Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Last Refuge Of Scoundrels

E. H. Carr, quoting Cavour to D'Azeglio:

If we were to do for ourselves what we do for Italy, we should be great rogues.

Carr may have replicated the faults he pointed out in others, but for all that, at least he knew that politics wasn't applied moral philosophy.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Details, Mere Details

E. H. Carr's The Twenty Years Crisis is, in light of certain recent discussions in political theory and philosophy, a rather interesting book. He had originally wanted to call it Reality and Utopian, and his critique of a kind of Wilsonian idealism about international relations mirrors the now common criticism in contemporary political theory that highly idealized theories of what it would take to realize a given value are not likely to be particularly useful guides to action. One of the claims he makes in pursuing that argument is that such theories are nothing more than a reflection of the interests of the dominant powers or classes of the time they are formulated in. That is surely too bold and deterministic to be quite true, but it does make Carr's own insistence that the inhabitants of Great Britain are Englishmen, just as the inhabitants of Italy are Italians, France are Frenchmen, and Germany are Germans, quite notable.