People have been wondering why I don’t want to study things like Law, Economics or Politics, or even Politics with History for that matter. Here’s a bit on why I will not study politics. (Probably on law and econs some other time) Of course my thoughts might change over time, this blog already shows quite a few beliefs changing over the past half a year — just that there isn’t much more time for a change of mind, is there?
Politics is a potent subject of study. It is a driving force behind improvements in a state machinery. But like fire, it could empower and at the same time destroy. And like fire, it is something which the gods are afraid to share. Anything which can cause improvement will cause disruptions as well. Think of how horse carriage companies felt when the automobile was invented, or telegraph companies when the telephone started to phase them out. Benefits aren’t for everyone, there will always be someone who loses something — especially those who are comfortable in the current system.
I wouldn’t study politics in Singapore because the version of theories and frameworks taught would have been to some extent controlled and sanitised. Its an assertion — since I haven’t actually seen for myself what a NUS political science course is like. But I base it on criticisms from others (though not sure how reliable they are). Furthermore, Warwick University, which initially planned to set up a campus in Singapore in 2004, changed its mind due to reasons of limited academic freedom and freedom of speech. Unless you’re fine with studying a diluted version of the subject.
But I wouldn’t study it overseas either. All the more so to not receive the undiluted form of doctrines and a new found sense of awareness. This might be one of the reasons scholars who go overseas say that the way they see things changed in the process, leaving them wanting to do something outside of the civil service, possibly due to disillusion. (though its more likely that this is because of a different way of life abroad)
I again assert that a study of politics overseas breeds idealism as it opens one’s eyes to a greater reality. And idealism unfulfilled leads to pessimism and frustration. (Or as proverbs says, hope deferred makes the heart sick). It is like the feeling of having experienced a liberally spacious and luxurious western-style house before being crammed into a small and confined hdb flat.
Political science is a bit like philosophy — its a subject of the devil (although I vehemently insist that MATH IS THE SUBJECT OF THE DEVIL). The latter is for the Church to contend with, the former for the state.
In the present environment, political science remains as a theoretical subject in a biology textbook without any practical applications.
Bullshit aside, one practical part I don’t quite like is having to constantly be up to date in reading international news. And when I say international I mean from Georgia to Tehran to Lagos.
That and I don’t think it will be very fun decrypting texts like Levithian in its original.
More here on not studying politics (from last year) http://findmuck.wordpress.com/2009/09/22/intellectual-revolution/