Realism tim dunne · brian c schmidt Introduction: the timeless wisdom of realism 86 One realism, or many? 89 The essential realism 93 Conclusion: realism and the globalization of world politics 96



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Chapter 5

Realism

tim dunne · brian c. schmidt



Introduction: the timeless wisdom of realism 86

One realism, or many? 89

The essential realism 93

Conclusion: realism and the globalization of world politics 96

Reader’s Guide


Realism is the dominant theory of International Rela­tions. Why? Because it provides the most powerful explanation for the state of war that is the regular condition of life in the international system. This is the bold claim made by realists in defence of their tradition, a claim that will be critically examined in this chapter. The second section will ask whether there is one realism or a variety of realisms. The argument presented below suggests that despite important differences, particularly between classical and structural realism, it is possible to identify a shared core set of assumptions and ideas. The third section outlines these common elements, which we identify as self‑help, statism, and survival. In the final section, we return to the question of how far realism is relevant for explaining or understanding the globalization of world politics. Although there are many voices claiming that a new set of forces is challenging the Westphalian state system, realists are generally sceptical of these claims, arguing that the same basic patterns that have shaped international politics in the past remain just as relevant today.


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