Realism and Liberalism are the two most popular schools of thought in International Relations, these two philosophies get thrown around a lot when discussing political issues, however, many a times these two schools of thought get misinterpreted and used in the wrong context.
Keeping in mind that these two philosophies are both as valid as each other, neither is wrong and both are valid political philosophies. Lets Start with Realism;
International organizations from a realist perspective
Realism Is a view of international politics that portrays the international structure as anarchical, that is, an anarchic environment in which there is no world government to impose structure and stability, states therefore engage in self-help behaviour to ensure their longevity. Its anarchical nature heightens the interaction between states and competing interests, and this heightened interaction has the potential to scale into military conflict.
The Term International Organizations from a realist perspective refers to the patters of order that can arise in this anarchical state, from the interaction between great powers and their self-interest. The Realist perspective argues that international co-operation occurs under only 3 circumstances; Security Alliances, Polarity and Hegemonic stability.
Polarity refers to the relative distribution of capabilities in the international system during a particular time period. There are multiple types of Polarity that can occur in the international system and each system of polarity leads to different forms of IO’s and global governance;
· Multipolar system of International Governance
· Bipolar System of International Governance
· Unipolar System of International Governance- the Contemporary International Order, in which the US became the main actor after the Cold war.
Hegemonic Stability occurs when a predominant state uses its greater capabilities to shape international politics for the promotion of order, stability and co-operation, most of the IGOs(International Government Organisations) that have help establish contemporary international co-operation can be traced back to American Hegemony post-World War II.
Strengths and weaknesses
Realism serves as a corrective for the contemporary liberal ideals and goals that tend to fail to acknowledge the relative power that is required between states to support these ideals. However Realism itself fails to acknowledge the importance of NSA’s(Non-State Actors) and fails to acknowledge the social construction of the international scene because of its rationalist ideals.
Classic Liberal Internationalism and Global Governance
Liberalism Is a view of international politics that can be described as the opposite of realism. Liberal internationalism is more optimistic between interstate interactions and posits a zone of peace and cooperation amongst states. Classic Liberal Internationalism ideology includes free trades, self-determination, and non-intervention in the matters of other states.
Liberal Internationalism did not emerge as a theory of International Relations; rather, it evolved from an ideology into an analytical framework, meaning that Internationalism has always been a part of the global governance, although it was not part of the international scene. The nineteenth century is where liberalism began to take centre stage, as it develops in some countries as a national political movement, it is here that the ideology of 'free trade brings on cooperation between states' emerges. Early twentieth century internationalism interacted more with international organisations bringing forth the creation of IOs(International Organisations) and the proactive welfare state served as a model for international cooperation.
Strengths and weaknesses
With the removal of certain barriers of trade, spread of democracy, and the emergence of IOs- all of which are significant parts of the Liberalist ideology- Liberalism became less of an ideology and more of a reality. Liberalism receives criticism, however, mostly in relation as to how do liberal internationalists achieve these goals? As they all have the shared belief in international progress but they have different approaches to reaching said goal.
Realism and Liberal internationalism are perhaps the most accepted schools of thought in IR. Both draw their analysis from the philosophical understanding of human nature. It is hard to argue that one is better than the other as that comes down to personal opinion, however, it is hard to deny that the analytical nature of these two theories have allowed us great understanding and possibly changed the way we look at IO and global governance