Progressive Realism

I am a political theorist. As a scholar-practitioner in the field of foreign affairs, my research interests are in International Relations (IR) theory and political methodology. I am particularly interested in the Classical approach to the theory of world politics. My influences are Freud, Kelsen, and Morgenthau. Above all else, I am a progressive foreign-policy realist.


In my forthcoming book, Hans Kelsen’s Political Realism (2021), I call the bluff of today’s Schmittians, and within the intellectual context of the open society ideal, I highlight the possibility of progress and peace in a rough world.


1 – Kelsen’s Enemies

2 – Kelsen’s Milieu

3 – Kelsen’s Freudian Moment

4 – Kelsen’s Foreign-Policy Realism

5 – Kelsen’s Style of Political Thinking

Advance praise for the book

“Presents a new Kelsen: the progressive political realist. A major step forwards for Kelsen scholarship.” − Clemens Jabloner, Former Vice-Chancellor and Justice Minister of the Republic of Austria, Vienna 

“A totally unexpected Kelsen – Biographical. Philosophical. A light on our times.” − George Soros, Founder, Open Society Foundations, New York

Very timely. A new rendering of this iconic Austrian-American’s life and thought: Hans Kelsen on war and peace.” − Ambassador Wolfgang Petritsch, President, Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation, Vienna

“Hans Kelsen lived through it all, and when you read his work through his life, as Robert Schuett does here, you earn a privileged insight into what was at stake in the 20th century, and why. As that 20th century drips on, you will want to pay attention to this.” − Miles Hollingworth

“In this engaging account of Hans Kelsen’s life and work, Robert Schuett shows how Kelsen’s methodological individualism resolves the antinomies of form and force, law and politics, the state and human nature, pure theory and responsible realism, thus anchoring a powerful alternative to Carl Schmitt’s organic conception of rule.” − Nicholas G. Onuf, Professor Emeritus, Department of International Relations, Florida International University

“Schuett, in this accessible and exciting book, brings this grand figure out from the shadows.” − Stephen P. Turner, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of South Florida

“Robert Schuett’s account is a pioneering and fascinating insight into the political vision and commitment of one of the most important intellectual figures of the twentieth century. It is a brilliant and sophisticated portrayal of Hans Kelsen as a political theorist and actor and makes a compelling case for his continued political relevance.” − Peter M.R. StirkAssociate Professor Emeritus, School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University

In The Edinburgh Companion to Political Realism (2018), co-edited with Miles Hollingworth, we explore the 2000-year history of realist political thought. There has never been a more urgent need for a balanced re-launching of political realism. Thus, we aim to re-energise IR theorists and foreign-policy professionals, and re-orient them towards this fascinating school of political thinking.


Part I: Political Realism and the Political

1 – Political Realism and Human Nature, by Erica Benner

2 – Political Realism and the Western Mind, by Zhao Tingyang

3 – Political Realism and Strategic Theory, by Samir Puri

4 – Political Realism and Realpolitik, by John Bew

5 – Political Realism and Ideology, by David Martin Jones

6 – Political Realism and Civil-Military Relations, by Lindsay P. Cohn

7 – Political Realism and the English School, by Jodok Troy

8 – Political Realism and Global Reform, by William E. Scheuerman

Part II: Political Realism and Political Thinking

9 – Thucydides, by Neville Morley

10 – Kautilya, by Stuart Gray

11 – Livy, by Ayelet Haimson-Lushkov

12 – Augustine of Hippo, by Miles Hollingworth

13 – Niccolò Machiavelli, by Markus Fischer

14 – William Shakespeare, by Tim Spiekerman

15 – Thomas Hobbes, by Kody W. Cooper

16 – Jean-Jacques Rousseau, by Grace G. Roosevelt

17 – Friedrich Nietzsche, by Paul E. Kirkland

18 – Max Weber, by Christopher Adair-Toteff

19 – Walter Lippmann, by Alan Chong

20 – Reinhold Niebuhr, by Menno R. Kamminga

21 – E. H. Carr, by Konstantinos Kostagiannis

22 – Leo Strauss, by Robert Howse

23 – Herbert Butterfield, by Kenneth B. McIntyre

24 – Hans Kelsen, by Robert Schuett

25 – Raymond Aron, by Christopher Adair-Toteff

26 – George F. Kennan, by David A. Mayers

27 – Hans J. Morgenthau, by Felix Roesch

28 – Hannah Arendt, by Douglas Klusmeyer

29 – John H. Herz, by Peter M.R. Stirk

30 – Isaiah Berlin, by Joshua Cherniss

Part III: Political Realism and Foreign Policy

31 – Political Realism and Threat Perception, by John Mueller

32 – Political Realism and Russia, by David Kerr

33 – Political Realism and China, by Derek Yuen

34 – Political Realism and Iran, by Marzieh Kouhi Esfahani

35 – Political Realism and Israel, by Uriel Abulof

36 – Political Realism and India, by Rashed Uz Zaman

37 – Political Realism and Japan, by Masashi Okuyama

38 – Political Realism and Regionalism, by David Martin Jones

39 – Political Realism and Nationalism, by Peter Iver Kaufman

40 – Political Realism and Religion, by Cecelia Lynch

41 – Political Realism and the Environment, by Tom Switzer

42 – Political Realism and the Internet, by Richard Forno

43 – Political Realism and Terrorism, by Alex S. Wilner

44 – Political Realism and the Open Society, by Todd Breyfogle

In The Concept of the State in International Relations (2015), co-edited with Peter M.R. Stirk, we offer a critical re-assessment of the concepts of the state and sovereignty in today’s political and IR theory.


1 – International Law and Statehood: A Performative View, by Janis Grzybowski & Martti Koskenniemi

2 – The State as a Universe of Discourse, by Peter J. Steinberger

3 – Sovereignty and the Personality of the State, by Jens Bartelson

4 – The State as Urban Myth: Governance without Government in the Global South, by Oliver Jütersonke & Moncef Kartas

5 – Decolonising Sovereignty: Globalisation and the Return of Hyper-Sovereignty, by John M. Hobson

6 – The Concept of the State as Community of Liability, by Peter M.R. Stirk

7 – From Global Governance to Global Stateness, by William E. Scheuerman

8 – Open Societies, Cosmopolitanism and the Kelsenian State as a Safeguard against Nationalism, by Robert Schuett


“This superb collection ranges across historical, theoretical, and empirical landscapes, providing challenging and incisive insights into key issues of our time. A first-rate book.” Michael C. Williams, Full Professor, Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa

Based on my dissertation written at Durham University’s School of Government and International Affairs (SGIA), Political Realism, Freud, and Human Nature in International Relations (2010) analyses several key phases of realist IR theory with respect to its use or rejection of the idea of human nature, notably Freudian psycho-analysis.


1 – Political Realism and the Strange Death of Human Nature

2 – Classical Realism on Human Nature and Freud

3 – The Human Nature of Post-Classical Realism

4 – Human Nature and the Political: Criticism and Countercriticism

5 – Human Nature, the Political, and the Virtues of Freudian Man

6 – Resurrecting the Realist Man, Freud, and Human Nature


“This book makes an important contribution to the burgeoning literature that is currently re-examining the essential characteristics of political realism.” − Richard Little, Professor Emeritus, School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, University of Bristol

“This book fills an intriguing gap in the history of International Relations and makes a challenging case for rethinking the significance of both Freud and human nature for international political theory today.” − Michael C. Williams, Full Professor, Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa


My most recent seminars have focused on the positive and normative aspects of IR theories:

  • Political Realism, 19W
  • Doing IR Theory, 20S, 20W
  • The Theory-Practice Gap, 20S

Bio note

I received my M.A. by Research and Ph.D. at Durham University‘s School of Government and International Affairs, and now live and work in Vienna.

The Chairman of my supervisory team was John Williams (Durham), and my External Examiners were Chris Brown (LSE) and Richard Little (Bristol) respectively.

Currently, I am a Visiting Fellow in the Political Science department at the University of Salzburg, where I teach undergraduates as well as graduate students.

What’s more, I am an Honorary Fellow in the School of Government and International Affairs (SGIA) at Durham University, England. I am a Castleman.


The best way to get in touch with me is by emailing