Whoosh! Issue 28 - January 1999


IAXS project #385
By Gustav A. Verdone
Content copyright © 1999 held by author
This edition copyright © 1999 held by WHOOSH
1548 words

Introduction (01-02)
Realism's Seven Tenets (03-16)
Idealism's Seven Tenets (17-32)
Criticisms of the Idealistic Philosophy (33-39)
Criticisms of The Realistic Philosophy (40-47)

Xena and Gabrielle:
Political Oxymorons

One refuses to ask directions; the other consults a map.

Opposites, even in 1940.


[01] It is said that opposites attract. That could not be any more evident than in the relation between Xena and Gabrielle. In the circles of politics and, most notably, International Relations, one can subscribe to one of two philosophies: Realism or Idealism. When looking at Gabrielle and Xena, we find that each endorses a different philosophy. Xena equals Realism and Gabrielle equals Idealism. By using the Seven Tenets of each thought, we can briefly analyze both Gabrielle and Xena.

[02] The Seven Tenets of each Theory are the basics of International Relations, as taught in Political Science 101. As for who actually wrote each of the theory's tenets is unknown. Realism happens to be the dominant theory for the study of International Relations, while Idealism is the theory critical of Realism. Famous Realists of history would include Thucydides, who wrote "The Peloponnesan War" and the "Melian Dialogue"; Machiavelli, who wrote "The Prince"; and Thomas Hobbes, who wrote "Leviathan". Famous Idealists would include St. Thomas Aquinas, the French philosopher Rousseau, and U.S. President, Woodrow Wilson.

Realism's Seven Tenets

[03] First Tenet: Human nature is essentially evil and greedy.

[04] Humans lust for power, want to control others, and want what others have. By being a warrior princess, Xena already lives up to the first part of this definition. Her feelings and attitudes toward Callisto make her live up to the second part, and her appreciation of Gabrielle has her live up to the third part.

[05] Second Tenet: The inherent evil and greed of humans makes progress impossible.

[06] Human nature cannot be perfected, and those who try are on a fool's errand. How many times has Xena criticized Gabrielle for her belief in others or her belief that maybe Callisto could change and be more "civilized and repentant"? Other examples of this opinion can be seen in Xena's belief that "once a warrior, always a warrior" or even her view of Joxer, albeit as a good-hearted fool.

[07] Third Tenet: The International System is an anarchy.

[08] The International System lacks a single world government. No "one" country controls the entire system.

[09] Fourth Tenet: Under conditions of anarchy, the International System is a struggle for power.

[10] Xena once fought for power. She believed Callisto's sole purpose was to gain power. She believed that power insured security, could help repel aggressors, and gave one a greater position.

[11] Fifth Tenet: The primary obligation of every state is to promote its national self-interest.

[12] No one can deny that Xena is trying to promote her self-interest, meaning the "self-preservation" of both her and Gabrielle. Xena believes that her "power" helps deter aggressors, defends Gabrielle, and can used as a bargaining chip, meaning threats and promises.

[13] Sixth Tenet: Military power is the most relevant power.

[14] Xena believes that military power is the primary power. She once had an army and continues to help support other armies.

[15] Seveth Tenet: If all states search for power, peace and stability will naturally result.

[16] It is evident that Xena does believe that if there is a relative balance, neither side can attack with the assurance of victory at an acceptable cost.

Idealism's Seven Tenets

Mistaking the 7 Tenets for the 7 Deadly Sins, Gabrielle
starts lessons.

Even as a newly minted Amazon Princess in the face of dangerous times, Gabrielle keeps a positive frame of mind.

[17] As for Gabrielle, Idealistic Thought (the theory critical of realism) is her primary philosophy, and by briefly analyzing the Seven Tenets of Idealistic Thought, we can demonstrate where Gabrielle stands.

[18] First Tenet: Human nature is essentially good.

[19] Humans are capable of altruism, mutual aid, and the ability to work with others. This first tenet describes Gabrielle's nature and essence. Her altruism (i.e., her uncalculating regard for the interests of others) toward the Amazons, Callisto and her former town (among many others), along with her ability to work with others (namely Xena), and her compassion, as displayed in several episodes, shows she believes in mutual aid to others.

[20] Second Tenet: Inherent goodness of humans and our instinct to be social makes progress possible.

[21] Gabrielle believes it is possible for humans to achieve perfection. She also is capable of cooperation with others, even if they do not have the same beliefs as she has (namely Xena, but there have been others as well). Most of all, however, she believes she is capable, with Xena's help, of making the world a better place (You got to LOVE Gabrielle!).

[22] Third Tenet: Bad human behavior is not the product of evil people, but of evil institutions and structural arrangements that create incentives for people to act badly.

[23] Humans are not inherently evil. They are subject to some catalyst, which makes them evil. Gabrielle has displayed repeatedly that she does not believe Callisto is naturally wicked. According to Gabrielle, Callisto was made wicked and evil by a systematic progress of events in her life. Xena destroyed her town. Callisto watched her family die. Callisto was killed by Xena and experienced Tartarus. Callisto returned to the living when Ares sent her back to thwart Xena. Callisto helped fight Velasca and obtained Ambrosia to make her immortal. And so on. All these factors, in Gabrielle's eyes, made Callisto into what she was. It was not Callisto's nature or even just something inside of her. Xena could never comprehend that philosophy.

[24] Fourth Tenet: War is not inevitable and can be eliminated by doing away with the institutions that encourage it and make it possible.

[25] Gabrielle learned to fight because she had to, in other words: "Unit Integrity"! She fights for Xena, her buddy. She does NOT fight for Country, Honor, or Democracy. She fights to help her friends and to keep her friends alive. Gabrielle does not believe in war. Gabrielle believes that doing away with standing armies, weapons, and institutions that endorse war could eliminate war.

[26] Fifth Tenet: International society has to reorganize itself to eliminate the institutions that make war possible.

[27] Gabrielle believes that, with Xena's help, she can help others reorganize "their priorities", therefore allowing individuals to co-exist without the possibilities for war and aggression.

[28] Sixth Tenet: Power is a perversion of politics.

[29] Not only is it evident that Gabrielle believes power is about "Justice", but Gabrielle also believes that power should be about fairness and equality, or, in other words, that power should provide for the common good.

[30] Seveth Tenet: Moral laws should apply to states.

[31] According to the philosophy of Gabrielle, one can interpret her beliefs into one certain fact: laws that apply to individuals should also apply to the state.

[32] In a nutshell, it can be broken down like this: Realism (Xena) equals amoral philosophy and Idealism (Gabrielle) equals moral philosophy.

Criticisms of the Idealistic Philosophy

Hey!  You think I'm cute when I'm angry, don't push me!

Gabrielle has kept a positive outlook from the get-go.

[33] There are criticisms to each philosophy. With Idealism the criticisms are as follows:

[34] First criticism: Idealism (Gabrielle) is far too optimistic. [35] Unfortunately for Gabrielle, states and individuals are not what the idealistic theory suggests. In actuality, states and individuals are "BOTH" good and evil.

[36] Second criticism: The institutions Idealism has created to prevent war have "ALL FAILED"!

[37] Using today's society as an example, one can look at the United Nations and their inability to keep the peace.

[38] Third criticism: The strong do and the weak endure.

[39] The reality of the International System, a reality that had been accepted by the Beautiful and Eternal Goddess Gabrielle, states simply that "The strong do what they can; the weak endure what they must".

Criticisms of The Realistic Philosophy

[40] The criticisms to Realism are as follows:

[41] First criticism: Realism (Xena) is far too pessimistic.

[42] Xena believes there is no escape from war and that the impossibility of progress makes humans forever doomed to war.

[43] Second criticism: If realists really do learn the lessons from history, they would see that progress is possible.

[44] Choke that one down, Xena!

[45] Third criticism: The national interest served by "immoral behavior" is really the national interest served by "moral behavior".

[46] There will be times that war is a justifiable means to an end. Xena realizes this, and although Gabrielle knows this as well, she is still trying to accept it. Although Xena has more experience when it comes to war, she is finding that there is a lot that she can learn from Gabrielle when it comes to war as well.

[47] Perhaps Xena and Gabrielle may not be an oxymoron after all, but, then again, that is a whole new debate.


Gustav A. Verdone Gustav A. Verdone
Currently works in the Travel Industry, working on a degree in Political Science, spent over 10 years in the Martial Arts with the last two years dedicated to the art of Jeet Kune Do. Likes music, especially the Blues and Heavy Metal.
Favorite episode: THE QUEST (37/213); A NECESSARY EVIL (38/214)
Favorite line: Callisto to Velasca: "You don't just kill me and walk away!" A NECESSARY EVIL (38/214)
First episode seen: THE QUEST (37/213)
Least favorite episode: SINS OF THE PAST (01/101)

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