Political Science Midterm 2
1. The structure of the contemporary international system involves many different factors that influence how the world operates today. The international system is defined as the study of the interactions among the various actors that participate in international politics, including states, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, sub-national entities, and individuals. The study of international relations aims to evaluate how countries interact within the political and social international system. Neo-realists believes that since the world is an anarchy, war is unpreventable and is going to be around forever. They favor a bipolar world, because it is easier to balance and appease the other side. This will lead to less war, but that doesn’t mean war will be permanently stopped. Further, they believe that states are self interested only. If a state intervenes in affairs of another country, then they are not doing it out of the goodness of their own heart.
They have a personal interest, whether it is visible or not. The implications of neo-realism are usually non-intervention, meaning states don’t help out other countries. Instead, they provide a military for defense purposes only. On other hand, neo-liberalists believe that war is preventable. They believe that it is possible for states to co-operate, and we do have a duty to come to the aid of other countries. The neo-liberal approach believes in intervention. A crucial belief for neo-liberal philosophy is “complex interdependence.” Meaning, since states are all so connected, it makes more sense to co-operate than to wage war. Neo-liberalism most accurately describes the contemporary international system because intervention is common in the world. In the era of globalization, realism doesn’t work that well because countries need to intervene in order to solve international problems.
2. Neo-liberalism and neo-realism are contrary theories due to the differences they provide. Both theories believe the international system is anarchicic. The major point of contention is that neo-liberals are sure such a system will not constrain the foreign policy options of the state to simple survival, with neo-realists essentially believing the opposite. As neo-realists have the idea that man by nature has a restless desire for power, cooperation becomes more difficult to achieve, because in trying to gain power a state will upset another state in doing so. Neo-liberals agree that states act in their own interests, but have a greater belief in cooperation, for the very reason that “it is in the self-interest of each [actor] to cooperate”. The situation the neo-liberals put forward is the prisoner’s dilemma, a tale of two prisoners who are questioned after committing an alleged crime.
Neither prisoner knows what is being said by the other, but if they both cooperate and confess to the crime, their time in prison will be shortened, where if neither confesses the sentence length will be even shorter. However, if one confesses and the other does not, then the one who confessed will be set free and the one who did not will receive a lengthy jail term. This risk is why both will confess, and thus get a reduced sentence. However, it was in the interest of each to “have cooperated with each other by remaining silent”, and thus have received the shortest sentence. This is a scenario neo-liberals use to explain why states would wish to cooperate with each other, with the implication that there is a great risk for states if they do not. However, neo-realists are certain that cooperation will not happen unless states make it happen. It is unlikely that states will often make it happen because, from the viewpoint of the state, involvement in international cooperation and a strengthening of your own position rarely go hand in hand.
Additionally, following cooperation, we have the debate between the two theories about the importance of absolute and relative gains. Neo-realists speak of how vital relative gains are in state considerations, or to put it another way, states are compelled to ask not “will both of us gain?” but “who will gain more?”. Neo-liberals, on the other hand, are sure states are happy to have any gain for themselves. This is a focus on absolute gains. State leaders will accept any accord that makes the state better off regardless of the gain achieved by any other state. All of the above information ties down the fact that neo-liberalism and neo-realism are indeed contrary theories.
3. Alternative theories such as Marxism do offer explanatory utility above and beyond what is provided by the neo-liberalists and the neo-realists. Marx was thought of to have two sets of ideas. First, he gave us an explanation of how society works, reasoning behind why history unfolded, and an account of the nature of capitalism. These are great for describing what is going on in the world, and to understand problems and directions of our society today. Marx also referred to capitalism as unsatisfactory and was very concerned about getting rid of it. Getting rid of capitalism would create the rise of communism. Obviously very minimum people were in favor of the second idea because most people feel capitalism is desireable, and most people do not like the idea of revolution or communism.
Marx argued that the economic situation, the productive system, is the biggest determining factor over all other aspects of society. Marx was a “materialist”. He argued that material or economic conditions produced dominant ideas, so he was against reformers that thought change in ideas could change a society. The way to understand a society is to focus on the mode of production. The “forces of production” and “relation of production” are what Marx saw as the main determinant of the type of society existing. The “forces of production” refer to the type of productive technology the society has. The “relations of production” refers to the social organization of production; ie, basically who owns a production company and how it is run. Social relations of production involve different classes.
The determining factor of ones class is ones relationship to the means of production. Inequality in power and wealth was a moral concern for Marx. Some groups dominate others to win for themselves a huge share of society’s wealth, power, and privileges. Marx aimed at a society where all enjoy more or less equal wealth of society. Marxists believe that social analysis should focus on class structure and relations. Although it is impossible to create a classless society, it is important to know that most people own some sort of wealth, when only about 2% of the world owns a lot of capital. It can be seen from the foregoing that Marx put forward a theory of history, or a principle in which he thought explained the dynamics of history.