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E. H. Carr (1892–1982)

Author of What Is History?

80+ Works 4,293 Members 57 Reviews 6 Favorited

About the Author


Works by E. H. Carr

What Is History? (1961) 1,983 copies
The Romantic Exiles (1900) 148 copies
The Interregnum, 1923-1924 (1954) 93 copies
Michael Bakunin (1937) 61 copies
Studies in Revolution (1950) 52 copies
The New Society (1951) 41 copies
Dostoevsky 1821-1881 (1931) 36 copies
Nationalism and after (1945) 34 copies
Los derechos del hombre (1973) 10 copies
Bakunin 1 copy
Karl Marx (2009) 1 copy

Associated Works

What Is to Be Done? (1863) — Introduction, some editions — 458 copies
The ABC of Communism (1920) — Editor, some editions — 105 copies
Revolutionary Russia: A Symposium (1968) — Contributor — 15 copies


Common Knowledge



Political verdicts shape how facts are seen. Political ideas are themselves a form of action. Political science describes what is and the potential changes. The focus of this book are the methods which shape the political landscape which are based on a dichotomy of utopian and realistic thought. While there is always a presence of both, the two methods are always shifting in prominence. Utopia thinking focuses on what ought to be at the expense of history and current situations. Reality thinking focuses on how history shapes what will become.

The political process is not like the realists’ vision of mechanical laws of causation. The political process is not like the utopians’ vision of application of theoretical truths from wise people. The political process is understood as a combination of utopia and reality. The division between utopian and realistic vision occurred with the break-up of the mediaeval system whose universal ethical and political system was based on divine authority. The realists used the state to substitute for the church as the arbiter of morality. The utopians denied external ecclesiastic or civil authority in favor of a secular law of nature based on individual human reason.

Utopian thought is devoted to visionary projects which a universal appeal but pays little attention to facts. The means of the vision are not analyzed as attention is mostly on the ends to be achieved. Facts are only examined should the visionary project fail. The assumptions of utopian outlook claim that the spread of knowledge would make it possible for everyone to reason for the benefit of the good. An interesting logical outcome of utopian thought is that war would disappear when people are under a republican form of government because they would not want war unlike the princes who waged war for their own interest. In this view, there is no divergence of interest in individuals or nations which thereby create the conditions of international peace.

Within the logic of realistic thought, theories are created to explain events rather than the reverse. For the realist, effective authority produces morality. Those who have a dominant voice in the community identify the communities’ interest as their own. To attack the interest of the dominant voice creates the illusion of attacking the interest of the whole community. Maintenance of the status quo is proclaimed to maintain the well-being of the community.

This book has a very powerful epistemological theme but fails to properly elaborate on the politics. Whether because of the sporadic examples or lack of context, most of the specific political claims are difficult to grasp in terms of the situation and response. The epistemology is based on Hegelian philosophy with the basic style of dichotomizing the ideas. Although there is an acknowledgment that politics is a combination of realistic and utopian thought, the author explains only the divergences and not the convergences. As in the examples are expressed as being more utopian or realistic which thereby limits effective policy making. Very little concentrated space is given what effective policy making should be within the dichotomy presented. Rather than showing a path of convergence into effective policy making, the author makes it easier to express which types of policies are realistic or utopian.

To be considered a science, any subject needs to acknowledge fallibility and understand the difference between an analysis of what is and aspiration about what should be. The realist accepts causal sequence of events which limits the options for changing reality. The utopian rejects causal sequence of events which reduces the understanding of the process in which change can occur and the change that is sought. There is a recognition that politics, morality, and economics cannot be separated as they determine who wields power.
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Eugene_Kernes | 4 other reviews | Jun 4, 2024 |
luvucenanzo06 | 28 other reviews | Feb 24, 2024 |
As someone who is not educated in international relations or diplomacy this book written in 1939 was remarkably informative, as well as prescient.
RickGeissal | 4 other reviews | Aug 16, 2023 |
This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work. This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work. As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.… (more)
LarkinPubs | Mar 1, 2023 |



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