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POLS 2200 Lecture Notes - Totalitarianism, Che Guevara, Strategic Missile Troops

Political Science
Course Code
POLS 2200
Mark Yanisziewski

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International Relations POLS*2200
-Theories and help us understand the practical
-a way of coherently linking a descriptive element (what happened) with an
analytical component (why things happen) and usually a normative or prescriptive
element (how things ought to be)
>how we might learn to avoid past mistakes
3 ways to think about different theories or typologies (a way to sort/classify)
1- The Conflict Approach (emphasizes impact, importance of armed conflict in
shaping international system, i.e. nation states), study war, diplomacy,
treaties, bargaining etc
Divided into right (conservative), center, and left (alternative)
-realists -liberals -critical theory, post modern etc
2- The Political Economy Approach
>emphasize economic factors: trade and finance etc
-looks at a wider variety of units, corporations are involved as well as other
economic actors, not just states
Divided into right (conservative), center, and left (alternative)
-realists -liberals -critical theory, post modern etc
->table of theories and their affiliation is on Courselink
-these ideas can fit into more than just center, or right, or left
Positivist Theories
(reality is independent of the observer : exists if I’m there or not or believe in
it or not)
-there are concrete facts that we can analyze to understand events and then
draw law-like conclusions in IR
-there are more on Courselink
Post-Positivist Theories
(aka interpretive understandings)
-argue that there are no simple facts that exist, they exist because our minds
create them, a product of our minds
-‘simple facts’ aren’t simple and it is a subjective process and open to
interpretation, a product of our assumptions

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-critical theory
-discourse theory
-english school
-i.e. Galileo and Aristotle’s view of what a sunrise is
>perception of the same thing is completely different
-Post positivists think this sort of thing happens all the time
-everything we conclude is subject to our perception
What are the primary levels of analysis for these different theories?
1- system
>looks at the big, overall context of the international environment
>Marxists look at the capitalist economic system as the primary driving
force in IR
>geo-political theorists
2-intermediate level
>nature of the units in the system that are the most important (nation states)
3-individual/small group level
-looking at ideosyncratic features
>i.e. Churchhill (indiv leaders), group theory (groupthink) , bureaucratic
Classic Era of IR
-i.e. Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Marx
-IR is newer than the ‘Classic Era’
-‘Modern Era’ really develops in the 1920s and 1930s (between wars) as an
academic discipline
>dominated by the three great debates
(1) Realists v. the Idealists/Utopians (know referred to as Liberals) 1920s and 30s
-debate occurred in immediate aftermath of WW1 (most destructive human
conflict in human history)
-wanted to avoid it Rs and Ls had different solutions
>R: the international system is an inherently dangerous and conflict-prone
place. Our best response should be to prepare ourselves to defend ourselves.
Build arms, form alliances. Each state needs to look after itself to survive.
Liberals: That idea led to war. International institutions (League of Nations)
will end violence.

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Ls: We should work together to help defend each other.
-With rise if Hitler and failure of LoN Realists won that debate
-Ls were in full retreat, while realists dominated IR theory
(2) Debate over Methodology (1950s, 60s and beyond):
Traditionalists and Behavioralists
-what kinds of techniques should we use to study IR?
-debate was occurring in all political science and social science
- Behavioralists (statistical analyses): the only way to study things was with
mathematics and stats to understand what was going on
-Traditionalists: Not just interested in questions you can count, measure, etc.
>you cannot quantify everything (i.e. justice, philosophical ideas)
-stats became omnipresent
>counter attack by traditionalists, perception matters, can’t quantify
-no clear winner!!
(3) Positivists and Post-Positivists
-methodological debate
-pos: an objective reality exists
-post: no! reality is subjective
-positivists dominate
September 11, 2012
Origins of the Modern State
-IR (between states) and comparative (within states)focus on the state and its
institutions and actions
-no universally agreed upon definition of state
Key characteristics of the modern state (but not absolute)
-Territory (states exist and dominate a specific area from Russia to Monaco)
-Internal Sovereignty > the states government has the final say on policies in the
state’s territories
-“…the state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical violence…”
Max Weber
-other entities other than the gov can use force in some contexts (i.e. police, Brinks
trucks) >the gov can withdraw that right, the national gov can use force within its
territory as it likes. These rights that a private actor has can be taken away
-External Sovereignty >has final say relative to other foreign actors
-some states cannot exercise their sovereignty in this way (failed states)
-how do you know if a state does/doesn’t have sovereignty
>formal recognition (i.e. diplomatic recognition)
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