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

From: Dogan Goecmen (Dogangoecmen@AOL.COM)
Date: Sat Oct 21 2006 - 14:11:16 EDT

Dear Howard,
I thank you very much for your comment. By Rosa Luxemburg's 'critical  
realism' I simply mean that she is not only descriptive but also critical, in  her 
analysis of international relations she does not only pose the question of  
'what is?' but also 'what ought to be?'. Realism tells us what is but it does  
not tell us what ought to be. In international relations realism tells us they  
are dominated by the principle of power and that there are wars, but it does 
not  tell us whether there can be established international relations based on 
the  principle of, say, mutual sympathy (Smith) and peace. I think Luxemburg's 
 critical relasim aims to show how perpetual peace in world system might be  
established. In her German context she looks back to a long tradition at least 
 from Kant to Marx and more. If you have more specific questions please do 
not  hesitate to get back.
In einer eMail vom 21.10.2006 16:01:09 Westeuropäische Sommerzeit schreibt  

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_ (mailto:Dogangoecmen@AOL.COM)  
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 
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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