WHAT ARE THE MAJOR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF THE REALIST TRADITION?.
Realism as a political theory is founded on the idea of inherent human nature as its principal source, and that power or interest in power is the driving force behind international and national politics. The power is the power of man over man. If reduced to its elements, political realism can be defined by the saying "might is right" (Alex Moseley 2003). Realism has it roots in texts such as Theucydides" Pelopennesian War, Machiavelli's The Prince, Thomas Hobbes" Leviathan and various other texts including William Shakespeare's Richard III. .
The basic premise of realism, is that "objective laws" rooted within human nature govern politics. "Objective laws" is used in this context to mean people behaving in a predictable way. Morgenthau states that "[I]n order to improve society it is first necessary to understand the laws by which society lives". The assumption that human nature is a fixed condition is flawed. Evidence for this lies in areas such as the changes in religious understanding within the last 500 years including the development of atheism or agnosticism.
The inherent ability of humans to invent and develop indicates an innate ability to evolve and change. For example, the growth of modern methods of communication has changed human behaviour significantly. The invention of the telephone, radio, TV and, more recently, the Internet has increased the speed of communication and the potency of messages allowing people to increase their knowledge. To suggest that these advances have not changed human behaviour would seem naive. .
The current international situation, with no one political body having overarching power (it is clear that the USA, whilst being a "superpower" does not function as an over-arching power), is one that has been ascribed as "domestic anarchy" by some theorists. The domestic anarchy analogy suggests that individual states must treat with each other and band together, or fend for themselves in a form of social Darwinism.