Vladislav M. Zubok’s A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War From Stalin to Gorbachev is a surprising counterpart to my essay, “Culture Wars are Long Wars.” That essay proposed a general theory of cultural change. Key to its thesis was the observation that most cultural change does not occur because people change their ideas, but because people with new ideas replace people with old ones. As most people form their essential political worldview by the time they are 30 and only adapt it on the edges to new circumstances, only the most earth shaking events have the power to fundamentally shift the frameworks and values that the majority filter their politics through. Large scale cultural shift is largely a story of generational churn.
While the focus of that piece was on American domestic politics, this is a general phenomena that applies across cultures and time periods. Vladislav Zubok understands this. The generational nature of political change is a recurring theme of Failed Empire, which chronicles the ups and downs of Soviet diplomacy from the end of World War II to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. While we often describe Soviet history in terms of the leader reigning at the top of the system, Zubok argues that shifts in Soviet strategic behavior reflected not only the differing leadership styles of the various CPSU General Secretaries, but broader transitions from one generation of leaders to another.
In the December issue of International Studies Quarterly Paul Avey and Michael Desch published one of the more interesting articles to come from an academic international relations journal in a long while. For the last few years there has been a rather voracious debate within social science generally and political science specifically about whether or […]
“Examination hall with 7500 cells,” Guangdong (1873). Image Source. “Gifted as you are and coming from an illustrious family,” said Ma Zhunshang, “you should have passed the examinations long ago. How is it that you are still in retirement?” “Since my father died early I was brought up by my grandfather and occupied with […]
A collection of articles, essays, and blog post of merit.I have been much busier these last few weeks than expected. I did not have time to compile one of these lists back in February, so a few of these readings were published all the way back in January. TOP BILLING “The Play is the Thing […]
Patrick Deneen has written a column for The American Conservative that is worth reading. In two paragraphs near the end he captures America’s political malaise; in one sentence (which I have bolded ) he nails the only viable solution to her woes: We are, of course, all prone to explain contemporary debates in terms of […]
Image Source. On year ago President Obama declared “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.” Chemical weapons have been used. Some suggest that America will […]
Image Source “When one seeks imperial power, there is no mean between the heights and the abyss.” –Tacitus, The Histories, Book 2.74 The American dream is dead. Matthew O’Brien thinks he knows why: “RIP, American Dream? Why It’s So Hard For the Poor to Get Ahead Today“Matthew O’Brien. The Atlantic. 18 June 2013. It is […]
In one of the Stage’s most popular posts, I asked if the “far right” and “far left” are really just two peas of the same pod. On the face of things America seems divided between two hostile cultures. Yet look beneath the surface and a different picture emerges: underneath partisan rhetoric are two parties united […]
A collection of articles, essays, and blog post of merit.This one is a bit smaller than normal; there are a few other posts or essays that deserve to go here, but I hope to devote entire posts to them at a later date. TOP BILLING:“An Introduction to Historical Linguistics’ – Terry Crowley and Claire Bowern. Part […]
Infographic from Ty Morteson. Image Source.One might add “Governments consistently bails out corporate interests with tax-payer money” to the center of the diagram. Several months ago I published a post that describes how the extreme partisanship emanating from Washington is a really just a surface veneer that covers a plutocratic consensus lying beneath.  Ashwin Parameswaran, blogging […]