POLITICAL SCIENCE RESEARCH RESOURCE LINKS
SUBMISSIONS/CALL FOR PAPERS
It has become increasingly clear that there are serious
problems within the profession of particularly political science and history that are corrupting scholarly dialogue and distorting discourse.
It is not merely that too much of the disciplines are under the control of an ideological orientation which results not only in a skewed conversation, but that there is a systematic inclination toward preclusion of any alternative philosophical viewpoint in the literature, research, and teaching of either discipline. This has become so much the case that analysis which receives broad circulation in any academic format seems not only intent on propagation of the dominant bias, but appears unfettered by and even uninterested in any data which does not support is flawed premises or agenda, to the extent of the conscious suppression of it.
There is a tremendous danger to such a closing of conversation.To the extent that it is successful, it undermines the effectiveness of analysis out of the community, and to the degree that it is not,it serves only
to isolate the community more and more into a closed society drawing a tighter and tighter circle around itself, even as whatever it offers grows less and less relevant. That members of the disciplines often represent their efforts as 'scientific' is probably more hypocritical than it is any kind of paradox.
The question reaches far beyond the limits of what are usually the competing paradigms or research programs. It is almost true whether the analysis comes from an empirical, theoretical, or any of the other predominant methodologies of currency. And the problem does not really involve the comparative merits of any of these programs. Indeed, it is important to understand that most of them have value for analysis, if only the parameters of 'accepted' debate were not so constrained.
There are, of course, parallels of the problem which have infected discourse in our society well outside the circle of professionals involved. This is especially obvious in the predominant media. It has been, for example, nearly impossible to find competent analysis of our contemporary political dialogue in either political science, history,
or the mainstream media. The result has been that information costs are heightened for both the citizenry and public officials, with deletorious consequences for the informed reflection requisite for a republic.
It is not just that there are 'myths' which achieve and
maintain a degree of hegemony; in polite terms, we might better call them 'misconceptions'rather than identifying
them as the misrepresentations and fabrications which they, in fact, actually are. Rather than posing a litany of such mythologies, a brief catalogue of some of the representative instances should suffice to set the stage. It would be a hopeless, and largely meaningless exercise to proceed beyond that in such a reflection as this. The actual cases are legion. It is the hope of this undertaking that an instrument might begin to be constructed that can begin to counterpose more responsible analysis to that universe of myth, as we set upon a course which will attempt to open discourse to more actual scientific scrutiny.
Just during the 1996 Democrat National Convention in Chicago, there was a concerted effort at posing such a register of such mischaracterizations. Little on the 'list' was new or surprising, but repetition does not necessarily construct certitude or truthfulness, except perhaps to those among us who wish to practice the brand of science of the Inquisition.
It has been asserted that raising the minimum wage will help bring up income levels and combat poverty. The deficit problem is largely the fault of Reagan and the Republican efforts to expand military spending. The military build-up undertaken under Reagan had little impact on the outcome of the Cold War. From Reagan to the 104th (and now the 105th) Congress, there has been a conscious attemptto 'slash' government spending and programs which has resulted in an aggravation of the economic crises we face. Tax cuts reduce revenue and contribute to the deficit. Gun control laws reduce crime. It is the 'self-interest' premise (a term used to imply selfishness and greed)of laissez faire ideology which has tended to effectuate the grossly uncivil personality characteristics which seem to increasingly beset our people. The Clinton Administration has reduced the deficit four years in a row (now even more than that).
It is only the federal government, by more spending and more programs, which can address the problems which we face. Quite curiously, the myths seem to possess an almost partisan bias, and that only makes a troubling situation all the more eqregious.
It is not that there is no useful or valuable analysis or research which obtains publication or non-liberal candidates which win faculty appointments. The problem is that they are the exception and little more. The mission of this undertaking is to construct a forum which can contribute to some alleviation of the poverty of philosophy which has come to mark discourse in these academic circles.
It will be the design of the quarterly letter, review, and journal to solicit commentary that will counterpose genuine, responsible, scientific analysis to the recitation of dogma that has too much been the thrust of so-called scholarly efforts in political science and history in recent decades. This will require a protracted conflict. It cannot limit itself to any particular research program methodology. It must, however, be conscious of the realities of the distorted nature of 'scholarly' writing and presentation
as it seeks to pose alternatives to it.
Reviews of publications of such problematic nature
would be a major emphasis of such solicitation. So, too, would be commentaries toward that end in the form of letters or original research in the field, although quite clearly, such an endeavor does require that the highest standards of scholarship and commentary are maintained.
The second issue continues in this spirit from the initial one, addressing articles to political economy, political processes, political institutions, policy analysis, methodology, and political theory. The third is currently
Deadlines for submissions for the next issue -- Spring 1998 --will be the end of the calendar year 1997. eJPS looks
forward to hearing from you. Please forward papers to:
East Pointe, MI 48021
and register your comments by e mail to:
THE FALLACY OF HEAT DEATH
Ronald Gordon Ziegler
It has been suggested that while philosophers and theologians and others of their ilk look for proofs of the existence of God,they have overlooked one possible such piece
of evidence in what is often their eagerness to prove the negative. If the continued existence of the people Israel establishes anything, it might well be that it does much to
support the idea of the existence of God.
Quite a different direction, however, is the central thesis of this essay, for one might well contend that a valid argument might be posed as to the validity of Malthusian
analysis -- that is, the continued existence (or perpetual reappearance) of the perspective might well be adequate as a negation of the doctrine. Modern day Malthusians might well
retort that he was simply ahead of himself and that the fact that his dire forecasts have not been borne out is hardly evidence of their falsehood.
Not a little effort has been directed against Malthusian pessimism through the centuries. Pens as consequential as those of Ben Franklin, Karl Marx, and Henry Carey have devoted considerable comment in refutation. Franklin considered that with each new person came not only a mouth but two hands. He would probably have little problem with expanding the analysis to suggest that a mind also accompanies the package, and that is a key lapse in Malthus, for he seems to have overlooked the role that human creativity would play in disproving his argument. The earth is no 'more' than it was in his day, and yet there are many times more people on it living at a considerably enhanced level. The reason that this is possible is technology. Of course, modern day Malthusians will probably decry that as the real dilemna, technology somehow being construed as the problem that will bear Malthus out in the end! Little effort will be placed here now on dealing with that conundrum. Julian Simon has done much in that regard already. One will have little difficulty locating the refutation of Malthus in Carey, if his books can be located.
Karl Marx, of course, despite his tremendous lapses which virtually trap him in a Malthusiam labyrinth, devoted some substantive effort in argument counterposed to Malthus. Not least among his efforts would be one that the Sierra Club and its cohorts might well consider from what would often seem to be of environmentalists' saints. One of his earliest papers was an attack on the practice of condemation of the gathering of free dead wood in Europe. After all, trees are essentially a crop.
A basic premise of Malthus' theory of population was built on the utilization of land in North America. It was his suggestion that at the time he was writing, which was well before the movement to the Mississippi, let alone beyond it, the best land in what became the U.S. had already been consumed or developed. The argument is familiar enough to need no elaboration. But what seems to be overlooked is that the development of the nation provides a substantive case against not only his contention there, but against over-population theory more generally, as well.
Of course, the bread basket of the world, the Great Plains, which in the first half of the 19th century was considered the Great American Desert, did not undergo its
transition without a conscious effort. Lincoln had a great deal to do with it (see, for example, the article "Lincoln's Progress" in Volume I, Number 1 of the e Journal of Political Science, Summer 1997). The market economy of the United
States turned the wheel on this desert. What would Malthus answer to the subsequent development of land in North America? It begs response, for the issue was at the base of his argumentation.
The controversy permeates a great deal of literature in the social and natural sciences. Too commonly, for instance, Darwin is taken to be indicative of an entropic universe. There is more than a kernel of truth to that impression, but then, Darwin does not exhaust evolutionary theory, and the real essence of 'evolution' is toward higher manifolds of organization. Darwin can be turned in this direction, but it is difficult. More precisely, the evolutionary theorems of Darwin were used to build the case for British imperialism over peoples of the earth who did
not happen to be pink (look to Defoe's Robinson Crusoe for further elaboration of the superiority of pinkness). And it may well be that the Club of Rome and its comrades are of little different hue.
Now we have posited (not for the first time,
of course) the hypothesis of heat death. In a fundamentally entropic interpretation of the universe, it is asserted that there is an ever-increasing movement toward a common temperature in the universe. The universe in this view had
to have begun with some version of the Big Bang, and things have been devolving since then to lower levels of disorder and that common temperature, at which, since differences in heat are at the root of all activity, the dynamism of the universe will grind to a static halt. But, as Eric Lerner among others has so eloquently explained, the big bang did not happen. Rather, the development of the universe has been up toward greater levels of order -- what has been identified in science as negative entropy, or simply, negentropy.
In actuality, the big bang theory is akin to the somewhat older geocentric theories of prescience. It has all been downhill, essentially, since the great 'pop'
that started it all. The vision extends to an utter rejection of humankind as any kind of 'crown of creation.' We are, after all, merely animals, and, to some minds, not one of the more developed of those even. That is not a contradiction at all. Or rather, it is a contradiction which negates the hypothesis. It is of common species with geocentrism in its devolution away from a higher order of the past (alas, the inherent contradictions of collectivism!).
It is also, at a rudimentary level, anti-volitional, and that poses another contradiction. We do make choices, or more exactly, we have the choices to make. Mankind may be the crown of creation, but in our volitional nature, we do not have to remain as such. The universe is negentropic. Whether we, in our willingness to choose or not to participate in that negentropic development, elect to participate in that negentropic process will determine our fate as a species. The negentropic expansion to higher degrees of order will continue with or without us. Our choices in this regard will determine whether or not we are fit to survive, to borrow Darwinian lexicon.
This is, in fact, one of the strongest arguements against collectivism. As I have argued elsewhere, the arc of collectivism is toward Malthus. The path of that arc of collectivism is toward totalitarian fascism (see "Hayek and the Left, Right, Left" in Volume I, Number I of the e Journal of Political Science for Summer 1997) which leads to Malthus.
This may, however, also be an argument to be counterposed against even 'promotionalism.' I would be fully prepared to take on the mantle of benevolent dictator of the world. I know what needs to be done. The dilemna which that presents is that, given our democratic propensities (although those may not be as certain or secure as they might sometimes be taken to be), what I know needs to be done may not be the policy choices of another who came to occupy that position. If my promotions are unquestionable, then perhaps that other would have the same possibilities for their 'promotions.' The wisdom of the political science of Madison was rooted in just such consideration. It would be far better to structure institutions such that the interactive relationships of people involved in the pursuit of their own self-interest could not be interfered with by such institutionalizations.
On this, it can be argued that the Constitutional order fundamentally is geared to a negentropic vision of man and the universe. That is premised on the supposition of what best succeeds in prospering the rising levels of energy throughput in the biosphere. Probably no better examination of this perspective exists than the little known and almost universally ignored treatise of Edgar Allan Poe "Eureka!"
The point is not to disparage promotionalism of markets by governance. It is, however, to enter the posed caveat. And perhaps no better examination of the danger is posed than that of Al Gore in his book "Earth in the Balance." The vision is fundamentally anti-capitalist. Markets and the self interest pursuit they represent -- indeed, the technological advance on human creativity which that infers -- are seen as the culprit, which governance must be prepared to counter. To the extent that liberalism has come to view the world in this manner is precisely the threat which collectivism poses to humanity -- and to this republic.
It is a curious irony that such philosophy, bent by its own admission to acting to prevent the acts of humanity from feeding heat death and the like, are precisely a path toward it, at least in terms of our participation in the negentropic order of the universe. This is also the reason that capitalism possesses the categorical imperative of Kant as its rudimentary ethic. It is double irony because collectivism reposes in the sheepskin of benevolence.
We once refined crude oil for the lubricant and dumped the highly combustible waste product of the process -- until the internal combusiton engine made that waste product so valuable. In a not dissimilar way, 'heat death' is an oxymoron. There is a terrible consequence of collectivism
out of this concern which is almost universally overlooked. If human population must be contained on scarcity of resources, etc., then policy choices must be forthcoming as to just whom it will be that is best suited for survival.
And given the realities of power in the world, the record of such determinations have been all too much like the Darwinian rationalization of pinkness.
When I was a high school student, it was posed that the run-away population growth of the earth would result in
a population of the world of some 12 billion by the year 2000. That was in the early sixties. Some years later, in college, I encountered calculations that projected an intolerable population level of some 10 billion by the new millenium. In the midst of my teaching career, the numbers were further revised to anticipate an unsustainable world population of 8 billion by the end of the century. And now, we are told that the unavoidable consequence of 6 billion souls in a few years will be the fulfillment of Malthus'
dire forecasts. At the same time, the least developed and populated continent, Africa, is touted as the most over- populated, and, hence, we see the terrible results of over-population there so manifest. People, after all, are pollution.
If you scratch a liberal, you will find Malthus. But they are unwilling to face the reality that the policies which have decimated the Third World are the result of their collectivist mentality. It is not altogether incorrect to lay the loss of the 6 billion in the world's population since 1964 at their feet. But the world is not over-populated;
it is underdeveloped. There are not too many people for the world's wealth; what is needed is wealth creation -- aka, capitalism.
The perspective which finds the danger of heat death is thus not only scientifically erroneous, it is morally bankrupt. And the consequences of such mentality are genocidal -- by design, on collectivism. The universe in its negentropic nature will continue to evolve to higher levels of organizational order. The question is whether we will be part of it, or go down fighting -- vainly and vanely -- against it. That is the choice we face. Our volitional decision will rest in great measure on our recognition that entropy equals genocide. If pressed, it would be my estimation that man is, indeed, morally fit to survive, but that is by no means an absolute certitude. It may also represent vanity. After all, I am writing merely in the
e Journal of Political Science. Al Gore and Bill Clinton are doing something quite different. The world may little note what is said here. But it dare not overlook what they, and their compatriots, do.