POLI 100 Lecture Notes

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University of British Columbia
Political Science
POLI 100
Christopher Erickson

POLI 100 lecture 2012.01.10 Power - In political science, power is viewed as dominance - Max Weber (1864-1920) - Writes the state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force - Webers claim places violence at the very center of governance and politics Power: usually equated with coercion Authority: equated with consent Steven Lukes (2005): Having the means of power is not the same as being powerful - Authority and power usually coexist - Traditional Authority: derived from long-established customs and values (monarchies) - Charismatic Authority: personal attributes of ruler (dictatorships) - Legal-rational Authority: status of office with constitutional (democratic rule) 3 Dimensions of Power 1. The pluralist definition: A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something a. They argue that exercise of power is empirically observable 2. Modified pluralist definition: When A devotes his energy to create or reinforce social and political values and institute practices that limit the scope of the political process to public a. Suggests that some groups are powerful enough to keep damaging issues off the political agenda b. Also should consider non-decision making as well (decisions which could have been taking but never discussed) 3. Third Dimension: A may exercise power over B by getting him to do what he doesnt want to do, but also by influencing, shaping, or determining his very wants (Steven Lukes, 2005) a. Argues that powerful groups can prevent potential opponents from understanding where their true interests lie b. This approach is too difficult to verify empirically c. Closely related to Marxist idea of false consciousness (1984s Winston ending up loving Big Brother) Elitist argument: assumes people from certain social backgrounds with broadly shared interests hold a dominant position in all policy areas - However, even if we can establish that they come from similar social (and educational) backgrounds, but cant show that they have similar interests Marxist Argument: Power is wielded by representation of the dominant economic group - In capitalist, power lies with organized business groups (Corporations) - From this bourgeois democracy cant be a vehicle of significant change - At best, democratic parties can only persuade dominant groups to make token concessions - Marxists believe that elite rule can be overthrown as result of social revolution - Recognizes a role for elitist thinking, but not elitist itself (Marxism) Can we get rid of power? - Michal Foucault: Power is not something you have or do not have, it is a relationship - It is ubiquitous, all relations are relations of power - When power must be displayed, it is simultaneously made open to change (sovereign power) Aristotle - Systematic survey of known constitutions, both theoretical and actual - Categorical arrangement of data - Man is by nature, a political animal 3 levels of society (Aristotle) - Household: food, shelter, sleep, sex (controlled by women) - Village or civil society: commercial distribution of physical necessities; the market (controlled by men) - Politics (political community): security, public facilities, public ritual, morality (controlled by men) 2012.01.12 Aristotles forms of government: Good form Corrupt form Rule by One Kingship Tyranny Rule by Few Aristocracy Oligarchy Many Polity Democracy - Can be presented as a circular diagram - Modern mindset works in lines, beginning, middle and end Political Obligation - Democratic participation - The State as provider of security o Thomas Hobbes - State as provider of Natural Rights o John Locke - State as pursuer of the general will o J.J. Rousseau - Hobbes & Locke, 16 century Key Factors in the Origin of the State (according to Hobbes) - Individuals have an innate perpetual and restless desire of Power after power, that ceaseth only in Death (p. 55) (why?) - This is because he cannot keep what he has without ever more power to protect (need more power to keep what power they already have) - Competition leads to contention, enmity, and war - Desire for leisure, sensual delight & knowledge combined with fear of death leads to a willingness to obey power The State of Nature - Human beings are created (on the whole) equal in so far as even the strongest can be killed by the weakest (by way of cooperation or conspiracy) - Equal ability = equal hope in attaining desired ends - Desire for the same things = enmity, we become enemies - Men have no pleasure (but on the contrary a great deal of grief) in keeping company,.. - State of Nature = State of War - Not possible in State of nature o Industry, agriculture, navigation, building, way to tell time, machinery, letters, society - Worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man How do we get out of it? - Fear of Death is a big motivator. They have to fight constantly, due to fear of death, etc. - Reason reveals the laws of nature - These direct us to get together to put an end to the state of nature o Do this through a form of social contract Transference of Right - It is a voluntary act in exchange for some other right or hope of some good - Transference or Renunciation of a right gives rise to Obligation: as in do not act as if you still have that right - There is a Duty not to interfere with the one to whom the right has been transferred - Violation of this duty is Injustice - No transfer or renunciation of the right to protect your own life from someone who would take it by force o Right to life is inalienable - The purpose of the transfer is Security Hobbes is the first to be associated with the Social Contract John Lockes State of Nature - To understand political power right, and derive it from it original, we must consider what state all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their possessions and person, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature; without asking leave, or depending on the will of any other man (page 18) - Very different than how Hobbes was describing State of Nature o Largest difference: possessions. Possession does not apply to Hobbes theory. In Lockes theory, it is possible to possess property without a sovereign. Property - In Hobbes, the only way to have property is to have a sovereign - In Locke, property is acquired by mixing ones labour with an object - Appropriation limited by enjoyment - So long as your property does not go to waste (spoil) then it is okay - Acquisition is the domain of the industrious & the ration, not the greedy & the contentious - Land can be taken to the extent that one can improve it with ones labour - Value is purely a measure of usefulness - Introduction of money allows for acquisition beyond the subsistence level since it does not spoil Democracy - Political swear word until recently - Now everybody calls themselves a democracy - Demos: the people - Kratos: power or rule - Essentially contested concept: there is no singular definition for what it is - It is a strongly positive term, now o Regimes of differing forms claiming to be democratic o Ex. The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea North Korea Distrust of Democracy - Plato o The people are not the right kind of people to be ruling o Workers, work. Soldiers, protect. Philosophers, rule. - Hobbes o Sovereign needs to be an individual, not a group, or else you will be back to the State of Nature - American Founding Fathers: James Madison o Wanted it to not be too democratic o Established a set of checks and balances to control the democratic elements of the new state The Problem of Democracy - Majority rule - Minorities are always present - Mob rule o Masses can be too easily swayed by charismatic leaders o Masses are not subtle thinkers The Rise of Democracy - French Revolution (1789) o The need for support from the masses gives rise to the call for popular government (government by the people) - American Revolution (1775-1783) o By the people, for the people o (Still distrusted though) Two Theories of Democracy - Classical o Emphasis on participation o Important People: Rousseau, J.S. Mill, Ancient Athens - Elitist o Political elites control government, but are elected o Democracy resides in competition between elites
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