How do I build myself a proper political education?
45 replies, posted
For the longest time, I've really not to care about politics. This is partly because I don't have an innate interest in them, and partly because for most of my life I've been subjected to an opinion that's quite common not only in my household but also in my country: politics don't matter, because all politicians are the same and that is being criminals/uncaring/stupid.
Of course this is an idiotic position to take. I'm a liberal and progressive person in a world that seems to be turning more nationalistic and deceitful by the day. I need to more finely identify my own views and have at least a general understanding of the political world stage, if only to be able to do my basic duties as a citizen.
How do you deal with this? Tools like MediaBiasFactCheck and Politifact seems to focus on the US exclusively. As an european I'd rather, of course, to read about my own country. When it comes to books, what are some good authors? My definition of good is centre-left or centre-right and enough self-awareness to separate their opinion (which is valuable, but only opinion) from fact. Other than politics in general I'd also be interested in 20th century history books.
Do you think it is (in general) better to find resources written by somebody who is not from the country being examined? I think that while that may lose in context, it gains in lack of bias.
All in all, the tl;dr is in the title: how do I build myself a proper political education?
Go to school.
Could you elaborate? Maybe it's different in France, but during my academic career nothing political was ever touched, except for teaching the basics of how my country's parliamentary system works.
If you qualify for university/college, take a course on political science. You're looking for personal improvement, so the worth of the degree on the job market isn't a problem; just go for something that touches on geopolitics, international relations, and/or history.
A good set of teachers will give you everything you need, starting with a solid set of guidelines on how to study, what to read, and how to read it. You'll be better off with a curated bibliography delivered with some rhyme and reason than a bunch of recommendations that may contradict or not work very well off of each other.
Political Science studies.
I can't really follow the courses (as I have my own university studies). By this point they're more than halfway done anyway, so I suspect I would be clueless anyway. I do agree I should check out the study material.
Just watch videos and podcasts until you learn tbh, read shit.
I watch secular talk, humanist report, contrapoints, demotiatoropinion, and some others. But I also watch some right wing shit because its fun too, and the more right wing shit lets me understand them better.
Follow people on the twatters that you like. I go with social dems.
I feel like watching videos and reaeing rubreddits is probably not a good advice, at least not unless you read a wide spectrum of them and learn to deal with the cognitive dissonance that comes from hearing two completely different views on some topic and trying to figure out where the truth lies.
I actually think that a degree is not a terrible idea. Thats what I would do if I had timr.
I've heard about Noam Chomsky and I'm going to check his writings out. I also already watch 'political' youtubers occasionally. They're fun and entertaining, but I don't feel like they're great resources. It doesn't help that they mostly deal with alt-righters and other lunatics. Fun? Sure. Honest, or good debaters? Not at all.
The traditional route is easily the best choice, while doing a course in it would be the best it's also good to go for the next best thing - find a respected uni, look up politics courses, and find the reading list for the first year course/modules since they're supposed to get you up to speed. Personally I think things like twitter and youtube would actually be detrimental due to the inherent quality and purpose of discourse involved tbh
As far as politics is concerned, the easiest way in my opinion to learn about them is to find a reliable news source to consistently read. Oftentimes, articles will provide background on the subject to help fill in gaps for people. Gradually, you will be able to follow more and more about what's going on until you have a solid grasp on current events.
Beyond that, learning (more recent) history can definitely be helpful and I would recommend it however you choose to go about that. Podcasts and videos can be great, but you should be careful about picking a reliable source.
Obviously just watch ben Shapiro stupid lib
tbh just study history, economy and geography. Even basic knowledge of these three give you a pretty versatile tool-set to read in between the headlines. Gives you great insight into why some nation act the way they do today. But requires a lot of time investment and dedication.
If you have not much free time then just read news articles from multiple sources (obviously avoid extreme ideologists). Eventually you build up a bullshit-o-meter within yourself. Read or listen, doesn't matter, just engage these topics with an open mind and don't fully trust, but always question every media outlet, even if they report factually most of the time.
Regardless, just the fact that you want to care about this makes you a really cool person. I think at least.
Would say the biggest thing to watch out for is making sure you go for the most accurate sources and avoid any biased forms of information.
Make sure that you understand how statistics work because you can safely assume that nobody else does. People see causation all over the place and don't stop to consider hidden variables, of which there can be tons, and there are a lot of people on the internet who intentionally or unintentionally draw misleading conclusions from trying to interpret data by themselves.
You can't be "politically educated", first of all
It's just literally your opinions on things, "political education" gives me the UDBA brainwashing vibes
There is a world of difference between informed and uninformed opinions. If you have an opinion and have no idea about history or the fine details of how policy worke, it's extremely easy to trick you.
I’d say just listen to people’s arguments, particularly ones with statistics. Then go find the counter to that argument. Do this until you realize that nobody knows what is real.
This is really the crux of it. Learn to think critically and read as much as possible.
Everyone saying to study political science - that's not really what he's asking about. I mean, if he wants to be able to argue about political philosophy or get into the nitty-gritty details of policy analysis, sure, political science, but just having a general awareness of politics doesn't require anywhere near even a basic undergrad education. You don't need to know about the formation of the nation-state to understand modern politics. More theory never ever hurts, but it's not critical to being an informed voter. As long as you aren't going "socialist/fascist are bad word, ew" and instead developing a real and nuanced understanding of why these things are considered good or bad, you're fine.
And for my own advice: don't watch any news on TV, ever. It is absolutely toxic to your ability to think critically about the claims being made.
1. The factual history of the parties/political ideologies how they evolved over time, to avoid basic mistakes like the big switcharoo of democrats and republicans ideologies circa late 1800s in the case of the US.
2. What they support now, what policies each party actually pushes and why.
3. The major parties in foreign countries, start with thoses who are relevant to the parties of your country (for instance the russian communist party had a lot of influence on european communists parties in the 1900s)
4. The political systems of your country, what kind of democracy Italy is, what's the role of the chamber of deputies vs senate, what are the executive powers, how do courts work.
5. History as much as possible, of course, and not just conflicts, economical history, social history.
6. The geopolitical situation in the world as much as possible and how it relates to your country, its political history and its current foreign policy. Something like the Israelo-Palestinian or the Syrian situation requires a lot of research to understand from an outsider's perspective.
7. Be very careful when using social platforms for researching politics, the grand majority of youtube, podcasts and twitter are garbage extremely biaised stuff. You'll sometimes find an expert with a good thread on twitter, but that'll be in between 50 posts by people who have no idea what they're talking about, or do but deceive and spread misinformation on purpose.
It depends on the political inclinaison of your area, but honestly going out and having 𝒿𝑜𝓁𝓁𝓎 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝓇𝑒𝓈𝓅𝑒𝒸𝓉𝒻𝓊𝓁 discussions and debates irl with people might be way more valuable that online political content, which can be completely removed from reality. Nobody is perfect irl but online you're way more likely to be exposed to absolutely insanely biaised people ˡᶦᵏᵉ ᵒⁿ ᵗʰᶦˢ ᶠᵒʳᵘᵐ ˡᵒˡ.
Read some political philosophy like Thomas Hobbes and John Rawls, and more. A 'political education' is only as good as knowing the history behind the ideas, and why people believe them.
Some key points you will need to develop an opinion on are:
The role of property rights
The purpose of a government
The limitations on force and paternalism
The role of an economy (Economics is another bag of worms)
The role and limitations of taxes
The history of law;
-Hammurabi's Law Code
-English Common Law
-The Magna Carta
-The Seperation of Church and State
-The Constitution / Other such documents (ie Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms)
The key terms for talking about types of government;
-What is a republic?
-What is democracy, and what are its types?
-What is representation?
-What is a dictatorship? How does it differ from Authoritarianism?
Why did Rome collapse?
Why did empires succeed?
What duties do citizens have towards the state?
What duties does the state have towards citizens?
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but if you can get a bit of understanding on these points, it is a very good start. Try your best to find views that conflict and evaluate their dispute for yourself.
The politics of the day might lead you to believe that things are all subjective and there is no such thing as truth, understandably so, but there is still quite a bit you can learn. Knowing how previous policy decisions worked out, for instance, can give a lot of insight into current proposals for similar ideas. Hint hint.
Honestly, some of the biggest influences that I've seen in modern events worldwide are echoes of past historical events, and the classes I've taken on these events have largely shaped my opinions about the world today. While that might seem like a no brainer, it's my opinion that we are largely still grappling with the consequences of things like the fall of the Ottoman empire, the end of WWI, and the end of European colonialism. Those are some of the big ones, but other events like wars in Russia and the end of Tsardom still plays a big role in the collective consciousness of the people there.
Essentially what I'm getting at is that history can be a great guide to understanding why some of the current events are happening, as well as to help understand why people feel the way that they do. If there is a strong philosophy present in a country, or a collective idea that has taken root, more than likely that idea wasn't just planted there magically. There was a reason, or many reasons that may have happened a long time ago that people may have forgotten but still plays a role today. Doesn't help necessarily with political viewpoints, but learning about history is what got me set along that path.
just hang out here on polidicks you'll learn plenty
"You can't be "politically educated""
Says man who isn't politically educated.
Here's a few crash course channels about geopolitics:
Although Extra history is more about history, it does dive into politics quite a bit when it is narratively required:
Keep in mind these are crash courses, not everything will be perfect but most of the information is correct.
As for books if your interested:
Machiavelli's the prince: Talks about how dictatorships and monarchies are ran and how you might use one to your advantage.
Machiavelli's discourses on livy: Talks about how dictatorships are inherently unreliable and how a well made republic can stand the test of time and then some.
I'm throwing Machiavelli around because he's very direct and Italian translates into English better unlike his byzantine and Turk predecessors.
I'm putting Keynesian economics here because economics and politics are greatly intertwined and this is the most stable model that has brought many countries out of the dirt farming backwaters that they were and into industrialized economies. It is the most widely accepted model in the world:
pm me if you want more.
I will admit to the way I do it is probably pretty inefficient for actually educational shit
Much of it is entertainment to me
Yeah I don't think this is a veritable source of unbiased political commentary.
National Review, Washington Post, New York Times
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