[OPE-L] rosa luxemburg and international relations

From: Dogan Goecmen (Dogangoecmen@AOL.COM)
Date: Sat Oct 21 2006 - 08:02:48 EDT

Rosa  Luxemburg’s Critical Realism and the Foundations of International 


Doğan  Göçmen

This  paper explores the foundational aspects of Luxemburg’s theory of  
Politics. She develops a theoretical approach to international  politics, 
may be described as a critical realist one. Luxemburg works  out her approach 
international politics in a discussion with and in a  criticism of three 
schools: social contract theories, moralist  approach and realism. Her main 
against these schools is that their  principles do not and cannot serve as a
foundation of international politics.  With regard to social contract 
theories as 
operationalized in  international politics: according to Luxemburg the 
fundamental assumptions of  social contract theories cannot be the basis of 
international  politics
because their principles such as mutual equality and recognition do  not have 
validity in the age of capitalism. Luxemburg rejects laying down  these 
principles to
international politics not because she rejects accepting  these principles 
from a
normative point of view. On the contrary, she is  convinced that they should 
be the
sole foundation of international relations.  They cannot, however, be the 
of international politics in our age  capitalism as it is taken for granted 
in social
contract theories. Luxemburg  formulates almost the same critique with regard
to the moralist approach. In  order that morals can be said to serve as a 
of international  politics its fundamental premises must be actuality. That 
is to
suggest that  before morals can be said to serve the foundation of 
international relations  there must be valid a moral system throughout the world with 
some sort  of
binding character. However, in the capitalist-imperialist age because of  
social class relations there exist many diverse moral values; thus,  morals 
serve as the foundation of international relations. Luxemburg  concludes that 
principle that serves as a foundation of international  politics in the age 
of capitalism
is power relations. After having thus  criticised social contract theories and
moralist approach from a realist  point of view Luxemburg turns to the 
criticism of
realist approach. She  differentiates between official positivist and 
reformist positivist
realism.  Unlike the latter, the former justifies the existing principle of  
relations without any regard to their consequences. Unlike the official  
positivist realism, and without questioning its very logic, the reformist  
positivist realism formulates  reformist critique of power relations from a  moralist 
point of view. However, according to Luxemburg, any critique of power  
relations ends up in some
sort of positivism if it does not question their  foundations. After having 
her primary approach to international  relations, Luxemburg turns to the 
of imperialism. In this context I  refer also to Luxemburg’s critique of a 
certain type
of a theory of  international politics, which may be seen from our point of 
view as
a  critique of new institutionalism. Luxemburg’s criticism of imperialism, as 
I  argue
in this paper, shows how morality, that is, the principles of mutual  
equality and
recognition is  possible.

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