Political theory can be defined as an orientation that typifies the thinking of a nation. Various theories have been advanced to try and explain why states behave and act in a manner which they do with regards to their political relations others at international levels. This submission seeks to briefly but critically analyse some of the theories of international politics and will then seek to give an explanation as to why there is more than one theory of international politics.
Classical realism theory is a political theory that avers that all states of the world are more concern with power more than anything else. According to this theory, all states want power and would like to pull down other states with power, because power in the hands of another state becomes a threat to the states with equal and or less power. This theory further claims that the people in the power-hungry states are greedy, selfish and aggressive and these traits go a long way in defining the general characteristic of such states in relation to the other states of the world.
Neo-realism theory is a political theory that avers that all states of the world are more concern with power more than anything else. However, it further attributes power struggles to the natural laws of survival for the fittest. This theory goes further to state that there is no world government and that states are only doing everything they can to survive. With no rules governing the behaviour of states to subscribe to, states can, therefore, do anything within their ability and which they can get away with, in order to get power.
Neo-classical realism theory supports the conception of power rivalry between the states of the world. However, it avers that state characteristics define the state behaviour at international level. According to Neo-classical realism theory, states seek power but do not fear the powerful states. In other words, the reasons that states seek power are not related to the fear of other states. There are different reasons why states strive to get power and there are equally reasons states fear others.
The liberalism theory otherwise known as idealism, avers that despite the fact that rivalry exists among states, there is equally a lot of co-operation among the states. This theory opines that states are not all after power and, that to the contrary, states make strides to achieve a just world by way of establishing enforceable international laws. Their ultimate intention is to bring peace and tranquillity to the world. This theory can be said to be contradicting the Classical Realism, Neo-realism and the Neo-classical realism theories which are all based on power struggles and rivalry. Neo-liberalism theory advances a conception of relationships of states at an international level being rule-based. This theory contends that the states behaviour are inspired and guided by international bodies and institutions such as the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
There are also cognitive theories which have assumed the perspective of analysing international politics from an angle of psychological processes and more specifically perceptions, misperceptions and belief systems. All these can be looked into by analysing a state’s foreign policy and focussing on the dynamics of psychological processes. Finally this submission would briefly analyse the theory of constructivism. It contends that the different states have different characteristics owing to the fact that each state has its own different social, economic, religious and political characteristics which sum up to define the state’s general characteristics.
In conclusion, and based on all the theories highlighted herein, it is obvious that there are a lot of factors that define the international political relations between different states; these factors are not the same. Some theorists contend that international political relations are determined by power and power struggles while others submit that states are not concerned with power and are indeed making efforts to have a peaceful and just world. Evidently, these particularly divergent views cannot be expressed in a single theory. Further, the manner in which states relate with each other is not uniform and or standard thus making political scientists and theorists infer and draw different opinions and conclusions which again may not be possible to express in a single theory. There are many factors that determine how states relate with each other and these cannot be explained in one fashion or in a single theory. The states are not the similar and or to not have the same standing in terms of power and economic strength. They consequently behave differently and have different reasons for acting in different ways. The state governors and heads have different characters. Some are greedy, selfish and aggressive while others are accommodating, understanding and selfless. This translates to how states relate to each. In addition, it can be argued that states are cooperating and striving to achieve a just world. A pointer to this would be the existence of international bodies such as the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and even the International Criminal Court (ICC). It is on this premise that there is more than one theory of international politics.
Schaffner, B. F. (2010). Politics. New York: Cengage Learning.