Identity Formation in Political Theory

What is Identity? In recent years politics has become a contestation between different forms of identity rather than interests. Identity has an almost ideological connotation. It is easy to become lost in emotions and hyperbole without any awareness of its actual role in political theory. Indeed, the earliest political philosophers did not mention identity at... Continue Reading →

Norms in Democracies, Autocracies, and Institutions

Norms and Institutions The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) became law in 1996. It refused to recognize same-sex marriages at the federal level and allowed states to ignore marriage contracts between same-sex couples from other states. The law was never repealed, but was effectively overturned after the Supreme Court Decision Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015.... Continue Reading →

Political Authority Explained

Why Do Bad Leaders Stay in Power? Last month Aleksandr Lukashenko intercepted a European airliner and ordered it to land in Minsk so he could arrest the dissident journalist, Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend. The plane had not planned to land in Minsk nor had it planned to fly over Belarusian airspace. Belarus used a... Continue Reading →

An Introduction to Political Institutions

Very Brief History of Democracy Promotion The world changed in 1989. Eastern Europe began a process of political liberalization and democratization. A few years later, the Soviet Union collapsed. Fifteen new states emerged from its ashes. The third wave of democratization accelerated as many new nations faced new pressures to liberalize their political and economic... Continue Reading →

The Agnosticism of Political Institutions

Too often theorists describe political institutions as though they are inherently democratic or authoritarian. In truth institutions have a political ambivalence toward normative values. Institutions do not define political regimes, rather they adapt to them. This is the fifth section of my description of democracy and part of a larger comprehensive work called The Democracy Paradox. ... Continue Reading →

Robert Michels – Political Parties

The Iron Law of Oligarchy describes the role of elites to control organizations. Typically, this idea is translated to democratic governance but Michels restricted his original work to political parties. Indeed, his work is truly limited to just socialist parties. But this is the irony Michels recognized within socialist politics. Despite their emphasis on the... Continue Reading →

Samuel Huntington – The Soldier and the State

Last week the Navy Secretary, Richard Spencer, resigned at the request of Defense Secretary Mark Esper. The specific details remain unclear but there is no doubt the pivotal moment surrounded the intervention of Donald Trump into the handling of disciplinary action against Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher. It is not my intention to evaluate the... Continue Reading →

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