This article investigates Morgenthau's views on the ethics of scholarship and argues that all his works should be read in the light of his central goal: speaking truth to power. Doing so demonstrates that for Morgenthau, a realist theory of international politics includes two dimensions: it is supposed to explain international relations, but it is also, fundamentally, a critical project which questions the existing status quo. While the explanatory dimension of realism is debated at great length, its critical dimension is consistently overlooked by the more recent, self-named 'critical' approaches which tend to present the two adjectives 'realist' and 'critical' as mutually exclusive. This amounts to an insidious high-jacking of the very adjective critical, which in most cases merely signals one does not espouse a realist perspective. This is highly problematic as it obscures the fact that for Morgenthau, the founding father of realism, political science is by definition a subversive and revolutionary force critical of the existing order. Highlighting the critical dimension that lies at the core of the realist project as formulated by Morgenthau therefore challenges the current narrow use of the adjective 'critical' in the discipline and leads to reclaim it for the realist tradition. 'I am a latent revolutionary'Hans J. Morgenthau, Personal Diary 1
Realism contends that politics is a struggle for power and/or survival, and consequently depicts international politics as a realm of recurrent conflicts among states with very little prospect for change. It is therefore not traditionally regarded as an approach which entertains an idea of progress. E.H Carr famously rejected “pure realism” as an untenable position precisely because it fails to provide “a ground for action,” and advocated finding a delicate balance between realism and utopia, as meaningful political action must include both. While realism certainly entails a degree of pessimism, it is far fetched to claim that realist scholars are radically sceptical about the future of international relations. The article investigates Hans Morgenthau and Raymond Aron, two leading classical realist scholars, and argues that neither advocated a strict version of power politics. On the contrary, they both attempted to find the balance Carr suggested between realist concerns and ideals necessary to spur political action. Both were also very aware of the dangers of nihilism, and upheld hope in the future of humankind, even if this hope remains tempered by pessimism as to whether it will ever realize its destiny.
scite is a Brooklyn-based startup that helps researchers better discover and understand research articles through Smart Citations–citations that display the context of the citation and describe whether the article provides supporting or contrasting evidence. scite is used by students researchers from around the world and is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.
334 Leonard St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Copyright © 2023 scite Inc. All rights reserved.
Made with 💙 for researchers