Wed, 17 Aug 2005

Spent almost all of yesterday off the computer studying for my exam tonight; probably the same today once I finish writing this. Several people have emailed me with not-quite-urgent stuff, if so, I’ve ignored you, sorry- if it makes you feel better, you’re in good company. Board emails (some of them) and emails from are about all I’ve seriously read over the past 36 hours, and that will continue until after my exam tonight.

In an effort to not study for like ten straight hours, but also seeking to avoid the time-sucking quality of the computer, I spent part of the day reading The Authoritarian Dynamic, by Karen Stenner, who I took some classes from at Duke before she fled to Princeton. The book has been in the pipeline for a while- we read some drafts of part of it when I was in her class (spring 1998) and Amazon just shipped the first copies on Monday. May I never work on a project that takes that long to ship ;) The topic of the book is what she calls ‘the authoritarian predisposition’- badly paraphrased, a type of personality who craves societal homogeneity, and who reacts to perceived threats to that homogeneity by increasing the degree to which they agree with authoritarian political viewpoints. In scope and aim, the book is one of those (like Lessig’s Code or Rawls’ Theory of Justice) that at least attempts to basically overthrow all established learning on the subject- this wikipedia entry on what was formerly called ‘Authoritarian Personality’ will have to be nearly completely rewritten in a year if her theory is widely accepted. The book is excellent so far (I’m through chapter five), though disappointingly it seems like she has narrowed her claims somewhat from what I understood her to be saying in 1998, in accordance with what seems like (to me) the least verifiable part of her otherwise quite excellent and extensive data sets, and weakening the relevance to our current political situation. Seems like she has another book (‘The Politics of Fear’) in the pipeline to remedy that, though.

Anyway, off to study…