The Realist Concept: Anarchy, Self-Interest And Power

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Describe and assess the realist understanding of the following concepts: “anarchy”, “self-interest” and “power” Realists suggest that the international system is based on three key assumptions of anarchy, self-interest or egotism and power. Anarchy or the lack of central authority dominates international politics which causes states to act in self-interest i.e. make rational decisions to ensure survival in a world where all actors possess military capabilities. The interaction of these assumptions, particularly anarchy and egotism, lead to the superseding role of and struggles for power in all political life (Donnelly, 2000). The constant presence of force and reliance on it lead to dilemmas of security and questions about ethics argued by…show more content…
States are thus seen as unitary actors that resort to self-help for survival that act rationally to improve material welfare (Donnelly, 2000). The behaviour of states is reflected in recurring and enduring patterns that are closely identified with the approach of Realpolitik which indicateings that national interest provides are a spring for action; unregulated competition in the international realm necessitates state policies to strengthen it and best serve its interests (Waltz, 1979). The importance of maximising self-interest in a decentralized realm has been important since the Westphalian era, where individual states secured their status and recognition based on self-defined functions in the system, as a survival strategy (Donnelly, 2000). Modern day Russia (guardian of monarchical order), Denmark and Sweden (neutral guardians of Baltic access) and Low Countries (neutral buffer and conduit) adopt different roles and functions for survival (Donnelly,…show more content…
They continue to argue that global hegemony is impossible, however, they do not disapprove the idea of regional hegemony. Offensive realists such as Mearsheimer (2001) argue that great powers seek to dominate their geographical region - United States in Western Hemisphere along with Europe and Russia and China in Northeast Asia, while acting as offshore balancers with respect to each other to preserve their preeminent position and stop the emergence of a rival

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