Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Study Break: Elementary IR

What better way to study for IR than via a blog post? So welcome, good readers. Today, you are going to learn a thing or two about international relations.

One nation, under...damnit.
Nation, or State? (by Abby and Brian)
Let's start with the basics: simple terms. The world is divided into states. The United States is not, in fact, comprised of 50 states; rather, it is one big state. Likewise, the United Nations is not comprised of nations; rather, it is comprised of states. So the United Nations really ought to be called the United States, but the name was already taken by the humongous power that should perhaps be called the United State, for clarity. Furthermore, the United States is neither a great nation, nor a good nation, nor a moderate nation, because it's not a nation at all. It's just a state. A really big state. The Kurds, on the other hand, are a nation. And Japan is a nation-state. We don't use the term country; it has nothing to do with international politics.

Google might dispute my claim.

Good Theory

You cannot have a theory that the moon is made of cheese. You can have a theory that it will rain. If you observe that, each time the Democrats try and pass something, the Republican senators block it, you can form a law, even though the Senate can't. A hypothesis can be a theory. A law can be a theory. A hypothesis cannot be a law. Good theories are important. Important theories are good. The simpler the better. Simplegood. Theories must be satisfying; they should not leave unanswered questions (or should they?). They clear must be. Good theories provide useful policy recommendations that solve all the world's problems and avoid conflict and danger. Bad theories allow bad things to happen. If anything bad ever happens, blame a theory. Good theories are false. Or falsifiable. I can't remember. A theory that cannot be arrow-diagrammed is not a theory. It is also not an arrow-diagram.

#2 pencils: doubly decisive
Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3...
Counter-factual is the term political scientists would use, should a hypothetical situation arise. Hoops are decisively negative, while smoking guns are decisively positive. Doubly decisive tests are taken on a pass-fail basis, but IR midterms aren't. Straw-in-the-wind tests are useless; the people who do standardizing testing probably make them. Correlation does not imply causation, though where there is one, there is sometimes the other.

Make the pie higher
Paradigms: Makes (20) Sense?
Realists help themselves, rationally. They live in anarchy, which isn't too chaotic, because they've got states, which are units (but still not countries). Square states do not make units squared. The realist goal is survival. They can only ever count to zero, which is why they don't share well with others. Liberals also live in anarchy, but they're happy about it. Their goals are prosperity and welfare, but especially welfare; liberals love welfare. They can count way past zero, which is why they have so many friends. They believe that not all states are the same, probably because they learned geometry from the same teachers who taught them how to count so well. Radicals believe in everything; constructivist radicals start doing so by disagreeing with the most basic beliefs of realists and liberals. They think everything is subjective, aside from their theories, which are undeniably true. Marxist radicals care a lot about economics, classes, and sickles.

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