Realism In International Relations

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Realism is not a new concept. Classical Realism has its roots firmly placed in ancient Greece at the time of Thucydides where in the ‘History of the Poloponneasean War’ he wrote “The strong do what they have the power to do, the weak accept what they have to accept” (Thucydides 1972: 402).
Thucydides is thought to explain the role of power within politics at this early stage (Donelly, 2000) through to the time of Machiavelli in the 16th Century. Stanley Hoffman is quoted as saying that the theory is “…probably the most distinguished school of thought in the history of international relations” (Hoffman, 1988 p.6). Whilst Realism, as a concept, has helped to define International Relations by fostering the notion that ‘power’ is the only political gain to be wanted, Robert Gilpin sees it as a “… philosophical disposition and set of assumptions about the world rather than as in any strict sense a scientific theory” (Gilpin, 1984 p. 290). Realists are unified in believing that Power and survival is fundamentally the most desired thing between the universal actors: The States. The theory is built on a basis of pessimism and that that politics is a tussle for both power and survival and labels politics on an international scale as a series of recurrent conflicts among states with very little prospect for change (Jackson and Sorensen, 2007). Whilst there are similarities which bind the different veins of realism together, this essay will look at those different veins within the
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