Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant was a man before his time. His philosophies, as outlined in Perpetual Peace, paved the way for modern political relations. Unbeknownst to his day and age, his insights were a revelation. They were seeds planted and left unsewn for 120 years. As a first and second image theorist, Kant mixes his liberal and realist views to paint a picture of “perpetual peace. ” His essay outlines the actions that nations should take to achieve this lofty objective. Through his layout of behavioral and philosophical ideologies, he believes nations can truly live synchronically.

The first section of Kant’s essay ontains articles that specifically state the actions that nations should take to enable them to establish a world peace. These six articles must become the law of a nation endeavoring for peace. The first article applies to treaties of peace. In the first article he explains that states entering into peace treaties must resolve all problems that lead them to war. All parties must make known their issues and work to rectify them. Thus, in the future, there will be no circumstance that will lead them to war again amongst each other.

The second of these laws communicates the need for all independent nations to be ree from the seizure of another state. The next article is in complete opposition to the realist theory. Kant explains that all nations need to gradually dispense of their armed forces. He believes that armies held by nations increase the tension of their rivals. This makes them increase the size of their military. Here, Kant indirectly addresses the realist Prisoner’s Dilemma. He believes that international conflicts arise from mistaken beliefs, as well as inadequate information and bad governments.

As each side increases their military, the more likely a war will start. Thus, the paradox of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Kant argues that because humans have rationality, they can break out of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. This is a fundamental difference between Kant and a traditional realist such as Morgantheau. The fourth law is about a nation’s debt to the others. In this law, Kant argues that nations indebted to one another will cause war. He states in this article that if a nation face bankruptcy, then the nations that have loaned it funds will also be adversely affected.

Also, sovereignty of a nation is another law that Kant argues to be important to world peace. Nations, he says, must not interfere with the constitution of another. He implicitly reaffirms the principals of the Treaty of Wesphaylia – sovereignty and noninterference. In the final article, Kant addresses war directly. He states that if nations are at war, then they should refrain from doing things during the course of war that would cause the other nations to distrust them in future times of peace. By this, he is referring to the use of assassins and treasonous deeds.

This concludes the first section of his essay. The second section of “Perpetual Peace” is more in depth. Kant ives us three articles that define what type of government nations must apply to reach a perpetual peace. He begins this section by arguing that it is not in man’s nature to be at peace. He declares that the natural state of man is war. He goes on to say: “… for the suspension of hostilities does not provide the security of peace… ” (111) However, it can be reached in a state of lawfulness.

Kant explains why republican constitutions are vital to ensure the peace of nations. He reasons this by arguing that this is the only type of government that guarantees freedom and equality of the people. Kant goes on to state that the republican form of government is the most difficult to form and maintain. But, he reaffirms that a republic is the type of government most apt to achieve peace because it gives its people a voice, ensures consequences for lawbreakers, and imposes a system of checks and balances to divide the power equally amongst governmental bodies.

Also, in this article, Kant addresses the concept of sovereignty. Nations must not interfere with the constitution of another because it may cause a war. In the second article, Kant discusses his theory of a federation of nations. Wilson referred to these ideas in his fourteen points. This theory encompasses the ideas behind the creating of a League of Nations. This would help ensure that every nation is pursuing what is in the best interest of world politics and not just its own interest. This is Kant’s liberal third image thinking at its height.

On this subject Kant explains: “A league of a special sort must therefore be established, on that we can call a league of peace, which will be distinguished from a treaty of peace because the latter seeks merely to stop one war, while the former seeks to end all wars forever. (115) The third article is what Kant calls the cosmopolitan right. This law deals with a nation’s peaceful obligations to visitors from other nations. The law states that if a person is visiting another nation, then that nation should treat him kindly and show him no ill will.

He further elaborates on the rights of nations to chose whether or not to give a visitor extended or permanent residence. He believes that the more nations interact, the less likely it is for war to break out between them. He closes his writings with two supplements and an appendix. At this point in is essay, Kant turns to a more philosophical viewpoint. He discusses a man’s tendency to be in a state of war. Kant titles it the “Secret Article for Perpetual Peace. ” The secret is that the government should consult with philosophers on matters of the state without the knowledge of the people.

He believes that philosophers are essential to searching for and solving the problems of war. He explains that people revere the government as wise and must keep the consultation private. But, he would like to make it possible for the philosophers speak freely to the public. The end of his essay is entrenched in is liberalism. He argues that politics needs some sense of morality for a nation to stay at peace. Again, he refers to man’s natural state as a state of war. In his appendix, he shares his view on how we can leave our natural state for one of peace.

This demonstrates how he turns a realist view liberal. He sees the solution in the choices of mankind. He argues that people must do what is right and make their decisions based on the good of the republic to make peace become a reality. The majority of Kant’s essay is based on liberal theory. He relies heavily on second image theories with his beliefs in epublican constitutions. He sees the causes of war to be linked to the nature of state and government. He believes that states should form a union and not merely act on their own accord.

Kant reiterates: “For the sake of its own security, each nation can and should demand that the others enter into a contract resembling the civil one and guaranteeing the rights of each. This would be a federation of nations, but it must not be a nation consisting with nations” (115) A realist would find it difficult to be drawn into this type of contract. Their philosophy is strictly first image and deals only with power. Kant disagrees with a philosophy based solely on power struggles. He argues that if the state meets his long term needs, then man will act in ways that best serve the state.

This also opposes the realist ideology. For instance, realists argue that men only make decisions that affect him on a short run basis. In its very conception, a republican government is a long term undertaking. His main connection with the realist theory is his admittance that the natural state of man is war. He confronts this throughout his essay. “The state of peace among men living in close proximity is not the natural state; instead, the atural state is one of war, which does not exist in open hostilities, but also in constant and enduring threat of them. (111)

Kant argues that if we involve morality in our decisions and choose what is right for our nation, then perpetual peace will surely come. Throughout the essay, Kant offers his views on avoiding war through compromising, problem solving, morality, and a coming together of states to ensure peace. These ideals oppose the realist thought because they do not place all the emphasis on war and power. Instead, he focuses on the first image theories of the psychology of man and elies heavily on second image theories of the nature of the state.

Kant stresses rule of law throughout his essay. He wants a governmental system created whereby you have a society of laws and not of men. Kant starts out at the first image as a realist by admitting the inherent warlike human nature of mankind. As he moves to the second image he moves toward more liberal beliefs. He sees the state as a means of implementing a moral society with a structure that leaves no room for misbehavior. At the third image he becomes quite liberal. If states can abide by laws, then they can work together in armony and morality.

This is in sharp contrast with a classic realist like Morgantheau who sees no room for morality in international relations. However, Kant is not a naive liberal. For instance, he agrees with Thomas Hobbes when he concurs that there is no law above the state. With this knowledge in hand, he urges states to overcome their natural instincts and do what will ensure a perpetual peace. Or else, he warns: “… the destruction of both parties along with all rights is the result – would permit perpetual peace to occur only in the vast graveyard of humanity as a whole. “

Leave a Comment