Leninist Politics: A Reading Course

Image source This post is a reading list. It is not a list of books I recommend for I have not read them allβ€”at least, not yet. But it might form the center kernel of a top-notch reading group. The topic: Leninist politics. The importance of understanding Leninist organization, ideology, tactics, symbolism and so forth […]

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Historians, Fear Not the Psychologists

This week Jonathan Schulz, Duman Bahrami-Rad, Jonathan Beauchamp, and Joseph Henrich had their big piece on WEIRD psychology and the Catholic Church published in Science. [1] Long term readers will remember that I wrote about this piece in the American Conservative when the pre-print was published last year, and then wrote a critique of the […]

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Notes From All Over 04/08/2018 (WEIRD Catholics, Chinese Intimidation Tactics, and Human Genetics)

A collection of articles, essays, and blog post of merit. TOP BILLING “The Origins of WEIRD Psychology”Jonathan Schulz, Duman Barahmi-Rad, Jonathan Beauchamp, and Joseph Henrich. PsyArXiv. 2 July 2018. Recent research not only confirms the existence of substantial psychological variation around the globe but also highlights the peculiarity of populations that are Western, Educated, Industrialized, […]

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Why Didn’t China Give Birth to Democracy?

“The nominal form of [China’s] government… is an irresponsible autocracy; its institutions are likewise autocratic in form, but democratic in operation.” β€”Herbet Giles, The Civilization of China (1919) Yuhua Wang and Mark Dincecco have an interesting paper out in the Annual Review of Political Science. The paper offers and tests a new hypothesis for why […]

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Vengeance As Justice: Passages I Highlighted in My Copy of “Eye for an Eye”

William Ian Miller’s Eye for an Eye did not make it into my “top ten books I read this year” list for 2017, but it was one of the more thought-provoking things I read last year. Miller is an unusual creature: part law professor, part medievalist, Miller is equally comfortable discussing ancient Hittite legal decrees, the […]

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China Was Never an Empire of the Mind

“Let us go forward as with other matters and other measures similar in aim and effect – let us go forward in malice to none and good will to all. Such plans offer far better prizes than taking away other people’s provinces or lands or grinding them down in exploitation. The empires of the future […]

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Darwin and War in Ancient China, Sengoku Japan, and Early Modern Europe

What does Darwin have to do with terracotta warriors, samurai armies, or Napoleon’s conquests? Quite a lot. Or at least this is what I argue in a paper I finished back in April. I anticipated refining it with extra research in the months since then. This hope was not realized. Other projects have consumed my […]

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A Few More Thoughts on the Terrors of Pre-Modern Battle

Image Source. Yesterday’s post, “Pre-Modern Battlefields Were Absolutely Terrifying,” has proven immensely popular. The sheer number of responses to it on social media, web forums, and other websites has been a bit overwhelming. My favorite of these was written by Lynn Rees, co-blogger over at Zenpundit. In a personal message to me he describes how […]

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Signal Like Its 1711: James Addison on Partisan Signaling, 18th Century Style

Portrait of Joseph Addison (1672-1719), by Godfrey Kneller, c. 1712 Image source: Wikimedia I sometimes complain  that 21st century American political culture has been hijacked by hyper-partisan signaling. It is easy to forget that this is not a new complaint. You can find political signaling spirals rearing their ugly head many times in humanity’s past–at […]

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