Discussing the “Core Themes” and “Principal Assumptions” of Realism – the Nuances of Post-Cold War International Relations

  •  Jacek Wieclawski    


This article discusses “core themes” and “principal assumptions” in the realist study on international relations. It identifies some fundamental claims that distinguish realism from other theoretical perspectives. Moreover, it believes that the debate on the core of realism helps to clarify its understanding of contemporary international affairs. Yet the evolution of realism reveals a number of ambiguities in the picture of its “principal assumptions”. It warns that the list of realism’s “core themes” must be cautious and avoid simplifications. The article outlines some theoretical challenges that realism faces in the post-Cold War international reality and their impact on realism’s essence. It argues that further debate on realism’s “core themes” is valuable yet it needs a more nuanced attitude – far from simplified conclusions. Finally, the article proposes a nuanced catalogue of realism’s “principal assumptions” which reflects the complex nature of contemporary international relations.

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