Atal Shams: Which theory of global politics do you find the most convincing and


Which theory of global politics do you find the most convincing and


Within the essay various theories of global politics will be evaluated Theories are recognized or evolved as a way of clarifying a complex and frequently indistinct subject in a clear and useful way. In this theme it will be clearly touched upon its historical context and how overall three mainstream theories are developed will be discussed Our focus for the purpose of this paper will be mainly on these three realism, Liberalism and Critical theory of Marxism. Furthermore, it will be also explore to what extend the nature of mainstream perspectives are most convincing and why, and which will be the best approach to take in Considering International Relations in contemporary world. There is also an overlooked parallel distinction between these three theories.

International relations an element of study that takes, an extensive collection of theoretical methods. Some of them developed within the discipline, and others have been introduced. Since the past century the theory of international relations has consisted of two dominant theories, realism and liberalism. Realism stretches long way, for the purpose of this paper the preferred starting point for this theory will be Thomas Hobbes core apprehension was the issue of political and social order. According to Hobbs “life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short in state of war” (Heywood, 2011).

Realists believes in a Sovereign State, power and security, balance of power through wars, they see the range of approaches, economically, diplomatically, militarily and finally underlines the distribution of intimidating the capacity of materials and the determination of international politics. According to Morgenthau (1993) political realism contains six core principles “realism maintains the universal moral principles cannot be applied to the action of state”. Especially for neo-realist they defined anarchy as the result that the international structure is fundamentally struggle. his happens because of the lacking of overarching authority not because of human nature, as previously it was the human nature that does not comply with authority. For realist statecraft another element that plays an important role in international politics. Morgenthau said that “the key guide to statecraft in the realist tradition is a concern about the national interest” (Heywood, 2011). An illustration of the statecraft one can give in 2003 when almost most of people in UK were opposing the intervention in Iraq. Tony Blair as UK’s Prime Minister at that time used the art of conducing public affairs and his skills to push for an involvement in Iraq. This possibly will be called statecraft or the statesmanship.

Therefore, realists consider the significance of Nation States and it is the nation states that make policies, sets policies and carry out all policies, where it will suit them best. Moreover, for realists, transnational cooperation, multinational cooperation, United Nations non-governmental organisation are not that essential, their foremost focuses are in self-help national interests. In practical terms here it can be cited that the Genocide in Rwanda was good evidence of ignorance from realistic perspective. According to BBC Africa, in 1994 within three months almost one million people were killed in Rwanda. US policy makers decided to do nothing. This is fundamentally a lack of compelling state interest, although the losses of human lives were substantially high. Here we can approximately illustrate as an example that was absolutely rational according to realist thinking Rwanda was impoverished country never had any resources for instance, it had no oil, it was strategically insignificant, lacking of any sort of natural resources more importantly landlocked country. Consequently Rwanda was not endangering the security of United States of America or economy wise nor through warfare or resources, obviously realists could not comprehend the reason of involvement. Where in contrast a more recent example possibly will be Iraq or Afghanistan the two countries are leviathans in their resources in comparison to Rwanda , as well as enormously significant, strategically and economically.

Hence realists consider a worthy foreign policy and more rational policy where it would reduce the risks and make the most of the benefits for the states. Again the rationality of foreign policy could only be interpretation of realists’ own ethical and practical determinations, and here it displays the importance of self-help, survival. This similarly means that the State will act as the best possible way as they can to maximise their survival and the stability of their existence as it is indispensable. One can give another recent tragedy of 21st century brutality and callous act of Burma’s Buddhist. Massacre of Muslims in Burma showed how within days thousands got murdered the guardians). Where was the humanitarian help? It never got the attention of UN to draft a resolution or to put pressure on Burma’s military ruler Nor the intervention of the of international community. For Realists the world is an extremely unsafe place, any State with excessive advanced military and economic influence will be vital in any crucial decision making issue of global politics.

Realism defends the value of the existing states of affairs (status quo). According to (Burchill, 2005) the possibility of war neorealist believes within the international systems States are pursuing to persist since they interpreted that the international system is anarchic in its nature. Therefore, each state ought to survive on its own. He also stated that within realisms here are two schools of thought. Offensive realist often suggests the acquisition of power, and therefore if the sense of balance of power breaks down war is quite likely to happen. On the other hand defensive realist prefers the preservation of security, therefore states are constantly unwilling to go to war. According to Heywood (2011, p268) realist view of the balance of power is quite clear they believe that balance of power between two or more blocks are leads to peace and stability. Whereas liberal view is to absolutely reject this type of view, they consider the balance of power simultaneously increases insecurity and war, escalating suspicion and creating international rivalry.

The political thought that shaped ideological force of Western Europe since it had been the dominant theory over all other theories is liberalism (Heywood, 2011). Liberalism took shape following World War 1. One can argue liberalism is western industrialised ideology, it recognises the western civilisation, (Heywood, 2011). In contrast to realism, liberalism is a more composite theory, its main aim is for nations to coexist among themselves side by side peacefully, to live in harmony and competing interests and a natural balance will tend to assert it (Heywood, 2011). The historical context in which Liberalism was developed goes back to at least John Locke in the late 17th early 18th century. Locke was extensively known as the father of classical liberalism, as cited in Hall, (Formation of Modernity, 1994).

This could be not unavoidably the contrary of realist thinking of the world in endless pressure and struggle, but sees institutions and mechanisms other than conflict. Liberalism promotes an international system made up of institutions which combine several nation States where realism only sees anarchy it the international system and clash predictable amongst states. Therefore, if the nation is not democratic peace could not be found. Moreover, as one can argue as the states become more democratic they become peaceful and only towards only other democratic states. According to Kant “perpetual peaces to be found only, in a loose federation of free democratic states” (Heywood, 2011).

Liberalism has indeed been frequently popular throughout the previous century, slowing mainly from the struggles which have marked out the 20th Century, such as the two World Wars and then the Cold War. Rather than take away from the Liberalist theory, these conflicts have in fact added significantly to the argument. Utmost independence on Liberalist thinking at the end of major conflicts, this includes the League of Nations groundwork following First World War and the establishment of the united Nations at the end of the Second World War. After the cold War in the 1990s state leaders began to announce a New World Order of international institutions and liberal ideas. Unlike realism the liberalism believes that states are not the only actors in domestic and international scenes there are other actors such as: multinational corporations (NGOs) non-governmental organisations, IGOs and it could be wielded by the number of actors not just the states. The other key theme in liberalism is interdependence liberalism, which is based upon mutual benefits of trade and economic interaction amongst nation states, also allowing people of knowledge which finally leads to an increase of global welfare. Liberals seek to promote deregulation and privatisation to adopt free trade and liberalisation to produce prosperity and security. Liberals traditionally emphasise on equality, human rights, freedom of speech, and uphold democracy. These are the core foundation of liberal theory. Here one can argue that this could only depend on the particular situation. For instance in Afghanistan US led international community are fighting the Taliban or allegedly ‘Terrorists ‘, in order to promote democracy, freedom of speech, and to fight for human rights, to rebuild the war wreckage country to bring prosperity and peace. It had to strongly emphasised, the same international community that already fighting the terrorist in Afghanistan, to implement the human right, democracy, on the other hand simultaneously engaged in Syria and supporting the terrorist group supplying them with weapons, to destroy the country’s infrastructure, economy to kill the civilians, and eating their organs. In simpler terms one can argue that it continuously depends on the particular each case like Afghanistan or Syria it can be functional simultaneously in different circumstances.

However, could be argued in absence of Liberalist philosophy, the world would not have the IMF, International Monetary Fund, UN ‘United Nations’ or any of the progressively increasing amount of international organisations if it were not for the first challenge at creating an international authority in the League of Nations. All these efforts are attempting to demonstrate true Kant’s account that “peace can be perpetual”.

The leading international relations theories and their fundamental positivist epistemology have been defined from a certain perceptions. Academics working in Marxist, feminist, postcolonial, and ecological grounds have all put forward critiques of international relations. Although these perceptions differ from one and other, mainly Marxism has been viewed traditionally as the radical and dangerous alternative from the typical liberalism and realism (Heywood, p67, 2011). The fundamental philosophy of Marxism is a philosophy of history that indicates why the free enterprise is crumbling and soon socialism will take its place. According to (Heywood, p68) the emergence of Neo Marxist theory during the 1960s illustrates the global inequality and poverty in concept of economic imperialism or in other word dollar imperialism. More specifically world theory of economics is best implicit and characterised by interlocking capitalists system.

Consequently for neo Marxists the main idea of world’s system theory is the growth and promotion of capitalists’ system ever since sixteenth century (Heywood 2011, p367). This had given the chance of creating the three interlocking parts. For instance world central economic system of theory is not new. In the past 500 years, colonial conquest brought the distant nation state into the circle of the expanding world economy. According to Wallerstein the consistent of world system of theory are the interrelationship amongst the Core, Periphery, and semi periphery (Heywood, 2011, p68). The peripheral parts of the world had and always are exploited by the Core, through their dependency theory since the impoverished nation states will have low wage and very basic framework in order to survive. For example here one can give a clear example of Core and peripheral. the United States put pressure on Afghanistan to sign bilateral agreement, obviously Afghanistan will be depending on USA for long period of time, and certainly the agreement will favour USA rather Afghanistan. This is has been happening all over the world particularly in the third world countries.

According to Frankfurt school of critical theory, the most important and influential ideas in relation to the critical theory was Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci stated, (Heywood, 2011, p69) that capitalist class system is simply not supported by economic and political power. It is constructed on the domination of the ruling class over subject class. The term he used was hegemony of bourgeoisie. Gramsci argued the best way to implicit the neoliberal hegemony is that in the liberal form of state society is a potential for domination of social process of production by private power.

To conclude realism, liberalism and the critical theory of world politics form a dialectical order of forms of international thought. Each of these theories contributes to the classification in a characteristic way. Realism provides an explanation of the reproduction of the system of states, and it accounts for the state’s technically balanced orientation to foreign policy. On the more obviously normative front, realists argue that the state’s resort to the politics of manipulation and control is rational in the context of international anarchy. Liberalism supports each of these claims while concluding that realism offers no more than a partial account of international society liberalism defends the value of balance and power through co-operation and its main aim is for nations to coexist among themselves side by side peacefully. Marx’s critical theory views liberalism and realism as a way of concealing to legitimising power and imbalance in global system, both theories benefits the capitalists minority elites. The capitalists system is unjust and tyrant towards working class and it creates conflicts. Therefore the theory that is most convincing is the critical theory of Marx. The critical theory is committed and parallels itself the interests of most working class population around the world and the only way these changes could happen is through revolution.

Attal Shams

23/01/2014 Great Britain


BBC, (2011). Rwanda How the genocide happened. [Online] ( (Accessed, Jan 8th, 2014).

Burchill, S. et al (2005), Theories of International Relations: Basingstoke Palgrave.

Essa, A (2012). Burma, violence against Muslim minority stumbles into the spotlight [Online]( ) (accessed, Jan 8th ,2014).

Hall, S. (1994). Formation of modernity. Oxford: blackwel publishers and the open university.

Heywood, A. (2011). global politics. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Walt, S. (2004) international relations one world many theories.[Online]. ( (Accessed, Jan 10th, 2014)

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