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Essay on the Marxist and Realist View of International Relations


Marxist and realist view of international relations have minimal similarities in such that wealthy nations are rational entities that tend to use the resources of developing counties for its own creation of some level of power. However, they are different in such a way that Marxist shows the inability of developing nations to use its marginalized power to protect its resources from infiltration of outsider. Realists are vocal in their view that developing nations and wealthy countries are in equal footing and the lack of power from the developing nations to avoid dependency and coercion from the outside should be dealt with social revolution (Rose 1998). In contrast, this finding requires polishing because in the current events, explicit warfare and coercion hardly happens. Further, there are only a very few nations that use communism to run their countries. This paper aims to compare and contrast Marxist and Realist ideologies in the platform of international relations. This will be supplemented by a case study about international migration and mobility to test whether the two ideologies are presently strong.


Obtained from the tenets of Marxism, dependency theory is an issue between the wealthy and developing countries where the former is the nucleus of the international relations while the latter is only the outside edge (Doyle 1997). It argues that the ultimate objective of the nucleus is to extort the resources of those in the edge for the purpose of self-vested interests. The nature of such interest is highly regarded as a form of economic incentive such as stability of the home economy including potential expansion. Dependency theory believes that the more developing countries are integrated in the global system the more they are becoming poorer or their level of growth is hampered. In general terms, the improvement in the quality of living in the wealth-side hemisphere of the world is cause and effect of underdeveloped position of developing-side of the hemisphere.
It has three principles (Doyle 1997). First, the poorer countries serve as dump-site for outdated technology as well as practices from the wealthy countries. This enables the latter to accumulate not only volume of markets for its own products and services but also ensure that their scrap resources are still bought. Second, due to the extensive influence of wealthy nations in international relations, they are able to make international polices and multilateral agreements that are lucrative in the eyes of poorer regions. As a result, the former dependence on the latter is cloaked within these formal arrangements. Finally, and the most compelling issue, wealthy nations will use coercion trough military actions as means to impose those policies if the parties involved will not follow.
On the other hand, realism or also referred as political realism advocates the opportunity of developed countries to obtain a certain level of power in both economical and political dimensions (Hirschman et. al. 1999). Only in this feat that the states will be independent and free from other states as there is security in carrying internal affairs. Apart from dependency theory, realism argues that developed countries are naturally competitive and selfish and have the same motivation as wealthy nations. This is based on the nature of humans of not wanting to cooperate to other unless there is an assurance of greater benefit or lesser risks. In effect, developing countries and wealthy nations must have equal footing in international relations in both trade and political aspects.
There are five major principles (Hirschman et. al. 1999). One is the assumption that the international landscape is naturally under disorder. This foretells the inability of any nations to dictate for the welfare of the other. Second, individual states or nations have minimal influence to each other that makes the whole or part of another ineffective to propose change ideal to other states. Another, there is a general rule not to trust agreements on the long-term due to the presence and higher belief from national interest. This exemplified that dependency theory is created with limited amount of patriotism or military capabilities from the developing nations. Fourth, to achieve internal security among states, even developing nations must use international relations to seek resources. This put them under competitive stance absent in dependency theory. They are merely in defensive stance in the Marxist view. Lastly, the power of the nations is measured by armed and economic resources.

Lessons from International Migration
The individual approach to migration assumes people as rational decision-makers (Hirschman, Kasinitz & DeWind 1999). It states that migrants will select the destination where their financial, educational, skills and health investments can be maximized. There is a goal of seeking the right mix between the people resources or preferences and the new environment. In addition, individual approach also places migration in the heart of group decisions like the family. A migrant member is assumed to have the ability to support the travel fees of other prospective migrant members and to support daily needs of the family.
In contrast, the structural approach detaches the isolated motivation behind migration (Hirschman, Kasinitz & DeWind 1999). It believes that the phenomena and events in the environment where people are exposed directly or indirectly are the root cause of pushing from original or pulling to new destinations. Examples of some contributory events are unemployment, size of population and national security. One famous form of this approach is the dual labor markets which are composed by two types of jobs; namely, secure, permanent, high-skilled and well paid jobs and the other as temporary, hard, unpleasant jobs. Due to the fall of women and children employment, immigrants became the forefront option in filling the workforce needed to supply the latter type of job.
The third approach provides a systems perspective to include the complex interactions of individual and structural factors in forming migration consequences (Castles & Miller 2003). This approach brings forth the creation of migration systems. Migration systems start with individual’s decision at personal level (i.e. exploit opportunities) and later can impact the re-definition of migration structure especially when information of a well-off life is easily communicated in his original location. As illustration, most immigrants which establish their presence in their respective destinations due to their significant number have created certain associations. This increases their visibility and impact to community.
According to Racvenstein (1889), migration is caused by push-pull process where unattractive environments in a region tend to push people out of it while attractive environments in an outside region pull them in (cited in Gans 1999). There are also inherent factors in migration process that creates an aggravating effect. It includes the better outside economic possibilities, the idea that the number of migration increases as distance decreases, systematic occurrence of migration rather than one-time, bilateral shift in both populations and major difference in migration factors can influence the decision of a person.
Lee (1966) has a more intensive approach on the internal/ push element of migration (cited in Kivisto 2001). The intervening obstacles offer a framework wherein several variables like distance, physical, family (i.e. having children and other dependents) and political impediments can prevent migration. Further, the author argued that the push-pull theory is not absolute to all the population due to difference in age, gender and social class. The various profiles of respondents can have deviating and perhaps conflicting direction with the theory. Thus, shaping the push-pull framework is a matter of complex relationship of migration elements.
As types of push-pull category, there are additional theories about international migration. Neoclassical economic theory views migration as the cause of the changes in the supply and demand for labor (Sjaastad 1962). For example, countries with high/ low supply of labor and low/ high demand for them will result in high/ low wages that tends to pull/ push immigrants in/ out from/ to the nations with surplus/ shortage of labor. Segmented labor market theory suggests that first world nations are bound to access certain size of immigrants while developing/ poor nations can view the process as opportunity (Piore 1979). The labor supply from the latter is expected to fill the second type of dualistic economies in the developed counties which is the market for low-waged work. World systems theory assumes that poor nations are the peripheral actors in international capitalism which necessitates them to be pushed towards the rich nations which are considered in the center. This is true for the latter because they have the necessary technology and resources (Sassen 1988).
It is said that international migration has higher-level causes/ motivations than internal migration (Weeks 1999). This theory derives from the fact that barriers in international compared to internal migration are stronger. For example, the former has greater administrative requirements, higher costs and more bureaucracy. In this veil, there are three types of migration; namely, internal, international and forced migration. The first is a change in residence within country limits (i.e. to a different administrative territory). The second is a change in residence beyond national geography where immigrants can be classified as legal (i.e. with permission to the host country), illegal (i.e. without permission) or refugees (i.e. crossing borders to escape persecution). The third is a migration against will or due to environmental factors (i.e. natural calamity).
In the study of Carling (2002), migration is viewed in both aspiration (i.e. willingness) and in the actual immigration to other locations (i.e. ability). In the case of Cape Verde experience of illegal migration to the Netherlands, the migration interface is described according to seven types of barriers. These barriers include the eligibility, level of skills, social contacts, practicality, costs, denial of entry, danger (i.e. of being caught). The capacity of the migrant depends on the suitability of the barriers with its personal characteristics. For example, the high cost of travel is being addressed by the immigrants through borrowing or even stealing.
The tighter policies of US against Mexican immigrants only led to development of new entry points as well as increasing the criminal liability of the applicants (Orenstein 1995). This is explained in the veil of migration pressure in which people are forced to migrate due to migration potential and migration demand. The history of US-Mexico relationship began many centuries ago particularly when US needed Mexican laborers for seasonal support. However, due to economic crises, this relationship has been stopped and closed door policy is developed. In this view, the patterns of migration are determined by the flow of capital, goods and labor. It is concluded that a shared border (i.e. geography) has minimal participation in the historic migration lineage of Mexico in the US.
In the paper of Nyiri (2005), Chinese immigrants in Hungary are having two extreme notions particularly in the media dimension; namely, semi-criminal marginal and pioneering global modernizers. The former is a Hungarian version which is concretized by the un-acknowledging Hungary towards immigrants. This xenophobic approach is an extreme case in EU where legal and illegal immigrants are singularly reproached. Hostile behavior against Chinese is eminent in unilateral raise of rents in mostly Chinese populated areas and also highlighting in newspapers where Chinese composed the most illegal immigrants. This hostile approach is aggravated by several reports such as the prominence of Chinese triads in illegal trades. As a counteraction, Chinese media in Hungary had released similar topics with different underlying such as the dynamism and heroism of Chinese amid discrimination and lowly life. This has caused terming of global entrepreneurship in favor of Chinese immigrants.
New Chinese immigrants in Hong Kong are socially excluded (Kam-Yee & Kim-Ming 2006) which was aggravated by the end of its 1980s economic boom. New immigrants from the mainland composed the majority of the low-income/ poverty families in Hong Kong. Further, the new arrivals have lower educational attainment which has contributory effect to the kind of work they can access. They are commonly employed in manufacturing, low-paid and low-skilled industries. The possibility of having a low life in Hong Kong is confronted by immigrants especially as the industrial labor force significantly declined in Hong Kong since 2001. In effect, unstable employment is tapped in retail, catering and shop stores.

In the current situation, it is difficult to tell whether Marxist or Realist views are popular. The host locations from immigrants are welcoming them because they can bring labor and entrepreneurship in the country. This is where Marxist is eminent even without coercion through political means by immigrants. The mere essence of lacking of some factors of production in one nation is a sufficient evidence of dependence to others. For the Realist, it is evident in US-Mexico increased regulation of worker mobility. The US would want to protect its local laborers and it used its political power to establish safety nets. These underlying provides a problematic identification of who are the most relevant ideology at present. It is good to note that the two have distinct characteristics and some similarities. Due to this, it is hard to tell whether one is more influential than the other in contemporary time.

Gideon Rose (1998), "Neoclassical Realism and Theories of Foreign Policy", World Politics, Vol. 51, No. 1, pp. 144-172

Doyle, Michael (1997). Ways of War and Peace: Realism, Liberalism, and Socialism (Paperback). London: W. W. Norton & Company, esp. pp. 41-204

Hirschman, Charles, Philip Kasinitz, and Josh DeWind (eds). (1999). The Handbook of International Migration: The American Experience. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Pp. 127-136. [B]

Castles, Stephen and Mark J. Miller. 2003. The Age of Migration, 3rdedition. New York: The Guilford Press. Part of Chapter 2, pp. 21-32. [B]

Destexhe, J-F. (1995) "Hong Kong and 1997: The facts," in W. Menski (ed.) Coping with 1997." the reaction of the Hong Kong people to the transfer of power, Staffordshire: Trentham Books, pp. 17-56.
Gans, Herbert J. 1999. “Toward a Reconciliation of “Assimilation” and “Pluralism”: The Interplay of Acculturation and Ethnic Retention.” In The Handbook of International Migration: The American Experience, edited by Charles Hirschman, Philip Kasinitz, and Josh DeWind. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Chapter 8 (pp. 161-171). [B]

Hirschman, Charles, Philip Kasinitz, and Josh DeWind (eds). 1999. The Handbook of International Migration: The American Experience. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Pp. 127-136. [B]

Piore, Michal J. (1979) “ Birds of Passage: Migrant Labor and Industrial Societies”,Cambridge University Press, London

Sassen, Saskia. 1988. The Mobility of Labor and Capital: A Study in International Investmentand Labor Flow. Cambridge University Press

Siu Yat-ming (1999) "New Arrivals: A New Problem and An Old Problem," in Larry Chuen-ho Chow and Yiu-kwan Fan (eds.), The Other Hong Kong Report 1998, Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, pp.201-28.

Weeks, John. 1999. Population. Belmont: Wadsworth.

Carling, J 2002,"Migration in the Age of Involuntary Immobility: Theoretical Reflections and Cape Verdean Experiences", Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. Volume: 28. Issue: 1. pp. 5+.

Kam-Yee, L & Kim-Ming, L 2006, "Citizenship, Economy and Social Exclusion of Mainland Chinese Immigrants in Hong Kong", Journal of Contemporary Asia. Volume: 36. Issue: 2. pp. 217+.

Kivisto, Peter. 2001. “Theorizing Transnational Immigration: A Critical Review of Current Efforts.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 24, 4: 549-577.

Orenstein, C 1995, "Illegal Transnational Labor: Mexicans in California and Haitians in the Dominican Republic", Journal of International Affairs. Volume: 48. Issue: 2. pp. 601-624.

Nyiri, P 2005, "Global Modernisers or Local Subalterns? Parallel Perceptions of Chinese Transnationals in Hungary', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. Volume: 31. Issue: 4. pp. 659+.

Sjaastad, Larry A. "The Costs and Returns of Human Migration." The Journal of Political Economy, 1962, 70(5, Part 2: Investment in Human Beings), pp. 80-93.


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