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In the “Era of Tyrannies”: The International Order from Nazism to the Cold War

  • Matthias Oppermann
Part of the Recovering Political Philosophy book series (REPOPH)

Abstract

It all started with Germany. Without having experienced German politics and philosophy during the first three years of the 1930s, Raymond Aron would have hardly become the thinker we know today. In this respect, many of those who have dealt with his thought have made much of his academic or philosophical experience—of his discovery of the newer German philosophy of history, of phenomenology, of Marx’s original thought, and of Max Weber’s political sociology. All this was important, of course. Studying German philosophy and sociology helped Aron to overcome what he regarded as the shortcomings of the academic education he received in his native France. However, this academic or philosophical discovery only put him on the path to political liberalism. It was not congruent with it. Far from it: Although Weber gave Aron the munition to repel the positivistic trust in progress, based on several varieties of historical determinism he had been confronted with during his studies at the prestigious Ecole normale supérieure in Paris, the great German sociologist bequeathed him another problem: the naive faith in value-free science totally unfit to an age of ideologies. It took him nearly twenty years to free himself from this intellectual burden, but after the Second World War he came to regard Weber as a “nearly Nietzschean”1 nihilist. By contrast, the political insights Aron received in Germany were much more influential in bringing about his own brand of conservative liberalism. One should never forget that he denied being the representative of an abstract liberalism based on any speculative theory.

Keywords

Foreign Policy Liberal Democracy German Philosophy Totalitarian Regime Political Education 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Raymond Aron, “Introduction,” in Max Weber, Le Savant et le politique, Paris, Plon, 1959, 9–57, 42.Google Scholar
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    For an explanation of Aron’s Aristotelian approach to politics, see Pierre Manent, “La politique comme science et comme souci,” in Raymond Aron, Liberté et égalité. Cours au Collège de France. Edition établie et présentée par Pierre Manent, Paris, Editions de l’Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, 2013, 5–26, in particular 20–23.Google Scholar
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  28. 29.
    See Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, La Décadence, 1932–1939, Paris, Imprimerie nationale, 1979, 208.Google Scholar
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  30. 38.
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  34. Raymond Aron, “Une révolution antiprolétarienne. Idéologie et réalité du national-socialisme (1936),” Commentaire, vol. 8, 1985, 299–310, 304, 306.Google Scholar
  35. For a full development of the concept, see Raymond Aron, “L’avenir des religions séculières, part I and II (1944),” in Raymond Aron, Chroniques de guerres, 925–948.Google Scholar
  36. For an explanation of the development of the concept in Aron’s thought, cf. furthermore Matthias Oppermann, Raymond Aron und Deutschland. Die Verteidigung der Freiheit und das Problem des Totalitarismus, Ostfildern, Thorbecke, 2008, 124–140, 178–200.Google Scholar
  37. 46.
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  38. 47.
    Raymond Aron, “Pour l’alliance de l’Occident (1944),” in Chroniques de guerre, 949–961, 951.Google Scholar
  39. For other discussions of Hitler’s “program” in Aron’s writings dating from the Second World War and the postwar period, cf. Raymond Aron and Stanislas Szymonzyk, L’Année cruciale. Juin 1940–juin 1941, London, Hamilton, 1944, 7–6, 13–14Google Scholar
  40. Raymond Aron, “Philosophie du pacifisme (1941),” in Chroniques de guerre, 481–491, 489Google Scholar
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  45. 48.
    Raymond Aron, “La stratégie totalitaire et l’avenir des démocraties (1942),” in Raymond Aron, Chroniques de guerre, 559–571, 563; Aron, “Philosophie du pacifisme,” 485.Google Scholar
  46. 49.
    See Reinhold Niebuhr, The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness: A Vindication of Democracy and a Critique of Its Traditional Defense, New York, Scribner, 1944.Google Scholar
  47. 50.
    Raymond Aron, “France in the Cold War,” The Political Quarterly, vol. 22, no. 1, 1951, 57–66, 63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Cf. Raymond Aron, Le Grand Schisme, Paris, Gallimard, 1948, 13: “Hitler is dead and for good. But a new Caesar’s shadow tarnishes the world.”Google Scholar
  49. 51.
    For the year 1945 see Raymond Aron, “Le partage de l’Europe,” Point de vue, July 26, 1945.Google Scholar
  50. 52.
    Raymond Aron, “La paix belliqueuse (1946),” Commentaire, vol. 19, 1996–1997, S. 913–917, p. 914.Google Scholar
  51. 53.
    For a short discussion of this problematic term, see Matthias Oppermann, “Ein transatlantisches Vital Center? Raymond Aron und der amerikanische Liberalismus (1945–1983),” Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht, vol. 3–4, 2014, 161–176, 166–167.Google Scholar
  52. 54.
    Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, 5th ed., New York, Knopf, 1972 [originally 1948], 27.Google Scholar
  53. 55.
    Raymond Aron, Paix et guerre entre les nations, Paris, Calmann-Lévy, 1962, 587.Google Scholar
  54. 58.
    Raymond Aron, “Is Isolationism Possible?” Commentary, vol. 57, no. 4, 1974, 41–46, 46. Cf. Aron, Paix et guerre, 596.Google Scholar

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© José Colen and Elisabeth Dutartre-Michaut 2015

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  • Matthias Oppermann

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