Custom «The ‘Classical Realism’ and Neo-Realism» Essay Paper Sample

The ‘Classical Realism’ and Neo-Realism

Realists have greatly believed on the phenomena that struck the face of the earth in the early years such as the Peloponnesian war of the early fifth has however taken too long for realist to appear in the lime light since the academic disciplines of these times did not include international politics. Since then, several reasoning has been propelled on the development and establishment of realism. The personnel involved in this massive revolution included great personalities that emerged from various states that had established international politics in their academic session of learning institutions (G.Gilpin, 2009).

For instance a German – Jewish realist Hans Morgenthau emerged and impacted greatly in the new field. He formulated the principles of international politics and political realism that largely held the academic roots of this discipline in the institution of learning for a large period of time. He held his ideology in the book he published in 1979 titled the theory of international politics. Genuinely this broad idea could be understood in two distinct dimensions that is: classical realism and neorealism (Maliniak, 2007). This paper aims at excavating the differences of these terminologies and provide for an advanced understanding of the international will be of great importance to mention Kenneth waltz, in this case for the purpose of drawing clear differences between these terminologies .waltz in this paper I intend to employ side of argument on the independent understanding of classical realism (Jonnes, 1998).

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As it is put by Morgenthau, realism is much more about the world’s status, how it appears than how different understanding may prefer it to be. With this in mind that realism is therefore based on the political power and security become the premises of understanding. However realists also believe that the state is the platform in which international issues are approached.

Human beings and their nature are the starting point of realism, realists perceive human beings to egoistic to a level that the self-interest overrules the moral principles. The current neorealists have considered the absence of government as a determining factor in the international politics (Kohane, 1986). They struggle to attain security; states try to increase their power by engaging in power balancing in order to deter any potential intruders to their peace of state. Common belief is that wars are fought to prevent the competitors from becoming military powerful. Realists are further believed to be skeptical about the importance morality to internal politics which has led them to claim that there is no place for morality in international politics.

The ‘classical realism’ and neo-realism

Classical and neorealist theories were put onto scrutiny and criticism by feminists and liberals for the claims that they had narrow and shallow ideologies. They held theories that explained that power seemed to be the only element in the international policies. What makes these theories narrow is the fact that all the factors in the scope of politics such as leadership and governance democracy, citizen’s interests all have been reduced to a level of inconsiderable neglect. This is merely a partial view of reality. There are other stakes holders in the cooperate global society like the NGO, INGO etc. all these are not put into consideration,  again the realists have been dealt a blow in the their ideologies that structures alone do not condition man but the opposite is quite true. Man has power to build and destroy structures or even manipulate them into individual interest’s .Despite all these counters realism remains the integral part of the international relation discipline basing the argument on the emphasis put on power and its importance on the international policies (Pölling-Vocke, 2009). Realism is therefore considered to remain within these confines as long as nations continue to crave for power and such remain critical parties in the global policies. Power and security are key to human and a nation political stands, these factors can as well help the nation to get influence the international policies relative to the capabilities of that particular nation.

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Realism is understood to in the assumptions it imposes. For example realists believe that politics is majorly controlled by the choice and actions group actors with competitive objectives. Also that politics happens in the settings that there are no any neutral factors that can enforce rules and decisions.

Differences between classical realism and neorealism

Power is considered as a threshold in which international issues are reached is made the pillar of international relations (Mearsheimer1995:91) realist are said to believe that the character of a state is largely altered by the nature of the international mode of doing things .This notions however contradicts with the Morgenthau’s ideology on power. He asserts that power in this context can be anything that puts up and keeps the persistence of a man’s ruling over man (Morgenthau 1965:9) to him the important aspect of power is the army, the mode of governance is not exempted in this description as well as the behavior of the nation together with its morale(Moergenthau.1956 :196).

Waltz take on this is quiet limited to a variety of reasons and he asserts that power is a composition of the certain aspect such as resources, economic status the army, the boundary coupled with the number of people inhabiting that particular state (Waltz, 1979:131) this description is more on tangible things but non material view of powers has also been used by waltz when he emphasizes on strength of the political good will, greater emphasis is put on the materialistic Morgenthau’s account of power soft power supersedes hard power while waltz puts emphasis on the materialistic world but not predominantly

The reason for struggle for power is another reason for the varied differences between the neorealist and classical realists. Anarchy form of governance has been used by classical realists to outline the dimension on the struggle for power and how it has contributed to these clear differences (brown, 2005:92). Morgenthau argues that mans need to rule is the pillar for politics this will is however transferred to the need to upgrade it to international level

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Waltz is opposed to this argument of the will to rule. He asserts that this is merely a hypothesis whose proof is out if question when it comes to verification, more so he dismisses this notion by the fact that human ruling factor is greatly varied and no constant factor can link these two. Waltz holds strongly that the international state of powers compels the nation to power systems that are varied and struggle for the same (Forde, 1995).

Another difference occurs in the normative dimension of political power .A distinction is drawn  between vita active relative to contemplative by Morgenthau in which the two correspond to power and truth respectively. Truth is used to excavate the power from the undercover; this creates room for normative and critical situations. Power on the other hand is disguised as the truth bearer (, 2006).

Waltz on the other hand does not believe that this theory is significant. He holds on to the issue relating that the entire structure correlates to the units of power. The international power is only but a threat to the states power. Because the international power is superior to the state and can impose political changes on the week state. He describes the cold war of the US and the union of soviet and ascertains that the status- quo of that time had its share of power, and he disregards truth and power theory of critical and normative (Vasquez, 1998).

Morgenthau persist that the tension between politics and moral causes political autonomy that leads to great interests in power. While waltz argues that the international relations has its representation on the nation states capability which helps in the determination of the nation’s character. The arrangement of these capabilities affects the nations system and subsequently the international system. Waltz also argues that the polarity of international system brings stability, based on this the liberal economy facilitated by the superpower is preferred than the state economy. The principal attributes of the international system in the classical realists include the issue that the states compete (Macabe, 2011.

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Classical realists had strongly asserted that the people had lived in peace and in the state of law captivity; this situation was however changed by the sovereign state with strong power governance, this conflict could not be resolved easily by the international policies. The ruler required power to solve this politically, the belief about holding power is said to bring conflict resolution in the international state influence.

Morgenthau’s approach is understood by considering his principles of political realism side lined to power in states. These include: politics is grounded in the human nature with individual interest this is has not changed for some time. The is an autonomy in the political aspect unlike economics or religion, this is brought by powered interests .the interests of the states are said to vary with time and the basics of interests should not be limited not to affected with time. The interests are highly determined by the cultural and political environments this truth should be recognized by all parties .a clear difference exists between individual morality and political ethics which ultimately describes the political variation of the state’s politics .an individual interests can be guided by the personal morality than the political ethics or the other way round. The visions of a particular nation cannot be regarded in the international policies and have no room for consideration in the nation (Evera 1999).

The essence of these principles can be perceived in various approaches, the first principle is a theory that is confined on the belief that political just like the society, the general law is the one governing the roots of humanity. But because the nature of humans is permanent then these objective laws are also permanent. This theory is useful in getting the difference between rational and objectivity .a fact that that is supported by the reason though it is subjective to judgment its legitimacy is not disputed.

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The second theory is inclined on upon the belief that the political realism finds its way to the international politics through the power of individual with the interest to rule.

The third approach is that the power is universally valid and the politics continues to gather power but because the factors associated with power are not the same in the states, subsequently the power is never the same in the states.

The fourth theory certainly based on a belief that the international polices cannot be applied to the state morals. The morals controls the individuals and the state as a whole the individuals can do all it costs to have the morals applied in life but no state can ever do that.

The Fifth theory is a belief that realism is not on any circumstances in line with moral aspirations of a particular state together with the morals of the universe, the belief that realism is self-directed in the political arena. Just as the thoughts of economists or lawyers which are bound to be inclined to wealth and law respectively. On clear basis of these theories the realist are said to be biased and pessimists since their view on the nature of human beings because the state action is dependent on the human nature this is then changed to the desire of nations to be fact there are no good nations or bad states in the world but we have powerful nations and weak states with the powerful trying to maintain their reign while the weak try to change their state.

Among the profound neo- realists, waltz argument is important in that, the argument that the gives an approach on the understanding of these concepts. He asserts that the international relation sis better viewed from an angle of the systems of states and its units of interaction. He points out that all system are entrusted to work in similar mandates such as taxation, policy making caring and maintaining the welfare of citizens. The varied capabilities bring the critical difference of these states. And the states that are more capable are likely to influence the international essence powerful states are a key to factors that determine the international policies and political systems (Measheimer, 2001). The leaders of these states become obliged in the managing of the international policies as their task, maintaining the aim of the realizing diplomacy in strategies construction. Waltz also maintains that national interest is not core in international politics instead the nature of the system to formulate the policies internationally. He does not see the national interests having anything to do with international policies making. Also in neorealism there is no place of human aspects such as wisdom, intelligence or experience. The behavior of the state is determined by the outline of the system as a whole.

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Factors such as the globalization technological advancement have impacted greatly on realism. There a varied response on this from both sides. Neo- realist believe that globalization is a western issue that greatly impacts on the developing countries such as those of Africa, Latin and Asia, this is considered not to pose a threat in the international foreplay of policies. Economically the neorealist believe that the interdependence of states has lead reduction of states to live below their standards and some less powerful states have been made minor contributors in the international policies. The other interpretation held of neo realists is that socialists and models of markets have contributed in the satisfactory results of rate of economic growth (Lavoisie, 1995).

The neo realist still believes that the army is determining factor in the international policies this is explained by the bipolar war between the union of soviet and the US. Currently the us and china can be sited as the nations with great capabilities in the internationals policy making due this is attributed to the fact that they have a strong military base

Classical realists strongly hold the fact that people lived in absolute insecurity and absence of law and as a result the sovereignty of the state altered this condition.

Respective rulers had to have imperative power to solve international conflicts or contribute in the in the international policy and conflict resolution. It’s at this point that the power of a state will have to be felt by the external then follows that the if the nation state is powerful other nations will try to beat the existing powerful state (Kakeyi, 2007). A competition and the need to be powerful compel leaders to exercise their capabilities and trying to gain control of the international. Similarly the other states which have similar conditions in their state would try to gain their way into the battle field. The difference in the state’s man ship and the political morals of different nations vary greatly and this will lead to conflicts I the construction of international policies. War is likely to erupt and since it’s a believe that war comes not because one participant is bad, but because the military still remains the aspect of power used by the states to gain control of the international counter the effects of these powerful nation the will try all means possible to bring the situation into stability by simply tagging their military into fight (Keohane, 2010).

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Classical realism tends to see that the competition as and conflict as a usual issue in human races. Competition for resources  and mostly they value power, with this in mind classical realist believe on the organization by peoples groups in relation to power imposed on others .

Neo realist see that absence of neutral powers to enforce rules is creating insecurity, an individual based setting in which there is no personal ideologies are not regarded but in the policies makers are influenced to contribute in the competition in the international political arena.

Contrary to Morgenthau, waltz principles are linked to anarchic nature of system  due to absence of power, and states are subjected into self-help interests in their  need to survive .this is applicable by the military capability to act on these particular orders t6o maintain the political maxim of the state. The use of the specialized units in the system is aimed to provide reliance since the international community has no mandate to order (Keohane, 2010). Each state has its own unit which is separate autonomous and equal counts on its resources since it can’t depend on the other to provide for them.

He insist that states can be differentiated by their abilities and endowments since these are unequal in all states and are changing .relative to the capabilities the power of the states. In the case of being bombarded by with issue touching balance and power, balance is always preferred. This is because the power from external world is always threat

Neorealist are inclined on the security than power if the system is simple then it is stable and less prone to conflict, contrary to the multipolar system, which is more exposed to the conflicts. This is supported by the historical events in the, England, Russia, and Australia and the long conflict in the European continent which has been there for so long, this is nothing new about this. The world wars as well serve as evidence on the effect of multi-polarity. While the states cling to the advantage of the conflicts for some times, security is key in the strategies of these states. Considering the Second World War only two states had the abilities in the fields, to manage the affairs of the international affairs. The two states were the US and the union of soviet. This marked the beginning of the bipolar system and consequently the rise of major conflict. The European had no power to counter either of the sates.

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According to classical realists, the desire for being powerful is implanted into the nature’s state of humanity, in that the states are engaged in struggles to increase their capabilities because they are what define power of nation in the international politics. The free reign to nations is provided for by the absence of international equivalent to impose conditions on the states.

Regarding the elements of components of systems mentioned by waltz ,inclusive of the principle of ordering people, the attributes of system and the distribution of abilities of the state’s distinct units, waltz argues that there are two elements  that remain constant in the international system. These factors are the reliability of the states and absence of overarching authority, implying anarchy type of ruling. The major distribution in this setting includes the multipolar and bipolar power in the international political settings (Keohane, 2010).

Waltz maintains that by considering the individual state together with the ideologies, a mistake is made by the classical realists. They fail to construct the actual picture of the international system. The issue of the socio political domain is not drawn clearly and it leads to limited scope.

What sets neorealist apart from the classical realists is the approach of scientific perception, where waltz insists that the application of knowledge and the misinterpretation of the ideologies true to this is the fact that everybody has a limited application in international relations.

Morgenthau defines politics as a self-directed sphere; he does not conquer with the Machiavellian way of extracting realities from politics. He proposes that the interests are of human beings are only perused because the human beings are egoistic .if they are denied morals they are likely to be reduced to something less than humans.











The principles placed by Morgenthau reveal that the main issue that makes politics self-directed is power and interest upon which the rationale of international politics is constructed. This theory does not constitute morality and ideological orientations, or even their effect in the state and its being.


Being a field that started in the ancient times and developed in the recent past, realism has led to development of modalities aimed to facilitate the understanding of the noble concepts of international relations. Realism has however received a number of criticisms from the idealists on issues that the theories were not political. Despite this, realism has outstandingly remained an important aspect of understanding international politics. The theories that have been used to propel good understanding include: the classical realism and neorealism.

This presentation aims to point out the differences in the two terminologies. There structures however were described by the early realists Morgenthau and Kenneth waltz, who described classical realism and neorealism respectively. Their contribution has helped in the proper understanding of the international politics. Looking at the schools of thought drawn by these personalities one of the key differences is that a policy maker is expected to act in an intellectual manner the classical realists believes that the state behavior is power, whereas the neorealist  gives the understanding that the behavior of the state is power.

Another difference presented in these theories is the certainty on the system of the international environment. While the classical realists believe that the state actions are certainly dependent on power and desire to have power then the certainty of the system is implicate more conflict. Multipolar system is therefore preferred due to less conflict. Contrary to this, neo realists have quite opposite believe to the classical realist, in that they majorly focus on power than security.

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The response on the technological changes and dynamics on the fields of economic and many other aspects has created room for exposing the differences between the classical and neorealist. While the neorealist believe that globalization is an issue of the west, and its impact is felt in the developing nations, the classical realist believe that the market structures have led to development in the strategies of economic growth.

Morgenthau theories for classical realist have seen through the understanding of the world in three main attributes, which are inclusive of; nation states are vital in the understanding international politics, there’s a clear difference between state politics and world politics. And international relation is all about the continuous struggle for power, examining why there’s this struggle, proposing the modalities of moderating is the real reason of international relations.

The view of power brings another difference while classical realists consider military, economic factors and technology as the most vital elements of power; the neo realists have the view that power is more than military but it is a combination of accumulation of resources and capabilities.

How states react to the anarchic conditions neo realist believe that anarchy gives system its real structure and that all states are similar in their functionality.

The assumptions put in place that brings these differences include that the neorealist assume that system structure is the major determinant factor in behavior. The state interacts in central environment in to protect their interest. The rationale of states is the state is strategy to selectively maximizing the benefits with as limited losses as possible. Finally the most critical problem presented by the anarchy is survival. There’s no central authority to impose regulations that protect the interests of larger external international community.

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Realism has been hit by a number of criticisms, for example, idealist claim that it is ambiguous theory since it lacks the definition of power, and that power is not sole objective of nation. All these theory have seen to be non-political relations.

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