… so I got my subject for my international politics exam. I have to write 4000 words on it, within a week. 4000 words is really a rather short paper, so the hard part will not be writing the words, but finding the hook and angling the bate.

The question:

  1. What theory(s) can best explain thedisagreements in the Durban II confrence: Huntington’s teory on culture- and civilation clashes or other theories?
  2. What theory(s) can best explain the outcome of the conference?

So how do you angle that? What theories to put in play? How to make this a political scince paper and not an essay? How to chose just a few theories and how to chose the right ones? I got so many ideas for this, non of them concrete enough to really voice. It will properly not suprise you that I got construtivism playing in the background.

The Durban II conference was the conference on racism  this April. And my first thought was: What do the UN think they can do about racism by hosting a conference? Do they really think it will help anything on the ground? It might turn the focus to the issue, but I don’t really see any governments really changing their minds on this. I do perhaps see some getting a push in the right direction. I might be cynical today, but do UN really think that they can change the human fear of those who are different from us? One of the best ways of fighting intolerance is though education so instead of hosting a four day long conference on racism, they should host one on education and poverty. I think that racism is a really bad thing, and I do think that debate is good. I do just not see the Durban confrence helping anything – if anything it drew up the line between the “West” and the no-West even more clearly – making it easier to judge and condem.

As you can see I might have a problem keeping this paper scinetific and non-biased. Keeping it from turning into a essay.


Afraid to be wrong

May 13, 2009

We are so afraid to be wrong that we quote other people’s word, so if we are wrong, at least we let someone else voice our wrongness. We are so afraid that what we think is wrong, that we are afraid to think new thoughts that have not been thought before. If we think thoughts that have been thought before, we say them not in our own voice, but in the voice of others. This kills creative thinking, this slay down new thoughts, before they are even born.

Where our Hephaestus to free our thoughts from our heads? Why have they locked him up, why do they teach us only to think with other people’s thoughts? Were are the tools to think new thoughts? Let Athene out… Let her be born!

Constructionist at hart

March 12, 2009

As you might have guessed if you have read this blog so fare, I think that our ideas about the world matters immensely. How we view the world as individuals and even more important as groups shape the way the world. If we all agree that something is a problem it becomes a problem. If we see a group of people as a problem, they might start to act as one. I do not say that the material world only exist in our heads… because I do believe that chairs, birds and guns do exist in the world. But how we perceive something do very much shape what we can think of doing with the thing. Again I do not say that humans can’t act outside the social norms because they do all the time – it would be really silly to say that they could not. But in the vast amount of times we do use things according to our collective idea of the object. We sit on the chair, we look at the bird… perhaps we eat it or have it as a pet. We use the gun as a weapon – not as piece of art or as a paper wait – though both can and has been done.

Our brain is hardwired to reduce the number of possible options we think of then we see an object so it don’t overload. Then we see something we put it into neat little boxes because that is how our brain works. It is hard for us to think of new ways to do things… we can do it yes… sometimes people do indeed make art out of guns and sit on birds… but most of the time they don’t. Most of the time our preconceived ideas – prejudgments – even do shape way of thinking. Because that is the case it is fertile to look at how people pensive something then you want to do research on something.

To use a classic example to USA the 5 North Korean atomic bombs are much more frightening then Great Britten’s 500 atomic bombs. If you just look at the numbers of weapons without looking at who has them, then you can’t understand why USA is not more afraid of England then North Korea. You can’t make sense world policy and you can’t understand why people act as they do without looking at their perception of the world. It might be annoying for scientists to have to look at something as fluffy as ideas and sometimes it seem so utterly obviously that it seem stupid to look into – a waist of time. But especially then you try to understand another time or part of the world, then you have to look into how they pensive the world – otherwise you will get your results all messed up. That is why it is fertile to study ideas! Ideas matter!

Most of the time we can not look into the heads of people and see what they think, but it is not as hard as it sound to figure out if a country is hostile to another as it might sound – it do not necessarily takes months of boring discours analysis – that can indeed be both tiering, boring and really fruitless to do. Often a really shallow look can indeed reveal it. If the land’s president talk about the country you are looking at as a part of “the asses of evil”, then they are properly not great pales. But if you do not bring the hostility into your analysis, then you will properly get a result that is way off.

The bright side of this is that, unlike how the skeleton of a bird look, we can shape the ideas – perhaps it is hard to do as an individual but if groups of people starts to work for a new meaning of a concept, then it can indeed be changed. The classic example would woman’s role in the west, but I wanna use one of my friends’ favorite example instead: In the 1980s the American public did not see drunk driving as that bad a thing. It was seen as stupid, but not the worst thing you could do. Today 30 years later it is viewed as a really horrible thing to do. Sadly I do not have the statistics because my argument would be so much better with it… but it is a huge change in the perspiration of a crime.

So how we view things matters! Ideas matter. But ideas can be changed by humans.

Sex and Gender

December 9, 2008

I had a long discussion with one of my friends the other day about gender being natural or not. I am not totally sure where I stand on that. On one hand there is no doubt that most men and woman are differently physically, but how much of a difference does the extra bit of meat really make in our minds. I mean plenty of men behave in a way that are considered very feminine and plenty of women are behaving very masculine – and some of them are left very confused about who they are as an individual because of that mixed behaviour. Are we really better of with fairly fixed categories? The problem is that it makes also make it a lot easier for a lot of people to find their place in the world then the roles are fixed.

More then 1 out of 1000 kids are born without a clear sex – can you really talk about natural then more then 1 out of 1000 do not fit into either category physically? I wonder how much out the differences in out behaviours as men and women are cultural. Less then 100 years ago it was said that women did not have the temper to be good students and sit still long enough to take a higher education – today, in Denmark, more women, then men, make it into the universities and all the way though them. It is not 14 days ago I read an article written by a male gymnasium teacher who said that the way we had organised our gymnasiums made it really hard for the boys to make it though. Now it is the boys who have a hard time being good students and sitting still. Have boys changed in the last 100 years – physiological? I think not – have our culture – most certainty. Is gender always a meaningful category to work with? Perhaps age or social background makes more sense or perhaps, number of friends or nights spend out is better categories? Or how about hours spend on exercise? Why do we by default always use gender as a category – even then it is not the most meaningful one to use?

I often find my self more interested in traditional male interests more then in the more girly stuff. On the other hand I love interior design shows and new clothing as much as any teenage girl. Right now I am really looking forward to my haircut in two weeks, but I am also trilled over the pen and paper role-playing section we had last weekend. I find that I have a very un-girly interest in computer-related stuff (why is that a gender thing by the way?) and action movies – but I also find a marvels joy in watching Ugly Betty. Some of the things we associate with gender in my opinion have really very little to do with what is between our legs and more to do with the way we build culture.

Fear of cynicism

November 23, 2008

Once again I am reading for my class tomorrow in Comparative Politics – that is nothing new, but it once again struck me how mad a taste some of these text put into my month. Their view on politics is one where elites rules and where it really isn’t rational for the man on the floor to even vote, because it will not matter anyway. Sometimes after reading a text like that I find my self in a really bad mood and I get angry at text and want to argue with it because they are so cynical. I seriously do not believe that all politicians are in politics just to stuff their own pockets or their best friends’ pockets. I do not want to believe that it is so! I know it isn’t so because as a historian I have seen change happen – great change even over the course of a generation. Big changes normally do not happen over night, that is true, but they can happen. I almost want to quote Obama’s campaign slogan, but that might be too corny – even for me. I just listened to the new Dan Carlin common sense (there is a link down at the bottom of the page) show – and it made me angry of his cynicism – he is judging Obama before he has even taken office – I do not say that there wasn’t’ a lot of common sense in his views because there was, but why do we even bather electing people, if we don’t think they will make a freaking difference. The worst thing that can happen to us is that we become cynical, because then we lose hope in the possibility of change and our view become deterministic – and why should we bather do anything then – it will not matter anyway.

Sorry for rambling – but I am just really annoyed with the people who talk about politics right now! Take some responsibility and believe in something or someone – even if it is only your self!