Neo-realism fragility, conflict, and violence” (“Fragility, Conflict and Violence”,

Neo-realism and Neo-liberalism are both historical theories that have been extended to many other subforms and is still used an explanations in International Relations today. Even so, there is contestation about which theory is considered more legitimate and valid in explanting the international community today. This essay will analyse which theory is more legitimate in its ability to explain the state and behaviour of the international community today, referencing between the two films ‘Lord of the Flies’ and ‘Independence Day’ as a way in doing so. This is because both films have distinctive themes and plots that follows the ideological structure of Neo-liberalism and Neo-realism respectively. Post WW2 Neo-Realism puts ‘states’ as the centre of the theory, that States are centerfold in realism because the theory assumes that states main or, if not, only concern is its own power and security. This is not for just for narcissistic or imperial reasoning, but to ensure the state’s survival. “Two billion people live in countries where development outcomes are affected by fragility, conflict, and violence” (“Fragility, Conflict and Violence”, 2017) shows the extent of the international community fragility, that over a quarter of the world population lives in a state that could collapse. A reasoning for that is, in accordance to realists, ‘there is no overarching authority’. This means that there is no help system that states can turn to in the case of grievances between and inside their states. This leads to the world’s governance system to be considered anarchical therefore, void of external control and rules. Because of the nothingness above sovereign states, a balance of power needs to occur to stop states utilising the nothingness to imperialise and/or abuse others. In contrast, Pre WW2 Realism however does not focus on states but instead human nature. This analysis will focus on post WW2 realism however due to the making and production of “Lord of the Flies” postdating WW2. Realism in its previous form focused on individual behaviour and intent. Indeed, prominent contributors towards Realist thought, Hobbes and Morgenthau, put forth the idea that the natural state of being is anarchical and survivalistic, much like modern realists do with states. Morgenthau writes that ‘political man is a selfish animal, and all human behaviour tends towards the control of others.’ (Feng, 2006). Evidently, he is proposing that hegemony is inevitable because leaders are only naturally only focused on spreading their own interests, which is later seen as an correct observation due to the various ideologically-based proxy wars between American and Russian ideology during the Cold war. The deprencies between Biological Realism and State-Central realism is Biological Realism focuses on and only the individual unit of analysis, whereas state-central realism focuses on the state level of analysis onwards. In addition, Neo-realists does not believe that man is innately evil unlike Human Realists, the thirst for power and the want to be a hegemon comes from wanting to ensure the highest amount of survival.The Lord of the Flies serves as an almost direct analogy for Neo-Realism because the plot. The beginning of the film starts with Ralph asserting himself as leader of the boys he is stranded on the island with, thus the film begins with a unipolar system of governance. The willingness to allow Ralph the position of leaders lends itself to his characteristics as a person; Smarter, Older and more Charismatic than the rest of the islanders. He mimics what the Island lacks most, Adults who act like rational actors. Rational actors are those who “are aware of their external environment and they think intelligently about how to maximize their prospects for survival” (Mearsheimer, 2009). Adults, via more life experiences, are seen as rational actors in the face of danger because they know more, the prospects of an successful escape of the island because more increased. The fear of not escaping the island, means the Islanders wanted leader with the same sort of qualities. The overarching want to escape the island to begin with all the boys following Ralph rules of “setting up camp and having a signal fire” to begin with, but the unsuccessful notion of it (multiple airplane misses) creates doubts of Ralph credibility as a leader. Ralph unwillingness to change his agenda to escape, allows opportunity for Jack for create momentum to become an aggressor towards Ralph and further along the film, a second leader. This happens for two reasons; Anarchy and Survivalism.  All other states are potential threats, and no international institution is capable of enforcing order or punishing powerful aggressors” (Mearsheimer,1990) presents that Jack is allowed to become an aggressor because there is nobody stopping him doing so. Even though, in accordance to Ralph, one’s only allowed to provide guidance to how to survive on the Island via the conch shell, deviances against that is not punishable. In addition, Jack provides an alternative ideology to ensure survival. Jack’s policy is to “provide food and protect against the beast in the cave”  – which for the islanders seems more plausible to ensure long-term survival, even though the idea is short-term. This makes Jack a second hegemon and makes the system on the island bipolar.  “Bipolarity can occur simultaneously with hegemony when a militarily strong contender arises to challenge the hegemon’s leadership” (Volgy & Imwalle,1995) fits the dynamics of Jack and Ralph down to a mark. Jack, having similar personality traits as Ralph is seen as a replacement adult (rational actor) for the young islanders, coupled with an alternative ideology that is working on a short term basis, happens to make Jack a strong contender to hegemonic leader. As the film goes on, this exact notion happens, Jack gains more and more power whilst Ralph becomes less of an hegemonic, despite being democratically elected as leader. Fear and Rationality plays a large role within the film, which simultaneously also acts as a critique of Realism in general. The assumption that all political actors are rational actors is unreasonable, as it ignores personal experiences and the complexity of the situation. “One such psychological source of deviation is the loss aversion (Stein, 2012: 139). This is a condition in which the decision maker accepts greater risks in bad situations than he normally does “when things are going well” (Shahryarifar, 2016). In short, an actor makes a rast and other ill-thought decision not because it’s the best for them or their country, but to stop their own downfall. “A good example would be Hitler’s decision to invade the Soviet Union”, which was latterly considered problematic for Hitler has he didn’t consider the military superiority and skills of being able to commit warfare in a difficult terrain that the Soviet Union had. However, Realism manages to observe that in “A bipolar system has only one dyad across which war might break out: only two major powers contend with one another, and the minor powers are not likely to be in a position to attack each other” (Mearsheimer, 1990), which is historically accurate. The Cold War, excluding proxy war which utilised other states and thus is excluded from this observation, was relatively mild and non-violence in regards to fighting against given each countries nuclear capabilities. In contrast, wars that have had multiple actors or states have been difficult to overcome. For example, The Syrian War internal fighters come from 4 different ethnic groups, with the larger image of various different states supporting one group and opposing the other, for example, Russia blatant support of Assad troops. The complexity of the war, coupled with different multi-state convictions on how to resolve the war and what to do with Syria afterwards, is one of the main reasons why practical change is not happening because no country is reaching a consensus with one another. Liberalism is the antonyms of Realism in many respects, but not all. One of the major opposing ideas is that Humans are not inheritably bad in nature. “Civil society precedes the state and creates order and grants the state legitimacy” (“Locke versus Hobbes”, n.d.) presents that societies came from civilians who are able to exist collectivity and thus their creation is bottom-up. Therefore, Neo-Liberals believe that states are able to understand the intent of other-states because it’s not too dissimilar.  For example, Liberals believe all Man does not want war and therefore neo-liberals assume that war only occurs when government’s are unrepresentative and/or have a secretive agenda in which they will benefit from war from. Therefore, a stable government which advocates for the people would likely take turn to institutions who are able to sanction aggressors before going taking the steps to go to war. Neo-Liberals also focus on all units of analysis – individuals, sub-state, state, regional and global in it’s response to transgressors, whereas Neo-realists primarily focus on state onwards. However, neo-liberals and neo-realists recognize anarchy as the primal state of the political world, but the way in which order and trust is preserved is approached differently. Many liberals are “true believers in multilateralism” (Miller, 2010)and use institutions such the UN and Nato as a way to promote dialogue that can overcome such issues. Optimistically, some Neo-Liberals presume that international communities, by proxy can act as an overarching authority, however a lack of military power and vetoing rights makes that impossible. In opposition,  “Military power is a very important power resource for realists” (Miller, 2010), as it is an deterrence for attack. Even though this can quickly escalate into a state of offensive realism,which maintains that it makes good strategic sense for states to gain as much power as possible (Dunne, Kurki & Smith, 2013), which in this age means the possession of nuclear weapons – creating a dangerous rhetoric of vertical nuclear proliferation – that is a step that should be taken to ensure safety. Independence day somewhat acts an analogy for Neoliberalism. The film is set in an already established and influential hegemony, that being the United States. Very quickly into the film Aliens come to invade the earth, which leaves the global leader President Thomas J Whitmore, very little time to overcome the issue.The aliens can be presented as an aggressive state. Aggressive states are defined as states who are “understood to be committed wrongs “against a state” rather than wrongs “against humanity” (Dannenbaum, 2015). This is a rather correct observation since the aliens are attacking indiscriminately rather than focusing on a group of people with the same characteristics. He therefore sets up a coalition between himself, his strategic team, David Levingston (an jewish MIT trained satellite technician) and Steven Hiller (an african american fighter pilot). This coalition provides the president a whole perspective on how to deal with the issue – he is able to utilise both the hard power and militarised rhetoric from the army leaders and Steven Hiller and a alternative technological based rhetoric from David Levingston. This coalition is culturally and intellectually multilateral, a concept that is central for neo-liberalisation. Ways to counterpart the alien threat varies throughout the film, the beginning suggestion is to take the aliens out using military means but this suggestion is futile as the aliens have adapted a forcefield. This seems to present a direct neoliberal critique of realism, that military actions advocated in realism is often not the redeeming solution in all security crises especially in the face of more technologically advanced machinery, such as nuclear weapons and in this case a force-field. “For liberal thinkers, economic incentives are important as well as concerns for security” (Keohane & Nye, 1987))shows the willingness of other avenues liberals wish to take in security crises. The end shows Levingston hacking the forcefield, allowing the american coalition easy access to the interiors of the spaceship, thus destroying it internally. Although an interstate coalition (like an UN figure) does occur in the film, the intentional lack of representation of it implies that only the values of an hegemon like the USA should be applied in a post-apocalyptic world, because it is deemed the most suitable. “Nowadays, the combination of neoliberalism and liberal democracy is largely due to the convergence found in their liberal component: depoliticization and de-democratization, not popular participation” (Vázquez-Arroyo, 2008)presents that way in which neo-liberals tend to implement liberal democracy nowadays, by juxtaposingly doing it by destroying the previous regime therefore politicization the country. Versions of this, like Iraq and Libya, are unsuccessful however in Independence day this notion is successful. This is because “The normative democratic peace model specifies that democracies have shared norms and trust among themselves which is why they are more peaceful” (Zimelis, 2012), therefore those who survived the initial conflict have trust in america in developing a new system, because it is not unlike a system they have never experienced before. In addition, the Aliens acted as the source of depoliticization and de-democratization and destroyed many aspects of earth, so the groundwork is already there to re-develop. The latter point shows that often, neo-liberals do not always use cooperation as a way gain a larger state following. Entitled offensive liberalism, peace is achieved through forced democratization. Forced democratization can be institutionalised by notions of debts and loans from multinational agencies such as the IMF, that make heavily indebted nations forced to submit to a sweeping program of cuts to food programmes and the privatization of state companies so that they can face global competition”. In addition, the more an hegemon forces democracy, the more “extreme imbalances in terms of material capability will incentivize stronger states to take advantage of their relative power position by coercing weaker targets” (Poznansky & Scroggs, 2016). This highly goes against neo-liberals ideological want for equal states and more multipolarism, instead what happens is states become greedy for land and power which creates more inequalities and more hierarchy within the global system. In short, neoliberalism proves the natural assumption of neo-realists, that human nature is greedy when given the power and opportunity too, and in absence of an balance of power, will imperialize other countries to fit “their ideal democracy”. In all, Neorealism somewhat represents the most accurate representation of International Relations today, as opposed to Neo-Liberalisation. This is because of the re-emergence of Russia as an alternative hegemon with the east (The annexation of Crimea and the orchestration of the 2008 gas crisis) and rise of state nationalism globally presenting to us that there is a lack of public consensus for internationalism. I would argue however, that as opposed to there being a distrust of the ideas of neoliberalism, it is the way it has been utilised by powerful elites. The increasing indebtment of poorer countries by various western countries, as part of a neo-liberal project to make democracies global, has only underpinned democracy because it’s making protectionism and the idea of statehood more popular. Realism would not occur as a theory if statehood wasn’t an existing concept, so the rise of nationalism and thereby statehood is making realism more and more applicable today.


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