Please summarise the six principles of realism by Morgenthau?

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annekld eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hans Morgenthau was a leading figure in the study of international politics. Believing that science and technology were being overused as a way to find solutions to political problems, he put forth six principles of political realism. 

1. The first principle is that overall, politics and society are governed by rules that are rooted in human nature. This means that attempting to solve a political problem in a way that would require a party to act against their nature would be largely unsuccessful or unsustainable.

2. The interest of the parties involved can be defined as power. This means that no matter what issue is being investigated in the realm of politics, the main goal for the politician is to remain in control of his/her people. 

3. While the interest of the political leader is power, what "power" means can change. What keeps the party in control or having control over the population can change. The shifts in what constitutes power has to be addressed when negotiating. It is possible that one party may bring to the table a means of control that would no longer work for the other party, rendering the negotiations ineffective.

4. In politics, morality is relative. Options that may seem reprehensible at one moment can become workable at another time. Sometimes a situation may call for the lesser of two evils to be chosen, and while the best possible choice is made, it can sill appear amoral. 

5. Not all nations abide by the same moral code. As with the fourth principle, this indicates that context is necessary when determining the moral value of an event or condition. Not all cultures have the same values. A suggestion that seems casual and completely fine for one man may seem vulgar and insulting to another. This has to be kept in mind when dealing with the international community. 

6. Political realism is a distinct school of thought. While it recognizes human nature, it also argues that men in political situations do not always act by legal or moral means in the attempt to keep power, leading to the necessity of integrating human nature with the need for power when trying to solve and predict political problems. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
  1. There are actual laws that govern international relations (like laws of physics).  We can't change these laws.
  2. International politics is all about countries trying to pursue their interests.  And their interest is in getting as much power as possible.
  3. The definition of power can change over time because power can be any way in which some people control others.
  4. States can't take morals into account when they act.  It's okay for people to die for a principle but states must not.
  5. Realists don't believe that any state's goals are more moral than any other's.  They don't believe in the idea of some country or other being on God's side.
  6. Realists believe that the political sphere stands alone.  It is governed by its own laws and its own concerns.  The concerns of other spheres are subordinate within this sphere.