A lot of people want to become political analysts but few have any idea where to begin. Here’s what you need to do.
I’ve been asked for the past couple of years by many people what they should do to become political analysts. It’s a good question but there really isn’t any official career path to follow, and everyone in this industry has more or less entered it through their own way. Furthermore, being a political analyst doesn’t even have to be a formal job since many people who analyze international events do so as a pastime or side job, with few actually being employed in this field as a full-time job. Among those who are, many find themselves pressured to conform to “editorial standards” or “political correctness”, therefore limiting their true freedom of thought and leading to the publication of what are more like opinion pieces than actual analysis.
That’s why there’s a tendency for people all across the world to follow “unofficial” political analysts because it’s presumed that they’re less tied to any vested interests that could taint their final information products. Of course, this is literally only just that – a presumption – and isn’t a “social law” of any kind but rather just a widespread perception that’s increasingly gaining traction, though in any case, a lot of people in today’s interconnected globalized society want to try their hand at making a difference and explaining the rest of the world to their peers, ergo the interest in entering the field of political analysis whether formally or informally. I’ve decided to give my readers some advice for what they can do if this is something that they’re really interested in, and hopefully my words will help at least one person achieve their dreams.
For those of you who want to become political analysts, here are the seven steps that you should follow:
1. Dispel All Dogma
The world is in the throes of full-spectrum paradigm changes from the highest level of geopolitics down to the lowest level of local affairs, and you need to accept this if you want to stand any chance at entering this hyper-competitive space in the future. The old way of doing things is changing, but the vast majority of the “old guard” hasn’t yet realized this and probably never will until it’s too late. You need to understand that someone’s professional title (“expert”), education (“Ph.D.”), place of birth (the “Golden Billion”), and present location (“Brussels”) no longer matter and that the only thing that’s becoming important is what should have been the priority in the first place, and that’s the merit of your ideas.
Iconoclasm and heterodoxy are the order of the day, not “political correctness” and the prevailing orthodoxy.
A documented education (“university degree”) is only useful insofar as it improves your job placement prospects through inter- and intra-institutional networking and superficially appealing enough to the “old guard” to get hired, and while we should always respect those who have fulfilled this lifetime achievement, we don’t need to unquestionably accept whatever they say about anything as “correct”. An “informally educated” person from the Mideast might have better insight into Russian affairs than a “formally educated” one from the US who has a “degree” in Russian studies and works for a leading media outlet or think tank. If you were taught something from the “old guard”, treat it with caution because their personal experiences might be useful but their insight could be outdated.
2. Use Open Source Information As A Gateway To New Topics
We’re all trying to learn something new about the world around us, whether reactively after an event happens or proactively before a scenario unfolds, but it can be overwhelming when starting from scratch. There’s always something useful to be gained from reading a book or a think tank report, but if we want to make up our own minds, then it’s best to be equipped with as many opinion-free facts as possible. Herein lies the dilemma because it’s almost impossible to do that in today’s world, but for convenience’s sake, relying on open source information as a gateway to new topics could be useful for many people, though provided that you’re able to discern fact from opinion and pull the former out of the latter.
Stepping stones aren’t solutions, but they’ll help you get to the bottom of things.
Wikipedia, for example, is a marvelous resource for novices who are only just beginning to learn about something new because it does a comparatively better job of introducing people to a lot of facts than mostly anything else does, albeit selectively presented, imperfect, and obviously slanted, though that’s why it’s so important for someone to be politically mature enough before diving in to this website. It’s not a be-all and end-all at all, but a starting point to learn about some indisputable facts such as historical events and figures, after which you can then conduct your own independent research to learn more about them and broaden your understanding. Other resources can fulfill this role too, but Wikipedia is the most globally known and easily accessible one for many folks.
3. Regularly Search Google News To Stay Up To Date
Google is biased, we all know this, and its algorithm is tweaked to suppress Alt-Media, but its Google News function is still very useful for easily staying up to date about a lot of different topics. Simply typing in a country’s name, for example, can yield the latest news about it, though this is oftentimes more accurate when dealing with “Global South” states like those in Africa that are less of a current Hybrid War focus than Russia or Syria are. To be clear, Google News doesn’t offer up the best news articles or most insightful analysis about a given country, but it does allow politically mature people to get an idea of what’s more or less happening there at any given time, especially if they learn how to “tweak” the algorithm.
Figuring out how to use existing tools for novel purposes is a creative tactic that will help you in any field, whether political analysis or whatever else you put your mind to.
Just typing in “Pakistan”, for instance, might not lead to interesting results, but searching for “Russia Pakistan” will generally provide the most up-to-date information about their bilateral relationship that slipped through Google’s censors. For the most part, factual information will predominate over analysis in these sorts of cases, although the occasional Western hit piece will probably be thrown in every once in a while, especially if searching for “Russia Balkans”, as but one of many “controversial” examples that are bound to trigger the algorithm into manipulating some of the results. Whatever the case may be and accepting that Google News will never be entirely accurate especially when it comes to actual analysis, using this tool can help many people stay up to date about different countries, events, and bilateral relationships.
4. Find An Alt-Media Outlet To Contribute To
There are public analysts (whether formal or informal) and private ones, but most people will probably only end up becoming the first-mentioned one because the second is usually restricted to government institutions and business or private intelligence agencies, so the best place to “spread your wings” is through Alt-Media by finding an outlet to contribute to. Unfortunately, the economics of this informational space are such that you probably won’t be paid, or at least enough to make it a full-time job (or even a side one) depending on where you live, but it’s the experience that counts. Don’t do this, though, until you’re comfortable enough with whatever topic it is what you want to write about because you don’t want to embarrass yourself by prematurely and publicly jumping into something that you’re not all that aware of.
Sometimes it’s best to stop and think instead of react and regret it later.
Even if that happens, though, there’s a lot that you can learn simply by virtue of having done that, and readers typically respect analysts who go against the industry’s grain of egoism in acknowledging shortcomings in their work and when they were wrong. Remember, political analysis is about interpreting events as accurately as possible and conveying to people what really happened, why, and where it might lead. It is not about “shaping public opinion” and conducting “perception management”, although these two are sometimes inextricable from it because you can’t control how people will react to what you wrote and they might nevertheless be influenced by your work. It’s therefore always best to begin by resisting the temptation that you might feel to “reverse engineer” a predetermined “narrative outcome” and focus instead on building your own unique worldview.
5. Engage In Social Media Networking
This is perhaps one of the most crucial steps, and it’s that aspiring analysts need to share their analytical work on social media, both under their own profiles and in groups. It might also be a good idea to consider creating your own group if you tend to focus on a certain region or topic, or joining and becoming an administrator or moderator on an already existing one. Social media allows you to not only share your work with countless people, but to get into contact with those who are from the countries or regions that you analyze. This in turn can lead to a very productive mutual exchange of ideas and give you the opportunity to follow their updates and the conversations/debates that they have with their friends. All of this will enrich your analyses with time.
The best thing about the internet is that it connects you with people who you would probably otherwise never have a chance to interact with.
Another great advantage of social media networking is that you can follow your “professional” (both formal and informal) peers or even those who are more experienced than you and comment under their posts in order to draw the attention of their audiences to your analyses. This might also draw their attention too, which could be useful in getting their feedback or entering into contact for joint collaborations. If the person who you’re following is already an established force, then this approach will likely be more successful than if they aren’t, but definitely take care to never spam anyone’s wall or do anything obnoxious that could get you reprimanded or blocked. That would defeat the entire purpose of this “guerrilla marketing” strategy and negatively affect your reputation. Network, but don’t nag or annoy.
6. Conduct Crowd-Sourced Social Media Brainstorming
Social media networking isn’t just a one-way street where you’re sharing your work and reaching out to new contacts, but a dialogue between you and the many new people who you’re going to get into contact with as a result. Private messenger chats are great for discussing sensitive topics with trusted friends, but always try to redirect conversations to the comments section under your article or other people’s posts who you already shared your work with (such as your “professional” peers or those more experienced than you). Having a public dialogue about something that others might find interesting is a great way to encourage them to participate too, therefore leading to a diversity of discourse through crowd-sourced social media brainstorming that benefits everyone, whether they took part in the exchange or just passively observed it.
Your role should be to provide the friendly space on social media for this dialogue to take place.
Candid conversations, especially with those who hold contrarian views, can be very exciting and all parties can learn a lot from the experience, but certain etiquette standards must be maintained at all times. Ad hominem attacks and trolling are absolutely uncalled for because they create a toxic atmosphere of distrust that ruins any constructive outcome from the interaction. Similarly, you shouldn’t ever troll or attack your “professional” peers or those more experienced than you for the very same reason, but respectfully responding to them or their articles with your own public comments or piece on the given topic is acceptable. Don’t ever forget that brainstorming might inadvertently provoke some intense emotions, but that it’s never a good idea to let those get the better of you and end up writing something that you’ll later regret. Focus on your work, not drama.
7. Rinse And Repeat
Follow steps 1-6 over and over again because this cycle will lead you to success. The internet is the great equalizer because it democratized the path to becoming a political analyst. Anyone can do it, but not everyone can succeed. You need to dispel all dogmas before you even begin because the world is changing at such a rate that the “old guard” and their ideas are largely outdated. Don’t judge anyone, least of all yourself, based on gatekeeper labels such as education and homeland but focus solely on the merits of your ideas. Use open source information as an introduction to new topics but then diversify away from it to Google News and others to deepen your understanding of the world and learn a lot more.
Never become reliant on one source or means of information, though, and always take the time to at least occasionally read contrarian analyses.
Ultimately, though, your self-education won’t be sufficient if you’re only reading static words on a screen because you must get actively involved in this field by finding an Alt-Media outlet to contribute to and then sharing your unique analyses on social media while you network with others. Both your “professional” peers and the general audience can help you with crowd-sourced brainstorming, which is a mutually enriching exchange of ideas provided that it’s conducted respectfully per basic online etiquette and without an inflated ego. Remember, analysis isn’t activism and vice-versa; they’re two different but related fields. An analyst’s view naturally evolves while an activist’s doesn’t until the “politically correct” capos in charge of their cause “permit” them to “think” differently.
You’ll get some things right, some things wrong, but never stop learning and always aspire to reflect reality as objectively as you can. Also, don’t ever apologize for any well-intended analytical piece that you produce no matter whether it ages well with time or not. We’re human beings, no one’s perfect, but don’t let your anyone intimidate you into discontinuing your passion for political analysis. Instead, if something seemingly unexpected happens that goes against your established model or worldview, don’t deny that it happened or “shoot the messenger” who tells you of it (so long as they’re not trolling you, that is), but decipher what drove the event in question and then incorporate that honest insight into your analyses going forward. That’s the only way to remain a true political analyst and avoid becoming an activist without even realizing it.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.
Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.