The theorist of politics and the institutions
This text is a reaction to a recent Twitter Debate, so it’s made of the stuff of contemporary journalism.
As it happens from time to time, worth and worthlessness of political theory was the topic of discussion. The desolate state of political theory was realized, and the demand for paid, full time, right wing political theorists was made once again. Out of personal interest, I very much support this demand, but before someone proposes an employment contract as a political philosopher to me, let’s take a look at the subject. What even is political theory? What can it doe and what can’t it do?
When I started to write on Substack, I began with an essay on the question, what a political theorist should talk about, and about what he should keep his mouth shut. But it seems important, to first clarify the term “political theory”. All kinds of different things are understood by this phrase.
In the industry that academia has become, “political theory” is defined as part of the science called political science. Whoever happened to take a look at the partition of the field, as it is presented to freshmen students, knows that “political theory” is considered to be a part of the “normative political science”, but it happens to be the only part of that part of political science. The whole rest of political science is considered to be “empirical political science”. Political theory is the part of political science concerned with how politics ought to be, not how it is. At least according to academic classification.
This classification seems to be more, then a mere whim of academic bureaucracy. I for my part can’t help but to note, that the rift at universities, separating the political theorists form the empirical researchers, is replicated within the small world of dissident right wing political science. Empirical political scientists, within the dissident right, almost all of them are researchers on parties and elections, there isn’t enough demand for anything else, react with a mixture of amusement and annoyance to political programs and newly developed -isms, which doe not tend to fit well with the realities of opinion polls and sociology, researched by them.
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