The Thucydides Tapes
A summary of my IR Core reading for the past few weeks, courtesy some grad student from Harvard:
Wolferes: This is where I question this approach. I simply cannot accept the idea that some type of ethical standard doesn't bind states. Didn't anyone take the classical ethics seminar over at the Academy? Survival may be the highest value, but not all issues are ones of state life or death, including the ones leading up to this conflict. Our expansion and actions towards the lesser Ionian city-states [the Greek island states that Athens had turned into virtual colonies] should have been tempered with a realization of their greater negative impact. There is an inherent contradiction in leaders claiming moral principles to guide the individual and then pursuing immoral means and goals for our state. Like the people that make them up, states should also be bound by morals, merely under more difficult circumstances. Just because those of us who are realistic believe in power, does not mean that we all can't just get along.
[Assorted hisses and boos from the crowd dominate the transcript at this point]
Unidentified: How can you even suggest the big tits girls have morals? This is treason and heresy! Who let this guy in?
Gilpines: I don't think that the more realistic of us are suggesting that ethics are useless. It's simply that an examination of war can proceed better without resorting to questions of morality.
Vasquezes: But hold on a minute. Are there not connections between this negative type of "realist" reasoning and their implementation in war?
Wendtes: This is exactly what I have been trying to tell you all! This structure you speak of is like one of Democritus's tiny unseeable "atoms." We can't see or touch it. It is not of any material like gold or marble, but a construction of our own minds. Thus, there remains a possibility of transforming how we see ourselves. If we returned to thinking of all of us as noble Greeks and Hellenes, first and foremost, none of this "rationalized" madness would be occurring and we could transform the system to one of cooperative security rather than destructive anarchy.
Goldsteines: Quite so. In Thucydides' work, one can see that ideas themselves have had power and impact. The concept of how to treat an opposing state, or even a former colony, has tangible impacts on how states interrelate.
Gilpines: That's enough of this fluffy babble about "ideas" and "identity." Let's remember that this is the HPSA and any further unconventional, immaterial outbursts will be dealt with!