Commentary, Politics and Current Events

Jonthan Franzen, Political Scientist?

For those geeked on all things IT or your favorite ’90s aficionado, the big news is that 90210 Day has finally arrived—but we’re busy ringing in 09-02-10 at the American Political Science Association’s annual meeting. A big part of scholarly publishing focuses on the conferences, colloquia, and symposia whose panels and poster sessions are a rite of passage for academics—and a captive audience for booksellers and acquisitions editors alike. The Wardman Park Marriott is aflutter with bow ties and smart suits and I’m trying to sneak away private moments with my copy of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom (purchased during a mechanical flight delay at O’Hare—how many times can a writer described as our modern day Tolstoy refer to War and Peace in his own book, I dare to ask? But I kid, I kid—this one’s a keeper!), which has turned out to be perfect reading. Franzen’s hot in pursuit of the ghostly affective presences of globalization, consumption, and stewardship that hang, specter-like, over our contemporary moment. It turns out that the theme of this year’s APSA—”The Politics of Hard Times: Citizens, Nations, and the International System under Economic Stress”—couldn’t be more pitch-perfect for the concerns of current political science studies or Mr. Franzen’s tour-de-force.


With all of that in mind, lots of browsers and buyers have picked up a copy of Jonathan GS Koppell’s World Rule: Accountability, Legitimacy, and the Design of Global Governance. Koppell’s novel work considers the pressing problems facing 25 global governance organizations (GGO), from the World Trade Organization to the Forest Stewardship Council, including satisfying the demands of key constituencies. Our Man Franzen uses the cause of the Cerulean Warbler, a songbird on the verge of extinction, to advance a narrative as troubled by the fraught social and political conditions of modern life—the plight of Zero Population Growth, viral marketing as the strange bedfellow of grassroots campaigning, and representation and accountability on intimately interpersonal levels—as is the average GGO.
Check out books Koppell and Franzen for more information on the hard times management of international affairs—in every “warbled” sense of the word.