Searching for an essay?

Browse the database of more than 4500 essays donated by our community members!

Realism vs Liberalism Essay

The realism vs liberalism debate is a longstanding one. One of the most pressing matters in this debate is whether or not social change can be achieved through radical means. This essay will explore the realism vs liberalism debate and how it relates to other theoretical philosophies that have been developed over time, such as communism and anarchism.

As you may know, realism vs liberalism has been debated by many philosophers from different backgrounds for years now. In this article, we’re going to talk about realism vs liberalism in detail so that you can see just how much these two contrasting viewpoints differ from each other on a number of subjects, including their views on social change and political progress.

Essay 1


Writing service




[Rated 96/100]

Prices start at $12
Min. deadline 6 hours
Writers: ESL
Refund: Yes

Payment methods: VISA, MasterCard, American Express


[Rated 94/100]

Prices start at $11
Min. deadline 3 hours
Writers: ESL, ENL
Refund: Yes

Payment methods: VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover


[Rated 91/100]

Prices start at $12
Min. deadline 3 hours
Writers: ESL, ENL
Refund: Yes

Payment methods: VISA, MasterCard, JCB, Discover

Credulity is the attitude and, at times, the tendency of accepting things as they are. Liberalism, on the other hand, is a worldview based on ideas of equality and liberty. The fundamental principles of international relations should be studied by any student or individual interested in the field. Realism and liberalism are two of the most common theories in this discipline.

Realism, according to Realism claims to be based on a long-standing philosophy that includes such writers as Thucydides, Hobbes, and Machiavelli Rousseau (2006). Early realism was prompted by the interwar idealist thought. According to liberalism, state preferences rather than states’ capabilities determine state action.

For liberalism, interstate interactions are never limited to high-level issues like security. Low-level politics, such as economic and cultural concerns, are also important to consider. This essay seeks to determine how realisticism and liberalism compare in terms of similarity and difference.


The differences will be discussed first, followed by the similarities at a later date. The degree to which realism and liberalism vary is defined by their convictions and behaviors. Realism believes that all nations do what they want. States for realists are primarily concerned with preserving their security. A state in this case may only desire power to be strong enough and safe from attack on both internal and external fronts.

States’ incentives focus on their interests. A state would want to be safer than its neighbors and simply maintain its boundaries. The state will solely consider its safety, development, and significance without regard to the next state if it is self-centered. Realists believe that in this situation, the state will do everything necessary to ensure its survival, even if it exhausts all of its resources and leaves the following state with nothing to grow.

Realists add that states never collaborate for profit, but rather concentrate their development on themselves while ignoring whether neighboring states or countries are left insecure, hungry, or impoverished. Liberals, on the other hand, believe that states may work together and act in concert. The notion of liberals contrasts with their logic, whereas the opposition distinguishes between realists and liberals.

States are in a position to collaborate for liberals, with the benefit going to everyone if they are interested in security, economic development, or even intellectual progress. Competition is not a concern for liberals; instead, they emphasize cooperation in order to achieve success. Furthermore, while liberalism promotes cooperation rather than competition in order to acquire whatever there is , realism encourages individuality. Liberalism is made for group effort rather than individual achievement. Individualism is more aligned with realism.

Liberals are confident in the international system’s potential to bring peace, and improvements are likely. Liberals welcome organizations like the United Nations that are multinational bodies and rule over everyone. These worldwide bodies are also considered global leaders by liberals. According to liberalism, international organizations such as the United Nations allow nations to interact with one another in a variety of ways.

The many cross-border interactions among nations offer liberals hope that problems of war can be resolved or reduced to a point that is manageable. Liberals are thus idealistic, hopeful, and flexible in their expectations, believing that things may change for the better. They are willing to work towards and embrace changes because they are adaptable and optimistic.

Liberals, on the other hand, are eager for improvements and better things in a subtle approach. Liberals believe that the international body can be influenced to bring more peace. Realists argue that because the international system is inherently anarchic and cannot be made more peaceful except by the use of power, fundamental changes and better things will not come without conflict.

The concept of realism is that things are as they always have been, and there’s nothing we can do to improve them. Realists also value old-fashioned methods such as using power to make changes rather than thinking about alternatives like negotiation. Many people equate realists with conservatives, whereas liberals may negotiate depending on the circumstances and situation.

The idea that democracy may bring peace is widely held by liberals. The liberals believe that democratic countries will not fight each other just because of their differences in power and personal interests. For the Liberals, freedom is basic, and power is necessary. The notion that power can be wielded not just by those at the top of the hierarchy but also by individuals at the bottom has long been a staple among them.

See also  Purposes of Education Essay

That is why liberalism holds that a democracy fosters peace and nations that practice it never fight each other, but have an equal share of power. Realism, on the other hand, does not think that democratization can bring peace. Realists also argue that countries will always strive for power, no matter whether they are democratic or not.

Realists, in contrast to liberals who support democracy, understand the importance of all forms of power and insist that political power is essential in any country. To realists, international conflicts will always arise when their interests are at stake, even if their opponents are both democracies. Realism is based on interests and desires rather than forms of authority for the liberals.

The liberals are blind to the fact that democratic nations reason in the same way and can never fight each other, thus they generalize events. Realism, on the other hand, individualizes situations by recognizing that countries will always battle against one another, regardless of their political systems. The goal of any conflict is to achieve personal advantages for oneself or one’s people; not shared characteristics.

Liberals value non-state actors and pay attention to individual leaders. Non-governmental organizations and their significance are also considered by liberals. Instead of simply stating that the state is excellent, liberalism has a component of viewing those who create the state one by one and their importance rather than just calling it a building block of the state. Many liberals, on the other hand, may congratulate or praise a nation’s individuals such as businesses since they are also important building blocks of the government.

Only the state is regarded to be significant by Realism. The fundamental components of the state are never taken into account because the accepted figure is always the state. If a country is terrible, only its name will be utilized to condemn it, and non-state actors won’t have a negative image. When a nation performs well, everyone recognizes it except for those who helped make the nation better.


Both realism and liberalism have a national interest at their core. The two theories of international relations (realism and liberalism) are founded on the concept that nations always do as they please, according to the goal. Military defense, political domination, self-preservation, and economic flourishing are all examples of state interests.

Both realism and liberalism believe that the protagonists of both theories seek power. Whelan (2004) notes that both realism and liberalism agree that the actors of both views want power. However, the ways in which states gain and protect power are looked at differently by each side. According to realism, state against state military dominance is how authority is obtained. As a result, for realists, warfare and competition for power become the focal point of study. Liberals, on the other hand, extend the notion of influence to include corporate agreements, personal contracts, and trade negotiations.

Another distinction between realism and liberalism is that they are both theories of international relations. Idealism, which was mentioned earlier, is one such theory. Theories such as realism and liberalism posit the roles of actors. Actors in the view of a liberalist include individuals and businesses that span national borders. Only the state is considered an actor in international affairs according to realism.


Many theories address the topic of war, domestic affairs, and international relations. Liberalism and realism provide pictures that coexist but become opposed when they are applied to theory. Realism is a pessimistic and conservative philosophy. The realists are frequently inclined to think about the long-term stability of current global state arrangements.

Liberalism is progressive and forward-thinking. Liberals are of the opinion that self-change is always desirable and required, at all costs. There are no right or wrong sides in any of the opinions. Both realism and liberalism contain truths depending on the stated conditions. None of the theories handle every scenario; consequently, they offer contrasting views on goals, international affairs, actors, and tools.

In its stated actors, realism and liberalism define them in different ways. As realists maintain that only strong, larger states are genuine actors in international politics, liberals disagree. Liberals think that nations are the most important players despite the fact that a variety of other variables must be considered.

Essay 2

Overview of realism and liberalism

In international politics, the theories of liberalism and realism are two of the most popular approaches for analyzing interactions between nations. The premises of the two theories are in direct opposition. Realism is interpreted as showing pessimism in international relations, whereas liberalism points to optimism and positivism when it comes to state relationships and objectives within the international system.

Realism portrays rivalry among nations in international relations. Realists claim that every action undertaken by a nation state is motivated by the desire to promote and protect its national state’s interests. Nation states attempt to preserve their own interests, which implies that they are all-out for protecting their country’s interest.

They are less concerned about the interests of other countries. On the other hand, liberalism depicts a shift in the international landscape that aims to enhance nation-state interactions in various areas of development. Liberalism is associated with optimism for both domestic and foreign affairs. In political economics, liberalism as a school of thought focuses on altering policies and laws to assist developing nations develop.In order to achieve this goal, liberalism looks for a method of nations’ engagement in political, social, and economic activities that is free and open.

See also  The Story of an Hour Analysis Essay

Liberalism, realism and the concept of power

There are many research papers on the subject of power in domestic and international politics. One of the most essential ideas that shape states’ interactions on the global system is power. Two main theories, liberalism and realism, illustrate two contrasting pictures that coexist but differ in theory.

The way in which realism and liberalism portray power between actors on the domestic and international stage differs. One important distinction to note between realism and liberalism is that they both trust and confide in the need for power by individuals (2005). However, the manner in which the two theories represent the pathways for gaining power by actors differs.

Realism and the comprehension of power

Realism is a two-dimensional theory, according to Wechsler (2010). Hans Morgenthau introduced the idea in the mid- twentieth century. The creation period of this concept is significant in determining the theory’s degree of power explanation. At that time, when the world was experiencing a power vacuum as a result of World War II, this notion was created.

From the 19th century European politics, realism may be understood. Power was one of the major causes of conflict among European nations in the 19th century. The 19th century was characterized by numerous wars and territorial conquests throughout Europe.

From the end of the 19th century through the mid-20th century, these advancements advanced. The balance of power was a major source of conflict between the United States and Soviet Union throughout the cold war. As a result, contemporary political changes in world affairs cannot be divorced from power (Lukes, 2005).

Realism is very pessimistic about the influence of states on power, owing to its conflation of state and societal factors. Contemporary global political economy developments back up this claim, as each actor now employs a variety of instruments to gain power. Realism thinks that state military dominance is an important indicator of state power.

States’ primary objective in military power acquisition, exercise, and consolidation is to seek and increase states’ power. According to realism, the present wars that the United States has waged against other countries, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, are examples of actions that display power through military dominance (Lukes 2005).

The search for power is the heart of realism’s main question. There have been several changes in international politics that appear to take away the notion of states’ self-interest according to realist theory. According to adherents of realism, global politics cannot be explained simply by focusing on a single aspect of power (Williams, 2006).

Realism, for instance, is a school of thought that seeks to broaden the characteristics of power in international politics. Neo-realism, for example, attempts to portray the international system as an interconnected one in which military dominance isn’t the only source of power as postulated by realists.

This conclusion is based on the premise that although anarchy as proposed by realists cannot be entirely avoided, sovereignty remains one of the key supporting elements that distinguish a state. It is claimed that many realists have accepted that the status of anarchy is an issue that must be considered in state interactions (Jackson & Sørensen, 2007).

Liberalism and the comprehension of power

The term “liberalist” refers to someone who believes in freedom. On the other hand, the word “liberalism” is used by realists to refer to people who are optimistic about human progress. The concept of power is interpreted differently by liberals than it is by realists. The scale of understanding possessed by liberalism differs from the scale of understanding held by realists.

According to the liberals, power includes a variety of other activities such as international trade, cultural interaction, and cooperative progress. Rather than relying on military dominance like realists do, states gain power in various ways (Jackson & Sørensen, 2007).

The term “locus of power” refers to the idea that authority is inherent in certain locations. This implies that power is derived from a variety of sources rather than only military action. The notion that nation states should be open and cooperative in their interactions has been embraced by liberalism. Nations nowadays compete in other areas beyond military might.

This is largely due to the efforts of governments and international organizations, who seek to establish a suitable environment for economic and social exchange. Today, there is an increase in social and economic cooperation between nations. This collaboration enables states to expand their power in the social and economic areas by allowing them access to new ideas (Jackson & Sorenson, 2007).

Today, a large number of countries across the world have obtained power through economic pursuits. Such nations are recognized as taking advantage of open international markets to expand commerce. In the South East Asian area, examples may be found. The strength of these countries is their capacity to develop in trade and economics.

The apparent agreement on the subject of power between realism and liberalism may be interpreted as follows: while the former stresses its sovereignty, the latter focuses on protection. While a state’s sovereignty is a matter of contention in both theories, it comes out differently in how each theory characterizes the nation-state’s quest for power (D’Anieri, 2012).

Realism, liberalism and the international system

The study of systems theory is essential for an understanding of the international system. Actors make up the international system, according to this idea, which is made up of states. States interact based on their interests. Both realists and liberals have offered arguments about the nature of international system interactions.

The interests of nations and the methods that each country employs in connecting with other countries in the international system contribute to such behaviors.

Realism and the comprehension of the international system

Realism is one of the varieties of realism, along with Realpolitik. In terms of the international system’s definition, Realism is an advocate for anarchism. The states are the main actors in the international system. Realists assert that states are independent actors who use rationality to protect their interests when interacting with each other. Each state endeavors to achieve a survival position during interaction.

See also  Is Walmart Good For America Essay

The contemporary theoretical research indicates the development of complex systems theory, which recognizes the existence of other actors in the international system. The function of other players is minimized by realists. Complex systems theory, on the other hand, has developed over time to embrace this reality.

Other players are pulled into the global system, yet realists do not see a major shift in their perception of the international system. Realists believe that other actors in the international system, especially when they claim to be independent, act to preserve and advance the interests of states in the international system.

States are responsible for the development of other actors, such as the international bodies. When states create international organizations, they are motivated by interests. The United Nations is an example, which anti-western countries see as a mechanism to promote the interests of the United States and other western allies (Harrison, 2013).

Liberalism and the comprehension of the international system

In terms of the international system’s structure, liberalism differs from realism in what is seen to be the actors within it. According to liberalism, because there are so many actors in the international system, nation states are simply players within it (Harrison, 2013).

In order to accomplish this goal, liberalism attempts to bring out the functional distinctions among the actors in the international system. Each actor in the system is valued. This differs from realism, which sees non-state actors as having secondary roles as a result of state influence. In today’s global situation, one may observe that non-state actors are quite active (Sørensen, 2006). The World Health Organization is a good example. It helps to free the worldwide trading environment by providing valuable help and expertise, as well as participating in cross-cutting activities (Harrison, 2013).

However, the problem of power and control within the international system is an important roadblock to the spread of Liberalism ideas. The issue that frequently arises is whether or not the international actors can be removed from states. Most non-state actors are under the thumb of states. For example, one-third of the UN’s budget is paid for by the United States. This indicates that the US has a lot of power over the organization (Ekeli, 2012).

Essay 3

Realism and liberalism are two of the most widely accepted theories in international relations. Realism paints a picture of a gloomy, self-centered world in which war is easy to occur because of the striving for power by all nations. Liberalism takes the optimistic view that nations will collaborate to play the “win-win game,” implying that sides will get what they want while also reducing the likelihood of war.

This essay will compare and contrast the two theories, as well as attempt to evaluate the Ukraine crisis of 2014 based on the foundation of the two ideas. The realism view of international politics is that it emphasizes competition and conflict. Realists realized that states are the primary actors in international affairs, which means they’re always concerned about their own interests.

The term “realism” was first used to describe an international relations (IR) theory that focuses on explaining the world through war, conflict, and security (Introduction to International Relation). That was the time when realism was regarded as a good theory. However, many people believed that realism is a pessimistic worldview in all cases. For example, realistic thinking followed up.

The issue isn’t that popular governments never go to battle; majority rule states have gone to war as frequently as non-vote based systems. The argument is that vote-based systems don’t fight one another, however. There are three components to the case for the proposition that popular government leads to peace with other vote-based regimes. The initial component is the presence of family political organizations, which take into account peaceful clash resolution.

Because popularity-based governments have been ruled by their people, who will not support or aid conflicts with other vote-based systems, the calm IR is energized. The second aspect is that majority rule systems are based on fundamental moral values, which lead to the formation of “pacific union.” The union is not a formal peace treaty but rather a region of peace as a result of the basic good foundation shared by all majority rule structures.

The usage of rough conduct to illuminate local conflict is considered to be more ethically preferable than quiet methods, and this attitude is passed on to IR by majority rule governments. The worldwide common vision is aided by flexibility of expression and free communication, which helps to guarantee that political agents operate according to the national viewpoint. Finally, financial participation and reliance help to secure the peace among majority rule governments.

Cite this page

Choose cite format:
Realism vs Liberalism Essay. (2021, Nov 07). Retrieved December 9, 2022, from