Tag Archives: marxism

The Political Spectrum

Theories of international relations, simplified for my students.

for dummies

Love Venn diagrams

(Don’t steal my drawings plz)

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Get a grip, Rabbit!

Published in the Friday Times, July 9th issue

Good advice for hard times…

The words on the back of rickshaws are magical, in Punjabi they sound ribald, but once translated into Urdu or English, they instantly attain a deeper gravity. For instance, “Ajj aggay waikh, pichaay na waikh” (don’t look back, look ahead today) and when times get hard, “Lag gai te Rozi, na lagi te Roza”, (If I make money, I’ll feast, if not I’ll fast).

The point is not to sugarcoat adversity, but be sane and simple about it. On the desi front, the best advice on offer does not come from my great grandmother, from a legendary poet, or from a charismatic leader of yore, but from the rickshaw driver. He is a cultural phenomenon in his own right and wants to tell you, “Hosh Ker Kherghosh” (Get a grip, Rabbit!).

On the issue of no-nonsense common sense, the British take the cake. The British are excellent at mincing their words (stiff upper lip and all that) with an inability to match the touch-feely, self-help, motivational sloganeering of America. Thus when Brits find themselves in a tight spot, like the occasional World War, they resort to more restrained and formal modes of address as in
Winston Churchill stoutly saying;“I am an optimist. It doesn’t seem much use being anything else.”

In 1939 on the eve of war, the British government’s Ministry of Information produced three posters, with simple reassuring instructions on how to conduct life during war time. They each said blatantly “Your Freedom is in Peril”; reassuringly “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution, Will Bring Us Victory”; and nonchalantly “Keep Calm and Carry On”; all topped with the comforting seal of King George VI’s crown.

The last poster entered popular culture with the BBC calling it the greatest motivational poster of all time. The two and a half million posters with the “Keep Calm and Carry On” message would only have seen the light of day if Germany had invaded Britain. As it was, the need never arose and they were pulped, much to the delight of the Ministry of Information, except that a box went missing and was discovered in 2008 in a house in Northumbria. The discoverers, Mr and Mrs Manley, put the poster up in their bookshop and it became a national treasure. Continue reading Get a grip, Rabbit!

British school international political economy (BS IPE?)

The British school of international political economy is where I have been “trained”. Why does this matter? Well I didn’t think it when I applied for my course, it seemed like a good degree to do after studying economics. Here’s my two cents for those of you asking what is wrong with me.

There are some things missing at the “British School” style of IPE education, that I realize now that my formal education is kinda over.

A) The acute focus on theory; theory that is itself “Brit-school”. This includes a lot of focus on epistemology and ontology, liberal trade theory as it applied to Europe, “Marxist” theory of the critical branch coming from Robert Cox from Canada and people like Rosenberg and Linklater in UK.

B) There is a lack of focus on methods, including statistics and economics. Thus data analysis takes a back seat.

C) Teaching isn’t as rigorous as I wanted it to be. What they called teaching, I called guidance to the right book in the library.

On the plus side, usually British teachers (in the politics field at least) are very open, and responsive.

British school IPE though good as a social science subject is probably good for politics, a little bit of media, and maybe even something like working for the European Commission or the UN (if you are white or extremely lucky). If you don’t want to cause a socialist revolution, want to do formal research, be able to rigorously handle numbers and get a good job in the underdeveloped country with massive figures of poverty get thyself to the US. Or just stick with the economists.

Look here if you’re interested:

Brit vs American IPE: http://ipeatups.blogspot.com/2007/01/british-versus-american-ipe.html

Old and New IPE-Keohane: http://pdfserve.informaworld.com/218504__909094975.pdf

Prayer to Karl Marx

A specter is haunting the space between my ears. The specter is chewing on my brain cells. Please listen to my plea, while the specter chews and gnaws on my brain tissues and I momentarily spasm and drool.

I know you think that Capitalism is dead labor, and vampire like, and sucks on living labor etc. But the thing is firstly, I love buying new stuff Mr. Marx. Really, makes me happy. Like opium. And secondly, though you are sexy, vampires are more so. Were their vampires in your time?? I cant find any. I’m supposing that since you talked of vampires you probably read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. So in my book you are a cool dude no matter what the pope says about you. I would check if you and Mr. Stoker were alive at the same time but I am too lazy to Google it.
I sometimes wonder what you would say about Google.

Karl my man, I am bummed out. I know you were a real hippie cool cat with your communist party and all, so if my property isn’t private no more, can I still keep my posters?? Pretty please.

Getting to the point, I am writing an essay saying that you did nothing for the International Relations discipline. Please forgive. I do love you. But its business you know. I will however to quell your wrath write about how amazing historical materialism has been for the Neo’s. Even though Waltz points at them and laughs.

I pray to you, reveal to me the awsomeness of hysterical and diabolical mysterialism so I can curse the other students with it and get an A+. I never quite got the hang of it. Also reveal to me you theory of surplus value, I am too dumb to understand Kapital. I have been trying ever since I was a wee freshman half a decade ago.

I oxymoronically pray to you, with a sickel in my left hand and a hammer in my right (or should i hold them the other way around??). If you didn’t go to hell for giving Lenin his crazy ideas, please bless my essay. Bless my mom, and dad. Bless my commie friends back home. Don’t bless Zardari. And please shave.