system, while states that value absolute power value maximizing their well-being over all. Consider an analogy outside of international relations: If you get a makeover