Started on: 2/6/14 9:40AM
C LASS N OTES FOR : P OLI SCI 3Y03
McMaster University, Winter 2014
F RIDAY , FEBRUARY 7, Y
For the last 500 years when it comes to politics and democracy, human rights, we are ideologically
- Amongst those who believe that going back to the 16 century (the state, gov’t, ruler) is more
important than the individual
- Same period where we are discussing the individual
- People do not believe that the individual is to be trusted (Machiavelli)
o Founder of political science, writing were geared to demonstrate the need for absolute
power in the hands of the prince (ruler, gov’t and state)
o MACHIAVELLI Wrote about what in the literature “Reason of the state”
Implicitly, in defending and preserving the state, the gov’t, prince and ruler are
entitled to do anything possible to ensure their survival
Survival is crucial in this context (at the end of the middle ages, when the world
of feudalism is collapsing)
Writing at the particular period in order to explain how in this chaotic and
anarchic situation -- rulers could ensure their security, power, and permanence.
How do secure permanence and power.
Rather than working on all of the ideas that began to occur (decided to
concentrate on military and political affairs)
Machiavelli, N. (1469-1527)
- Reason of state: in making his rule permanent and secure, the ruler could use any means at his
disposal to achieve that objective: “the end always justifies the means when it comes to protecting
- Political and military matters are divorced from social, moral and religious considerations
- Asociety based on the freedom of citizens, for popular government, would destroy the state
- Political order could only be maintained by the tactics of cruelty, intimidation and fear. The only
requirement was that these tactics should be based on rationality, or rational assessments of
- Gov’t and rulers have objectives (survive or to stay in power)
o In order to meet this objective of survival
o The end always justifies the means when it comes to the protection of the state or
permance in power
o Has a deep mistrust of citizens
- Society where an individual could be free or autonomous could be in direct threat to the survival
of the state, prince or gov’t
o Focus on writing in the context of anarchy and chaos
o Concerned with order
o Cannot be a conservative unless order is there
o Political order could only be maintained through the ruthlessness that characterizes the
o Political order By that which people everywhere understand and understand quite well,
people understand the tactics of intimidation, cruelty and fear.
- Conservative’s gov’t Machiavellian new electoral laws
Angie © McMaster University 1
Winter 2014 o Only way to stay in power as a minority is to trample the Canadian electoral laws?
o NEW BILL ON ELECTORAL LAW The ends always justify the means in order to stay
o Fair Elections ACT
- Explain origins of society and gov’t
- Human lived in a state of nature prior to the organization of society and polity
- Once a body politics is established through a contract among the people, a government is then
founded and empowered through a second contract, between government and the people.
- These contractual theories developed in the MiddleAges as an intellectual challenge to absolutism
o As an intellectual effort to curtail power
- Contract theories seek to limit ruler’s absolutist power through the separation of powers, checks
and balances, and federalism.
- State of nature - philosophers assume that natural laws and natural rights existed before the
creation of society, then these are abstract and inalienable rights.
o State of anarchy
o Self interest
o Astate in which every man was at war with every other man
o “Survival instinct”
o To get out of the state of uncertainty and fear and every man against every other man.
- Theories of popular sovereignty were first concep