Strength and Weaknesses of Classical Realism

1034 words 5 pages
Classical Realism, with its implication that humans are intrinsically evil, is often characterized as a pessimistic analysis of human nature. While this characterization is undeniably true, Classical Realism should not be reduced to merely a cynical view of politics. Philosophically, Classical Realism is the epitome of the modern philosophical departure from ancient Greek philosophy, especially under Aristotle who contends that human nature is a “tabula rasa.” As our worldview changes, so do our views pertaining to politics. In this essay, we examine some of the strengths and weaknesses of Classical Realism in international affairs. One the greatest strengths of Classical Realism is that it recognizes the similarities between the …show more content…

While Classical Realism helps explain some of the contentious issues in international relations, its weaknesses stem from its emphasis on the struggle for power. Human’s passion for power can neither be measured nor validated. Without empirical evaluation of such passion, the Classical Realist analysis would be largely based upon uncertainty. Take China’s current rise as an illustration. Scholars find it difficult to predict its effects on the world because of the unknown intentions of the Chinese Communist Party. In contrast, liberalism explains China’s rise and increased openness to the world, stating that its involvement in international organizations and interdependence with other countries contributes to its stability. This also brings us to another weakness of Classical Realism, which is that it neglects non-state actors such as international organizations and multi-national corporations. Also, Classical Realism does not focus enough on contemporary non-military issues with security implications as refugees, environmental issues, and political economy issues that can weaken the state. Take China’s rise as an example again. With China’s economic growth, its subsequent environmental issues have also led to global attention. It is a known fact that Beijing, the nation’s capital suffers from immense air pollution. Scholars such as Bruce Dickson claim that while the costs of China’s environmental


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