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 Politics Abstract Doğan Göçmen This paper explores the foundational aspects of Luxemburg’s theory of international Politics. She develops a theoretical approach to international politics, which may be described as a critical realist one. Luxemburg works out her approach to international politics in a discussion with and in a criticism of three competing schools: social contract theories, moralist approach and realism. Her main argument 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 any 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 foundation 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 foundation 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 dominant social class relations there exist many diverse moral values; thus, morals cannot serve as the foundation of international relations. Luxemburg concludes that the 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 power 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 developed her primary approach to international relations, Luxemburg turns to the criticism 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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