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What is the role of the state in international Politics?

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  1. Introduction
  2. Understanding the realist point of view on the role of the state in international politics
    1. Maximizing its national interests in order to perpetuate its life
  3. The advent of globalization and the state as the central actor in international politics
  4. Conclusion
  5. Bibliography

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. [...]

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