The Best Book on Political Theory I’ve Ever Read

I’ve been reading The Logic of Political Survival by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, and I think it’s the best book on political theory I’ve ever read. Here are a few topics explored in the book:

  • Why two democracies almost never go to war with each other
  • Why democracies almost always win their wars over dictatorships
  • Why dictators tend to have longer terms in office than leaders of democratic countries
  • Why countries with small ruling coalitions tend to be more corrupt
  • Why even the most popular and successful leaders in democratic countries tend to be elected out of office after a relatively short time

It’s very rare for me when almost everything I read in a book is new information. But that has been my experience with The Logic of Political Survival. It’s dense, empirically driven, and historically informative. Highly recommended.

New paper on Anarchy, Blockchain, and Utopia. How blockchain technology might “make it more feasible for individuals to exit political-socioeconomic systems at the level of the system itself and elect to accede freely to institutional systems which formulate, promulgate, keep and verify institutions and public records without a centralised authority.”

Color me very skeptical.

My old law professor at Duke, Neil Siegel, just published a paper about something I’ve been thinking ever since Donald Trump’s presidential campaign took off. The real problem with Donald Trump isn’t so much that he’s committed any grave constitutional violations or that his policies are so very bad. While he may be criticized on both of those fronts, the real problem with his presidency is his blatant disregard for established political presidential norms. By failing to respect the rule of law as a political norm, he has helped to foster what may be an irrevocable distrust in the country’s political institutions. The jury is still out on how this will impact the country long term, but I am nervous that it might not be possible to ever put that genie back in the bottle.

An old post by Cal Newport about how social media companies can only succeed if use of their products is compulsive and unhealthy.

I’m not a huge fan of silent movies, but Buster Keaton is something else.