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[IRTheories-Level of Analysis] Waltz, Kenneth N. (1954) Man, the State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis


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Man, the State, and War

Waltz, Kenneth N. 지음
Columbia University Press | 2001-01-01 출간
-- American Political Science Revie...
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Kenneth N. Waltz

Man, the State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis

New York, Columbia University Press, 1954 (1959 edition)

RQ: Where are the major causes of war to be found?

-          3 Levels:

1)      “within man” (p. 12) – the first image

2)      “within the structure of the separate states” (p. 12) – the second image

3)      “within the state system” (p. 12) – the third image

-          “Within each image there are optimists and pessimists agreeing on definitions of causes and differing on what, if anything, can be done about them (p. 19)”

Chapter I. Introduction


1.      Fleeting moments of Peace

“fleeting moments of peace among states. There is an apparent disproportion between effort and product, between desire and result.” (p. 1)


“Can we have peace more often in the future than in the past?” (p. 1)


2.      Human nature?

Human Nature as Evil

“Our miseries are ineluctably the product of our natures. The root of all evil is man, and thus he is himself the root of the specific evil, war…”

St. Augustine, Luther, Malthus, Swift, Inge, and Niebuhr…

“In secular terms, with men defined as beings of intermixed reason and passion in whom passion repeatedly triumphs, the belief has informed the philosophy, including the political philosophy…(p. 3)”


Yet, “Does man make society in his image or does his society make him?” (p. 4)

-          Rousseau = society makes man:

Ø  “man being a social animal, one can explain his behavior in society by pointing to his animal passion and/or his human reason. Man is born and in his natural condition remains neither good nor bad. It is society that is the degrading force in men’s lives, but it is the moralizing agency as well,” although unwilling to surrender on the latter and “lamented the advent of society” (p. 3-4, Waltz)

Ø  Like Plato, “believes that a bad polity makes men bad, and a good polity makes them good” (Waltz, p. 4)

-          Thomas Malthus = man makes society

Ø  “though human institutions appear to be the obvious and obtrusive causes of much mischief to mankind; yet in reality, they are light and superficial, they are mere feathers that float on the surface, in comparison with those deeper seated causes of impurity that corrupt the springs, and render turbid the whole stream of human life”[1]


3.      System (Structure)

-          Origins – Rousseau, who found that the major causes of war neither in men nor states but in the state system itself – one man cannot begin to behave unless he has some assurance that others will not be able to ruin him (“The State of War” Essay) => basis for balance of power approaches to IR.


“Aggressive tendencies may be inherent, but is there misdirection inevitable? War begins in the minds and emotions of men, as all acts do; but can minds and feelings be changed?” (p. 9)



Chapter II. The First Image: International Conflict and Human Behavior

- by reviewing the below four figures’ works…


*First image of IR: “causes of war is found in the nature and behavior of man. Wars result from selfishness, from misdirected aggressive impulses, from stupidity. Other causes are secondary and have to be interpreted in the light of these factors. If these are the primary causes of war, then the elimination of war must come through uplifting and enlightening men or securing their psychic-social re-adjustment. This estimate of causes and cures has been dominant in the writings of many serious students of human affairs from Confucius to present-day pacifists. It is the leitmotif of many modern behavioral scientists as well” (p. 16)


*Pessimists (Niebuhr, St. Augustine, Spinoza, Morgenthau)

-          Reinhold Niebuhr[2]:

Ø  “potentiality of evil in all human acts”, in every progress, there is the “potentiality of evil as well as of good” (p. 21, Waltz) – progress causing harm to the other…

Ø  “Man, a self-conscious being, senses his limits. They are inherent. Equally inherent is his desire to overcome them. Man is a finite being with infinite aspirations, a pigmy who thinks himself a giant. .. he is born and reared in insecurity and seeks to make himself absolutely secure; he is a man but thinks himself a god. The seat of evil is the self, and the quality of evil can be defined in terms of pride.” (p. 21, Waltz)

Ø  Niebuhr’s thoughts dates back to the Christian tradition – St. Augustine, and also to the philosophy of Spinoza, and then also in Morgenthau’s (20th century)


-          “These four writers, despite their numerous differences unite in basing their political conclusions upon an assumed nature of man” (p. 21)

-          St. Augustine[3]: the desire for self-preservation in the hierarchy of human motivations is “an observed fact” (p. 22)

Ø  “original sin” (p. 23) “Human reason and will are both defective” (“Each man does seek his own interest, but, unfortunately, not according to the dictates of reason”, (p. 23))

-          Spinoza: “the end of every act is the self-preservation of the actor” (p. 22)

Ø  “Reason can moderate the passions, but this is so difficult that those who think that men” (Waltz, p. 24) “can ever be induced to live according to the bare dictate of reason, must be dreaming of the poetic golden age, or of a stage-play.”[4]

-          Key similarities:

Ø  Niebuhr: War has its origin in “dark, unconscious source in the human psyche”[5] (p. 25)

Ø  Morgenthau: “the ubiquity of evil in human action” arising from man’s ineradicable lust for power and transforming “churches into political organizations… revolutions into dictatorships… love for country into imperialism.”[6]

Ø  St. Augustine: man’s “love of so many vain and hurtful things” a long list of human tribulations, ranging from quarrels.. wars[7]

Ø  Spinoza: although states are not never honorable but peaceful, passion often obscures the true interests of states as of men.


-          Important distinction here:

Ø  “Spinoza’s explanation of political and social ills is based on the conflict he detects between reason and passion.” (p. 24)

Ø  “St. Augustine, Niebuhr, and Morgenthau reject the dualism explicit in Spinoza’s thought: the whole man, his mind and his body, are, according to them, defective.” (p. 24)



-          See a possibility of turning the wicked into the good and ending the wars that result from present balance-of-power politics.


*Critical Evaluation on attributing “political ills to a fixed nature of man” (p. 27)

- recurrent theme in Augustine, Spinoza, Niebuhr, and Morgenthau (that the nature of man has an inherent potentiality for evil as well as for good.


-          Evaluation: Incomplete… Hard to prove

Ø  “It is a statement that evidence cannot prove or disprove, for what we make of the evidence depends on the theory we hold.” (p. 28)

Ø  “To attempt to explain social forms on the basis of psychological data is to commit the error of psychologism: the analysis of individual behavior used uncritically to explain group phenomena” (p. 28)

Ø  Emile Durkheim: “the psychological factor is too general to predetermine the course of social phenomena. Since it does not call for one social form rather than another, it cannot explain any of them”[8]

Ø  “Human nature may in some sense have been the cause of war in 1914, but by the same token it was the cause of peace in 1910. In the intervening years many things changed, but human nature did not” (p. 28)

Ø  “If human nature is the cause of war and if, as in the systems of the first-image pessimists, human nature is fixed, then we can never hope for peace. If human nature is but one of the causes of war, then, even on the assumption that human nature is fixed, we can properly carry on a search for the conditions of peace.” (p. 30)

Ø  Overall, both Durkheim and the pessimists(realists) such as Niebuhr and Augustine are half correct: “Human nature may not explain why in one state man is enslaved and in another comparatively free, why in one year there is war, in another comparative peace. It can, however, explain the necessary imperfections of all social and political forms” (p. 30)


* Pessimists vs. Optimists (Realists vs. Utopians)



> “The evilness of men, or their improper behavior, leads to war; individual goodness, if it could be universalized, would mean peace: this is a summary statement of the first image”

> “What first-image analysts, optimists and pessimists alike have done is: (1) to notice conflict, (2) to ask themselves why conflict occurs, and (3) to pin the blame on one or a small number of behavior traits” (p. 39)

> “The assumption of a fixed human nature, in terms of which all else must be understood, itself helps to shift attention away from human-nature – because human nature, by the terms of the assumption, cannot be changed, whereas social-political institutions can be.” (p. 41)


Chapter III. Some Implications of the First Image: The Behavioral Sciences and the Reduction of Interstate Violence


“Nevertheless one can distinguish several different approaches within the behavioral sciences. It is widely held that increased understanding among peoples means increased peace.”


*Society as the patient.


*Lawrence Frank’s logic: War is a social institution, not a necessary product of man’s nature. This is proved by the fact that in some societies war is unknown. Since institutions are social inventions, if we want to get rid of one institution, we must invent another to take its place.[9] People engage in duels only so long as the custom of dueling exists in their society…. Warfare, like the duel and trial by combat, “is just an invention known to the majority of human societies by which they permit their young men either to accumulate prestige or avenge their honor.”[10]


*”considering a quality shared by pacifists and many behavioral scientists suggests the more general point that in the absence of an elaborated theory of international politics the causes one finds and the remedies one proposes are often more closely related to temper and training than to the objects and events of the world about us. The pacifist’s appeal, like that of Alexander Leighton, is for treatment of the deep-seated causes of war. The one approaches this from the realm of spirit, the other with the techniques of psychiatry. The pacifist waits and quietly hopes that men will behave as God intended they should,..” (p. 77)


Chapter IV. The Second Image: International Conflict and the Internal Structure of States


*First image imagery:

> “pot boils when we mean the water in it boils (p. 80)”

*The second image imagery:

> water from the “faucet is chemically the same as water in a container, but once the water is in a container, it can be made to “behave” in different ways… (p. 80)”


*Second Image: “the idea that defects in states cause wars among them” (p. 83)


*What is the definition of the “good” state?

> Karl Marx: in terms of ownership of the means of production

> Immanuel Kant: in terms of abstract principles of right

>Woodrow Wilson: in terms of national self-determination and modern democracy

=> Reforms as the sine qua non of world peace.


*Domestic Politics: Liberal View

-What makes it run smoothly? = Utilitarian-liberalists: liberty, small government (Decentralization), economy(laissez-faire)

> Adam Smith (market mechanism, unnatural inequalities = caused by governmental interference)

> Ricardo

>John Stuart Mill

>Jeremy Bentham


Yet… “The liberals’ insistence on economy, decentralization, and freedom from governmental regulation makes sense only if their assumption that society is self-regulating is valid. Because a self-regulating society is a necessary means, in effect it becomes part of the liberals’ ideal end. If a laissez-faire policy is possible only on the basis of conditions described as necessary, the laissez-faire ideal may itself require state action.” (p. 95)


*International Relations: Liberal View



Chapter V. Some Implications of the Second Image: International Socialism and the Coming of the First World War


Is it capitalism, or states, or both that must be abolished?




Chapter VI. The Third Image: International Conflict and International Anarchy


“everyone’s policy depends upon everyone else’s(p. 226)” – the third image - “there is a constant possibility of war in a world in which there are two or more states each seeking to promote a set of interests and having no agency above them upon which they can rely for protection (227)”


“The state of nature among men is a monstrous impossibility. Anarchy breeds war among them; government establishes the conditions for peace...” (p. 227)


“In each image a cause is identified in terms of which all others are to be understood.” (p. 228)

[1] Malthus, Thomas (1798) An Essay on the Principle of Population, pp. 47-48.

[2] Niebuhr, Reinhold and Sherwood Eddy (1936) Doom and Dawn, Eddy and Page., p. 16: “It is the human effort to make our partial values absolute which is always the final sin in human life; and it always results in the most bloody of human conflicts.”

[3] Augustine, Saint (1948) The City of God

[4] Spinoza, Political Treatise

[5] Niebuhr, Reinhold (1938) Beyond Tragedy, p. 158

[6] Morgenthau, Hans (1946) Scientific Man vs. Power Politics, pp. 194-95

[7] Augustine, Saint (1948) The City of God

[8] Durkheim, Emile (1938) The Rules of Sociological Method, p. 108.

[9] Mead, Margaret (1942) And Keep Your Power Dry, pp. 182-83, 211-14, 242.

[10] Mead, Margaret (1940) “Warfare Is Only an Invention – Not a Biological Necessity,” Asia, XL, pp. 402-5