Dan Nexon Profile picture
24 Nov, 11 tweets, 3 min read
I generally agree with @tzimmer_history about👇; blaming "polarization" for the crisis of U.S. democracy is a convenient, "nonpartisan" way of glossing over the real problem. But, I think he winds up downplaying the reasons why polarization does matter.
NB: We should distinguish between two different conceptions of polarization.

1) a process in which some categorical (identity) pair – such as Protestant and Catholic, Serb and Croat, capitalist and proletariat – increasingly organizes, and bounds, all other social relations.
In a hypothetical society that was *completely* polarized around the categories of "Protestant" and "Catholic," we'd see no ties that crossed that boundary: no Protestant-Catholic marriages, no Protestant-Catholic trade, and no Protestant-Catholic friendships.
2) a process in which some categorical (identity) pair increasingly *predicts* divergent preferences between people who fall into the two different categories.
In this sense, the first inflection point for political polarization was when party identification – not, say, socioeconomic status or regional affiliation – became the best predictor of an individual's policy preferences.
These two different understandings are obviously related, and they can certainly reinforce one another. But it's important to be clear which we're talking about. I'll call the first "social polarization" and the second "ideological polarization."
Now, when we talk about the roots of contemporary social *and* ideological polarization, we're (in a crude sense) talking about longer-term and shorter-term developments.
The major long-term process is the shift of white, southern conservatives from DEM to GOP. This process took decades, and was still ongoing at least until 2010. In crude terms, that's a fair amount of your increase in ideological polarization right there.
[Okay, I'm gonna level with y'all. I was taking a break from work to draft part of a thread, but I accidentally hit "Tweet all." I thought that maybe I could pull this out without eating up too much time. But I can't. So, for now I'll just give the rather basic tl;dr, which is
... you can't get here without prior ++ social and + ideological polarization. It's what prevented insurmountable levels of GOP defections in 2016 and what keeps the "Trump coalition" from ripping itself to shreds.
It's how a demagogue can take over the GOP and bring the base of the party wherever he wants to take it. It's why the #NeverTrumpers don't matter: they're mostly on the "wrong" side of the social & identity cleavages the GOP was *already* emphasizing even before Trump.]

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More from @dhnexon

2 Oct
This thread treats “grand strategy” as primarily a prescriptive matter rather than an analytical one. That, and the definition @ProfPaulPoast winds up on, is just the tip of the iceberg.
The most influential piece on the concept of grand strategy in recent years is probably Nina Solove’s Security Studies article. tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.10…
What are those three meanings?
1) grand strategy as a plan Image
Read 12 tweets
26 Sep
<thread> I think @michelleinbklyn and @NGrossman81 are on the right tack but missing the forest for the trees. We are on the other side of a *massive* cultural change *and* we also crossed an inflection point around ten years ago.
As @profmusgrave is fond of reminding me, public opinion on same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization shifted at an unprecedented rate. I suspect if U.S. pollsters had consistently included opinions on trans rights we’d see even faster change.
If you look at almost any aspect of the “cancel culture” wars, you’ll find almost nothing that wasn’t a live issue in the 1980s – or even earlier. I was in college during the “PC” wars of the early 1990s, and the script feels very familiar.
Read 9 tweets
21 Sep
Remember the "Color Revolutions" are antidemocratic argument that started to appear in right-wing media close to the election? There would have been mass protests, of course. Trump would have ordered their suppression, at least in Washington, DC.
Remember the White House installing loyalists – or at least people it believed would be loyal – in the Pentagon? The security services would have split; decent odds of an attempted military coup d'état.
Read 4 tweets
8 Aug
Since I've been quite critical of Dan and John, I guess the tl;dr is that I just don't care much for the terms of debate.

So, anyway, this is a thread about some things that bug me about Shidore's reply to D&I.
Do they👇though? John's written two books arguing that liberal-internationalist hegemony is more stable than illiberal hegemony; but he's also argued that unilateralism and the imprudent use of force undermines that stability.
Does any of that mean that a US in relative decline should rely on military instruments to *preserve* the primacy it acquired via the implosion of the USSR? That's less clear, especially when we move beyond security relations with core allies to the matter of "global dominance."
Read 25 tweets
7 Aug
I’ve seen nearly a dozen highly-praised but, in truth, “adequate” threads on the D&I attack on QI. This reply to @ProfPaulPoast comes the closest to understanding what D&I are actually about.
D&I misfire by trying to excavate a coherent core to realism + right-libertarian.

There is no core.

Realist-libertarianism exists largely because of the idiosyncratic intellectual interests of billionaires.
Instead, D&I should have argued that when you throw realism and right-libertarianism into a blender you get a result that many realists & all progressives should be uncomfortable with; said realists and progressives should think hard if they want to forward that project.
Read 8 tweets
3 Jul
This is a ++ important piece by ⁦@profmusgrave⁩. He focuses on the big examples of how the use (clash of civilizations) or misuse (democratic peace theory) of political-science ideas have shaped bad policy. But that’s only one part of the problem. foreignpolicy.com/2021/07/03/pol…
The rise of digital media greatly expanded both the opportunities and possible styles of public-facing scholarship. For most of the 2000s, the field was, at best, ambivalent about this.
The breakout 1st-wave bloggers, such as @dandrezner were subjects of both praise and scorn. Some of this was driven by principled concern. Some if it was driven by resentment.
Read 32 tweets

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