Historicizing the Realist Imagination: Hans Morgenthau in the Early Cold War
Lecture | February 27 | 12-1 p.m. | 201 Moses Hall
Matthew Specter, Institute of European Studies
International relations has recently enjoyed a historical turn, in which the intellectual biographies of major figures like E.H. Carr and Hans Morgenthau, as well as the origins of central concepts like internationalism and realism have been reconstructed. Figures from Henry Kissinger to Barack Obama have claimed the mantle of realist, but the figure who gave its most distinctive modern stamp was the German-Jewish émigré Hans Morgenthau (1905-1980). Morgenthau became the leading figure in the postwar US discipline of international relations, and acknowledged influence on policymakers from Kennan to Kissinger despite Morgenthaus debts to imposing European thinkers like Nietzsche, Freud, Weber, Kelsen, and Schmitt. In this talk, Specter analyzes how and why American academics, public and policymakers embraced Morgenthaus plea for a realist turn away from liberalism and toward power politics, and the arguments for and against Morgenthau as a misunderstood figure of the realist canon.
Matthew Specter is an intellectual historian of modern Europe and the author of Habermas: An Intellectual Biography (Cambridge 2010). This talk draws on his current book project for Stanford University Press, entitled Atlantic Realisms, 1890-1980: Political Thought and Foreign Policy.