1. Politics governed by objective laws based on Human nature:
According to Morgenthau man moves by laws which are ‘eternal.’ “These laws are impervious to human preferences and as such cannot be refuted and challenged.” Consequently, the aim should be to ascertain facts and interpret them through our reason.
The human nature necessarily does not change. They can be collected as facts from the history through empirical and logical devices.
But, he contends that it must be rational, as he remarks “It is the testing of rational hypothesis against the actual facts and their consequences that give meaning to facts of international politics and makes a theory of politics possible.”
Thus, the first principle of Morgenthau’s Realist Theory of international politics holds that politics is governed by some objective laws which have their roots in human nature. By understanding these objective laws one can understand and study International Politics.
For knowing these objective laws one has to study the history of human relations. By doing this we can formulate an empirical and logical theory of International Politics.
2. National Interest defined in terms of power:
In the words of Morgenthau “The main signpost that helps political realism to find its way through the landscape of international politics is the concept of interest defined in terms of power. This concept provides the link between reason trying to understand international politics and the facts to be understood.”
This aspect offer difference between domestic politics and international politics. It assumes that the statesman think and act in terms of interest defined as power, and support it with historical evidences.
Consequently, political Realism as less concerned with ideological preferences and motives. It is the aspect of success that predominates foreign policy perceptions. However, the values are not altogether sidelined.
As Morgenthau observes “political realism contains not only a theoretical but also a normative element. It knows that political reality is replete with contingencies and systematic irrationalities and points to the typical influences they exert upon foreign policy.
Yet, it shares with all social theories the need to stress the rational elements of political reality, for it is these rational elements that make reality intelligible for theory political realism considers a rational foreign policy to be good foreign policy; for only a rational foreign policy minimizes risks and maximizes benefits and, hence complies both with moral precept of prudence and the political requirement of success.”
3. No fixed or unchanging meaning of Interest:
Political realism takes a dynamic view of interest. It changes with the change in environment. Similarly, the power of a nation also undergoes changes so as to secure national interest.
It exhorts periodic analysis of national interest defined in terms of power, as Morgenthau points out “it is the function of political science to stress the importance of power when times tend to deprecate it, and it must point out limitations of power when time tends to power the monistic concept of power.”
For change can be brought about by “workman like manipulation of the perennial forces that have shaped that past as they will future”
4. Inapplicability of Abstract Moral Principles:
Although political realism realizes the importance of morality, but holds that universal moral principles cannot be applied to the actions of states. The primary function of a state is to satisfy and protect its national interest.
As such, it cannot be expected to observe the same standard of morality for all time to come. Whatever accommodation to the aspect of morality is granted, it is within the notion of prudence.
As Morgenthau observes “there are to be no political morality, without prudence, that is without consideration of political consequences of seemingly moral action.
Realism, then, considers prudence—the weighing of the consequences of alternative political actions—to be the supreme virtue in politics.”
Realism maintains that universal moral principles cannot be applied to the actions of states, but that these must be filtered through the concrete circumstances of time and place and then applied to actions of states.
5. Difference between Moral Aspiration of a nation and Universal Moral Laws:
Political realism believes that the moral laws that govern the universe do not apply to the action of states.
The national interests of nation are not based on universally applied moral principles. Their actions are always based upon national interests as conceived in terms of power.
The policy of a nation as such cannot be equated and should not be confused with universal moral principles. It is only in appearance and not in reality that the policy of a nation accepts and follows universal moral principles.
As such the true nature and content of the policy of a nation can be understood only through an understanding of its national interest.
“The concept of interest acts as a deterrent force against both moral excesses and political expediencies which nations, often resort to in the name of morality.” ,
6. Autonomy of the “Political”:
According to Morgenthau “A political realist always thinks in terms of interest defined as power, as an economist thinks of interest defined as wealth; the lawyer, of the conformity of action with legal rules and the moralist, of the conformity of action with moral principles.”
It does not mean that there are no other alternatives, but it assumes that they are all subsumed under the notion of ‘political.’
It is this autonomy of the political that distinguish realist from the legalistic and moralistic approach to the international relation. It stands for political standards of political actions and subordinates all other standard to the political action.
Assumptions of Realist Theory:
Prof. Mohinder Kumar in his “Theoretical Aspects of International Politics” has identified three basic assumptions on which Morgenthau’s Political Realism is based; these are
Firstly, the statements desire to pursue their national interest.
Secondly, the interest of every nation lies in the expansion of its influence, territorial, economic, political and cultural.
Thirdly, States use their power, which is also defined as influence, in the protection and furtherance of their interests.
According to Morgenthau power is most fundamental of all political activity. As he says “all permeating fact which is the essence of human existence Power is “Control of man over man.” “Political power is a psychological relation between those who exercise it and those over whom it is exercised.”
It is primarily an end but can also be a means to other ends. Since the national interest does not remain static, the possession and expansion of power remain essential to safeguard national interests. Every political action seeks to keep power, to increase it, or to demonstrate it.