Nightcap

  1. Noise, interests, and democracy Chris Dillow, S&M
  2. Meritocracy and its discontents Wilfred McClay, Hedgehog Review
  3. Something must be done Lee Jones, Disorder of Things
  4. Nuclear power and the environmentalists Scott Sumner, EconLog

Nightcap

  1. That brutal uncivilizer of nations (pdf) Jens Bartelson, CAL
  2. […] the Taliban, who have long made international recognition and legitimacy a priority.
  3. The end of the interstate system (pdf) Giovanni Arrighi, JW-SR
  4. Habsburgs, Ottomans, and British anti-slavers (pdf) Allison Frank, AHR

Nightcap

  1. The hidden story of the Singapore Mutiny Francis Sempa, ARB
  2. The rise and fall of Rhodesia Xan Smiley, Literary Review
  3. Illusions of “American” empire Santiago Ramos, Commonweal
  4. China’s quiet play for Latin America Margaret Myers, Noema

Nightcap

  1. Albert Camus and imperial nostalgia Oliver Gloag (interview), Jacobin
  2. The true meaning of Christmas is a cozy American worldview Paul Musgrave, Foreign Policy
  3. The Christmas truce of 1914 Joseph Eanett, War on the Rocks
  4. Is cord-cutting still worth it? Stephen Silver, 19FortyFive

Nightcap

  1. Accidents in ideological machines Chris Shaw, Libertarian Ideal
  2. Reordering the liberal world order Duncan Bell, Disorder of Things
  3. 10 best history books of 2020? RealClearHistory
  4. Byzantines, Ottomans, and Turkey Nick Ashdown, Newlines

Nightcap

  1. Nietzsche in the Frankfurt School Sid Simpson, JHIBlog
  2. The problem of prosocial lying in the economics profession George DiMartino, Duck of Minerva
  3. Drunks and democrats Vaughn Scribner, Aeon
  4. The intimacies of four continents (podcast) Disorder of Things collective

Nightcap

  1. Migraines, operating rooms, and the common good Irfan Khawaja, Policy of Truth
  2. Zheng Guanying’s democratic trade war Gabriel Groz, JHIBlog
  3. World War I and the ideology of empire Andrew Bacevich, Cato Unbound
  4. The curse of being a Bhutto Isambard Wilkinson, Spectator

Nightcap

  1. What is the human being? Jon Stewart, Aeon
  2. Premature imitation and India’s flailing state (pdf) Rajagopalan & Tabarrok, TIR
  3. Is it time to strike back at empire? Tony Barber, Financial Times
  4. Adam Smith: a historical historical detective? Nick Cowen, NOL

Nightcap

  1. The political economy of U.S. Territories and Indian Country (pdf) Rachel Wellhausen, PS: Political Science & Politics
  2. The U.S. Empire, the Surveillance State, and the Imperial Boomerang Connor Woodman, Verso
  3. Unpacking the Sino-American relationship Paul Poast, War on the Rocks
  4. Worlds without nation-states: Five scenarios for the long term (pdf) Andreas Wimmer, Nations and Nationalism

Nightcap

  1. The Fatal Conceit of F. A. Hayek (pdf) Larry Sechrest, Reason Papers
  2. Democracies are spontaneous orders, not states (pdf) Gus DiZerega, Cosmos+Taxis
  3. Empire: public good and bads (pdf) Coyne & Davies, Econ Journal Watch
  4. Bangladeshi colonies in space Asif Saddiqi, Los Angeles Review of Books

“The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa”

We explore the consequences of ethnic partitioning, a neglected aspect of the Scramble for Africa, and uncover the following. First, apart from the land mass and water bodies, split and non-split groups are similar across several dimensions. Second, the incidence, severity, and duration of political violence are all higher for partitioned homelands which also experience frequent military interventions from neighboring countries. Third, split groups are often entangled in a vicious circle of government-led discrimination and ethnic wars. Fourth, respondents from survey data identifying with split ethnicities are economically disadvantaged. The evidence highlights the detrimental repercussions of the colonial border design.

This is from Stelios Michalopoulos and Elias Papaioannou, in the American Economic Review.

Is there a way of out this quagmire for Africa? The status quo, with its multilateral institutions, doesn’t seem to be working (perhaps because multilateral institutions have been grafted on to the old imperial structures), and colonialism-slash-imperialism started this problem to begin with.

What about a more radically moderate approach? What if the US (or even the EU) opened up its federation to applicants from Africa?

Nightcap

  1. Where is the Panchen Lama? Han & Yang, American Interest
  2. Why is China expansionist and India pacifist? Raghav Bahl, Quint
  3. Sovereignty in the Himalayas Akhilesh Pillalamarri, Diplomat
  4. Silicon Valley’s war against the media? Gideon Lewis-Kraus, New Yorker

Nightcap

  1. Israel’s annexation plans and the United States Michael Koplow, Ottomans & Zionists
  2. Opium: from vice to crime in European empires Diana Kim, Aeon
  3. An interview with John Stuart Mill Jason Brennan, 200-Proof Liberals
  4. Is the left reclaiming freedom and anti-statism from the right? Chris Dillow, Stumbling & Mumbling

What I learned at the doctorate

The 19th century Brazilian political system was dominated by two parties: Conservatives and Liberals. Although these parties were formally established only in the late 1830s or early 1840s, part of my thesis involves understanding that these parties existed, albeit in an embryonic form, since independence in 1822.

What I noticed is that since independence, conservatives have had a more realistic view of international relations. For them, securing the territory (and the government’s dominance over it) was crucial. Liberals had a more, well, liberal view of international relations. Although they did not deny the traditional formulation of the state (territory, population, government, recognition by other nations), they were more optimistic about the possibility of cooperation with other countries.

The view of conservatives and liberals about international relations matched their ideas about domestic politics very well: conservatives advocated a more centralized and stronger government, with greater control over the territory. One of their great fears was the possibility of Brazil’s fragmentation into several small countries, as happened with Spanish America. Their defense of the monarchy was linked to this: a monarch with greater powers would guarantee the maintenance of the territory. Liberals advocated a more decentralized government, with greater freedom for individuals, and also greater freedom for provinces, which would not be controlled so directly by the central government. The fear of fragmentation of the territory was lesser, and some liberals understood that if individual provinces decided to leave the union, well, that was their right.

These views on international and domestic politics also matched the way liberals and conservatives viewed the United States. Early in the country’s history, conservatives tended to see the United States as a young, unimportant republic. The proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine changed this attitude a little, but it remained a fact that conservatives preferred to direct Brazilian foreign policy towards Europe. Liberals, for their part, saw an example to be followed in the USA, with their conscious departure from the European way of doing politics, especially their federalism. Throughout the 19th century, as the United States grew in power, these attitudes changed, but not by betraying the basic understanding that the two parties had about international relations: conservatives feared possible US imperialism, especially in relation to the Amazon. Liberals were less jealous about the national territory, and in any case, they did not see the United States as a threat.

The great irony I found in my thesis is that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, liberal and conservative ideas about the United States converged. The monarchy was overthrown and the republic proclaimed in Brazil in 1889. The liberal and conservative parties were formally extinct. Part of my thesis involves saying, however, that despite this formal extinction, liberal and conservative attitudes continued to exist in both domestic and international politics. In domestic politics, Republicans represented, at least in part, a radicalization of liberal ideas. Foreign policy was initially marked by this radicalization, but that soon changed. After a very troubled 1890s, the Baron of Rio Branco took the reins of Brazilian foreign policy in 1902.
Rio Branco was a frankly conservative individual. Early in life he chose not to get involved in domestic politics, partly because he did not want to be in the shadow of his father, Viscount of Rio Branco. He followed the diplomatic career. However, as I have already explained, the views of conservatives in domestic politics found a clear counterpart in foreign policy, marked above all by the defense of the territory. And this was the foreign policy of the Baron of Rio Branco.

The thing is that Rio Branco chose a liberal, Joaquim Nabuco, to be Brazil’s ambassador to Washington. Both Rio Branco and Nabuco understood that Brazilian foreign policy should focus on the USA, but for different reasons. On the international stage of the 1900s, Rio Branco believed that an alliance with the USA, albeit informal, was the best way to guarantee Brazil’s security against European imperialism. Nabuco did not ignore this aspect of international relations, but he also believed in a higher ideal: that the approach to the USA could represent a counterpoint to the bellicose European international relations, leading to the progress of civilization. So the irony was this: both Rio Branco, the conservative, and Nabuco, the liberal, wanted to get closer to the USA, but for very different reasons.

Studying to write my thesis was a very pleasant process. I liked the characters I met, I liked the stories and I liked the theme I chose. During the doctorate I was intellectually more mature, and I managed to have a high degree of independence in the way I conducted my research. In other words, I did not allow myself to be led by theoretical perspectives with which I did not agree. And I also think that what I learned has real practical implications. I am glad that it was not my responsibility to decide on Brazilian foreign policy in the 19th century, but I understand that conservatives were often being fearful. I know that they were often being hypocrites. Of course, hindsight is always beneficial, but I believe that liberals were generally right.

There is a catch to this story: Brazil was the last country in the West to abolish slavery, in 1888. Until then, an unimaginable number of slaves crossed the Atlantic to work mainly on coffee and sugar cane fields. This is a dimension of the history of Brazil to which I regrettably gave little importance at the time I was writing. Today I see things differently: the country of slavery yesterday, not for nothing, is the country of socialism today. And I think it’s important to think about how such a strong dependence on slavery probably affected the way domestic and international politics were made.

 

Nightcap

  1. Keen insights into American Higher Ed Irfan Khawaja, Policy of Truth
  2. About a possibly divine boy William Deresiewicz, Atlantic
  3. Warlike democracies Michael Federici, Modern Age
  4. In praise of grand strategy Ehrhardt & Ryan, War on the Rocks