Ido Oren has written a striking book on the history of political science, Our Enemies and US: America’s Enemies and the Making of Poltical Science (h/t Amentahru Wahlrab for bringing it to my attention and to Jim Farr and Terry Ball whose advice and work play an important role in Oren’s account). As a serious mathematical political scientist, Oren became troubled by the closeness of political science to empire, or at least to being defined by shifting American enemies. Not making this distinction sharply – between things that are really objectionable as opposed to remarkable and inconsistent ideological shifts in the light of what might be thought to be dangerous enemies – is a weakness of his book. Nonetheless, as Oren himself exemplifies, political scientists from below often resist the bellicose tendencies among the powerful and “privileged” (those at leading universities; funded for group projects by the defense and intelligence establishment, often covertly; cycling in and out of government as advisors or thinktank “experts”) in the field. The paradigm of the “democratic peace” and “powerful pacifists” argument is World War I and World War II in which the democracies line up against absolutist Germany (see the previous post here). The Kaiser in World War I, Hitler in World War II. Of course the Soviet Union won World War II against Germany (the US and Britain neither took the brunt of Nazi ferocity nor showed up in Europe until the Nazis were fleeing back to Germany and they could race Russia for post-war control there). See Josef Korbel, Stalin and the defense of Czech democracy here. But at least these examples make the assertion seem to most readers initially plausible.
Oren emphasizes, however, that for prominent pre-World War I political scientists like John Burgess and Woodrow Wilson, Germany was, in their racist idiom, a “Teutonic” or “Aryan” democracy. I will give some of his evidence below. But first, anyone who knows any German history before World War I will see that R.J. Rummel’s quantification of it as an autocracy is, on his own premises, mistaken. For instance, the Prussian state had elections for the Reichstag (parliament) in which a Social Democratic party grew rapidly between 1890 and 1914. Before World War I, Germany was the great test case for worker or socialist influence through parliament and many Marxists like Karl Kautsky came to hope ultimately for the victory of a solely electoral socialism (during World War I, except for Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, the SPD’s internationalism was temporarily vanquished by obsequiousness in Prussian militarism – comparable to the militarism of leading Democrats in our time). That the political “science” of the inter-democratic peace hypothesis and David Lake’s “powerful pacifism” writes off this decisive (for the whole fate of socialism, the Russian Revolution, and the world) experience by giving Prussia a number – the number one autocracy – is ideological rigidity or ignorance. Second, more than 10% of the German population voted - the criterion for a democracy along with at least two party competition is the Rummel/Dimension of Nations operationalization which generates David Lake’s table (see here). By Rummel’s and Lake’s standard, Germany is not only a constitutional monarchy; it is a democracy as much as the United Kingdom (also, famously a monarchy with parliamentary elections).
Third, as Oren stresses, John W. Burgess, the founder of the first graduate political science program in the United States at Columbia, and Woodrow Wilson particularly admired “Teutonic” or “Aryan” constitutionalism and democracy. Ironically, Wilson shifted as President of the United States to “making the world safe for democracy” against “the Hun.” But on their thoughts (as opposed to Wilson’s World War I propaganda), World War I pitted democracy against democracy.
Burgess studied at Amherst and went to Germany for a Ph.D. (American universities copied German education as much as English). In his first text book, he defined a nation on a racial basis. “A population of an ethnic unity, inhabiting a territory of a a geographic unity, is a nation.” (Oren, p. 28). He spoke of the superiority of the Teutonic peoples, the “Anglo Americans , the Germans and Scandinavians [who] do not yet mingle their blood completely.” (28). He found American and Germany the most advanced “Teutonic popular democratic states.” (29).
Woodrow Wilson was a political scientist and became the sixth President of the American Political Science Association. “One should not study," he argued “the ‘savage’ traditions of defeated ‘primitive’ groups, but rather the contributions of the ‘survived fittest,’ primarily the groups comprising the Aryan race.” (Oren, p. 35). Wilson hated the French Revolution, popular movements and France (he bellowed that the French were not ready for democracy). All of this anti-democratic hatred stemmed from his disdain for and fear of blacks and other nonwhite peoples. His evaluation of polities, including France, was racial (he celebrated the “Aryans” at the expense of the “Latins”). Like later political science, he wanted a safe regime – in the hands of “responsible” experts and bureaucracy – one for which elections are not so important (in the more modern anti-democratic, political “science” refrain, “working class authoritarians” including black folks should be excluded from influencing policy).
Wilson had noble ideas about collective security. Yet he also affirmed the Ku Klux Klan. He wrote against Reconstruction, the one period of poor black and white representation in the South and decent educational policies there until after the Civil Rights movement; in 1919, he showed D.W. Griffiths’ “Birth of a Nation” at the White House after it had been shut down in anti-racist Boston. In Griffiths' film, the "Christian" Klan, their white sheets flowing in the breeze, come riding to the rescue, cut back and forth in montage, a film technique Griffiths invented, with the panic of the Northern carpetbaggers’ daughter, the blacks about to commit an act of Rassenschaende…only the Nazi film “Jude suess” has a like depravity. Wilson was also an aggressor in many Caribbean and Central American countries, overthrowing the democracy in Haiti in 1916 and installing a clerk in an American mining company to run Nicaragua in 1913 (the predecessor to the American-sponsored Somoza dictatorship). Wilson was very interested in the German bureaucracy (what he regarded as the central ingredient in acceptable “democracy”) and extolled its “Aryan” character.” Ignoring for a moment their grotesque racism, however, Wilson and Burgess had a more intelligent and knowledgeable view of World War I Germany than its current stereotype in the “democratic peace” or “powerful pacifists” literature. Germany then was a stable and constitutional democracy (if one with a strong executive in foreign policy).
Once one sees this reality, even beyond the enormous weaknesses in David Lake’s list of “democratic” wars, the inter-democratic peace hypothesis is dramatically weakened. Arguably after World War II, there was a zone of peace encompassing economically advanced oligarchies with parliamentary forms (there are odd cases like American-sponsored oligarchic Greek repression of a Communist led resistance movement from below). Non-white democracies, however, are often attacked by the United States and America is also the great sustainer of reactionary dictatorships against their own people (the opposite of a common good or a democracy or Kant’s vision). Democracy and international law and the rule of law have also been dramatically undermined, throughout Europe, by the Bush-Cheney administration’s torture and kidnapping policies (along with covert cooperation by local intelligence services). It remains to be seen whether, in the Obama era, the damage done to the rule of law – to democracy as regimes which affirm basic individual rights like habeas corpus – can be repaired (James Bohman rightly stresses this point, see here). What is decent in democracy and peace arising between democracies is frail. Thus, a serious democratic peace thesis would need to be qualified sharply – as an aspiration for change, not a fact about existing oligarchies with parliamentary forms, particularly the American.
In addition, as Oren reveals, the surprises in the history of political “science” are greater than this. No one can intelligibly call the Nazis a democratic regime. Nonetheless, initially, political scientists were highly favorable to it. The American Political Science Review, edited by Frederic Ogg of the University of Wisconsin from 1926-49, published a 1931 article by Kate Pinsdorf – a rare article at the time for a woman given the sexism of the profession. Ogg was quite determined to salvage the Nazis’ reputation even before the Machtergreifung (the Nazi seizure of power). One wonders how such unique partisanship for a dissident movement from below – did the APSR run an article on the German communist and social-democratic opposition to Hitler at the time? Or (after Ogg's tenure), on SNCC canvassing in the South?, etc. – comports with grave pronouncements about “value-freedom” (Perhaps Ogg did not know about "value-neutrality," though what “science” means in any of this might escape a student of the natural sciences or philosophy of science or any one who tries to follow argument…). Pinsdorf sought, according to Oren,
“to dispel the ‘contradictory and confused ideas that are current’ about the Nazi Party. Hitler’s ‘extreme dislike of all Jews’ could be ‘explained’ by the fact that ‘in Vienna he came in contact with the worst representatives of the Jewish race, i.e., Eastern Galician Jews.’ Indeed, “during the past winter the National Socialist writings were directed rather against the Eastern Galician Jews who had entered Germany since 1914 than against the Jews generally. In this fact, we may detect a tendency toward a revision of the sweeping indictment of all Jews as such.’ Pinsdorf thus indirectly condoned the persecution of Jews, so long as it was limited to the ‘worst’ element among them.” [Oren p. 51]
As we have seen with Leo Strauss and Jacob Klein (see “They consider me a ‘Nazi’ here – Leo Strauss, December 3, 1933” here), the stigmatization of Eastern Jews and the hope to assimilate into Germany was characteristic of many middle class Ashkenazi – even though to support a National Revolution was a rarer feature of a small group of reactionary – Nietzschean - Jewish intellectuals. Of German origin, Pinsdorf was Brazilian (or upper class, racist Brazilian).
Oren adds: “Pinsdorf relied exclusively on Nazi sources and dwelled repeatedly on the Nazi movements ‘idealistic enthusiasm and spirit of sacrifice.’” Oh, that beating up of opponents, oh, those dreams of world conquest, oh, those (still only yearned for) gas chambers…Only Mel Brooks could deal adequately with “science” in relation to such material.
As I have emphasized, Max Weber was a heroic opponent of anti-semitism here. But a political “science” influenced by Weber is a post World War II phenomenon. In addition, Oren makes out Weber to be too much of an opponent of bureaucratic-rational authority. The latter is but a means. Substantive rationality would have to account for the ends (Weber does not speak explicitly to this), and these may be in fact genocidal rather than in any sense rational (Herbert Marcuse developed this as a theme in "Industrialization and Capitalism" in the New Left Review, March-April 1965). If one wants to see why some find the claim of a "value free" social science (with regard to ends or what social science research discovers) facile and false, consider the genocide. Yes, one must eschew prejudice in examining it, but what one discovers is still horror. Bertolt Brecht once made a joke about a post-World War I mass murderer who stewed his corpses and turned them into fancy potted meat for sale on the black market (it was the inflation, after all). He had, Brecht said, “German conscientiousness, far-sightedness, efficiency and industry.” Brecht wondered that Germany did not give him a prize instead of a death sentence.
Brecht’s retelling of this dark story prefigures the horrors of the camps for Jews, Slavs, communists, union leaders, Roma, “defective Aryan children,” mental patients and others. Oren somehow misses this point. But the practice of formally calculated genocide and the manic cleansing of clothes and stripping the gold from the teeth and recycling every usable object from the corpses to be provided to German civilians during the war captures the ghoulish madness of Nazism, which haunts German to this day, will take ages to heal. See Poem: Carmelites here. (I think America which had slavery and genocide toward indigenous people, inter alia, is at least as troubled). As Oren does not recognize, the reason that public administration fell into discredit after World War II is not political taboos at looking at Germany; it is a sense by most of us – only a faint sense I am afraid – of the “rational” horror of the genocides.
Up to 1939, as Oren relates, praise for Adolf Hitler and more than a whiff of anti-semitism emanates from political science. In 1934, The American Political Science Review under Ogg celebrated an abridged version of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. FDR had read it and saw immediately through the abridgment; privileged Americans - "the malefactors of great wealth" and their abettors hated FDR and admired fascism (the Fox News, Rush Limbaughs and tea-baggers of their day). The APSR leaned toward the latter. Thus, the review by Karl F. Geiser, a member and for many years chair of the political science at Oberlin, gave little sense of Hitler’s lethal anti-semitism or of his world-conquering aims (a repeat of world war with a different outcome). Geiser wrote that the translator:
has given a very fair picture of Hitler in all of his ranges; he has included his worst characteristics, among them his inordinate intolerance of the Jews, and also his most enlightened comments on the theory of the state and the nature of government, such as ‘human rights are above state rights’ and ‘the best form of state is that which, with natural sureness of hand, raises the best brains of the community to a position of leadership and predominant influence.’ (Oren, p. 85)
In the same review, Geiser praised another book which celebrated the Nazis as “’idealists’ engaged in ‘an experiment in national planning’ and which suggested that if ‘Germany should succeed in establishing a new type of social and economic order which may help to overcome the present state of poverty in the midst of plenty, the end might justify the means.’” As Oren has also discovered, Geiser sent Rolf Hochmann, deputy foreign press director of the Nazi Party a letter signed with the Nazi salute – “German greetings” – which Hochmann forwarded to Rudolf Hess’s office as testimony to the success of Nazi propaganda in America. Of course, if one writes the regime’s press flak a politically friendly letter, this by itself is suggestive, even if Geiser had warbled “Yankee Doodle Dandy” as a parting flourish As reported by the APSR in notes on the profession, Geiser retired in Berlin, lecturing at the Hochschule fuer Politik. It did not note the rare distinction Geiser had achieved since Jews and “moderates” were long gone from these centers of "learning" (in 1904 Prussia fired a Social Democratic physics professor; the "rational" bureaucracy had long attempted to enforce a political range from extreme right - though not able to avow Nazis until the Machtergreifung - to middle right. The Nazis just further developed that “rationality.” (Oren, p. 85)
Even the famous Carl Friedrich, later author of the post-War Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy condemning Fascisms and Communisms as an ostensibly unique, expansionary phenomenon (and omitting American segregation which was far nearer kin to the Nazis) was once favorable to fascist imperialisms. In 1928, he sympathized with Mussolini’s desire “to conquer the place which is due her in view of her culture and intellectual attainment.” Mare Nostrum, including Ethiopia – Carl had at least the normal racism for a rising star in the political “science” of that time. In the February 1933 issue of the APSR, Oren adds, Friedrich sought to moderated an author's "harsh" verdict on Hitler: “’The book produces a decidedly real impression of the man’s character and personality, although a comparison with other popular leaders would perhaps have led the author to a kinder judgment.’” Just which popular leaders (the newly elected FDR?) does Friedrich have in mind? (Oren, p. 83)
To his credit, Friedrich recanted about Nazism in 1937. Unlike Leo Strauss who practiced hidden writing - and whose surface views, by his own account of such writing, are thus not to be taken seriously if repeated 10 times while his esoteric affections are hinted at but once or twice – h/t Will Altman - and whose political views, except for external public consumption or appearance, may not have changed fundamentally, Friedrich’s politics in the United States clearly shifted. Of course, the odd thing about Leo’s affections is that he was a Jew.
Oren also specifies the funding of quantitative political studies, which underpin David Lake’s table and “Powerful Pacifists” thesis (see here), by ARPA - the Advanced Research Projects Agency - in the Pentagon and the CIA. The Pentagon, for example, paid for Rummel’s Dimensionality of Nations Study which contains the “data” on which the democratic peace hypothesis and the tale of “powerful pacifists” are built (see Rummel’s elliptical report of the project at pp. 116-17 of Richard Merritt and Stein Rokkan, eds., Comparing Nations: the Use of Quantitative Data in Cross-National Research). As Oren puts it, behavioral social science did not intend to seek the truth; it aimed instead to “contribute to winning the Cold War””
“Launched in 1962 by Harold Guetzkow at Northwestern University (later directed by Rudolph Rummel), the Dimensionality of Nations (DON) project was funded to the tune of $1.2 million, largely from the NSF and ARPA. The Yale political scientist Bruce Russett received $330,000 from the NSF in 1964 and $353,0000 from ARPA in 1967.” Though in self-conception “value-free” and under no obligation to spell out the implications of his project for democracy or the common good of citizens, Russett was under contractual obligation (not to say hope for future funding) to spell out its benefits to the Pentagon (Political “science” and leading Democrats have comparable foibles). But Russett does strive for the most “value free” or obsequious language: “In his reports to ARPA, under the heading DOD [Department of “Defense”] implications, Russett wrote that the program’s aims were to `investigate and test quantitative techniques which can be employed to assess the problem forms of conflict and cooperation among nations.’” As we can see from Lake’s “powerful pacifist” argument, the “problem forms” do not include aggressions, occupations or torture launched by the United States or its allies. Self-contradictory protests about value-freedom, however, do not conceal the advocacy under the bizarre name of “pacifism” of repulsively immoral and illegal projects.
After the Cold War, Russett has become a leading exponent of the “democratic peace” hypothesis. (Michael Doyle once courageously defended a Kantian thesis during the Cold War in Philosophy and Public Affairs when other international relations specialists would not go near it.) When realists pointed to 6 American coups against elected governments, however, Russett commendably talked about this in Governing the Sword . Yet as I note in Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy?,
“Though [Russett’s] criteria for democracy do not require maintenance of a ‘free market,’ he implausibly suggests that, say, an elected Guatemalan regime’s nationalization of the United Fruit Company disqualifies it: ‘The target governments could plausibly be seen [by U.S. policymakers] as unstably democratic with a leader either unwilling or unable to resist radical pressures for reform employing authoritarian methods.’ Now Russett celebrates the American public’s resistance to ‘overt’ wars. Yet ‘covert’ overturning of parliamentary regimes apparently does not qualify the U.S. government as ‘unstably democratic’ nor does this pattern of belligerence present, for Russett, an anomaly for ‘democratic peace.’ Since even he concludes on a critical note, however, it may simply not have occurred to him to apply his criteria to the American executive:"
"‘Whatever legal and moral responsibility the U.S. government bears for these acts [covert overthrows of democratically elected regimes] must not obscure the fact that American military units did not fight in an organized fashion in any of these cases. These were covert and American participation could be denied with varying degrees of plausibility. The Nicaraguan operation – the most protracted, expensive and bloody [sic –the coup against Sukarno in Indonesia resulted in the slaughter of at least half a million people] of the group – illustrates the point most closely. These operations were covert, and denied, because as overt activities, support for them in the US political system would have been dubious at best…The constraints could and did prevent an interstate war, but could not preserve the United States from deep culpability in initiating and sustaining one side in a formally ‘civil war.’'"
"Like other proponents of ‘democratic peace’ Russett also disregards the deeper pattern of US aggression against ordinary people in the less developed countries. For example, he might have considered the correlations suggested by Chomsky and Hermann’s table presenting post-World War II US military and police aid to regimes that practice torture. This evidence would have strengthened his point about democratic peace as a concern of most citizens rather than an often bellicose elite.” (Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy, pp. 10-11).
Kant’s initial thesis emphasizes the frivolous waste by kings of the lives and subsistence of subjects in the “pleasure party of war.“ It suggests that modern republics would enfranchise and empower citizens and limit such wars. (Kant’s thesis relies on the sadly erroneous view that modern commerce would provide sufficiently egalitarian conditions to underpin equal liberty - that the rich could not dominate the government and make it an oligarchy with parliamentary forms rather than a common good sustaining democracy). A Kantian thesis is probably right if there are conditions for genuine democracy. In Law of Peoples (pp. 46-50), John Rawls gives several conditions for such an ideal democracy, one which would prevent oligarchy, facilitate the influence of ordinary people, and check aggressive American wars. I offer other such conditions in Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy, ch. 5, “New Institutions for Peace and Democracy” in Sir Nicholas Kittrie, Sir James R. Mancham and H.E. Rodrigo Carazo Odio, eds., The Future of Peace in the Twenty-First Century, 2002, and “What’s wrong with the democratic peace hypothesis?” here). When not operationalized to eliminate post-World War II American overthrows of a dozen or so democratically elected nonwhite regimes – all counted as interventions, and hence magically America is somehow not bellicose toward other democracies - there are some important merits in a cautious, well-stated democratic peace hypothesis.
In contrast, the political “science” version of this hypothesis found its way into the mouths of Presidents Clinton and Bush. The latter overthrew the elected government in Haiti (Aristide’s regime had no army; that must be proof of its potential bellicosity…) and supported the unsuccessful 2002 coup against President Chavez of Venezuela. In not supporting the American influenced coup in Honduras (for instance, the officers were all trained by the School of the Americas, see here), the Obama administration has thus taken a modest step in the direction of honoring nonwhite elected governments.
As Oren also relates, calling upon the military and academic elite to maintain secretive ties, Russett enunciates a vision of cooperative war-making at the expense of truth. The Pentagon and certain prestigious professors should
“maintain and strengthen our links with the broader society. One small instance of these links is the contact between scholars and soldiers both at military institutions and at civilian universities. Neither those who expelled ROTC from the universities nor those who in pique, then forbade military officers to attend those universities served their society well. “ (Oren, 170).
Note that the issues are not the same. Military officers attending serious universities is a good thing. It may further thinking – exposure to facts and clashing theories – and is democratic or at least potentially advances democracy. Knowing the costs, lower officers, ones not consumed with promotion that occurs only through wars and “body-counts,” are often more skeptical than policy-influential academics of military adventures. See Andrew Bacevich's striking Frontline interview here. In contrast, training officers for imperial wars (or apologizing for American aggressions and occupations abroad, as ROTC curricula standardly do) is not a good thing.
Oren also invokes Samuel P. Huntington, the Harvard political scientist and Democrat (Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, and author of Carter’s 1976 campaign speech on human rights). As a political “scientist,” Huntington is a less data-constrained reactionary than Russett or Lake, however. Protest against him occurred, among other times, in 1985-86 when “newspaper reports revealed that the CIA had secretly financed two scholarly publications by Harvard political scientists: an article on ‘Dead Dictators and Rioting Mobs” – the hatred of democracy from below as in the “democratic distemper” is Huntington’s idée fixe – co-authored by Huntington, and a book on Saudi Arabia authored by Nadav Safran…A resolution condemning Safran’s actions was passed by a vote of 193 to 8 at the 1985 conference of the Middle East Studies Association.” (Oren, pp. 168-70) That the American Political Science Association said nothing is notable.
Safran had convened a conference at Harvard with many Middle East academics. When his covert CIA status came out, many were outraged since attending a conference with him might suggest that they, too, were actual or potential CIA recruits. American secrecy poisons everything it touches. During the Vietnam War, Hans Morganthau wrote powerfully of the CIA’s secret employment of the Presidents of the National Student Association. He suggested that Lyndon Johnson’s “pseudo-totalitarianism” drew down on the United States all the opprobrium of totalitarianism, but without any of the benefits – to the leader - of the real thing. Morganthau stood up for democracy (see Must Global Politics Constrain Democracy?, ch. 2).
Huntington became President of the American Political Science Association at that very time (1986-87). Given that working for the CIA covertly and being President of the Association did not disturb its executive, no resolution was submitted condemning the government’s or Huntington’s deceit. Writing in 2003, Oren comments “the norm [against secretly being on the payroll of the U.S. government, an agent not an intellectual], often observed in the breach appears to have evaporated since the end of the Cold War.” Oren speaks of the caucus for a new political science and movements from below in the association, during the Cold War and after, which are troubled by scientific pretensions linked to apologies for the worst in the American government (Dr. Strangelove seems to generate ever new avatars among policy-experts...). But Oren could not yet realize that sanity and use of their eyes among CIA people would be heavily penalized during the Bush administration; to tell the truth about facts on the ground was to make the CIA for Rumsfeld’s and Cheney’s Pentagon, “dangerous enemy territory.” One mercy of the election of Barack Obama is that we have now returned to a more normal CIA-academic- think-tank “expert” corruption.
In contrast to the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association leadership willingly associated itself with torture. Behavioral psychologists were part of the CIA teams of torturers and committed war crimes. But torture does not get useful information; it gets only what the torturer wants to hear – see here. The “psychology” of these “professionals” (professional torturers might be an appropriate term although torture is in fact, the opposite of intelligence gathering) thus differs from the FBI agent Ali Soufan who got important information from Abu Zubaydah – identifying Khalid Shaikh Mohammed -without employing torture (see here). Only an admirable revolt from below in the American Psychological Association has limited this degradation. One might say to oneself as a political scientist: surely we are better than that. We can feel proud of our discipline’s “healthy mien” (in "Political Theory as a Vocation," Sheldon Wolin once cited this phrase from a well-known political scientist).
Recalling the last post here however, the recent aggression of America and Great Britain in Iraq would be listed in David Lake’s chart as the war of two democracies against an autocracy. Never mind that the US and Britain armed Saddam to the teeth, before the falling out in 1989. Torture by the United States – that, too, vanishes in this quantitative table of wars just as in the Spanish-American War of 1898 where the US seized the Philippines and slaughtered large numbers of innocents. Fortunately, political scientists are more useful for voting studies historically or in becoming pollsters for politicians than in overseeing torture. We have so far been spared the degradation of the American Psychological Association. And yet some political “scientists” have also made themselves useful in advising counterinsurgency. “Democratic Peace,” “Powerful Pacifists” - political "science" is not only not value-free, but in questions of ethics, has sometimes provided a cover for government crimes of war and crimes against democracy.