This article re-examines the origins and implications of Raymond Aron’s brand of political realism. Its starting point is the private correspondence between Aron and Henry Kissinger in the wake of the Chilean coup of 1973 and the demise of the Greek military dictatorship the following year. At issue in this exchange was the idea that an authentic political realism must take values seriously. The article traces the origins of this vision of political realism to Aron’s peripheral involvement in neo-radical and neo-socialist political movements in the late 1920s, thereby challenging the view that Aron’s arrival at intellectual ‘maturity’ required a radical break with his early politics. It then returns to the Greek and Chilean crises so as to illustrate and problematize Aron’s theory of international relations as applied to real world politics before finally considering how Aron’s response to these crises was informed by his views on earlier crises of French democracy in 1934–7 and 1958.


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pp. 15-33
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