Monday, April 30, 2007

Now in print

(and in my pile of newly-purchased books--)

Iris Marion Young, Global Challenges: War, Self Determination, And Responsibility for Justice.

This isn't the responsibility book Iris was working on; it's a collection of articles published since 2000, including most of her work from that time that was on themes other than feminism or democratic theory. But these pieces appeared in quite disaparate places despite their thematic connections, so I'm very glad to see them all tied together and accessible.

The first three chapters provide the steps she was taking toward a theory of federalism. It was a theory with which I didn't ultimately agree; but I'm hoping to write up a reconstruction and extrapolation of it, along with an engagement with it, at some point, as there are important points to be found in it. In the meantime, I'm glad people will have the chance to read them together.

Via Brian Leiter, this year's AAAS inductees. I looked at last year's list, well, last year, and discussed the state of political theory in the AAAS.

This year, no theorists in the poli sci list. (Akhil Amar is on the Law list and Robert Pippin, Philosophy.) So it remains true that Michael Walzer has not been inducted. It also remains true that Harvey Mansfield, Richard Flathman, Peter Euben, Michael Zuckert, William Connolly, and Philip Pettit have not been inducted-- all at least arguably serious omissions, with, as I said last year, the omission of Walzer rising to the level of "an embarrassment for the selection process," notwithstanding the highly meritorious group of theorists who have been inducted over the years.

Given how life usually works, I'm surprised to find how good (which is to say "accurate," not necessarily "numerous") the representation of women political theorists among AAAS inductees is. The living women who obviously should be on the list (Elshtain, Nussbaum, Gutmann, Rosenblum, Mansbridge, Pateman, Pitkin, Benhabib), are. I certainly don't see a Walzer-sized hole in the list among women in the field, though of course there may be someone I'm not thinking of.

But in short: no new news here.
A culture of scrutiny

Timothy Burke has an excellent and nuanced post up on what I've always thought of as the The Prisoner source of resistance to big institutions in general and thestate in particular. "I am not a number! I am a free man!" " I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered." Well, yes you will, in any modern society or polity or economy and in any functioning large bureaucratic institution, though there are more an less polite ways of doing all those things and ways that do more or less to convey the sense of being treated merely as a number. I don't think I'd like people who wholly lacked the Prisoner's reactions, but those reactions aren't especially meaningful rules for action.

The moonshine bootlegger, the Loompanics-reading crazy who keeps his life savings in gold under his bed, and the creator of e-mail encryption systems who can still get agitated at the words "Clipper Chip"-- these are libertarianish culture heroes of a very different flavor from John Galt. They're hard to describe in a register that gives them a coherent underlying theory which can be brought into dialogue with theories about why it would be useful for the state to do X. The National ID crad debate always seems to me to have this tone-- the reistance to such a card doesn't make a ton of sense, and there are various efficiencies that could be gained from having one. But I always sympathize with the opponents, and look askance at the reformist tinkerers who seem unable to hear what the opponents are saying.

(None of the above is quite what Burke's on about, and of course I don't mean to attribute my views to him; just some thoughts provoked by his post.)