P. 117 What is national power?

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6th ed. – N.Y.: McGRAW-HILL, Inc., 1985
8. The Essence of National Power



We have said that by power we mean the power of man over the minds and actions of other men, a phenomenon to be found whenever human beings live in social contact with one another. We have spoken of the "power of a nation" or of "national power" as though the concept were self-evident and sufficiently explained by what we have said about power in general. Yet, while it can be easily understood that individuals seek power, how are we to explain the as­pirations for power in the collectivities called nations? What is a nation? What do we mean when we attribute to a nation aspirations and actions?

A nation as such is obviously not an empirical thing. A nation as such cannot be seen. What can be empirically observed are only the individuals who belong to a nation. Hence, a nation is an abstraction from a number of individuals who have certain characteristics in common, and it is these char­acteristics that make them members of the same nation. Besides being a member of a nation and thinking, feeling, and acting in that capacity, the individual may belong to a church, a social or economic class, a political party, a family, and may think, feel, and act in these capacities. Apart from being a member of all these social groups, he is also a human being pure and simple, and thinks, feels, and acts in that capacity. Therefore, when we speak in em­pirical terms of the power or of the foreign policy of a certain nation, we can only mean the power or the foreign policy of certain individuals who belong to the same nation. As Marcel Proust put it: "The life of nations merely re­peats, on a larger scale, the lives of their component cells; and he who is incapable of understanding the mystery, the reactions, the laws that deter­mine the movements of the individual, can never hope to say anything worth listening to about the struggles of nations."


Yet this poses another difficulty. The power or the foreign policy of the United States is obviously not the power or the foreign policy of all the indi­viduals who belong to the nation called the United States of America. The fact that the United States emerged from the Second World War as the most powerful nation on earth has not affected the power of the great mass of in­dividual Americans. It has, however, affected the power of all those individ­uals who administer the foreign affairs of the United States and, more partic­ularly, speak for and represent the United States on the international scene. For a nation pursues foreign policies as a legal organization called a state, whose agents act as the representatives of the nation in international affairs. They speak for it, negotiate treaties in its name, define its objectives, choose the means for achieving them, and try to maintain, increase, and demonstrate its power. They are the individuals who, when they appear as representatives of their nation on the international scene, wield the power and pursue the policies of their nation. It is to them that we refer when we speak in empirical terms of the power and of the foreign policy of a nation.

How, then, does it come about that the great mass of the individual members of a nation, whose individual power is not affected by the vicissi­tudes of national power, identify themselves with the power and the foreign policies of their nation, experience this power and these policies as their own, and do so with an emotional intensity often surpassing the emotional attach­ment to their individual aspirations for power? By asking this question, we are posing the problem of modern nationalism. In preceding periods of his­tory, the collectivity with whose power and aspirations for power the individ­ual identified himself was determined by ties of blood, of religion, or of com­mon loyalty to a feudal lord or prince. In our time the identification with the power and policies of the nation has largely superseded or, in any case, over shadows those older identifications. How is this phenomenon of modern na­tionalism to be explained?

We have learned from our discussion of the ideologies of foreign policies that in the mind of the individual the power aspirations of others bear the stigma of immorality. While this attitude has one of its roots in the desire of the prospective victim of the power of others to defend his freedom against this threat, the other root grows from the attempt of society as a whole to suppress and keep in bounds individual aspirations for power. Society has established a network of rules of conduct and institutional devices for control­ling individual power drives. These rules and devices either divert individual power drives into channels where they cannot endanger society, or else they weaken them or suppress them altogether. Law, ethics, and mores, innumer­able social institutions and arrangements, such as competitive examinations, election contests, sports, social clubs, and fraternal organizations—all serve that purpose.

In consequence, most people are unable to satisfy their desire for power within the national community. Within that community, only a relatively small group permanently wields power over great numbers of people without being subject to extensive limitations by others. The great mass of the popu-

lation is to a much greater extent the object of power than it is its wielder. Not being able to find full satisfaction of their desire for power within the national boundaries, the people project those unsatisfied aspirations onto the international scene. There they find vicarious satisfaction in identification with the power drives of the nation. When the citizen of the United States thinks of the power of his country, he experiences the same kind of exaltation the citizen of Rome must have felt when, identifying himself with Rome and its power and by the same token contrasting himself with the stranger, he would say: "Civis Romanus sum." When we are conscious of being members of a very powerful nation, the nation whose industrial capacity and material wealth are unsurpassed, we flatter ourselves and feel a great pride. It is as though we all, not as individuals but collectively, as members of the same nation, owned and controlled so magnificent a power. The power our representatives wield on the international scene becomes our own and the frustrations we experience within the national community are compensated for by the vicari­ous enjoyment of the power of the nation.

These psychological trends, operating within the individual members of a nation, find support in the rules of conduct and in the institutions of society itself. Society restrains aspirations for individual power within the national community and puts the mark of opprobrium upon certain power drives pointing toward individual aggrandizement. But it encourages and glorifies the tendencies of the great mass of the population, frustrated in its individual power drives, to identify itself with the nation's struggle for power on the international scene. Power pursued by the individual for his own sake is con­sidered an evil to be tolerated only within certain bounds and in certain man­ifestations. Power disguised by ideologies and pursued in the name and for the sake of the nation becomes a good for which all citizens must strive. The national symbols, especially in so far as they have reference to the armed forces and the relations with other nations, are instruments of that identifica­tion of the individual with the power of the nation. The ethics and mores of society tend to make that identification attractive by holding out rewards and threatening punishments.

Thus it is not by accident that certain groups of the population are either the most militant supporters of the national aspirations for power in the inter­national field, or else refuse to have anything to do with them at all. These are the groups which are primarily the object of the power of others and are most thoroughly deprived of outlets for their own power drives or are most insecure in the possession of whatever power they may have within the na­tional community. The lower middle classes especially, such as the white-collar workers, but also the main bulk of the laboring masses,1 identify them­selves completely with the national aspirations for power. Or else—and here the main example is the revolutionary proletariat in the heyday of Marxism,


1 They have, in terms of power, less to lose and more to gain from nationalistic foreign policies than any other group of the population, with the exception of the military.


particularly in Europe—they do not identify themselves with national aspira­tions at all. While the latter group has thus far been of small concern for the foreign policies of the United States, the former has taken on ever greater importance.

It is here, then, that one must seek the roots of modern nationalism and the explanation for the increasing ferocity with which foreign policies are pur­sued in modern times. The growing insecurity of the individual in Western societies, especially in the lower strata, and the atomization of Western soci­ety in general have magnified enormously the frustration of individual power drives. This, in turn, has given rise to an increased desire for compensatory identification with the collective national aspirations for power. These in­creases have been quantitative as well as qualitative.
Сравните определение термина “power”, данное Г. Моргентау в первой главе, с тем, которое встречается в тексте главы 8.
Если автор определяет термин ‘power” на уровне взаимодействия индивидов, то каким образом он интерпретирует термин “national power”?
Как Г. Моргентау определяет «нацию»? С его точки зрения, нация – это абстракция или эмпирический феномен?
Согласны ли вы с высказыванием М.Пруста, приведенным автором на стр.117?
Несколько терминов с определением «национальный» мы уже встречали в тексте – например, «национальный интерес». Обратите внимание на то, что в случае с интерпретацией термина “national power” так же, как и в случае с национальным интересом, требуется более широкое толкование при переводе этого определения. Воспроизведите логику автора в примере США, который он приводит на стр.118.
В чем, с точки зрения Г. Моргентау, состоит «феномен современного национализма»?
Как происходит идентификация отдельных индивидов с мощью и внешней политикой их государства? Воспроизведите логику автора. В чем ее специфика?
В чем, с точки зрения Г. Моргентау, состоит «проблема современного национализма»?
В чем автор видит корни современного национализма?

Until the time of the Napoleonic Wars, only very small groups of the popu­lation identified themselves with the foreign policies of their nation. Foreign policies were truly not national but dynastic policies, and the identification was with the power and the policies of the individual monarch rather than with the power and the policies of a collectivity, such as the nation. As Goethe put it in a significant passage of his autobiography: "We all felt for Fredrick [the Great], but what did we care for Prussia?"

"These [scientific] societies," wrote Thomas Jefferson to John Hollins on February 19, 1809, "are always at peace, however their nations may be at war. Like the republic of letters, they form a great fraternity spreading over the whole earth, and their correspondence is never interrupted by any civi­lized nation."

With the Napoleonic Wars began the period of national foreign policies and wars; that is, the identification of the great masses of the citizens of a nation with national power and national policies, replacing identification with dynastic interests. Talleyrand pointed to that change when he said to Czar Alexander in 1808: "The Rhine, the Alps, and the Pyrenees are the conquests of France; the rest, of the Emperor; they mean nothing to France." Up to the First World War it was doubtful to what degree the members of the European socialist parties identified themselves with the power and policies of their respective nations. Yet the full participation in that war of the main bulk of the workers in all belligerent countries demonstrated the identification of practically the whole population with the power and policies of their re­spective nations.

^ Retreat from Nationalism: Apparent and Real
The Second World War has, however, brought about a certain retrogression from that maximum of identification which the First World War witnessed.

That retrogression took place on the top and at the base of the social pyramid. On the one hand, small yet powerful profascist groups of intellectual, politi­cal, and military leaders in Great Britain and France either refused to identify themselves with their countries or even preferred to identify themselves with the national enemy. The leaders who felt this way were insecure in their power positions, especially in view of the initial political and military weak­ness of their countries, and the enemy alone seemed to be able to assure them their positions on top of the social pyramid. On the other hand, the French Communists, owing allegiance to both France and the Soviet Union, were able to identify themselves fully with their nation only after the German attack on the Soviet Union in 1941 had brought both allegiances into play. The German attack on France alone was unable to rouse them to active op­position to the invader. But the German attack on the Soviet Union made France and the Soviet Union allies in a common cause and allowed the French Communists to oppose in the German invaders of France the common enemy of France and the Soviet Union alike. The identification of the French Communists with French national policies was predicated upon the identity of those policies with Russian interests and policies. This Communist alle­giance to foreign interests and policies, to take precedence over the national ones, was a universal phenomenon that, as such, was a challenge to the cohe­sion of the nation state and to its very existence.2

This disintegration of national solidarity can hardly be called a retreat from nationalism, for it exchanges loyalty to a foreign nation for loyalty to one's own. The Communist Frenchman, as it were, transformed himself into a Russian nationalist who supports the policies of the Soviet Union. What is new in this nationalism is its inconsistency in demanding identification with one—foreign—nation while denying the claims of other nations to the loyalty of their citizens.

It testifies to the strength of national solidarity that even this transfer of loyalty from one's own nation to another one, which is the fountainhead of a worldwide political movement, has proven to be an ephemeral interlude. For we are witnessing the revival of national solidarity in Communist govern­ments and movements, which have begun in differing degrees to put their respective national interests ahead of the interests of the Soviet Union. The monolithic world-Communist movement, directed by, and at the service of, the Soviet Union, has been replaced by "polycentrism," in which national loyalties and interests take precedence over the affinities of political philoso­phy.

However, the aftermath of the Second World War has brought into being a genuine retrogression from nationalism in the form of a movement toward the unification of Western Europe. This movement has thus far to its credit several concrete achievements in terms of working supranational organiza-


2 See also Chapter 30.

tions, including the European Coal and Steel Community, the Common Mar­ket (European Economic Community), and Euratom (European Atomic En­ergy Community. Two experiences have given birth to the movement toward European unification: the destructiveness of the Second World War and the political, military, and economic decline of Europe in its aftermath. The sup­porters of this movement cannot help concluding from these experiences that, in Western Europe at least, the nation state is an obsolescent principle of political organization which, far from assuring the security and power of its members, condemns them to impotence and ultimate extinction either by each other or by their more powerful neighbors. Only the future will show whether this acute sense of insecurity, not only of the individuals but also of the national societies to which they belong, will lead to political creativity in the form of the political, military, and economic unification of Europe, or to political impotence in the form of a retreat into "neutralism"—that is, the renunciation of an active foreign policy altogether—or to political desperation in the form of a more intense identification with the individual nations.

A force that runs counter to the revival of nationalism is the growing recognition by statesmen, intellectuals, and technical experts that certain fun­damental problems posed by the modern technologies of transportation, com­munications, and warfare transcend the interests and the ability to solve of any single nation, however powerful. The control of nuclear energy, the pro­tection and restoration of the natural environment, the supply of food and raw materials are problems of this kind. They cannot be solved by an individual nation competing with other nations for national advantage. All nations, or a considerable number of them, have a common interest in the solution of these problems, which interest ought to be reflected in common policies transcend­ing particular national interests. While some small elites have become aware of this novel element in world politics and are trying to come intellectually to terms with it, the actual conduct of national foreign policies has hardly been affected by it. To the contrary, it testifies to the undiminished strength of nationalism that organizations, such as the United Nations and its specialized agencies, created for the purpose of realizing the common interests of the nations of the world, have been seized by competing nationalisms for the purpose of serving competing national interests.4
С какого исторического периода мы можем, с точки зрения Г. Моргентау, говорить о «национальной внешней политике»?
На какой исторический период приходится, с точки зрения автора, пик национализма?
Почему Г. Моргентау называет один из подпунктов «Отступление от национализма: мнимое и реальное». Проанализируйте примеры, которые приводит автор. Что он хочет ими подчеркнуть?

^ Personal Insecurity and Social Disintegration

Qualitatively, the emotional intensity of the identification of the individual with his nation stands in inverse proportion to the stability of the particular society as reflected in the sense of security of its members. The greater the stability of society and the sense of security of its members, the smaller are


3 See, on these and similar organizations, pages 554 ff.

4 See also the discussion below, pages 547 ff

the chances for collective emotions to seek an outlet in aggressive nationalism, and vice versa.5 The revolutionary wars of France in the last decade of the eighteenth century and the wars of liberation against Napoleon from 1812-15 are the first examples in modern times of mass insecurity, induced by the instability of domestic societies and leading to emotional outbursts in the form of fervent mass identifications with aggressive foreign policies and wars. Social instability became acute in Western civilization during the nineteenth cen­tury. It became permanent in the twentieth century as a result of the eman­cipation of the individual from the ties of tradition, especially in the form of religion, of the increased rationalization of life and work, and of cyclical eco­nomic crises. The insecurity of the groups affected by these factors found an emotional outlet in fixed and emotionally accentuated nationalistic identifica­tions. As Western society became ever more unstable, the sense of insecurity deepened and the emotional attachment to the nation as the symbolic substi­tute for the individual became ever stronger. Under the impact of the world wars, revolutions, concentration of economic, political, and military power, and the economic crises of the twentieth century it reached the fervor of a secular religion. Contests for power now took on the ideological aspects of struggles between good and evil. Foreign policies transformed themselves into sacred missions. Wars were fought as crusades, for the purpose of bring­ing the true political religion to the rest of the world.

This relation between social disintegration, personal insecurity, and the ferocity of modern nationalistic power drives can be studied to particular ad­vantage in German fascism, where these three elements were more highly developed than anywhere else. The general tendencies of the modern age toward social disintegration were driven to extremes in Germany by a con­junction of certain elements in the national character favoring the extremes rather than mediating and compromising positions, and by three events that weakened the social fabric of Germany to such an extent as to make it an easy prey for the consuming fire of National Socialism.

The first of these events was the defeat in the First World War, coincid­ing with a revolution that was held responsible not only for the destruction of traditional political values and institutions, but for the loss of the war itself. The revolution naturally brought loss of power and insecurity in social status to those who had been at or near the top of the social hierarchy under the monarchy. Yet the social situation of large masses of the population was sim­ilarly affected by the impact of the idea that defeat and revolution were both the result of treacherous machinations of domestic and foreign enemies work­ing for the destruction of Germany. Thus it was widely held that Germany was not only "encircled" by foreign enemies, but that its own body politic was shot through with invisible hostile organisms, sapping its strength and bent upon destroying it.


5 These collective emotions may, of course, seek an outlet in aggressiveness within the nation as well; that is, in the form of class struggle, revolution, and civil war.

The second event was the inflation of the early twenties which proletarized economically large sectors of the middle classes and weakened, if not destroyed, in the people at large the traditional moral principles of honesty and fair dealing. The middle classes, in protest against their economic proletarization, embraced the most antiproletarian and nationalistic ideologies available. The lower strata of the middle classes especially had always de­rived at least a limited satisfaction from their superiority to the proletariat. When they viewed the social pyramid as a whole, they had always to look up much farther than they were able to look down. Yet, while they were not actually at the bottom of the social pyramid, they were uncomfortably close to it. Hence their frustrations and insecurity and their predisposition for the nationalistic identification. Now inflation pushed them down to the bottom, and in the desperate struggle to escape social and political identifi­cation with the amorphous mass of the proletariat they found succor in the theory and practice of National Socialism. For National Socialism offered them lower races to look down upon and foreign enemies to feel superior to and conquer.

Finally, the economic crisis of 1929 brought all the different groups of the German people in different ways face to face with the actual or threatened loss of social status and intellectual, moral, and economic insecurity. The workers were faced with actual or threatened permanent unemployment. Those groups of the middle classes who had recovered from the economic devastation of inflation were losing what they had regained. The industrialists had to cope with increased social obligations and were haunted by the fear of revolution. National Socialism focused all those fears, insecurities, and frus­trations upon two foreign enemies: The Treaty of Versailles and bolshevism, and their alleged domestic supporters. It channeled all those thwarted emo­tions into one mighty stream of nationalistic fanaticism. Thus National Social­ism was able to identify in a truly totalitarian fashion the aspirations of the individual German with the power objectives of the German nation. Nowhere in modern history has that identification been more complete. Nowhere has that sphere in which the individual pursues his aspirations for power for their own sake been smaller. Nor has the force of the emotional impetus with which that identification transformed itself into aggressiveness on the inter­national scene been equaled in modern civilization.

While the transformation of individual frustrations into collective identi­fication with the nation has never in modern history been more comprehen­sive and intensive than it was in National Socialist Germany, nevertheless the German variety of modern nationalism differs in degree rather than in kind from the nationalism of other great powers, such as that of the Soviet Union or of the United States. In the Soviet Union the great mass of the population has no opportunity to satisfy its power drives within the domestic society. The average Russian worker and peasant has nobody to look down upon, and his insecurity is intensified by the practices of the police state as well as by a low standard of living. Here, too, a totalitarian regime projects these frustrations,

insecurities, and fears onto the international scene where the individual Rus­sian finds in the identification with "the most progressive country in the world," "the fatherland of socialism" vicarious satisfaction for his aspirations for power. The conviction, seemingly supported by historic experience, that the nation with which he identifies himself is constantly menaced by capitalist enemies serves to elevate his personal fears and insecurities onto the collec­tive plane. His personal fears are thus transformed into anxiety for the nation. Identification with the nation thus serves the dual function of satisfying indi­vidual power drives and alleviating individual fears by projecting both onto the international scene.

In the United States, the process by which national power is appropri­ated by the individual and experienced as his own resembles by and large the typical pattern as it developed in Western civilization during the nineteenth century. This is to say, the identification of the individual with the power and the foreign policies of the nation proceeds largely in terms of the typical frus­trations and insecurities of the middle class. Yet American society is to a much greater extent a middle-class society than any other society in Western civili­zation. More importantly, whatever class distinctions there may be tend to be mitigated, if not resolved, in American society by the common denominator of middle-class values and aspirations. The identification of the individual with the nation in terms of middle-class frustrations and aspirations is, therefore, almost as predominant and typical in American society as the proletarian iden­tification is in the Soviet Union. On the other hand, the relatively great mo­bility of American society opens to the great masses of the population avenues for social and economic improvement. These opportunities have in the past, at least in normal times, tended to keep rather low the emotional intensity of that identification as compared with the corresponding situations in the Soviet Union and in National Socialist Germany.6

New factors have, however, arisen in recent times with the increasing atomization of society, the threat of world revolution as symbolized by inter­national Communism, the relative disappearance of geographical isolation, and the danger of nuclear war. Thus, in the last quarter of the twentieth century, intensified individual frustrations and anxieties have called forth a more intensive identification, on the part of the individual, with the power and the foreign policies of the nation. If, therefore, the present trend toward ever increasing domestic frustration and international instability is not re­versed, the United States is likely to partake to a growing extent in those tendencies in modern culture which have found their most extreme manifes­tations in Soviet Russia and National Socialist Germany, tendencies that make for an ever more complete and intensive identification of the indi­vidual with the nation. In this completeness and intensity of identification we


6 Intense nationalistic identification in the United States has been associated in the past mainly with antagonism, on the part of the most insecure sector of the middle class, against certain ethnic groups, such as the Negro or the latest wave of proletarian immigrants.

have one of the roots of the ferocity and ruthlessness of modern foreign poli­cies where national aspirations for power clash with each other, supported by virtually total populations with an unqualified dedication and intensity of feel­ing which in former periods of history only the issues of religion could com­mand.

Вспомните, в чем, с точки зрения Г. Моргентау, кроются корни современного ему национализма?

Как он связывает понятия национализма и социальной стабильности?
Какие трансформации в общественных отношениях в ХХ в., с точки зрения автора, создают условия для проявления национализма?
Как Г. Моргентау характеризует ситуацию в Германии в межвоенный период? Как эти условия способствовали укоренению фашизма?
Был ли, с точки зрения автора, в Советском Союзе «национализм»? Если да, то в чем его специфика?
В чем специфические характеристики американского общества в контексте разговора о национализме?
В чем, с точки зрения Г. Моргентау, состоит проблема современного ему национализма?

6th ed. – N.Y.: McGRAW-HILL, Inc., 1985
10. Evaluation of National Power

  1   2   3   4


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