International Politics are based upon two main theories, Realism and Liberalism, which are
conventionally opposed, and therefore give two different interpretations of world politics. This essay will focus on the stances of these theories upon the role of the state. But before assessing their viewpoints, it is crucial to understand what the state represents. Already in 1648, the Treaties of Westphalia which ended the Thirty Years War set an international society in which sovereign states possess the monopoly of force within their defined territory and behave among themselves through diplomacy and international law, implying a separation between the domestic and international
spheres. The state is a distinct set of political institutions whose specific concern is with the
organization of the domination in the name of the common interest, within a delimited territory.
Besides, Max Weber gives the most influential definition of the modern state: the state is a human
community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of force within a given territory.
[...] The first one refers to the state as the principal actor in international relations; statism makes of the state the “legitimate representative of the collective will of the people”; and self-help claims that the state is responsible for its own survival, which implies no dependency on any institutions, hence highlights the importance of military power. However, nowadays, it seems that the primacy of the state as the central actor in international politics is questioned with the advent of globalization. This idea has given way to neo-realism which, even though it keeps the realist theory basis, reckons that the structure of the international system affects the behaviour of the states. [...]
[...] Nowadays, even though its role is seemingly counterbalanced by international rules and norms in the sphere of world politics, the state has to promote and maintain peace and just order. Therefore, national interests are all bound to the stability of international relations, and war is rejected whereas cooperation in the international system is boosted. The state is then more of a medium of exchange on the one hand on the international scene and on the other hand between the government and the citizens. [...]
[...] ] And, finally, there's a last definition which is generally referred to as Westphalian sovereignty, in my view a total misnomer, which refers to the notion that states have the right to autonomously determine their own domestic authority structures the corollary of that being no intervention in the internal affairs of other states.” The reason of the state sets its foundation on the famous end justifies the means” of Machiavelli. Indeed, in order to achieve the state's goals, namely its security or even its expansion, the ruling power can choose amid an array of means, from diplomacy to war. [...]
[...] Moreover, the state, as the frame of human societies, is labelled as the key actor in international relations, namely an anarchic structure which places the state within a highly competitive and conflictual environment. The role the state plays is largely determined by its power, which is mainly defined by the following factors: physical size, location, resources, geography, gross domestic product, military size . Power is also known as ability to get what you want either through the threat or use of force” . [...]
[...] Indeed, the Westphalian order is deemed inadequate since “after 1945, the UN Charter set limits to the sovereignty of states by recognizing the rights of individuals in a whole series of human rights conventions.” Moreover, it is contended that some countries have voluntarily renounced to their whole sovereignty; the European Union is a prime example: you look at the member states of the European Union, they are no longer Westphalian or Vattelian-Westphalian sovereigns. All these member states have voluntarily agreed to subject themselves to supranational institutions like the European Court and to what they call "pooled sovereignty," which is qualified majority voting.” Besides, some believe that it is necessary to abolish the separate sovereign states in order to build a world government, whose achievement is peace. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee