Realism As A Perspective In International Relations

There’s a lot of theory in International Relation, such as Realism, Liberalism, Marxism, etc. These theories will give the perspective that emphasizes international norms, interdependence among states, and international cooperation.

There are two kinds of realism in International Relation Theory. The first is Classical Realism or also known as Human Nature Realism. The second is Neorealism or also known as Structural Realism. The popular realists in classical realism are Thucydides, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Carr, Morgenthau, etc.

“Man is Evil” is made by Machiavelli and being a popular word in realism. It because realists view humans as a selfish, greedy, and conflictual creatures who will do everything to fulfill their interests. Human nature is a starting point for classical realism. There are 7 keywords that you should know about the classical realism theory.

1.         State-centric

2.         Anarchy

3.         Egoism

4.         Morality

5.         Security

6.         Power

7.         Man is evil


Also, there is 3 main concept (3S) in classical theory:

1.         Statism: Realists believe if the state is the one and only actor in the international system, or simply we can call it as state-centric. Another actor like International organization, MNC, or etc is not important and powerless. Even, realists believe if an international organization exists because the states want their existence.

2.         Survival: Realists believe if the international system is anarchy, it means there’s no central authority in the international system. The anarchy system encourages the states to achieve their national-interest by their own power. If every state is struggling for power, then the balance of power can be achieved, and it will lead the system to the peace.

3.         Self-help: Realists believe that human is an egoistic creature. In this world, you can never trust anyone, if liberals believe that interdependence will lead the international system to peace, while realism is very skeptic about interdependence. Because this world is very dangerous. Essentially, your today’s friend could be your tomorrow’s enemy. So the state must protect its own territory and citizen.


Don’t forget if the human is a conflictual creature too, so human basically loves conflict. And that’s why realists believe if war is a cycle that will repeat all the time. There’s no perpetual peace or positive peace in the international system. When there’s no war, it means, the international system is in a negative peace condition. Negative peace refers to the absence of violence only.

Realists believe that we can never predict the future too. We don’t know who will attack whom or who will be attacked by who. So, we have to be ready all the time. That’s why security and struggle for power is the most important thing for realists. It also leads them to concern about high politics issues, it means strategic and military power is their focus to help them to be as powerful as they can.

When a state can be as powerful as possible, can make an alliance, and dominate the region, there will be an opportunity to make an agreement. If liberals believe if an agreement is the way to control the state’s behavior, realists believe if an agreement is the institutionalized interests of the dominating states. When a state, don’t have any interest or their interest is not relevant to the agreement anymore, that state will betray the others. That’s why realists say if there’s no morality in the international system. National-interest will overcome the morality and the state will always be a rational actor which is the state will devote all resources to achieve their national interest no matter what.


Again, remember is man is evil.


Thanks for coming and reading.

Don’t forget to be happy!