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Realism, particularly in the field of international relations, is the most profound theory in contemporary international relations theories. Realism emphasises the balance of power in the international community, the correlation between power relations and national decision-making, as well as the pursuit of the general interests of the state in the long run.


The term “Realism” originated from German realpolitik in the 19th century, and was subsequently validated in World War I and World War II, where it gradually became the major theory in international political scholarship.


To be specific, realism can be subdivided into “classical realism” (derived from Machiavelli’s “The Prince” ), “neorealism” (also known as “structural realism”, from Waltz’s “Theory of International Politics”), and “neoclassical realism” after the Cold War.


The main arguments of realism are that the international system is anarchic (state of nature), that there is a balance of power between states, but that the nature of international relations is still one of war and conflicts; that states are the main actors in international affairs, not international organisations or non-governmental organisations; and that state decisions are based on ration and the core interests of the state, rather than on morality and social norms.


To sum up, for realists, the highest goal of national decision-making is the survival and interests of the state, and emphasises the egoism of human nature and the lack of authority over the state as a limit to politics.


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