Discussion of Realism & Liberalism

The political system of a particular society is determined by its social structure, the type of state, the form of government, the nature of the political regime and socio-political relations, and cultural traditions. The political system of society is an aggregate of institutions (state bodies, political parties, movements, public organizations, etc.), regulated on the basis of law and other social norms, within the framework of which the political life of society is passing and political power is exercised.

The liberal political system is one of the oldest within the modern political ideologies. The term “liberalism” appeared rather late, by the 1940s. XIX century, but as a current of political philosophy, it existed at least since the XVII century. The emergence of a liberal ideology was due to the ongoing modernization of Western European society and the need to fight against the economic and political structures of feudalism. The liberal content of public relations is manifested in the presence of a system of checks on the pressure of political authorities, designed to guarantee the freedom of the individual and ensure the protection of the rights of citizens (Chau). The basis of the system is a private entrepreneurial economy, organized on market principles. Liberalism is a political system in which the principle of limited state interference in social relations is realized.

The basis of liberal ideology is the concept of the priority of personal rights and freedoms over all others (society, state). At the same time, of all freedoms, preference is given to economic freedoms (freedom of entrepreneurship, the priority of private property).

The fundamental assumptions for liberalism are:

  1. individual freedom;
  2. respect and observance of human rights;
  3. freedom of private ownership and entrepreneurship;
  4. priority of equality of opportunity before social equality;
  5. legal equality of citizens;
  6. the contractual system of state education (separation of the state from civil society);
  7. separation of powers, the idea of ​​free elections of all institutions of power;
  8. non-interference of the state in private life.

However, following the classical model of liberal ideology led to the polarization of society. Unlimited liberalism in the economy and politics did not ensure social harmony and justice. Free, unlimited competition contributed to the absorption of the weak by stronger competitors. In all sectors of the economy, monopolies dominated. A similar situation evolved in politics. Ideas of liberalism began to experience the crisis. Some researchers even began to talk about the “decline” of liberal ideas.

Political realism is one of the main paradigms of the study of international relations and politics in general. Realism fits into the ideology of traditional conservatism. Realism suggests that people (states and any other participants in political relations) pursue their own interests (the main one of which is survival and security), using all available means, including the use of force. In politics, people confront each other as members of certain social groups (Donnelly). States are considered the main actors of world politics, they are considered as anthropomorphic formations; international politics is a struggle for power and influence, the main task of the state is to build up capabilities primarily of power potential (military, economic, etc.). The conflict inherent in the very nature of man is transferred to the understanding of the state.

Realism is based on a number of fundamental assumptions:

  1. Firstly, the main subject and carrier of power is the state whose main purpose is to ensure the security of its citizens, both from internal and especially from external threats;
  2. Secondly, the state as a territorially organized unity acts as the main actor in world politics;
  3. Thirdly, competition and conflict lie in the very nature of politics and therefore they are not eliminated from the life of society;
  4. Fourth, force and violence are indispensable tools for resolving both internal political conflicts and conflicts between states, the extreme expression of which is war;
  5. Fifthly, states in every possible way strive to increase their power and assess their own and the opponent’s interests in terms of strength.

Realism proceeds from the self-evident fact that politics, as a rule, is not based on any kind of good wishes or ideological, moral or other considerations, but above all interests that are considered to be the main motive of politics. On the international scene, any self-respecting state often threw ideological, moral or other considerations aside if they did not correspond to its national interests, whether real or imagined.

There is no need to prove that this postulate is equally true and applied to domestic political realities. History provides us with many examples where yesterday’s sworn political opponents became close allies and, on the contrary, today’s close allies and friends found themselves in hostile camps each other. This phenomenon follows from the fact already mentioned that the essence of politics is determined by the struggle for power and domination, whether in the group, organization, state, or between states on the world stage.

Nowadays we can consider two representatives mentioned above political ideologies. The foreign policy of Barack Obama was soft and it had liberalistic features. The evidence is President Obama’s nuclear strategy that was based on the fact that the role of nuclear weapons will continue to decline, high-precision weapons can take on most of the nuclear functions. Although there is a need to be modernized as obsolescence, the reduction of nuclear arsenals by leading powers will reduce the interest of new players to develop their own military programs, and the key threat will be nuclear terrorism (Clere). However, later Obama’s policy became more realistic according to the current world situation. The US readiness to launch the first nuclear strike under the most indefinite pretext, the creation of more “applicable” nuclear weapons, the inclusion of Britain and France in American nuclear planning, close cooperation with non-nuclear NATO members within the framework of “joint nuclear missions”, even the threat to strategic nuclear forces from the anti-missile defense – all these were not only confirmed, but also reinforced by new plans. The liberalism of Barack Obama was replaced by the maximum realism and pragmatism in the nuclear sphere (“Obama The Realist”).

President of the United States Donald Trump presented a new strategy of national security, outlining the foundations and priorities of the country’s foreign policy for the duration of his administration’s stay in power. With this realistic strategy, he calls for a great revival of America, the revival of confidence, patriotism, prosperity, and pride. The strategy echoes the pre-election slogan Trump “America is First”. The weakness is the most reliable way to a conflict, and an unrivaled force is the most reliable means of defense.” The document itself consists of four parts: protecting the homeland, Americans and the American way of life, promoting America’s prosperity, preserving peace through power and promoting American influence (Ivanov).

Trump said that the core of the new American strategy in Afghanistan will be the termination of the designation of the time frame for operations and planning actions based on the actual situation on the ground (Felbab-Brown). The core of the new strategy is to move from a time-based approach to a situation-based approach. It has been said many times about how counterproductive for the US is to announce in advance the start or end dates for military operations. At the same time, the head of state pointed out that the US “will expand the powers of the US armed forces to counter terrorist and criminal networks that sow violence and chaos in Afghanistan.”

References

  1. Chau, Ronald. “Liberalism: A Political Philosophy”. Mannkal.Org, 2009, https://www.mannkal.org/downloads/scholars/liberalism.pdf. Accessed 24 June 2018.
  2. Clere, Bert. “President Obama’S Mere Liberalism, Part 1: A New Economy And Foreign Policy – Ethos”. Ethosreview.Org, 2016, http://www.ethosreview.org/intellectual-spaces/president-obamas-mere-liberalism-part-1-a-new-economy-and-foreign-policy/. Accessed 24 June 2018.
  3. Donnelly, Jack. “Realism And International Relations”. Catdir.Loc.Gov, 2000, http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/samples/cam032/99053676.pdf. Accessed 24 June 2018.
  4. Felbab-Brown, Vanda. “President Trump’S Afghanistan Policy: Hopes And Pitfalls”. Brookings, 2017, https://www.brookings.edu/research/president-trumps-afghanistan-policy-hopes-and-pitfalls/. Accessed 24 June 2018.
  5. Ivanov, Igor. “Is America First?”. Modern Diplomacy, 2018, https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2018/01/13/is-america-first/. Accessed 24 June 2018.
  6. “Obama The Realist”. Lobelog, 2016, https://lobelog.com/obama-the-realist/. Accessed 24 June 2018.

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