By introducing the neologism “Realpolitik,” the liberal freelance journalist August Ludwig von Rochau (1810-1873) pointed to a concept opposite to that of Idealpolitik, which he identified with a “sentimental” attitude. According to Rochau’s definition, the primary task of politics would not consist “in the realization of the ideal, but in the achievement of concrete aims.” According to its detractors, “Realpolitik,” as the “politics of facts,” mostly tends to assume a legitimizing function of what exists: in this sense, it would always be the result of a “moral and intellectual capitulation.” Yet, as demonstrated by the case of Rochau, not everyone who upholds political realism is indeed a realist.


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