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Future Politics

Future Politics (PDF link) is a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign class by Jake Bowers on the political theory of science fiction and a great recommended reading and discussion list for the rest of us.

How can imagining the future help us understand the present? How does considering the future help us think critically about politics today?...The future hopes and imaginings of past political thinkers do not include either enough detail or enough information about our rapidly changing technological, social, political, and economic landscape to provide us with enough practice to confidently confront the future as citizens as it happens to us. Science fiction allows us a much more detailed view of life in alternative futures, and the writers that we choose to read here tend to think seriously and logically about how current cutting edge technology might have social and political ramifications — however, science fiction authors are also mostly working on a narrative and thus may skim over core concepts that ought to organize our thinking about politics and society. Thus, we read both together in order to practice a kind of theoretically informed futurism (which is not the same as prediction or forecasting, but is more like the practice of confronting the unexpected).
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory on Sep 17, 2014 - 3 comments

Politics as usual

Did Race Play a Role in the Shutdown? Republicans from the House districts that have the highest levels of racial resentment were about 60 percentage points less likely to vote for the deal to end the shutdown than Republicans from districts with low levels of racial resentment.
posted by MisantropicPainforest on Oct 22, 2013 - 92 comments

The Perils of Presidentialism, in Action

Political theorist Juan Linz died Tuesday at the age of 86. His work focused on comparative government, including studies on totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. Linz was also a prominent critic of the presidential system of government used in the United States and in much of Latin America. In his essay, "The Perils of Presidentialism" (later expanded into book form as The Failure of Presidential Democracy), Linz argued that presidential systems are inherently unstable, as they invariably lead to standoffs between the president and the legislature, each with competing claims to legitimacy. Thus, as in many Latin American countries, presidential systems frequently collapse, and often are replaced with dictatorships. The one exception to that pattern has been the United States--at least until recently. In an interview in January of this year, Linz argued that the US was succumbing to the same dysfunction as other presidential regimes. In Slate, Matthew Yglesias commemorates Linz by warning that the American system of government may be doomed to an endless cycle of crisis and constitutional disintegration, as evidenced by the government shutdown. Dylan Matthews concurs, arguing that the shutdown is "James Madison's fault."
posted by Cash4Lead on Oct 2, 2013 - 72 comments

Political Science Is Rife With Gender Bias

By many measures, women in political science do not achieve the same success as men. Their ranks among full professors are lower; their teaching evaluations by students are more critical; they hold less prestigious committee appointments; and, according to a new study, their work is cited less frequently. Why? [more inside]
posted by MisantropicPainforest on Sep 6, 2013 - 15 comments

Twerking kills... or does it?

The big news yesterday was Miley Cyrus' twerking on Robin Thicke at the VMAs, and revelations of Syria's flagrant violations of international law by using chemical weapons against its own civilians. [more inside]
posted by MisantropicPainforest on Aug 27, 2013 - 371 comments

"debates on politics, culture and society"

Symposium Magazine bills itself as "where academia meets public life". Its promotes long-form, accessible articles about a variety of topics.
posted by shothotbot on Jul 16, 2013 - 6 comments

Not just preaching to the choir

How the rise of Fox News helped Republican candidates Is Fox News primarily reinforcing Republicans or persuading Democrats? [more inside]
posted by MisantropicPainforest on Jul 9, 2013 - 74 comments

Antidemocratic in spirit, design, and operation

Bill Moyers interviews Sheldon Wolin in two parts.

Moyers: This will strike you as a very simplistic question, but I need to ask it. Do we have a democracy?

Wolin: It isn't a simplistic question, and the answer is I think we don't.

Moyers: *Spock eyebrow raise*

[more inside]
posted by AElfwine Evenstar on Jul 2, 2013 - 67 comments

The chickenhawk phenomenon explained

The lasting effects of the Vietnam draft lottery. Men who were more likely to be drafted in the Vietnam war were more antiwar, more liberal, and more Democratic than those who were protected from the draft. Moreover, these attitudes persist into adulthood. [more inside]
posted by MisantropicPainforest on Jun 17, 2013 - 120 comments

Prizes Trump Biases

If you pay them money, partisans will tell you the truth. (via Marginal Revolution)
posted by shivohum on Jun 4, 2013 - 32 comments

In which we discuss the politics of the Mario Universe.

...Although as he self-styles himself "King Koopa," it is apparent that he claims (or is seeking) parity of esteem with Princess Peach; that is to say that he does not regard himself as a "terrorist," but as a "freedom fighter" or entitled ruler in his own right.
posted by Navelgazer on Apr 10, 2013 - 24 comments

Left 3.0

The left side of the American political spectrum has undergone an extraordinary transformation over the past dozen years. Perhaps because it remains a work in progress, the extent of this transformation has gone largely unremarked and seems underappreciated even among those who have been carrying it out....Left 3.0 is not only an ideological movement, but also effectively controls (or rather guides) a political party fully competitive at the national level.
posted by shivohum on Feb 23, 2013 - 86 comments

The. Polls. Have. Stopped Making. Any. Sense.

“Maybe after the election I’ll have a better sense of the big picture,” he continues. “I do think I’ll probably try to learn statistics.”
"The. Polls. Have. Stopped. Making. Any. Sense." profiles Nate Silver of 538 and other polling innovations. Meanwhile, authentic polling nerds read the Princeton Election Consortium, pundits complain that "Political Scientists are Killing the Campaign 'Narrative'," and Peter Levine asks, "Would we better off without any horse-race polls?"
posted by anotherpanacea on Oct 4, 2012 - 89 comments

Parable of the tribes

The Parable of the Tribes. A classic essay by Andrew Schmookler on the Hobbesian struggle for power, and its inevitability. [more inside]
posted by russilwvong on Aug 30, 2011 - 24 comments

The Trouble With The View From Above

The Trouble With The View From Above. James C. Scott at Cato Unbound has an interesting essay on what we gain - and what we lose - when we trade localized, vernacular categories for the uniform, official categories of a state. His ideas are fleshed out more in his book, Seeing Like A State. Economist Donald Boudreax responds. Brad DeLong and Timothy Lee have forthcoming responses.
posted by Sticherbeast on Sep 13, 2010 - 22 comments

The downside of diversity

The downside of diversity. A Harvard political scientist finds that diversity hurts civic life. What happens when a liberal scholar unearths an inconvenient truth?
posted by srboisvert on Aug 7, 2007 - 81 comments

Why Terrorism Does Not Work

Why Terrorism Does Not Work [pdf] is an article by Max Abrahms that tries to understand why terrorist groups have a success rate of 7% on their stated goals and those terrorists who target civilians have a stunning 0% success rate when it comes to achieving their political objectives. He argues that the answer lies in correspondent inference theory. [via Wired's Bruce Schneier]
posted by Kattullus on Jul 12, 2007 - 78 comments

The dance of the Rs and Ds

Watch political ideologies emerge and shift over hundreds of years. ANIMATE is an amazing Java app that lets you track graphically the ideological position of all the representatives to the US Congress, European Parliament, or the UN over every roll call vote in history. The really interesting part is that the application uses DW-NOMINATE data that maps the ideology of representatives, and is pretty good at predicting voting patterns. Voteworld is a related Java application that is a little less dramatic, but allows you to really dig into the data (to access DW-NOMINATE data in Voteworld, click the little orange sphere icon in the application).

On the US side:"There are two major lessons to take away from ANIMATE. First, over time, you see less and less motion of individual legislators, particularly after the Civil War. This shows the stabilization of the American political system. Second, after the Civil War you will see the major party clusters growing further apart until the turn of the century, then come together and overlap, and beginning in the 1970s draw apart again. That is, throughout most of the twentieth century, political divisions blurred but in the last quarter one sees the polarization of American politics."
posted by blahblahblah on May 31, 2006 - 15 comments

All Politics is Thymotic

All Politics is Thymotic. "Let me tell you what men want. Let me tell you why some middle-age men wear the sports jerseys of semiliterate behemoths half their age while others customize their cars with so many speakers they sound like the hip-hop version of the San Francisco earthquake as they roll down the street.

Recognition. Men want others to recognize their significance. They want to feel important and part of something important." (NYT via donkey o.d.)
posted by ZenMasterThis on Mar 27, 2006 - 36 comments

Editor of Jesuit Magazine Leaves After Complaints

Articles of Faith "By inviting articles that covered different sides of disputed issues, Father Reese helped make America Magazine a forum for intelligent discussion of questions facing the Catholic Church and the country today." Thomas J. Reese's policy -- to present both sides of the discussion -- apparentlly "did not sit well with Vatican authorities". Reese, a Jesuit and a political scientist, had made a point of publishing both sides of the debate on a range of subjects, some of them quite delicate for a Catholic magazine -- gay priests, stem-cell research, the responsibility of Catholic politicians confronting laws on abortion and same-sex unions and a Vatican document (the Dominus Iesus declaration) which outlined the idea that divine truth is most fully revealed in Christianity and the Catholic Church in particular.
Reese, who had described last month the Vatican as behaving like the cranky owner of a good restaurant, resigned yesterday as editor of the magazine. More inside.
posted by matteo on May 9, 2005 - 17 comments

Roots of Terrorism

Poverty, Political Freedom and the Roots of Terrorism [pdf]. "In the past, we heard people refer to the strong link between terrorism and poverty, but in fact when you look at the data, it's not there," says Alberto Abadie, Associate Professor of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
posted by gyc on Nov 9, 2004 - 8 comments

More clash from the right.

More clash from the right. Political Scientist Samuel Huntington has gone domestic with his “Clash of Civilizations” (previous MeFi links here and here). In his new article, “The Hispanic Challenge” (soon to be a book entitled “Who Are We”), he highlights the threat hispanics pose to what he has decided is "the Anglo-Protestant culture of America."
posted by AwkwardPause on Apr 19, 2004 - 165 comments

Election World

PoliSciFilter! Say you really wanted to know how the recent elections in the Seychelles went, or you needed to know the URL for the Turkish Communist Party. Check out Election World, rounding out the trio of recently posted political reference websites with a semi-comprehensive non-partisan database of every national election in every country on earth, including some countries where the results don't mean all that much, and some ominous blank spots where there are no election results worth reporting, plus a massive list of political parties (with weblinks) from virtually all over. Of course, if you want to find out whether these trappings of democracy are actually making a difference in people's lives, it's worth reading the Country Reports in the annual Freedom in the World survey, or just checking out what color country you're in on the PDF Map of Freedom.
posted by sexualchocolate on Dec 21, 2002 - 1 comment

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