chapter  9
18 Pages

Religion and the Realist tradition of International Relations in a constructed world


Do we understand the Realist tradition and its connection to religion differently depending on where we as scholars hail from? Does the path indicated by the subtitle of this volume really lead from “Political Theology to international relations theory,” and does it lead in that direction necessarily and everywhere? We answer the first question in the affirmative and the second in the negative. In this chapter we say yes, Realist tradition and religion are treated in a

very unique way in the discipline of International Relations in the United States (henceforth “US/IR”). Realism is still a foundation of the main US/IR approaches, but it is Realism “flattened”: since the US/IR conversion en masse to social science, Realism has been re-constructed as a positivist social science. The works of major figures of the Anglo-American IR discipline showing Judeo-Christian influences have been suppressed or excluded from the discipline’s history. Religion cannot be fitted into the US/IR theoretical constructs but-ironically-the US/IR itself changed into a secular religion of sorts. Thus we argue the US/IR, at least in its mainstream articulations, has not

followed the path from “Political Theology to international relations theory.” We argue that US/IR denying the influences of Political Theology jumped to a different form of Political Theology-a peculiar kind of secular religion professing universal validity and rigorously defending its universal truth claims. Why bother, then? What is the relevance of the US/IR mainstream to the

subject of this volume if US/IR has nothing to say about religion with its realism disconnected from the Realist tradition? In our view, because of its sheer size, the academic establishment of Inter-

national Relations in the United States matters and no work such as this can set it aside. Besides, there are stirrings of change. The emerging revisionist historians of IR-many of whom are contributors to this volume-argue that the IR scholars influenced by Judeo-Christian tradition cannot be excised and their contribution should be reexamined for its relevance to the world in the twenty-first century. However, it is not simply a matter of historiography. The encounter with many scholars such as Hans Morgenthau “uncensored,” Morgenthau, perhaps the least religious of his generation, but unlike his

US/IR scions today, who are often not capable of understanding religion, he might lead to a US/IR “reformation.”