The main signpost that helps political realism to find its way through the landscape of international politics is the concept of interest defined in terms of power. This concept provides the link between reason trying to understand international politics and the facts to be understood. It sets politics as an autonomous sphere of action and understanding apart from other spheres, such as economics (understood in terms of interest defined as wealth), ethics, aesthetics, or religion. Without such a concept a theory of politics, international or domestic, would be altogether impossible, for without it we could not distinguish between political and nonpolitical facts, nor could we bring at least a measure of systematic order to the political sphere. Realism assumes that its key concept of interest defined as power is an objective category which is universally valid, but it does not endow that concept with a meaning that is fixed once and for all. The idea of interest is indeed of the essence of politics and is unaffected by the circumstances of time and place. Political realism refuses to identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern the universe. As it distinguishes between truth and opinion, so it distinguishes between truth and idolatry. All nations are tempted-and few have been able to resist the temptation for long-to clothe their own particular aspirations and actions in the moral purposes of the universe. The difference between political realism and other schools is real....
4. Political realism is aware of the moral significance of political action.
5. Political realism refuses to identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern the universe. As it distinguishes between truth and opinion, so it distinguishes between truth and idolatry. All nations are tempted-and few have been able to resist the temptation for long-to clothe their own particular aspirations and actions in the moral purposes of the universe.
6. The difference, then, between political realism and other schools of thought is real, and it is profound. However much the theory of political realism may have been misunderstood and misinterpreted, there is no gainsaying its distinctive intellectual and moral attitude to matters political.
Source: (Morgenthau, 1978)
Realism then is the more practical approach in understanding society. It takes into account the inherent nature of man in the understanding of their decisions and actions. What governs man is their interest more than their ideologies and ethics. This is the underlying belief behind realism. Therefore the term realism needs no further definition or explanation, everything it encapsulated in the word.
Of the threads that make up the Realist school, the most important ideas include:
International relations are amenable of objective study. Events can be described in terms of laws, in much the way that a theory in the sciences might be described. These laws remain true at all places and times.
The state is the most important actor. At times the state may be represented by the city-state, empire, kingdom or tribe. Implicit in this is that supra-national structures, sub-national ones and individuals are of lesser importance. Thus the