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PSIR 2A-5.3 Marxist – Previous Year Questions – Solved

Model Answers to PYQs (2018-2023)

1] Discuss the commonalities between the Marxist and Realist approach to the study of International Politics. [2022/10m/150w/1c]

While Marxism and realism are distinct theoretical frameworks, they do share some commonalities in their approach to the study of international politics.

Both Marxism and realism adopt a materialist perspective in their analysis of international politics. They emphasize the significance of material factors, such as power, resources, and economic interests, in shaping state behaviour and international relations. They argue that material conditions and material interests play a crucial role in understanding the actions and motivations of states.

Both theories recognize the importance of power and conflict in international relations. They emphasize that states are driven by their pursuit of power and seek to maximize their interests in a competitive international system. They acknowledge that power struggles and conflicts are inherent in international politics and influence state behaviour.

Marxism and realism share the understanding that the international system is characterized by anarchy, meaning there is no central authority to govern interactions between states. They argue that states exist in a self-help system where they must rely on their own capabilities and pursue their interests to ensure their survival and security.

They give significant attention to the role of the state in international relations. While Marxism considers the state as an instrument of the ruling class, realism views the state as the primary actor in the international system. Both perspectives recognize the state as a crucial unit of analysis and highlight its agency in shaping international outcomes.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that Marxism and realism have fundamental differences in their theoretical frameworks and core assumptions. Marxism places a significant emphasis on socioeconomic class struggles, historical materialism, and the critique of capitalism, while realism focuses more on the distribution of power, state interests, and the balance of power. [287 words]

2] “Marxist approach to the study of international relations has lost its relevance in the post-cold war era.” Comment. [2021/10m/150w/1c]

Some scholars have argued that Marx’s conception of the international system, as a global capital structure, is outdated from the present perspective.

Marxist theory of international politics is unable to recognise the dominant global role of states as principal actors in the international system. Martin Wight, a famous British scholar, said: “Neither Marx, Lenin nor Stalin made any systematic contributions to international relations theory.” Another British sociologist, Ralph Miliband, highlighted Marx’s failure to analyse the state methodically.

Andrew Linklater pointed out that Marx and Lenin failed to realise that nationalism has always been one of the most important forces shaping global politics. This inability to realise the importance of states further led Marxism to underestimate the importance of some other political elements of international politics, such as the balance of power, military alliances, and diplomacy.

Marx predicted in the mid-1840s that capitalism would ultimately destroy the Westphalian nation-state system and replace it with a world capitalist society. But somehow this does not seem to be happening. Nation-states continue to perform a vital role in the stability of international order because their collapse would usher in anarchy.

Unlike other theories of IR that draw a theoretical picture of the underlying patterns in world politics, Marxism has been criticised for solely focusing on the achievement of power. It would not be wrong to say that Marx’s focus on historical materialism made him unable to conceptualise other forms of domination, leading to the underdevelopment of Marxist theory in international relations. [247 words]

3] Explain the relevance of the Marxist approach in the context of globalization. [2019/20m/250w/3a]

The Marxist approach portrays the essence of globalisation as the establishment of a global capitalist order.

The relevance of the Marxist approach lies in its explanation of inequality at the global level. Lenin showed how the advanced capitalist countries drew the rest of the world into the capitalist orbit through the mechanism of imperialism. In doing so capitalism creates rich and poor nations just as it creates rich and poor within each nation.

Marxists view globalisation as an uneven, hierarchical process, characterised both by the growing polarisation between the rich and the poor, explained by world-system theorists in terms of a structural Imbalance between core and peripheral areas in the global economy and by a weakening of democratic accountability and popular responsiveness due to burgeoning corporate power.

According to the Marxists, the need for a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. International trade has shifted to become an integrated transnational production and finance capital has led to a convergence of interests among transnationally oriented capitals, creating a “transnational business class” that transcends national boundaries.

Marxists make the connection between globalisation, capitalism and the impoverishment of the third world. They argue that all protection from the looting of the worlds poor by global capital is being dismantled. Even the decision-making of the enforcers of global capitalism; WTO, IMF, and World Bank; is directed by the advanced capitalist countries.

According to the economist Joseph Stiglitz, “Countries find themselves in situations where they are having policies imposed on them”. He finds it similar to the 19th-century opium wars when the countries were told to open the economy by using military power. [278 words]

The post contains answers to the last 6-year papers i.e. (2023-2018). Answers to the previous year questions from 2013-2017 are a part of our book PSIR Optional Model Answers to PYQs (2013-2022)

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