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Classical vs. Neo-Realism

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Robert Flores

on 27 January 2016

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Transcript of Classical vs. Neo-Realism

Classical vs. Neo-Realism
Realism & Idealism
- Excerpt from Twenty Years' Crisis (1939)
No natural harmony of interests
Politics not a function of ethics - vice versa.
Sound political thinking must contain elements of both utopia and reality.
Realism assumes purposive behavior.
power the recognized standard of political values.
strength important only in the form by which it is related to military power.
International law
valid only as far as it allows for means of change.
Is peaceful change possible then? Through world government?
E.H. Carr
(Classical Realist)
British Diplomat; worked in Soviet embassy.
Admired Soviets in many ways.

Participated in Paris Peace Conference after WWI.

Left diplomatic work to become academic; criticized League of Nations & idea of collective security.
Treaty of Versailles was flawed.
League was hopeless.

Wrote Twenty Years' Crisis -- First major work of Classical Realism.
Core Elements of Realism


Balance of Power




The Origins of War in Neo-Realist Theory
Power not an end in itself (a la Classical Realism), but rather a means to an end –– Security.
Shift in causal arrow from individuals/states to outcomes, goes from structure to outcomes.
Rejects use of man's lust for power to explain outcomes.
Focus shifts onto structure to explain how the organization of a realm constrains and disposes force on interacting units within.
Useful for predicting outcomes, and explaining patterns.
Competition and conflict stem from 2 points:
States under anarchy must provide their own security.
Threats to their security abound.
Bipolar more stable than multi-polar system.
Kenneth Waltz (Neo-Realist)
Taught at Berkeley and Columbia

One of the most prominent scholars in
the history of international relations.

Most important works:
Man, the State and War
3 images concept.
Theories of International Politics
Full transcript