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Classical Realism

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Jack Amoureux

on 6 February 2014

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Transcript of Classical Realism

Classical realism
Intellectual Heirs
“The strong do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept.”
Life is “nasty, brutish and short”
"A prince ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his study, than war and its rules and discipline; for this is the sole art that belongs to him who rules..."
Security and Power
the realist critique
In IR, realism established itself as a critique of idealism
E.H. Carr, The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919-1939 (1939)
the interests of states and the international community are the same
"Clash of interests"
In reality, states act according to their self-interest
Morality: a cloak for interests
the instrumentality of:
free trade
The 'utopian' "harmony of interests"
“The utopian assumption that there is a world interest in peace which is identifiable with the interest of each individual nation helped politicians and political writers everywhere to evade the unpalatable fact of a fundamental divergence of interest between nations desirous of maintaining the status quo and nation desirous of changing it.”
A wise foreign policy: based on a state's own interest, which will often conflict with the interests of others
principles of classical realism
Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations (1948)
"Six principles of political realism"
1) Objective laws of human nature govern politics

2) Interest is defined in terms of power; "good" foreign policy = "rational" foreign policy

3) Interest and power are culturally contingent

4) Morality only with prudence

5) Justice through self-interest: Temptation to clothe interests in language of morality

6) The intellectual autonomy of the political sphere: "How does this policy affect the power of the nation?"
"The individual may say for himself: 'Fiat justitia, pereat mundus (Let justice be done, even if the world perish),' but the state has no right to say so in the name of those who are in its care."
A Caricature of idealism?
George W. Bush
Barack Obama
“We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything. So, we’ve got to do the right things.”
Jack interrupts Piggy: Shut up you fat slug.
Ralph: Jack, let him speak. He's got the conch!
Jack: And you, shut up you. Who are you anyway just sitting there telling people what to do? You can't hunt, you can't sing.
Ralph: I'm chief. I was chosen.
Jack: Why should choosing make any difference, telling people what to do?
Ralph: The rules, you're breaking the rules.
Jack: Who cares!
Ralph: Because the rules are the only thing we got.
Jack: Bullocks to the rules.
The objective reality of power and security
The importance of power and the inevitability of coercion for assuring survival in the condition of anarchy
the measure of a good leader is political success not moral success
historical context: WWII
Hitler - cult of personality
Chamberlain - resistance to war
Revisionist states
Domestic politics
Economic troubles
Weak vulnerable states
Full transcript