Realism versus Moralism In Foreign Policy:
Hans Morgenthau and the Modern Predicament
DR. SANFORD LAKOFF
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Room 111-A Chancellor’s Complex,
Please note change of date for this month’s meeting.
"Let's face it: The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. It may be a humanitarian concern.” -- Secretary of State Henry Kissinger speaking privately to President Richard Nixon March 31, 1973 as recorded on a White House tape recorder.
“Realism” is the name given to the analysis of international relations that served as the matrix for the policy of containment adopted by the Western alliance during the Cold War and continues to influence foreign policy thinking. Realists regard as naïve the “moralists” who hope that by transferring the rule of law from domestic settings onto a global stage, insecurity and disorder can be overcome and human rights guaranteed everywhere. Hans J. Morgenthau was the most theoretical and academically influential of the school.
Realism is open to serious question. Doesn’t anarchy invite lawless violence? In an increasingly interdependent world, doesn’t the use of force by even a distant regional actor threaten vital interests of other states? Should respect for sovereignty preclude intervention to prevent “ethnic cleansing”? May it be true that democratic states are less apt to make war against each other than possibly more reckless authoritarian regimes? The tensions between realism and moralism are not as easily disposed of as Realists like Morgenthau supposed.
Sanford Lakoff is Edward A. Dickson Professor of Political Science Emeritus at the University of California, San Diego, a title awarded in 2008 in recognition of continued service to the university and the community. He has taught at UCSD since 1974, when he was appointed Founding Chair of his department. The undergraduate prize for the best honors thesis in political science at UCSD is named in his honor. Currently, he teaches an undergraduate course on the government and politics of the Middle East and “People, Power, and Politics,” offered by UCSD Extension.
Professor Lakoff is recipient of many awards and has written or edited eleven books. His Democracy: History, Theory, Practice has been praised as “the most penetrating” study of the subject and listed among the best academic books of 1997 by Choice Magazine. His latest book, tentatively entitled Political Ideas and the Making of the Modern World will appear in fall of 2011.
From the President
The new Culture One study group has just completed a difficult but ultimately successful encounter with a concept of surprising power: metaphor. This study group’s journey as it learned to understand metaphor’s pervasive nature is a tale worth telling.
In the past, metaphor had been treated as a weakling in the stable of linguistics concepts, brought out only when needed as rhetorical flourish. This was all upended in 1980 by the publication of “Metaphors We Live By,” by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. This book has been seminal to the subsequent development of new schools of linguistic thought about metaphor, worldwide. The principal ideas in the book are amazingly simple, even obvious once one grasps their meaning, yet immensely powerful in their simplicity. The following statements, from chapter one of the book, capture the key message:
“The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another.” (Emphasis added.)
“The most important claim we have made so far is that metaphor is not just a matter of words. We shall argue that, on the contrary, human thought processes are largely metaphorical.”
The implication, of course, is that our ways of thinking and acting depend significantly on understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another. In other words, metaphoric relations are central to language, thought, and action.
You may see all this as so obvious as not to be worth even stating, or, alternatively, as so opaque as to be meaningless. For me, it has been the core of a major learning experience which gradually became more profound as I participated in Culture One discussion of the Lakoff and Johnson book.
The first meeting of Culture One focused on the first one hundred fourteen pages comprising eighteen chapters of the text. This was overwhelming — too much to digest in a two hour session. We wanted time to discuss in greater detail the book’s perspectives on the metaphoric nature of language and experience. At the second meeting, we went to the opposite extreme and focused specifically on only the first four pages of the book, discussing the implications of what was written, sentence by sentence. This was followed by another meeting in which we proceeded to examine a few additional pages in the same vein. These sessions revealed important and interesting concepts, but much of the text and the discussion seemed tediously dry and theoretical to many participants and, for them, interest waned.
We next abandoned the concept of studying the text as such and chose, instead, to focus on what each of us found of interest in the first eighteen chapters of the text. This was a subtle but substantial change of perspective. Prior to the next following meeting of the group, I wrote to participants as follows: “Please reconsider these chapters from the perspective of your own point of view: the idea(s), question(s), insight(s), and perspective(s) which come to your mind most strongly as a result of reading this text. We will focus, Colloquy Café style, not so much on the text itself as on what each of us finds of interest there (directly or indirectly, literally or metaphorically).”
The result was a resounding success. The discussion was lively and informative, a wonderful time of learning from and with each other. From a process point of view, I have no doubt that we finally found an interesting and exciting way for this group to proceed. But… what actually did we do?
I propose that we tapped into a metaphoric relation between the Lakoff and Johnson text and what each person perceived as meaningful. In other words, examining the text itself for its stand-alone objective meaning seemed dry and theoretical to some participants; in contrast, bringing one’s own perspective into conjunction with the text tied the text to the dynamics of one’s personal experience, interests, knowledge, and passions. This kind of relation is, arguably, a process of understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another, i.e., metaphoric.
What I suggest is that the difference between tiresome/theoretical and exciting/personal depends on whether the process of dealing with the subject matter appears relevant to one’s own situation. Relevance implies some degree of relationship, not identity; in other words, a metaphoric relationship.
Explicit attention by Culture One to metaphor has now ended but the knowledge of metaphor’s pervasive influence on language and thought remains and will color all that follows, for me at least, and I expect for many others in the Culture One study group. Learning in this mode can be a powerful reality, albeit metaphoric to the core.
COMMUNITY RESOURCES: IN FOCUS
WRITE OUT LOUD
Many of us remember the pleasures of reading to our youngsters as well as the joy it brought to both generations. But how long has it been since someone read to us?
There is a local organization committed to doing just that. Write Out Loud aims to inspire, challenge and entertain by presenting professional actors reading short stories aloud for a live audience. Witnessing the link that binds theatre and literature, those present are reminded that literary expression has a "voice", that there is "music" in language, and yet that voice, that music, is subject to redefinition and interpretation.
Created in 2007 by actors Veronica Murphy and Walter Ritter, who choose both the actors and the material to read, Write Out Loud has contributed to the culture of San Diego through such special programs as the all day TwainFest in Old Town State Historic Park. Presented in cooperation with Fiesta de Reyes and the State Park, the 2010 fest featured readings of Mark Twain and such 19th century writers as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Robert Lewis Stevenson, Walt Whitman and Lewis Carroll. Write Out Loud provided literary performances, games, music and puppets for five park venues. Activities for both adults and children were typical of the period.
The organization began producing special programs in 2008 when Grossmont College invited WOL to take part in its annual Literary Arts Festival. Actors read stories the college’s students were studying as well as other short works from diverse cultures. WOL will mark its third year of participation there later this month. The International Museum of Human Rights, the League of Women Voters, and the Moonlight Cultural Foundation have all invited Write Out Loud to provide readings.
Earlier this year were presentations focusing on Carl Sandburg’s Chicago, on Valentine’s Day (“Hearts Afire”), on St. Patrick’s Day (“Voices of Ireland”) and on the 100th anniversary of the International Day of Women. The latter was “Voices of Global Women Outloud” at UCSD, in association with Voices of Women.
April 4, complementing the current Cygnet Theatre production of “Cabaret,” four WOL actors will read excerpts from Christopher Isherwood’s “The Berlin Stories,” on which the musical is based. Cygnet’s dramaturge Kim Strassburger will lead a discussion after the readings. This is the first in a series of readings that will be tied to the Theatre’s productions.
On April 10 WOL will augment San Diego Repertory Theatre’s production of “In the Next Room” with readings, according to Artistic Director Murphy, from “literature of Victorian intimacy and audacity.” The Athenaeum Music and Arts Library will host “Orpheus Speaks,” readings from stories about the magic of music, May 2. Other coming presentations include readings from Victorian poetry and stories in conjunction with Ladies Day tea at Old Town’s Cosmopolitan Hotel, and “Wild Women Don’t Worry,” stories of women who stretch the limits, at both the Old Town Theatre and the Carlsbad City Library, all in April. August will bring another TwainFest.
For further details, go to www.writeoutloudsd.com or (619) 297-8953. “Let us read you a story,” says Write Out Loud’s Executive Director Ritter.
Colloquy Café will discuss “Empathy” on Wednesday, April 20 at 1:30 PM. If you are interested in attending, contact Jean Mayer at email@example.com.
Culture One will meet Wednesday, April 6, at 2:30 PM. The group will focus on the issues described in the first two chapters (1- “Doing the Right Thing” and 2- “Utilitarianism: The Greatest Happiness Principle”) of Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do by Michael J Sandel. Those interested in attending should contact Sam Gusman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next meeting of Culture Two will be Wednesday, April 27 at 2:30 PM at Len Brown's apartment. We will discuss Chapters 5 and 6 of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Those who are interested in attending are requested to read the material before the meeting. Betty Hiller will moderate. Contact Betty at email@example.com.
TheFilm Groupwill meet Wednesday, April 6 at the home of Barbara Heckler. At 12:30 PM we will view the 2009 film Frozen River. If you have already viewed the film, discussion will begin at 2:15 PM. Contact Barbara at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on where to rent the film or to RSVP.
The Literature Group will meet Monday, April 11, at 10:30 AM, at the home of Larry and Carol Gartner. Gerry Horwitz will lead a discussion of J. D. Salinger's Nine Stories, focusing on these: "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," "From Esme With Love and Squalor," and "De Daumier Smith's Blue Period." If time permits, we may also address some others. Bring a brown bag lunch. Contact Harry Boyle at email@example.com for more information.
About a dozen SDIS members who are residents of northern San Diego County gathered recently for lunch at the home of Delina Halushka in Carlsbad to explore the possibility of organizing a North County study group. Sam Gusman, president of SDIS and facilitator of the Colloquy Café, came to share his experiences with the group. Those present agreed that a study group in the area was feasible, although the study group will be open to all SDIS members as space allows. After some discussion a decision emerged to choose public policy and political issues as the subject area. Everyone also agreed that discussions would be based on articles which each participant would choose and read. Thus we would have a broad perspective.
The first meeting of the group, to be held at the home of Janet Kunert and Al Christman in Carlsbad-by-the-Sea, will be devoted partially to organization, but there will be time for discussion of the topic, “Pros and cons of public funding for congressional election campaigns.” The meeting will take place at 11 AM on Wednesday, April 13. Those attending should be ready to comment on the content of the material they’ve read and should bring a brown-bag lunch.
As is usual in SDIS, all members are welcome, but if you were not at the meeting at Delina’s and you wish to attend, or if you have any questions about the meeting, please call Pat Fouquet at 760-945-3583. Space is limited because, as most of you know, the study groups are held in the homes of members.
Science (aka Brain)
The next meeting of the Science Group had not been scheduled by press time. May’s discussion will continue on This Is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin. Please call Bea Rose at 858-455-6815 for more information.
Works in Progress
At our next WIP meeting, Saturday, May 7, at 1:30 PM, Carol Gartner will present a chapter from her biography of Mary Putnam Jacobi, MD. This fascinating woman rose to the top of a profession that, at the turn of the 20th century, was deliberately skewed against women practitioners. Although WIP’s subsequent project is not firm, we expect to help review some short stories by one of our members early in the fall. Next presenter – is that you? When you begin to think about sharing some of your work, contact Donna Boyle at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our calendar is waiting for you.
UP CLOSE & PERSONAL WITH GERRY HORWITZ
Gerry has been actively involved in SDIS for many years – as Program Chair, Notebook Editor, helping organize SDIS’ 10th and 25th Anniversary celebrations, and hosting a much-anticipated summer party. She’s sedate and sophisticated, and always interesting!
Q. You have a unique reason for going to UCSD. What was your inspiration?
A. I returned to school in the eighties, to UCSD where I earned an MA in U.S. History. I was motivated to do this by a sudden and tragic event: a young cousin, a pediatrician, was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in 1979. A group of activists in the North Carolina chapter of a small organization called the Communist Workers Party, had planned an anti-Klan march and rally in Greensboro; an assortment of local Klansmen and American Nazi party members surprised them by appearing. Violence quickly broke out, and five individuals, all leftists, were killed. Despite the presence of several reporters when the fracas occurred, neither a state trial nor a federal trial resulted in any convictions. I wanted to investigate and write about the so-called “Greensboro Massacre” but felt that I needed more grounding in relevant history and in research techniques; hence graduate school.
Q. Where did Alice Marquis & SDIS fit into all this?
A. I came to SDIS in 1983 after receiving my MA. Alice Marquis, from whom I had taken two UCSD Extension courses and who had encouraged my pursuit of additional knowledge, introduced me to the organization. I have been an enthusiastic member since then.
Q. Do you indulge in any guilty pleasures?
A. Guilty pleasures? Dark chocolate, but since that’s beneficial to health I can’t feel guilty about it. Any pleasures that I do feel guilty about are secret!
Q. What about not-so-guilty pleasures? What else do you enjoy doing?
A. Reading, reading, reading. I take part in the Literature Study Group in addition to my older Book Club (still vital, incidentally, after 54 years!). Incidentally, the SDIS group began as a study of critical theory and morphed into a lit group. And I teach a Korean woman as a tutor in the Public library’s adult literacy program, READ. I cannot imagine life without reading. My favorite is F. Scott Fitzgerald, and among contemporary authors, Ian McEwan and Philip Roth. Additional interests: art, fashion, photography, interior decoration.
I have taken up where my husband left off and become a gardening enthusiast. I can totally lose myself in my plants. I collect bromeliads, and in the house I have collections of sun images, of hands, and of faces.
Q. An “area of interest” is “Americana, particularly dissent”. Why?
A. I am interested in dissent particularly because of my cousin’s murder, but the manner in which various individuals and groups choose to express their dissatisfaction fascinates me. And Americana? Just as dissent as well as its manifestations change, what is “Americana” is changing.
Q. What brought you to San Diego?
A. I came to San Diego in 1951 because the man I had just married was working here. I had grown up in Texas and had completed a 2-year program at Stephens College. I completed my undergraduate education at what was then San Diego State College, earning a BA in journalism. Choosing to be a fulltime mother, I raised three children in what is now an old-fashioned way: volunteering in PTA and as a leader in Camp Fire Girls.
Q. Where do your children live now?
A. My children are far-flung. My older daughter, an orthodontist, lives in Seattle. My younger daughter is a community organizer in Australia, where she and her husband (also a San Diegan) moved 15 years ago and decided to stay. My only grandchildren, 19 and 14, are there. My son is a gemologist and jewelry designer in Bangkok. I refer to them as “mine” because my husband departed this world three years ago; we had almost 57 years together.
Annual SDIS Business Meeting
The usual UCSD meeting place,
Room 111-A Chancellor's Complex
Saturday, May 21, 2011, 1:30 P.M.
San Diego Independent Scholars (SDIS) supports unaffiliated writers and researchers and welcomes everyone who appreciates creative and intellectual activities in the humanities, science, and the arts. SDIS is a non-profit organization and an affiliate of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars.
Sam Gusman, President, email@example.com
Scholar’s Notebook is the newsletter of SDIS. Please send your news for the Notebook to Barbara Heckler, the Notebook editor: firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to 3489 Wellesly Ave, San Diego, CA 92122. The deadline for submissions is the 22nd of the month prior to publication date.