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The First Great Debate Troubles To Realism Politics Essay

The subject matter of International Relations as a branch of political science can be described in various ways. As in most social knowledge disciplines there is no medical consensus on the field and therefore the definition we adopt would be conventional and reflect a specific bill of the world. Since there is absolutely no common meaning of international relationships, there can be found multiple theories describing the concepts of interplay of what each of them consider being main actors - would it not be states, non-state institutions or classes. C. Dark brown and K. Ainley dispute that there are no right or wrong theories as all have politics implications, therefore, the pluralism of contesting theories each presenting different point of view should be maintained.

The goal of this article is to examine the task by Ole R. Holsti Theories of International Relationships and critically treat the arguments he presents. Throughout this essay I am going to briefly summarize author's information of state of affairs in international relations ideas complementing it with personal interpretation.

Holsti assumes the primary goal of his essay is to donate to exchange of ideas between political experts and diplomatic historians. The text addresses diplomatic historians to add them theoretical techniques used by politics scientists.

Author identifies the first "great debate" on ideas of international relationships namely challenges shown by different groups of models to traditional and modern realism. He classifies theories that concern realist principles on system level into three categories: Global Population/Complex-Interdependence/Liberal-Institutionalism, Marxist/World System/Dependency and constructivism, neglecting variations inside these communities to stress main distinctions between theoretical perspectives. He also examines several decision-making models that exceed structural analysis of international relationships focusing on political procedures inside the devices of the system.

The Great Debate

In this section I will summarize five major quarrels of realist ideas from classical to neo-realism described by Holsti and their critics by other international relationships theories on systemic and decision-making levels.

Although it could seem to be very simplistic, if one could generalize the five points of traditional realist theory identified by Holsti into one sentence, the result might be the following: Sovereign states as main products of the anarchical international system become unitary rational stars to achieve security through engagement into conflict and peace based on relative capabilities.

In the first place, Holsti declares that classical realists consider "as central questions the causes of war and the conditions of calmness", due to the "structural anarchy" of the international system, and therefore there is absolutely no higher authority above states to stay conflicts. This kind of structural firm of the international system gives climb to the "security issue" that is efforts to reach overall security by one express is in direct percentage to insecurity of all other parts of the machine.

Each of the five things made by classical realists were further developed and complemented by modern realist or neo-realists, namely K. Waltz and later R. Gilpin, but equally they all appear to carry numerous controversies. At first glance, it appears to be that the assumption of rationality of expresses is based on, I would dispute irrational by itself pessimistic idea of "human character" would it be secular or spiritual. Moreover, the whole approach to reason of international relations in conditions of military have difficulty for security (can easily be substituted by "superiority") against all the states can lead to a conclusion that there surely is constantly a global warfare all against all. Thankfully however this is not the case.

Furthermore, Holsti points that Robert Gilpin developed the debate that "international system is in circumstances of equilibrium if no state believes that it is profitable to try and change it. " Therefore, it looks that the question of engagement in a war is defined solely by mathematic relationship between costs and benefits. Would this neo-realist assumption be true, the most powerful states would have been involved in constant development until one of them achieves an empire composed of the whole world.

The aforementioned controversies of the realist ideas show us that there must be more complex desire in the relationships between stars in international relations. In addition to the involvement in battle or peace, claims will probably cooperate on a number of issues like trade, knowledge, education, migration, environmental obstacles etc. Even the most effective states are currently unable to handle some conditions that are cross-border like terrorism or spread of epidemic diseases. The increasing interdependence of state governments and growing affect of non-state stars like NGOs, transnational firms and international organizations in contrast to drop of the nation-state are the main arguments of the group of theories tagged by Holsti as Global Society/Complex-Interdependence/Liberal Institutionalism. State remains the point of departure for these theories, however the views on its future role vary from acknowledgment that condition is a significant source of change in the international system to its irreversible drop.

Despite encompassing broader selection of motivations, except battle and peace that determine international relationships, the latter group of theories presents just another perspective with its limitations and failure to explain certain tendencies presently taking place on earth. Together with integration processes and interdependence, we can notice surge of nationalism and disintegration in different parts of the planet, especially in the Central and Eastern Europe.

Marxism/World Systems/Dependency as well as post-modernist ideas are rare cases where Holsti expresses his own standpoint aside from impartial explanation of previous groups of theories, using satirical remarks. Holsti identifies the arguments of this group of theories very soon. Marxism/World Systems/Dependency theories consider as deciding factor of international relations the setting of production and inequality inside the world capitalist system. According to M/WS/D models, the role of status is secondary with regards to classes.

On condition the particular one accepts Marxist paradigm and his interpretation of capitalism, the explanation of international relations based on exploitation within one world capitalist economy seem convincing. The system cannot be anarchical, if one of the people will depend on other. However, at least one problem appears in this respect related to Marxist interpretation of celebrities in the international relationships - classes. The standards for defining classes are more or less clear - the relation to the means of production, place in the system of creation and distribution. 60 that the exploited around the world do definitely not identify themselves as proletariat, nor realize the need for workers solidarity. Thus, they cannot act as an unbiased professional in international relations.

Constructivism challenges all the systemic theories of international relationships by demonstrating that notions developed to describe actuality are socially built, thus, cannot be considered as effect of the machine. The behavior of actors is determined by the way they perceive the truth, not by certainty itself. I trust Holsti's discussion that constructivism is rather an approach when compared to a theory and can donate to expanding other ideas of international relationships.

Finally, Holsti shows the importance of decision making models in international relationships. Certain decisions may be studied or not, with respect to the inforrmation attained and processed within the stars. This proves the importance of consideration together with systemic factors also inner conditions of stars in international relationships theories.


The theories discussed by Holsti signify different approaches to explaining international relations. Each of them reveals their view why the claims or other actors behave like they certainly and only by doing so. All the theories tend to universalize and explain the relations between state governments in conditions of simple models. My standpoint is that there can't be a single universal pattern where the whole diversity of global functions will fit. That is why none of the ideas of international rlations is suitable to be the theory of globalization. However all of them can be useful in research of certain facet of globalization. For example, structural realism is considered to be ahistorical, nevertheless, it can be applied to the study of conflicts. Other theories enable you to study sophisticated interdependencies and entanglements on the globe.

The globalization research should be based on a certain theory, but this theory can't be limited by one perspective. The main, I believe, is to take into account different perspectives and techniques in the analysis of globalization. Therefore, do not require can be priviledged or neglected as they are predicated on the socially constructed notions.

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