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POLI 212 Lecture Notes - Classical Liberalism, Parliamentary System

Political Science
Course Code
POLI 212
Hudson Meadwell

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JANUARY 27, 2012: Conference
Course themes:
Eastern and Western Europe and the divide and distinction between their societies
(rational-legal vs. patrimonial)
The emergence and disappearance of political regimes in Europe (democracy,
fascism, etc.)
Significant turning points in European political history (Westphalia, French
The relationship between church and state, and the “party of order” and the “party
of movement”
The development of the state system in Europe
Repercussions and results of Westphalia a critical juncture
What is Europe and why Europe? Why has it had such an outsized influence on world
Europe as the crucible of the Western culture
European powers were colonizers, had influences on most parts of the globe, other
countries felt the need to catch up with Europe and modernize
Europe as a place of monarchy and a place of resistance to monarchical rule.
What we think of Europe is what we think of with Christendom, but it has been
Mazower: democracy is not necessarily suited to Europe, which is counter-intuitive
to what the traditional Western thought it today. Parliamentary system led to
gridlock and couldn’t overcome the severe economic depression that occurred. The
structural components that contributed to this were: proportional representation,
which leads to the proliferation of small parties and makes it difficult to form stable
coalitions. There was also a weak executive (out of fear of regression into
monarchial rule).
He argued that the constitutions and institutions established in the interwar period
were more suited to the 19th century values than the 20th century. Social question:
How to accommodate the demands for basic standards of living, social welfare,
public goods, how to satisfy the demands of the industrial working class which often
conflicted with classic liberalism.
Mazower argued the governments’ inability to overcome these problems led to their
downfall rise of fascism.
Relationship between liberals and interwar governments: fascism is anti-liberal. He
argues there were liberals that were able to accommodate or integrate fascists into
the government or were not as resistant to fascism as they were to communism.
Strong liberals were more concerned with communism than fascism because under
communism they couldn’t make as much money be upper class, and fascism regimes
didn’t harm business as much (“the lesser of two evils”)
Bunce: the difference between East and Westwhy did Eastern Europe develop in
that particular way? Russia as a “backwards” late developer that needed to make
great leaps to reach the Western European level of development. There was the
idea that there were phases of history and Russia wanted to skip a development
phase, and it was not expected for Revolution to occur.
Bunce makes a distinction between Russian development and Western
development, because they didn’t develop in the same way.
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