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March 2, 2005

Changes in the Middle East: Is this the way the world works

Topics: Middle East News and Perspectives

I've long felt that a pattern was emerging in the Middle East, and although I am not a political scientist, have been comfortable with the changes that I believe have been the result of President Bush's actions and leadership during the past couple of years, albeit not always for the right reasons and sometimes in spite of unexpected, and occasionally expected, missteps. Then comes this interesting article at Dean's World:

Poli-Sci geeks will want to make note of this. Political scientist R.J. Rummel notes that we shold not be shocked that we suddenly see breakouts of democracy all over the Middle East.

This is the way the world works. It is a process of things being in equilibrium, an equilibrium that increasingly is out of balance with the underling reality, then a sudden breakdown in the equilibrium caused by some trigger, and a jump to new equilibrium better fitting reality. This also gets increasingly out of balance, breaks down, and another new equilibrium is created, and this over and over ad infinitum.

He compares it to the shifting pressures of tectonic plates, in which tensions build up and then finally snap to a new position, causing earthquakes. Political change works much the same way in his view, and he gives the following illustration:

Posted by Hyscience at March 2, 2005 10:06 AM

This is only interesting if you're a philosophy dork. If you're not, apologies for wasting space. One problem that's always interested is how ostensibly non-normative ontologies seem to entail normative commitments. The is/ought gap tells us that ontology doesn't entail normativity.

This, then:

This is the way the world works. It is a process of things being in equilibrium, an equilibrium that increasingly is out of balance with the underling reality, then a sudden breakdown in the equilibrium caused by some trigger, and a jump to new equilibrium better fitting reality.

also is a good phenomenological explanation of how it is that ontology does, in practice, entail normativity.

Powerful metaphor.

Posted by: jpe at March 2, 2005 11:17 AM

It's interesting for anyone intrested in philosophy OR political science. ;-)

If you do calculus, check out Rummell's mathematical proof. But what strikes me as most interesting is really that the pattern seems to describe a lot of things--the birth of a child, a marital breakup, revolutions....

Posted by: Dean Esmay at March 2, 2005 3:07 PM



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