Foreign Policy

by Henry on January 6, 2009

So Foreign Policy has a new “frontpage”:, with lots and lots of blogs by a variety of international relations and journalists. I’m considerably more optimistic about this stable’s odds over the long run than I was about the last effort to create a quasi-academic superblog ( the now defunct ‘Open University’ at _The New Republic_ ) since they haven’t made the mistake of relying on famous or semi-famous people who have never blogged before, and have lots of other commitments and obligations that are likely to come first. Instead, there are a number of people (Dan Drezner, Marc Lynch, Laura Rozen) who are well known in their own right, but who also have an established track record in blogging. Nor (and again, I think this is a good thing), have they tossed a bunch of very disparate people into a single group blog, instead providing a mixture of some group blogging among people with similar ideological predilections, and some individual. The only disappointment that this leads to is that I’d been quite looking forward to seeing how Stephen Walt and Philip Zelikow handled being blogmates after this “little contretemps”: (read letters 2 and 3) – it would have been entertaining to watch from a distance.


by Harry on January 6, 2009

I tried to run away from home once, when I was 7. I was not at all unhappy, I had just spent a lot of time reading Alison Uttley’s Little Grey Rabbit books, in which one character wandered around with all his belongings wrapped in a hanky on the end of a stick that he carried over his shoulder. I wanted to be like that. My mother, remarkably, helped me wrap up the belongings. It now occurs to me that she was probably reasonably confident that, in the middle of a massive thunderstorm, I wouldn’t get very far. I spend a very cheerful hour eating whatever she’d packed while sitting in a stream of water under a rather large table in the playground of the school, the schoolhouse of which we inhabited at the time. Then I returned home, defeated, cold, sodden, but full and happy.

But I never thought of eloping.

Partisanship and citizenship

by Henry on January 6, 2009

I’ve a piece in the current issue of the _American Prospect_, which is “now available”: on their website. The argument, in a nutshell, is that there is likely to be a clash between Obama style post-partisan politics (which builds on a general anti-party sentiment in American political thought and in recent arguments from Putnam, Fishkin etc about civic renewal), and the quite partisan electoral machine that he built in order to win the election.

The rebirth of civic participation this year is not a product of experiments in deliberative democracy or a new interest in league bowling. Rather, it is based on party politics, coupled with and accelerated by new opportunities provided by the Internet. Skocpol’s claim that “conflict and competition have always been the mother’s milk of American democracy” tells part of the story.

The one regret I have is that I hadn’t read Nancy Rosenblum’s _On the Side of the Angels_ (Powells, Amazon) before writing it. Rosenblum’s new book is the first serious political theoretic defense of partisanship that I’ve ever read. More on that when I work my way through the other items on my queue …

Working methods of philosophers

by Chris Bertram on January 6, 2009

“An excellent column by Jo Wolff in today’s Guardian”: . Personally, I have two methods of getting things written. The first was prompted by reading an obituary of Anthony Burgess which revealed that he used to write 1000 words every day and then retire to a cafe for a martini. Though I skip the martini part, this works well as a way of making progress on a project over a longish period during which there are other demands on time. Sometimes, though, deadlines loom and you just have to get something written fast. For this, 45 minutes interspersed with 15 minute breaks is the way, totting up the virtual football matches I’ve thereby accumulated. I keep my trousers on. Usually,