Home Deliberation The Post-COVID-19 World Political Order: Perspectives From Liberalism, Realism & Marxism

The Post-COVID-19 World Political Order: Perspectives From Liberalism, Realism & Marxism

In my opinion, the post-epidemic era will empower liberal ideology. Inter-state cooperation will gain importance after the pandemic.



This essay tries to explore how the world politics could emerge after Coronavirus pandemic in the context of Realism, Liberalism and Marxism. These theories are three main international relations theories. Within the framework of conflict, cooperation and global inequality, the world politics after COVID-19 can have different interpretations, because the world fiction of each theory is different and they all have different world perspectives.

Coronavirus Pandemic

It is known that the first case of COVID-19 (Coronavirus pandemic) was recorded in Wuhan, in China in December of last year. The disease caused by symptoms such as high fever and shortness of breath can be fatal if not treated. The coronavirus epidemic that has spread all over the world in a few months with its ability to spread easily and quickly infected many people in a short period of  time and the virus caused serious losses in USA and Italy. The threat posed by the outbreak has shaken even the “superpower” USA economically. The coronavirus cases exceed 2 million worldwide. The country with the highest number of cases is USA with 70970 deaths.[1] The Coronavirus crisis has affected Italy, France, United Kingdom, and Spain as the worst hit countries in Europe. In line with that, the US has also the largest number of cases and the death toll.

The epidemic spread to all countries in a short period of time. The most important factor behind the coronavirus outbreak being a major threat to the whole world can be seen as the phenomenon of globalization. Globalization is known as a process in which borders lose importance and countries become economically dependent.

An Overview of Modern Political Approaches

Different international theories and / or approaches have different “social, cognitive and motivational” structures that show opinions about how life can be and how society can be managed and what kind of policies are required.[2]

There are many approaches defined in the discipline of political science. Realism, liberalism and Marxism have an important place among these approaches.


The realist approach has been in the focus of studies between 1940 and 1970. The basis of this approach is the concept of power and national power. Realists think that international institutions such as NATO or the EU are a general reflection of the distribution of power in the world. According to realists, international institutions do not have a significant impact in ensuring peace. The views of realist theorists can be summarized as follows[3]:

1. States cannot be sure of other states’ intentions.

2. States are the main actors in world politics.

3. States pursue their own self-interests; not cooperation.

4. States compete to increase their interests.

5. The most basic impulse that directs the states is survival

6. States plan how they will survive their survival in this anarchic international system.


As a political ideology, liberalism aims at a system that guarantees individual freedom in a regular union. Liberal theory that emphasizes cooperation and peace in the discipline of international relations is also known as “idealism”. It gained importance after the First World War. In the discipline of International Relations, US President Woodrow Wilson is the pioneer of this trend. The advocates of this view came together under the leadership of Woodrow Wilson, led the League of Nations and went to a new institutionalization on the basis of “collective security” instead of “collective defense”. Accordingly, in order to prevent international conflicts through violence, a union was needed against the states that applied to violence.

The advocates of liberalism state that the only factor shaping international relations is not power, also international law, moral values ​​and international organizations play an important role in shaping international relations. On the other hand, after this theory lost its effectiveness, realism started to gain importance in the international relations discipline.


In Marxist ideology, it is believed that the state is a tool of class patronage who dominates power. Marxism was born in a period when heavy capitalism was experienced after the Industrial Revolution, when workers were employed under heavy conditions. Karl Marx claimed that capitalism created inequality and injustice in society. For Marxist thinkers, world system is based on unequal power relations.

World Politics After Covid-19 Era

The effect of the Coronavirus pandemic, which spread all over the world in a short time and which is not only a health threat, but also an economic crisis, has required a global struggle and cooperation. In this context, it can be said that after the pandemic, world politics will be shaped through cooperation.

In this context, it is possible to say that the theory of Realism will be outdated. As is known, realist theory relies on conflict rather than cooperation and on the understanding that states are threatening each other. However, in global outbreaks like coronavirus, states are obliged to cooperate against the common “enemy”. In this sense, liberalism will gain importance as it defends cooperation and the need for international institutions.

According to liberal thinkers, power is not the only factor that shapes International Relations, but international law, moral values ​​and international organizations have important roles in shaping international relations. In this sense, institutions such as the World Health Organization will gain more importance in the world after COVID-19. Scientific and economic partnerships between states will dominate world politics.

On the other hand, since the advocates of Realism see international institutions as structures created by the “great powers” in their own interests, they will also suspect the role of the World Health Organization due to these negative thoughts after the Coronavirus.

According to Marxism, the system will not experience a radical change after the pandemic. Global inequality will continue, because the great powers will continue to dominate.

Concluding Remarks

In this essay, the possible structure of world politics after the coronavirus pandemic is covered within the framework of the Realist, Liberal and Marxist approaches. Realists who emphasize conflict, liberals who emphasize the function of cooperation and institutions, and Marxists who highlight the role of inequality will continue their thesis in post-COVID-19 period. In my opinion, the post-epidemic era will empower liberal ideology. Inter-state cooperation will gain importance after the pandemic.


[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-51235105 (Reached on 4.05.2020)

[2] Jost , J. T., Federico, C. M., & Napier, J. L. (2009) “ Political Ideology: Its   Structure, Functions, and Elective Affinities”, The Annual Review of  Psychology, s. 309.

[3] K. Booth, Realism and World Politics, https://www.fd.unl.pt/docentes_docs/ma/FPG_MA_27259.pdf (Reached on 4.05.2020)