Saturday, December 31, 2016


Not much happened on this blog this year, except for two announcements (for my new book and a software package for extending the Unified Democracy Scores); I didn’t even have the usual solstice link post. (Lots of things going on in my offline job; there should be more activity here next year). But there was still a lot of good writing this year worth sharing. In no particular order:
Happy new year everyone!

1 comment:

  1. Nqabutho8:16 PM

    I notice that you are interested in "political pathologies". I'm interested in pathologies of thought amongst the people, specifically the popular mentality or "stance against the world" of those who voted for Trump, as well as those who vote for the right wing populist parties of Europe. (I distinguish between the conventional belief systems and dispositions toward verbal expression which are held by people, especially those who identify with their own group, which I refer to as "popular", and on the other hand the attempts to systematize these beliefs and dispositions and create a justification for them for the purpose of using them in a political appeal, which I refer to as "populist". E.g., Dugin, Bannon, Le Pen, Wilders, etc.) It seems to me that the voters' assessment that Donald Trump in particular would make a good president and that he would be the most likely person to do something to remedy their very real problems indicates that their intellectual resources for practical problem solving are severely deficient, and as a result their responses to adversity are maladaptive (thus pathological on the biological analogy). From a critical perspective, it would seem that there are no possible good reasons for voting for (a man like) Trump, even for the vilest racist bastard driven by hate to do so. People (e.g., recently, Cas Mudde) have tried to identify those properties of such mentalities that would give us a unified understanding of a phenomenon that may or may not be unified. (E.g., fear-based response to threats, lack of ability to empathise, inability to conceive that people from out-groups are governed by the same ethical principles they are (distrust), and so forth, but lists do not provide a principle of unification. We have indications of mentalities of this sort stretching back to the ancient Greeks, the early Christian era (Good Samaritan parable), middle ages, etc., so I don't think this is a recent phenomenon. Considering these types of belief systems and dispositions as cultural resources, there seems to be always something terribly wrong when they are implemented in the practical problem solving of political process. Is this phenomenon an example of a socio-cultural pathology, in the sense of ineffective biological functioning? Is there a real connection of some sort between the different manifestations of this phenomenon back into history? If so, what sort of a connection would it be? Is it universal, appearing in all human cultures; is there a culturally determined typology; or is it mainly a European phenomenon? Does the unification of the phenomenon (if it indeed is a unified phenomenon) lie in an impoverishment of conceptual structure, such as the category of causality, which has a central role in helping us make sense of the world? (My own interest (I am not a political scientist) is in gaining a reflective understanding of the categorical structures that make scientific understanding of the world possible. I am appalled at the evidence of "pathological" thinking and problem-solving in the current political world. I wonder, what is going on here?)