Responding to the blog comment that I expanded upon in the prior post, Mr. Millman asks two questions which I will append in full below. Millman asks specifically whether the Realist definition of national interest is “definitional or axiomatic,” by which terms, as his follow-up post seems to confirm, he appears to be aiming for the distinction between descriptive, or analytical, and prescriptive, or political, Realism. He also wonders whether “national interest” is something artificial, effectively a product of politics or political processes, or something “independent” and “objective,” in other words beyond politics in the narrow sense. In his second question, he specifies an assumption about “the state” – what the state is or how we should conceive of it – that we have frequently discussed at this blog, as in our recent posts on libertarianism as well as on the subject of neo-imperialism, and in intermittent discussion of Hegelian concepts of the culture-state. For present purposes, this question of the state is, I think, better answered in the context of answering the first question. In other words, the two questions can be answered together.
Under the theoretical framework I was outlining in my prior remarks, the Realist notion of finally determinative national interest would be both definitional and axiomatic within an obsolete, yet still significantly operative, nation-state concept. Continue reading