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Gabriel M.

Naparato
AB Political Science 4A
APPROACHES IN THE STUDY OF WORLD POLITICS
Liberalists Approach
Ideas on liberalism can be traced back from the Age of Enlightenment and reemerged in 1946 as forefront theoretical thought that led to the establishment of the
United Nations which sought to prevent the outbreak of another disastrous war.
Foremost exponents of this are the French scholar Baron Montesquieu, Emmanuel Kant
and Woodrow Wilson. Liberalists basically views individuals as good, have the ability to
cooperate and enter into a compromise. These are views of individual political
behaviour which the liberals used to profound state interrelations.
There are two basic assumptions underlying the liberalist view of international
system anarchy and rationality. The anarchy assumes that political actors such as
nation-state exist in the distinctive environment of international politics, without a world
government or any other authority with a monopoly on the legitimate use of force while
rationality posits that these actors engage in foreign relations for the purpose of
advancing their interests thereby creating a system of interdependence among them.
The unspeakable horrors of the World War II brought about the concept of
international society, governed by international law, as venue for a harmonious
coexistence, cooperation and amicable settlements of conflicts among the political
actors. The often competitive but not hostile interactions of nation-states and other
actors are accompanied by cooperative relations among them promoting social and
economic harmony.
Liberal Approach to World Politics
Theorists

Montesquieu, Kant, Wilson, Koehane

Key Actors

Nation-States, Non- Governmental


Groups, International Organizations

View of Individual

Basically good; Has the ability to


cooperate and compromise

System

Anarchic and Rational; Interdependent

Nature of Interaction

Competitive but not hostile

Other Labels

Liberal Internationalism; Liberal


Institutionalism; Transnationalism

Realist Approach

Realism dates back to the days of early city-states in Greece with the Greek
philosopher Thucydides cited in his accounts of the Athenians and Spartans conflicts
the importance of morality in the relations of city-states. In the late 15 th century, Niccolo
Machiavelli was born and furthered the realists theories advancing a rather radical form
of realism thought. Machiavellianism is a radical type of political realism that is applied
to both domestic and international affairs. It is a doctrine which denies the relevance of
morality in politics, and claims that all means, irrespective of morality, are justified to
achieve certain political ends. Thomas Hobbes, an English Philosopher who views
human nature in a pessimist manner, is another realist who posited that relations of
state is attributed to the quest of power, to dominate another all for the purpose of its
own security. Primarily, realists view an individual as power-seeking, antagonistic and
selfish. An individual cannot be counted on to cooperate unless it serves their selfinterests. Corollary to this, a nation-state, as a unitary actor, tend to seek power to
advance its defined national interest in the relation to other states.
Realists are fascinated of an anarchic international system. In other words, it
advances a system that has no higher authority to impose obedience over the nationstates and settle disputes among the competing members. Given this lack of higher
authority, nation-states compete with one another within a loose system that includes
some rules, norms, and patterns of behaviour, but which ultimately causes the individual
nation-state to look out for its own interests otherwise known as self-help system. This
drives the key actors to struggle for power and dominate the other and explains why
nation-states are often in disagreements with each other.
Realist Approach to World Politics
Theorists
Key Actors

Thucydides, St. Augustine, Machiavelli,


Hobbes, Morgenthau
Nation-states; International system

View of Individual

Power-seeking; Selfish individual;


Antagonistic

System

Anarchic (self-help); balance of power

Nature of Interaction

Competitive; Cooperative when


involving self-interest
Realpotik; Power politics

Other Labels

Radical Approach

Primarily derived from the Marxist views, radical approach advances the ideas
that are distinctive and credible in explaining the international political arena. According
to the radicals, people are selfish working only for their own interest and leading them to
dominate one another. Radicals also consider nation-states as important actors in
foreign relations while at the same time putting emphasis on the rifts brought about by
the social classes. With the presence of social hierarchy, the dominant class determines
national policy and controls national interests while the ones occupying the lower strata
are enslaved and exploited.
The even distribution of power between nation-states is the fundamental crusade
of the radical approach. It views state as the agent of international capitalist while it
sees international system as stratified and dominated by international capitalists. So
that a just and peaceful society may prosper, capitalism is sought to be abolished y the
radical model through pacific means or even extreme methods.
Radical Approach to World Politics
Theorists

Marx, Lenin, Hobson, Wallerstein

Key Actors

Nation-states; Non-state actors deriving


power from transnational social class
Actions determined by economic
classes

View of Individual
System

Nature of Interaction
Other Labels

Anarchic; Highly stratified and


dominated by international capitalist
classes
Hierarchic, competitive and exploitive
Marxism, Socialist Internationalism,
Socialism,

All three models in the study of world politics presents viable perspectives on
how to describe and understand the interplay of states in the global politics but one of
them offers a pragmatic way of comprehending the relations of the political actors
among each other. So much for the liberals who succumb to the belief that humans are
inherently good, vested by rights and freedom in which the states need to protect.
Liberalism is rooted in the idea of a free man yet even the freest democracies we have
today, no one can do exactly as he pleases without limitations imposed. Social harmony
is fleeting for as long as disparity between the powers of states is present, one will
naturally grow envy and the other as bully in so many ways. Interdependence is nothing
short of a euphemism for hegemony; oftentimes going beyond commensalism, nearing
the boundaries of predation among states. On the other hand, the radical approach is
leaning to the extreme methods to get rid of the face of capitalism which is engraved in
the liberal system. The social hierarchy with capitalist controlling the means of
production and that Marx, and other exponents, has been so passionately against is the
reality. In restructuring the international system to fit in the thoughts of the radicals is
similar to reforming hell to make it look like heaven. These are criticisms that create a
nebulous perception of world politics from Liberal and Marxism approaches although
under some circumstances, these two models offer logical explanations to the relations
of nation-states and other political actors.
Comprehending world politics from realist approach alone encompasses the
reality of the globe. In a world where some states possess armaments that can
annihilate humans in an instant blow, for each side to be secure one must feel insecure.
In an international system that has no central authority to command obedience over
nation-states, a state is responsible for its own security against the threat of another
state. It has to arm itself, economically, politically and militarily in order to repel the
menace being posed by another. The United States, for an example, while working to
secure world peace, it continuously advances the American Dream and refines its
armament disposal to defend itself against the attack of its enemies in the Middle East
and deter rivals such as Russia and China. Meanwhile, nature of interaction in realist
model is best demonstrated in the present conflict involving Philippines and China.
While China is a member of the Big Five sitting in the Security Council which is the key
organ in the maintenance of the international law, it does not recognizes the
international tribunal that has jurisdiction over the maritime case between the
Philippines for it knows, it will likely suffer defeat. Under the realism, political actors such
as China cooperate only if it serves its self-interest and withdraws if it will not. Truly, the
reality of global politics is not purely good, but if seeing the bad is what it takes to
understand completely how the world really works, then so be it.