The word realpolitikstems from Germanic origin meaning actual or practical politics.
Theterm is defined as taking more of realistic approach and whenassessing power and interest that shape foreign policy rather thanconsidering ethical and moral premises concerning politics. It issometimes used to imply or characterize using power in both acoercive or non coercive manner. Realpolitik is often mistaken forthe philosophy political realism, which attempts to analyze,illustrate, and recommend political relations.
This concept firstemerged from a German writer named August Ludwig Von Rochauin the nineteenth century; for himthe philosophy defined the struggle of liberalism during a time wherethe ideals of nationalism were on the rise. Liberalism is founded onideas of equality and freedom whereas nationalism concerns it selfwith the loyalty and devotion to the nation or state. He lived anextensive life of hardships and challenges including: escaping a lifeprison sentence after participation of the event known as the”Frankfurter Wachensturm”, where there was a failed attempt toseize the guard house on April 3rd 1833. Thereafter heescaped to France where he lived in exile for the next ten years andbegan writing essays for liberal German newspapers for the next tenyears. Rochau’s most celebrated essay was written in 1953 called thePrinciples of Realpolitik.It consisted of two volumes; the second volume was released in 1869.
A great example of the use of realpolitiks would have to start withOtto Van Bismark, who was mainly responsible for creating the Germanempire in 1871 by strategically using power and alliances to hisbenefit. The first step to doing so was starting a war with Austria;the war lasted for seven weeks known as the “The Seven Weeks War”.Shortly after making an alliance with Napoleon, ‘The Three EmperorsLeague’ was negotiated tying Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia toeach other as allies. Therefore he purposefully avoided wars bymaking alliances and strengthening his empire. Another example isCamillo Di Cavour who is known for being the prime minister of thekingdom of Piedmont and Sardinia and was largely responsible forcreating the nation of Italy; he used a similar strategy with usingalliances to his advantage. He accepted an alliance with Britain andFrance to help support Piedmont’s expansion.Intoday’s politics realpolitik as another word to describe ‘powerpolitics’ and perceived as the realist approach to foreign policy.