Share Context: Edward Hallett Carr 28 June — 5 November was a British historian, international relations theorist, and historiography expert the process by which historical knowledge is obtained and transmitted. He spent 20 years in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office diplomatic service , resigning in Carr is most famous today for his examination of historiography and as a founder of classical realism in international relations theory. He likely foresaw the impending World War II and published this book as the war was starting. Thesis: Wise international politics compromises between extreme utopian and realist points of view.
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Share Context: Edward Hallett Carr 28 June — 5 November was a British historian, international relations theorist, and historiography expert the process by which historical knowledge is obtained and transmitted. He spent 20 years in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office diplomatic service , resigning in Carr is most famous today for his examination of historiography and as a founder of classical realism in international relations theory.
He likely foresaw the impending World War II and published this book as the war was starting. Thesis: Wise international politics compromises between extreme utopian and realist points of view.
Both views in appropriate balance are necessary for the human endeavor to succeed. A mature political science must combine utopian and realistic thought, purpose and analysis, ethics and politics. Utopianism originated from the enlightenment and is dominated by intellectuals. Realism is dominated by bureaucrats who do not see any general cases, only specific cases.
They recognize the sinful nature of humans and believe that allowing public opinion to dominate would yield incorrect, unwise, and wicked policies. Utopians believe that theory guides practice action. Realists believe that practice action creates theory.
Realists are accused of being sterile and incapable of inspiring action. Utopians believe that ethics should dominate politics; people will submit to the greater good even if acting against their own self-interests.
Realists believe that power politics are dominant. People are unlikely to act against their own self-interests, especially when their survival is at stake. Principles are derived from politics and ethics are the effect, not the cause of history. In order to decrease the likelihood of conflict, a superpower must increase its power to deter its enemies. Nations must also conceal their selfish national interests by acting benevolently at times when such action does not conflict with important interests to decrease the dissatisfaction of their enemies.
A powerful nation can then establish international institutions to support the status quo. International law can solve small disputes but not big ones when vital interests are at stake.
New intl order must be considered from the standpoint both of power and morality States will not acquiesce to another body deciding their fate. The League of Nations was based on utopian principles and failed because there is no international enforcement mechanism.
Utopianism is easily followed in peacetime but not during conflict. In contrast to Marxist predictions, the inequality that threatened world order during the interwar period was the inequality of nations, not individuals or groups The nation-state will survive because men will continue to organize into groups for purpose of conflict Implications for Strategy: Strategists must understand the perspective of others and focus on balancing realist and utopian thought.
Carr offers two different perspectives to describe the same international environment, and gives the strengths and flaws of each. Thus, a good strategist must be intellectually agile: able to approach the same problem from multiple approaches, and discern useful context and perspective from each while acknowledging the limitations of each conceptual model.
Carr, E.H., The Twenty Years' Crisis, 1919-1939
A work on international politics completed in the summer of , however rigorously it eschewed prophecy, necessarily bore marks of its time in substance, in phraseology, in its use of tenses and, above all, in such phrases as "the War", "post-War" and so forth, which can no longer be related without a strong effort on the part of the reader to the war of When, however, I approached the task of revision, it soon became clear that if I sought to re-write every passage which had been in some way affected by the subsequent march of events, I should be producing not a second edition of an old book but essentially a new one; and this would have been a clumsy and unprofitable attempt to force new wine into old bottles. What I have done, therefore, is to recast phrases which would be misleading or difficult to readers now far remote in time from the original context, to modify a few sentences which have invited misunderstanding, and to remove two or three passages relating to current controversies which have been eclipsed or put in a different perspective by the lapse of time. On the other hand, I have changed nothing of substance, and have not sought to modify expressions of opinion merely on the ground that I should not unreservedly endorse them to-day. Perhaps, therefore, I may be permitted to indicate here the two main respects in which I am conscious of having since departed to some degree from the outlook reflected in these pages.