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The Concept of the Political 97

3 should lie in the particular form of the political action by which


The Concept of the Political the state pursues the fulfillment of its political ends. The concept
of the political would thus be equivalent to that of matters of pure
interest. However, following empirical examination, it appears that
such a differentiation is not founded because the historical record
abounds with cases in which legal matters have taken on an unmis-
takably political nature. Thus, the question of knowing whether the
territorial integrity of China was violated by Japan in 1931 is of great
political importance despite its legal nature. The same is true of the
Franco-German dispute of 1911 regarding Morocco; of the issue of
the legitimacy of the occupation of a vast part of the Chinese prov-
On the subjective concept of the political ince of Shantung by Japanese troops in 1928; of the issue of the legit-
imacy of the allied intervention in Greece during the world war; 3 of
The object of the concept of the political is diverse. In the original the Rumanian-Hungarian dispute in the matter of optants etcetera.
and etymological sense, this concept enters into the sphere of public It would not be more correct to say, inversely, that a dispute of
life, but everyday language sometimes applies it in relation to non - which the object is not governed by international law, and which is
state actors, or even to individuals. We are concerned here with the thus a dispute of pure interest, must necessarily possess a political
definition of the concept of the political in the sphere of interstate nature due to this absence of legal rule. For example, fixed rules con-
relations. Our considerations are solely concerned with the sphere of cerning the extent of the "domaine reserve's do not exist in inter-
foreign policy. Applied to state relations, the concept of the political national law; however, disputes regarding this matter would, despite
designates something which concerns the "polis", the state taken as this, not generally be considered political disputes. The historical rec-
ord thus proves that the opposition of legal and political matters,
such, in accordance with the concept's etymological sense and with
accepted in the doctrine, does not exist in reality. The assertion of
its most widespread usage. In the sphere of international relations,
the legal nature of a dispute does not necessarily imply that it does
political matters are thus those which are likely to have an influence not have a political nature. The concepts of the political and of the legal
on the relation of one state with other states — that is, on the situa- definitely do not constitute an antithetic pair. The opposite concept to that
tion of one state within the international community.' of the political matter can be found in the concept of the non-political mat-
However, any external action by the state ultimately concerns its
ter, and not in that of the legal matter. In turn, the latter can be both or a
relations with other states, and considering their goals, all external
_political nature as well as of anon-political nature .5
actions are always political. 2 We therefore cannot base the criterion
for the difference between political matters and non -political mat- If we relinquish the idea of considering the relation to positive
international law as a distinguishing feature between political and
ters solely on the relation to the state, especially when we are looking
non-political matters, there is still another criterion left to establish
to define a concept which not only encompasses a distinct part of
this distinction, a criterion which resides in the very object of the
international relations, but all the more when looking for the mean-
matters fitting into one or the other of these groups. Those schol -
ing of a general concept of the political.
ars in favor of this last conceptualization take it for granted that,
Some have alleged that the difference between political matters
owing to the nature of their object, certain matters never take on a
and non-political international matters resides in the fact that the
political characteristic, whereas other matters, for the same reason,
first did not possess a legal nature, and therefore that the criterion
always present such a characteristic. They consider, however, that
96 the former are always of a legal nature. These colleagues do, however,