The political concept of realism dates back to the 17th century and is associated with historic figures such as Hobbes and Machiavelli. Its main premise is the international community is always in a state of anarchy because each nation determinedly pursues things for its self-interest, whether it be for financial, political or social resources. Idealism is the complete opposite of realism. A political idealist would focus more on the individual and an international politics, would view the world as composed of many different groups, organizations and people that can all come together through cooperation and mutual respect. Woodrow Wilson and his promotion of the League of Nations is the perfect example of realism. To be succinct, realists tend to be on the cynical side, while idealists idealize.
In the case of the collapse of the Soviet Union, it can be viewed from a realist approach. Before Gorbachev instituted perestroika and glasnost, the Soviet Union was already in the throes of decline. The reforms were supposed to return them to super power status, but proved the undoing of that nation through circumstances such as the Berlin Wall coming down and the loss of the Eastern European bloc of nations. However, Gorbachev cannot be blamed for the entire dismantling because the Soviet Union was already experiencing problems keeping up the United States as far as economically. Therefore, their form of government could not continue to go on with a centrally controlled economy.
What also hurt the Soviet Union was the war in Afghanistan. It was draining even more of their resources they needed to maintain military parity with the United States. It was simply
inevitable that socialism or communism would eventually fail by not delivering a strong enough economic backbone for the Soviet Union to survive.
Strohmer, Charles. “Realism and Idealism.” Charles Strohmer.com. Web. n.d. Retrieved on
Wilson, Peter. “Idealism in International Relations.” The London School of Economics and
Politics.com. 2011. Retrieved on July 5, 2014 from http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/.