Forum 33 on the Importance of the Scholarship of Stanley Hoffmann108 min read

Stanley Hoffmann’s long career in political science and international relations has been celebrated in several special issues of scholarly journals and a Festschrift.[2] It is important for a discipline to honor its greatest exponents. In Hoffmann’s case, that task has surely been accomplished. His students and close colleagues have collectively painted a rich portrait of the pioneering thinker, the politically engaged intellectual, the farsighted institution-builder, the inspiring teacher, and the generous and witty man. This H-Diplo/ISSF forum, “Stanley Hoffmann Now,” is different. Here, a diverse group of superb IR and international history scholars—Deniz Kuru, Kiran Klaus Patel, Tommaso Pavone, and Kamila Stullerova—describe how they are currently engaging with aspects of Hoffmann’s work to advance their own research agendas. Their deeply considered essays reveal how relevant Hoffmann’s work remains for cutting-edge IR research, whether the focus is on international theory, French and European affairs, or the state of the discipline. We look back in order to move forward.

H-Diplo | ISSF

Forum 33 (2022) on the Importance of the Scholarship of Stanley Hoffmann

Editor: Diane Labrosse | Commissioning Editor and Chair: Jacques E. C. Hymans


Published on 8 April 2022


PDF Version

Introduction by Jacques E. C. Hymans, University of Southern California

Stanley Hoffmann Now.[1]

Stanley Hoffmann’s long career in political science and international relations has been celebrated in several special issues of scholarly journals and a Festschrift.[2] It is important for a discipline to honor its greatest exponents. In Hoffmann’s case, that task has surely been accomplished. His students and close colleagues have collectively painted a rich portrait of the pioneering thinker, the politically engaged intellectual, the farsighted institution-builder, the inspiring teacher, and the generous and witty man. This H-Diplo/ISSF forum, “Stanley Hoffmann Now,” is different. Here, a diverse group of superb IR and international history scholars—Deniz Kuru, Kiran Klaus Patel, Tommaso Pavone, and Kamila Stullerova—describe how they are currently engaging with aspects of Hoffmann’s work to advance their own research agendas. Their deeply considered essays reveal how relevant Hoffmann’s work remains for cutting-edge IR research, whether the focus is on international theory, French and European affairs, or the state of the discipline. We look back in order to move forward.

The man may no longer be with us, but his writings are, and this forum demonstrates how richly IR scholars can profit from reading them now. Indeed, apart from myself, none of the contributors to the forum was Hoffmann’s student. The fact that each of them independently came to Hoffmann’s writings demonstrates the persistence and breadth of his appeal.

The contributors variously describe how they are applying a Hoffmann hypothesis to new contexts, challenging a Hoffmann assertion that needs correcting, or resuscitating a Hoffmann theme that the recent literature has lost sight of. However, they are not obsessed with Hoffmann, instead counting him as one important influence or foil for their capacious research agendas. Such processes of grafting, pruning, and reseeding are how intellectual fields sustain healthy growth.

In addition to the contributors’ specific arguments, they all point to elements of Hoffmann’s overall intellectual approach that have allowed his writings to remain so stimulating long after the initial publication date. In this introductory essay, I try to pull those various elements together and argue that Hoffmann’s writings can be interpreted as following a coherent and attractive scholarly model.

Many of the Hoffmann retrospectives have portrayed him as a one-of-a-kind genius. Intelligent though Hoffmann surely was, such portrayals have the effect of making his work seem like a gift from the gods—an ineffable happening whose creation we can only stare at in wonder. This is unfortunate. If we instruct our students that there can never be another Hoffmann, then there will never be another Hoffmann. By contrast, I hope to show that the Hoffmann scholarly model is both comprehensible and attainable for any budding IR scholar who is ambitious to make a mark on the discipline and the world.

My project here of describing the most basic elements of the Hoffmann scholarly model should not be misinterpreted as suggesting that Hoffmann’s writings were formulaic. By way of analogy, the jazz song “So What” needs only a couple pages of sheet music to show its basic melody and chord changes. But it would take an entire dissertation to analyze the arrestingly beautiful recording of the song that Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, and Bill Evans made in their classic album Kind of Blue.[3] Merely knowing the song’s chord changes is not enough to anticipate the musicians’ fascinating and highly personal solos. However, knowing the chord changes greatly enhances the listener’s appreciation of their solos, and it can also serve as the first step toward creating solos of your own. This essay focuses narrowly on the basic melody and chord changes on top of which Hoffmann built his many unique and fascinating contributions to the IR literature. I hope that it will inspire more up-and-coming IR scholars to adopt the Hoffmann scholarly model as the starting point for making their own original contributions.

Key components of the Hoffmann scholarly model

Robert Keohane took a swing at describing the Hoffmann scholarly model in a 2009 tribute to his former teacher:

“In a famous essay, Isaiah Berlin contrasted two intellectual styles, that of the fox, who knows many small things, and that of the hedgehog, who ‘knows one big thing’ – who has one big idea or works within one theoretical tradition. Stanley Hoffmann’s work reflects both styles. In his descriptive work he is a fox, who knows many things. In his discussions of ethics, he is a hedgehog who knows one big thing: that an ethical dimension is inherent in cogent interpretation. As a critic of American foreign policy, Hoffmann has combined these styles, arguing that the United States is too prone to lecture others rather than to engage in the give-and-take of bargaining. And he has always emphasized the layered and complex nature of world politics.”[4]

Keohane’s description is simultaneously insightful and confusing. The description contains all the right elements for a proper understanding of the Hoffmann scholarly model. But it is wrong to imply that Hoffmann’s writings reflected a kind of split personality: a scholar who was a “fox” in “descriptive work” but a “hedgehog” in “discussions of ethics.” In fact, the Hoffmann oeuvre is remarkably consistent in its approach, tone, and themes, reflecting a complex but well-integrated scholarly self. Therefore, it is necessary to reassemble the individual elements collected by Keohane in a way that clearly shows their overall coherence.

Rejecting the idea that Hoffmann was a fox here and a hedgehog there, I argue instead that Hoffmann was a hedgehog about being a fox. In other words, we can describe Hoffmann’s approach to scholarship as he described Charles de Gaulle’s approach to politics: “the combination of inflexibility on fundamentals and pragmatism on tactics.”[5]

The Hoffmann scholarly model can be summarized as having three pillars: first, an ontology of complexity; second, an epistemology of analytic eclecticism; and third, a methodology of close reading. I discuss each of these pillars in turn.

Pillar 1: An Ontology of Complexity

Hoffmann strongly rejected the hedgehog style of simple, deductive, systemic-level causal models of international politics that became dominant after the publication of Kenneth Waltz’s Theory of International Politics and Keohane’s After Hegemony.[6] Hoffmann maintained instead that different factors have different degrees of importance in different cases. Such is the trademark approach of the intellectual fox. But Hoffmann was not merely someone who knew many small things. His fox approach to the interpretation of individual situations reflected his hedgehog ontological commitment to the big idea of (in Keohane’s words) “the layered and complex nature of world politics.” Thus, pillar number one of the Hoffmann scholarly model is the ontology of complexity: complexity not just of international affairs, but of domestic societies and individual human beings as well.

When a scholar truly recognizes the world as complex—as opposed to simply paying lip service to the idea—there is a temptation to despair. After all, in the face of such complexity, how can we puny-brained human beings ever hope to achieve any scientific progress? But Hoffmann did not despair. Nor did he launch a doomed quest to build a general deductive and predictive theory of everything. Instead, he focused his energies on analyzing how specific societies—notably, France and the United States—and their political and thought leaders perceive, process, and push and pull on the complex world around them. As he put the point in 1993,

“I remain convinced that the most fruitful way of investigating world affairs is to do it from the unit level. World politics is, largely, the clash and convergence of state strategies; how these strategies are set and changed can best be understood by looking within the unit…. The conflicts, the compromises, the rules and the institutions of world politics result from the moves of statesmen; and therefore the study of their character, of their ideas and of their style is essential.”[7]

Hoffmann’s indirect strategy for taking on the complexity of world politics is analogous to the strategy of using a pinhole projector to witness a solar eclipse. If you look directly at the eclipse in progress, you will go blind. Much better, then, to look at the play of light and shadow as projected through the pinhole—while never forgetting that the image you get depends on the projector you use.

It is important to stress that Hoffmann’s point about ontology was not simply that IR theorizing should shift from the systemic level to the unit level. Instead, he saw complexity at every level of analysis.

At the domestic level of analysis, Hoffmann the keen student of history rejected any idea that the nation-state could serve as the unbreakable atom upon which to build IR as a physics-like natural science. To the contrary, he argued that neither the nation nor the state can be taken as givens, but instead that they are recent, fragile, unfinished and probably unfinishable human constructions. For instance, as he put it in the collective 1963 volume that he spearheaded under the Proustian title In Search of France, “The fundamental question I must try to answer is whether France is a political community in the substantive sense.”[8] His final answer to that question was a nuanced one:

“Meanwhile, the real drama will continue to be, as it has been for so long, that of France’s relation to herself, the endless dialogue of the French with their mirrors—the mirror of history, the mirror which their leaders provide, and the mirror which the behavior of other nations toward France supplies to the French.”[9]

Hoffmann equally refused to take the human individual as a stable unit fit for mathematical modeling. Instead, he held that human beings are paradoxical creatures, motivated both by their selfish desires and by their ideal aspirations. Moreover, he pointed out that any analysis of individual political leaders must face the additional complexity that their political personalities depend not only on themselves, but also on the projections of their followers. For example, he and his wife Inge Hoffmann offered a portrait of de Gaulle that was almost Cubist in its complexity. Their multi-dimensional application of the Weberian concept of charismatic leadership successfully captured the paradox of a single man who was simultaneously a great “political artist” and also his own “artistic creation,” which “tends, once it gets under way, to take on a life of its own, with its own demands for wholeness.”[10]

In sum, although Hoffmann favored looking at the world from the unit level of analysis, he also made clear that this move was hardly sufficient to put IR scholarship on a stable footing in a complex world. Therefore, beyond levels of analysis, Hoffmann also sought to develop a coherent epistemology of social science research that respects the world’s complexity. That epistemology constitutes pillar number two of the Hoffmann scholarly model.

Pillar 2: An Epistemology of Analytic Eclecticism

For Hoffmann, mainstream IR’s cult of “scientism” with its reductionist tendencies was not merely wrong; it was also dangerous, an accomplice in many of the twentieth century’s great crimes.[11] Instead, he practiced analytic eclecticism.[12] It is no coincidence that Rudra Sil and Peter Katzenstein dedicated their field-defining 2011 volume on analytic eclecticism to him. [13] The basic idea of analytic eclecticism is that taking diverse approaches to a topic gets you closer to the truth.

The most obvious manifestation of Hoffmann’s hedgehog epistemological commitment to analytic eclecticism was his systematic practice of looking at every issue through both the theoretical lenses of “idealism” and “realism,” and then seeking a synthesis between them. In other words, in a world of “doves” and “hawks,” Hoffmann sought to be an “owl.”[14]

Hoffmann’s conscious balancing between idealism and realism was crucial for the development of his legendary capacity for keen political judgment. “Keen” here should not be taken as a synonym for “infallible.” Among the contributors to this forum, both Pavone and Patel mount strong cases that Hoffmann was overly dismissive of transnational actors’ ability to become major drivers of the European integration process. But as Pavone and Patel also stress, even when Hoffmann’s conclusions were mistaken, his analyses were still valuable. They were valuable because the analytic-eclectic epistemology of taking multiple theoretical perspectives allowed him to perceive dimensions of an issue that scholars working within just one of those perspectives could easily miss.

Hoffmann’s balancing act between idealism and realism is just as evident in his “normative” as in his “descriptive” writings. Indeed, as Kamila Stullerova explains in her contribution to this forum, to suggest that Hoffmann divided his time between “descriptive” and “normative” work is to set up a false dichotomy. Keohane’s statement that “in his discussions of ethics, he is a hedgehog” might be taken to imply that Hoffmann ruthlessly discriminated the angels from the devils. But reading Keohane’s words more carefully, it turns out that he actually recognizes Hoffmann as a hedgehog based on Hoffmann’s insistence that “an ethical dimension is inherent in cogent interpretation.” Thus, what Keohane is really pointing out is the consistency of Hoffmann’s analytic-eclectic epistemology. Hoffmann’s epistemological stance led him to conclude that ignoring the ethics of IR in the name of a dispassionate science of IR inevitably warps both the science and the scientist.

As for Hoffmann’s applications of normative thinking to IR topics, these were unmistakably those of an intellectual fox. After carefully examining the specific context, he would make nuanced and contingent ethical judgments about how the relevant parties might best deal with the dilemmas with which they were faced. Stullerova’s essay in this forum describes the innovative idea of a division of ethical labor among different types of political and societal actors that Hoffmann proposed in his 1981 book Duties Beyond Borders.[15]

Another aspect of Hoffmann’s analytic eclecticism was his keen interest in what the world looks like to people sitting outside the United States. His famous 1977 essay “An American Social Science: International Relations”—which is analyzed in depth by Deniz Kuru in his contribution to this forum—criticized the gap between the IR field’s pretensions as an objective science and the enormous buckets of water that the discipline was carrying for the boys in Washington, D.C.[16] Hoffmann pointedly added that the fact that many leading IR scholars were relatively new arrivals to the U.S.—including himself—was not making the field any less American in its values and priorities. On the contrary, the natural desire of the immigrant scholars to fit in to their new community was actually intensifying American IR’s parochial tendencies.[17] Hoffmann’s basic point was not that American IR was bad, but that a plural IR would be better.

Hoffmann’s analytic eclecticism is also evident in what he read. His desk groaned not just under its heavy pile of works of social science and history, but also a stupendous range of other genres including philosophy, government reports, and novels. He valued all kinds of approaches to knowledge and was skeptical that any one of them could stand on its own. For instance, he argued at length that Leo Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace was the greatest-ever work of IR theory, one that put the many similarly-titled books by social scientists to shame.[18] But he also maintained that a properly humble social science can do some things that Tolstoy’s grand philosophy of history could not. Most notably, social science can “show (and it should certainly never conceal) the limits of our knowledge”; and it can “provide tools for the analysis of concrete situations.”[19] Such are the not-insubstantial merits of the epistemology of analytic eclecticism.

Pillar 3: A Methodology of Close Reading

The above discussion of Hoffmann’s reading choices brings us to the third pillar of the Hoffmann scholarly model: his methodology. The contemporary IR scholar may not immediately recognize a clear methodology in Hoffmann’s essays. There are no regression tables or lists of interview questions. But in fact, Hoffmann’s go-to technique of close reading is the most essential social science methodology of all.

In a 2017 assessment of Hoffmann’s legacy, Keohane and Peter Gourevitch write, “With his historical and cultural sensitivity, his use of this approach was intellectually stimulating, but it was very hard for others with less rich cultural and historical understanding to reproduce.”[20] Their comment strikes me as unduly fatalist. The kind of scholarship we are able to do depends to a very great extent on the kind of scholar we seek to become. The wise and erudite professor named “Stanley Hoffmann” did not suddenly appear one day, like Athena popping out of Zeus’ cranium in full combat gear. That person only emerged gradually, thanks to voluminous close reading.

The English literature scholar David Greenham writes, “Close reading is about enjoying the way the words on the page create beauty in complexity.”[21] This definition helps to highlight the organic connection between Hoffmann’s chosen methodology and his ontological and epistemological priors. Close reading does not treat texts as information to be exploited or as data to be mined. Instead, the practitioner of close reading approaches texts with an open mind and a critical eye, and then—the ultimate sign of respect—actively engages the best of them in debate. When done well, the result of this debate is not just a recitation of fixed positions, but a creative synthesis that refines old thoughts and generates new ones.

The methodology of close reading does not only involve taking things in, but also writing things out. Hoffmann’s essay style of writing, with its recurrent invocations of the concept of “paradox,” is highly distinctive in the corpus of American IR, and American scholars have often pointed to it as evidence of Hoffmann’s uniqueness. But in fact, the style is clearly identifiable as a product of Hoffmann’s training in the French educational system and its key literary genre, the “dissertation” (pronounce it in French). As Henrik Breitenbauch explains, the point of the “dissertation” is “to ‘unfold’ the subject as defined in the problématique, and thus ultimately demonstrate the student’s ‘capacité de raisonner sur un problème’—not to solve it.”[22] In sum, the methodology of close reading is the key third pillar of the Hoffmann scholarly model, and it very much a teachable skill.

Back to the future

In his modern classic Expert Political Judgment, Philip Tetlock finds that good political judgment reflects a way of thinking that is strongly reminiscent of how many other scholars have described Hoffmann. Tetlock writes,

“High scorers look like foxes: thinkers who know many small things (tricks of their trade), are skeptical of grand schemes, see explanation and prediction not as deductive exercises but rather as exercises in flexible ‘ad hocery’ that require stitching together diverse sources of information, and are rather diffident about their own forecasting prowess, and…rather dubious that the cloudlike subject of politics can be the object of a clocklike science.”[23]

Tetlock’s systematic research findings underscore why reading and teaching Hoffmann’s work can be so beneficial for the progress of the IR discipline of today. IR needs more foxes. Hoffmann was a fox. But more than that, what is most special about Hoffmann is that his work pellucidly shows us how to be a fox, because he was also a hedgehog. Hoffmann’s self-conscious, lifelong quest to grapple with the complexity of the world forged not only a great scholar, but also a clear scholarly model that is available for all of us to emulate. I have argued that there are three essential features of the Hoffmann scholarly model: an ontology of complexity, an epistemology of analytic eclecticism, and a methodology of close reading.

The Hoffmann scholarly model is hard to follow, of course. But so is the Thomas Schelling scholarly model, the J. David Singer scholarly model, or the Paul Schroeder scholarly model. The right question to ask is not how difficult the road is. The right question is which road (or combination of roads) will take us closer to our ideal intellectual destination.

The contributors to this forum are all striving toward their ideal destinations. Here is a brief summary of their essays, which span the range of Hoffmann’s wide research agenda on French, European, transatlantic, and global politics.

Deniz Kuru, who specializes in the history and sociology of IR as a discipline, interprets Hoffmann’s essay “An American Social Science: International Relations” as an important forerunner of today’s calls for Global IR, and he adopts a Hoffmannesque stance that Global IR can and should be constructed with—not against—American IR scholars.

Kiran Klaus Patel offers the perspective of a historian of contemporary Europe. Patel urges his fellow historians of European integration, enamored though they may be of the possibilities of transnational history, to recognize that Hoffmann was “simply right to insist on the nation state’s importance empirically.” In addition, he holds up Hoffmann’s historically informed, supple theoretical analysis as a high standard that historians as well as political scientists should strive to meet.

Tommaso Pavone, a scholar of judicial politics, argues that Hoffmann’s oft-repeated claim that national executives were holding the reins of the European integration process underestimated the ability of lawyers and national court systems to turn Europe into a “remarkably effective transnational ‘law-state.’” But Pavone also points out that just as de Gaulle did in his day, various contemporary national executives are now using their court systems to roll back the Euro-lawyers’ achievements.

Kamila Stullerova, an international political theorist, highlights Hoffmann’s moral psychology approach to international ethics as the key he used to escape his mentor Raymond Aron’s tragic vision of social science as the owl of Minerva that flies at dusk, uselessly recommending the proper course of action only after it is too late to take it. Instead, she writes, Hoffmann argued that a social science that develops its capacities for ethical judgment can peek out beyond the narrow circle of light shone by a strictly empirical approach to history.

To repeat what I noted at the outset: this forum is not a set of paeans to the late Stanley Hoffmann. That work has already been done very well by others. Instead, the forum honors Hoffmann by engaging with his ideas in an effort to advance, little by little, the contemporary study of world politics. Each of the contributors is doing IR in his or her own way. But they are all finding it useful to invite Hoffmann to accompany them for some distance in their journey. Stanley Hoffmann, your time is now.



Jacques E.C. Hymans is an associate professor of political science and international relations at the University of Southern California. Hymans has written two single-authored books about nuclear proliferation: Achieving Nuclear Ambitions: Scientists, Politicians, and Proliferation (Cambridge University Press, 2012), which was awarded the $100,000 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, the American Political Science Association Don K. Price Award for best book on science, technology and environmental politics, and the National Academy for Public Administration Louis Brownlow Award for best book on public administration; and The Psychology of Nuclear Proliferation: Identity, Emotions, and Foreign Policy (Cambridge University Press, 2006), which was awarded the International Society of Political Psychology Alexander L. George Book Award for best book on political psychology and the Mershon Center for International Security Studies Edgar S. Furniss Book Award for best first book on national and international security. Hymans has also published journal articles in many publications including Environmental Politics, Foreign Affairs, and International Security.

Deniz Kuru is a research fellow at Goethe University Frankfurt. His work relates to IR’s disciplinary history and sociology, global intellectual history, and cultural studies of world politics. His articles have been published in Review of International Studies, International Relations, Mediterranean Politics, All Azimuth, and Global Affairs. He has also co-edited two volumes on Turkey with Dr Hazal Papuççular, A Transnational Account of Turkish Foreign Policy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) and The Turkish Connection: Global Intellectual Histories of the Late Ottoman Empire and Republican Turkey (De Gruyter, 2022).

Kiran Klaus Patel holds the chair of European history at Ludwig Maximilian University Munich where he also serves as the founding director of Project House Europe, LMU’s center for interdisciplinary research on the history of contemporary Europe. Before joining LMU, he held professorships at Maastricht University (2011–2019) and the European University Institute in Florence, Italy (2007–2011), and an assistant professorship at Humboldt University in Berlin (2002–2007). He has been (inter alia) a visiting fellow/professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, the Free University of Berlin, Freiburg University, Harvard University, the London School of Economics, Sciences Po in Paris, and the University of Oxford. His latest publications include: Europäische Integration. Geschichte und Gegenwart (Munich: Beck, 2022); Project Europe: A History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020) (German version: Beck, 2018); The New Deal: A Global History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016) (Italian version: Einaudi, 2018); European Integration and the Atlantic Community in the 1980s (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013; ed. with Kenneth Weisbrode); The Historical Foundations of EU Competition Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013; ed. with Heike Schweitzer).

Tommaso Pavone is Assistant Professor in the School of Government and Public Policy at the University of Arizona, where he researches and teaches how lawyers and courts impact social and political change. His new book The Ghostwriters: Lawyers and the Politics Behind the Judicial Construction of Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2022) reconstructs how entrepreneurial lawyers promoted European integration by encouraging deliberate law-breaking and mobilizing national courts against their own governments. His research has been published in leading peer-reviewed journals, including The American Political Science ReviewLaw and Society ReviewWorld PoliticsJournal of European Public Policy, and the Journal of Law and Courts, and has been covered by high-profile press outlets like The New York Times and Politico. He is the winner of the best dissertation prizes from the Law and Society Association (LSA) and the European Union Studies Association (EUSA), as well as the Edward S. Corwin Award from the American Political Science Association (APSA). He holds a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University.

Kamila Stullerova is Lecturer in International Politics at the Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University. She is an international political theorist / IR theorist with expertise in 20th century political theory, focusing especially on fear, security, human rights and emergence of order, and in contemporary theories of security, political realism, global ethics, and Weberian influences in international political thought. Her work has appeared in Global Intellectual History, The Journal of International Political Theory, International Politics, Contemporary Political Theory, International Relations, and others.



Essay by Deniz Kuru, Goethe University, Frankfurt

“Stanley Hoffmann’s Transatlantic Trajectory: A Proto-Global IR”[24]

Big changes are brewing not only in the realm of international politics, but also within the discipline of International Relations (IR). These parallel movements do not surprise those of us who are familiar with the ways in which external conditions have influenced academic pursuits.[25] In recent years, a substantial interest in Global IR, post-Western IR, or non-Western IR has emerged. Many scholars have been criticizing our current disciplinary predicament and calling for a more global perspective.[26] In this context, it is valuable to reengage with an article that Stanley Hoffmann published forty-five years ago on the “Americanness” of IR.[27] Despite its Eurocentric positionalities with transatlantic trajectories, Hoffmann’s piece can indeed provide very pertinent insights for present-day scholars who are undertaking an aggiornamento of IR. A proto-global IR is one of the multiple legacies of Stanley Hoffmann.

I cannot exactly remember when my first engagement with Hoffmann’s brilliant analysis took place, but it was probably during the first year of my doctoral studies. This started a period – one that will continue for the remainder of my academic career – of turning back, time and again, to this intriguing piece of analysis. It all starts with the title: “An American Social Science: International Relations.” Hoffmann’s analysis from 1977 discusses the distinct trajectory of the discipline of IR, and most importantly stresses the discipline’s defining US context. In my opinion, this article is a revelatory masterpiece of disciplinary self-reflexivity.[28] Not unlike an onion, the article reveals different layers of analysis that illustrate concomitantly a disciplinary history and a disciplinary sociology of IR.[29] The text’s influence is visible across the discipline, starting with the hundreds of citations (1465, according to Google Scholar[30]) that the original publication and later volumes that reprinted it have received. A quarter century after the article’s original appearance, a whole book was published entitled International Relations: Still an American Social Science?[31] Of course, such concrete indicators are not the only way of measuring scholarly influence.

Each time I read and discuss Hoffmann’s take on the discipline’s Americanness, I feel that I am discovering a new aspect or engaging with a different dimension. His historical analysis relies mostly on external frames in its explanations of IR’s developmental patterns, while also paying attention to certain internal dynamics. Hoffmann argues that IR only reached its prominence thanks to three conditions that coalesced on the Western shore of the Atlantic in its specific mid- to late-twentieth century context: intellectual tendencies, political factors, and institutional capacities. Regarding US intellectual tendencies, three are most relevant. First, there was the impact of “Applied Enlightenment,” as it has been explained by Ralf Dahrendorf.[32] Second, the attraction of American scholars to the exact sciences was another pertinent factor. Third, the arrival of European refugee scholars, with their continental philosophies and histories, provided an important dynamic to shape the general contours of the emerging American discipline. In the case of political factors, what mattered most was the world power of the United States in the post-1945 period, as well as the interest of US policy-makers in making use of the work of IR scholars to advance their political agendas. With regard to institutional capacities, the fluid interconnections “between the scholarly world and the world of power”[33] in the US were highly significant. A crucial factor here was the nature of American universities, their openness, breadth, and readiness for full engagement with the international in the second half of the twentieth century. Hoffmann also points out the role of philanthropic foundations and broader dynamics of entanglement that would generate a wide scholarly-cum-political IR community.

Hoffmann’s “An American Social Science” thus importantly underlines how “politics mattered.”[34] Like its close cousin the economics-mimicking discipline of political science, IR was eager to follow the political as well as methodological fads and fashions of the day. And American IR scholars benefited disproportionately from this post-World War II context. Under such circumstances, it was natural, Hoffmann explained, that “the relays between the kitchens of power and the academic salons” would play a prominent role.[35] Making reference to the novel realities of the post-World War II setting, Hoffmann argues that “even in the more abstract efforts at theorizing about a weapon that has transformed world politics, it mattered if one was the citizen or host of a country with a worldwide writ.”[36]

Hoffmann’s purpose in offering this analysis was not just to answer the historical question of why it was the US that saw the most comprehensive development and growth of the IR industry. When he concludes the piece by stating that IR scholars “have two good reasons to be dissatisfied: the state of the world, the state of their discipline,”[37] Hoffmann’s self-reflexivity becomes unmissable. This approach shapes his critique, and his understanding, of both IR and its disciplinary role.

Hoffmann’s 1977 text can also contribute to the advancement of the most recent waves of disciplinary self-reflexivity. Some readers might be surprised by this statement. Certainly, it is useful to point out what and who are left out of the 1977 article’s analysis. Hoffmann does not refer to the issues of gender or race, aspects that have engendered intensive re-evaluations of the international past and present and also increasingly shape the way scholars perceive the development and endurance of IR as an academic field. A growing number of recent studies use a focus on gender and race to revise and significantly readjust our understandings of IR’s past and spell out the present implications of its previously hidden history.[38]

Nevertheless, the lack of a more inclusive analysis in Hoffmann’s 1977 Daedalus article should not lead us to overlook its strongly progressive aspects. While one cannot simply assert that the times were different and that it was normal that certain aspects were not covered in Hoffmann’s analysis, nevertheless, such lapses should not lead us to ignore his proto-global, or proto-postcolonial, approach. We can locate that approach in his significant references to the dichotomy between “the weak and the strong” in world politics, and his direct acknowledgment of the impact of “the international hierarchy.”[39]

Also important in this regard is his tripartite call for scholars to adopt various forms of distancing. First, instead of IR’s tendency to focus on the present, he calls for more careful study of the past. Second, instead of looking at the world from the usual superpower-conservative perspective, he calls for adopting a perspective that is closer to “that of the weak and the revolutionary.” Third, he calls for a shift from policy-relevant studies to more philosophical ones.[40] Putting these three calls together, it becomes clear how Hoffmann’s arguments undoubtedly speak to today’s disciplinary debates, as well as carrying substantive implications ranging from the significance of confronting the realities of international hierarchy, to the potential for displacing the centrality of the great powers with the agency of the Global South.[41]

As I have shown, Hoffmann’s article has a dual aspect, or a Janus-faced structure. On the one hand, we are provided with an elaborate historical explanation of IR’s American disciplinarity. On the other hand, Hoffmann’s approach presents important critiques of the US and its insularity under the conditions of its own newly-gained grandeur. Yet his approach also contains positive evaluations of American IR. Ultimately, he presents a picture of IR as a successfully advanced and rather novel discipline that was produced in its US setting.

In Hoffmann’s case, his brilliant take on the American IR discipline can be better explained and contextualized by knowing something about his personal pathway that led him from Central Europe to France, and from continental Europe to the US – a topic to which I now turn.

While researching the institutional history of IR’s rise as a scholarly undertaking in continental Europe, I was able to access some early documents testifying to Hoffmann’s presence at the birth of IR in its French setting in the 1950s. For instance, Hoffman acted as the rapporteur for early meetings in Paris at which French scholars met with their British and American colleagues to discuss foreign policy as a separate realm of study. A US participant, William T. R. Fox from Columbia University, notably used the opportunity to introduce the French to IR realist theory, with reference to Hans Morgenthau and Walter Lippmann.[42] Hoffmann also contributed to these early processes of Euro-American IR interactions through his American research trips—notably a short stay at Harvard— which generated suggestions for his colleagues at Sciences Po on how to teach and write IR at that newly (re-)founded Parisian institution for political studies. In the end, French IR did not advance in the ways he had advocated, and Harvard and the broader US scholarly community became his physical and ideational home for more than a half century. Using the three subsection titles of his 1977 article, one can assert that in the mid-twentieth century it was ‘only in America’ that an ambitious IR scholar could reach the desired academic opportunities, and although ‘even in America’ there were challenges for such a scholar due to the local political and philosophical legacies and the prevailing mainstream trends, it was ‘because of America’ that Hoffmann was able to develop his unique scholarly voice.

Hoffmann’s many connections and transatlantic engagements, including his crucial position as the founding chair of the Center for European Studies at Harvard, have led critics such as Luc Boltanski and Pierre Bourdieu to emphasize Hoffmann’s supposed role as a reproducer of what they called the dominant ideology.[43] They are mistaken. What in fact was being produced was a scholarly but critical attitude toward American power that we can witness, for instance, in Hoffmann’s critiques of the 2003 Iraq War in The New York Review of Books and other fora.[44] Even long before that, in the debates between behavioralists and classicists during the mid-1950s, Hoffmann was already stressing the problems of a scientism that ended up being perceived as Americanism by US academics. He tended to favor the group he called the philosophers and not the scientists.[45] Hoffmann notably used Louis Hartz’s framework of the impact of the liberal tradition in the US to criticize American scholars for being prone to assuming that their research did not engage directly with values. He asserted that his American colleagues’ supposedly scientific approaches were in fact being substantially shaped by the country’s dominant values.[46] In brief, Hoffmann’s scholarly record does not merit the criticism made by the two French sociologists. Already by the 1950s, the self-reflexivity that emerged from a rich transatlantic personal and academic background was giving him the possibility of shifting perspectives and ongoing (re)evaluations. The 1977 article brought that self-reflexivity even more clearly to the fore.

How can Hoffmann’s premises help us move ahead in current discussions concerning IR’s prospects in the early twenty-first century? A useful first step would be to start by rejecting outdated presumptions concerning the ongoing existence of a self-reliant and inward-looking ‘mainstream’ as the dominant force in IR, even as it is practiced in the United States. While the US-American scholarly community has been known in the past for its gatekeeper functions, it is much more intellectually open and diverse today.[47] As Hoffmann insisted, IR as an American social science was the product of its specific historical context. We are now in a different historical context.[48] The idea/label of Global IR is becoming more powerful, helping thus to carry over the most pertinent aspects of the post-colonial and other criticisms of IR, including criticisms of its Western-centrism, into a more presentable packaging for mainstream scholars.[49] The Global IR concept has generated self-critical thought pieces by mainstream American IR scholars that would have been difficult to imagine even just a few years ago.[50]

Global IR’s novel perspectives reflect its core idea of creating a more pluralistic and diverse scholarly community both in terms of outlook and academic foci.[51] One prong of Global IR is its considerable push to overcome the discipline’s too-narrow reliance on European-North Atlantic history.[52] Another is its call to overcome the dominance of the Western-based scholarly community (mostly symbolized by Anglo-American hegemony sustained, among other things, by the useful role of the English language).[53] A third point is the emphasis on reexamining the concepts and disciplinary toolkits employed in the discipline, with a focus on their epistemological, methodological, or even ontological nature.[54] Fourth, and relatedly, we are called to engage more attentively with non-Western forms of theorizing and knowledge.[55]

For some post-colonial or decolonial-minded scholars, the possibility of an academic community in which all would be equal is a premise that is nowhere close to becoming a reality. From that point of view, Global IR sounds like a fairy tale. Our current reality is indeed very distant from that ideal. Yet one should be careful before assuming that academics are prisoners of certain pre-given or reified pathways. On the contrary, as is visible in the very example of Hoffmann and his long career, it is important to be aware of how scholars can leverage more than one single structural ‘variable’ to give themselves agency in constructing their identity. In the end, IR is not shaped by clumps of separate collective ‘we’s’ but rather by countless academic ‘I’s’ with their rich backgrounds and lives that have co-defined their scholarly outputs. Hoffmann’s life story is also a useful reminder of the convulsions of the twentieth century that shaped the lives of millions of human beings outside of the groves of academe. Thus, I now return to the matter of Hoffmann’s biography, but focus on an even earlier period in his life.

Born in 1928 in interwar Vienna to an Austrian mother and a US-American father, Hoffmann was brought to Nice and then to Paris for his schooling. While he was still a boy, he made a World War II-era return to Nice in 1940, a city that came under the control of the collaborationist Vichy regime, Italian occupiers, and Nazi German troops, respectively, until the liberation in 1944. In his own words, this period presented “the most traumatizing experience of my life.”[56] Those early life experiences and especially his time in Nice also forged his intention to become a political scientist and an IR scholar. Hoffmann said, “It wasn’t I who chose to study world politics. World politics forced themselves on me at a very early age.”[57] This remark should make us acutely aware of the relevance of recent turns to autobiographical IR, in which the ‘I’ becomes the object, and subject, of IR’s this-worldliness.[58] And it should lead us to recognize that the stocktaking exercises of our individual and collective research agendas need to pay attention to—and even embrace— the historical dimension and the different temporal-spatial frames that shape them.

Hoffmann’s oeuvre thus serves as a reminder that many of our disciplinary debates are not that new. The life-worlds of Hoffmann, as well as his work, serve us well as pioneering steps toward the current desire for a more globalized discipline of IR. Following the recent focus on transnational and global dynamics in the humanities, some may see him as a merely transatlantic scholar and epistemic entrepreneur. This frame should not, however, distract us from recognizing the broader implications of his intellectual mission. Hoffmann’s scholarly engagements paid much attention to the role of intercultural differences with their numerous academic, political, and global ramifications. Therefore, his intra-Western positionality should not be taken to signify that the ideas and frameworks he developed have lost their relevance. The path for a more global IR does not always lie in zero-sum confrontations between the supposedly hermetically sealed-off spheres of the West and the non-West. On the contrary, our (and here I mean ‘us’ as a truly global and dialogic community of IR scholars beyond Western and non-Western dichotomies and divergences) task is to build on and go beyond such prior engagements with the past and present of the discipline, revisiting and at times revising them. The journey often starts at home, wherever it may be, however it may change. The goal is to consider the world in all its diversity, with all its conflicts, but also all its potential for progress. That was what Hoffmann wanted to do, and it is in this sense that he can be seen as a forerunner for Global IR.

I would like to end this essay on a personal note. “An American Social Science” was not my first contact with Stanley Hoffmann’s thought. At the time of my generation’s fin-de-siècle, I was at the start of my undergraduate studies of IR in Turkey, and I was looking for some international scholarship that could widen my horizons, connecting me somehow to analyses and commentaries from different parts of the globe. We – be it whole nations, ex- and post-states, individuals, and so on – were repositioning ourselves in this new era that was emerging in the aftermath of a long Cold War. The novelty called the Internet allowed me to access an article that Hoffmann wrote in 1995 on liberal internationalism, “The Crisis of Liberal Internationalism.”[59] It succinctly offered Hoffmann’s own evaluation of the chances and challenges that had suddenly emerged in those years.

Reading that article again, I am struck by its trans-temporal aspect, its continuing relevance in the third decade of this millennium. Nowadays, there are more and more debates on the liberal international order and the liberal (internationalist) ideology. Most scholars and think-tank pundits agree that we are witnessing the weakening, demise, or even collapse of this order. Scholarly journals and policy publications now focus intensively on these topics.[60] However, it is important to note that even though Hoffmann’s earlier evaluation of liberal internationalism is very critical and anticipates much of our current predicament, it does not end up with a pessimistic statement, but rather with a kind of, if I may paraphrase the Gramscian formula, optimism of the intellect. He states: “Liberalism remains the only comprehensive and hopeful vision of world affairs, but it needs to be thoroughly re-constructed – and that task has not proceeded very far, either in its domestic or its international dimensions.”[61] Much of Hoffmann’s analysis remains valid to this day. His warnings about the fate of liberalism were not heeded, and not much (re)construction effort has taken place. Therefore, we are now facing even more visibly a new global conundrum with many rising powers diffusing substantial illiberal tendencies. Even the old centers of the liberal international order are witnessing their own internal challenges to liberalism. But this is not the time to give up hope. There are positive signs, too. Under such conditions, we have a dual reason for redoubling our academic engagement as scholars of IR, which in fact serves as the global liberal arts discipline par excellence of the twenty-first century. To recall the concluding sentences of Hoffmann’s 1977 article, if we are dissatisfied with the state of the world and of our discipline, then we should become even more motivated to keep studying, keep writing, and keep engaging.



Essay by Kiran Klaus Patel, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich

“Stanley Hoffmann and the Study of European Integration, or: à la recherche du (temps & style) Hoffmannesque.”

Stanley Hoffmann’s work has had a profound impact on the study of European integration. Obviously, this is not the only field to which he contributed, as discussed in some of the other contributions to this forum. Still, the process that ultimately led to today’s European Union played a particularly prominent role in his oeuvre: It was informed by his European background and especially his intimate knowledge of French politics. It reflected his keen interest in Europe and in forging transatlantic links. Moreover, European integration allowed him to theorize and to generalize from a particular case to broader issues in international relations.

Hoffmann’s theoretical and empirical contributions in this field became a central point of reference in the 1960s, and continue to inform political science to this day. There is hardly a book on theories of European integration that does not dedicate at least several pages to his ideas.[62] Yet his work is much less debated and visible among historians specializing in the international history of cooperation and integration in Europe. While revisiting Hoffmann is important for understanding the history of the field, his legacy also remains highly relevant for other reasons. It is high time for his oeuvre to be rediscovered and reassessed.

At first glance, it seems very easy to locate Hoffmann’s place in European studies: He occupies a neatly defined slot in the canon; his name is often treated as a synonym for intergovernmentalism. Intergovernmentalism rose to prominence as a theory of European integration in the early 1960s, largely in opposition to the neofunctionalism championed by Ernst B. Haas. In a nutshell, neofunctionalism sought to explain regional integration in terms of growing economic interdependence between nations. Accordingly, integration in one functional sector would almost certainly create spillover effects into other policy domains and hence lead to an ever-larger transfer of domestic powers to the supranational level.[63]

Intergovernmentalism, in contrast, argues that states determine the outcome of European integration on the basis of national interests. Hoffmann was the first leading scholar to develop this new perspective during the mid-1960s. His argument soon gained attention, since it seemed better aligned with contemporaneous political developments than neofunctionalism. In particular, the European Community’s (EC) so-called Crisis of the Empty Chair of 1965/66, when French President Charles de Gaulle boycotted EC institutions and threw the integration process into severe crisis, seemed to confirm intergovernmentalism while challenging neofunctionalist assumptions that the nation-state was withering away. Haas’s work had helped to explain and theorize the Treaties of Rome in the late 1950s, when European integration was young. Slightly less than a decade later, Hoffmann offered a stimulating explanation for why the process was taking a different turn.

All this sounds like one grand theory challenging another. Indeed, there were very important theoretical deliberations in Hoffmann’s work. He argued that integration was mostly restricted to policy domains that were less politicized due to their primarily economic and technical-administrative character. Nation states accepted integration in fields of “low politics” such as the common market, whereas security, defense, and other domains of “high politics” were considered too sensitive. Here, national sovereignty stood front and center. Overall, therefore, national politics mattered, and national interest determined the course of European integration.[64]

Hoffmann has therefore sometimes been called a realist. While certainly inspired by realism, he never reduced his ideas to a deterministic core – in fact, he repeatedly critiqued the realism of his time as too static, and by tendency ahistorical and negligent of contexts. As early as 1959, he argued that “realist theory neglects all the factors that influence or define purposes”; summarizing, he stated in a formulation as elegant as trenchant: “The realist world is a frozen universe of separate essences.”[65]

Hoffmann brought a wide set of factors to life, reflecting the brand of “French theory” that influenced him during his Paris years in the first postwar decade. His mentor Raymond Aron’s “historical sociology” deserves particular mention in this context. For Hoffmann, national interests were not a given, but the result of the interplay between various factors, including political leadership, the wider context informed by national experience, traditions, institutions and norms, and the contingency of decisions. He rejected any static, mechanistic, or in any other way deterministic understanding of state foreign policy. Theory, for Hoffmann, did not rhyme with parsimony, but with broad-mindedness. He was more interested in testing the limits of existing theories than in coming up with a catch-all formula. He always asked the biggest questions (his self-ironic comment: “no small puzzles for me” is legendary), and his answers skillfully interwove different intellectual strands.[66] So it would be wrong to simply associate him with a label such as realism or intergovernmentalism; for that, Hoffmann was too multi-dimensional and complex a thinker.

How to assess his work from the perspective of a historian? At the time Hoffmann started writing about European integration, few historians were interested in the topic. Those who were tended to concentrate on a history of ideas and the longer history of pro-European thinking. Archive-based research on the early institutions only commenced during the 1980s, as the files began to be released.[67] Soon, Alan S. Milward’s work became the most theoretically grounded and influential contribution among historians, and his arguments had some striking similarities to Hoffmann’s. Taking issue with the idealist overtones of the earlier history of ideas, Milward also stressed the role of national interest. For him, too, European integration was restricted to “low politics,” and basically for the same reasons as for Hoffmann.[68] Even their conclusions were similar: Both argued that integration tended to strengthen the nation state. Hoffmann maintained that relations in the EC were more than “zero sum game; the Community helps preserve the nation states far more than it forces them to wither away.”[69] Milward managed to make this point even more succinctly in the title of his most important book: The European Rescue of the Nation-State.

Occasionally, Milward referred to Hoffmann’s work,[70] but they never formed an explicit intellectual alliance. Milward’s approach always remained conceptually narrower, emphasizing the role of material interests and economic logics as drivers of national interests.[71] While remaining highly influential to this day, Milward’s approach has sparked increasing criticism during the past two decades, which might help to explain why Hoffmann’s work has met with relatively little interest among historians in recent years.

European integration historiography has moved in various new directions recently. As in other sub-disciplines of history, transnational history has challenged the state-centrism of Milward’s work, highlighting the role of transnational lobby organizations, the media and other factors. In a similar vein, institutions in the EC/EU cosmos that are beyond state-centric explanations, such as the European Commission and the European Court of Justice, have attracted increasing attention in an approach sometimes called “supranational history.”[72] My own research during my time at Harvard, on the history of the Common Agricultural Policy, contributed to these trends and thus challenged the intergovernmentalist approach.[73] Probably not very surprisingly, I found Hoffmann’s early research on Poujadisme more inspiring than his more conceptual pieces. It is worth mentioning that Hoffmann’s book on that petit-bourgeois populist movement in 1950s France remains one of the finest studies on topic, with continuing relevance due to its similarities to recent developments such as the gilets jaunes and the Rassemblement National.[74]

Some of Hoffmann’s assertions have been challenged by historical research. One example is his pessimistic description of the EC’s 1970s as a “dark age.”[75] Recent historical research has underlined the many new departures in European integration during that period.[76] By concentrating on the EC, Hoffmann also downplayed the role of other international forums in postwar Western Europe, among which the EC did not initially stand out.[77] Or, as a third example: Hoffmann’s insistence on the nation state underestimates the fundamental transformation that political systems in Europe, including the member states, have undergone as a consequence of European integration. The European level increasingly networked with state structures and civil-society entities, leading to a system best described as multilevel governance in which national governments are no longer able to consistently control the integration process.[78]

All such criticism, however, pales before his achievements. First, Hoffmann was simply right to insist on the nation state’s importance empirically. Assessing national interests in their congruence, their complementarity, and their interplay remains an indispensable dimension of integration research. Obviously, this approach should not be taken to the extreme where it leads to the kind of narrow state-centrism that dominated historical research on European integration for several decades. Instead, a more open-minded approach is needed, one that shows the complex interplay between transnational and national factors in the emergence of national positions.[79] If not taken to the extreme, intergovernmentalism continues to matter. Such an eclectic take is in line with a recent tendency to concentrate less on all-encompassing “grand” theories than specific perspectives, each of which provides a line of sight into European integration, while neglecting other dimensions.[80] Among the leading IR theorists, there is hardly anyone who would have been more open to such a stance than Hoffmann.

Second, Hoffmann brought European integration to life in a language that was utterly different from the technocratic tone of the institutions. He also stood out from the style the political science literature has developed over the past decades: an international English, awash in Teutonic nouns and a vocabulary emulating the style of hard sciences. The de-dramatization of international politics was characteristic of European integration,[81] and many scholars in the field seem to emulate that in their own prose, using a language devoid of color. Hoffmann was different. In his classic 1966 essay on European integration, he managed to populate an analytically dense stretch of five pages with artichokes and juices, jellyfish and whales, grinding machines and swimmers (the grinding machine and the swimmer even in the same paragraph, though fortunately in different metaphors; alas, he also mentions Russian roulette …).[82] No wonder that re-reading his articles is still a pleasure decades later. While to the inner circle of his followers, the term “Hoffmannesque” refers primarily to his methodology and his intellectual style of scholarship,[83] “Hoffmannesque” also deserves to become a compliment for scholars writing about European integration in a lively and powerful style. While few have even attempted to do so, the success of Luuk van Middelaar shows that historians can break with academese and link European integration to new registers – linguistically and conceptually – and make their research relevant to wider audiences.[84]

Third, Hoffmann’s work remains important thanks to the way he linked history and theory. His cultural sensitivity is impressive, as is his broad knowledge of wider contexts such as the Cold War. Hoffmann was highly attentive to the “weight of geography and of history,”[85] a combination of perspectives and disciplines with a specifically French tradition, and his approach managed to accommodate new insights over time. In 1982, he qualified the clear high-low distinction with regard to the fields for which European integration was relevant;[86] a few years later, he agreed that the Commission was more important than he had originally argued.[87] While many in the next generations of IR specialists and political scientists exhibited a proclivity for parsimony, it is precisely his attention to the specific, to history, and contextualization, and to new insights and perspectives that makes Hoffmann’s work so interesting for historians.[88] Of course, historians should not like Hoffmann simply because he worked more like a historian than most political scientists. They should take him as an inspiration to push harder. We can learn a lot from Hoffmann’s style of building bridges from the empirical to the realm of theory and to his famous “big puzzles.” Too much of our work remains stuck in the nitty-gritty. Hoffmann does not just remind us of the mountain tops, but shows us ways to get there – not least by teaching us to accept detours and to understand that the shortest way is not always the best.

Finally, an afterthought: In the late 1960s, Hoffmann played a central role in setting up Harvard’s interdisciplinary Center for European Studies (CES). I myself had the pleasure of first meeting Hoffmann in the fall of 2006, at the beginning of a one-year research fellowship at CES. I remember having some of the most stimulating debates on Europe around the large table on CES’s ground floor. In the United States, this field has been in a structural crisis for quite some time, partly reflecting the country’s reorientation to other world regions. One area in which the crisis is particularly severe is research on the history of European integration: while in most fields of history, US-based scholars play a prominent role in defining the state of the art and research trends, there are hardly any young or mid-career historians specializing in this issue in North America these days. Stanley Hoffmann and his work could well serve as an inspiration to forge new transatlantic links.



Essay by Tommaso Pavone, University of Arizona

“Law and Political Development in the European Union: What Stanley Hoffmann Missed, and Why His Work Remains Relevant.”

Introduction: Bringing the Lawyers Back In

As one of the leading political scientists of post-World War II Europe, Stanley Hoffmann reveled in the diversity of world politics and despised structuralist theories that flatten this complexity. It is thus not easy to pin him down or to pass retrospective judgement on the current relevance of his various writings. Yet in at least one respect Hoffmann was incontrovertibly blunt: he dismissed the notion that political development – or the construction of political authority – could rest on the force of law and the agency of lawyers reconstituting politics “beyond the state.”[89] Having survived state-perpetrated violence during the Second World War, Hoffmann was convinced that “the critical issue for every student of world order is the fate of the nation-state… [that] inchoate, economically absurd, administratively ramshackle, and impotent yet dangerous” political object.[90] In normative terms, Hoffmann never shied from criticizing state power; yet in positive terms, Hoffmann served as the “dis-illusioner”[91] of legal efforts to constrain and unite states by forging what we recognize today as the European Union (EU).

This skepticism, I argue, was mostly misplaced. By revisiting Hoffmann’s work and reassessing its capacity to capture the trajectories of post-war political development, I show that Hoffmann failed to appreciate the extent to which the fate of European integration has been shaped by the craftsmanship of lawyers. With his focus centered on political elites who directed the executive apparatus of national states – particularly French President Charles de Gaulle – Hoffmann overlooked how the trudge of lawyerly mobilizing and judicial decision-making could gradually constitute new relations of authority between domestic actors and supranational institutions. Today, Europe is “nowhere as real as in the field of law:” a transnational polity whose scant military and bureaucratic power belies a federal legal order on a continental scale.[92] What follows is the story of how this remarkable process of political development escaped the gaze of one of the most perceptive students of European politics – and of how current events nonetheless showcase the continued relevance of some of Hoffmann’s core insights.[93]

Law and European Political Development: Hoffmann the “Dis-illusioner”

Hoffmann’s skepticism of the capacity of law and lawyers to shape politics was not a theoretical sleight of hand; rather, it mirrored his own professional biography. Trained in international and comparative law at the Institut d’Études Politiques (Sciences Po), Hoffmann’s law thesis displeased his professors for being more concerned with the politics than the law of international organizations.[94] Upon successfully “escap[ing] law school”[95] and embracing political science at Harvard, he penned his most influential analyses of the fate of the nation-state in Europe without making any mention of the European Community’s fledgling legal order.[96] After all, forging a European community through law evoked the functionalist and technocratic approaches to European integration against which Hoffmann repeatedly pitted himself as dis-illusioner.[97] Integration through law is all about rules, procedures, and process: yet “in order to go ‘beyond the nation-state,’” Hoffmann cautioned, “one will have to do more than set up procedures in adequate ‘background’ and ‘process conditions’. For a procedure is not a purpose, a process is not a policy.”[98]

In these conclusions, Hoffmann channeled the politician he most admired and whose disruptive agency he perceived as “the best cure against “structural” models of international relations”: Charles de Gaulle.[99] As a fervent consolidator of executive power, unapologetic promoter of the French national interest, and Europe’s leading anti-federalist, de Gaulle had little patience for legalistic attempts to constrain the power of the state. This was captured by some of his favorite aphorisms, like “in France the only Supreme Court is the people,” and “first France, then the State, and then… the law.”[100] De Gaulle disregarded the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and remained willfully “ignorant about the legal dimension of European integration.”[101] The reason was obvious: having successfully packed the French Constitutional Council with loyalists,[102] tamed the Conseil d’Etat’s efforts to constrain the presidency by threatening to disband it,[103] and removed dissident judges from the lower civil courts,[104] what threat could a fledgling international court and a little-known corpus of European rules possibly pose to de Gaulle’s imperial presidency? Hoffmann took his cue from the statesman who most clearly embodied the proposition that politics and state power are “obstinate”[105] to the transformative “force of law.”[106] For a “great statesman”[107] like de Gaulle, political power shapes the law, not the other way around.

Even after de Gaulle departed from the geopolitical stage and Hoffmann’s colleagues began to take note of the European Court’s entrepreneurship, Hoffmann remained unmoved. The ECJ might well attempt to emulate the American Supreme Court’s state-building role in the early American republic – for instance, by proclaiming that European law was supreme over conflicting national law and could be directly claimed by citizens before their national courts.[108] But “blow[ing] Federalist air into the weak lungs of a community based not on a constitution but a series of treaties could not, by itself, suffice.”[109] So when in 1990 influential law professor Joseph Weiler visited Harvard and argued that a constitutional revolution was being pioneered by the European Court,[110] Hoffmann quipped “with his usual sharp wit… that Weiler’s presentation reminded him of why he switched from international law to international relations and political science: Lawyers think that a judge says something and it becomes a reality.”[111] Hoffmann may not have regretted his legal education,[112] but once he left law school he never looked back.

It turns out that you do not have to be a lawyer to take seriously the role that law and legal actors have played in shaping political development in Europe. Hoffmann was right that “supranationalists” placing all their faith in the federalizing impulses of the ECJ were deluding themselves and lacking in domestic micro-foundations.[113] For how, exactly, would the Court’s judicial oracles be translated into on-the-ground practice? How would they overcome the resistance of anti-federalist national leaders like de Gaulle and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher? How could they ever forge a pan-European identity beyond the state?

Yet Hoffmann was also wrong in presuming that just because “the [national] Executive [is] the prime decision-making force in every state”[114] lawyers and judges would have scant impact over the uniting of Europe. He was wrong to hold the fledgling EU to an ideal-typical Weberian model of “state-ness” (a strong executive monopolizing the legitimate use of force and mobilizing people’s “national consciousness”[115]) and to equate falling short of this ideal as a failure. And he was wrong in putting all his eggs in the basket of executive-driven “high politics” – bargains over matters of diplomacy and national security – while ignoring the constitutive potential of “legal politics” – the “use and promotion of legal tools, practices, arrangements, and resources to achieve political” ends.[116] Indeed, it is the very political actors whom Hoffmann privileged – the chief executives the helm of European states – who gradually came to reckon with reality. For in today’s Europe, statesmen of all political stripes fight their “high” political battles as much by weaponizing lawyers as they do by mobilizing diplomats.

The Force of Law and Lawyers: What Hoffmann Missed

If Hoffmann was the perennial skeptic of European integration, it was because he looked for Europe’s fledgling “state-ness” in the wrong places. For what Europe lacks in national consciousness, military prowess, and bureaucratic capacity, it makes up in legal and regulatory power. Today, Europe has grown into a “legal colossus” capable of mobilizing law to shape policymaking well beyond its own borders.[117] Its supreme court – the ECJ – issues hundreds of rulings yearly and is widely acknowledged as “the most effective supranational judicial body in the history of the world.”[118] And instead of lamenting the lack of a federal constitution for Europe, if anything today law professors lament the EU’s “over-constitutionalization.”[119] The EU might never become a full-fledged Weberian state, but it has developed into a remarkably effective transnational “law-state.”[120]

How did this process slip past Hoffmann’s scrutinizing gaze? One reason is that national states in Europe have themselves been far less air-tight and Weberian that international relations scholars have tended to presume. Hoffmann may have taken his cue from French state-builders who long “fashioned an ideology of centralized power,”[121] but even in the shadow of de Gaulle’s imperial presidency lay a less coherent state that was in flux and at war with itself. The more fragmented a national state, the more likely it is to escape top-down executive control. And the more ‘loose’ are its bureaucratic lower rungs, they more susceptible they are to being reconfigured by actors seeking to build a new, transnational political order.[122]

Nowhere was this fragmentation of the French state more evident than in the field of law. Since the 1960s, French judges have jousted with one another in a series of “inter-court competitions”[123] pitting lower courts against national supreme courts, and the Cour de Cassation (Court of Cassation – the supreme civil court) against the Conseil d’État (Council of State – the supreme administrative court). In these battles for policymaking influence, European law turned out to be something of a trump card. Provided that they acknowledged the supremacy of European law, even the humblest judges could opportunistically invoke this new body of supranational rules to challenge the decisions of their superiors and the legality of legislation – a power of judicial review historically denied to ordinary judges in a prototypical civil law country like France.[124] And European law endowed judges with an additional weapon. Under Article 177 of the Treaty of Rome, any national judge who doubted the conformity of national law with European law could directly solicit the ECJ for an authoritative judgement. Known as the “preliminary reference procedure,” this mechanism served as a “transmission belt” linking national judges with European judges, supplying the European Court with a stream of opportunities to monitor state compliance and to “see like a state” as it constitutionalized the treaties.[125] Even if state officials were willing to defy the dictates of a fledgling international court “tucked away in the fairyland Duchy of Luxembourg,”[126] most were far more reluctant than de Gaulle to attack their ‘own’ judiciaries when they applied European law.[127]

Scholars of law and politics captured the foregoing state of affairs through what came to be known as the “judicial empowerment thesis,”[128] an analytic narrative that was already reshaping debates about European integration in the 1990s. Yet Hoffmann did not engage these arguments, as he increasingly turned his attention from Europe towards American foreign policy.[129] This is too bad, because the teleological thrust of the judicial empowerment thesis could have used more of Hoffmann’s skepticism. Even if the narrative of judicial empowerment accurately described a court-centered process of political development, its micro-foundations were off. Novel evidence (that I summarize below) suggests that national judges proved surprisingly “obstinate” to the allure of judicial empowerment via European law. In this ‘whodunnit’ story, judges are not the primary protagonists. It took the proactive agency of actors who were less bureaucratically constrained to push national judges to perceive themselves as part of a transnational European judiciary.

In my forthcoming book – The Ghostwriters: Lawyers and the Politics Behind the Judicial Construction of Europe[130] – I show that national judges in states like France were constrained by onerous workloads, lackluster training in European law, and the careerist pressures of their domestic judicial hierarchies. As a result, they broadly resisted empowering themselves with European law. So what pushed national judges to shed their bureaucratic shackles and embrace Europeanization? Did the push come from above, as the European Court wined and dined national judges into an alliance[131] – the type of “supranationalist” explanation that Hoffmann dismissed? Not primarily. Rather, the most important pushes came from below, from within civil society. The crucial change agents proved to be a group of lesser-known yet entrepreneurial “Euro-lawyers” who kept their feet in their home states as they mobilized to unite Europe through law. Under the sheepskin of rights-conscious litigants and activist courts, these World War II survivors sought citizens and businesses willing to break national laws that were in conflict with European law, lobbied judges about the duty and benefits of upholding EU rules, and propelled them to submit cases to the ECJ by ghostwriting their referrals.[132]

How this process unfolded tells us a lot about the ways that legal craftsmanship can grease the wheels of transnational political development. Embedded within civil society, lawyers were free of the tunnel vision afflicting state judges who were preoccupied with the demands of daily work within civil service judiciaries. They could consequently dedicate themselves to cultivating disputes that were capable of placing states’ noncompliance with their Treaty obligations in sharpest relief. And once in court, lawyers could mobilize their labor and expertise to cajole judges into taking European law seriously and soliciting the European Court. Most judges passively resisted these efforts, but some were tickled by lawyers’ novel legal arguments, particularly if they were willing to subsidize the judicial work of crafting a compelling referral. By ghostwriting hundreds of judicial referrals to the ECJ, lawyers supplied the European Court with the stream of cases it needed to constitutionalize the Treaty of Rome and broaden the opportunities for subsequent legal mobilization. To be sure, executive actors were aware of (and often lamented) these developments, but they generally lacked the capacity to intervene.[133] Short of politically co-opting entire national judiciaries, blocking referrals to the ECJ would be as futile as a game of “whack-a-mole.” So instead of quashing an emergent transnational judiciary, they increasingly found themselves defending their sovereign prerogatives in Luxembourg.

The EU thus exemplifies how lawyers can mobilize their boundary position between states, societies, and international organizations to shape political development through courts, a process often misattributed to innate judicial activism. This conclusion is backed by a growing corpus of interdisciplinary research pioneered by historians, lawyers, sociologists, and political scientists, who have uncovered archival, oral-history, and statistical evidence illuminating lawyers’ influence and agency in shaping the development of EU law.[134] But precisely because the architects of European legal integration were a loose network of national lawyers rather than a concert of “great statesman,”[135] the judicial construction of Europe proceeded more as a gradual, bottom-up, and patchworked process than as a series of grand bargains or top-down “choices.”[136] This process took root particularly in cities where Euro-lawyers could agglomerate into larger law firms and tap transnational corporate clients who were willing to repeatedly fund strategic litigation campaigns.[137] And it was hampered where Euro-lawyers struggled to find clients (such as in rural areas and poorer cities) and where judges faced strong careerist pressures to avoid Europeanizing rebellions (in highly centralized hierarchical judiciaries like the French administrative courts, where the career advancement of judges is much more dependent on conforming to their superiors’ wishes than their counterparts in the civil courts).

While the result is that the European legal order’s “infrastructural power”[138] remains uneven – with hot spots of judicialized enforcement coexisting alongside “brown areas”[139] where the legal authority of the EU and the ECJ is hard to detect – this local embeddedness is also part of the EU’s strength.[140] Hoffmann warned that the uniting of Europe was doomed to fail insofar as “the logic of integration is that of a blender which crunches the most diverse products… and replaces them with one, presumably delicious juice.”[141] But by radiating out of the bottom-up actions of mediatory actors like national lawyers, the judicial construction of Europe blurs the division between local practice and supranational planning. Since the EU is lacking in top-down coercive and administrative capacity, “the politics of everyday Europe”[142] could only be reshaped from the ground-up, where private parties began to also act as public enforcers, and domestic courts as part of a transnational network of European courts.

The European legal order’s “variable geometry” [143] thus serves as a safeguard against the logic of the “blender” which Hoffmann decried. Both local and national contexts continue to refract and channel Europe’s political development through law. Yet however gradual and uneven, Europe has come to boast a multi-level judiciary that enforces an expansive corpus of law, in a process that is far more reminiscent of the political development of a federal state[144] than that of an international organization.

The Return of the (Not-So-)Great Statesmen: Why Hoffmann Remains Relevant

To acknowledge Europe’s political development through law does not mean that Hoffmann was wrong in stressing the enduring influence of chief executives and their “high politics.” In fact, state officials in Europe had their own reckoning with the growing influence of law and courts in domestic and international politics. And in perhaps the greatest tribute that vice has paid to virtue, today even those who seek to forge authoritarian states within Europe’s democratic union[145] routinely weaponize law to achieve their ends. Executive high politics and legal politics are increasingly being fused together to recentralize political power within national states.

While many of Hoffmann’s contemporaries dismissed de Gaulle as a sui generis actor, there is more than just a passing resemblance between de Gaulle and the likes of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Polish Law and Justice (PiS) party leader Jarosław Kaczyński. All three statesmen sought to concentrate far more executive power than is healthy for a democratic regime. What sets these three apart is that instead of flouting the force of law like de Gaulle, Orbán and Jaczyński have learned to weaponize law and lawyers for autocratic state-building. They are “lawyers-in-chief” and “autocratic legalists,” as Kim Scheppele has perceptively chronicled,[146] who have sought to dismantle the cornerstone of the EU’s capacity to govern: its transnational and multi-level judiciary. In both Poland and Hungary, the government rammed legislation through Parliament that decapitated the judiciary’s senior leadership by lowering their retirement age, packed constitutional courts and judicial governing councils with loyalists, and created disciplinary bodies to punish judges who dare to refer cases exposing state noncompliance to the European Court. These campaigns rely on transnationally savvy lawyers who know how to borrow Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s template to forcibly retire senior judges in Egypt; transplant Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s strategy to capture Turkey’s Constitutional Court; and argue that blunting constitutional review is not so bad when democracies in good standing like Finland lack constitutional courts altogether.[147] They lean on jurists who know how to recast a supranational intervention to defend the rule of law as a breach of Europe’s legal competences, despite the EU’s Treaty-enshrined promise to safeguard “freedom, democracy, equality, [and] the rule of law.”[148] These are Euro-lawyers’ illiberal twins at work.

Today, the battle between those who seek to partition their states from a supranational union of constitutional democracies and those who seek to defend a united European “community based on the rule of law”[149] is being waged squarely in the legal field, with lawyers jousting from respective positions within states, civil society, and supranational institutions. With the EU’s supranational law enforcer – the European Commission – increasingly reluctant to bring recalcitrant states before the ECJ for violating EU law,[150] it once again falls upon the shoulders of on-the-ground networks of lawyers, judges, and civil society to pick up the pieces and counter the state-building efforts of autocratic legalists.

In the final analysis, Stanley Hoffmann has been vindicated insofar as the anti-federalist specter of de Gaulle and the failures of supranational entrepreneurship continue to haunt European integration. Yet at the same time, Hoffmann never appreciated the extent to which the fate of the national state and the tortuous trajectory of Europe’s political development has come to rest squarely upon the force of law and the shoulders of lawyers.



Essay by Kamila Stullerova, Aberystwyth University

“Kissed by Minerva: On Stanley Hoffmann’s Ethical Theory of International Politics.”


Stanley Hoffmann’s unique concern with the ethics of international relations is widely recognised.[151] Hoffmann was unique in his insistence on the normative function of theory at a time when IR, certainly in the United States, predominantly separated explanatory and normative theorising. Remarkably, he sought to identify the nexus of these two types of theorising, arguing that they were ultimately inseparable. This put him at odds with IR theorists as well as normative (international) political theorists. Examining Hoffmann’s engagement with Raymond Aron’s work, with the thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and his thinking partnership with the political theorist Judith Shklar, this essay shows Hoffmann as an IR theorist who transcended the confines of his own era. His work remains inspirational and, as I point up, there are reasons to think his influence will only grow.

Minerva is a lasting symbol in Stanley Hoffmann’s work.[152] References to the Roman goddess of wisdom provide an instantly recognisable symbol. But they are also an invitation to multi-dimensional interpretations. In the introduction to his book Janus and Minerva, Hoffmann reflected upon the primary meaning of this symbol: Wisdom was for him the ability to judge the right and wrong. He emphasised the importance of judgment in the study of international politics and defended his relentless insistence on the pursuit of what he called the “normative function.”[153] He explained that it was Raymond Aron, his “mentor and friend,”[154] who equated the normative function with wisdom and prompted the reference to Minerva.[155] Other dimensions of this symbol, especially the one represented by Minerva’s owl – the Hegelian idea that knowledge comes to us only with hindsight – are also present in Hoffmann’s work. It is in this context of Minerva that Hoffmann referred to the temple of the two-faced Roman god Janus, the doors of which were closed in peace and open in the time of war.

Learning from Aron

To appreciate the place of ethics in Hoffmann’s work, we must first turn to his engagement with Raymond Aron. After all, he first mentioned Minerva in an essay about Aron’s originality. Hoffmann deemed Aron’s Peace and War unique for combining “empirical theorizing” and the normative function.[156] His admiration for Aron’s approach is palpable. But, he also asked whether this ethics, as superior to its alternatives as it was, would be enough to stop war or even minimise its occurrence.[157] He presented Aron’s theory of international relations as framed by two questions: First, whether knowledge is to be had before an event happens; second, whether normative judgment of what is happening right now and policy-making advice are possible at all. After all, Hoffmann wrote, “[w]hoever has lived through an international crisis … knows one truth instinctively: only after the event do events appear to have been “inevitable,” only the benefit of hindsight puts them in that light.”[158]

Aron’s theory of international relations sought to incorporate knowledge of history as well as normative knowledge. It operated on four “levels of conceptualization”:[159] First, there was the theory “in the narrow sense,” which defined the “basic concepts of the special order with which it deals” and described “this order’s typical situations” – such as types of wars and peace. Second, there was the level of sociology, that is examination of the material and sociological determinants that shape the studied order, units and situations. In a Weberian manner, causal theses must be submitted to empirical research, so that propositions can be formulated “not as categorical laws but as probabilities.” Thirdly, there is the level of history, which both applies the sociological level and “describe[s] the unique features of situations.” The last level is that of “[p]raxeology – i.e., normative theory.” This level “offers advice and prescription” and it is at this level that “philosophical problems to which theoretical, sociological, and historical analyses lead” are raised.[160]

In Aron’s IR, “the plurality of goals” and “multiplicity of determining factors” crucially restrain the normative level.[161] Philosophy, in turn, impacts the other three levels. It is at the level of normative theory that “history is being judged.”[162] While lessons for future cannot be learnt from history, judging history helps philosophy to adjudicate between competing ethical orders applicable to international relations. This, in Hoffmann’s view, led Aron to favour “the ethics of wisdom” over its alternatives.[163] And it is precisely where Hoffmann criticised Aron. After having praised its virtues, Hoffmann alleged that Aron’s ethics were too “narrow and fragile” to withstand the force of empirical reality.[164] The role of ethics in Aron’s work, Hoffman warned, was limited to adding “a greater dose of caution” to “politics as usual.”[165] In the world of nuclear weapons, with its “risky gamble of … inoculation against the folly of war,” this was not enough. In its stead, philosophers and politicians alike actively need to “bring about through prudence the coming of the postwar age.”[166]

Learning from Rousseau

Interpreting Rousseau, Hoffmann developed an idea that became the hallmark of his IR.[167] This was the relevance of moral psychology to IR. Hoffmann found continual inspiration in political philosophy. He confessed that he “found the ideas of past political philosophers often more stimulating than the conceptualizations of contemporary political scientists” and advised students of international politics to “study as much history and political philosophy as [they] can absorb.”[168] Political philosophy helped Hoffmann to transcend Aron’s ethics. Importantly, Hoffmann read major figures in the canon of political philosophy as being concerned both with the domestic and international dimensions of politics. He saw Rousseau as the most perceptive of the challenges which domestic political arrangements and concomitant loyalties pose to international affairs. Hoffmann was not satisfied with Rousseau’s way of navigating between the two dimensions,[169] but this didn’t devalue what he was to learn from him.

Hoffmann stressed that Rousseau and Aron shared trust that the “areas of empirical or causal theory and of normative theory” are crucially interconnected.[170] But Rousseau also instructed Hoffmann to think about the exact nature of this tie, which Aron failed to appreciate. It is productive to use the term ‘moral psychology’ when articulating what Hoffmann took from Rousseau, even if we do not find this term in Hoffmann’s work. The way he read Rousseau – and then developed his own ideas about international relations and world politics – discloses a perspective similar to what Judith Shklar sought to capture with the concept of moral psychology. A life-long friend and Harvard colleague, in the early 1960s Shklar was also working on Rousseau, which culminated with the publication of her Men and Citizens: A Study of Rousseau’s Social Theory.[171] The book’s chapter “Moral Psychology” examines Rousseau’s idea that organised social life eases some of people’s inner conflicts but only at the cost of creating other tensions. This process is also linked to the emergence of norms and values; values originate in the psychological processing of experience. That the two young instructors influenced each other’s scholarship is close to certain.

Hoffmann took seriously Rousseau’s argument about the international realm being profoundly affected by the moral psychology of domestic politics. Political theorists, including Shklar, never properly appreciated this dimension of Rousseau’s thought. Hoffmann, on the other hand, found Rousseau so central to IR that he co-authored a volume of Rousseau’s texts on international relations.[172] He used Rousseau to argue that IR typically fails to engage the impact of individual factors – individual will, transformation of the self by membership in a political community, the psychology and sociology of domestic political values – on the international realm. Aron at least acknowledged some of them.[173] However, this awareness eventually led to a deep schism between Aron’s private political commitments, which Hoffmann described as “passionate[ly] liberal,” and his inability to criticise key players in international politics, as he only judged their actions from the perspective of the interests of the sovereign state they represented.[174] Hoffmann wanted to do better. He sought to escape Aron’s Hegelian contention that Minerva’s owl flies only at dusk, that there is very little an IR theorist can do in terms of ethical international politics before tragic events run their course.

Fear Beyond Borders

The book Duties beyond Borders: On the Limits and Possibilities of Ethical International Relations (1981) is widely recognised as Hoffmann’s most extensive examination of “the proper place for ethical and normative considerations in world politics.”[175] In the book, which was dedicated to Shklar, Hoffmann sought to salvage Aron’s approach that married empirically informed explanatory IR with normative theory. This is apparent also in the oft cited statement that his “main concern” was to demonstrate the possibilities to reconcile “what is usually referred to as the realistic approach to international politics, with the demands of morality.”[176] Hoffmann sought to avoid the trap of empirically un-informed international political theory which saw world affairs as individual politics writ large. He aspired to account for openings and closures that moral psychology of domestic politics presented to world politics. The book’s biggest challenge was to rein in the numerous moral perspectives linked to multiple dimensions of empirical analysis. But Hoffmann met this challenge only in his subsequent work.

Following Aron’s IR theory, even if not his too narrow ethics, Duties beyond Borders produced an empirically informed typology of ethical agents in world politics. Following Rousseau, the typology included both domestic and international political actors, both individuals and collective bodies. Apart from cautioning them against hubris, statesmen were obliged to develop long-term thinking, working against the short-termist forces in modern bureaucratic states.[177] Hoffmann assigned special responsibilities to intellectuals, the media, and educational systems “in the open parts of the world.”[178] Their roles were to dismantle prejudice and national self-righteousness, to enlighten the public about the outside world and to emphasise the links between ethical and other issues.[179] It is obvious that Hoffmann was not expecting any ultimate harmony from these diverse ethical initiatives and moral psychologies.

The quest for going “beyond of what we have now” is unequivocally present in Hoffmann’s “reformist” international ethics.[180] Moderation and piecemeal change instantly come to mind when reading his measured ethical aspirations for world politics. But he didn’t identify with either, arguing that more “direction,” more resolute moral orientation was needed.[181] In Duties beyond Borders this quest amounted to a number of principles, accompanied by several caveats and additional points.[182] As interesting as these individual objectives were, this iteration of Hoffmann’s world ethics did not succeed in providing the direction and coherence he was aspiring for. With hindsight, however, one principle stands out: “The primary goal,” he wrote, “should be minimizing the risk of war. When there is a choice between alternative policies, all of which carry risk, one should choose the course that seems the least likely to lead to war.”[183]

Hoffmann finally succeeded in synthetising what he had learnt from studying Aron and Rousseau in the post-Cold War era. Most notably, essays in the book Chaos and Violence: What Globalization, Failed States, and Terrorism Mean for U.S. Foreign Policy[184] formulated the moral orientation Hoffmann had been seeking to articulate. The prerequisite of it was the fear he had experienced as a child-migrant in Western Europe in 1939-40 who was looking for safety from persecution and war. Hoffmann often mentioned this period in his life.[185] The autumn of his life led him to reflect on the meaning of moral orientation beyond his subjective experience. He linked his experience to thoughts on fear from the perspectives of political philosophy and world politics.[186] Here, he expanded Shklar’s (primarily domestic) principle of fear as the worst evil.[187] What she sought to “diminish or, if at all possible, eliminate was the fear of systematic cruelty” in politics.[188] Faithful to his precept that theory’s domestic-to-international expansion cannot be that of scale only and that moral psychologies of political statehood and sovereignty matter, he focused especially on fears arising from the existence of states – to their own citizens, to other states, groups and individuals, such as migrants.

For both ethical and pragmatic reasons, fear must be recognised as salient at all levels of world politics. Fearful people often behave fatuously; knowingly inflicting fear upon others increases the risk of hubris and political myopia.[189] Hoffmann’s recognition of fear as the worst evil did not produce a prescription that could be directly institutionalised and operationalised. However, as a moral orientation, it should allow diverse agents in world politics, such as those delineated in Duties Beyond Borders, to prescribe and pursue moral action in concrete situations, and even to identify those situations as ethically relevant in the first place. The knowledge of history (in the broadest sense) helps us to anticipate the most likely situations where this principle might be applicable.

Learning from Hoffmann

As Jacques Hymans illuminates in his introduction to this symposium, Hoffmann’s genre of choice was the essay and his methodology was that of close reading. Neither was dominant in his own time, nor is it in ours. Yet, we are now more open to learning from Hoffmann than were his contemporaries. The domestic-international connection is not a hard sell today for empirical scholars, as we have long since left behind the neo-neo debate. But learning from Hoffmann goes further. The domestic-international connection cannot be appreciated without acknowledging its ethical dimension. Some of contemporary IR is open to this as well.

Fatigued by positivist separation of explanation and ethics and the ever more navel-gazing post-positivist scholarship, many in my generation turned to revisiting the earlier periods in IR’s history. There, we have discovered approaches that resonate with our longing for meaningful academic engagement with world affairs, for cultivating political judgment and addressing the empirical and moral complexity of the twenty-first century world politics. This resulted in the renewed interest in Classical Realism, especially in figures like Hans Morgenthau,[190] E.H. Carr,[191] and John Herz,[192] but also other approaches such as that of Karl Deutsch.[193] As I found out, Hoffmann’s own engagement with some of these authors adds a new layer of critical understanding, which has been missing from the recent, more reconstructive, and oft almost adulatory, scholarship.[194]

As I argued in “The Germans and the Frenchmen: Hoffmann’s and Aron’s Critiques of Morgenthau,” Hoffmann’s critique pierced to the heart of the ethical dimension of Classical Realism.[195] Unlike his contemporaries, who dismissed Morgenthau as nothing but a political philosopher,[196] Hoffmann valued Morgenthau; he recognised in American Classical Realism similarities to Aron’s, and his own, IR. But he found problematic how Morgenthau sequestered power and his normative pursuit.[197] Morgenthau’s ethics of responsibility failed to rein in power, as he – for otherwise valid reasons – insisted on the separation of different spheres of human activity, without realising that “occasional intertwining of politics, law and culture” is ethically desirable, and that the opposite is dangerous.[198] The root of the problem was Classical Realists’ failure to account for the complex relationship between domestic and international politics, an issue Hoffmann considered central to any international ethical intervention. Morgenthau did acknowledge that domestic politics operates differently from international politics. But this was not enough for him to formulate international ethics that would encompass the empirical concept of power, which he used to separate politics from other spheres of human activity.[199]

In addition to IR, recent developments in Political Theory brought it noticeably closer to Hoffmann’s areas of interest. This has been marked by the revival of ‘realism’[200] and a growing interest in Shklar, the two often, though not always, intertwined. As the author of several essays on Shklar and the editor of her posthumous publications,[201] Hoffmann played a vital role for Shklarian scholarship. He certainly was essential in my own effort to interpret Shklar as a political theorist fundamentally interested in world politics. Two extended conversations with him, as well as our correspondence, gave me confidence in tying together those loose ends in Shklar’s work which indicated such a possibility, but which she never fully developed herself.[202] Professor Hoffmann assured me that his fellow child-migrant was as much interested in world politics as he was. His succinct self-characteristics applied to her too: “It wasn’t I who chose to study world politics. World politics forced themselves on me at a very early age.”[203]

The extent of Hoffmann’s contribution to (International) Political Theory is yet to be fully addressed. Both the realist turn and the revival of Shklar has led some scholars to widen their horizon and work on “global political theory.”[204] What global political theory has missed so far is coming to terms with Hoffmann’s argument about international ethics being crucially, yet understandably, affected by moral psychologies of domestic politics. In my earlier work on Shklar’s expanded political horizon, I partly alluded to this by identifying similar routes toward human rights in “culturally close or otherwise communicating societies,” while ethically overcoming spatial or cultural boundaries necessitating other means, such as empathy based on recognition of suffering.[205] However, I too had thought that the challenge of global horizon is “one of extent, not quality.”[206]


While seeking wisdom as the normative function of his IR, Hoffmann demonstrated a great deal of wisdom in the more general sense. Most admirably it was his ability to understand the limits of the approaches he commended, as well as of his own approach. He knew that war and fear in world politics could never be fully eliminated; his theory of knowledge, his conception of world politics and his political philosophy didn’t give the certainty it could be otherwise. After all, Minerva was not only the enemy of the god of war, Mars. She also presided over defensive wars.[207] Hoffmann’s understanding of IR gave him a sense that the goal of minimising war and fear in world politics was both realistic and morally right. It is the best that could be had, as “[i]n the never-ending battle against fear, ignorance means doom; sharp light, transparency, and publicity mean hope for the victims, worries for the victimizers, and encouragement for oppositions that fight against state or private violence.”[208] Having been subjected to one of the worst kinds of fear in world politics, Hoffmann sought to teach us that as humankind we do not need to experience all fears, and fight all wars, to be able to shut close the doors on the temple of Janus.



[1] Thanks to Myrna Hymans, Rieko Kage, Peter Katzenstein, David Welch, and the contributors to this forum for their comments on earlier versions of this essay.

[2] See Michael Joseph Smith and Linda B. Miller, eds., Ideas and Ideals: Essays on Politics in Honor of Stanley Hoffmann (Boulder: Westview Press, 1993); also, the many tributes and obituaries from 2015 at the Harvard University Center for European Studies Stanley Hoffmann Memorial Page, available at ; and the special issues or special sections on Hoffmann in the journals French Politics 7 (2009): 359-436; French Politics, Culture and Society 35:2 (June 2017): 1-75; Commentaire 159 (Automne 2017), entire issue; and The Tocqueville Review/La Revue Tocqueville 39:2 (2018): 63-131.

[3] This dissertation has actually been written! Jason R. Titus, “Miles Davis’ ‘So What’ as Modal Jazz Case Study,” Ph.D. dissertation, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, 2010 (accessed through Proquest Dissertations Publishing).

[4] Robert O. Keohane, “Stanley Hoffmann: Three Brief Essays,” French Politics 7:3-4 (2009): 368-378.

[5] Stanley Hoffmann, “De Gaulle as an Innovative Leader,” in Gabriel Sheffer, ed., Innovative Leaders in International Politics (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993), 71.

[6] Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (Reading: Addison-Wesley, 1979); Robert O. Keohane, After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984).

[7] Stanley Hoffmann, “A Retrospective on World Politics,” in Smith and Miller, eds., Ideas and Ideals, 7.

[8] Stanley Hoffmann, “Paradoxes of the French Political Community,” in Stanley Hoffmann, Charles P. Kindleberger, Laurence Wylie, Jesse R. Pitts, Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, and François Goguel, In Search of France (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013 [1963]), 1-2.

[9] Hoffmann, “Paradoxes of the French Political Community,” 117.

[10] Stanley Hoffmann and Inge Hoffmann, “The Will to Grandeur: De Gaulle as Political Artist,” Daedalus 97:3 (Summer 1968), 860-861.

[11] Stanley Hoffmann, “Introduction to the Transaction Edition,” in H. Stuart Hughes, Consciousness and Society (New York: Routledge, 2017 [1958]), xiv.

[12] Hoffmann did not attempt to provide a formal philosophical statement of his epistemological stance. But see his comments in Stanley Hoffmann, “On the Political Psychology of Peace and War: A Critique and an Agenda,” and “The Sound and the Fury: The Social Scientist versus War in History,” in Hoffmann, Janus and Minerva: Essays in the Theory and Practice of International Politics (Boulder: Westview Press, 1987), chs. 19 and 20. See also his analysis of the scholarship of Hedley Bull, with whom he says he shared “a common way of looking at the theory and practice of international politics.” Stanley Hoffmann, “Hedley Bull and his Contribution to International Relations,” International Affairs 62:2 (Spring 1986): 179-195, here 179.

[13] Rudra Sil and Peter J. Katzenstein Beyond Paradigms: Analytic Eclecticism in the Study of World Politics (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

[14] Stanley Hoffmann, “On the Political Psychology of Peace and War: A Critique and an Agenda.” Political Psychology 7 1 (1986), 19. Also: Albert Carnesale, Paul Doty, Stanley Hoffmann, Samuel P. Huntington, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., and Scott Sagan, Living with Nuclear Weapons (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983).

[15] Stanley Hoffmann, Duties Beyond Borders: On the Limits and Possibilities of Ethical International Politics (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1981).

[16] Stanley Hoffmann, “An American Social Science: International Relations,” Daedalus 106:3 (Summer 1977), 41-60.

[17] Hoffmann, “An American Social Science,” 47.

[18] Hoffmann did, however, also evince a soft spot for Raymond Aron’s Peace and War. Stanley Hoffmann, “The Sound and the Fury: The Social Scientist versus War in History,” in Hoffmann, Janus and Minerva: Essays in the Theory and Practice of International Politics (Boulder: Westview Press, 1987), ch. 20.

[19] Hoffmann, “The Sound and the Fury,” 454.

[20] Peter A. Gourevitch and Robert O. Keohane, “Stanley Hoffmann,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 161:1 (March 2017), 99.

[21] David Greenham, Close Reading: The Basics (New York: Routledge, 2019), 4.

[22] Loosely translated: “capacity to reason through a problem.” Henrik Breitenbauch, International Relations in France: Writing between Discipline and State (New York: Routledge, 2013), 109.

[23] Philip Tetlock, Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), 73-75.

[24] I want to thank Jacques Hymans for having invited me to contribute to this forum on Stanley Hoffmann and his scholarship. I am indebted to Jacques Hymans and Diane Labrosse for their invaluable feedback and suggestions during the publication process.

[25] While there is a big debate on the impact of external and internal (to the discipline or the academia) factors that shape IR’s emergence and development, it is, in my opinion, difficult to totally discard the role of the former in our explanatory frameworks. A leading exponent of the internalist approaches is Brian C. Schmidt, The Political Discourse of Anarchy: A Disciplinary History of International Relations (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998). A helpful externalist approach is Miles Kahler, “Inventing International Relations: International Relations Theory after 1945,” in Michael W. Doyle and G. John Ikenberry, eds., New Thinking in International Relations Theory (Boulder: Westview Press, 1997), 20-53. For an up-to-date take, see Schmidt, “Internalism Versus Externalism in the Disciplinary History of International Relations,” in Schmidt and Nicolas Guilhot, eds., Historiographical Investigations in International Relations (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), 127–148.

[26] For useful starting points, see the numerous pertinent discussions in International Studies Review 18:1 (2016); Ole Wæver and Arlene B. Tickner, “Introduction: Geocultural epistemologies,” in Tickner and Wæver, eds., International Relations Scholarship Around the World (London: Routledge, 2009); Ersel Aydinli and Gonca Biltekin, eds., Widening the World of International Relations: Homegrown Theorizing (New York: Routledge, 2018); see also footnotes 26 and 27, below.

[27] Stanley Hoffmann, “An American Social Science: International Relations,” Daedalus 106:3 (1977): 41-60.

[28] I also recommend Hayward Alker and Thomas J. Biersteker, “The Dialectics of World Order: Notes for a Future Archeologist of International Savoir Faire,” International Studies Quarterly 28:2 (1984): 121-142, which discusses the multifaceted ways in which political orientations and scientific epistemologies co-shape IR’s intellectual-theoretical pathways. Their critical engagement with Hoffmann’s framework (see especially their footnote 7 on page 140) further underlines the distinct role played by his 1977 article.

[29] While in many locations, starting with the UK, IR has always been seen, and dealt with, as a freestanding academic discipline, its position in US-American and certain other settings is rather one of a subdiscipline of political science, yet still it can be analyzed as a coherent field of study.

[30] See (last accessed March 28, 2022).

[31] See Robert M. A. Crawford and Darryl S. L. Jarvis, eds, International Relations—Still an American Social Science? Toward Diversity in International Thought (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001). In addition to multiple works influenced by it, Hoffmann’s article has even its own quasi-entry in The International Studies Encyclopedia: Anne-Marie D’Aoust, “International Relations as a Social Science/International Relations as an American Social Science,” in Robert A. Denemark and Renée Marlin-Bennett, eds, The International Studies Encyclopedia (Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford Reference: 2017), available online at (last accessed March 22, 2022).

[32] Hoffmann directly refers to Dahrendorf’s book in German, Die angewandte Aufklärung (Munich: Piper, 1963).

[33] Hoffmann, “An American Social Science,” 49.

[34] Hoffmann, “An American Social Science,” 47.

[35] Hoffmann, “An American Social Science,” 50. For a different but related analysis see how Bruce Kuklick importantly focuses on the ex post facto justifications that (IR) scholarship was providing for the US political and military elites in the Cold War period in his Blind Oracles: Intellectuals and War from Kennan to Kissinger (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006).

[36] Hoffmann, “An American Social Science,” 49.

[37] Hoffmann, “An American Social Science,” 59.

[38] See most representatively Robert Vitalis, White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of American International Relations (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2015), although his initial focus on this problématique had started already in the early 2000s; Olivia U. Rutazibwa, “Hidden in Plain Sight: Coloniality, Capitalism and Race/ism as Far as the Eye Can See,” Millennium 48:2 (2020): 221-241; Patricia Owens and Katharina Rietzler, eds., Women’s International Thought: A New History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020).

[39] Hoffmann, “An American Social Science,” 58.

[40] Hoffmann, “An American Social Science,” 59.

[41] For recent contributions along these lines, see for instance, Ayşe Zarakol, ed., Hierarchies in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017) and for the first IR textbook based on perspectives of the Global South, Arlene B. Tickner and Karen Smith, eds., International Relations from the Global South: Worlds of Difference (New York: Routledge, 2020).

[42] See the report on the roundtable, organized by the French Political Science Association (AFSP) in Paris in June 1953. It was published as “Table ronde sur les fondements de la politique étrangère” by AFSP in Paris in the same year.

[43] For details and references concerning these entanglements, engagements, and criticisms, see my dissertation, Deniz Kuru, Institutes, Scholars, and Transnational Dynamics: A Disciplinary History of International Relations in Germany and France (Los Angeles: University of Southern California, Ph.D. thesis, 2013).

[44] See, for example Hoffmann, “America Goes Backward,” The New York Review of Books, June 12, 2003 and also his “Out of Iraq,“ The New York Review of Books, October 21, 2004.

[45] See Hoffmann, “Tendances de la science politique aux États-Unis,” Revue française de science politique 7 :4 (1957) : 913-932.

[46] Hoffmann, “Tendances de la science politique aux États-Unis,” 921.

[47] This does not mean that intra-US conditions are bereft of various dynamics of domination. See Peter Marcus Kristensen, “Revisiting the ‘American Social Science’—Mapping the Geography of International Relations,” International Studies Perspectives 16:3 (2015): 246-269.

[48] For one of the earliest analyses in this regard, see Ole Wæver, “The Sociology of a Not So International Discipline: American and European Developments in International Relations,” International Organization 52:4 (1998): 687-727.

[49] The most prominent work in this context is the work by Amitav Acharya and Barry Buzan, The Making of Global International Relations: Origins and Evolution of IR at Its Centenary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019). The starting point could be located in the former’s ISA presidential speech published as Amitav Acharya, “Global International Relations (IR) and Regional Worlds: A New Agenda for International Studies,” International Studies Quarterly 58:4 (2014): 647-659.

[50] For a leading example see David A. Lake, “White Man’s IR: An Intellectual Confession,” Perspectives on Politics 14:4 (2016): 1112-1122. With regard to old-style mainstream thinking that triggers (with its insistent rejection of overtures toward a more global IR) much pertinent discussion in my own classes on Global IR, see John J. Mearsheimer, “Benign Hegemony,” International Studies Review 18:1 (2016): 147-149. Here it is helpful to remember Robert Keohane’s engagement with feminists and other critical approaches in the late 1980s in which his “acceptance/approval” of some feminist insights was nevertheless developed on the basis of an “us (rationalists)” vs “them (reflectivists)” distinction. See Robert O. Keohane, “International Institutions: Two Approaches,” International Studies Quarterly 32:4 (1988): 379-396 and also his “International Relations Theory: Contributions of a Feminist Standpoint,” Millennium 18:2 (1989): 245-253.

[51] For an earlier broad critique of the IR project, see Buzan and Richard Little, “Why International Relations Has Failed as an Intellectual Project and What to Do About It,” Millennium 30:1 (2001): 19-39.

[52] Recent engagements in this regard are Andrew Phillips, “Global IR Meets Global History: Sovereignty, Modernity, and the International System’s Expansion in the Indian Ocean Region,” International Studies Review 18:1 (2016): 62-77; Stephan Haggard and David C. Kang, eds., East Asia in the World: Twelve Events That Shaped the Modern International Order (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020); Erik Ringmar, “Performing international systems: Two East-Asian alternatives to the Westphalian order,” International Organization 66:1 (2012): 1-25.

[53] For an earlier attempt see Steve Smith, “The United States and the Discipline of International Relations: ‘Hegemonic Country, Hegemonic Discipline’,” International Studies Review 4:2 (2002): 67-85; on the language problem in IR see, for instance, Anne-Marie D’Aoust, “Accounting for the Politics of Language in the Sociology of IR,” Journal of International Relations and Development 15:1 (2012): 120-131.

[54] Eurocentrism is the keyword and main problem in this regard. For the most comprehensive engagement see John M. Hobson, The Eurocentric Conception of World Politics: Western International Theory, 17602010 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012). Routledge’s “Worlding beyond the West” series, currently edited by Arlene B. Tickner, David Blaney, and Inanna Hamati-Ataya, publishes highly relevant books in this regard.

[55] Buzan and Amitav Acharya, Re-imagining International Relations: World Orders in the Thought and Practice of Indian, Chinese, and Islamic Civilizations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021); Robbie Shilliam, ed., International Relations and Non-Western Thought: Imperialism, Colonialism and Investigations of Global Modernity (London: Routledge, 2011).

[56] Thomas Wieder, “Stanley Hoffmann est mort,” Le Monde, September 16, 2015.

[57] Hoffmann, “A Retrospective on World Politics,” in Linda B. Miller and Michael Joseph Smith, eds., Ideas and Ideals: Essays on Politics in Honor of Stanley Hoffmann, reprint ed. (London: Routledge, 2020), 3.

[58] For an early and important contribution, see Naeem Inayatullah, Autobiographical International Relations I, IR (London: Routledge, 2010); for a narrative form of this possibility, see Elizabeth Dauphinee, The Politics of Exile (London: Routledge, 2013).

[59] Hoffmann, “The Crisis of Liberal Internationalism,” Foreign Policy 98 (1995): 159-177.

[60] A brief look at the recent numbers of International Organization, International Affairs, or Foreign Affairs provides a good start.

[61] Hoffmann, “The Crisis of Liberal Internationalism,” 177.

[62] See, e.g., Knud Erik Jorgensen, Aasne Kalland Aarstad, Edith Drieskens, Katie Laatikainen and Ben Tonra, eds., The SAGE Handbook of European Foreign Policy (London: SAGE, 2015); Erik Jones, Anand Menon and Stephen Weatherill, eds., The Oxford Handbook of the European Union (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); more specifically, e.g., Amy Verdun, “Intergovernmentalism: Old, Liberal, and New,” in: Oxford Research Encyclopedia, Politics, 2020,

[63] See, most importantly, Ernst B. Haas, The Uniting of Europe: Political, Social, and Economic Forces, 19501957 (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004), first published in 1958; the version of 2004 contains a useful foreword by Desmond Dinan.

[64] See, most importantly, Stanley Hoffmann, “Obstinate or Obsolete? The Fate of the Nation-State and the Case of Western Europe,” in: Daedalus 95:3 (1966): 862-915; see, e.g., also, Stanley Hoffmann, “The European Process at Atlantic Crosspurposes,” in: Journal of Common Market Studies 3:2 (1964): 85-101; Stanley Hoffmann, “De Gaulle, Europe and the Atlantic Alliance,” in: International Organization 18:1 (1964): 1-28; some first ideas already in: Stanley Hoffmann, “International Systems and International Law,” in: World Politics 14:1 (1961): 205-237; also see his collection Stanley Hoffmann, The European Sisyphus: Essays on Europe, 1964–1994 (Boulder: Westview Press, 1995).

[65] Stanley H. Hoffmann, “International Relations: The Long Road to Theory,” in: World Politics 11:3 (1959), 346-377, here 350.

[66] See, e.g., James Shields, “Stanley Hoffmann: A Political Life,” French Politics 7 (2009): 359-367.

[67] See, on the state of the art and the historiography, e.g., Kiran Klaus Patel, “Widening and Deepening? Recent Advances in European Integration History,” in: Neue Politische Literatur 64 (2019): 327357; Wolfram Kaiser and Antonio Varsori, eds., European Union History: Themes and Debates (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

[68] See, as his key publication, Alan S. Milward, The European Rescue of the Nation-State, 2nd ed. (London: Routledge, 2000).

[69] Stanley Hoffmann, “Reflections on the Nation-State in Western Europe Today,” Journal of Common Market Studies 21:1 (1982), 21-38, here 21.

[70] E.g. Milward, The European Rescue, 18–19; see, e.g., also his (not particularly friendly) review of Hoffmann’s European Sisyphus in: International History Review 18 (1996): 478-479.

[71] Fernando Guirao, Frances M.B. Lynch and Sigfrido M. Ramírez Pérez, eds., Alan S. Milward and a Century of European Change (London: Routledge, 2012).

[72] See again Patel, “Widening and Deepening”; Kaiser and Varsori, European Union History; on “supranational history,” N. Piers Ludlow, The European Community and the Crises of the 1960s: Negotiating the Gaullist Challenge (London: Routledge, 2006).

[73] Kiran Klaus Patel, Europäisierung wider Willen: Die Bundesrepublik Deutschland in der Agrarintegration der EWG, 1955–1973 (Munich: Oldenbourg Verlag, 2009).

[74] Stanley Hoffmann, Le Mouvement poujade, Paris: Armand Colin, 1956.

[75] Stanley Hoffmann, “The European Community and 1992,” Foreign Affairs 68:4 (1989): 27–47; here 29; see, e.g., also Robert O. Keohane and Stanley Hoffmann, “Institutional Change in Europe in the 1980s,” in Robert O. Keohane and Stanley Hoffmann, eds., The New European Community: Decision-making and Institutional Change (Boulder: Westview Press, 1991), 1–39.

[76] See, e.g., Johnny Laursen, ed., The Institutions and Dynamics of the European Community, 1973–83 (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2014); Claudia Hiepel, ed., Europe in a Globalising World: Global Challenges and European Responses in the “Long” 1970s (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2014).

[77] Kiran Klaus Patel, Project Europe: A History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), 13–49.

[78] See, as a pioneering work in this field from political science, Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks, Multi-Level Governance and European Integration (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001); from a historical vantage point Patel, Project Europe, 176–208.

[79] I have tried to show the value of this approach in: Kiran Klaus Patel, The New Deal: A Global History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016).

[80] Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks, “Grand Theories of European Integration in the Twenty-First Century,” Journal of European Public Policy 26:8 (2019): 1113–1133.

[81] Luuk van Middelaar, The Passage to Europe: How a Continent Became a Union (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), 303.

[82] Hoffmann, “Obstinate or Obsolete,” 882–886.

[83] Shields, “Stanley Hoffmann,” 363.

[84] See van Middelaar, The Passage to Europe; but also see his more recent Alarums and Excursions: Improvising Politics on the European Stage (Newcastle upon Tyne: Agenda Publishing, 2019); van Middelaar, Pandemonium: Saving Europe (Newcastle upon Tyne: Agenda Publishing, 2021).

[85] Hoffmann, “Obstinate or Obsolete,” 893.

[86] Hoffmann, “Reflections on the Nation-State,” 29.

[87] Robert O. Keohane and Stanley Hoffmann, “Conclusions: Community Politics and Institutional Change,” in William Wallace, ed., The Dynamics of European Integration (London: Pinter Publishers, 1990), 276-300.

[88] Already in 1959, he maintained: “the most general ‘laws’ of international relations are bound to be fairly trivial generalizations,” see: Hoffmann, “International Relations,” 357.

[89] Stanley Hoffmann, “Obstinate or Obsolete? The Fate of the Nation-State and the Case of Western Europe.” Daedalus 95:3 (1966): 862-915, at 881.

[90] Hoffmann, “Obstinate or Obsolete?” at 862-863. On how his childhood experienced shaped his view on world politics and national states, see: Hoffmann, “A Retrospective on World Politics,” in Linda Miller & Michael Joseph Smith, eds., Ideas & Ideals: Essays on politics in honor of Stanley Hoffmann (New York: Routledge, 1993).

[91] Hoffmann, “A Retrospective on World Politics,” at 11.

[92] Antoine Vauchez, Brokering Europe: Euro-Lawyers and the Making of a Transnational Polity (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015), at 1.

[93] In this essay, I draw upon and synthesize some of my own published and forthcoming work, particularly: Pavone, Tommaso, “Lawyers, Judges, and the Obstinate State: The French Case and an Agenda for Comparative Politics.” French Politics 18:4 (2020): 416-432; Pavone, The Ghostwriters: Lawyers and the Politics behind the Judicial Construction of Europe (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2022).

[94] Hoffmann, “Retrospective on World Politics,” at 5.

[95] Hoffmann, “Retrospective on World Politics,” at 5.

[96] Most prominently, see: Hoffmann, “Obstinate or Obsolete?”

[97] Hoffmann, “Retrospective on World Politics,” at 11. This approach was embodied by a leading French civil servant – Jean Monnet – and theorized most prominently by the “neofunctionalist” theory of European integration developed by Hoffmann’s intellectual rival, Ernst B. Haas. See: Ernest B. Haas, The Uniting of Europe: Political, Social, and Economic Forces, 1950-1957 (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1958).

[98] Hoffmann, “Obstinate or Obsolete?” at 881.

[99] Hoffmann, “Retrospective on World Politics,” at 6.

[100] Mathias Moeschel, “How ‘liberal’ democracies attack (ed) judicial independence,” in Judicial power in a globalized world, P. Pinto de Albuquerque and K. Wojtyczek, eds. (Cham: Springer, 2019) at 291.

[101] Morten Rasmussen, “The Origins of a Legal Revolution.” Journal of European Integration History 14:2 (2008): 77-98, at 91-92.

[102] Alec Stone, The Birth of Judicial Politics in France: The Constitutional Council in Comparative Perspective (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), at 51.

[103] Karen Alter, Establishing the Supremacy of European Law (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), at 138.

[104] Moeschel, “How ‘liberal’ democracies attack (ed) judicial independence.”

[105] See the title and argument of Hoffmann’s famous article: Hoffmann, “Obstinate or Obsolete?”

[106] Pierre Bourdieu, “The Force of Law.” Hastings Law Journal 38 (1986): 805-853.

[107] Hoffmann, “Retrospective on World Politics,” at 6.

[108] See, respectively, the two pathbreaking cases wherein the European Court enshrined its doctrine of the “primacy” and “direct effect” of European law: Case 6/64, Flaminio Costa v. ENEL [1964], ECR 1141; Case C-26/62, Van Gend & Loos v. Nederlandse Administratie der Belastingen [1963], ECR 1.

[109] Hoffmann, “Europe’s Identity Crisis Revisited,” in The European Sisyphus: Essays on Europe, 1964-1994 (Boulder: Westview Press, 1995), at 52.

[110] Weiler’s remarks drew on a draft paper that would soon be published and become a seminal article on European legal integration:  Joseph Weiler, “The Transformation of Europe.” The Yale Law Journal 100 (1991): 2403–2483. For two contrasting evaluations of Weiler’s article, see: R. Daniel Kelemen and Alec Stone Sweet, “Assessing the Transformation of Europe,” in The Transformation of Europe, Marlene Wind and Miguel Poiares Maduro, eds. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017); Pavone, “Revisiting Judicial Empowerment in the European Union.” Journal of Law & Courts 6:2 (2018): 303-331.

[111] Alter, “The Making of a Rule of Law in Europe.” PhD dissertation, MIT (1996), at 4.

[112] Hoffmann, “Retrospective on World Politics,” at 7.

[113] Hoffmann, “Balance, Concert, Anarchy, or None of the Above,” in The European Sisyphus: Essays on Europe, 1964-1994 (Boulder: Westview Press, 1995), at 288.

[114] Hoffmann, “Obstinate or Obsolete?” at 876.

[115] Ibid, at 867-868; Hoffmann, “Balance, Concert, Anarchy, or None of the Above,” at 311.

[116] Mark Massoud, Law’s Fragile State: Colonial, authoritarian, and humanitarian legacies in Sudan (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), at 23.

[117] See, respectively: R. Daniel Kelemen and Kathleen McNamara. “State-building and the European Union: Markets, War, and Europe’s Uneven Political Development.” Comparative Political Studies (ahead of print, 2021): 1-29, at 2; Anu Bradford, The Brussels Effect: How the European Union Rules the World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020).

[118] Stone Sweet, The Judicial Construction of Europe (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), at 1.

[119] Dieter Grimm, The Constitution of European Democracy (New York Oxford University Press, 2017).

[120] Kelemen and Pavone. “The Political Geography of Legal Integration: Visualizing Institutional Change in the European Union.” World Politics 70:3 (2018): 358-397; Kelemen and McNamara, “State-building and the European Union.”

[121] Ezra Suleiman, Politics, Power, and Bureaucracy in France: The administrative elite (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974), at 20.

[122] On the dangers of “reifing” national states by taking chief executives’ rhetoric of coherence and control as depictions of reality, see: Nicholas Rush Smith. “Seen like a State.” Polity 53:3 (2021): 485-491; James Scott. “Further Reflections on Seeing Like a State,” Polity 53:3 (2021): 507-514. On how processes of state “disaggregation” can reconstitute political authority beyond the national state, see: Anne-Marie Slaughter, A New World Order (New York: Princeton University Press, 2005).

[123] Alter, Establishing the Supremacy of European Law, at 3.

[124] John Henry Merryman and Rogelio Perez-Perdomo, The Civil Law Tradition, 3rd ed. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), at 34-38.

[125] Kelemen and Pavone, “Political Geography of Legal Integration,” at 360.

[126] Eric Stein. “Lawyers, Judges, and the Making of a Transnational Constitution.” American Journal of International Law 75:1 (1981): 1-27, at 1.

[127] Peter Lindseth, Power and Legitimacy: Reconciling Europe and the Nation- State (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010), at 134-135.

[128] For a genealogy and critical assessment, see: Pavone, “Revisiting Judicial Empowerment in the European Union.”.

[129] See, for instance: Hoffmann, Chaos and Violence: What Globalization, Failed States, and Terrorism Mean for US Foreign Policy (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006).

[130] Pavone, The Ghostwriters.

[131] Anne-Marie Burley and Walter Mattli. “Europe Before the Court.” International Organization 47:1 (1993): 41-76, at 63.

[132] For some preliminary insights on how this process unfolded in France specifically, see: Pavone, “Lawyers, Judges, and the Obstinate State.”

[133] For a few exceptions that prove the rule, see: Jonas Langeland Pedersen, “Constructive Defiance? Denmark and the Effects of European Law, 1973–1993.” PhD dissertation, Aarhus University (2006).

[134] Beyond my forthcoming book, see: Vauchez, Brokering Europe; Amedeo Arena, “From an Unpaid Electricity Bill to the Primacy of EU Law: Gian Galeazzo Stendardi and the Making of Costa v. ENEL.”European Journal of International Law 30:3 (2019): 1017–1037; Lola Avril, “Le Costume Sous la Robe: Les avocats en professionnels multi-cartes de l’État régulateur européen,” PhD dissertation, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (2019); Pavone, “From Marx to Market: Lawyers, European Law, and the Contentious Transformation of the Port of Genoa.” Law & Society Review 53:3 (2019): 851-888; Mala Loth, “Last Stop Luxembourg: Lawyersʼ Dynamism and the European Court of Justiceʼs Contribution to Social Equity, 1970-1990,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Oslo (2020).

[135] Hoffmann, “Retrospective on World Politics,” at 6.

[136] For an influential intergovernmentalist analysis of European integration promoted by one of Stanley Hoffmann’s former students, see: Andrew Moravcsik, The Choice for Europe: Social Purpose and State Power from Messina to Maastricht (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998).

[137] Tommaso Pavone. “Putting European Constitutionalism in its Place: The Spatial Foundations of the Judicial Construction of Europe.” European Constitutional Law Review 16:4 (2020): 669-690.

[138] On the concept of infrastructural power, see: Michael Mann. “The Autonomous Power of the State: its origins, mechanisms and results.” European Journal of Sociology 25:2 (1984): 185-213.

[139] Giullermo O’Donnell refers to brown areas as gaps where a state legal system fails to penetrate: Guillermo O’Donnell, “The Quality of Democracy: Why the Rule of Law Matters,” Journal of Democracy 15:4 (2004): 32-46.

[140] Vauchez. “The Force of a Weak Field: Law and lawyers in the government of the European Union (for a renewed research agenda).” International Political Sociology 2:2 (2008): 128-144.

[141] Hoffmann, “Obstinate or Obsolete?” at 881-882.

[142] McNamara, The Politics of Everyday Europe: Constructing Authority in the European Union (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).

[143] Weiler, “The European Court, National Courts and References for Preliminary Rulings – The Paradox of Success,” in Article 177 EEC, Henry Schermers, Christiaan Timmermans, Alfred Kellermann, and J. Stewart Watson, eds (New York: Elsevier, 1987), at 371.

[144] In particular, here, are the similarities between Europe’s political development through law and the patchworked political development of the 19th century American “state of courts and parties.” See: Stephen Skowronek, Building a New American State: The Expansion of National Administrative Capacities, 1877–1920 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982), at 29.

[145] Kelemen, “Europe’s Other Democratic Deficit: National authoritarianism in Europe’s Democratic Union.” Government and opposition 52:2 (2017): 211-238.

[146] Kim Lane Scheppele, “The Legal Complex and Lawyers-in-Chief,” in The Legal Process and the Promise of Justice: Studies Inspired by the Work of Malcolm Feeley, Greenspan, Aviram, and Simon, eds. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019); Scheppele. “Autocratic Legalism.” University of Chicago Law Review 85 (2018): 545-584.

[147] Scheppele, “Autocratic Legalism,” at 553–554; Scheppele, “Autocracy under the Cover of the Transnational Legal Order,” in Constitution- Making and Transnational Legal Order, Shaffer, Ginsburg, and Halliday, eds. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019), at 223-224.

[148] Cassandra Emmons and Tommaso Pavone. “The Rhetoric of Inaction: Failing to Fail Forward in the EU Rule of Law Crisis.” Journal of European Public Policy 28:10 (2021): 1611-1629.

[149] Case 294/83, Les Verts v. European Parliament [1986] ECR 1339, at par. 23.

[150] See: Kim Lane Scheppele, Dimitry Kochenov, and Barbara Grabowska-Moroz. “EU Values Are Law, After All: Enforcing EU Values through Systemic Infringement Actions by the European Commission and the Member States of the European Union.” Yearbook of European Law, 39 (2021): 3-121; Kelemen and Pavone. “Where Have the Guardians Gone? Law enforcement and the politics of supranational forbearance in the European Union.” SSRN working paper (2022),

[151] Peter A Gourevitch, and Robert O. Keohane. “STANLEY HOFFMANN 27 NOVEMBER 1928 – 13 SEPTEMBER 2015,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 161:1 (2017); Magnus Feldmann and Benoît Pelopidas, “Moderation as Courage: The Legacy of Stanley Hoffmann as a Scholar and Public Intellectual,” The Tocqueville Review 39:2 (2018): 77-91.

[152] Stanley Hoffmann, “Minerve at Janus,” Critique January and February 1963; Hoffmann, “Minerva and Janus,” The State of War: Essays on the Theory and Practice of International Politics (London: Pall Mall Press: 1965), 22-53; Hoffmann, Janus and Minerva: Essays in the Theory and Practice of International Politics (Boulder: Westview Press: 1987).

[153] Hoffmann, Janus and Minerva, xi.

[154] Hoffmann, “A Retrospective on World Politics,” in Linda B. Miller and Michael Joseph Smith, Ideas and Ideals: Essays on Politics in Honor of Stanley Hoffmann (Boulder: Westview Press, 1993).

[155] Hoffmann, “Preface,” in Janus and Minerva, xi.

[156] Hoffmann, “Minerva and Janus,” 52.

[157] Hoffmann, “Minerva and Janus,” 53.

[158] Hoffmann, “Minerva and Janus,” 31.

[159] Hoffmann, “Minerva and Janus,” 31-32.

[160] Hoffmann, “Minerva and Janus, 31-32.

[161] Hoffmann, “Minerva and Janus,” 32.

[162] Hoffmann, “Minerva and Janus,” 33.

[163] Hoffmann, “Minerva and Janus,” 43-44.

[164] Hoffmann, “Minerva and Janus,” 45-46.

[165] Hoffmann, “Minerva and Janus,” 52.

[166] Hoffmann, “Minerva and Janus,” 52.

[167] Hoffmann, “Rousseau on War and Peace,” in The State of War: Essays on the Theory and Practice of International Politics (London: Pall Mall Press: 1965), 54-86.

[168] Hoffmann, “A Retrospective on World Politics.”

[169] Hoffmann, “Rousseau,” 55.

[170] Hoffmann, “Rousseau,” 54.

[171] Judith N. Shklar, Men and Citizens: A Study of Rousseau’s Social Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969).

[172] Hoffmann and David P. Fidler, eds., Rousseau on International Relations (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991).

[173] Hoffmann, “Minerva and Janus,” 42.

[174] Hoffmann, “Raymond Aron and the Theory of International Relations,” International Studies Quarterly 29:1 (1985), 21.

[175] Christopher C. Joyner, “Review: Duties beyond Borders: On the Limits and Possibilities of Ethical International Politics. By Stanley Hoffmann (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1981. Pp. xvi+ 252. 9.95, paper.),” American Political Science Review 77:4 (1983), 1094.

[176] Hoffmann, Duties beyond borders: On the limits and possibilities of ethical international politics (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1981), xi.

[177] Hoffmann, Duties, 231.

[178] Hoffmann, Duties, 225.

[179] Hoffmann, Duties, 226-227.

[180] Hoffmann, Duties, 191, 196.

[181] Hoffmann, Duties, 199.

[182] Hoffmann, Duties, 209-221.

[183] Hoffmann, Duties, 218.

[184] Stanley Hoffmann, Chaos and Violence: What Globalization, Failed States, and Terrorism Mean for US Foreign Policy (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006).

[185] Hoffmann, “A Retrospective”; Stanley Hoffmann, “Thoughts on Fear in Global Society,” in Chaos and Violence, 31-41.

[186] Hoffmann, “Thoughts on Fear.”

[187] Judith N. Shklar, “The Liberalism of Fear,” in Stanley Hoffmann, ed., Political Thought and Political Thinkers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).

[188] Shklar, “The Liberalism of Fear,” 12, cited in Hoffmann, “Thoughts on Fear,” 37.

[189] Kamila Stullerova, “The Knowledge of Suffering: On Judith Shklar’s ‘Putting Cruelty First,” Contemporary Political Theory 13:1 (2014): 38.

[190] Vibeke Tjalve, Realist Strategies of Republican Peace: Niebuhr, Morgenthau, and the Politics of Patriotic Dissent (place of publication: Springer, 2008); Oliver Jütersonke, Morgenthau, law and realism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010); Felix Rösch, Power, knowledge, and dissent in Morgenthau’s worldview (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

[191] Seán Molloy, “Hans J. Morgenthau versus E. H. Carr: Conflicting Conceptions of Ethics in International Relations,” in Duncan Bell, ed., Political Thought and International Relations: Variations on a Realist Theme (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 83-104; Milan Babík, “Realism as Critical Theory: The International Thought of E.H. Carr,” International Studies Review 15:4 (2013): 491-514.

[192] Jana Puglierin, John H. Herz. Leben und Denken zwischen Idealismus und Realismus, Deutschland und Amerika, Vol. 42 (Duncker & Humblot, 2011); Casper Sylvest, “John H. Herz and the Resurrection of Classical Realism,” International Relations 22:4 (2008): 441-455.

[193] Jan Ruzicka, “A Transformative Social Scientist: Karl Deutsch and the Discipline of International Relations,” International Relations 28:3 (2014): 277-287.

[194] Kamila Stullerova, “Embracing Ontological Doubt: The Role of ‘Reality’ in Political Realism,” Journal of International Political Theory 13:1 (2017): 59-80.

[195] Kamila Stullerova, “The Germans and the Frenchmen: Hoffmann’s and Aron’s Critiques of Morgenthau,” in Alexander Reichwein and Felix Rösch, eds., Realism: A Distinctively 20th Century European Tradition (place of publication: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), 117-132.

[196] Kenneth Waltz, Man, the State, and War (New York: Columbia University Press, 1959), 37.

[197] See also Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins, “Stanley Hoffmann’s Critique of Hans Morgenthau’s Political Realism,” The Tocqueville Review 39:2 (2018): 63-76.

[198] Stullerova, “The Germans,” 126.

[199] Hartmut Behr and Felix Rösch, “Introduction,” in Hans J. Morgenthau, The Concept of the Political (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 3-64.

[200] Realism in Political Theory is distinct from IR realism.

[201] Shklar, Political Thought and Political Thinkers, Stanley Hoffmann, ed. (University of Chicago Press, 1998); Shklar, Redeeming American Political Thought, Stanley Hoffmann and Dennis F. Thompson, eds. (University of Chicago Press, 1998).

[202] I would like to use this place to thank Bernie Yack and Peter Hall for kindly arranging my meetings with Professor Hoffmann in 2003 and 2013. Although I think the reason why he found an instant liking of me was the fact that my Ph.D. supervisor, Petr Lom, had been a particularly dear Ph.D. student of his. Hoffmann was, after all, my Doctorgroßvater. Lom was Shklar’s Ph.D. student at the time she died, and Hoffmann took over the role.

[203] Hoffmann, “A Retrospective.”

[204] Jonathan Floyd, “Should Global Political Theory get Real? An Introduction,” Journal of International Political Theory 12:2 (2016): 93-95; Matt Sleat, “The Value of Global Justice: Realism and Moralism,” Journal of International Political Theory 12:2 (2016): 169-184; Kamila Stullerova, “Cruelty and International Relations,” in Samantha Ashenden and Andreas Hess, eds., Between Utopia and Realism: The Political Thought of Judith N. Shklar (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019): 67-85; Stullerova, “Thoughts on War: The Other Pillar of Judith Shklar’s Global Political Theory,” Global Intellectual History (2020): 1-19.

[205] Kamila Stullerova, “Rethinking Human Rights,” International Politics 50:5 (2013): 6.

[206] Stullerova, “Rethinking,” 10.

[207] H. A. Guerber, Myths of Ancient Greece and Rome (New York: Dover Publications, 1993 [1907]), 39.

[208] Hoffmann, “Thoughts on Fear,” 41.