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Thomas Hobbes’ and Classical Realism Relationship Essay (Critical Writing)


Realism is defined as the opinion that is placed upon international politics by emphasizing on the competitive and conflict sides. It is through realism that we are able to theoretically study international relations. Realists define international states as states in which the political leaders are concerned with their security, struggle for power and act in their own interests. It is important to note that realism is broadly grouped into classical realism and neo-realism. Classical realism has been the core theme of study in the politics of the world since 1946. In fact, classical realism was seen as the natural way of maintaining peace after the Second World War. Neo-realism on the other hand is the modern realism practiced in most of the nations today. Some of the founders of realism were Hobbes, Thucydides, and Machiavelli just to mention a few (Mahnken, 2008). This paper is therefore an in-depth analysis of the relationship between Hobbes and classical realism.

Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher and the writer of Leviathan. Just like the other founding fathers of realism, Hobbes was involved in laying out the foundations of classical realism (Mahnken, 2008). Hobbes and his colleagues emphasized on power as being the heart of classical realism. Nevertheless, Hobbes was a big contributor of the state-centric dimension of classical realism. In this, Hobbes explained that in realism, all international relations would revolve around a single state. One of the greatest contributions that Hobbes made in realism was the definition of power. Hobbes defined power in a way that was different from other realists. Despite the fact that power is a term difficult to define, Hobbes clearly indicated the importance of power in realism. He defined power as the ability of getting much from the people one governs.

Realism is based on power and self-interest. Thus, leaders under this ideology are characterized by different ideas from those of the states. Most often than not, realists believe that they have been confined in international lawlessness. In that case, human nature is viewed as being egocentric (Baylis, 2010). Hobbes indicated that, leaders under realism are not necessarily selfish but may conflict with other people’s ideas. Realism is therefore the opposite of liberalism.

In addition to this, Hobbes created the relevancy of international relations in the twenty first century. According to Hobbes, realism works best when people are involved in international relationship. Hobbes is an advocator of classical realism, which is the first generation of the realism ideology (Baylis, 2010). The philosophical view of Hobbes maintains that human nature plays a significant role in leadership under classical realism. Hobbes other invention was the Hobbesian logic of anarchy, which advocated for power and authority in leadership. Unlike the other realists, Hobbes believed that most people attach realism to human nature. With that in mind, realism is inevitable.

Despite the much advocacy on realism, it is criticized for its inability to detect weaknesses and changes in international relations. Since realists accord high value for security and power, there is normally the risk of giving preference to autonomy in independent actions and decisions. As such, there are higher chances of nations governed by realists going into war than those governed by liberalists. Hobbes, on his side contributed to the invention of realism and was a great campaigner for the same. His relationship with classical realism is therefore cordial.

Reference List

Baylis, J. (2010). Strategy in Contemporary World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mahnken, T. (2008). Strategic Studies. New York: Routledge.

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IvyPanda. "Thomas Hobbes' and Classical Realism Relationship." May 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/thomas-hobbes-and-classical-realism-relationship/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Thomas Hobbes' and Classical Realism Relationship." May 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/thomas-hobbes-and-classical-realism-relationship/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Thomas Hobbes' and Classical Realism Relationship'. 20 May.

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