Jul 032020

Large parts of the GOP are nominally opposed to big government. But they have done nothing to stop the growth of ever more armed police forces – on the contrary. This long read about law enforcement in the US is worrying, but also quite fascinating from a political/administrative science point of view.
Unmarked police in the US, extremists in the German army, and the legacy of Fascism in Italian architecture: 3 links I liked 1
Over the last five years or so, investigative journalists in Germany have uncovered several far-right networks within police forces and amongst active soldiers and reservists. In some cases, large amounts of weapons, ammunition and other provisions were stolen and stashed away in preparation for a future civil war. A whole host of these cases involve the KSK, a special forces unit. Germany’s Military Counterintelligence Service, which historically was somewhat reluctant (cough, cough) to address this problem, now says that the right-wing extremism within the ranks has reached “a new dimension”. The agency is currently investigating more than 600 cases of alleged right-wing extremists within the forces. 20 of those concern members of the KSK. It is good and well that the minister is starting to take the problem of right-wing extremists in the KSK and elsewhere more seriously, but it is also a little late.

Authoritarian regimes like to make use of the arts for conveying their message, and arguably, architecture is particularly great when it comes to propaganda. After a regime change, many of these buildings are still useful and in some cases even aesthetically pleasing. So what do you do? I found this article about Italy’s allegedly complacent approach to Fascist architecture quite interesting, but I think the comparison with Germany is a bit unfair: first, many problematic buildings were simply destroyed in the war, second, a lot of the surviving buildings have a dodgy past that is too conveniently forgotten. Case in point: in the 1930s, about 30 amphitheatres (“Thingstätten”) were purpose-built for indoctrination. Many of them survived and are used to the present day for open air concerts.

Jun 282020

Social Identity Theory is a prominent account of intergroup hostility and hence super interesting for political scientist. Groundbreaking work in this field was carried out by Henri Tajfel, who ran fascinating experiments back in the 1960s and 70s. Today, many of these would go nowhere near an IRB.

If you have 19 minutes to spare, this podcast delivers both a vignette of Tajfel’s life and a useful primer of Social Identity Theory 📻 👇
Rupert Brown on Henri Tajfel #socialScienceBites

Jun 122020
Italian Populism, Trump's voters, Germany's Home Office, and Neo-Nazis in Russia : 4 links I liked 2

A retired “general”, a symbolism that is borrowed from France’s Yellow Vests – what could possibly go wrong? Meet Italy’s latest populist craze, the Orange Jackets.

Germany’s Home Secretary said in an interview that the AfD wants to destroy the state and put this interview on the Home Office’s website. Now the FCC ruled that he was not allowed to do that. But the ruling does not say that Seehofer’s claim is factually incorrect. Like in previous cases, the judges upheld a kind of two-bodies-theory. As a politician, Seehofer was free to make this statement, but as a minister he was not allowed to use his official platform for distributing it.

Over at the Quantiative Peace, Joshua Zingher looks at Trump’s base. The bottom line? Trump’s 2020 path to the presidency is narrow. May he stray from it.

Why are German Nazis training in Russia“? That is a bit of a rhetorical question, but the article has at least some answers.

Bonus track: German IR theory-building kit (thread)

Jun 112020

In the US and elsewhere, ethnic minority groups are hit much harder by COVID-19 than whites. Mortality rates are often more than twice as high for members of these groups.

As a social scientist, I’m not in a position to comment on a possible link between genetic traits and susceptibility to the novel Corona virus. But even I know that the variance of most genetic traits is far bigger within “races” than between “races” (see what I did here?).

Conversely, it is great to see that MDs and other scientists who study the details of our messy biologies are acutely aware of the strong correlation between ethnicity on the one hand and social, political and economic inequality on the other.

Tune in into this episode of the Big Picture Science podcast to hear more about how racialised inequality makes the pandemic worse for some people, and how the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe implemented safeguards of their own.

Mar 312020
MPs under investigation, dying in Germany, quanteda goes 2.0, and academic chapters: 4 links I liked 3

Germany’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution (i.e. the spooks) begins to build dossiers on 3 sitting MPs for the AfD. All of them are prominent members of the most radical faction within the party (in German)

In a landmark ruling, Germany’s highest court declares ban on assisted suicide unconstitutional. Judges say right to end one’s life is fundamental, so assistance can’t be illegal. Germany’s top court paves the way for assisted suicide. Neatly dovetails with my research on bioethical attitudes and legislative behaviour in Germany.

This looks great: version 2.0 of quanteda is ready.

Excellent advice: using social media and open access can radically improve the academic visibility of chapters in edited books.

Feb 132020
Sinn Fein wins big in Ireland, German centre-right does deal with the devil™️, and UK journalists: 3 links I liked 4

Never ever have Sinn Fein (and leftist parties more generally) done so well as in the January 2020 Irish general election.

Political journalists in the UK grow some spine and boycott a press conference that was open to a select few only. Everyone is rightfully concerned about the trumpification of UK politics.

Provincial centre-right politicians in Thuringia undermine the cordon sanitaire around Germany’s extreme/radical right that has been in place for about 70 years. And they don’t understand why (almost) everyone else thinks they are completely off their rockers. The article is a snapshot of were we stood on February 5, but the shock waves will be felt for months and years.

Bonus track: I wrote a short thread on Twitter that explains why this was such a big thing.

Jan 312020
Political personalities, university cultures, radical-right environmentalism, and the armed forces: 4 links I liked 5

The idea that there are seriously problematic political personalities is at least a 100 years old. In a recent article, colleagues Sabrina Mayer, Carl Berning and David Johann take it for a spin and look at the Two Dimensions of Narcissistic Personality and Support for the Radical Right (open access!)

Over at the Duck of Minerva, Anne Harrington has an interesting post (it’s the second in a mini series, actually) about the UK’s Higher Education culture, and its focus on audits. Harrington writes from the perspective of an American outsider. As a former German outsider in British Higher Education I find this double layering particularly interesting.

Why and how does the Radical Right campaign for the protection of the environment? Here is a very interesting piece that looks at the environmental stance of the Alternative for Germany.

The German military’s counter-espionage unit has published a count of (alleged) right-wing extremists within the forces. While this is a huge step forward, many people think that this the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

Jan 242020
Turkey, Power Corrupts, and Right Wing Extremism in Germany: 4 links I did not really like 6

How rogue can Turkey go?” This is a rather depressing assessment of the frayed state of relations between Turkey and “the West”. And it does hardly delve into the whole issue of human rights abuses.

Talking about depressing yet oddly fascinating stuff, there is going to be a new season of the fantastic Power Corrupts Podcast. Tune in!

Exactly: The Neo-Nazi Murder Of A German Politician Highlights Threat Of Radical Right Terrorism. And this problem is much, much bigger than just one case: German police investigate report of bullet holes at black MP’s office