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Non-interventionism

Immanuel Kant

Date of publication: 27/12/2011



Kant (1724 - 1804) is not only of the greatest philosophers, he also is one of the founders of liberal political thought.  His great work, On Perpetual Peace, contains a firm statement in favour of non-interventionism.  Point 5 of that treatise, entitled "No State Shall by Force Interfere with the Constitution or Government of Another State", reads as follows:

"For what is there to authorize it to do so? The offense, perhaps, which a state gives to the subjects of another state? Rather the example of the evil into which a state has fallen because of its lawlessness should serve as a warning. Moreover, the bad example which one free person affords another as a scandalum acceptum is not an infringement of his rights. But it would be quite different if a state, by internal rebellion, should fall into two parts, each of which pretended to be a separate state making claim to the whole. To lend assistance to one of these cannot be considered an interference in the constitution of the other state (for it is then in a state of anarchy) . But so long as the internal dissension has not come to this critical point, such interference by foreign powers would infringe on the rights of an independent people struggling with its internal disease; hence it would itself be an offense and would render the autonomy of all states insecure."


Centre for the Study of Interventionism