Keep an Open Mind      
 Since my last (it’s been a while, I am tempted to make excuses, but what’s the point right?) the papers and the news were full of Egypt, happiness and respect for the Egyptian people to take matters into their hands;  Resentment towards Mubarak for having taken so much time;   Then the spread of democracy on the Middle East and beyond. The scent of Jasmine is sweet this time of the year.

But there is also the more laid back and the less enthusiastic, the Realpoliticians, those who see this democracy thing as an opportunity for extremists to take advantage of the vacuum and fill a much required need.  The fear of radicalization, a reproduction of Iran 1979, or the path shown by Turkey: this is thinking by proxy, appropriating and reproducing images of the past and replacing them awkwardly in the present, and trying to make them fit.  It is poor intellectual work that leads to an oversimplification what is actually happening.

Is it all wrong? I don’t think so, but we need to be very prudent and very demanding in our expectations.  Diachronic comparative politics has the potential of providing for very rich analysis, but it requires to be very precise as to what exactly it seeks to explore and uncover.  Oversimplifying matters by creating analogies between pseudo similar situations would be to create those big variables, like states and identities, and link them scientifically with principles of recurrences and such.

Am I stating the obvious? Maybe, but one look at the news will convince you that opinions and analysis’ are everywhere. But to really make sense of all that information, to transform in to some form of knowledge requires work. But it also raises another important point: one needs to define the purpose of the analysis. Is it to understand the events, the mechanisms at different levels; Is to predict a course of action in order to set his own? Is it to influence the events as they occur? Different questions, different approaches.

Leave a Reply.