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The Causal and Moral Complexity of Politics

  • Michele Chiaruzzi
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan History of International Thought book series (PMHIT)

Abstract

“The rational control of our affairs and our consciousness of moral rectitude” [43] are two major critical issues in politics, taken under discussion because “in politics intentions are seldom fulfilled, and consequences elude reckoning” [44]. “Fortune’s Banter,” then, deals with one of the timeless issues of social life and has at its center the intricate relationship between political environment and individual freedom of action. Or rather, at its center there is the degree of freedom of action and the difficulties arising from this ever-relative condition.

Keywords

French Revolution United Nations Security Council Political Complexity Moral Complexity Historical Terminus 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Martin Wight, “Germany,” in Arnold J. Toynbee and Frederick T. Ashton Gwatin, eds., The World in March 1939 (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1952), p. 348.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Raymond Boudon, La Place du Désordre. Critique des Théories du Changement Social (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1985), p. 189, emphasis in the original. Boudon’s observation recalls the so-called Cournot effect: two series of events are external to one another, except for the moment, and in the manner, of their intersection. Each series is causally explicable in itself but their conjunction and result is not: “Events brought about by the combination or conjunction of other events, which belong to independent series are called fortuitous events, or the result of chance”; Antoine Augustin Cournot, An Essay on the Foundations of Our Knowledge, trans. Merritt H. Moore (New York: Liberal Arts Press, 1956), 3:30, emphasis in the original.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cf. Claudio Cioffi-Revilla, Politics and Uncertainty: Theory, Models and Applications (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 14.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Still, Cioran speculates on the factors of the imperial and the human decadence as part of an “ironic providence”: “The more humane an empire becomes, the more readily there develop within it the contradictions by which it will perish … If it lays itself open to tolerance, that ‘virtue’ will destroy its unity and its power, and will act upon it in the manner of a deadly poison it has administered to itself. This is because tolerance is not only the pseudonym of freedom, but also of mind; and mind, even more deadly to empires than to individuals, erodes them compromises their solidity, and accelerates their collapse. Hence it is the very instrument an ironic providence employs to destroy them”; Emil Cioran, History and Utopia, trans. Richard Howard (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), pp. 32–3.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    See Albert Hirschman, The Rhetoric of Reaction. Perversity, Futility, Jeopardy (Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 1991).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Ibid., p. 165.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    I borrow this term from Aron’s notion of “pluralité dialectique”; Raymond Aron, Introduction a la Philosophie de l’Histoire: Essai sur le Limites de l’Objectivité Historique (Paris: Gallimard, 1957), p. 277.Google Scholar
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    The Military Writings and Speeches of Leon Trotsky, trans. Brian Pearce (London: New Park, 1979), 1:10.Google Scholar
  9. 15.
    Martin Wight, Four Seminal Thinkers in International Theory. Machiavelli, Grotius, Kant & Mazzini. ed. Gabriele Wight and Brian Porter (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 19–21.Google Scholar
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    ibid., p. 19.Google Scholar
  11. 17.
    Andrej Gromyko, Memoirs, trans. Harold Shukman (New York: Doubleday, 1989), p. 183.Google Scholar
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    Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, trans. William K. Marriott (London: J. M. Dent, 1958), chapter 3.Google Scholar
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    Niccolò Machiavelli, Il Principe, ed. Arthur Burd, introduction by Lord Acton (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1891), chapter 3.Google Scholar
  14. 23.
    Gabriel Kolko, Another Century of War? (New York: New Press, 2004), p. 45.Google Scholar
  15. 24.
    Niccolò Machiavelli, Discourses on Livy, trans. Julia Conaway Bondanella and Peter Bondanella (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 3:21.Google Scholar
  16. 25.
    Ibid., 3:22.Google Scholar
  17. 26.
    Richard Holbrooke, To End a War (New York: Modern Library, 1998), p. xvii.Google Scholar
  18. 27.
    According to Carr, this is one of “the three essential tenets implicit in Machiavelli’s doctrine”; Edward H. Carr, The Twenty Years’ Crisis 1919–1939. An Introduction to the Study of International Relations (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001), p. 62.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Michele Chiaruzzi 2016

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  • Michele Chiaruzzi

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