After some hesitation, the American Political Science Association (APSA) has cancelled its annual four-day, pre-Labor Day convention, with Hurricane Isaac bearing down on its New Orleans venue. Even proud contemporary political science must eventually submit to “the laws of nature and of nature’s God” in practice, while remaining resistant in theory.
Causing consternation for several days, the APSA, which was founded in New Orleans in 1903, had wanted to defy the laws of nature and proceed to meet in the city of its makers. (To be fair, several hundred convention participants, of the 6000 or so anticipated, were already in New Orleans prior to the long-scheduled Thursday, August 30 formal opening.)
Musing on a catastrophe of Katrina proportions, one person involved in organizing the Annual Meeting joked about a political science version of “Hunger Games.” However satisfying the vision of political scientists spearing each other might be (after making rational choice calculations), the APSA finally acknowledged the sovereignty of the laws of nature and likely averted disaster.
But the confrontation with brute nature brings attention to how political science scholarship set out to manipulate human nature. The first two decades of the APSA produce shocking examples of open assault on the American founding and the Declaration of Independence in particular. The APSA’s first presidents sought counterrevolution against the natural rights and the limited government that flows from them.