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Cover Political Thinkers

7. St Augustine  

Jean Bethke Elshtain

This chapter examines Augustine of Hippo's political thought. After providing a brief biography of St Augustine, it considers the fate of his texts within the world of academic political theory and the general suspicion of ‘religious’ thinkers within that world. It then analyses Augustine's understanding of the human person as a bundle of complex desires and emotions as well as the implications of his claim that human sociality is a given and goes all the way down. It also explores Augustine's arguments regarding the interplay of caritas and cupiditas in the moral orientations of persons and of cultures. Finally, it describes Augustine's reflections on the themes of war and peace, locating him as the father of the tradition of ‘just war’ theory.


Cover The Politics of the Earth

11. Backlash  

Gray Radicalism

This chapter analyzes an anti-environmental discourse that can be understood as a profound reaction against environmentalism in its entirety. This anti-environmental “gray radicalism,” especially prominent under the Trump presidency in the United States, entails climate change denial, but is much more than that, drawing on populism, extreme conservatism, nationalism, and (in the US) evangelical Christianity. It is opposed to technological progress that would for example replace coal with renewable energy. This chapter locates gray radicalism in relation to right-wing partisan identity, expands on its differences with Promethean discourse, and details how it can be enmeshed in broader “culture wars.” Because gray radicalism is a matter of fundamental identity for its subscribers, it can be difficult to engage through evidence and argument.


Cover Poverty and Development

24. Identity Politics and Clashing Cultures  

Tom Kirk, Tim Allen, and John Eade

This chapter explores the rise of identity-based explanations for domestic politics and international conflicts in the 1990s, before turning to the War on Terror and its affects. An influential view of the current global situation is that there is a clash of civilizations or cultures, especially between Islam and the West. This idea has been reinforced by terrorist atrocities in the United States and elsewhere, and by the so-called War on Terror. Conceptualizing cultures as in conflict has origins in older ideas about nationalism and ethnicity, which have had a tendency to absorb or euphemize racist attitudes to outsiders. Several well-known scholars have been scathing about the clash of civilizations thesis, but there is no doubt that the argument has profoundly affected national and international agendas, and helps explain the rise of morally populist, nationalistic, and isolationist policies in many countries. The clash of civilizations also relates more specifically to concerns in the US about its position in the world, and its declining capacity to shape global agendas.


Cover Strategy in the Contemporary World

8. Technology and Warfare  

Ryan Grauer

This chapter explores the relationship between military technology and warfare, with a particular focus on the tools and the ways they are used in conventional wars between states. There are significant technological changes afoot in military affairs, and conventional wisdom suggests that countries failing to keep pace with developments risk being relegated to the dustbin of history. However, there is reason to doubt this general claim. Militaries have always been incentivized to develop weapons and to integrate them into existing and emerging forces. As a consequence, there have been several ‘revolutions in military affairs’ throughout history and it is possible that a new one is currently under way. Technological development in the warfighting realm is not easy, however. As militaries seek to develop new tools and processes, they are constrained by a variety of factors, including national capacities, strategic culture, and strategic requirements. When they do acquire new technologies, the utility of the tools is limited by the frailty of the humans using them, their own organizational processes, and the nature of war itself. Countries that solve these problems can bolster their efficiency, effectiveness, and power in combat and so gain a decisive edge in combat over those that do not. Perfect solutions are evasive, however, and, except in cases of extreme technological disparities, tools and processes only rarely determine outcomes. The challenges of technological development persist into the present day and will continue to confound attempts to weaponize tools like artificial intelligence and quantum computing. Nevertheless, because there is significant potential in such technologies, strategists ignore them at their own peril.


Cover Strategy in the Contemporary World

12. Nuclear Weapons in the Twenty-First Century  

C. Dale Walton

This chapter examines the role played by nuclear weapons in international politics during and after the cold war, making a distinction between the First Nuclear Age and the ongoing Second Nuclear Age. After providing a background on the First Nuclear Age, the chapter considers the various risks present in the Second Nuclear Age, focusing on issues related to nuclear deterrence, nuclear proliferation networks, strategic culture, and ballistic missile defences. It then discusses the assumption that arms control and disarmament treaties are the best means to further counterproliferation efforts. It also assesses the future of nuclear weapons and whether the world is facing a Third Nuclear Age before concluding with an analysis of the relevance of deterrence in the face of changing political and technological circumstances.