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The Classical Foundations of the Realist Worldview: The State of Nature, Human Nature, and Internati


... of weakness (result of human nature wanting to appear moral, but acting immorally) ... state suffers the same plight in the state of nature as do humans ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Classical Foundations of the Realist Worldview: The State of Nature, Human Nature, and Internati

The Classical Foundations of the Realist
Worldview The State of Nature, Human Nature, and
International Relations
  • PO 201 Introduction to International Studies and
    Political Science

Revisiting Hobbes and Machiavelli
  • The readings for today reiterate what was learned
    earlier about Machiavelli and Hobbes (and, in
    some cases, are a repeat of previously assigned
  • We seek to apply the lessons of Machiavelli and
    Hobbes largely derived in relation to human
    nature and the state of nature to the study of
    international politics
  • In doing so, we place the work of these classic
    authors into the levels of analysis context
    developed last lecture

What do Tom and Nick Have in Common?
  • Each believes that man possesses inherent
    qualities that are less than attractive from the
    perspective of justice
  • Machiavelli Men are ungrateful, fickle,
    pretenders, dissemblers, eager for gain
  • Hobbes Men are consumed of a relentless desire
    for power they love competition, and are full of
    mistrust, ambition, and the willingness to hurt
  • Each seeks to determine how useful governments
    can be made by embracing, not denying, these
    natural traits
  • Machiavelli Glorious rule under the virtuous
  • Hobbes Construction of common power

Effectual Truth as the Basis of Realism
  • Thus, as noted in the theory section, each of
    these authors
  • Begins their explanations of state and interstate
    activity at the individual level of analysis
  • Does not attempt to make suggestions and conduct
    political inquiry on the basis of what should
    be, but on the basis of what is
  • This latter approach serves as the basis for the
    most important and longest-standing theory of
    international politics, REALISM

Machiavelli in IR Perspective
  • Machiavellis Prince, in dealing with his
    subjects, places greater value on fear over love
    on respect over hatred on projecting the image
    of virtue over actual virtue. Why?
  • Human beings, who say they want moral leaders,
    are actually deterred and awed by strength, and
    see actions geared toward justice and equity as
    indicative of weakness (result of human nature
    wanting to appear moral, but acting immorally)
  • The crimes that Princes commit must be
    necessary engaging in violence for its own
    sake results in hatred, which must be avoided
  • Thus, wise Princes often find it necessary to
    act contrary to charity, contrary to humanity,
    contrary to religion if he wishes to sustain
    his government
  • Machiavelli therefore calls on Princes to forsake
    goodness when the circumstances dictate one must
    lie and punish to maintain control, because other
    men would (and will) do the same (Lion and Fox)

Machiavelli in IR Perspective
  • How does this view of how Princes should run
    domestic affairs translate into how Princes
    should run foreign affairs? Almost perfectly.
  • Focusing on war at all times keeping physically
    fit, constantly reviewing strategy, eschewing
    pleasure for preparedness results in fear and
    respect domestically
  • As all men are essentially the same, the Princes
    of other states will find virtú the glorious
    exercise of the Princes courageous ambition
    as awesome and fearful as do subjects
  • For Machiavelli, the Prince IS the State by
    securing himself from other Princes (through fear
    and respect), the Prince, by extension, secures
    his own state
  • In general, Machiavelli considers the very
    qualities that ensure domestic obedience to be
    crucial to success in international affairs
  • Do not attempt to change the behavior of other
    states, or convince them of your justice play
    the game better than they do (respect for
    effectual truth)

Machiavelli in IR Perspective
  • In sum, Machiavelli claims that
  • Princes can only hope to achieve international
    goals through the effective manipulation of human
    nature otherwise, just as in domestic affairs,
    they will be rendered irrelevant
  • The system is comprised of individual Princes
    who, for the good of their own states (and
    dominion over them), act to project strength and
    gain respect kindness and morality are ignored
    when necessary

Hobbes in IR Perspective
  • Hobbes largely shares Machiavellis views on
    human nature indeed, he is even more damning
    (man is antisocial)
  • However, Hobbes rather clearly links the
    cravenness of humanity to the anarchic state of
  • Man is full of mistrust, ambition, and the desire
    for power and to hurt others because humans are
    forced to obtain finite resources that are in
    great demand
  • I.E., no such thing as injustice in the state
    of nature, and no utmost aim on the greatest
    good humans must fend for themselves to avoid
    death from insufficient resources or (more
    importantly) the struggle for those resources
  • In fact, Hobbes explicitly claims that, if
    allowed, humans would prefer lives of ease

Hobbes in IR Perspective
  • On the domestic level, Hobbes proposes the
    Leviathan as the means by which personal security
    can be established (and death avoided)
  • All things even personal liberty can and
    should be bartered for peace via the
    establishment of a common power
  • But what happens at the interstate level? For
    Hobbes, the interstate system is comprised merely
    of a collection of Leviathans
  • Just as for Machiavelli, domestic political
    issues (predicated on individual nature and
    goals) translate almost perfectly to
    international political issues

Hobbes in IR Perspective
  • Leviathans, like the original man for whom they
    provide protection, exist in a state of anarchy
  • However, unlike for the original man, there is
    no chance for these Leviathans to form a larger
    common power
  • Maintenance costs are too high, interests too
    diverse, and power too evenly distributed no one
    state can or wants to serve as Leviathan for all
  • No prospects of any overarching arbiter
    ESPECIALLY one based on morality
  • Thus, the state of anarchy persists at the
    international level
  • Predisposition towards war of all against all
  • Leviathans can be (and are likely to be)
    destroyed by other Leviathans, and, perhaps,
    their inhabitants with them

Hobbes, Machiavelli, and Realist Worldview
  • Taken together, how do Machiavellis and Hobbes
    treatises allow for the development of a
    realistic theory of international relations?
  • The state, constructed by individuals, reflects
    the aggregate nature of humans as part of a
    system of like polities, the state suffers the
    same plight in the state of nature as do humans
  • The world is as it is, not as it should be.
    Individuals find it difficult to fend for
    themselves, and thus create (or assent to)
    domestic institutions for protection.
  • However, it is impossible to create an
    overarching institution to govern the affairs of
    states that seek security for their peoples
  • Thus, ANARCHY prevails and will always prevail
    in the relations amongst states (anarchy as
  • This means that morality or any assessment of
    how just relations can be established is all
    but absent in any realistic consideration of IR
    (more so for Hobbes than for Machiavelli)

Hobbes, Machiavelli, and Realist Worldview
  • Since there is no Leviathan or global Prince
    in the anarchic international state of nature,
    POWER the ability to get others to do what you
    want them to do, or to otherwise refrain from
    doing what they would becomes the final arbiter
    in the relations amongst states (just as it would
    in the absence of the Leviathan/Prince in
    domestic affairs)
  • This also means just as in the anarchic state
    of nature amongst individuals mistrust,
    animosity, and violence are omnipresent
    characteristics of the international system
  • Power and the mistrust of others, stemming from
    the individual level of analysis, thus become the
    basis for the realist explanation of action at
    the systemic level