Role of Personality of Statesmen in International Politics

Personality of Statesmen in International Politics:

It is difficult to assess the personality of statesmen. Having learned as much as one can about the forces that influence a statesman, it may seem possible to explain some aspects of his work in terms of his “temperament”. The problem then is to find out all about his temperament through the study of texts and eyewitness accounts, and through the study of his actual behaviour.

J. B. Duroselle says as the historian goes about this task which requires a subtle, intuitive approach rather than a scientific, qualified one, he is bound to make comparisons. He compares the hero with his predecessors or his successors, with his friends or foes and even with the hero himself at an earlier or later stage. Such comparisons which do involve scientific precision are not a mere exercise or rhetoric, in the manner of Plutarch’s Lives or the classic comparisons between Aristides and Themistocles, Gladstone and Disraeli or Briand and Poincare. They are means to understand better the part played by personality within the political framework.

Difficulties: According to Prof. J. B. Duroselle, all attempts to classify human personalities run up against two basic difficulties.

(1) The first is related to man’s essential ambiguity. Man is a biological being, but he is also thinking and reasoning one, and finally, he lives in society. What are the elements in his personality which derive from his physical being, his psychological being, and his social being? Some theorists, like Auguste Comte, simply deny the validity of psychological interpretations, regarding man as a biological being living in a collectivity- thus going directly from the body to society. Gabriel Trade writes that “man is a social being, grafted on a vital being”. And Durkheim states that “in man, there are two beings; an individual being, based on the organism, and a social being”.

According to Jeon Delay, there exists in every human being a truly autistic domain, in the broadest sense of the word, which has been regarded as the “impregnable domain of the purely psychological…..The psycho-physiologist, therefore, must recognize that he is incapable of explaining a psychic type of function in terms of pure physiology. In each psychic event, he discovers the interaction of a physiological infrastructure and a psychological superstructure in which social factors play an essential, but a most exclusive part.

The psychologist must thus, “distinguish between what pertains to the psychological and the social, to the constitution and the institutions, and also to that unique something which cannot be reduced to any of them. The task is not easy.

(2) The second fundamental difficulty is in discerning the innate from the acquired. One writer has suggested that character be defined as “the complex of congenital disposition that constitutes the mental skeleton of a man’s personality as the complex consisting first of character and then of “all the elements acquired during one’s life, which have shaped the character in a way that might have been different”.

Prof. Duroselle says that the acquired personality may come from the physical environment, climate, foods; from certain stimulants or drugs (alcohol, opium) that can basically transform the personality; from illness and from social factors- environment, education, circumstances of life. The effect of illness in transforming the personality, for example, is familiar. Napoleon III’s policies were modified after 1865 by his first attack of stones, and Mussolini’s after 1940 were seriously affected by the Duce’s syphilis. Conversely, the attack of paralyzing poliomyelitis on the young Franklin D. Roosevelt helped to give this-worldly, snobbish, and rather nonchalant young politician the fierce energy that was to lead him to the highest office in his land.

Classification of Statesman’s Personality:

We can classify stateman’s personality in the following manner-

(i) Psychological Classification.

(ii) Classification of characterology.

Psychological Classification:

Lasswell contended that politicians, like other men, act much less rationally than they think that they do. The objectives they set themselves may be rational, but there is always a wide spectrum of apparently rational objectives, and the choice among them is inevitably determined by impulses of essentially non-rational origin.

In his “Psychopathology and Politics”, Lasswell classifies politicians as agitators, administrators, or theorists”.

“The essential mark of the agitators is the high value which he places on the emotional response of the public. He idealized the magnitude of the desirable social changes which are capable of being produced by a specific line of social action. The agitator easily infers that he who disagrees with him is in communion with the devil and that opponents show bad faith or timidity. The administrator is a coordinator of effort in continuing activity.

The theorist, too, draws his convictions from unconscious private motives: “Political prejudices, preference and creeds are often formulated in highly rational form, but they are grown in highly irrational ways”.

Classification on the basis of Characterology:

Characterology appears to be particularly a French Science. In the opinion of Jean. B. Duroselle, the constituent properties of the human being, “according to characterologists, are “emotivity, activity, and reverberation”. Individuals are classified as emotive when their psychological and physiological life is more profoundly affected by events than most, and most individuals will be classified as non-emotive whom the emergence of an obstacle intensifies the energy he expends in the direction the obstacle has just cut off; an inactive man is one whom the obstacle discourages”.

The notion of “reverberation” is more unusual. Any image that impresses itself on a man’s attention has an immediate “reverberation” and also a subsequent one. When the effects of a mental datum consciously perceived drive back the effects of earlier data, the primary function prevails over the secondary function; the man in whom this tendency is habitual is classified as belonging to the primary type. If, on the other hand, the persistent influence of past experiences prevails over the present- distinguish it, repressing it, subordinating it- the man must be classified as belonging to the secondary type”.


David Easton Input and Output AnalysisJallianwala Bagh Massacre [April 13, 1919]
Political Realism and Political IdealismGandhi-Irwin Pact: March 5, 1931
Six Principles of Morgenthau Realist TheoryRound Table Conferences 1930-1932
David Easton System Analysis CriticismPopular resistance to company rule– NIOS

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: