Re: [OPE-L] rosa luxemburg and international relations

From: Howard Engelskirchen (howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM)
Date: Sat Oct 21 2006 - 10:02:47 EDT

Hello Dogan,

The summary you provide below is very interesting.  Would you mind elaborating on the critical realism of Luxemburg's approach?  In what respects is her approach not simply realist, but specically critical realist?



  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Dogan Goecmen 
  Sent: Saturday, October 21, 2006 8:02 AM
  Subject: [OPE-L] rosa luxemburg and international relations

  Rosa Luxemburg’s Critical Realism and the Foundations of International 


  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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