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Lecture 4

POSC 1000U Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Aristocracy, Antithesis, John Maynard Keynes

Course Code
POSC 1000U
Rob Halpin

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Political Science Lecture 4 02.05.16
The Role of Government
Government and Politics
All governments are rooted in ideology
Different views about relationship to citizens
Forms of government vary as widely as the different ideologies we examined in the
previous lecture
Difference often lies in our views about what life would be like without government (see
Box 4.1 on Somalia)
What Do Governments Do?
Governments may look different, but all perform similar tasks
Fundamentally, about regulating society
Two main purposes for government: security and welfare
oImportant relationship: must have security to achieve welfare
Defining Government
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary offers three definitions of government:
1. 'the group of people who control and make decisions for a country, state, etc.'
2. 'a particular system used for controlling a country, state, etc.'
3. 'the process or manner of controlling a country, state, etc
What do Governments do?
‘Primary responsibility is to make public policy for an entire society and to
keep society heading in the right direction.’
Black's Law Dictionary
…the institutions of the government 'regulate the relationships among members of a society and
between the society and outsiders’ and that they 'have the authority to make decisions for the
society' to meet goals and maintain order.
The Process of Government
How does government “play out”?
What is the arrangement and composition of government?
Process and structures of government help us understand decisions governments make
Government must regulate society through rules and regulations
oExecutive, legislative, judicial, and administrative structures (more detail later)
Government Regulation
Rules mean agreement on how system should be run
oFootball game vs. jungle hunt
Rules pattern activities in society, but not all rules are the same in different countries
Governments are the “outcome” of politics since political organization leads to structure
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Political Science Lecture 4 02.05.16
Shared Objectives of Government
Governments try to achieve independence, stability, and economic and social well-being
of all citizens
Some more successful, some less concerned
oLiberal democracy vs. authoritarianism
oMore on these government types later
Government Legitimacy
What is lawful, appropriate, proper, and conforms to the standards of a political system
Legitimacy is part of state survival, and leads to granting of sovereignty
oLegitimacy: Recognition by other political authorities that a government is
legitimate and rightful for a political community
oRequires domestic legitimacy and external recognition
See Box 4.2, Figure 4.2, and Figure 4.3
Government Roles: Three Views
1. Laissez-faire: “to let be”—economic theory that suggests that a reduction in political
control will benefit the system
oEconomic, but also political
oGovernments should reduce their regulatory role
oIndividuals should be permitted to act in their own best interest
2. Socialism: government, not individuals, ought to maintain ownership and control
oFear that, left to themselves, individuals would only seek self-benefit
oIndividuals should suppress their interests for good of all
oCritique of laissez-faire
Adam Smith
“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our
dinner, but from their regard to their own interest, We address ourselves, not to their
humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their
advantages. “
Karl Marx
Power is rooted in ownership and control of capital Impoverishment of workers
Division of society into classes based on their roles in the economy and the state
Check out:
“Das Kapital”
“The Communist Manifesto” (with Friedrich Engels)
Government Roles: Three Views, cont’d
3. Welfare State: Laissez-faire with government regulation (see Box 4.4 and Figure 4.4)
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