Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Personal

Why I Like Thomas Hobbes and You Should Too

People are sometimes surprised to discover how much I love Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes is the political theorist who wrote Leviathan. He presents a pretty grim account of human nature–for him, people have conflicting desires in a world of scarcity, they don’t know each other’s intentions, but they do know that they can hurt other people and that if they do so other people will be intimidated and might not hurt them. We can’t share thoughts and feelings because each of us is stuck in a different body and words are vague and unreliable, so we’re always alienated from each other and always prone to conflict. Hobbes wants to live, and he wants everyone else to live too, so he proposes that we solve this problem by submitting to the state. The state protects us from each other, and once we’re protected a space for trusting other people opens up.

Most left-wing people hate this. They hate that Hobbes even presents an account of human nature in the first place, much less one so grim as this. They especially hate how powerful Hobbes makes his state–he only allows people to defy the state when it threatens their own lives, and while he’s willing to tolerate a sovereign parliament Hobbes certainly prefers monarchy, because in his view it’s less likely to lead to conflicts about where the sovereignty is, which could end in civil war and death.

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Sanders vs Clinton on Economic Inequality

I wrote a piece for E-IR getting into heavier detail about Sanders’ and Clinton’s respective strategies on economic inequality. You can read it by clicking this link.

While I’m here, some blog news:

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New Facebook Page

Dear Readers,

It has been repeatedly drawn to my attention that the blog does not have a dedicated Facebook page. In the past, I have invited readers who wish to follow on Facebook to friend me, but as the blog has grown this has become increasingly impossible. In the aftermath of the viral UK election post (which was spread predominately through Facebook) I now recognize that it is no longer reasonable to go on this way. For these reasons, I have created a Facebook page for the blog bearing my name. The page is called “Benjamin Studebaker”. Click here for a direct link. You’ll also find a place where you can “like” it at the bottom of the website, right under where it says “Facebook Updates”. If you like me on Facebook, here’s what you get:

  • New blog posts in your Facebook feed the moment I publish them.
  • Additional political thoughts I may have that are too long for Twitter and too short for the blog.
  • Every Thursday I will share a “Throwback Thursday” post–something I published a while ago that I think is still relevant and important.

You won’t get any irrelevant content, just blog stuff.

I also want to take this opportunity to personally thank those of you who shared the UK election post. There have been over 812,000 hits on it (as of May 9, 2015), and I am gratified by the 160,000+ people who chose to share it on Facebook. I only wish it had been able to have a larger impact on the result.

Thanks again,

Benjamin

My PhD Plans

Dear Readers,

This is a brief personal note to inform those of you who care about such things that I have decided to start my PhD in politics at the University of Cambridge this October. I plan to continue blogging, though I don’t know yet what effect this will have on the frequency of my posts. I can tell you this–I expect that resolving my PhD decision will put my mind at ease and lead to more posts between now and then, but beyond that it is harder to say. I am a quick writer when motivated, so if there is time available I expect at least some activity, even when I’m working on other projects. In recent weeks there have been gaps in my posting because I have been visiting several potential PhD destinations, meeting excellent people at all of them. I’m very pleased to have gotten into Cambridge’s PhD program and look forward to my time there. If all goes to plan, I will finish the PhD by mid-2018 and have my doctorate at age 26. I want to thank you all for your continued readership–I began this blog in the summer of 2012, before the start of my third year in undergrad, and it has continually been a dear companion to me ever since. I have been pleased to see the blog get Freshly Pressed three times and to see it be named one of WordPress’ recommended blogs. When I started, I did not expect any response at all. To my surprise and delight, the blog audience has grown almost continuously since the day I started it, and the blog serves as an excellent archive of my ideas and my development as a political theorist over the last few years. Going forward, I hope to continue to have the time and inspiration to write more posts at or beyond the quality level to which you and I have grown accustomed.

Thanks again for all your continued support.

–Benjamin