November 25, 2005


Stranger in a Strange Land: A Historian among Political Scientists (Timothy R. Furnish, 11/21/05, History News Network)

I like political scientists. Much of what I do as a historian overlaps with what they do (particularly in terms of creating patterns that allow for transnational and transcontinental analysis). In fact, some of my best friends are political scientists.

Nonetheless, it will be a cold day in Baghdad before I ever chair another Middle East panel at a political science conference. The only place I’ve ever encountered more Bush-bashing was among American academics at the American Research Institute in Istanbul. Of course, everyone knows that academia is overwhelmingly populated by liberals (folks who voted for John Kerrey and whose 1978 Volvos are held together by “Bush Lied” and “Somewhere in Texas a Village is Missing its Idiot” bumper stickers) and Leftists (folks who think the former are too conservative, not to mention nice). I’ve long since abandoned any hope that this skewed playing field will be leveled any time soon. But is it too much to ask that political scientists, of all disciplines, allow the latter part of their moniker to even slightly intrude upon the former?

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 25, 2005 3:08 PM

Maybe it's because "political science" takes its cues from alchemy and astrology (and psychiatry) instead of real science?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 25, 2005 6:05 PM

The chair of the poli sci department at my alma mater was an avowed communist and my advisor (yes, I was a political science major in college) was a liberal Democrat who often lamented my wayward political tendancies.

Posted by: Dave W. at November 25, 2005 7:56 PM


No, "real" science is just as politicized.

Posted by: oj at November 25, 2005 8:17 PM

My son, who flirted with communism to my horror, made his argument with the rhetorical question: Why is it that every Pol. Sci. Professor I've had in two colleges were Communists?

He has since become a highly successful Capitalist with the wonderful attendent privileges, but alas, remains a left wing antiglobalist liberal Democrat. Sigh!

Posted by: Genecis at November 25, 2005 8:31 PM

My poli sci professor in college whose course dealt with communsium as applied in the real world looked like a young Karl Marx, but humerously, proceeded to trash Marx's theory once the class got going, much to the consternation of the young radicals in the audience (hence the humor part). Of course, this was 25 years ago; nowadays, no matter how much he looked like their hero, most of the rest of the faculty wouldn't give tenure to a man running a bait-and-switch operation like that.

Posted by: John at November 25, 2005 10:44 PM

My political science profs (a Catholic college, class of '69) were a pretty conservative bunch. Anthropology was another matter. We had a guy we called, "Red Stan," who openly recruited people to go to Chicago to disrupt the '68 Democrat convention. Well, somebody (I wonder who it could have been) reported Red Stan to the FBI--It was that kind of place, with ROTC in uniform on campus, every day.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 26, 2005 2:29 AM

Lou, Red Stan was within his rights to speak as he wished, so what could the FBI do (other than spirit him away and take him to their secret chamber of horrors buried deep in the Carpathian mountains), I mean?

Posted by: erp at November 26, 2005 9:36 AM

I may have mentioned this before, but I had a Russian history prof who once stated in class that George Kennan knew more about the Soviet Union than Alexander Solzhenitsyn. I asked him to repeat himself - and he did. I knew about mindless academics (I had started reading NR the year before), but I was stunned to hear such idiocy nonetheless.

This was in 1982, when Reagan was going to launch a nuclear war the next morning (you know, the 'fascist' gun in the West, as he was called at the Lutheran Student Center).

We actually had a visit at Penn State from two Soviet embassy flunkys in late 1979, as they tried to show that Carter was the roadblock to peace. A friend of mine asked them why their nation was a virtual prison - why not just let the unhappy citizens go and keep all the New Soviet Ubermen? They didn't like the question. Another student (a large football player) asked them if Andrei Sakharov was enjoying his vacation in Siberia - they were not amused. There weren't many fawning questions - I guess they didn't have any plants in the audience.

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 26, 2005 10:26 AM

I had a professor of Asian History who railed against the desruction of world culture by the American hegemon. He was a Korean war draft dodger (from Korea). Not to be culturally insensitive, but I crack up every time I think about his rant against commercialism, in his thick accent: "Everywhere you go you see friggin' Kentucky Bucket!"

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 26, 2005 11:38 AM