The Criticisms of the “Realist” School of Thought
Criticism has been leveled against the Realist School. The centric view of the school with regards to power is obviously at the heart of such criticism. There have been calls to downplay the quasi-exclusive focus on the state and material capabilities. State in the Realist world view is centric because the military belongs to it, and the military by virtue of the power it represent is in turn the major component of the state. Critics find problems with this centrality of the state whereby “other non-state actors-multinational and corporations, banks, terrorists, and international organizations-are either excluded, downplayed, or trivialized”.
Hence, Realism failed to predict and to account for various problems that came to the foreground in the post-Cold War era, such as economic problems, terrorism and religious fundamentalism. Another taxonomy that has been noted lies in the term realism itself. The very term presupposes that the worldview depicts reality. However, reality as a concept is controversial. Some realists are in fact idealist because of their subjective stance, so goes the argument.
Within this line, an author named has depicted International Relations Theory: A Critical Introduction, major classical Realists, Hans Morgenthau and Kenneth Waltz, as political idealists and accordingly “their shared descriptions of international relations politics, albeit deductively arrived at via very different intellectual routes, and the prescriptive and evaluative stances that flow from them, are woefully inadequate to the complexity of the subject matter”.
In this manner, the argument of Realists, about them being “realist”, is turned around. The term “realist” presupposes that there is another category which is “idealist”; however, with such statement as the above, the argument is reversed. Always within this line of argumentation, the fact that it is the realists who dubbed themselves so takes from “the legitimacy” of the qualification.