Idealism vs. Realism

Idealism is optimistic in nature and views human nature as generally good. According to the theory individuals aspire to make peace with one another and thus the need to cooperate.  The theory which was founded by John Locke considered the possibility of establishing a collective entity to guide nations of the world. Such expression was shown by the establishment of the league of nation in 1920s and later the United Nations in 1945. The establishment of such cooperation was aimed at bringing a peaceful coexistence between nations of the world (Weber, 2004). However, the realist theorist tends to differ with this theory as they consider human nature as cruel and always seeking war with one another. The eminent destructions of properties and loss of lives in the first and the Second World War triggered the shift into realism, and the formation of a strong international body like the UN.

Realism is a political philosophy which has been used by many political theorists such as Thucydides, Machiavelli, Hobbes and Rousseau. It describes the relations between nations as being anarchic driven. According to the theory, human nature is characterized as solitary, poor and brutish and since there is no a world government to restrain them from war, nations are forced to work out on their coexistence method (Srenson & Sorensen, 2006). Nations of the world therefore needed to establish an internationally recognized body which will oversee peaceful coexistence between nations. The selfish and cruel human nature has however continued to make it difficult to have a successful collective body internationally to guide nation’s relationships. The eminent failure of the League of Nations to prevent emergence of the Second World War and of the UN to prevent Cold War was an approval to the theory. The selfish notions and interests have continued to work in the UN as the powerful nations seeks to have veto powers over the other nations and hence the formation of the G8.

Among the major causes of idealism transition into realism was the need to have a balance of power in the international relation. And the need to shift from authoritarian governance supported by the idealism into a democratic governance supported by the realist. This spirit led to the formation of the League of Nations in the 1920s and consequently the UN in 1945. A shift towards sovereignty of nations of the world also strengthened the realist ideologies. Before 1945, many nations were still living under feudal ties, territoriality and kinships, but after 1945 nations were seeking to embrace the modern state nature.  Nation states also embraced the sovereignty concepts which advocated for the supreme authority within a state (Weber, 2004). It was for this reason that, the world had to come up with a more accommodative liberal organization which could guide their coexistences without infringing the states’ sovereign.

Idealism was also blamed for not taking a full consideration of power, but this was sufficiently considered by the realist philosophers like Morgenthau in his book, “Politics Among Nations”. It argues that countries are driven by their national interests as they struggle for power and peace (Srenson & Sorensen, 2006). This is evident by the current American security interest which directs their fight towards terrorism. There is also an eminent need to ensure all nations of the world embrace democracy, a force which continues to influence the international relation. Likewise, the rising need for diplomacy in solving the disputes and other national and international indifferences has also triggered the shift into realism. The theory argues that diplomacy is the only effective channel of bringing nations together without inflicting on their sovereign power. It is the best way of propagating peace amongst nations.

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