Aron’s own statement one year before his death, was his life’s work. Flanked

by other motives, this reflection surrounds primarily the two thematic areas

that have provided the title of today’s contribution: the problem of the

totalitarian and the question of international relations in the age of the

Cold War and in the shadow of nuclear weapons. Whereas the first question issued directly from Aron’s experience in his youth,3 the second resulted

from the first; it was born of it insofar as the Cold War years saw Europe as

a powerless continent in the shadow of the Soviet sphere of influence.4 For

Aron, this culminated in the problem as to whether or not, at the end of a

century of ‘guerres en chaıˆne’,5 of a thirty-year long total war whose history

provided the foil of his reflections, a third – all-annihilating – exchange of

blows was irrevocable according to the laws of plausibility.6