Henry Farrell Profile picture
SNF Agora Professor of International Affairs, Johns Hopkins SAIS. Monkey Cage. Crooked Timber. But tweets all my own.
Stan Downs (Version 8.2.1) *Per La Resistenza* Profile picture kiddphunk Profile picture 弦外無音 Profile picture Jon Phipps Profile picture marafat Profile picture 5 added to My Authors
25 May
1. So this went up yesterday - preposterousuniverse.com/podcast/2021/0… - and I'm very happy with it - @seanmcarroll questions and sense of how the various arguments pulled together meant that I sound far more coherent than I usually feel.
2. As noted in the interview, anything genuinely intelligent-sounding that I said should likely be attributed to the co-authors whom I am leaning on heavily throughout. We discussed work with Cosma Shalizi, with @hugoreasoning and Melissa Schwartzberg, and with Marion Fourcade .
3. Also, by sheer coincidence (the interview took place a couple of months ago), we talked about the main themes of a report by @schneierblog and I that @SNFAgoraJHU published yesterday on the current state of American democracy. It's here - snfagora.jhu.edu/publication/re…
Read 11 tweets
19 May
1. Some repercussions from this that may not be obvious to non-academics. This is going to be a very big blow to the University of North Carolina. Universities live in a reputation system - and UNC has just taken a big hit to its credibility.
2. First - the Board has substantially damaged the university's ability to attract good professors. If you are a young professor, and you are lucky enough that you can choose among a couple of tenure track jobs, you are going to be less likely to want to go to to UNC.
3. Why would you want to gamble on the decision of a board of trustees that has to approve your tenure case, and will shoot down candidates because of their politics? It's an additional risk - especially in a country where political controversies can come out of nowhere.
Read 8 tweets
14 May
1. Kim Stanley Robinson has just posted his response - this completes the seminar that we've been running on his new book, The Ministry for the Future. crookedtimber.org/2021/05/14/res… . The contributions to the seminar, in order of publication were:
2. The initial organizing post, introducing the seminar, and with links to all the individual posts is here - crookedtimber.org/2021/05/03/the…
3. @OlufemiOTaiwo on the different trajectories of change depicted in the US and India, and what that says about global power and our collective imagination crookedtimber.org/2021/05/03/wha… .
Read 12 tweets
11 May
1. So an important story I've been waiting to see someone write up properly, and haven't, yet: How Fox News Grandpa Got His Jab. The numbers tell us that older Americans are getting vaccinated in high numbers. But lots of them are conservative Republicans. So what gives?
2. First - the numbers According to the CDC - usafacts.org/visualizations… - approx. 83% of Americans between the ages of 65-75 and 80% between 75-85 have gotten at least one shot. That is a thumping majority of a demographic that has tended Republican and has lots of Fox viewers.
3. There are obvious obvious provisos with trying to extrapolate too far. There may be problems with the CDC data. It's trying to capture the overall population, not the voting/politically-engaged/political-tv-watching population. And you can add your own to your heart's content.
Read 15 tweets
3 May
1. Thread. crookedtimber.org/2021/05/03/the… We’re running a Crooked Timber seminar on Kim Stanley Robinson’s extraordinary book the Ministry for the Future. This book has already gotten lots of attention (see @ezraklein vox.com/2020/11/30/217… and @BarackObama )
2. So what we want to do is to help the book start doing its practical work in the world. It's a novel that both sets out to make the consequences of climate change as viscerally as possible, and to think through what other economic, technological, political and social changes...
3. might help fight it and perhaps, over the longer term, even start to turn it back. It is in short, a book that is intended to be read as a novel, but also to start arguments and get people moving to start doing things. We've brought together a number of different people.
Read 6 tweets
12 Mar
1. @ANewman_forward and I have seen our term #WeaponizedInterdependence become a broadly used shorthand for describing the emerging world (article: direct.mit.edu/isec/article/4… , coedited book with @dandrezner amzn.to/2OnGNLO. Two new examples suggest it's going international:
2. One is @StevenErlanger new NYT piece nytimes.com/2021/03/12/wor… , talking about how the US has "weaponized" the dollar, and Europe wants to respond. In @GuntramWolff words, "To be credible you need reciprocity, and retaliation is the only way to do it." But as Guntram elaborates,
3. the problem is that ""the politics are more difficult,’’ ... given the asymmetrical power of the U.S. Treasury and the global role of the dollar. “The reality is that there is no united European power able to project power on that scale.’’"
Read 20 tweets
2 Mar
1. amzn.to/2MILMpM Today's the launch date for The Uses And Abuses of Weaponized Interdependence, which @dandrezner @ANewman_forward and I have co-edited. This is, for better or worse, a timely book - the issues that we all talk about are core problems in global politics
2. bloomberg.com/news/articles/… Take this @business piece by @NickWadhams that came out yesterday - it describes how the US-China rivalry is focused on fights over technology more than traditional military confrontation.
3. Wadham's piece is based on conversations with U.S. sources, who emphasize China's threat. The people he talked to describe "a sense that China has essentially forced the U.S. to start breaking off elements of business and technology relations in a pattern known as decoupling."
Read 18 tweets
10 Jan
1. Short thread - on the various claims we're seeing from Republican politicians over the last few days that the Democratic push for accountability is "divisive." Damn right it's divisive - that is what it has to be.
2. It is intended to enforce a clear division between those who accept and are committed to democracy and those who are willing to turn to violence when the vote doesn't turn out the way that they want it to.
3. One of the basic implications of Adam Przeworski's theoretic work is that democracy is made out of mutually reinforcing expectations, and those expectations are fragile. If some actors think they would be better off defecting from the democratic bargain, they will.
Read 11 tweets
23 Nov 20
1. Today, @schneierblog and I have a piece in the New York Times, on how Trump's enablers are damaging democracy - nytimes.com/2020/11/23/opi… (read it together with nytimes.com/2020/11/23/opi… by @rickhasen - both published on the same day and cover different aspects of same problem).
2. What our piece does is the following. First, to argue that democracy is an information system, where the most crucial information that needs to be protected is the scaffolding of beliefs that democracy needs to work.
3. Second, that like other more traditional information systems (think computer servers) the key vulnerabilities are much more easily exploited by insiders (U.S. politicians) than outsiders (Russian trolling efforts). And that explains why U.S. democracy is in trouble.
Read 12 tweets
7 Nov 20
1. washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/… My @monkeycageblog take on the plausible story behind the decision of the NYT/networks all to jump at once after days of waiting. Brief summary below.
2. The role of major newspapers and networks in the U.S. "saying" that the presidential election has been won is weird, and as far as I know highly unusual internationally. It obviously isn't a law - but it has become a collective norm/expectation.
3. While I don't know of any research on this (but IANA Americanist), my presumption is that this is a contingent byproduct of a decentralized vote counting system, where there isn't any immediate official decision as to what has happened overall.
Read 14 tweets
31 Jul 20
1. (thread) reuters.com/article/us-chi… This story talks about a report suggesting that China should move away from the SWIFT financial network to reduce its vulnerabilities to US penalties and surveillance. It's _just_ a report. Still, as @RichardMNephew says, "Watch this space."
2. The background to this is the way in which the US has weaponized global economic networks such as SWIFT (which is lynchpin of world financial system) against adversaries, as @ANewman_forward and I describe in our work on #WeaponizedInterdependence mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.116….
3. Systems such as SWIFT used to be disregarded in the same ways as the plumbing of a building is disregarded - so long as it works, who cares? Now, however, the plumbing is becoming political as networks are weaponized. China's problem is that it can't readily retaliate in kind.
Read 20 tweets
28 Jul 20
1. Thread on my and @ANewman_forward piece at Lawfare lawfareblog.com/schrems-ii-off…, which in turn builds on our recent book amzn.to/2UVnyI6 . Short version - the Schrems II decision taking down Privacy Shield transfers etc. doesn't mean what US commentators think it means.
2. US security people have reacted to the decision with disappointment, derision or anger (a strong sense of 'there go those crazy ECJ judges again' pervading the debate). They find the notion that international surveillance should be subjected to judicial scrutiny weird.
3. But this, we say, fundamentally misunderstands how surveillance has changed in a world of fast communications networks and interdependence. It's not just targeted and expensive pursuit of high value targets - instead it involves bulk collection of data on entire populations.
Read 13 tweets
6 Jul 20
1. @annawiener has a great new article on Section 230 in the New Yorker this morning. IR scholars tend not to pay much attention to domestic laws like 230. In a new piece (forthcoming in @IntOrgJournal) @ANewman_forward and I argue that's a mistake
2. A next to-final draft is here - dropbox.com/s/tvyxmwqvwwjf…. Our argument is straightforward - that rules like 230, which effectively delegate the regulation of user-generated content to platform companies - were the foundation of the global communications order.
3. They not only underpinned the business models of companies like Facebook, but seemed like a win-win for the US model of liberalism, spreading US values (open communication) at the same time as they promoted the economic interests of US companies.
Read 20 tweets
9 Jun 20
I just finished writing a piece on the demise of Bleeding Heart Libertarians and the divisions among intellectual libertarians an hour ago crookedtimber.org/2020/06/09/bro…. Then @lindsey_brink writes an essay which speaks more directly to the disagreements. It's strong stuff.
"When it comes to making government strong enough and capable enough to do the things it needs to do, libertarianism is silent. Actually, worse than silent. ... [it] .... is dedicated to the proposition that the contemporary American state is illegitimate and contemptible."
"The gradual diffusion of these anti-government attitudes through the conservative movement and the Republican Party has rendered the American right worse than irrelevant to the project of restoring American state capacity. "
Read 14 tweets
6 Jun 20
(1 of n) - Today is a day of big protests. I want to highlight this piece by @lara_putnam @EricaChenoweth and @djpressman on the protest movement more generally. washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/… . This is one of those occasions on which @monkeycageblog can provide unique insight.
Lara has been doing research on political organizing in Pennsylvania. Erica and Jeremy have been gathering an extraordinary large scale dataset on protests across the US. They combine these understandings in this piece to figure out how the Floyd protests are changing America.
Their findings. First - we have never seen protests as broad as these in US history. Likely the widest set of protests to this point were the Women's Marches, which took place in 650 places across the US. Even with highly preliminary data, clear that far more is happening now.
Read 9 tweets
22 May 20
1. A short thread on this very interesting conversation between @njtmulder @adam_tooze and Mark Mazower last week on coronavirus and big structural questions, trying to pull together a few of the themes, and perhaps butchering them in the process bit.ly/2Xk3NMc
2. The most striking part of the conversation was Tooze's notion of the "Blitzkrieg Anthropocene" - that we are realizing that the Anthropocene is not just a matter of slow trench warfare over decades, but sudden overwhelming attacks that upset our basic beliefs about what works.
3. So if we are not in a world of la guerre de longue durée, what happens next? Tooze, building on and arguing with Mulder, stressed the limits of wartime analogies - particularly ones that stressed the need for an enemy to mobilize state planning and solidarity.
Read 15 tweets
1 May 20
1. So my @five_books interview on the politics of information is up - fivebooks.com/best-books/pol… (conducted in February, and in what feels like a different world). It builds a sort of curriculum for @EconoScribe essay in the Economist Christmas special - economist.com/christmas-spec….
2. The books covered are Spufford's Red Plenty, Lindblom's Market System, Simon's Sciences of the Artificial, Weyl and Posner's Radical Markets and Wiener's Uncanny Valley. Argument is that to understand politics we need to understand how economy is being remade by algorithms.
3. And (again building on @econoscribe ) that the best way to do this is to start from the old back and forths of the socialist calculation debate, and figure out where things have changed, and where we are recapitulating the terms of a much older argument.
Read 7 tweets
24 Apr 20
1. washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/… This article by @ankehassel and Kathy Thelen is a good example of how @monkeycageblog can bridge academic knowledge and public debate. There's a lot of argument around the US Paycheck Protection Program. How does it compare to what other countries do?
2. Hassel and Thelen use their understanding of comparative political economy and public policy to get at the crucial differences between US and European approach. Both have programs to subsidize firms to keep people working. But differences of approach have big consequences.
3. First, the US approach was to throw a specific pot of money at the program on a first-come, first served basis. This led to a feeding frenzy - far more companies wanted it than got it (hence some of the politics around a second package). Big contrast to European approach
Read 15 tweets
7 Apr 20
1. A thread on William Gibson's novel Agency, summarizing this crookedtimber.org/2020/04/06/age… and explaining/partly disagreeing with its implicit thesis (which is very plausibly distinct from Gibson's own views, novels being novels and not political tracts).
2. Gibson invents a world a century or so into our future, after a series of linked catastrophes called the jackpot, which have resulted in massive human die-off. Somehow, people in this future learn how to create 'stubs' - alternative worlds branching from our present/future.
3. "The Peripheral" was about the interactions between the far future and a future a couple of decades ahead of us, where rural America's economy has cratered. Agency, a sort of sequel, presents a new stub, that has branched off our own, where HRC won in 2016.
Read 20 tweets
1 Apr 20
1. The way that I have been thinking about this is that there are two things happening at once. One is what gets most of the attention - the broad decline in US "leadership" (which here stands in for US unwillingness to support the order that it's created)
2. The second is the disintegration of the US policy process. Trump governs in a highly personalist style, better befitting one of the more mediocre Renaissance princelings than a modern administrator - crookedtimber.org/2016/11/20/kis…. This results in policy incoherence.
3. The point is that the two can work at cross purposes. Lack of "leadership" at the top co-exists with administrative chaos, which means _both_ that it is hard to get concerted action, _and_ that the more independent minded branches of the state can sometimes do their own thing.
Read 4 tweets
23 Mar 20
1. @HarvardBiz has just published a new piece by @ANewman_forward and I on coronavirus and "reverse protectionism." hbr.org/2020/03/will-g… We look at how supply chain fears are reshaping global markets and spilling over into vaccine development, which should be cooperative
2. The logic is straightforward - that in a world where states fear that they don't have enough basic medical supplies for their citizens, they are going to want to hoard what they have. Regular protectionism involves import restriction. Reverse protectionism restricts exports.
3. We have seen this happening within the EU - where Germany initially responded to Italy's urgent request for medical supplies by restricting exports of medical equipment, while the French government effectively requisitioned all the medical masks in its national territory.
Read 13 tweets