The Realist Theory Of Realism And The Peloponnesian War

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2.5.1.1 Realism Theory

Realism focuses on state security and power above all else. Early realists such as E.H. Carr and Hans Morgenthau argued that states are self-interested, power-seeking rational actors, who seek to maximize their security and chances of survival.[10] Cooperation between states is a way to maximize each individual state 's security (as opposed to more idealistic reasons). Similarly, any act of war must be based on self-interest, rather than on idealism. Many realists saw World War II as the vindication of their theory.

Realists argue that the need for survival requires state leaders to distance themselves from traditional morality. Realism taught American leaders to focus on interests rather than on ideology, to seek peace through strength, and to recognise that great powers can coexist even if they have antithetical values and beliefs.[11]

Thucydides, the author of the Peloponnesian War is considered to be the founding father of the realist school of political philosophy.[12] Amongst others, philosophers like Machiavelli. Hobbes and Rousseau are considered to have contributed to the Realist philosophy.[13] However, while their work may support realist doctrine, it is not likely that they would have classified themselves as realists in this sense. Political realism believes that politics, like society, is governed by objective laws with roots in human nature. To improve society, it is first necessary to understand the laws by which society lives.

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