An Introduction to International Relations





Pasco-Hernando Community College




Review history of Liberalism, Realism, Behaviouralism

neo lib: 70s-today

neo real: 80s-today

So until 90s, IR debate was dominated by lib, real, neo lib and neo

real. Then in UK the "English School" (International Society School)

became more vigorous. Rejecting behavaiouralism wholesale, it focused

on traditional epistemological approach of educated judgement,

cultural norms and history. It rejected a strict difference between

liberal and realist views, too.


IS theory says that BOTH power and law are present. So, it has

elements of the realist and the liberal, but only elements. It

recognizes the importance of power in int'l affairs (realist). It

'solves' the debate between them by rejecting the sharp division

between them.


It recognizes the state and state system as the core of IR, and yet

rejects the realist view that world politics are a Hobbsian State of

Nature in which there are 'no rules' or that is 'a jungle.'


No there is no world government, so there is a kind of anarchy, but

within a group of states exists a 'society of states.' This 'society'

has common values and shares in developing institutions. The elements

of a 'society' has always existed in the modern int'l system.


Realists are right to think in terms of power's importance, but if

that's it, then the conclusion is that we will always play the game of

power politics and that's it. In an anarchy, there can be no real

trust. So realism is misleading. The telos of realism is flawed, and

so is that of Liberalism. In liberal idealism, there is a perfect

world of mutual respect and the rule of law. No. Yes there are rules

that are common, but these rules' existence does not guarantee them.

Hence the realist balance of power. So IS better describes the



UN proves it: it is made up of all nations in the General Assembly

(liberal enough- after all, every state has legal equality with every

other) but has a security council of powerful states: USA, RUS, GB,

FR, CN (real enough- as they have the power to veto any decision,

which they would anyway in real life). Like the US House and Senate.


IS does not try to 'disprove' other theories, but use them to the

degree they accurately describe the state of affairs. Its not seeking

scientific 'laws' of IR, just 'understanding.'


Elements of Liberal theory are here too. Focus on rules, procedures, Int'l law.


Finally, the individual is taken care of in IS. UN promotes

international law and human rights, those based on the Universal

Declaration of Human Rights. Statesmen have a responsibility to their

citizens and and international responsibility to follow Int'l law.

They also have the responsibility to defend human rights around the



Uh oh. When do we 'go in' to sovereign countries and stop human rights

violations? And, who is 'we', anyway?




So far, economy has played a secondary role. Weak states of the 3rd

world were not considered in the equation much. Not any more. IPE in

the house. The 'new' countries born from decolonization sprang forth

with a new set of problems. A LOT of new countries.


A new set of IPE theories emerged: Neo- Marxist, Liberal IPE and Realist IPE.


Neo-Marxism, explained their situation like this: since in a society

the bourgeoisie capitalists use 'capital' to oppress the proletariat,

global capitalists use the capital of wealthy to impoverish the

world's poor countries. So no, countries of the world are not poor

because they are just inherently backward or underdeveloped. Its cause

they have been actively underdeveloped on purpose by the rich West.


Who would believe such a thing? A lot of people: The 3rd World is

subject to unequal exchange: in order to participate in the global

economy they must sell low. The rich West buys low and sells high.

That's exploitation. Andre Gunder Frank: As long as capitalism exists,

poverty will exist.


Liberal IPE though is the opposite. It says that free globalization,

or, the global expansion of capitalism without hinderance (ie: borders

of nation states) will raise human prosperity absolutely in the 3rd

World better than anything else.


So, Neo-Marxists claim global capitalism is the worst thing for the 3rd World,

and Liberal IPE claims it is the best- a so-called instrument of

progressive change.


Realist IPE is different. It says economic activity should be geared

to the national interest. Mercantilism is a good example of how and

why this works. The creation of wealth is the way to increase the

strength of the state, and a prosperous country and people will

result. Wealth is therefore a national security asset.


Big debate in IPE:

Globalization is a huge issue. Does globalization undermine national economies?

Are there winners and losers in globalization? If so, who?

To what extent should governments interfere with economics?


These theories are the main analytical tools and frameworks in which

to think about IR. The subject developed through a series of debates

between them, and got better for it.