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Anarchy as the Primary Contention in Neorealist/Neoliberalist Thought Realist scholars conduct their work with a foundational assumption of international anarchy; by which they mean a system without some sort of overarching world authority (i.e. a world government). Donnelly (2000) explains, "I use 'anarchy' as it is ordinarily used in the international relations literature; that is, in the literal sense of absence of rule, lack of government...anarchy does not imply chaos, absence of order; it is simply the absence of 'hierarchical' political order based on formal subordination and authority." He illustrates the idea with a quotation from Schuman (1941), "'In the absence of international government, 'the law of the jungle' still prevails.'" He also illustrates how anarchy is mentioned by almost all of the most influential contemporary neorealist scholars. This essay will argue that in the contemporary neorealist - neoliberalist debate, anarchy continues to be the major rift that divides the two schools due to different interpretations concerning the future of the global international political world. This essay begins by briefly defining the realist anarchical view as seen by most scholars. From this point, it will then explain the process of development of this realist view, which is important understanding both neorealist and neoliberal thought. Finally, this essay will show how the realist understanding of the perpetuation and preservation of anarchy is incompatible with contemporary liberal thought, and how this is the major dividing line between the two schools at present. From the realist view of anarchy defined above stem various other ideas, which include: that of international relations that are statecentred, with the states' security and
2 survival as their primary concerns, as well as 'power politics' among the 'great powers' (i.e. the most powerful states). This anarchical view is one that focuses on the structure of the world political system. This way of thinking was first established by Kenneth Waltz in his work, The Theory of International Politics (1979). As Waltz describes in his fourth chapter, a structural or 'systems level' understanding of international relations solves the problems encountered by scholars of needing to add new unitlevel variables for every phenomenon, or of trying to understand how the same effect can come about from different causes. It is evident that the latter occurs because there the units (states) face some set of constraints. If scholars pinpoint the structure, which is inherently a "set of constraining conditions," they could potentially understand why unlike units may behave in analogous ways. Waltz does note, however, that structures, are not direct causes for they act "through socialization of the actors and through competition among them." According to Waltz, there are two types of political structures that are possible: hierarchical or anarchical. Hierarchical structures tend to be characteristic of domestic systems. On the other hand, at the global level, a state of political anarchy exists. As the only possible global hierarchical system that could exist, according to Waltz, would be a 'world government' (which clearly is not present), a decentralized anarchical structure is a basic feature in international relations. The second key feature of international relations is the relative power between states, as consequence of the fact that the world politics are a "selfhelp system." By "[abstracting] every attribute of states except their capabilities" (Waltz 1979) it is possible to "highlight the ways in which the distribution of capabilities in an anarchic order shapes relations" (Donnelly 2000).
3 Waltz maintains that in the system, or model, he is describing, states are the only important actors. Though he acknowledges that other actors (like NGOs or IGOs) exist, he sees them as inconsequential. Waltz describes this using an analogy to economic thought, upon which his theory is based. Political actors are like firms. If all firms (or states) were equally sized (or had equal power), they would all be important. However, in the case of a market dominated by a small group of large firms (great power), the economic (political) models would focus only on these. States are the most powerful actors on the world stage, setting the rules of the game and retaining the most influence. Thus, the international system is defined in terms of states. The importance of describing the development of the neorealist theory in this essay, as has been done above, is to show which of the core assumptions of realist thinkers are products of an belief in an unchanging anarchical structure. It is just these core assumptions, it will be argued, that neoliberalists counter. There are currently four main strains of liberal though in international relations as identified by Jackson and Sorensen (2003). Of these four, three (sociological liberalism, interdependence liberalism, and institutional liberalism) directly contradict the realist view on anarchy. The sociological strain of liberalism emphasizes that International Relations is a study of relations between individuals, groups and organizations, and societies in addition to states/ national governments. The sociological approach, like many aspects of the liberal tradition, challenges the realists' focus on a statecentric anarchic system and its inability to see the contemporary world's transition to a multicentric world. At the core of the multicentric ideal is the importance of individuals. Rosenau (1992) identified five primary reasons for the rising
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