Similarities and Differences of Raison D’état and Realpolitik

Topics: Otto von Bismarck, International relations, State Pages: 3 (1045 words) Published: October 17, 2012
Fluffy Kilburn

Similarities and Differences of Raison d’état and Realpolitik

Raison d’état and realpolitik both served as Europe’s dominant political and international philosophies for a considerable time each. Both of these policies were originated by revolutionary men; both helped particular European powers, and weakened certain powers as well. Raison d’état came about largely in part by the French Cardinal Richelieu, “the father of the modern state system” (Kissinger, 58). Prior to raison d’état, the medieval concept of moral values, and the church’s involvement in the government system was how France, and the other states, operated. The essence of raison d’état was “that the interest of stability the legitimate crowned heads of the states of Europe had to be preserved… and that, above all, relations among states had to be determined by consensus among like minded rulers.” (Kissinger, 104) With the rising power of monarchies, and the loss of the church sanction, raison d’état overtook past medieval ways. This balance of power in Europe proved more effective in maintaining peace and order, which, at this time, held merit. The French Napoleon III, and the German Otto von Bismarck began realpolitik, which replaced Richelieu’s policy. These men ignored the ideas of raison d’état, and felt the relations among states should be based on power and ability. Once France and Germany (under Napoleon III, and Bismarck’s rule) began to make power moves exclusively beneficial to themselves, often times at the expense of the other states, raison d’état was more or less abandoned as a policy. Raison d’état introduced a lot of the ideas that realpolitik maintained. These two policies were not entirely opposite. Raison d’état introduced the concepts of separating church and state, and that the powers of Europe must stay balanced to maintain order. Under this philosophy, each state could focus on themselves, while maintaining an equilibrium with the other states....

Cited: Kissinger, Henry. Diplomacy. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994. Print.
Cassels, Alan. Ideology and International Relations in the Modern World. London:
Routledge, 1996. Print.
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