Is there a timeless wisdom of realism?
POL223 INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS THEORY
Is there a timeless wisdom of Realism?
Realism has been considered as the dominant theory of International Relations since the Great Debate of the interwar period. However, it actually dates back as far as Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War in 400 BC. In fact, the idea that war, the balance of power, and the state are the key elements that matter concerning the interactions between nations have almost always existed and seems, at least at the first sight, to be valid independently of time and place. That is why Barry Buzan, in 1996, first mentioned the expression "the timeless wisdom of Realism "1. The question whether there is or there is not such a thing is particularly relevant nowadays, at the time of globalization, when one can wonder if Realism is able to face the new features and stakes of an ever-changing international scene. To answer it, this essay tried on the first part to emphasize the lasting relevance of certain Realist tenets and begged the question of the reasons of this timelessness. In the second part, it analyzed three of the criticisms Realism is currently facing. It lead to the balanced conclusion that only some aspects of Realism are timeless while others are on the contrary clearly outdated and that though Realism needs to evolve, the new century will probably be a Realist one.
Currently, like all through history, Realists' key concepts have proved to be relevant to the study of International Relations and it seems they will always be due to several reasons.
First and foremost, some Realist claims about the functioning of interstate relations are empirically observable in our world order; therefore we can say that they are timeless since they are not affected by the changes that have occurred in it.
To begin, statism is still obviously pertinent. In fact nation-states are the major actors on the international scene, and most people still cling