Everywhere is Luxembourg

At the beginning of this semester, I became a little prejudiced against my Comparative Political Systems professor because of his intellectual love affair with Max Weber and after talking to him a little about the infamous Samuel Huntington's ridiculous "Clash of Civilizations" idea - in both cases because he seemed very comfortable with culturist ideas that I find anathema.

Nevertheless, since then I have grown to like my professor more, due to the enjoyableness of his course, lectures, and common references to Canada. All the same, culturist hypotheses seem to have persisted in a few of those lectures. (By the word culturist, I am describing theories that claim to show how general cultural monoliths, such as "Protestantism," "Islam," Catholicism," or "Confucianism" will determine  societies' characteristics.)

I kind of went through a similar process in my opinions of my TA for this course: By the middle of the semester I was more than a little exasperated with what seemed to be an astounding lack of discussion going on in what were apparently supposed to be our discussion sections. In this last week of class, however, there will be no more sections, and after today, I think my TA is awesome.

In a nutshell, my TA gave the lecture today on the topic of Islam and Democracy, arguing that the idea that there is any negative correlation between the two concepts (pushed by people like Huntington) is a pile of b.s., given various quantitative data and the fundamental fact that greatly differing countries all have very different relationships with both democracy and Islam. I can't do justice to all he said, but needless to say I agreed with it all. A few times, my professor spoke up from the peanut gallery asking questions, and my TA took all his points and shut them down without batting an eyelid.

My favorite part of the whole class was when my professor basically said, "Sure there are always going to be some outliers; it's like the argument 'What about Luxembourg?'" to which my TA replied, "Well, everywhere is Luxembourg."

I could not have agreed more.