Political Realism: Definition, Approaches, Criticism

Subject: Politics & Government
Pages: 2
Words: 543
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: School

A realist is an individual who perceives a circumstance in the most pragmatic way. This means they believe that the world can be an ideal place where no wrongdoing has to take place and they want to make everything perfect and in order. A realist often is a person who sees the truth and believes in idealism. Let’s talk about realist and their views on politics.

A realist viewed politics as controllable domestically and internationally in a separate way as well as being separate between domestic and international politics. This is especially when there was a tension conflict between the US and the Iraqi government as the US government is interfering to try and make a democratic government but the Iraqi’s are having more of an ethnic conflict. Thus, the whole thing is in a political mess.

However, in the recent Iraq situation, realists are beginning to change their views about the political system as they apprehend that there is a correlation between domestic and international politicians. Currently, there has been a political conflict especially involving each countries political parties that their own citizens don’t support, but are being supported by the US government.

Realism can also be viewed by using the fundamental or theoretical approach. The theoretical approach is more towards distinguishing the processes thru an international reality whereas the fundamental approach, highlights that the state acts as the international relaters and there is an unambiguous separation between domestic and international separation of powers in the political system. States can be defined in terms of power especially when they want to protect their national interests and act as unitary-rational actors.

There are also several criticisms of political realism. One of them is that it has limited content, whereby it tends to ignore most international interactions that are supposed to be cooperative in nature. Besides that, the assumptions made are also partly valid ones. For example, states are most concerned over many complex issues which do not have much power. These states are not united neither are they behaving universally rationally.

Apart from that, it is also said that realism oversimplifies reality whereby the political situation in the real world is much more complicated and there are much more hidden issues to it than what the realists say. Furthermore, there are also issues of interdependence. This is whereby the states, regardless of is power can shape the entire international system. Some states are very much interdependent. In addition, there is also another criticism on being empirical.

This focuses more on that the political system is not based on just being pragmatic, there are more underlying issues to it. The political system has been criticized for not being able to predict the world’s major events and processes though research has been done years in advance.

One of the newest approaches is Woodrow Wilson’s 14points and study of IR whereby the author suggests the principle of national self-determination and the principle of public diplomacy and agreements which suggests a more transparent IR. Apart from that, there is also theoretical and normative criticism. The theoretical criticism is whereby it approaches assumptions that can’t be theoretically sustainable while the normative criticism focuses on the application of the Utopian approach which is based on the facts and consequences.


  1. Stern, Joseph Peter; On Realism, 1973. Web.
  2. Frankel, Benjamin; Realism:Restatements and Renewal, 1996. Web.