Idealism and Realism Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer


Plato, the philosopher, was the first to work on the subject of idealism. Idealism deals with what constitutes a perfect human being, viewing him as one who contains both spiritual and material characteristics. Of the two, spiritual is considered the most important human aspect because it focuses on the mind and character but not the physical human body.

On the other hand, realism is thought to have risen towards the end of 19th century. It is often applied in different areas such as arts, international relations, law, among others.

This paper views realism as used in the last two areas, international relations and law. It is more of a thinking that focuses on the security of a country. It is naturally imaginary implying that it is made by man, and thus contains errors because man is well known in creating mistakes.

Realism theories range from classical, liberal, legal, to mention a few. The two, idealism and realism operate under certain principles. The following paragraphs deal with the basic principles of each.

Basic principles of idealism

A major principle in this philosophy holds that there is a mind powerful than that of human beings. It is often called the principle of universal mind. It is believed that there is a special man, greater than human beings, whose ability of thinking is better than that of all men.

The principle holds that this special person is invisible but has the power to influence the minds of human beings and that is why the principle views this special person as God, who creates people, gives them life and their present minds that help them think. The other principle views people as being holy. It says that the strength of the minds of people is greater by far compared to other animals. Basing on this, it constitutes the most important aspect of life, making people special than all other animals.

This philosophy is also built on the principle of the advantage of information and standards. It claims that people have more advantages compared to animals. They have a superior knowledge of things than animals. This is thought as a gift from God whom they believe exists and gives them the desires of their hearts including their desire of knowledge.

The other idealism principle says that real things originate from the mind and not from the common senses of people. It holds that the ability of people to think is what enables them make real things. Real things do not come by seeing, hearing, feeling, but through thinking.

Basic principles of realism

Realism assumes that interest defined as power is an objective category which is universally valid but not with a meaning that is fixed once and for all. Power is the control of man over man “(Hans 7). One of these principles says that people are ruled by laws that are made by other people but not God.

This philosophy includes the principle that people should be respected in terms of their powers or academic knowledge. Therefore, the more educated or the more powerful a person is, in politics, the more respected he/she becomes.

Realism considers the lessons learned from politics enabling it to know what to and not to do in order for a nation to succeed politically. The principle of identity used in realism says that the laws governing a country cannot be separated from those governing the universe. The two are almost the same.

Realism depends purely on the nature of people and hence varies depending on the people. There are no realism principles which can be accepted by all people. They apply to some nations depending on their interests. According to Thompson, the common ways of thinking of people is subject to deviating from what is right to evil (Thompson 165).

This is what forms the basis of realism as determined by the people for the people. From the knowledge of the above principles and the provided hypothetical scenario, the following are the proposals of the two ministers.

Ministers’ proposals

The major cause of the calamity that the prime minister wants to be solved by the two other ministers is the oil in the province of Hegemonia that has been occupied by a foreign nation.

Hegemonia oppresses the people of this province in order to move them away so that they can own the oil. Of the two ministers called to solve the problem, the defence minister applies the realism principles. This is because he believes that people have to follow laws made by other people and that is why he calling for a meeting of the U.N security council to create rules that will interfere with the trade of oil between the oppressed nation and other nations.

Because Hegemonia is powerful than the oppressed nation, it is respected more and this is why the laws made will be favouring them and not the other nation. This is a principle of realism that gives respect to powerful people.

On the other hand, the foreign minister applies the principles of idealism, based on godly reasons. She posits that friendship between the two nations can help solve the problem.

This is so because where there is friendship, there is no oppression and enmity. It will make the two, benefit by sharing the oil. It will also help stop the diseases and dangers brought to Xandu by the refugees because they will not be there because there will be no oppression to make them move to the place.


Basing on the knowledge of idealism and realism, idealism seems to be the most efficient when applied to solve a crisis. It produces a permanent solution where all benefit by sharing the resources available in a country. Should it be applied everywhere, then all countries will be at peace.

Works Cited

Thompson, Kenneth. “Politics among Nations.” 6th edition, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1985, p. 165.

Hans, Morgenthau. ”Hans Morgenthau’s Principles of Political Realism.” New York: Word Press, 1999.

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Theory of modern art : theory of realism Essay (Article)

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Humans are quintessentially political animals, and art is a quintessentially human activity. It should not surprise us, therefore, that art has been used in the service of politics from earliest times. The notion of realism as an art movement is as much of an approximation as any other term applied to art.

Any representation of the world in a work of art is by definition different from the real thing. It becomes different the moment that the artist puts brush to canvas, or thumb to clay. There is always going to be a difference between what the artist sees and what is depicted.

Thus, Realism is as much of a fiction as Abstraction or any other title for a movement. However, the tendencies that the term Realism describes are definitely associated with political movements, including nationalism. This is because the artist is asserting that the art mirrors reality, and therefore is shaping reality.

Since nationhood is itself a fiction, it is perfectly natural that an artistic fiction should be used describe or support a political fiction. The authors in the selected readings all recognize the potential uses to which art, whether representational or not, may be put.

Carl Gustav Jung asserted that the human race carries, within its unconscious, shared patterns that express themselves in comprehensible images in common, and he recognized that this had powerful implications.

He says, “The far-reaching implications of this statement must not be overlooked.” [1] Although they might be expressed in terms that reflected the particular culture of the artist, these shared ideas, he asserts, would be recognizable by other peoples elsewhere in the world. As an example, all humans pass through some basic experiences. All humans are fed by an adult while an infant, or are held by an adult when small.

These experiences and ideas might be expressed in images that most people would recognize as relating to mothering, or parenting/nurturing. As noted above, no one image captures all of the concept of mothers across cultures, or even one particular mother. However, Jung might assert that the notion of mother can and will be depicted in ways that are understood without words or conscious thought.

This can occur, even if the form is quite strange and not realistic by Western standards at all, or realistic, but reflecting a very different culture. [2]Thus, if any piece of art addresses themes and ideas that are archetypal, the artist does not need to use words to get across the idea. This possible way of influencing people can be very appealing to any political group that is trying to motivate people in one direction or another.

Alfred Barr, writing between the two World Wars, recognizes both that art was used to influence people, and that the control of what art is allowed is another way to influence a population. He always makes the important point that any term to describe an art style is only an approximation[3].

He distinguishes two contrasting trends in art, which alternate in dominating the art world. One is more or less the depiction of nature as the eye sees it. The other is everything else. Cubism, abstraction, and styles that make no effort to depict any object, person, or place, are in this category.

Barr acknowledges that although in his view, abstract art, “needs no defense”, it cannot be appreciated,” without some study and sacrifice of prejudice”[4] Harrison and Wood assert that he associated the more abstract styles with a less oppressive political environment, and realism with a more oppressive political regime[5].

This is borne out in the AKhRR Declaration, which asserts that abstraction represents art as a luxury, some sort of a mental game, or, “vacuous philosophizing”, rather than a wholesome tool for instruction and inspiration[6]. The proper use of art, according to this declaration, was to document “a true picture of the events” and shape the mind towards the revolutionary ideal[7].

This links back to Jung. If archetypes do exist, then the evocation of images that support the aim of the revolution (whatever kind of revolution it is) need not even use words to be effective. By using “heroic realism”, the artist can glorify the revolutionary activist and his/her aims without text at all[8].

The revolutionaries may have been responding to the same sort of distinction that Mondrian outlined. He contrasted the “direct creation of universal beauty’ with the “aesthetic expression of oneself’[9]. Nationalism, revolution, and utopian goals frequently call for self-sacrifice.

Thus, anything that focuses on the self, rather than the country, cause, or goal, is less desirable. In Mondrian’s view, therefore, he is suggesting that abstraction substitutes the artist’s purely personal perspective for a perspective on the world that can be shared. He says that

”it is a great pity that those who are concerned with the social life in general do not recognize the utility of pure abstract art…In general the use art as propaganda for collective or personal ideas, thus as literature.

They are both in favor of the progress of the mass and against the progress of the elite, thus against the logical march of human evolution…The elite rises from the mass; is it not therefore its highest expression?” This sharing should be, presumably, constructive. It should uplift the community, if that is what the community demands.”[10]

Siqueiros makes the demands of the community rather explicit. He says that art should reverse the evils of colonial oppression, which include the suppression of indigenous art forms, calling it, “the most wholesome spiritual expression in the world”[11]. The way to do this is through monumental art[12]. He also praises the indigenous art of Mexico, which is somewhat ironic.

On the one hand, the art of the ancient Meso-Americans was definitely monumental and public. On the other hand, however, repeated articles and documentaries on the mural arts of the ancient Inca and Maya suggest that decoding their artwork has been very difficult.

The images are very abstracted. They may show a king with a jaguar skin around him, for example, or a headdress made of feathers, but it has taken decades for archeologists to figure this out. However, although the images are condensed and heavily edited, they do represent some aspect of reality.

Diego Rivera is the most famous practitioner of heroic mural art in Mexico, and, arguably, anywhere. His statement on art offers some very cutting insights, even though his admiration for Communism sounds somewhat naïve from today’s perspective. He asserts that in the past, art was valued for being difficult to appreciate. [13] This required that only a small elite group could prepare themselves to understand it.

This also implied that there was solely an elite group capable of such understanding. This is a clearly implied criticism of all forms of abstraction. This is because experience suggests that most people who have any experience of visual media can readily understand a representational picture.

Rivera goes on to say that the elitist approach to art, “serves to discredit the use of art as revolutionary weapon and serves to affirm that all art which has a theme, a social content, is bad art.”[14] It is hard to avoid the impression that Rivera’s solution is somewhat self-serving.

He proposes that the proletariat adopt the best techniques of the bourgeois academics and produce mural art in a Super-Realist style.[15] This just happens to be his own style and medium. Harrison and Wood, by the way, helpfully point out that Rivera’s use of the term Super-Realism was equivalent to the French Surrealism[16].

Thus, for Rivera, realism, after a fashion, on a giant scale, with revolutionary themes and academic technique, is the proper proletarian use of art. However, if one visualizes a Rivera work, there is very little of the real world in it, and much more of fantasy and magic.

The reading from Lenin, while not mentioning ‘realism’ specifically, clearly contends that art should be used for the education of the people.

The goal of this education is the removal of all forms of exploitation by man. Lenin says, “…the field of art in particular, should be imbued with the spirit of class struggle…” [17] The reading is not explicit with regard to how this spirit can be communicated. However, it is challenging to imagine how one can unambiguously represent such class struggle with color, line, and form alone.

These are human concepts and even an abstract work would probably need to allude to, or refer to something human or at least in the real world. This would immediately make it less abstractly pure. Thus, in order to meet Lenin’s demands on art, it must be realistic, and, equally importantly, represent ideas supportive of his political ideas.

Adolf Hitler, as many readers know from the informal oral history of grandparents and other elders, used anything and everything to further his goals. The creation of an exhibit and exhibition space for ‘real’ German art is one among many strategies. He distinguishes, in his speech, between normal artists’ vision and the distorted vision of the modern artists he despises. He sarcastically notes that,

“…the eye shows things differently to certain human beings than the way they really are, that is, that there really are men who see the present population of our nation as rotten cretins; who on principle, see meadows blue, skies green, clouds sulphur yellow…” [18]

He goes on to suggest that the eye defect of such artists represents an element that should be eliminated, perhaps by force, from the population. The Third Reich used this same approach in eliminating other supposed defectives, such as Gypsies, the insane, and anyone else Hitler defined as undesirable.

Elsewhere in this brief speech, he insults Jews, and anyone who is not German or who mixes the blood of Germans[19]. Art, in this poisonous context, is meant to represent the people, but not the people as in Lenin’s view. This ‘people’ are true Germans. One can only infer that their art must be of, and by, and depicting these true Germans.

This certainly rules out abstraction, even if Hitler had not also railed against art that reflected personal experience, as noted in the quote. Posters from that era certainly show sturdy (German) folks doing their bit for the Fatherland. Thus, both by requiring that the style be representational and that the content focus on Germans and Germany, Hitler promoted his own goals and controlled events and populations.

These readings present a rather disturbing picture of the various uses to which art, and specifically, realism have been put. There are doubtless readings that would attest powerfully to the uses of abstraction as well, but they are largely not in this assortment. Realism certainly lends itself to messages that have to do with daily life as well as ideas that are more philosophical.

This is because people can identify with such images. As Jung suggested, these ideas communicate themselves straight to the oldest parts of the brain. Thus, viewers can be influenced to do whatever it is that the artist or the government wants them to do without ever saying so!

Furthermore, people will do things based on these images without ever putting the ideas into words. The message of all these readings is that all art can be used to influence people in subtle and not so subtle ways, but realism has a record of having been used very obviously to achieve nationalistic or utopian goals.


Asssociation of Artists of Revolutionary Russia. “AKhRR Declaration.” In Art In Theory: 1900-2000, by C., Wood, P. Harrison, 403-406. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Barr, Alfred. “Cubism and Abstract Art.” In Art in Theory: 1900-2002, by C. Harrison and P. Wood, 381-383. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Harrison, C., and P. Wood. Art in Theory: 1900-2002. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Hitler, Adolf. “Speech Inaugurating the Great Exhibition of German Art.” In Art in THeory: 1900-2000, by C. Harrison and P. Wood, 439. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Jung, Carl Gustav. “On the Concept of the ‘Archetype’.” In Art in Theory: 1900-2000, by C. Harrison and P. Wood, 378-381. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich. “On Proletarian Culture.” In Art in Theory: 1900-2000, by C.: Wood, P. Harrison, 402. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Mondrian, Piet. “Plastic Art and Pure Plastic Art.” In Art in Theory: 1900 – 2000, by C. Harrison and P. Wood, 387-393. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Rivera, Diego. “The Revolutionary Spirit in Modern Art.” In Art in Theory: 1900-2000, by C. Harrison and P. Wood, 421-424. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Siqueiros, David A.: et alia. “”A Declaration of Social, Political and Aesthetic Principles”.” In Art in Theory: 1900-2000, by C. Harrison and P. Wood, 406. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.


  1. Jung, Carl Gustav. “The Concept of the ‘Archetype’”, in Art in Theory: 1900-2000. Oxford. Wiley-Blackwell. 2002, Page 380.
  2. Jung. passim.
  3. Barr, Alfred. “Cubism and Abstract Art”, in Art in Theory: 1900-2000, Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, 2002, page 382.
  4. Barr, page 382.
  5. Harrison, C., Wood, P.. Art in Theory:1900-2002. Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, 2002. Page 381.
  6. Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia. “Declaration”, in Art in Theory: 1900-2000, Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, 2002, page 405.
  7. Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia. Page 403.
  8. Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia. Page 404.
  9. Mondrian, Piet. “Plastic Art and Pure Plastic Art”, in Harrison, C., and Wood, P. Art in Theory: 1900-2000. Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell. 2002. age 388.
  10. Mondrian, page 392.
  11. Siquieros, David A. “A Declaration of Social, Political, and Aesthetic Principles”, in Art in Theory: 1900-2000. Oxford. Wiley-Blackwell. Page 406.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Rivera, Diego. “The Revolutionary Spirit in Modern Art”, in Art in Theory: 1900-2000, Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, 2002. page 422.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Rivera, page 424.
  16. Harrison, C., and Wood, P., page 421.
  17. Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich. “Proletarian Culture”, in Art in Theory: 1900-2000. Oxford. Wiley-Blackwell. 2002. page 402.
  18. Hitler, Adolf. “Speech Inaugurating the Great Exhibition of German Art”, in Art in Theory: 1900-2000. Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell. 2002. page 440.
  19. Hitler. Page 439.
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Realism in the Service of Politics: Two Views of War Compare and Contrast Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Art has a long history of being involved in the achievement of political goals; consider the monumental imperial advertisement of power and control of resources represented by the huge Colossus of Rome[1]. In the early 20th century, what was termed realism was not the direction that popular art movements were taking.

However, what was termed realism seemed to serve the aims of totalitarian movements at the time[2], despite the fact that no art is truly realistic and all art represents a set of choices from all the visual detail available.

Nevertheless, the objections of the Nazi regime to all the non-realist artists is understandable in light of the Third Reich’s goals and methods of achieving them. They were trying to influence people to do things that were difficult and morally ambiguous, if not downright horrible.

To accomplish this, they needed powerfully effective images that everyone could understand without laborious or inconvenient verbal explanation. The artists that the Nazi regime disapproved of had the opposite aim in creating art.

They were seeking to create art that was a vehicle for personal expression. Given this attitude, it is no wonder that non-realistic artists were suppressed. Useful examples of these two divergent approaches are found in the art of Fritz Erler and Otto Dix.

The term ‘realism’ has meant different things over time. It meant something different in the 1800s than what it suggests today.

Before the early 1800s, most painting tried consciously to show everything in as beautiful, serene, classically pure a fashion as posssible, even if this meant deliberately changing things around in the picture, as, for example, advised by an accepted authority of the time, Roger de Piles[3].

Starting with the Romantic movement in art, there was a gradual reaction away from a classical idealization of the subject, whether a person, a scene, or a landscape.

The gritty reality of the world became more acceptable and desirable in art. An example is the often gory work of Théodore Géricault, a proponent of Romanticism, such as his Raft of the Medusa[4]. This work, and by extension, much of the effort of the Romantic movement, was described as an,” extended, no-holds-barred quest for truthfulness and intensity” [5].

However, up until the period of the Impressionists in the mid to late 1800s, there was a generally shared goal of depicting the world as most people could recognize it. For example, a person had two eyes symmetrically laid out, sky was more or less blue, and trees were more or less green.

With Impressionism, Cubism, and their successor art movements, this all changed, dramatically. The depiction of objects in the real world was no longer safely to be assumed. Buchloh describes this process of movement away from figurative art as follows:

“the perceptual conventions of mimetic representation – the visual and spatial orderign systems that had defined pictorial production since the Renaissance… systematically broken down since the middle of the nineteenth centry”.[6]

Buchloh is drawing attention to a phenomenon that even non-artists can observe. It seems reasonable to assert that all art imposes a warping of physical reality to some extent. Simply by trying to depict a three dimensional world on a two dimensional surface, there is inevitable distortion.

The tree is not the picture, nor vice versa. It cannot be. The simplest tricks of perspective, such as foreshortening, or narrowing two parallel lines down to a vanishing point, demonstrate this. In any work of art, a process of transformation has taken place as the scene or object is translated by the artist onto paper or canvas or marble.

A recent news story humorously and clearly demonstrated this: A quirky installation artist in Philadelphia, who apparently regularly enrobes local landmarks with knitted textile art, tried to measure the famous statue of Rocky Balboa for a sweater.

She discovered the that the proportions of the eight foot tall statue were wildly different from those of an actual real person’s[7]. However, photos of this statue do not strike the viewer as bizarre. The artist clearly altered the real proportions of the subject in a way that looks normal from a distance.

Thus, even in representing a real-world subject with the aim of fidelity, the process involves the abstraction, or pulling out, or alteration of certain elements and the de-emphasizing of others.

This may be used to indicate, for example, that the subject is a distance away, or to allow the viewer to distinguish the subject from its background. This is a matter of making sure that the viewer can see the forest for the (edited) trees.

Thus, when anyone is uses the term realism in art today, they are speaking relatively. A formal definition of realism describes it as,”Fidelity to nature or to real life; representation without idealization, and making no appeal to the imagination; adherence to the actual fact.”[8]

It requires some visual training to understand any two-dimensional representation, as students learn in History of Art classes. It is relatively easier for someone trained by experience at decoding two-dimensional representations to recognize a realistically painted subject.

Nonetheless, when we use the term realism today, implying that the subject of the work of art is able to be recognized for what is intended, we understand what is meant. This term is probably widely and intuitively understood in our era.

The Nazi regime, like many other oppressive governments, sought to use all available tools to alter people’s opinions, direct their behavior, or change the entire form of government. Art was just one of these[9].

Their goals were often violent and involved hurting other people, such as Jews, gypsies, and the crippled. These folks had often been neighbors and colleagues.

This is a course of action that could inspire ambivalent feelings about cooperating, in many people. The ugliness of the Nazi’s goals, and the negative reaction of the rest of the world, like made it desirable to communicate their intention as much as possible without words.

If the Nazis had said in plain terms that they were going to kill with poison gas millions of harnless people, it would have sounded harsh.

But if the Nazis could make the German people feel that they were threatened and that the threat should be removed in whatever way was most effective, the government could get better cooperation. This threat, as we now know, was blamed on non-German elements in society, especially the Jewish population.

As it happened, the rise of the Third Reich coincided with the development of a new concept in the new sciences of psychology and psychiatry. The idea of archetypal images was pioneered by Carl G. Jung[10]. Jung suggested that the human mind shares a collective unconscious.

This collective unconscious contains within it patterns that reliably generate images, or archetypes everyone can recognize. This, Jung asserts, is true over time and across the globe. He suggested that an example of the expression of archetypal images can be found in many myths, for example the myth of the Hero[11].

Clearly this is a great convenience for a regime that hopes to affect the population’s ideas and attitudes without actually coming out and saying what they want. Jung himself believed that the trends in Germany leading up to the war were an expression of archetypes that had been repressed.[12]

While evidence for specific use of Jung’s ideas in creating Nazi art is not readily available, it is interesting that Jung and a relative of one of Hitler’s close advisors, Goring, shared the editorship of a psychiatric journal[13]. This suggestst that the Hitler regime was well aware of Jung’s work and ideas.

If the Hitler regime was using archetypes, or even telling a story, they needed for viewers to recognize the message. This is more difficult to accomplish in non-realistic form. This is because the messages that the Nazis were attempting to propogate had to do with human issues and concerns, such as motherhood, or attachment to a place, or pride in one’s heritage, for example.

At the time, artists – those who were innovating and at the cutting edge of their field – were not oriented towards telling stories or sending explicit or implicit messages. They were not oriented towards, “the direct creation of universal beauty”, but instead, “ the aesthetic expression of oneself”, as Mondrian put it[14].

The movement away from the subject entirely was seen, as expressed by Mondrian, as an evolution of art, and highly desirable Mondrian says that, “by its existence non-figurative art shows that ‘art’ continues always on its true road. It shows that ‘art’ is not the expression of the appearance of reality…nor of the life that we live…” [15].

This process of making art something that needed only to please and express the artist’s own feelings, can and did result in art that was and is less accessible to many viewers. Buchloh asserts that this inaccessibility was an irritant. He asserts that there was pressure at the time from viewers (the public) against the abstractions that had dominated the art world.

Discussing the swing back to figurative art after the first World War, he says, “And how did this shift come to be understood as an autonomous achievement of the masters, who were in fact the servants of an audience craving for the restoration of the visual codes of recognizability, for the restoration of figuration?”[16]

The leading lights of the art world were not sympathetic, to these consumer longings, if the views of Mondrian are typical. Mondrian, in defending non-realistic art, criticized those who had made, “no effort to know pure abstract art”.[17] These people, he asserted, were against the, “progress of the elite”[18].

The implication of this attitude on the part of the artist is that it requires specific and rather sophisticated training on the part of the viewer to appreciate the pure abstract art. Mondrian’s atttitude implies that if a viewer is not willing or able to invest this effort, then their opinion is not worthwhile.

Thus, the viewing public that shook their heads in puzzlement at abstract art were dismissed. All these attitudes are very self-centered, and not at all in tune with nationalistic self-sacrifice.

Unfortunately for artists with this seemingly self-centered approach and obliviousness to whether or not the art was being understood, the Nazis, like the Russian revolutionaries, explicitly wanted art that supported their goals, a “heroic realism”[19]. They were concerned about a national elite rather than a class elite[20].

In Hitler’s words, “For the artist does not create for the artist, but like everyone else, he creates for the people.”[21] Hitler explicitly referred to this isssue of comprehensiblity in the following statement of intention:

‘Works of art’ which cannot be understood in themselves but for the justification of their existence, need those bombastic instrucitons for their use, finally reachign that intimidated soul, who is patiently willing to accept such stupid or impertinent nonsense – these works of art from now on will no longer find their way to the German people.”[22]

The Hitler regime went to extremes in implementing his extreme intention. To see how these conflicting ideas of art for the artist’s sake, and art for the good of the regime played out, it is useful to examine two artists who addressed similar subject matter. They were, however, far differently regarded and treated by the Third Reich.

Both were actvie in and after the first World War. Both artists included war and battlefied subjects in their works. Both were, in retrospective, competent technically. Fortunately, works by both of them survive. It is interesting that two pictures of the same subject, created within seven years of one another, should be looked at so differently by the Third Reich.

Fritz Erler (1868-1940)[23], who (although he did distort reality) depicted soldiers as heroes, was approved of by the regime. Otto Dix (1891-1969)[24], who distorted figures to look like monsters, but depicted soldiers as well, was not approved of. They were both technically very competent.

Erler produced a number of war bonds posters for the first World War. One, entitled Helft Uns Siegen, shows an idealized soldier gazing into the indeterminate distance with eyes that glow internally. He is a strapping, well-fed, heroic fellow, with his gas mask down around his neck, alertly at ease after the attack.

He appears fully human, despite those wierdly glowing eyes, oddly elevated mood, and unseen visual point of focus. He is a fellow you would happily share a meal with or for whose benefit you would happily buy a war bond, if you were a loyal German.

Although this picture dates from 1917, Erler had a continuing career. Erler was highly thought of by the Hitler regime. This is attested to by the fact that he was rewarded for his complimentary perspective on the German soldier with at least one commission for a portrait of Hitler. This was a signal honor [25] for any artist or photographer in Germany.

The most famous surviving such piece painted by Erler is probably his Portrait of The Leader. This shows Hitler as the genius and sponsor of art and architecture[26]. The Kunsthalle, Hitler’s most ambitious architectural design that was implemented, is shown in the background. Hitler appears before a heroic statue of a mounted horseman.

It is useful to compare Erler’s work to that of another favorite of the Third Reich’s, Arno Breker. Whereas Erler’s soldier did not look classically beautiful, and in fact has features which are somewhat coarse, Breker seemed to consciously hearken back to Roman and Greek models.

This must have flattered the regime with references to an earlier, very powerful empire. Arno Breker created sculptures of naked men that were heroic in size, and in mood.

They were chisel-faced, with clearly defined muscles and extreme poses. In spite of his close relationship with Hitler’s government, he worked to help artists who were out of favor[27], indicating that the political beliefs and artistic production were not inextricably linked.

Looking at an artist who was decidedly not in the good graces of the Third Reich, we see a very different approach from either Erler or Breker. Otto Dix, who served in the German army in World War I, was another artist who portrayed soldiers in the action of war-time. He produced a terrifying etching of soldiers wearing gas-masks.

It is entitled Stormtroops Advancing Under Gas[28]. The soldiers look like imps or goblins, or at best, children in Halloween masks. They weapons make a diagonal cross-hatch in the composition, with their bayonets pointing in one direction, and some sort of blunt instrument and fists pointing in the other direction.

They have no grace, and seem to waddle or stumble in the midst of the confusion and terror of battle. Their forms and proportiions are distorted and they are almost cartoonlike. They appear less than human, and unrecognizable as one’s neighbors or son.

When one compares the sturdy and heroic soldier in Erler’s work, and the cartoon-like figures in Dix’s work, it is easy to see why the German government objected to being portrayed that way. Hitler did not want soldiers depicted as space aliens or evil dwarves.

He wanted handsome heroes, preferably looking like the heroes of ancient Greece and Rome. Dix was certainly not showing that – he was showing what it felt like to be on there on the battlefield with stormtroops and mustard gas.

Both artists actually distorted reality, but Dix did it in such a way as to insult the soldiers, while Erler did it in such a fashion as to make them look inspired.

They were both drawing on archetypal images, but Erler’s was evoking the hero, like Theseus after slaying the Minotaur, while the other (Dix) was evoking something more like the Furies descending on a hapless mortal, in the form of stormtroops.

Given the aims of the Nazi regime, it is entirely comprehensible that one should have been rewarded and the other discredited. Clearly, the approach that Erler takes to the subject of the German soldier is more complimentary.

Dix, on the other hand, is obviously critical in his attitude towards war, and its methods. He was also openly critical of the major players in the Third Reich. A painting of his entitled The Seven Deadly Sins actually caricatures Hitler as a baby (mustacheless) demon. He painted this after he was discharged from the art academy in Dresden[29].

In our own lifetime, the governments of both South and North Korea have used images to control thinking and behavior[30]. This is an interesting phenomenon in light of the overt attempts by previous totalitarian regimes to harness art for their own aims. It is also interesting in light of the power that popular media has today, even in supposedly free societies.

Art has been a tool of governments since the earliest times. Until the middle of the 1800s, there was a shared expectation that art would represent things in the physical world as they appeared to most of the viewing public. The term realism, however, referred to different things before then.

No matter whether the approach is Neo-classical, grittily Romantic, oddly Mannerist, or Impressionist, all art distorts the physical truth of its subject matter. There is unavoidably a choice of what to include and what not to include. Thus, when governmental regimes that say they want realism are actually saying that they want the prerogative to choose which distortions they permit.

Fritz Erler’s particular distortions, which contributed to a heroic image of the German soldier, served the Nazi purposes. His representation was less beautiful than that of Arno Breker, a sculptor of very different style who also found favor with the Nazis. On the other hand, Otto Dix’s idiosyncratic distortions, which made the German soldier look like a troll, was decidely not what the Nazis were looking for in their public messages.

Given that the regime wanted art for propaganda, and self-praise[31], it is easy to see why they preffered Erler’s sturdy heroes to Dix’s goblins.[32] They wanted the German people to identify with healthy and strong images rather than with ugly representations of themselves.

Such use of art to control opinion is still used today in regimes such as the North Korean’s. We need to be cautious, still, even in democracies, that we do not allow art to become the uncontrolled tool of government propaganda.

(Erler, Helft Uns Siegen 1917)

(Erler, Portrait Of The Leader 1938)

Breker, Arno. ‘Torchbearer” 1938-1945

(Dix, Stormtroops Advancing Under Gas 1924)

(Dix, The Seven Deadly Sins 1933)

Source: Newsweek. “North Korean Propaganda Art”. Newsweek.


Art in the Picture. “Otto Dix.” Art in the picture. 2011. Web.

Asssociation of Artists of Revolutionary Russia. “AKhRR Declaration.” In Art In Theory: 1900-2000, by Charles Harrison and Peter Wood, 403-406. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002. Realism. 2011. Web.

Breker, Arno. Torchbearer. Unknown, unknwon.

Breker, Arno. Torchbearer. Great Triumphal Art, Berlin.

Buchloh, Benjamin D. “Figures of Authority, Ciphers of Regression: Notes on the Return of Representation in European Painting.” In Art in Modern Culture: an Anthology of Critical Texts, by Francis Frascina and Jonathan Harris, edited by Francis Frascina and Jonathan Harris, 222-238. London: Phaedon Press, 1992.

Crimmins, Peter. Gritty in Pink. 2011. Web.

de Piles, Roger. The Principles of Painting. Vol. 2, in A Documentary History of Art: Michelangelo, the Mannerists, the Baroque, and the Eighteenth Century, edited by Elizabeth Gilmore Holt, 176-187. Garden City, NJ: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1958.

Dix, Otto. Stormtroops Advancing Under Gas. National Gallery Of Australia, Canberra.

Dix, Otto. The Seven Deadly Sins. Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe.

Dobrzynski, Judith H. “Sex Blood and War from Wiemar Anti-Nazi Otto Dix.” 2011. Web.

Erler, Fritz. “Helft Uns Siegen.” Imperial War Museum. Web.

Erler, Fritz. “Portrait Of The Leader.” Unknown. 1938. Web.

Florida Center for Instructional Technology. Nazi Approved Art: A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust. 2005. Web.

Géricault, Théodore. The Raft of the Medusa. Musée du Louvre, Paris.

German Propoganda Archive. Hitler in Nazi Art. 2011. Web.

Griffin, Roger. “Nazi Art: Romantic Twilight or Post-modernist Dawn?” Oxford Art Journal, vol. 18, no. 2. 1995.

Hitler, Adolf. “Speech Inaugurating the Great Exhibition of German Art.” In Art in Theory: 1900-2000, by Charles Harrison and Peter Wood, 439. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Jung, Carl Gustav. “On the Concept of the ‘Archetype’.” In Art in Theory: 1900-2000, by Charles Harrison and Peter Wood, 378-381. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Lankov, Andrei. The Official Propaganda in the DPRK: Ideas and Methods. 1995. Web.

Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich. “On Proletarian Culture.” In Art in Theory: 1900-2000, by Charles Harrison and Peter Wood, 402. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Medweth, Mark. “Jung and the Nazis.” Personality and Consciousness. 1996. Web.

Mondrian, Piet. “Plastic Art and Pure Plastic Art.” In Art in Theory: 1900 – 2000, by Charles Harrison and Peter Wood, 387-393. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2002.

Newsweek. “North Korean Propaganda Art.” Newsweek, May 27, 2010.

Platner, Samuel Ball. “Colossus Neronis.” In A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, by Samuel Ball Platner, 130-131. London: Oxford University Press, 1929.

Prometheseus. “Arno Breker Biography.” Prometheseus. 2002. Web.

Wilkin, Karen. “Romanticism at the Met.” The New Criterion 22, no. 4 (2003): 37-42.


  1. Such a piece had no function other than overwhelming the viewer with how strong the emperor must have been to have created such an object. The Colossus was a bronze statue 120 feet high, and the Emperor Nero had it erected solely to honor himself and make himself seem more impressive. Subsequent emperors modified it to suit their own purposes, changing the face, and adding rays around the head, for example. The gigantic sculpture gave its name to the Coliseum.Samuel Ball Platner (as completed and revised by Thomas Ashby). “Colossus Neronis”. A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. (London, Oxford University Press 1929). Page 130A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, London: Oxford University Press, 1929.
  2. Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia. “AKhRR Declaration”, Harrison, C. and Wood, P.. Art in Theory: 1900-2000. (Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, 2002). Page 403.
  3. De Piles, Roger. “The Principles of Painting”, in Holt, Elizabeth Gilmore, ed. A Documentary History of Art: Michelangelo, the Mannerists, the Baroque, and the Eighteenth Century. (Garden City, Doubleday and Company, 1958), page 180.
  4. Géricault, Théodore. “The Raft of the Medusa”. 1819, Musée du Louvre, Paris.
  5. The New Criterion. “Romanticism at the Met”. December 2003. The New Criterion. 22 no4. Pages 37-42.
  6. Buchloh, Benjamin. “Figures of Authority, Ciphers of Regression: Notes on the Return of Representation in European Painting”. In Frascina, Francis; Harris, Jonathan. Art in Modern Culture: an Anthology of Critical Texts. (London, Phaedon Press, 1992), page 222.
  7. Crimmins, Peter. “Gritty in Pink”.
  8. “Realism”.
  9. Lenin, Vladimir. “On Proletarian Culture”, in Harrison, C. and Wood, P.. Art in Theory: 1900-2000. (Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, 2002). Page 438.
  10. Jung, Carl. “On the Concept of the ‘Archetype’”, in Harrison, C. and Wood, P.. Art in Theory: 1900-2000. (Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, 2002). Page 379.
  11. (Jung 2002, 380).
  12. Medweth, Mark. “Jung and the Nazis”. Personality and Consciousness. 1996.
  13. (Medweth 1996).
  14. Mondrian, Piet. “Plastic Art and Pure Plastic Art”, in Harrison, C. and Wood, P. Art in Theory: 1900-2000. (Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, 2002). Page 388.
  15. (Mondrian 2002, 389).
  16. (Buchloh 1992, 222).
  17. (Mondrian 2002, 389).
  18. (Mondrian 2002, 392).
  19. (Lenin 2002).
  20. Griffin, Roger. “Nazi Art: Romantic Twilight or Post-modernist Dawn?”. Oxford Art Journal, vol. 18, no. 2, November 1995. Pages 103-107. (Griffin 1995).
  21. Hitler, Adolph. “Speech at the opening of the Great Exhibition of German Art”. In Harrison, C. and Wood, P. Art in Theory: 1900-2000. (Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, 2002). Page 441.
  22. (Hitler 2002, 440).
  23. “Fritz Erler”. 2011.
  24. Art in the Picture. “Otto Dix”. 2011.
  25. Of the importance of portraits it has been observed that, “Hitler knew the importance of his image. Photographs of him could be released only with his personal approval. Art was even more carefully watched.” German Propaganda Archive. “Hitler in Nazi Art” 2011. German Propaganda Archive. 2011.
  26. Erler, Fritz. “Portrait of the Leader”. 194X.
  27. Prometheus. “Arno Breker Biography” Prometheus.
  28. Dix, Otto. “Stormtroops Advancing Under Gas”. 1924. Drypoint etching and aquatint. National Gallery Of Australia, Canberra, Australia.
  29. Judith H. Dobrzynski. “Sex, blood and War From Weimar Anti-Nazi Otto DIx”.
  30. Lankov, Andrei. “Propaganda in DPRK: Ideas and Methods”. 1995.
  31. Florida Center for Instructional Technology. “Nazi Approved Art: A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust”.
  32. This sort of preference is expressed in modern North Korea, as noted in the following description:“On the whole, paternalist ideas about “the ruler – father of the nation”, typical of the Confucian philosophical tradition, are the norm in North Korean propaganda. In propaganda stories one can find in North Korean magazines and school textbooks, Kim Il Song depicted as a fatherly figure, a wise and attentive parent caring for his people. In one story, he stops his limo to give a lift to an old woman, in another he personally oversees how a medical help is delivered to a young worker hurt in a factory incident, and in a third he inquires about the living conditions of a handicapped veteran. These stories about the Kims number in the many hundreds, and are constantly repeated in the media and textbooks, read aloud at meetings, or portrayed in paintings. Some of these stories are not simply Confucian in spirit, but are often remakes of popularstories from the Confucian mythology.” (Lankov 1995) A graphic example is found with the other pictures.
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Realism, Naturalism, and Modernism Period Critical Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Realism, Naturism and Modernism period is one of the most fascinating elements of African American literature. Many of the writers of this period emphasize the harshness of African American life in their work. These writers are simply unapologetic in the way they view life.

Writers of this period held that these three terms had outstanding differences. “Realism is a window by which to view the lives of ordinary people; naturalism examines the most raw and real variables of a culture while modernism is a contemporary form that allows artists to experiment with new styles” (Hakutani 5). Harlem Renaissance preceded the entry of these writers in literature scene, which happened between 1940 and 1960.

Important writers of this era include Melvin Tolson, Ann Perry, Ralph Ellison, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Richard Wright among others. However, Richard Wright is the most important figure of this period; actually, the other writers were said to have attended “Wright School.”

There are different reasons why these writers were said to have attended “Wright School.” Firstly, Richard Wright came before any other writer of this period; he lived between 1908 and 1960. The other writers emulated Wright and bought his theories. Wright never accepted most of the writings from Harlem Renaissance; therefore, he became a big critic of these writings.

The other writers that came after Wright held his believes and became critics of Harlem Renaissance writings. This is the reason they were said to have attended “Wright School.” Moreover, Wright concerned himself with exposing the challenges that were facing black Americans in urban areas; something that the writers that came after him exposed and analyzed further.

The description given to the writers of this age is accurate. For instance, Ralph Ellison, in his book Invisible Man, talks of challenges that blacks were facing. The only difference between Ralph’s work and that of Wright is that, “Ralph’s characters were articulate, educated, and self-aware” (Hakutani 9).

Change of characters does not change theme; therefore, Ralph emulated Wright. Gwendolyn Brook also touched on the challenges facing blacks through her poems. Her main agenda was to call blacks into social and economic awareness, something that was conspicuously missing during Harlem Renaissance. Maud Martha; one of Brooks’ outstanding poems is about life of a young black woman from her birth to marriage exposing the challenges that she went through.

Other writers like James Baldwin, “Spoke of pain and suffering of black Americans and saving power of brotherhood” (Hakutani 11). Baldwin’s writings were inspired by personal experiences that he went through under a strict father and a discriminating society. Finally, Lorraine Hansberry, “Explored African roots of African-American experiences especially the segregation issue her family dealt with in Chicago” (Hakutani 11).

Taking a close look at the literature works of these writers, it is evident that they were unapologetic about their standpoint. They wanted the world to know the sufferings of blacks in America during those times. However, Wright was the ‘father’ of them all for he was the first to write about blacks and criticize Harlem Renaissance writings.

Therefore, it is appropriate to say that writers of Realism, Naturism, and Modernism period attended “Wright School.” These writers matured under the intimidation of Harlem Renaissance; having been provoked by the same, the entry of realism, naturism, and modernism period offered them an opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings unapologetically and harshly.

Works Cited

Hakutani, Yoshinobu. “Richard Wright: Critical Perspectives Past and Present.” African American Review. Kent University, 1995.

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How Realism Is Brought Out In “Slumdog Millionaire” A Novel by Vikas Swarup Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer


“Slumdog Millionaire” is a novel that was written by Vikas Swarup. The novel was later filmed because many people had showed a lot of interest in the book. Swarup in his novel portrays the adventures of Ram Mohammad Thomas, an orphaned and uneducated waiter from one of the biggest slums in Asia.

Ram was found piled up with clothes that had been donated at the Delhi church in Mumbai. He was adopted and raised up by the priest who was later murdered. Ram wins a billion rupees on a quiz show where he answers twelve questions. He later ends up being taken to jail accused of cheating in the concert. Ram meets a lawyer, Smita Shah to whom he explains his fortune in answering the twelve questions.

He says that all questions were based on his own experience in life and that is why he found it easy answering all the twelve questions. Ram portrays how the best man wins with only little luck. All the adventures of Ram are seen to be real as they can be depicted in real life situations.

Some of the aspects making the novel to seem real are its connection to the Indian society and the story fairy tale elements. There are other ways in which realism has been brought out and with this the discussion shall be aimed at proving the reality in the novel (Singh 68).


Vikas Swarup has used various styles in his work that make it realistic. His way of organizing his work is also in a way that brings out realism in a very clear and simple way. His descriptions of the characters are also supporting factors to bring out realism in his novel. This realism in the novel is what made it popular and made it to be filmed so that many could access the written work. The ways in which realism is brought out in the novel are as analyzed below (Smith 50).

(I) Realistic fiction

Setting and half truths

Setting of the novel makes it seem real. The story begins in jail cell in Mumbai, India, where Ram Mohammad Thomas is a hostage after he was arrested by the police with accusations of cheating. Ram has never been in school and yet he is a position to answer the twelve questions with prowess.

Although later he explains to the lawyer how daily life experiences played a role in helping him answer the questions. It is not easy to belief that Ram is uneducated and yet he can answer the questions and outdo educated people in the concert. The author reflects Ram’s history which is so amazing. It began when Ram was found in a clothes donation box rolled in the clothes and he was a small baby. The clothes were in the Delhi church (Dammer and Albanese 90). He was adapted then and orphaned until he was a grown up.

He was later employed by a Bollywood star and later he also worked as tour guide at the Taj Mahal. These episodes seem to be half true to be believed as they often happen in real life situation. This makes the story interesting and makes it seem more real than creative. The setting as seen earlier is also depicting real life scenes that people know and thus makes the work of Vikas Swarup seem more real (Connerney 78).

Plot twists and coincidences

The plot of the story is twisted as Ram was a young child and his future life and how he misses education. Ram recounts his entire prior story before going next to another episode.

Also the bad encounters are brought after the good episodes that seem to brighten Ram’s life. For instance, when he is raised up by the priest, he hopes that the priest will help him to get a job. The priest later is murdered and Ram hopes are to avail. When Ram was found rolled in donated clothes in the church, this was a coincidence because maybe the clothes would have been taken to other destinations.

Later it is a coincidence that Ram Mohammad Thomas is a position to answer questions just because he had experienced a life that would make him knowledgeable enough. It is a big coincidence that all the twelve questions in the concert are known by Ram who missed out on formal education. These coincidences and the plot twists on Ram’s life make the story to be perceived as more real rather than creative (Singh 67).

Theme of good versus evil

Whenever Ram opts to meet a better life a catastrophe strikes contrary to his expectations. Ram hopes that he will be helped by the priest who raised him as a young child. The pastor was too good for Ram and he views him as his savior. The worst happens when the priest is murdered by a person who was hired to do so.

This makes Ram’s future doomed and he loses focus. Later when he is working as a waiter, he participates in the concert and answers the twelve questions (Smith 137). He is very happy that he has won large sums of money but to his worry, he is arrested and accused of cheating as the police even accept that such a young and uneducated teenager could not answer the questions (Bruyn, Allardice and Shonar 54).

This good scenes and evil scenes as they are brought out in the novel make it seem more realistic. Some people are good like the priest who adopted Ram and catered for his needs until he was a grown up. The police and the concert organizers are bad people as they deny Ram his right and even cause accusations against him. The person who murdered the priest is also an evil person. The use of good versus evil people in the story also makes it seem more real than imaginary (Daniel 98).

(II) Modern day life in India

Urban myths

Urban myths are part of the devices the author uses. Ram is brought up in a slum and maybe the biggest one in the Asian continent. Clothes are donated to the people in the slum and as they are been dispersed, they find Ram, a small baby enrolled in them. He is then adopted and he grows up under care of the priest who is later murdered by a person who had been paid to do so. Later life gives Ram experiences that make him answer the twelve questions in the concert.

In the modern India, most of the episode in the novel are real as in urban life and more so in the slums. It is believed that in slums cases of murder and also uneducated but experienced teenagers are truly there. Just like in the story, the episodes depict what is really happening in urban centers in India. This makes readers of the story to perceive it as real (Connerney 124).

Narrative style

The author uses first person narrative style to connect to Ram. Ram Mohammad Thomas tells his story in a chronological order from his adoption. Before going to the next episode, Ram recounts his prior episodes to show how the events and his adventures have been coming out. He narrates his story with good episodes coming first and then as time goes by a catastrophe strikes.

This is done orderly for instance, where he answers the twelve questions in the concert and then he feels great having won a lot of money. This is a very good moment for Ram. All of a sudden, Ram is arrested by the police and taken to a jail cell and accused of cheating in the concert. The episodes are narrated in a way that is believable. This makes the adventures of Ram Mohammad Thomas to seem real (Collins 34).


The novel “Slumdog Millionaire” by Vikas Swarup is seen to be more real than imaginative. This is because of the different styles and ways that have been used in the novel. The story is set in Mumbai in India a place that is not imaginative. The tales are half true and this makes it seem real.

Also the author uses first person narrative style where the voice of the narrator is brought out. He also uses urban myths like slums that are there in the modern India. The coincidences in the episodes also make it to seem more real. The author is also using the theme of good and evil to make it realistic. The events are in a chronological order and the bad episodes come after the good episodes.

Works Cited

Bruyn, Pippa, Allardice, David and Joshi, Shonar. Frommer’s India: Casa nova. Mumbai: Frommer’s, 2010.Print.

Collins, Jim. Bring on the books for everybody: How literary culture became popular culture. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010.Print.

Connerney, Richard. The upside down tree: India’s changing culture. Washington: Algora Publishing, 2009.Print.

Dammer, Harry and Albanese, Jay. Comparative criminal justice systems. London: Cengage Learning, 2010.Print.

Daniel, John. Mega-schools, technology and teachers: Achieving education for all. London: Taylor & Francis, 2010.

Singh, Sarina. South India. 5 Edn. Melbourne: Lonely Planet, 2009.Print.

Smith, James. You can write a novel. New York: Writer’s Digest Books, 2010.Print

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Neorealism and Traditional Realism Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Overview of Neorealism

In the 1980s, there were emerging debates especially in the field of international relations focusing on world politics. Kenneth Waltz is credited for coming up with the Theory of International politics whose main focus is to initiate international theories of a scientific nature that have elicited the debate which has been witnessed hence giving birth to neo-realism.

Neo-realism is prevalent in studies related to security matters. It pays close attention to the importance attached to international system structures and the vital part it plays in shaping the state behavior. There are some differences between neo-realism and the earlier strains of realist thinking (WordPress, 2007).

Differences between Neorealism and Traditional Realism

The first difference between neo-realism and traditional realism is that traditional realism looks at behavior of the state as being determined by the self-interest facet. On the other hand, neo-realism argues that the conduct or the behavior of a state is directed by the structure. In most cases, the structure of a political system is expressed in terms of the principles for organization used. In such a structure, individual states have the same survival interests in the end.

The other principle that defines the structure of an international system is the ability of the units to follow their interests. There are some differences where individuals with high capability become the leaders and create challenges that the rest have to contend with. This unequal distribution traditional realism argues it results in a balanced power behavior for the state (Clinton, 2007).

Neorealism and traditional realism do not view power the same way and this brings about the second difference between the two. According to the traditional realists, power to them was looked at as the means as well as the end. To them state behavior that was deemed rational comprised of amassing the most power one could amass. However, in neorealism, power is more than just having a wealth of resources and using the resources later to gain tutelage over other nations (WordPress, 2007).

The third difference between neo-realism and traditional realism is on the basis of how both treat and react to anarchy. According to traditional realists, anarchy is a characteristic of systems and how nations react is determined by the values held by leaders. On the other hand, neo-realists say that the system is defined by anarchy and the reaction of states to anarchy is dependent on the power and capability of the state (Waltz, 2003).

Weaknesses of Neorealism

Neorealism has been criticized by a number of scholars due to its weaknesses. This theory has been criticized for its inability to make a difference between places and times which has resulted in numerous flaws in the theory. Neorealism looks down upon the changes that exist in the magnitude of interactions among systems. Instead, it makes an assumption that unit differentiation can be eliminated as a feature of the international system structure.

For some duration of time, nations may be dominant in some performances but this may change later. At the end, there may be resurgence of concepts such as territoriality to portray the generative changes. The weakness of neo-realism is that it cannot explain such changes because of its static nature. This necessitates the application of other concepts to explain these changes (WordPress, 2007).

Another weakness of neo-realism is that though some of its tenets such as its assumption of rationality among states, it still has some contradictory concepts. For instance, the idea of seizing maximum power and power balancing by states has neer been absolutely clear.

This is because states whose endeavor is to preserve themselves have no business maximizing their power when they are not facing anything dangerous. Neorealism is therefore weak in explaining change and more so where the change emanates from states’ domestic structures.

Strengths of Neo-realism

One of the strengths of neorealism is that it does not use the perspective of human nature in coming up with an explanation of the prevalence of conflict. Instead, the theory relies on international system state structure.

The reason why states get into conflict is not because of the human nature, but because the environment provides a suitable avenue of engaging in conflict. The existence of states is characterized by anarchy which occasions a state of uncertainty in the security matters. Neorealism has a close semblance of the theory of natural selection advanced by Darwin.

Most states are interested in security as opposed to glory and power since the ultimate goal is survival. Neorealism is an important theory because it puts states in a wider perspective and gives details of the advantages and disadvantages of the structure. This makes it possible to predict the behavior expected of states. The human nature is put aside in neorealism and instead what takes centre stage is the emphasis of impersonal state being the most critical in affairs of the world (WordPress, 2007).

The other strength of neorealism is that it is systemic. This is because the theory can make predictions and explanations in describing behavior without having to consider first image or even second image variables. Neorealism explains the behavior of states and the impact on the international system by using third image variables or structural variables whose level of operation is the same. This makes the approach systemic in the way it operates (Freyberg-Inan, 2004).


Clinton, D. (2007). The realist tradition and contemporary international relations. Washington: LSU Press.

Freyberg-Inan, A. (2004). What moves man: the realist theory of international relations and its Judgement of Human Nature. New York: SUNY Press.

Waltz, K. (2003). Realist Thought and Neorealist Theory. Web.

WordPress. (2007). International Politics as Social Science: Neorealism and Neoliberalism. Web.

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The Realism Theory in Relationships of State and Non-state Actors Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

The three main theories used in international political economy are constructivism, realism and idealism or liberalism. Scholars commonly use the theories to explain economical events in the international political economy. Liberalists are concerned about private enterprise while constructivists are much concerned about wealth, political and material interactions of actors in the system.

This paper uses realism theory to explain relationships among state and non-state actors in the international system. Realism is based on the idea that the international system exists according to the Hobbestian state of nature, which is anarchic and brutal. There is no centralized authority in the system.

The influential states have powers that they use to subjugate the poor and powerless in the system. The paper evaluates three supranational regimes in order to understand the theory in detail. States agree to form governments that control internal affairs. It is not surprising that any sovereign state has the power to enforce and prescribe laws. These powers are limited in the international system because there is no Leviathan that controls the activities of all members.

The first argument is that the US and other major powers use supranational organizations to further their interests ((Wolf 87). WTO is a world body that is charged with the responsibility of overseeing how countries conduct trade globally. Liberalists argue that the body is beneficial to all states that subscribe to it because they benefit from free markets and business opportunities.

In the liberalists’ view, the world organization in charge of trade is supposed to arbitrate on conflicts emerging from trade and commerce. Nearly all states in Africa, Europe, South and North America are members. Member states are required to follow the laid down rules and regulations if they are to benefit from the organization. In this regard, the organization ensures that the interests of all states are catered for. Managers are answerable to states whereby they are called to explain inconsistencies during hard economic times.

In the realists’ perspective, the organization is the property of the rich nations, which is used to enforce compliance. The headquarters of the organization is in the United States meaning that everything is operated from there.

States are usually forced to come into terms with unfavorable policies in order to be members. The Chinese case would serve as an example. China was requested to adopt some policies that would favor the West in order to be incorporated in the system.

Less developed countries do not actually benefit from the organization. The organization allows US manufacturers to exploit markets in the third world but not vice versa. The third world is incorporated in the system as underdogs meaning that they assist the rich nations in producing goods. This is why the gap between the rich and the poor is widening day after another.

The organization ensures that the poor states do not pursue interests that seem to contradict with those of the US. The organization is quick to slap economic sanctions to states that do not conform to the set rules. In the late 1980s to early 1990s, Libya was barred from exporting fuel to Europe, US and other friendly countries (Wolf 90). Oil trade nearly collapsed in Libya, which had caused sufferings due to lack of basic needs.

This proves that states are usually in pursuit of their selfish interests not universal ideas. The US could have allowed Libya to sell its fuel to other states because citizens were suffering. This was never an issue to the US and WTO because Libya was non-compliant. Economic sanctions have been slapped to nations not because of misconduct but because of going against the wishes of the US and other major world powers.

The second argument is that the US uses donor agencies to enforce compliance. IMF is a world organization that was established after the Second World War mainly to reconstruct Europe. This was an attempt to restructure European financial system after it was worst hit by the war. The organization offered assistance to European states that cooperated.

After completion of its mission, the organization was turned into political tool that would subjugate and dominate developing countries. The US used the organization to restructure institutions of developing countries for its own interests (Milner 845). The organization forced many developing countries to restructure their governments in order to qualify for loans and other monetary assistances. For instance, the organization was effectively utilized in Kenya to boost American investment.

The government, under Daniel Moi as president, was urged to privatize key national industries such as Kenya Airways, Rift Valley Railways and Kenya Ports Authority. Furthermore, the state was not supposed to interfere with the market meaning that prices of commodities could be determined by market logics (Milner 851). The Kenyan government suffered a lot because it had to retrench some of its employees in order to qualify for the IMF loan.

The IMF program introduced in many countries was referred to as structural adjustment program (SAP). Liberalization of the economy benefited the US and other developed nations because they exploited the poor with cheap goods.

Finished goods were imported from developed countries while raw materials were exported to the US and other developed nations. This was seen as unbalanced trade because Kenyan citizens could not afford processed goods, which were originally Kenyan.

To ensure political compliance, the US used IMF to request third world leaders to accept multiparty politics (Stone 346). Accountability was demanded from leaders before they could qualify for monetary assistance. This ensured that US joint ventures were managed well. The US entered into contracts with governments of the third in order to construct expensive projects such as Geo-thermal power plants and ports.

Such projects could not yield needed profits without proper management. This is why accountability became a pre-requisite of assistance. The organization was effectively used to further the interests of Americans because US firms took over major investments in Kenya and the whole of East African region after the introduction of SAPs (Stone 349).

The third argument claims that developed nations relate with developing countries in terms of natural resources. It is true that the US and other major powers in the international system are led by their selfish interests not world ideas.

The US and other powers have been reluctant to intervene in Somalia militarily because national interests would not be achieved. Somalia does not have oil and gas that may attract foreign powers. This can be compared to the Middle East where each world power is camping there mainly because of oil and gas (Gholz and Daryl 465).

The US has been planning to sell military radar to Saudi Arabia mainly to strengthen diplomatic ties. The US would reap maximally from the deal meaning that national interests drive a country to participate in world affairs actively. The US could not intervene militarily in El Salvador to save the lives of many people who were undergoing brutal treatment from an autocratic regime because national interests would not be achieved.

The European gas crisis also proves that a state cannot participate in world politics without an interest. In Europe, there are two competing pipelines that is, Nabbuco and Nord. Nabbuco is owned by the Russian government and has a backing of the EU. Britain and the US have been supporting the construction of Nord pipeline because it would benefit them in future.

Nabbuco cannot be wrestled from Russia because it is also a major power (Rosato 54). The British government and the US have justified the erection of Nord conduit claiming that Nabbuco cannot effectively supply gas to Europe. Such arguments are based on the Turkish gas conflict where Russia delayed supply because of diplomatic reasons.

Critics of realism theory argue that states offer assistance to the needy out of goodwill. This could be witnessed in times of catastrophes where countries in conflicts help each other (Rosato 53). For instance, the US offers humanitarian assistance to some Middle East and Asian states during earthquakes but gets nothing in return.

This could be witnessed during the Japanese nuclear accident. The US was in frontline offering technical assistance to Japan. This argument could be valid but the reality is that the US intervenes to further its interests. In the Japanese case, the US intervened to gain political mileage in the world political arena. Hegemonic powers are strengthened by participating in important events.

It can be concluded that national interests drive a state to act in the international system. Constructivists and idealists are misplaced by believing that states act to restore order and justice in trouble regions. Somalia case would act as an example, where major powers are silent because they would not get anything by intervening.

Kenya has been forced to intervene militarily because its national security is in danger. Tourists have been abducted more than once, which has greatly affected the tourism industry. It should not be forgotten that Kenya generates more than 20% of the total revenue from tourism. Al shabaab militiamen are therefore a threat to Kenyan interests.

Works Cited

Gholz, Eugene and Daryl, Press. “Protecting the ‘Prize’: Oil and the U.S. National Interest”. Security Studies, 19.3, 2010, 453-485.

Milner, Helen. “Globalization, development, and international institutions: Normative and Positive Perspectives”. Review Essay, 3.4, 2005, 833-854.

Rosato, Sebastian. “Europe’s Troubles: Power Politics and the State of the European Project.” International Security, 35.4, 2011, 45-86.

Stone, Randall. “How to Reform the IMF”. Current History, 109.730, 2010, 342-348.

Wolf, Martin. Why Globalization Works. 1st ed. Sydney: Yale University Press, 2004.

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A Dose of Realism: The Syrian Situation Research Paper

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer


Throughout history, there have been documented accounts of terrorism and civil uprising in various nations around the world. While some of these situations have occurred due to violation of various human rights, others have been as a result of poor leadership and managerial skills by leaders of these nations. In the past two decades, cases of terrorism acts and civil instabilities have increased rapidly.

This can be attributed to radical teachings and a need for change by the perpetrators. Countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and Libya have in the recent past experienced civil unrest as citizens set out to fight for a more just and democratic regime.

Syria has also followed suit and for two decades, the nation’s citizenry has witnessed unimaginable atrocities at the hands of greedy and callous leaders. This paper shall set out to explore the situation in Syria. To this end, a brief history detailing the circumstances that led to the situation shall be discussed and viable recommendations on how best the situation can be resolved provided.

The Syrian situation: a brief overview

The middle-east has for a long period been in a state of unrest. As mentioned earlier, this has been attributed to poor political systems, policies and cultural practices that limit people’s ability to enjoy their rights. While proponents of these dictatorial tendencies argue that such factors guarantee cooperation and foster peaceful coexistence, documented evidence proves otherwise as can be cited from the Syrian conflict.

Machiavelli (1961), states that the ongoing Syrian uprising is a part of a conflict that has been in Syria for a long period of time. Its cause can be traced as far back as in the early 1960’s. According to Yaniv (1986), Syria was in a state of emergency from 1963 to 2011. As a result of this declaration, the constitutional protection of the Syrian citizenry was suspended.

The Syrian government attributed this state of emergency to the fact that Syria was at war with Israel (Yaniv, 1986). Since then, Syria has been ruled by the secular Ba’ath party which took over during the Ba’athist overthrow in 1963. As a safe measure, the party ensured that Syrian citizen had limited powers in regard to presidential election.

To this end, Syrian citizens could only approve a president through referendum and multi-party elections were not allowed for this legislature (Kalmamaz, 2011). The Ba’ath party has effectively managed to maintain control over Syria despite various internal power changes such as the 1966 coup and the Syrian Correctional Revolution that took place in 1970 (Kalmamaz, 2011).

After this revolution, the situation only got worse as president Hafez al-Assad banned all opposition parties and candidates in a bid to promote conformity. However, this move only led to more uprising by Islamic insurgents that reached a climax in 1982.

According to Ofra and Sherko (2009), president Hafez al-Assad in turn carried out a “scorched earth policy” against Hama (a small town occupied by the Sunni Muslims community suspected of fueling the uprising). This move led to the Hama Massacre in which tens of thousands of people died including a large number of civilians who were caught up by the intense operation (Kalmamaz, 2011).

Similarly, president Hafez al-Assad’s succession sparked more conflict in Syria leading to the Latakia incident that took place in 1999. The violent protests and armed clashes were as a result of a pre-existing feud between president Hafez al-Assad and his brother Rifaat (Ofra & Sherko, 2009). This incident erupted when a police crack-down in Rafaat’s compound met some resistance from Rafaat’s supporters.

According to sources, the protests that followed led to the death of hundreds of people and many more were injured (Yaniv, 1986). After his death a year later, president Hafez al-Assad was succeeded by his son Bashar al-Assad after a constitutional amendment that lowered the presidential age requirement from 40 years to 34 years (Bashar al-Assad’s age at the time). Bashar al-Assad was seen as a beckon of hope and reforms in a nation that had suffered great injustices over the years.

2000 to 2001 marked a period in Syrian history in which political and social debates took place in a bid to instigate change. Political and social forums were held in which like-minded people criticized the Syrian government. Since then, more opposition activities have emerged despite the government’s attempt to quell the uprising through arrests of prominent political and social activists.

Causes of the Syrian conflict

Socio-economic factors

Smith (2011) argues that unemployment and disenfranchisement of the Syrian youth has been a main contributor to the Syrian conflict. Results from a study conducted by the Dubai School of Government’s Wolfensohn Center for Development in 2007 indicated that the participation of the Syrian youth in the labor market was relatively lower (0.66%) than worldwide standard (0.79%).

In addition, the overall unemployment rate of Syrian youth was six times higher than that of older adults (Mora & wiktorowicz, 2003). This means that many youths were exposed to radical teachings and more vulnerable to violent activities. Similarly, reports of deteriorated living and lack of government support in regard to subsidization of basic goods and agricultural development have contributed to the sad state of affairs in Syria.

Human rights violations

According to Halabi (2009), Syria has been criticized for its lack of adequate human right policies and violation of the existing ones. The emergency rule that has been in place since 1963 gives the Syrian security forces the powers to arrest and detain citizens. This has led to the emergence of numerous protests and conflicts as people try to defend their right to freedom. Similarly, the fact that Syria is governed by one party and has no place for free and fair elections does not help make the situation better.

In addition, Yaniv (1986), states that Syrian authorities have on numerous occasions been accused of harassing and imprisoning human right, political and social activists. On the same note, Syrian citizen’s right to association, assembly and expression are strictly controlled by authorities and the minority tribes as well as women face constant and increasing discrimination from their more popular counterparts.

Dictatorial tendencies by Syrian leaders

Waltz (1959), states that conflict arises from human imperfection. In his book, the author states that human beings have a tendency of letting their passion and beliefs come in the way of logical thinking.

He continues by stating that as a result, people end up in conflict instead of cooperating (Waltz, 1959). The Syrian leaders provide a good example of this claim as has been evidenced by recent events in Syria. The presidents use violence to protect their interests instead of listening to the cries of the citizens or resolving inherent issues through dialogue.

Similarly, according to Waltz (1959), anarchy emanates from a lack of automatic harmony. The author claims that states have the power to use force in order to promote cooperation or attain their goals. He further asserts that the choice to use or not to use force greatly determines the policies implemented by a given state.

Syria’s decision to use force to quell oppositions has played a pivotal role in the violence experienced therein. For example, the Hama massacre, the Latakia incidence and the succession of president Hafez al-Assad were as a result of policies emanating from the use of force. However, they did not yield the expected results, but instead, instigated more violence and uprising among the Syrian populace.

Greed and corruption

Political corruption is a common place in all nations. Surprisingly, people who participate in corruption are well aware of the fact that it damages the very fabric of society. Hinnebusch (1983) asserts that corruption undercuts the value of democracy and the effectiveness of rules, laws and policies that govern a nation. Corruption leads to unequal distribution of political, social and economic power within a given nation.

As a result, it leads to social, economic and political instabilities as people try to use their influence to gain more resources at the expense of others. In regard to Syria, greed for power and corruption has to a large extent contributed to the conflicts being experienced there. Leaders use corruption to gain and maintain power, control the majority and control the security forces in Syria. This has contributed to the conflict and chaos experienced by the Syrians.

Ethnic Issue in Syria

Syria, like many other middle eastern nations has been led by political leaders who manipulate the populace in order to consolidate their power has been plagued by manipulation by political leaders so as to consolidate their power over other ethnic groups.

Devika and Varghese (2011, p. 16) theorize, “While not everyone [in an ethnic group] may be mobilized as an active fighter for his or her group, hardly anyone ever fights for the opposing ethnic group.” Ethnic divisions in Syria’s politics continue to be evident despite major protests by members from the minority groups.

Evidently, the regimes that have ruled Syria have proven to be predatory in nature and have taken a winner-takes-all” policy, in which the predominant ethnic groups dominate all aspects of the Syrian government. For example, the president’s close family members occupy key seats in the current government including those in the military and security forces. The fact that these public officials do not enjoy much support from the public has contributed to conflict in Syria.

Similarly, Devika and Varghese (2011) assert that the Kurds who comprise of Turkmen and Christian populations take opposing views on some pivotal issues that affect Syria. For example, the Kurdish community in Syria support secularism and have on numerous occasions advocated for the separation of religion from the state. On the other hand, the Sunni (the largest ethnic group in Syria) fundamentalists support the implementation of sharia laws on Syria.


According to the primordialist approach, “ethnicity as a collective identity is so deeply rooted in historical experience that is should properly be treated as a given in human relations” (Michael, 2006, p. 6). Considering that Syria has had a long account of oppression along ethnic lines, it is unlikely that these oppressive tendencies will fade.

While having a national identity is pivotal to the Syrian politics, government and populace, no concession has been made on what the Syrian identity should be. This can be evidenced from the internal conflicts in which the Sunnis insist on an Arab identity while the shia and the Kurds oppose such traditional views (Yaniv, 1986).

In addition, while some of the Sunnis and the Shias envision a Syria founded on Arab-Islamic values, the Kurds advocate for a secular Syria. As such, the only solution to these ethnical problems is a concession that considers all the opposing views. Lack of a comprehensive resolution to this ethnical issue only guarantees an escalation in the sectarian/ethnical oriented politics that cripple Syria.

Devika and Varghese (2011) propose a radical approach to this problem. In their book, they argue that placing a “National Unity Dictator” is the only viable way of bringing the uprisings down. They define this leader as a person who is willing to suspend the constitution and use whatever means necessary to quell the chaos that emanates from uprisings and insurgencies led by misguided individuals.

According to, Devika and Varghese (2011), this leader has to be a nationalist and would be placed between ethnic and religious factions in order to promote cohesion between these groups. Despite the fact that this I a viable approach, it is highly unlikely that the desired change would occur rapidly. This is attributed to the fact that neither the Sunnis nor the Kurds would likely be willing to relinquish their gains in order to benefit the others.

Yaniv (1986) states that ethnic conflicts cannot be avoided since people have different perspectives based on their beliefs and practices. As such, despite the fact that ethnical and sectarian ideologies cripple the efforts of a unified Syria, there is a possibility that a new political system can be established to facilitate unification in Syria.

However, the new political system should work across ethnic lines by ensuring that all ethnic groups in Syria are adequately represented in the government. In so doing, Syria will have effectively eliminated divisions and violence propagated by the need to fight for the few resources that are available. Adequate representation of all ethnic groups would mean that elected members would fight for equal distribution of available resources thereby reducing the need for conflict.

Similarly, the Syrian government should consider loosening its policies on free market and direct foreign investments. As has been elaborated in this paper, socioeconomic factors have played a key role in fueling the crisis in Syria. Changing these policies would enable Syrians to market their produces more freely and create the much needed job opportunities from foreign investments.

According to Halabi (2009), there is a very close relationship between poverty and instabilities/conflicts. As such, by providing more avenues through which the youth in Syria can earn a living and better their lives, the government will be a step closer to realizing their goal of quelling the conflicts that hinder the country’s development.

In addition, by expanding the tax base, the government will be able to subsidize the basic goods and afford the expenses that emanate from military expenditure. The fact that there are fewer military and security personnel to promote peace in Syria has also led to the establishment and development of various sects that cause chaos in Syria.

As such, by developing and promoting economic growth, the Syrian government will be better placed to recruit the security forces needed to maintain and uphold peace. Also, Halabi (2009) suggests that promoting education in Syria will enable the country to nurture a generation that is more knowledgeable and have the ability to instigate positive change on the political, social and economical fronts.

On the same note, the government should consider adopting a democratic approach of leading. As mentioned earlier, violating human rights has led to various uprisings in different nations. As such, the Syrian government should take a hint from fallen regimes in countries such as Libya, Iraq and others. Dictatorship does not work as effectively in an era whereby people are more informed of their rights.

As such, multi-parties should be tabled and Syrian citizens should be allowed to vote for their president. Kalmamaz (2011) asserts that democracy gives citizens a sense of belonging and unity. However, the more you force people to follow your ideologies, the higher the chances that they will revolt against you and what you represent. As such, these political changes may go a long way in ensuring that Syria recovers from its issues.

On the same note, the Syrian government should accept that it has an imminent leadership and peace problem and solicit help from other countries. From the look of things, Syria may not recover from these issues unless some outside interventions are made. Astorino-Courtois and Trusty (2000), state that not all western ideologies are harmful especially those relating to peace.

As such, if the Syrian government is dedicated to promoting peace and stability in Syria, they should welcome outside help. In so doing, Syria will be a step closer to eliminating the conflicts that have brought it to the brink of destruction. Recent revolutions in different Arab countries indicate that the Arab communities are rooting for change.

In addition, they show that Arab communities are more willing to set aside their differences with the west so as to safeguard the future of their people who for a long time have been subjected to unimaginable atrocities by leaders who advance their interests at the expense of their people. Syria should not let the situation reach the point of no return; the government should consider implementing change to how things are done.


This paper set out to explore the Syrian conflict. To that end, a brief overview of the situation has been provided and factors that have led to the conflicts addressed.

Possible solutions to the problem have also been provided. From the discussion herein, it has been argued that the Syrian population has suffered greatly due to manipulation by political leaders who use their power to protect their own interests at the expense of their people.

It has also been argued that change and concession needs to be promoted if Syria is to avert more bloodshed. Similarly, it has been noted that the leaders have for a long time used sectarian animosity to advance their own interests. This has led to the development of a country that is more divided than ever and with the threat of more violence from a population that is desperate for change.

However, the reality is not all bleak and if the recommendations mentioned herein are implemented, Syria may recover from the nightmare that has characterized the nation. If the goal for peace is to be achieved, there is dire need to address the institutional and representational imbalances that have contributed to the ethnical, political and economical divisions in Syria. Until this I done, Syria will continue to drown in its own blood.


Astorino-Courtois, A., & Trusty, B. (2000). Degrees of Difficulty: The Effect of Israeli Policy Shifts on Syrian Peace Decisions. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 44(3): 359-377.

Devika, J., & Varghese, V. (2011). To Survive or To Flourish? Minority Rights and Syrian Christian Community Assertions in Twentieth-century Travancore/Kerala. History and Sociology of South Asia, 5(2): 103-128.

Halabi, Y. (2009). Protracted Conflict, Existential Threat and Economic Development. International Studies, 46(3): 319-348.

Hinnebusch, R. (1983). Party Activists in Syria and Egypt: Political Participation in Authoritarian Modernizing States. International Political Science Review, 4(1): 84-93.

Kalmamaz, M. (2011). Horizons for the Syrian Revolution. Anarcho-Syndicalist Review 4(56): 26.

Machiavelli, N. (1961). The Prince. (G. Bull, Trans.) London: Penguin.

Michael, P. (2006). A switch in time: a new strategy for America in Iraq. USA: Brooking Institute Press.

Mora, F., & wiktorowicz. (2003). Economic Reform and the Military: China, Cuba, and Syria in Comparative Perspective. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 44(2): 87-128.

Ofra, B., & Sherko, K. (2009). Elections in Kurdistan: A model Democracy or a Return to Factionalism? Web.

Smith, L. (2011). The Strong Horse: Power, Politics and the Clash of Arab Civilizations. New York: Anchor.

Waltz, K. (1959). Man, the State and War. New York: Columbia University Press.

Yaniv, A. (1986). Syria under Assad: domestic constraints and regional risks. New York: Taylor & Francis.

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Direct Realism Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Realism refers to the attempts to depict reality based on different observers’ perspectives. In this regard, there are multiple means through which reality can be derived guided by the intuition and consciousness of an individual (Gram 4). Some of the theories that explain what realism are include the direct and indirect realism hypotheses. However, there are other philosophical theories that have been developed by multiple observers on the means through which the external world can be derived.

Direct realism refers to the perception that our senses relay to our brains on how the surrounding world is constructed. Essentially, the theory demonstrates the fact that the responses of our senses are exactly what we experience. For instance, the theory emphasizes that what we see is solely what is there. At the same time, it presumes that the world around us is perceived in the same manner as it is observed.

The degree of directness represented by direct realism is high since it depicts the observation based on the interpretations of our minds. Although consciousness cannot be used to distinguish reality from fantasy, the nature of perception derived from our consciousness is paramount.

Similarly, our minds guide us to counter exactly what we may perceive through our normal observation. Therefore, direct realism portrays a sense of how reality can be described with respect to human understanding. Nevertheless, there are instances when the perceptions of how reality is, from our consciousness, fail the actual outcome.

Direct realism seeks to establish the reality of different concepts, ideas, and things based on perceptual knowledge. Through the sensory responses, it is possible to describe the various circumstances that reflect the truth about the world around us. The material objects present within the surrounding describe the reality.

Therefore, statements that are formulated concerning these objects can be considered true since they are actually experienced. At the same time, the existence of material objects is true regardless of whether there is any perception or not about the same subject.

This implies that the perception of material objects through sense-experience is free of bias and not guided by fantasy. Meanwhile, the properties contained by the material objects will always describe their features and purpose for existence without basing on the notion of perception-oriented concepts. Consequently, this implies that material objects exist in our minds based on independent perceptions.

The perceptions that influence the validity of the direct realism theory have a great impact on understanding the reality. Some of these perceptions include visual and speech perceptions. Through the information that is relayed from the material object to the mind through sensory nerves, one can identify the unique features of varying objects. As a result, the perception made will be ideal to describe the way situations are based on one’s observation.

Similarly, it is possible to get some important information through the concepts and ideas that are illustrated to us through speech. The case of visual perception can be derived from the color, shape, and the size of an object. The features enable us to describe issues that surround us in spite of lack of perception. For instance, a ripe orange can always be established through our senses through its features. As a result, it is essential to consider direct realist arguments since there is no mediation between features and sense-experience.

The adoption of direct realism to describe the world around us has been subjected to multiple contentions. Since this theory was initially formulated to describe the reality, there was a lack of consideration of the critical values that affect human judgment. Most philosophers have termed it as the average person theory due to lack of critical consideration of philosophical concepts.

In this case, the reliance on senses subjects the theory of weakness of senses. This implies that senses are not consistent, and alternative approaches should be adopted to support the validity of senses. For that reason, direct realism does not fully address the critical issues covered in philosophical reasoning about reality.

An important element that could interfere with the sense-experience is a hallucination and illusion. In such circumstances where illusion prevails, it is not possible to represent the validity of the sense-experience interpretation about reality. For example, it is possible to describe a straight pen that has been placed in water as being bent through the observation made.

In this regard, reality based on senses would not be valid but contradict the real experience that is witnessed within the surrounding environment. Such scenarios downplay the concepts illustrated by the direct realism since it is exposed to distortion at the initial stage of perceptions before the objectivity stage.

The utilization of the direct realism exposes one to vagueness since its concepts are based on the virtues that make up material objects. At the same time, hallucinations can expose an individual to perceive that things within one’s mind are valid. Consequently, one can realize that direct realism fails to depict reality since sense data retrieved from dreams do not depict the actual reality. In such a situation, direct realists could defend oneself by demonstrating the existence of genuine perceptions.

For instance, the presence of images and information that we experience through dreams could be considered as valid under direct realism. Regardless of the nature of such attributes of reality, direct realism considers such information valid since it is retrieved through sense-experience. Therefore, direct realism gives a false impression of how situations can be categorized without exposing individuals to conflicts.

Direct realists refute the presence of mental images, which can be issued to describe material objects. For that reason, it can be illustrated that mental images can be formed with ease which depicts the situations that are present or not. Consequently, the occurrence of such experience makes the theory fallible by the use of senses.

Although, it is critical to establish the degree to which senses are functional and times when their perceptions are false, the challenges vulnerable to direct realism can be overcome. In this regard, other factors may distort the reality such as imaginations apart from mental images. Such a situation may occur since imaginations are experienced when individuals are sensible and conscious. However, their mental experience is not the real issues that are experienced in the normal world.

Descartes, one of the best philosophers, criticized the validity of the direct realism through the biases of dreams and imaginations (Pols 56). In his arguments, Descartes present the doubt that exists when one is observing object’s existence.

In such a scenario, it is difficult to realize when an individual is dreaming or not, and for that reason, it is impossible to identify whether what we observe is true or not. In addition, he described that direct realism is not valid since what is perceived could be controlled by virtual perception influenced by the evil being.

This implies that whatever is perceived has no relationship with the external world. Furthermore, such experience demonstrates that there is not truth about any issue that can be based on perceptions. Such a situation occurs since our brains operate independently without the influence of the sensory nerves that relay information. As a result, it indicates that sensory nerves kindle the mind to develop illusions concerning reality. Although his concept is absurd, it is extremely difficult to refute its validity.

The process of assessing direct realism seems contradictory to any philosophical reasoning. However, it is critical to realize that the theory is simple and least problematic unlike other theories of realism. In addition, the theory is practical, sensible, and appropriate for most people who value the information presented by the senses.

In this case, senses guide the manner we behave and observe issues in life. Consequently, it implies that the perceptions develop based on its sensibility and background information on the interested subjected will reveal the truth about the issue. These issues contradict the reasoning of philosophers since their minds are based on the notion of demolishing the known truth to construct the ideal truth.

In conclusion, the theory of direct realism covers sensible issues through which reality can be understood. This is attributed to the common and actual features of the material objects that can be sense-perceived available in the surrounding world (Neil 34). Although, there are instances where the validity of such perceptions is misleading, it is essential to establish the genuineness of any statement. This implies that the theories develop to counter the concept are valid to some degree, but also misleading in case they totally considered.

Works Cited

Gram, Moltke S. Direct realism: a study of perception. The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1983. Print.

Neil, Brian E. Epistemological direct realism in Descartes’ philosophy. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1974. Print.

Pols, Edward. Radical realism: direct knowing in science and philosophy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992. Print.

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Realism versus other Theories of International Relations Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

The history of world-politics has been dominated by various theories that help explain international relations. In the recent past, debate has been rife over which theory is better suited to foster sound world-politics. The world’s political forum constantly attempts to substantiate which international relations theory can successfully deal with pressing global issues such as war and peace.

In this debate, most scholars are of the view that the choice of the international relations theory has a great impact on global politics. Unlike political ideologies, international relations theories have to be proven before being instituted. The most common theories of international relations are liberalism and realism.

Theories of international relations are modeled on the concept that nations usually act in a manner that serves their national interests. Examples of national interests include economic prosperity, military power, and self-preservation. This essay presents the argument that realism explains more about the important aspects of world politics than the other theories of international relations.

Realism is an international relations theory that argues that countries only act in a manner that increases their power in relation to that of other countries. Realism claims among other things that a powerful country is best suited to outdo other relatively weaker countries. The general concept behind realism is that the world is a dangerous and harsh place. There are several theories that counter the concepts contained in realism.

The most prominent counter-realism theory is liberalism. According to liberalism, the closeness between countries has nullified realism. The fact that several states have similar interests has eliminated the need to employ military power in the event of a disagreement. The other counter-realism theory is idealism. Idealism stresses on the need for nations to employ moral ethics when they are conducting their international politics. Idealism champions for the abandonment of inferior tactics such as trickery, dishonesty, and violence.

Proponents of realism argue that it is formulated on the assumption that the global-politics arena is dominated by anarchy. The foundation of realism is pegged on ‘human nature’. This means that realists assume that governments like human beings are driven by self-interest. Therefore, it is unlikely that the political organizations that are formulated based on other international relations theories can be able to change human nature. The pessimistic nature of realism is often challenged by both idealists and liberalists.

Although the pessimistic nature of realism seems undesirable, its central premise bears a solid argument. Many scholars concur that human beings are creatures who are self-preservative by instinct. Politics is a reflection of individual human beings albeit in a collective front.

Realists articulate that nations are primarily reflections of collective human nature. This makes it hard to argue that the behavior of states can be different from that of individuals. The evidence of the anarchy that is characteristic of human nature can be witnessed all over the world. The events that transpire in the course of conducting global politics provide a solid backing for realism.

Currently, the drive for self-preservation and accumulation of resources are prime influences of international politics. For instance, the relationship between the United States and China is dominated by the need for self-preservation on the side United States and the need to gain resources on China’s side. Most human beings would concur with the premises behind realism.

There are several events around the world today that are used to interpret the current state of world politics. Some of the events that help interpret global politics include ideological differences between nations, armed conflict, and possibilities of conflict. These events are a clear indication that realism is a valid theoretical concept. Even in a world where people lean towards other theories such liberalism and idealism, political events are still characterized by realistic tendencies.

For instance, the political class in the United States constantly distances itself from realism and yet its actions are in line with realism. In addition, the fact that the most politically influential countries in the world are also the countries with the most military power supports realism. The anarchical mode of political operation that is proposed by realism is very similar to the current order of events in the global political arena.

Even though realism is well represented in the global arena, its advocacy can steer a state towards a path of conflict. Proponents of realism blame the theory for increasing aggression, unnecessary military expansions, and conflicts. The need to foster international political unity is greatly undermined by realism.

Unsatisfactory political unity can hamper free trade, peace, and cooperation among countries. The liberalists often blame realism for the collapse of the Soviet Union. In its heydays, the Soviet Union exemplified one of the strongest political units to date. Liberalists also argue that the benefits of globalization are too valuable to be ignored. Given that realism is often touted as one of the deterrents of globalization, liberalists conclude it has no place in modern day global politics.

The fact that realism conveys the most important facts in modern politics can be exemplified by the fact that it is a useful reference during conflict resolution. For a conflict to be resolved, its cause has to be understood.

Realism is best suited in scenarios where tensions and conflicts are rife. The fact that realism concerns itself with a world that is characterized by self-interest and war makes it pertinent to global politics. The last century has seen realism come under attack as an outdated international relations theory. However, events that have transpired within this same period indicate that these attacks have been baseless.

For instance, the political events that transpired during the cold war era highlighted realism on a global scale. During the cold war era, constant jostling for positions of power kept both the US and the USSR in a state of near conflict. These actions point towards the anarchic political actions that are exemplified by realism. Without an in-depth understanding of realism, it would be hard to resolve political conflicts and acts of aggression.

Realism is arguably the easiest theory to define amongst the international relations theories. All political and international relations experts concur that realism provides a measurable success rate as opposed to other theories. For instance, military superiority can be exhibited through machinery to a measurable extent. However, opponents of realism often decry the over-emphasis of military might as a measure of political superiority.

There is a school of thought that is of the view that the simplistic nature of realism renders it circular in nature. For instance, realism leads to the argument that countries ‘obtain power because they obtain power’. Therefore, little attention is paid to the reasoning behind the actions of the countries that pursue realism. The hunger for power among nations can also eclipse other important developments in international politics. A lot of attention is paid to displays of power as opposed to other modern methods of conflict resolution.

The legitimacy of realism as the most relevant international relations theory is constantly undermined by the other international relations theories. The Democratic Peace Theory for instance argues that democracy in itself can foster peaceful coexistence among nations. The efficacy of the democratic theory is however undermined by the fact that even democracies get involved in conflicts.

Another backing to realism being a superior and more simplistic international relations theory is that even the other theories tend to employ realism in their operations. For example, the United States’ invasion of Iraq was said to be an attempt to foster democracy in that country. However, the invasion itself was characteristic of realism because it involved violence and military invasion.

The major opposing theory towards realism is liberalism. Liberalism advocates for free trade among countries, capitalism, and democratically elected governments. Realists usually fault liberalists using the argument that liberalism is not a real-world theory. This argument is not entirely true but it is fostered by the fact that the results achieved by liberalism are less dramatic than those achieved by realism are. However, the tedious nature of liberalism makes it seem more like an ideology than a theory.

The debate as to whether realism is the most practical and simplistic theory when it comes to international politics is set to continue. The most prominent argument for realism is that it is the only true theory and the other theories are mostly ideologies. The main argument against realism is that it is has no place in today’s globalization politics. However, the facts indicate that the relevance of realism in politics is evident and it cannot be ignored.

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