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New Affiliations

Aside from hosting Zenpundit, I have for some time been a member of the libertarian and conservative oriented group blog, Chicago Boyz, which has been and continues to be a very enjoyable and rewarding experience for me.  After careful consideration, I have accepted kind invitations to participate in two other, completely different, sites with sharper topical focus. They are:

Progressive Historians: The dynamic, Left of center ( occasionally way Left) history blog.  No, I’ve not made a sudden political conversion, instead I’ve been asked to join as sort of the” house conservative” in order to add a different point to view to the mix. In the words of PH founder, Jeremy Young:

Since Mark is openly politically conservative, this last choice requires some explanation. I want to make clear that the editorial stance of this site has not changed; we remain avowedly progressive and liberal and, if anything, my own personal political beliefs have become far more uniformly leftist than they were when I founded ProgressiveHistorians in September 2006. At the same time, I don’t believe the Internet should be viewed as a safe space where we’re shielded from others who disagree with our views. Back when he ran the now-defunct Tacitus.org, the conservative Josh Trevino featured an avowedly liberal poster named “Harley” on his front page, who interacted respectfully with all commenters and generally enriched the quality of the site. I’ve long been interested in doing the same sort of thing here at PH, and Mark is the perfect person to do it with — an eclectic and nontraditional conservative with real expertise in issues of great importance to America’s present predicament

Jeremy is very gracious in his praise; however, he’s definitely right that blogosphere could use a more frequent – and more civil – discourse between Left and Right than we’ve seen in recent years. No one gets any smarter from inhabiting an echo chamber, which is why I’ve always tried, despite my own right of center philosophy, to keep this blog open to all points of view and to reach out and build relationships with first rate bloggers of all kinds of political and disciplinary backgrounds. I’m also pleased to participate in an excellent site like Progressive Historians where the authors have such a widely varied set of historical research interests. I expect to challenge some assumptions there and be challenged in my turn, and learn some new things along the way.

Now for the second:

Complex Terrain Laboratory: This is a British site dedicated to the emerging field of human terrain mapping and more generally, a consilient approach to analysis and problem solving:

The Complex Terrain Laboratory is a not-for-profit digital thinklab. Founded in 2008 and based in the UK, it is equal parts research platform, virtual portal, and experimental workshop.

Its mission is to explore the conceptual problems that challenge legal and policy approaches to politically violent non-state groups.

Its approach is multidisciplinary, built around the notion that “terrain” is a security metaphor for complex physical, human, and cognitive environments.

Its goals are four-fold:

  • Cross-pollinate academic, practice, industry, and policy interests
  • Promote relevant concept development and communication
  • Establish itself as a creative and authoritative “thinklab”
  • Compile a critical mass of analytical output

CTLab culture is predicated on the vigorous pursuit of knowledge, acquired and developed through syncretic practice. It values the documentary record and the eyewitness account equally. It views intelligence as experiential and cumulative. It believes in the primacy of law in international relations. It sees technology as a tool, not an answer. It eschews solipsistic perspectives of crisis and conflict, and is committed to thick understanding. It understands that research by remote fits hand in glove with the tale well told after a long walk in harsh climes.

This is, in my view, exactly the “Think Tank 2.0” road that academia, government and civil society need to go down in order to get a grasp on evolving global problems that are increasingly interdependent, complex and transnational. When Michael Innes, CTLab’s executive director, invited me to join his roster of distinguished contributors I readily agreed to do so, starting next month. This site is one that I think is only going to grow in terms of influence and policy impact.

What does this mean for Zenpundit ? Business will continue as usual here with some pieces being cross-posted elsewhere where appropriate ( historical posts at PH, cognitive-synthesis and thought pieces at CTLabs, book reviews, economics and mil-theory at Chicago Boyz etc.) and original material posted elsewhere will be linked to here.  Should be a good way of getting different blog audiences to interact as well.

10 Responses to “New Affiliations”

  1. Larry Says:

    Man, great news Zen. I can’t think of anyone more deserving than you. Congrat, and I hope this works out for you in the future. Stay strong! You are most needed.

  2. zen Says:

    Hi Larry,

    Good to hear from you! Thank you very much my man!

  3. Charles Cameron (hipbone) Says:

    Excellent news.  The first one sounds like the tai chi’h diagram in operation, the second like a complex weave of interrelated strands.  Kudos on both!

  4. Jeffrey Says:

    Hey, look at Mark, spreading the zen! Heartfelt congrats, dude.

  5. Barnabus Says:

    Good luck. I just popped over to PH and read "Mentarch’s" post on "Peace Sells…".  There’s something wrong with almost every sentence; one could spend a half-hour just picking through all the distortions, conflated facts and clips designed to produce emotional responses that Michael Moore would be proud of.  Are you planning on actually engaging them and challenging their positions or just producing your own posts?   

  6. Justin Boland Says:

    CTL is a wicked interesting project, I’m even more interested to see where it’s heading now.

  7. zen Says:

    Charles,  Jeff – thank you much!
    Barnabus – Does an anthropologist accept responsibility for the natives ? 🙂  I will comment from the right perspective from time to time there as I do at sites like Duck of Minerva, Whirledview and Newshoggers. Sometimes ppl don’t take up the challenge though and at others they will argue to the death; depends how much time I have that day and how much I care about their topic.
    Justin – I see much growth potential there, a SWJ of Human Terrain of sorts

  8. ubiwar Says:

    Welcome to the team. CTLab’s a fascinating endeavour – I’m stoked Mike’s got you on board. Plus ultra.

  9. zen Says:

    And a good team it is. Thanks ubiwar!

  10. Lexington Green Says:


    Remember the two rules of successful writing: (1) steal only from the best, and (2) recycle, recycle, recycle!

    On the second note — cross-post widely.  Create lots of avenues into ZenpunditSpace.  If it may fit on three sites, put it on three.

    No downside.  ChicagoBoyz in particular is very eclectic these days.  Better to be over-inclusive. 

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