Realist Theory in Ir

Why do realists insist the state is the most important actor in international politics?

Realist theory within international relations can be traced back to the mid seventeenth century Thomas Hobbes book Leviathan asserted that people sought their own self interest when there was no government and/or monarchy in place, he called this condition “the state of nature”. The implication being that a state of nature (or “state of war”) replaced internal rules when there was no government to apply them, the end product being anarchy (Goldstein J. S 2005). A significant time later Morgenthau expanded on this theory after World War 2 applying his similar theory to that of international relations by describing all nations devoid of universal morality, in his words “no nation has God on its’ side”(Morgenthau. H   1985). In this essay i aim to identify why realists insist that the state is the most important actor in international politics.
The concept of each state controlling its own sovereignty is a cornerstone of realist theory, it is seen as the actor with which other states interact. Realist thinkers maintain that it is the lack of global governance that determines the anarchical structure of international politics, in turn this situation encourages states (actors) to act in a manner to to human nature, inherently selfish and insecure. The actors self interest is the overriding motivation, where secuirity of sovereignty and the pursuit of power are the goals to satisfy this “selfish” nature. Waltz defined power by describing actors as powerful to the extent that they affect others more than they are able to affect them (Waltz. K 1979). A good example of this can be seen in the relationship between Soviet Russia and the USA during the arms race, two “super-powers” each attempting to tip the balance of power in their favour whilst both looking to increase their power bvase by recruiting strategic allies from around   the world. Power can be measured in several ways,...