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POL208Y1 Lecture Notes - Deng Xiaoping, Realpolitik, Legal Positivism

Political Science
Course Code
La Haine

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The different -isms: Each ism will have different answers.
-How do we deal with threat?
-Is cooperation possible?
-What do actors want?
-What is the most important for understanding international politics?
-Is there possibility for change?
Realism - The Realist !A Team"
Bismarck - Realpolitik:
Considered to be a genius of politics. Realpolitik literally means the politics of reality -
politics based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations. Conservative.
Minimalist (need to get to your goal without going overboard)/expansionist, militaristic.
“It doesn"t matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice” - Deng Xiaoping; it
often leads to !unholy alliances" (eg. communist and nazi alliance, regardless of
ideology. Do they serve our interest). Power politics, actors following their own national
E.H. Carr - Twenty Years" Crisis, 1919-1939:
“Places its emphasis on acceptance of facts and on the analysis of their causes and
consequences.” Carr criticizes leaders at that time for being idealists, and they should
have been realists. They don"t see the world as what it is, they see what they want to
see… and where did they get us? Another world war.
Thomas Hobbs, 1588-1679:
Wrote Leviathan (1651). The State of Nature: *A “war of every man against every man” *
Life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. The solution: The creation of the State.
The Logic of Hobbes" Argument 1: *Man is selfish hedonist: “of the voluntary acts of
every man, the object is some good to himself” *All people are equal, rational, and
possessing a passionate love of survival (right of nature) - your only really right is the
right to survive *A person"s right of nature justifies violence against everybody else *In
the interest of personal survival, people will come around to agreeing that they should
renounce their right to use violence.
The Logic of Hobbes" Argument 2: *The creation of the Leviathan enforces stability -
citizens give up their independence to buy stability (this institution takes away our most
basic right, but in turn creates laws) *The Leviathan gets ultimate authority and a
monopoly over the use of violence *Morality, justice, property - are social constructs
imposed by the state and exist only so long as the state is strong enough to impose
them - they are tools for maintaining stability rather than inherent rights *Law is
dependent on power. “Legal positivism”: justice is whatever the laws says it is. An
“unjust law” is an oxymoron.
Bull: the Domestic Analogy. In international systems, we do not have a Leviathan.
Anarchy - The absence of government. The international system is anarchy. The
international state lives in a state of nature, living by the law of the right to survive and
use violence if necessary.
Hobbs and International Relations
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