December 3, 2015
A Tribute to Stanley Hoffmann Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies Harvard University
Dedicated to a dear colleague, friend and co-founder of the Center
A Celebration of the Life of Stanley Hoffmann 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Memorial Church, Harvard University
Opening Peter A. Hall
Remembrances Louise Richardson Peter Gourevitch Suzanne Berger
Musical Tribute The Parker Quartet performs Schubert - Andante from the “Rosamund” Quartet Debussy - Andantino from the Quartet in G Minor
Remembrances Guido Goldman Catherine Grémion Karl Kaiser Samantha Power
Ushers Howard Block Gretchen Bouliane Michael Smith Tony Smith Susan Suleiman Michelle Weitzel 2:30 - 5:00 p.m. Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies
Dedication of The Stanley Hoffmann Seminar Room Grzegorz Ekiert
Gary Bass Arthur Goldhammer Pierre Grémion Bertrand Guillarme J. Bryan Hehir Patrice Higonnet Robert O. Keohane Charles Maier Christie McDonald Dominique Moïsi Andrew Moravcsik Joseph S. Nye, Jr. Diana Pinto Anne Sa’adah Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall
Daring to approach him after lecture, I discovered what all his lucky friends fondly know: Professor Hoffmann was a mensch. In a conspicuously hierarchical university, he was generous in answering questions which were way beneath his formidable intellect and stole time from his own important writing, while democratically keen to learn from the humblest of interlocutors. After he read and liked a senior thesis by a friend of mine on Camus, he invited the undergrad in to talk about Camus. When he was my senior thesis advisor, meeting in that magnificent Center for European Studies courtyard office bursting with books, our conversations would start with the subject at hand (de Gaulle, ça va sans dire), but he cheerfully indulged meandering about South Africa, the French far right, Israeli electoral reform, Malraux, Astérix (and how he resembled the Gaulle), and the Café de Flore. In his enduring books and in his classes, Stanley Hoffmann gave an ethical education, using the best of European learning to comprehend the worst of European brutality. With colossal erudition and brainpower, he illuminated the biggest problems in world politics, bringing humanity and decency into the jungle of international relations. A realist among liberals and a liberal among realists, he was too aware of life’s complexities to have a school. He wrote about our duties beyond borders with a hard-earned wariness of politics, skeptical of its ability to deliver salvation or utopia, instead seeking to check its worst excesses against the rights of the most vulnerable individuals. Severe as all that might sound, Stanley taught us never to despair. He had been through Vichy and he was still in the fight. Sisyphus, it turned out, took joy in his wife, his friends, music, gossip, and crême brulée. He concluded his class on ethics and international relations by reminding the college students of the warring, impoverished world beyond Harvard Yard: “Most of you are going to have very nice lives. Perhaps you could do something about it.” His eternal legacy teaches us to comprehend “a violent world that threatens at any moment to destroy any possibility of private happiness — to make history fall like a roof lifted by a tornado on the inhabitants of the house; the need to understand the world, not in order to resign ourselves to its erratic and often awful ways, but to grasp the possibilities of improvement without illusions.”
o the eyes of a sophomore watching from the periphery of a Sever Hall lecture room, the legendary Professor Stanley Hoffmann cut a daunting figure. He bore the tragedy of the twentieth century on his shoulders; he was supremely civilized, even though his subject was the worst kind of cruelty; he was a stern critic of classical philosophers and modern politicians. He seemed to know everything about everything, so much that we undergrads were irrationally relieved when he noted that he wasn’t an expert on Albania under Enver Hoxha. Although he never mentioned his harrowing years in Vichy France, his distinctive accent told a tale.
t was hard to avoid thinking of Stanley as a paternal figure, as the father whose approval I sought in everything I did. He was generous with praise but unshakeable in his standards, so the praise never seemed facile or gratuitous. In an academy that often seemed more concerned with methodology than with justice or truth, Stanley never lost sight of what the common enterprise was supposed to be about. His presence in any room was always an incentive to be at one’s best.
But what will stay with me even longer than his thoughts about France, Tocqueville, Camus, or the European Union is Stanley the man (“Stan the Man,” as his students called him), the multifaceted human being. This was the Stanley who always raved about my wife’s remoulade, because it reminded him of eating celery root during the war, or the Stanley who was so fascinated by my son’s pet iguana that he engaged him in conversation about the animal’s habits for half an hour while I was impatient to get to his memories of de Gaulle. There was also the Stanley who seemed to turn up at every concert one attended. “If I had to do it over,” he once said to me, “I would become a musician rather than a so-called political scientist” — this despite his confessed inability to play any instrument other than “the Victrola,” a bon mot that gained both from the inimitable profundity of his voice and the delightful archaism of his diction, an archaism he cultivated more and more deliberately as he became increasingly alienated from the mathematizing and model-making trends that overtook his professional colleagues. My relationship with Stanley extends over 38 years, although for the first two of those years I wasn’t sure he knew who I was. Being rather shy by nature, I began to attend events at the old Bryant Street CES without ever introducing myself to the master. But one day, Stanley conversing with a distinguished visitor before a lecture, cast a glance in my direction and in a loud stage whisper said, “And that young man hiding behind his beard at the end of the table is Arthur Goldhammer, whom you should ask to translate your next book.” From that moment I felt adopted as an authentic member of the CES family, which has become my intellectual home. For that gesture of generosity on Stanley’s part, I will always remain grateful, and I will miss his ironic smile, inspiring companionship, and wise counsel more than I can say.
evenir à Harvard pour un dernier adieu quelques 45 ans après que Stanley m’y eût réservé un accueil chaleureux est d’une profonde tristesse. Une porte se ferme sur des années fécondes et amicales. Faire mémoire de Stanley, c’est d’abord pour moi faire mémoire de son extraordinaire générosité. Générosité de son accueil, générosité de sa conversation, générosité de son amitié.
Pour Stanley Albert Camus avait été une des grandes voix de sa jeunesse, dans les décennies 1940 et 1950. Rendant compte de son livre posthume, Le Premier Homme, il traça de l’écrivain un portrait intellectuel qui prend la forme, à mes yeux, d’un autoportrait. Qui ne voit en effet que les qualités qu’il attribue à Camus le définissent parfaitement: souci des préconditions éthiques de l’action politique; équité à l’égard de tous les êtres humains; méfiance envers les schémas salvateurs qui conduisent le plus souvent à l’oppression et à la misère; enseignement du sens des limites. Stanley se tenait à l’écart du behaviorisme quantitativiste. Il regrettait les enfermements disciplinaires. Il savait marier histoire, sociologie, science politique, littérature. Ce qui faisait le prix de ses conseils toujours relevés d’une pointe de causticité. Stanley nous laisse ses livres et ses nombreux articles incisifs. Mais son œuvre ne se limite pas à ses écrits. Son œuvre, c’est aussi le Center for (West) European Studies, institution unique, dont il fut l’âme pendant de nombreuses années. Souhaitons, maintenant qu’il a nous a quittés, qu’une restitution nous en soit donnée, afin de nous remémorer ce que Stanley fut pour le Centre et ce que le Centre fut pour Stanley.
Je viens de relire “Paradoxes de la communauté politique française” qui l’a consacré comme l’un des analystes les plus fins de la complexité de la France contemporaine. En voici les dernières lignes: ‘’ Le véritable drame restera ce qu’il est depuis si longtemps: celui des rapports de la France avec elle même, le dialogue sans fin des Français avec leurs miroirs - le miroir de l’histoire, le miroir que leur fournissent leurs dirigeants, le miroir que tend aux Français le comportement des autres nations envers la France.’’ Stanley savait déchiffrer en artiste les images renvoyées par ces miroirs, faites de lumières, d’ombre, de paradoxes, de facettes inattendues. Mais il n’oubliait pas le drame; ce qui donnait à ses écrits leur vibrato particulier.
Pierre Grémion (English translation)
eturning to Harvard for a final farewell some 45 years after Stanley offered me a warm welcome here is a profoundly sad experience. A door is closing on years of fruitful friendship. To remember Stanley is for me to remember his extraordinary generosity — the generosity of his welcome, his conversation, and his friendship. I have just reread “Paradoxes of the French Political Community” (from In Search of France), which established Stanley’s reputation as one of the shrewdest analysts of contemporary France. Here are the final lines of that essay: “Meanwhile, the real drama will continue to be, as it has been for so long, that of France’s relation to herself, the endless dialogue of the French with their mirrors – the mirror of history, the mirror which their leaders provide, and the mirror which the behavior of other nations toward France supplies to the French.” Stanley was a master at decoding the images reflected from these mirrors, images composed of light and shadow, of paradoxes, of unexpected facets. But he never forgot the drama, and it was this that gave his writings their distinctive vibrato.
Albert Camus was one of the great voices of Stanley’s youth in the 1940s and 50s. In reviewing Camus’s posthumous novel The First Man, he sketched an intellectual portrait of the writer which to my eye looks a lot like a self-portrait. It is impossible not to see that the qualities he attributed to Camus apply perfectly to Stanley himself: a concern for the ethical preconditions of political action; equal treatment of all human beings; distrust of sweeping schemes of salvation, which all too often lead to oppression and misery; and insistence on understanding the existence of limits. Stanley stood aloof from quantitative behaviorism. He deplored disciplinary boundaries. He was able to wed history to sociology, political science, and literature. For all these reasons his counsel, invariably imparted with a caustic edge, carried weight. Stanley leaves us his books and many incisive articles. But his work was not limited to his writing. It also includes the Center for (West) European Studies, a unique institution, of which he was for many years the heart and soul. Now that he has left us, let us hope for occasions to remember what Stanley was for the Center and what the Center was for Stanley. (This tribute was translated into English by Arthur Goldhammer.)
Stanley’s laugh, deep and loud, is unforgettable. He did not like to take himself too seriously, and loved to kindly joke about life’s difficult times. We often had long and intimate conversations. I remember this winter night, in Stanley and Inge’s Rockport home, when we kept talking long after sunset, in complete darkness, for hours. That was when he first told me about the time when he and his mother escaped from Neuilly to Nice in 1940, when they got word that the Jews were relatively safe in the Italian-occupied part of France, and then to Lamalou-les-Bains, in the Cévennes province in 1943, after Mussolini was deposed. He remembered vividly how the villagers welcomed them and helped them to hide. He also knew that they were very lucky, since he realized later that in the same village, many Jews were not so fortunate and were arrested by the French police and deported. He remained much attached to Provence, and we returned there several times, together with my partner Mathieu. Stanley, whose French was so refined and exquisite, also spoke the Provençal patois, and loved to talk to the locals with the proper accent. I will always remember our longs walks in Mount Auburn Cemetery, on Good Harbour Beach in Gloucester, across the Latin Quarter in Paris, in the creeks of Cassis. Even when we were not on the same continent, Stanley and I managed to share pains and enthusiasms, convictions and revolts, through innumerable letters, phones calls and faxes. He was extraordinarily good, just and kind. Over the years, Stanley became a member of my family. I miss him enormously.
tanley has been my dearest friend for most of my life. I first met him in the fall of 1988, when I was a graduate student, in the old building of the Center for European Studies on Bryant Street, at a party held by CES members on election day, after the Bush/ Dukakis campaign. I never was Stanley’s student, and this may have hastened the deepening of our relationship. One passion we shared from the beginning was cinema, and I cannot count the evenings we spent together at the Harvard Film Archive or at the Coolidge Corner Theater, with Bergman, Bresson, or Melville, but also with numerous young directors that Stanley was always eager to discover. This, we also did in Paris, every time Stanley visited after 1995 (the year I left Cambridge), at least twice a year. We continued almost until the end; when I stayed with him last spring, we watched several of Eric Rohmer’s old movies at his home. Stanley commented at length on the beauty of Françoise Fabian in Ma Nuit chez Maud. Again, he said a sentence so typical of him, when he expressed his appreciation of an actor’s talent (whether male or female). “Et il/elle est charmant/e, ce qui ne gâte rien!” I like to say this too, whenever I can, because I then see the smile of my friend Stanley.
J. Bryan Hehir
My first encounter with Stanley was, I suspect, like scores of other Harvard students: the setting was Harvard Hall, September 1967 and with 200-300 graduates and undergraduates, I heard him outline “Social Science 112: On War.” The lecture was both compelling and inviting. The impact was, for me, a combination of being overwhelmed by the proposed subject and being sure I had to take this course. Fortyeight years later I am still profoundly grateful for the opportunity to know the man and mind behind “On War” and so much else that came from the pen of Stanley Hoffmann. The mind was the first contact. It was encyclopedic in his multiple fields of scholarship: international relations, U.S. foreign policy, France and Europe, human rights and nuclear weapons. It was not only the range of topics he engaged, it was the breadth and depth of knowledge which provided his unique angle of vision on each and all of them. To borrow the philosopher’s categories, Stanley was a master of both analytic and synthetic discourse in his lectures and publications. Through him we were introduced to Aron and Camus, to Hedley Bull and Hans Morgenthau, to Kissinger and Huntington. Some of these last were his favorites; others his favorite targets. All were treated fairly but the latter not treated gently. There were the many distinguishing characteristics to Stanley’s corpus, but none more visible that his ability to join normative and empirical assessments of world politics. Refusing to accept the arguments for value-free social science, he more than held his own in policy analysis, then merged it with powerful moral assessment from the Algerian War to the Vietnam War to the Iraq War. Stanley resisted all arguments that moral judgement didn’t belong in world politics; with equal vigor and stringency he could critique moralists who did their work badly. To know Stanley only through the lecture hall or the written word was a privilege, but to know the man as a friend and colleague was the greatest gift. The person beyond the professor was an unfailingly generous kind and encouraging mentor to many who went on to enrich intellectual and public life in the United States and beyond. I once heard him comment on how his friend and colleague, Rupert Emerson, had been so helpful to international students at Harvard; Stanley continued the tradition for students wherever their home was. During the last twentyfive years my unique good fortune was to have continuous contact with the mind and the man as we taught together in the Yard and at Kennedy School. All one can say is thank you in remembrance.
tanley Hoffman was a brilliant man, perhaps the most intelligent person I have ever known. He read everything, understood everything, and remembered everything. Witnessing his decline was very hard. Stanley was invariably witty, intelligent and eloquent. It was a pleasure always to hear him speak, and so brilliantly, in both French and English. We taught together for some years, and I am now bewildered to realize that I knew so little about him. Turgenev writes that all too often, the hearts of even those closest to us are like a dark forest.
n a famous essay, Isaiah Berlin contrasted two intellectual styles: that of the fox, who knows many small things, and the hedgehog, who “knows one big thing.” Stanley Hoffmann was both hedgehog and fox.
Robert O. Keohane
As a commentator on the messy empirical reality of international relations, Hoffmann was a fox. In his first major work, published in 1960, he declared that “the most general ‘laws’ of international relations are bound to be fairly trivial generalizations … Exclusive emphasis on regularities leads to the rediscovery of platitudes.” The study of international relations is therefore, he thought, a form of what Clifford Geertz called “thick description,” not searching for laws but for meaning. If Stanley Hoffmann was a fox in his descriptive work, on ethical issues he was a hedgehog. He always wanted to show that an ethical dimension is inherent in cogent interpretation. He kept seeking, in his own words, “a way out of conflicts within the constraints of the Westphalian system.” Although he gave Henry Kissinger a nod as “the best recent example” of a conservative statesman, he emphasized the “extraordinary shortcomings of conservative statecraft.” Particularly telling was the shift in prevalent verb modes between the fox-like Hoffmann of empirical analysis to the hedgehog of ethics: from the cool descriptive language of “is” and the conditional forecasts of what “may” occur, to the language of “must” and “ought.” In his writings over his last 30 years, he was a hedgehog who knew one big thing: the sanctity of human rights and the moral obligations of those with power to defend the rights of the weak. So how did fox and hedgehog coexist within the mind of one brilliant and highly observant individual? The answer is that it is advantageous for the ethical hedgehog to be an empirical fox. As he said in a 1988 essay, “the first duty of an ethicist is to be an expert.” Stanley Hoffmann sought an embodied idealism – pursuing ideals in full awareness of the fact that, as he once put it, idealists can fall into “the hell of good intentions.” Simultaneously fox and hedgehog, he demonstrated in his writings how awareness of complexity and a passion for ethical improvement can work together, and how, as he wrote, “a state of dissatisfaction is a goad to research.” Stanley Hoffmann, intellectual fox and hedgehog, was a warm and witty mentor. I first met him as a graduate student in 1962 and we were good friends for sixty years. He defended me when my first submission for a journal article was rejected on essentially political grounds. We worked together on two book projects when I was at Harvard in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was loyal to his students and tenacious in their defense. And with the twinkle in his eye and his sense of irony, he was always fun. Hedgehog and fox, idealist and skeptic, he was unique and authentic. His friends miss him very much.
Those of us who were Stanley’s students, as I was 53 years ago, then his teaching assistant a year later, then his colleague and friend, and even a successor of sorts at CES, have tried to nail down what made him extraordinary. Yes, the intelligence, the brilliant lecturing with its capacity to organize the furthest ranges of political ideas, the probing dialogues with his seminar guests, but also the generosity and encouragement. When the History Department was releasing me from service in the early 1970s, Stanley sought without my asking to nominate me for a professorship at SAIS; when I was finishing a book on empire a decade ago, he stopped in my office to say he’d heard that I was writing a great book. He wasn’t being merely ironic; it was an over-statement designed to acknowledge that earlier confidence had been justified. Beyond generosity, irony, and intellect, what I believe distinguished Stanley was the wisdom to live with the contradictions in people and situations. He was against the Vietnam War, but could discipline students whose frustrations he shared but whose protests violated the sanctuary of the University. He accommodated disagreement — we had a wonderful debate when I co-lectured with him perhaps twenty years ago; he thought my interpretation of 1968 was fundamentally wrong and told me so before the class, but he expected me to stand my ground. His world was one of ideas in constant contention, but the integrity of individuals persisted unless they sold out to power. That was why history had to be taken seriously, and why we all needed intellectual space to develop. When I think of him I am reminded of Georges Brassens’ “petit joueur de flûte, qui n’a pas trahi.” Of course he was no simple flute player but a great intellectual. All the more merit.
everal years ago, while he still had all his wonderful qualities of intelligence and wry humor, Stanley told me a story about de Gaulle. The General, well into his term as president but before ’68, was confronting speculation about when he might retire. On a visit to the Jardin des Plantes, surrounded by a retinue of reporters, he was shown one of the huge lumbering Galapagos tortoises that tread through the garden and he pointedly asked how old the creature was. “Maybe 150 years, maybe 200.” “Just like a pet,” commented de Gaulle. “You become attached to them and they die.” Stanley fiercely admired de Gaulle, as de Gaulle admired Joan of Arc – as the exemplar of a France he loved. But there was never any doubt that Stanley was at home in the American republic: If American politics revealed intellectual limits, French inclusion, he taught us, ran up against social limits. The working class had not really been brought within the republican synthesis at the time I was a student. I cannot say how he would have reacted to the even harsher challenges today, but he would certainly have sought to combine realism about responses with precision about the problem.
knew of Stanley Hoffmann as a great luminary and public intellectual when I was appointed to the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures in 1994. I then discovered a generous colleague and a charming person. Over the years, there were lunches, dinners with him and Inge, during which Stanley offered thoughts about world politics, the history of the Center for European Studies, Harvard’s history since the 1960s (in which he took an active part), the latest book he had read or concert he had attended, and inevitably conversation turned toward France. I was honored to think of Stanley as a friend. When I and my husband Michael Rosengarten became Co-Masters at Mather House, Stanley joined our Senior Common Room and graced us all, students and tutors, with his presence. Stanley and I shared a passion for the complex thought of Rousseau, whose work continued to compel each of us. I believe I inherited the dialogue about Rousseau from Stanley’s longstanding conversation with his dear friend, the late distinguished Rousseau scholar Judith Shklar, and although I couldn’t fill her shoes, I felt privileged to continue the dialogue by co-teaching a seminar on Rousseau with him three times. I like to remember the first exhilarating time when it felt like leaping into a large river (cultural and political) where the class was rushing downstream. Stanley and I organized a conference in 2007 at the Rockefeller Center in Bellagio, Italy, bringing together thinkers from across the disciplines of literature, philosophy and political science to address Rousseau’s thought about freedom. Prevented from getting to the conference, he invoked with characteristic dry wit another writer about whom he was passionate in his message to me: “An absurd little accident (what Camus’s Caligula and his friend Scipio call ‘un certain accord de la terre et du pied’ failed me as I was coming down the stairs) is depriving me of the pleasure of being with you, and discussing Rousseau, liberty and the beauties of Bellagio, and the magnificence of the Villa, the lake, the Foundation’s hospitality, etc. Have a good meeting. I’ll think of you intensely this week, and I wish you a fascinating experience and the birth of new friendships across disciplines and nationalities.”
A book grew out of this event, Rousseau and Freedom (2010), for which Stanley and I served as editors. It extended the conversation between humanists and social scientists to challenge the sense of an “either-or” philosophy that opposes the private and the public, the mind and the body: Rousseau offers not one but several conceptions of liberty, with echoes that go well beyond his time. Stanley is an absent convener at this memorial service, as he was for the amicable exchanges in Bellagio around Rousseau’s thought. Although difficult to think of him as truly gone, he lives on in the Jewish sense for those whom he touched through his life as a teacher, friend and writer.
But in reality, international politics was not our favorite subject, not even the state of Europe, France or the United States. We had our secret, private garden. How many times did we call each other over the course of decades, excited as we could be by the latest discoveries we wanted to urgently share with each other. Have you heard Jennifer Larmore in Schubert would ask Stanley? I would reply in kind. Have you heard Alfred Brendel’s latest version of Beethoven’s sonatas? We would exchange musical references, the way medical doctors exchange the name of new medicines. Music was our common passion. Last time I saw him, with my wife Diana Pinto, a year ago — he was no longer fully himself — Stanley told us that he was spending his time listening to French songs. At the end of his life, he was combining his nostalgia for France with his immense love for music. The pedagogue, known for the clarity of his thoughts and the perfect organization of his mind, was a tender, emotional, extremely sensitive, and slightly bruised man. His eyes summarized his soul, with their combination of wit, and sometimes sadness.
e was my professor, then my colleague at Harvard, but above all my friend. In 2009 I taught with him and Karl Kaiser a course on Europe. During the 43 years I had the privilege of knowing him, we discussed of course international matters and domestic ones: the state of the world, American and French politics. We tended to agree with each other on almost everything. I said, almost, because in the summer of 1989 in the seminar regularly organized by Harvard in Talloires, in a beautiful setting overlooking the Annecy Lake, there was something, like a clash of emotions, between us. I dared to express my hope, in fact my conviction, that Germany would soon be reunited. My argument was simple: contrary to François Mauriac who loved Germany so much that he wanted two of them, I loved Europe so much that I was willing to accept one Germany. Stanley was furious. For the first and last time in our life, we verbally clashed. He had gone through the war in a very painful way, I had the benefit of late birth. Our generational difference was a key element of our disagreement. Our common German friend Karl Kaiser was watching us in an intense and fascinated manner.
first met Stanley in the Government Department’s IR Field Seminar. Among my irritating qualities as a grad student was an unrelenting desire to expose contradictions in the opinions of others. One day Stanley said something (I no longer recall what) and I pounced: “Professor Hoffmann, that statement is inconsistent with what you said last week!” Harvard being Harvard, most professors reacted to such interruptions with stony silence or outright hostility. Not Stanley. There was a moment of silence as he gazed across the table with that tolerant, slightly bemused smile of his, and then, in a tone expressing awareness of the contradiction and gentle curiosity as to why I seemed so concerned by it, inquired: “Yes?” At the time, of course, I had no answer to Stanley’s implicit query — and missed its deeper meaning. I concluded that he simply wasn’t thinking clearly. After all, in every other class, I was being taught that political scientists should construct deductively sound, generally applicable theories. It took me a while to realize that I was the one not thinking clearly. Stanley, who could be as rigorous as anyone when he wanted to be, simply held a different view about the possibilities and purposes of social science. He believed that social constraints on individuals are varied, complex and uncertain. Even if individuals know exactly what they want, which Stanley often doubted, they rarely know how to achieve it optimally. Thus how individuals act (and what they ultimately achieve) is the product of human values, beliefs and flaws. For Stanley, one implication was that scholars should tolerate contradiction. If politicians struggle to manage intractable dilemmas under uncertainty, so must scholars. He liked to adage that the mark of a first-rate intelligence was the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind. Accordingly, he never proposed a grand theory of politics.
He instead identified opposing theoretical ideals — realism and liberalism, intergovernmentalism and supranationalism, state and society — and then sought space in the middle. In defining that middle ground, Stanley never privileged theoretical parsimony or philosophical perfection. Rather, he stood firm — alongside Raymond Aron and Judith Shklar — in espousing minimalist liberal virtues: tolerance, human decency, practical respect for human fallibility respect for local circumstances, and a prudent willingness to balance competing values. This rendered the most important questions unanswerable, and yet for Stanley that made the struggle to do so more vital. His greatest achievement was to inspire generations of students and readers to see the world as he did. The Center for European Studies, the Social Studies program and other institutions he helped found have taught generations of students to explore the contradictions for themselves. And for millions outside the classroom, he illuminated the limits of American and European foreign policies as no monocausal theorist ever has. Stanley rejected simple explanations, and it is thus fitting that his own scholarly and human virtues defy neat categorization. He lived them as much as he espoused them. Indeed, they are so ineffably connected with his own life experience and personality, one wonders how future generations can ever know the man behind the work. Those memories are rather for us here, all students of Stanley Hoffmann in some way, to share amongst ourselves. They remind us to embrace life despite — or perhaps because of — its inevitable contradictions.
tanley Hoffmann was a major scholar, an outstanding public intellectual, and a brilliant teacher in the field of international relations. Like many, my life was greatly enriched by knowing him.
Joseph S. Nye, Jr.
When I arrived at Harvard in 1960, the Government Department included a number of ponderous luminaries who created little empires. Not Stanley. He attracted by the sheer brilliance of his thought and the sparkle of his personality. Though I never took his course (I was working on Africa at the time) I would audit his seminar just for the joy of his ideas. When I became a junior faculty member, I encountered another dimension; Stanley as mentor. He was willing to take the time and have lunch to help someone else with their agenda, not his. Subsequently, our relationship transitioned into colleagues. Stanley and I taught the large introductory course on international conflict and cooperation together. It was a sheer delight to learn along with the students. Among the things he taught me was the importance of including ethics in our generally amoral field. When I later taught the course on my own, it retained his imprint, and many of his ideas found their way into my writings, (with attribution when I could remember, but I am sure often in more subtle ways of which I was barely aware.) Finally, in a fourth dimension, our relationship was that of friends. Molly and I fondly remember walks in the hills with Stanley and Inge at our farm in New Hampshire, and evenings with a glass of French wine. Stanley’s unique perspective on life and on international affairs was informed by his experience as a child in Vichy France and his French training before arriving at Harvard in the 1950s. His fresh perspective and trenchant critiques of American foreign policy such as Gulliver’s Troubles and Primacy or World Order were informed by his being at home in two cultures. His eclectic approach to theory included the realism of The State of War and the liberalism of Duties Beyond Borders. If I call myself a “liberal realist,” I owe it to him. He often said he studied power not to wield it but to understand better how to control its negative effects. Stanley will be greatly missed by all who experienced the clarity of the mind, the brilliance of his teaching, the warmth of his friendship and the twinkle in his eye.
Paris, for Stanley, was not just a sublime city. It was the capital of that certain idée de la France that he, the refugee child, came to associate with the loftiest political and cultural values. First and foremost, la République whose virtues he did not just extol in his iconic undergraduate course on France but whose values of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité molded his very being, and whose battered figure must now be reconsolidated. Second, La Patrie des Droits de l’Homme, whose universal values underpinned his understanding of international relations even though he knew that there were times, as now, when Kant had to bow to Hobbes. And third, (yes to honor his memory, there must be a third), the country of la grande littérature and le grand cinema. Perhaps of all the aspects of France’s relative decline, whose social and political causes he knew all too well, it was decline in these artistic realms that pained him most. His passion for classical music, particularly Mozart and Schubert is well known, less so his mastery of France’s postwar chansonniers, a realm in which he had few equals. I can still hear him sitting in the back of our car in Normandy singing out loud and without missing a single word or beat all the French songs Radio Nostalgie happened to be playing at the time. For Stanley, France was a protean and organic whole. This explains why, despite many criticisms, he could never accept that the country be simply reduced to its Vichy years. Horror did not and should not trump ideals, and on this count he was right. For him La France was infinitely more than its weaknesses, inability to reform, and at times even arrogant character. For those of us who had the joy of being close to him, and who must now bear the burden of picking up France from its pain and sorrow, Stanley’s memory will remain a precious personal and intellectual beacon.
s I sit in Paris in the wake of the November 13th terrorist attacks, the only way I can remember Stanley right now is by associating him with the city he so loved. In some ways I am glad that he did not live to see the latest attacks and even during the days of terror of last January I remember hoping that he might not fully perceive their portent. Walking through the years with Stanley in the streets of his non-native city it was easy to understand that Paris for him was not just a series of beautiful landmark buildings and historic jardins under whose chestnut trees he honed his admirable Cartesian mind, nor just the place where he could meet his longstanding friends, and certainly not the place of great food. Stanley was no foodie: he did not live to eat. He ate so as to read and think. Above all, he imbibed music.
tanley did not live to witness the terrible attacks that bloodied Paris on November 13, 2015. Stanley would have shared in the general outrage and sadness. Then, very fast, the analytical capacities that set him apart would have swung into action. He would, I think, have admonished us against responses best described as “stupid stuff.” He would have feared for the future of civilian culture and freedom. He would have reflected on how today’s threats compare to past ones. Refraining from “stupid stuff” has been pilloried as less than a strategy by partisans of a more muscular foreign policy stance. Stanley, I think, saw stupid stuff as a dangerous pattern, a mentality rather than seriatim one-off errors, a direct road to the unintended consequences that haunt all decision-making. Stanley worried about unintended consequences but did not adopt the reform-averse posture criticized by his friend Albert Hirschman in The Rhetoric of Reaction. He believed in the ability of public institutions to redress injustice and improve lives. He shunned power but urged commitment. His work on France was more than a brilliant academic analysis: it was one long plea for reform, movement, change, a quest for the small openings that would allow a country he loved to make good on its best promises: liberty, equality, fraternity. He analyzed ideas and institutions, but he emphasized choices and leadership. And, especially in his work on foreign policy, he warned constantly against doing stupid stuff — policies often billed as quick or cheap fixes and defended through appeals to emotion rather than reason. Stanley rarely directed students to specific topics. Rather, he cared about how we thought. Stanley didn’t simply teach General Education or Core courses—on France, on war, and with Judith Shklar, on modern political ideologies — Stanley was Gen Ed, and his version of it was indeed aimed at nurturing citizenship in a free society. Stanley didn’t talk about forgettable things. His lectures never veered into storytelling, arcane methodological discussions, or questions of narrow or ephemeral importance. He ranged across every kind of intellectual and cultural terrain in his effort to understand the political phenomena that interested him most. Everywhere he looked, he saw complexity; every time he opened his mouth, he demonstrated a passion and a gift for clarity. Stanley did not know how to type. PowerPoint would not have been a good platform for the type of lectures at which he excelled. Yet I wish for his voice in the difficult debates to come, and I hope each of us will find it. Stanley was instinctively skeptical, but like his Catholic friends at Esprit, seemingly immune to despair and to all forms of nihilism. He could be sarcastic but rarely cynical or condescending. He expressed indignation but preached and practiced patience and lucidity. He studied ugly things but loved beautiful things: music, art, flowers, cake. He hated stupid stuff.
In those days, we didn’t text professors; we quaked outside their doors awaiting our turn at weekly office hours to garner sage advice. He sat behind high piles of papers and doled out guidance, occasionally plucking an essay from the middle of a stack and opining on its value. He was economical with praise, which kept me striving to grow more worthy of him. When I unexpectedly won a Rhodes Scholarship, he sent a telegram that read “Enthusiastic but unsurprised. Hoffmann.” At his urging, I would pursue a doctorate at Oxford, and he would continue to shape my thinking. After receiving the degree and signing a publishing contract, I recall lamenting the imperfections of the dissertation which now needed substantial revision, and he coolly replied, “If you didn’t have a different view now of something you wrote before, you would be dead.” Although he has left the earth in body, he remains with us – and his written legacy keeps him very much alive. Rereading his early opus, Gulliver’s Troubles, it could well have been written about American foreign policy in these challenging times rather than nearly fifty years ago.
rofessor Hoffman had a luminous mind. He held me spellbound in his exhilarating Gov 40 lectures during freshman year. Anyone who took that course will remember the glory of listening as he – with his deep voice and richly accented English – shared his encyclopedic knowledge and vivid insights (replete with metaphors such as “a basket of eels”) about international relations. I was inspired to learn everything I could from him but also felt profoundly inadequate around him; any word uttered in his presence seemed absurdly pedestrian. He presided at the vibrant Center for European Studies with wisdom and charm, welcoming faculty, students, and multitudinous international visitors who sought to squeeze into the same room with him.
The Stanley Hoffmann Memorial Fund for the Advancement of the Study of Europe The Stanley Hoffmann Memorial Fund for the Advancement of the Study of Europe has been established at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies for donations in memory of Professor Stanley Hoffmann. This fund will be used to support programmatic activities, research and teaching at CES, of which Professor Hoffmann was the Founding Chairman (1969-1994) and a resident faculty member. For more information on how to contribute to the fund, we kindly ask to contact Laura Falloon at email@example.com.
About The Parker Quartet Daniel Chong, violin Ying Xue, violin Jessica Bodner, viola Kee-Hyun Kim, cello Formed in 2002, the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet has rapidly distinguished itself as one of the preeminent ensembles of its generation. The New York Times has hailed the quartet as “something extraordinary,” the Washington Post has described them as having “exceptional virtuosity [and] imaginative interpretation,” and the Boston Globe acclaims their “pinpoint precision and spectacular sense of urgency.” The Parker Quartet recently joined the faculty of Harvard University’s Department of Music as Blodgett Artists-in-Residence.
Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies Harvard University
The Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies pays tribute to a friend, colleague and founder of the Center at Memorial Church, Thursday...
Published on Dec 3, 2015
The Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies pays tribute to a friend, colleague and founder of the Center at Memorial Church, Thursday...