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  1. #1
    Senior Member cogdecree's Avatar
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    Default Are you a Realist, a Liberal, or a Constructivist?

    (Realist and Liberal are Positivists which believe)

    International anarchy is natural (no world gov), States are the supreme players, states are self interested.

    Realism- International relations are mostly influenced by state's fiscal and military power, the world exist within a zero sum game, and that competition and conflict are natural and eternal. It believes that the role of the state is to better itself, concerned about relative power.

    Liberalism- wants growth in economic dependency, interdependence and international organizations, believes that domestic goals should match foreign goals (like being a world citizen vs a citizen of a country). Believes in a variable sum game, not concerned with relative gains, that conflict isn't necessary.

    Post-Positivist

    Constructivist- believe that international anarchy isn't necessary, Believes ideas and culture as being the strongest factors influencing international relations, goal of foreign policies are to assimilate others into your ideology, conflict and competition aren't necessary and can be overcome .

    These are the three main philosophies dealing with international affairs, which one do you agree with the most.

  2. #2
    Your time is gonna come. Oom's Avatar
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    I suppose I'm a Realist, but take that with a grain of salt.

  3. #3
    Senior Member cogdecree's Avatar
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    You can posses admixtures that can fall inbetween 2 or more, but generally one of the three do generally fall in line with one's beliefs more than the others.

    Also note that these are the three main ones, they also divide down into more specific versions, but my goal isn't to intimidate with walls of definitions.

  4. #4
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    The third one is nutty. I believe a bit of both sides when it comes to the realists and the idealists/liberals. Both sides have some fatal assumptions. though.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  5. #5
    Senior Member cogdecree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    The third one is nutty. I believe a bit of both sides when it comes to the realists and the idealists/liberals. Both sides have some fatal assumptions. though.
    I see it more as a value difference than fatal assumptions, liberalism is a rather new idealogy when it comes to our history, the vast majority of our history has been within realist thought.

    International liberalism started emerging in the early 20th century, WW1 and 2 being the biggest push towards such.

    Liberalism does not have the same history as realism, so I can't judge liberalism too much, realism seems to hold at any rate.

    Perhaps you shoudl describe these fatal assumptions that you see, it would be good debate topics, anyways.

  6. #6
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cogdecree View Post
    I see it more as a value difference than fatal assumptions, liberalism is a rather new idealogy when it comes to our history, the vast majority of our history has been within realist thought.
    I'm not so sure about that. Realism is definitely older than liberalism, but I don't realism goes back that far either. In the dark ages and prior, foreign policy was thought of in a way that doesn't exactly match either philosophy today, but things were structured very differently then.

    Quote Originally Posted by cogdecree View Post
    International liberalism started emerging in the early 20th century, WW1 and 2 being the biggest push towards such.
    Liberalism does not have the same history as realism, so I can't judge liberalism too much, realism seems to hold at any rate.

    Perhaps you shoudl describe these fatal assumptions that you see, it would be good debate topics, anyways.[/QUOTE]

    Basically, it goes like this:

    Realism over-estimates the state. State level operations are not sufficient for dealing with pandemics, terrorism, climate change, etc. But these things do effect the international arena. In fact, modernization is making the state increasingly unimportant even in terms of economics. Business becomes increasingly independent, countries become intwined. It's a system bigger than any state now.

    Liberalism (I prefer idealism) thinks too much of shared values. If you take prime examples of idealist thinking, like the league of nations, you see that it failed because it relied on adherence to ideology that simply could not be relied on in the real world. Ideas of democracy, or human rights, or any others, are not univeral. There are certainly values that cross borders, but not superordinate values so great that you can expect a stable world system to be born from them. Nations will not monitor their own behavior or others beyond the point that it serves their own interests. In this, I believe the realists are absolutely right.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  7. #7
    Senior Member cogdecree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    .
    Our current system of nation states has been in place for almost 300 years, and pre nation states were not all too much different from nation states in regard to international relations, nation states placed more focus on the people.

    You are blending a little bit of constructivism with liberal or idealism, the later simple required dependency, so you could not attack someone without hurting yourself, and it requires that you view yourself more in terms of "a world citizen" which just serves to devalue the role of state, beyond those two it is not about shared ideas.

    The last part I agree, self preservation will always trump liberal alliances in world politics when the sh*t hits the fan.

  8. #8
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    I used to annoy my International Relations professor by refusing to commit to any preference; I guess I'm somewhat more Constructivist than anything else, and more Liberal than Realist. I also draw a clear distinction between the relations of (liberal) democratic states, and relations between democracies and non-democracies, and relations between non-democracies (with Realism playing a far more important role in the latter two scenarios). Also, while Constructivism explains and predicts more than the other two theories, capacities for deliberate state action are overwhelmingly "liberal" or "realist" in nature.

    Just to make all this even more complicated...

    "unconsolidated" and illiberal democracies are different from both liberal democracies and non-democracies.
    The number of state actors in play also plays a large role.
    I'm very skeptical of the usefulness of the "unitary actor" assumption as far as democracies with at least two viable parties are concerned, and generally look to domestic sources to explain and predict foreign policy.

    To put all this (and more) succinctly, I consider such labels to be highly simplistic and largely misleading.

  9. #9
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cogdecree View Post
    International liberalism started emerging in the early 20th century, WW1 and 2 being the biggest push towards such.
    That's really "Liberal Institutionalism". Would you label Kant (probably the theoretical grandfather of the "democratic peace" theory) as more of a "liberal" or a "constructivist"?

  10. #10
    Senior Member lowtech redneck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    I'm not so sure about that. Realism is definitely older than liberalism, but I don't realism goes back that far either.
    "Neo-realism" is actually somewhat new, but older forms of theoretical realism (in substance, if not name) go back to a famous, ancient Greek historian whose name escapes me at the moment.

    Edit: It was Thucydides.
    Last edited by lowtech redneck; 09-20-2009 at 05:24 PM. Reason: self-evident

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