The principles, paraphrased, are:
1. Political realism believes that politics, like society in general, is governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature.
2. The main signpost of political realism is the concept of interest defined in terms of power, which infuses rational order into the subject matter of politics, and thus makes the theoretical understanding of politics possible.
3. Realism does not give ‘interest defined as power’ a meaning that is fixed once and for all, but recognizes that the determining kind of interest varies depending on the political and cultural context in which foreign policy is made.
4. Political realism is aware of the moral significance of political action. It is also aware of the tension between the moral command and the requirements of successful political action. Realism maintains that universal moral principles cannot be applied to the actions of states in their abstract universal formulation, but that they must be filtered through the concrete circumstances of time and place.
5. Political realism refuses to identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern the universe.
6. The political realist maintains the autonomy of the political sphere; he asks “How does this policy affect the power of the nation?” Political realism is based on a pluralistic conception of human nature. A man who was nothing but “political man” would be a beast, for he would be completely lacking in moral restraints. But, in order to develop an autonomous theory of political behaviour, “political man” must be abstracted from other aspects of human nature.
Politics Among Nations by:
Hans Morgenthau (February 17, 1904 – July 19, 1980)