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The public role of critical scholarship. Hans J. Morgenthau, the national interest, and world community

Open Panel

Abstract

This paper will discuss Hans J. Morgenthau’s political agency by elaborating his understanding of scholarship as a socio-political corrective. This makes Morgenthau a rich source for contemporary International Relations since a more pronounced role for scholarship can be created than structuralist and post-structuralist approaches concede to it. Scholars not only have to be concerned about creating knowledge for its own sake, but be committed to pursue a normative end in the form of a humanistic world postulate which aims to protect human dignity, secure the freedom from structural oppression, and provide the liberty to participate in the creation of one’s own life-world. Based upon this understanding, it will be, first, asked, what were for Morgenthau the major societal problems and potential consequences democracies would have to face. It will be emphasised that Morgenthau criticised democracies for their idealism and lack of acknowledging irrationalism. Second, he argued against the commodification and acceleration of life, due to an ever increasing technologisation. In a next step, it will be examined what solutions Morgenthau had in mind to solve these potentially dangerous shortcomings. For this Morgenthau propagated, on the one hand, the national interest as a rational and balanced tool to create a domestic compromise and, on the other hand, the world community to eventually overcome the system of nation-states.