From fission to fusion: The technological germ of a future past

Sociology follows technology. This has always been clear, as much as the following truth: politics follows economics. In language derived from seventeenth-century political theorist James Harrington, the ‘superstructure’ follows the ‘foundation’ of society. According to Harrington’s principle of ‘ballance’, the structure of politics follows the structure of the material world underpinning it. And according to … Continue reading From fission to fusion: The technological germ of a future past

Peace for all time: The enduring insights of Thomas Hobbes

Originally published on 24 September 2022. Seventeenth-century political theorist Thomas Hobbes has a paradoxical attitude to power. On the one hand, he thinks that 'the pursuit of power, after power' is the root and stem of 'Warre', of 'every man, against every man', leaving the 'life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short'. But … Continue reading Peace for all time: The enduring insights of Thomas Hobbes

Everything ends: Explaining the modern world

First published in spring 2020. It’s fashionable to explain today’s world through two prisms: modern politics and modern economics—or the modern state and capitalism. Even the words sound slightly intimidating. So instead of defining them from a dictionary, I would like to give a historical account of how these pillars of the modern world evolved. … Continue reading Everything ends: Explaining the modern world

The realist school: An emerging paradigm

First published on 14 June 2022. Sometimes, intellectual thought undergoes a rupture that cannot be stopped. It does not matter how much you resist the conceptual tsunami, or how far you run. It will tear down what you know, and force any remaining ideas to cluster around the victorious Noah’s ark of the God-given intellectual … Continue reading The realist school: An emerging paradigm

Staying alive: What role does consent play in Hobbes’ Leviathan?

Submitted as a university essay in spring 2020. ‘Consent’ in Hobbes’ Leviathan plays the role of legitimating the state, primarily for the sake of securing survival. Hobbes uses consent as a legitimation story to preserve and pursue (1) the survival of the citizen, sovereign, and Commonwealth, (2) the honour of the citizen, sovereign, and Commonwealth, (3) natural and theological justice, … Continue reading Staying alive: What role does consent play in Hobbes’ Leviathan?

Machiavelli, Weber, Nietzsche, and the music of politics

It is commonplace in the social sciences to use music as a metaphor for politics. Power is ‘articulated’ through institutions by individuals ‘harmonising’ on common themes. But by what mechanism does power flow in the modern world? We imagine power to be a top-down pyramid, but it can equally be viewed as a web-like structure … Continue reading Machiavelli, Weber, Nietzsche, and the music of politics

Time of Terra: The medieval foundations of modern politics

In my previous writings about modernity, theory, philosophy, art, and evolution, I have somewhat obscured the key to the world in which we live: its origins in medieval Europe. This idea occurred to me, paradoxically, in reflecting on science fiction, such as the tabletop game Warhammer 40,000, which follows influences both from high fantasy (notably, … Continue reading Time of Terra: The medieval foundations of modern politics

Trade makes war: A social theory of violence

War and violence are words that denote extreme forms of social behaviour, even referred to as asocial or antisocial behaviour, in keeping with the immoral and dehumanising acts they accompany. But this was not always the case. War and violence were once seen as far more normal parts of the human conditions than they are … Continue reading Trade makes war: A social theory of violence

Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen, and the War to End Slavery

The televisual series Game of Thrones is striking for none other than its main character’s quest east of Westeros to end the ancient slave system and enlist the free slaves in a war to reconquer Westeros and return power to the people. Game of Thrones and the war to end slavery. The idea is striking … Continue reading Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen, and the War to End Slavery