Posts Tagged ‘Valentine’s Day’

Daniel Drezner (@dandrezner) – professor of International Politics at Tufts and author of the excellent Theories of International Politics and Zombies – has just started a Twitter hashtag #IRvalentines, imagining what different theorists of International Relations might have said to their nearest and dearest. Obviously it’s hard to resist the temptation to extend the range of Thucydides quotes beyond the one he suggested, and so obviously I haven’t – but it is slightly disturbing how quickly a pattern sets in: hard-edged quote about realism, power relations, general nastiness, off-set by the claim that this time with you it’s different. Obviously I’m reacting to the selection of quotes normally adopted by IR people, which do largely involve the most brutal expressions of might is right, but I suddenly had the alarming feeling that Thucydides might as well be writing taglines for 50 Shades of Grey, such is his apparent concern with power and its abuses (and thanks to @apothetae, I cannot now think of this in any terms other than #50ShadesOfThucydides). It’s one of the points where the quotes do seem most unrepresentative of what Thucydides is really about; the effect of his narrative is precisely to undercut the apparently straightforward sentiments of the quotable bits, which generally represent the Athenians or other actors rather than Thucydides himself. If we characterise his underlying attitude, I suspect it’s a world-weary recognition of the way things are in reality – why does love have to be so sad? why do we always hurt the one we love? there’s a thin line between love and hate… – with a dogged optimism that, if only we can learn from our mistakes, there’s still a chance that things could work out next time…

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