For this assignment, I chose to discuss The Twenty Years Crisis. In this reading, it discusses the extremes of Utopianism and Realism. This article did a good job in describing both the benefits and the downfalls of both extremes. Carr highlights the initial inclination to want to impose a utopian idealistic notion and have something to aim at. However, the short fallings are also addressed, that no one will live in an idealist state. I especially liked the line that, “nobody has ever been able to live in Plato’s Republic or in a world of universal free trade or in Fourier’s phalansteries” which is, disappointingly, true.
Realism is then brought into play and with it the ability to examine and implement in the real world. These contrasts between Utopia and Realism and highlighted further throughout the reading with the examples comparisons such as Theory and Practice, and the Intellectual and the Bureaucrat. I found these particularly useful ways to put into more simplified terms how there are pros and cons to each side and that they are different in nature. Carr also describes the Left and Right sides of the spectrum stating, “the intellectual, the man of theory, will gravitate toward the Left just as naturally as the bureaucrat, the man of practice, will gravitate toward the Right”. I especially liked this way of describing the two sides of the spectrum because neither seems inherently wrong but just different.
From these extreme sides of the ideological spectrum, it is clear that a viewpoint somewhere in the middle would be beneficial to adopt some of the benefits from either perspective. This then made me think of the English School of thought which I then turned to examine in the textbook. The English School of thought seems to be right in the middle of the spectrum and potentially we can see it as quite beneficial because of this. Dunne describes the English School stating that ’those who identify with the English School today see it as occupying the middle ground in International Relations alongside constructivism: this location is preferable to the dominant mainstream theories of neoliberalism and neoconservatism, and the more radical alternatives (e.g. critical theory and poststructuralism)”. This seems as if it is potentially the best of all worlds.
Examining the extreme ends of the spectrum that the Twenty Year Crisis describes it has helped me to see a value in a balance between the two. This in combination with my examination of the English school highlights how the middle of the spectrum could be ideal and curious if this does, in fact, give it the benefits of the Utopian and the Realist. However even if a middle ground cannot be achievable, Carr in the Twenty Year Crisis, has described the benefits that come with any point of view on the spectrum and potentially the diversity in opinion can lead to an equilibrium of sorts, if nothing else it does describe why the discipline is in fact so divided.