In my "Politics and Policy" course last semester we were assigned to write a scenario analysis. This technique requires that, for any given phenomenon, one isolate the factors that are unlikely to change from those that could shift. Having ascertained the potential source of any new developments, the analyst then determines both the content and the likelihood of those changes. Scenario analysis is not really about predicting the future as much as it is preparing for it by way of gleaning a better understanding of the present. It is a common tool in diplomatic, military and corporate environments, but can be applied to just about anything.

I wrote about the potential dissolution of the Republican Party. Even before the election of President Trump, I had long been fascinated with the ability of the GOP to hold its "big tent" together. Its factions, I thought, had been making nice for far too long. In my view, tensions seemed to be mounting and the compromises that they had to make in order to maintain intellectual and emotional consistency were getting to be to great. And Trump's election seemed to bring all of these tensions to a head. And as an historian I was well aware that parties have come and gone in US politics.

My professor really liked the paper and thought that I should try to publish it. I made some halfhearted attempts in that regard, but nothing panned out. The paper was written in December and now it's March. It's probably a little dated and my time is increasingly occupied these days with the professional report I have to write in order to graduate (more on that in future posts). So I've put the scenario analysis up here. I think that some might find it interesting, for whatever wisdom might lie in its analysis as well as what I would imagine would be for most readers an introduction to scenario analysis.

It's a bit long. Originally it was fourteen double-spaced pages, so you might want to budget your time accordingly.

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against "offensive"

Declaring a comment to be offensive means little more than that the speaker is offended by it. And offense is not an emotion that is worthy of all that much respect. Rightly or wrongly, we tend to respect the fact that someone is offended only when we believe that the reaction is justified. So if it is something else that bothers the progressive mind, let's figure out what it is and talk about that.

the Humanities and the university

As one with a not insignificant axe to grind against the knowledge industry, I am unhealthily preoccupied with the state of the academy, and the Humanities in particular. Pragmatically speaking, this means that I will drop whatever I am doing in order to read any article crossing my path that purports to defend, or to bury, the liberal arts. There are so many of these opinion pieces, saying more-or-less the same things, that I seldom bother to write about them. But I recently encountered one that I believe might be worthy of your attention, gentle reader.

The article is called, "There Is No Case for the Humanities," and it was written by Justin Stover, a classics scholar at the University of Edinburgh. Though I just heard about the piece the other day, it appeared about a year ago in the newish journal American Affairs. (The magazine was initially founded to serve as the intellectual organ of the pro-Trump movement until its founder, Julius Krein, wrote a New York Times column breaking with the president after Charlottesville.) Stover's thesis is plain from the title, but it nonetheless requires a bit of stage-setting.

[more after the jump]