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Lecture 8

Classical Soc (SOCB42)- Lecture 8.pdf

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Dan Silver

Classical Soc – November 9 – Lecture 8 AGENDA - Demography and Modernity - Biography and Context - Democracy as a way of life - American Democracy - Democratic Politics F - The new World, not so much as a continent that was discovered, but new in the sense of being a new era in human history. A new kind of way of organizing history. o The general name for that kind of life is called Modernity. - In Smith, we saw what a modern society looks like ift eh basic key to understanding it is the rise of a commercial society: commerce. The rise of markets and a market order; exchanging; the DOL. The general procedure that he takes is to first understand the market structure (how would they work on their own if nothing got in the way), and then he goes on to ask how the rise of that market affects social society- religion, family lives, politics. o If x changes, then what happens to a, b, c, d. - Comte had a different set of perceptions. Thought that ideas really define the characters of society. Thought that the rise of science (enlightenment) was the main feature of a modern society. He goes on to ask what the rise of this cultural belief system (based on science) affects everything else. What would a scientific version of family, politics, legal system be like? - Marx took the focus away from ideas, but shuifted it back to economic life. He focused on a different aspect than Smith though. More importantly than what Smith said was, he thought, production (capitalism, industrialism, and private property). Those are behind the rise of a commercial society, and they give you a deeper picture. He begins with a pure account of capitalist work and production; defined by exploitation, alienation, commodities etc. He then asks what was capitalistic family life, religion, politics, etc. like. - With Toqueville, the starting point is democracy, or democratic society. There’s a social emphasis on the equality of people. He states that what society looks like when equality becomes its basic principle is America, not Europe. - Toqueville: o Born in 1805, died in 1859 – was in the generation that was trying to pick up the pieces of the French Revoution. o Was an aristocrat o The other dudes come from the family backgrounds that would become dominant in the modern world (bureaucrats, the middle class). o Toqueville’s family was old money. His father was imprisoned during the French Revolution. His grandfather was a knight. He had a different perspective on the revolutionary break through happening around him.  To him, like to others of the aristocratic class, the modern revolution was a very sad ending to an old world that they had known and loved.  The old order actually allowed for something better to flourish- glory, respect, order.  In contrast to many of his fellow aristocrats, Toqueville thought that the old regime could NEVER be brought back. It was over. And this meant the rise of modernity and democracy for him. o Thus, he wanted to isolate the dangers of this new society and figure out how to channel them into good for the society.  He decided to go to America, where he thought he saw the future.  Spent a year there. Came back to France. - Origins of Democracy o He turned away from studying politics to the broader social conditions. o The increasing equality of conditions among all human beings.  You want to understand the process through which there are fewer hereditary elites in the world. 1. Aristocratic Order  Hereditary  Force  Land  The authority to govern goes from generation to generation, without election. The way you get someone to do something is by exercising force; not incentive, and not by giving an argument. That power is in the end rooted in land ownership. o How did we get from this order to a democratic order? 2. Sources of Social influence  Clergy  The Church began to own more land than even the nobility. Thus the piests began to exercise a lot of power. Who becam priests? Just about anyone, giving commoners a leeway into upper class society.  Rise of Civil Law  Coming from a noble family doesn’t give you a political expertise. You have to be smart. SO regular people had another way of rising up the ranks.  Commerce  As regular people began to engage in commerce, they began to gain more influence  Enlightenment  Entertainers (poets, musicians) were hired by aristocrats for their parties. This gave commoners access to the political elite,. 3. Historical Causes *** get proper notes on this from someone else.  Crusades (SEE Goliath)  The European aristocracy got obsessed with fighting foreign battles, causing them to lose their property, and causing them to become weaker.  Townships  Firearms  Everyone becomes equal. Before it wasn’t because the aristocrats just used their horses.  Printing Press  Suddenly everyone can read. Before the printing press, printing a group was expensive.  Mail  Protestantism  Each of us has our own personal relationship with god. You’re cutting out the middleman (the priest) which exists in Catholicism. Thus, the Priest didn’t have the soul route to god anymore.  America  Once America was discovered, people who lived in Europe and were oppressed had a way out. They weren’t stuck. - Challenges of Democracy o The problem, he thought, was that everything in France was a mess. You had a bunch of reactionary conservative aristocrats trying to turn back time, and then you had radicals trying to push everything along. o He thinks that democracy could lead to enlightenment, or it could lead to barbarianism; prosperity or poverty.  How does democracy potentially mess up social order?  If there’s something bad about democracy, then you have to understand what’s good about the aristocracy. 1. Qualities of Aristocracy  Nobles check central power.  The aristocrats were independent sources of power who could keep the central authority in line. They have their own armies and loyalists.  There’s no line of resistance with democracy. If the government wants to wipe us out, that’s it, we’re done. We have no one to help us.  King’s divinity checks power • Authority rested on God's grace, less tyranny  Noblesse, Oblige (Obligations of nobility)  The idea that the elites in society, the nobles, had an obligation to help out the lower orders. Aristocrats would do that- they would go around helping the people at the bottom of society. They would basically think of their lower order as their pets, and treated the peasants accordingly. They took care of them.  Toqueville was worried that with the rise of democracy, you would lose that sense of obligation by the elites because everyone is ‘equal”. It would be disrespectful to think of the lower class as pets.  Legitimate order  If you’re loyal to a duke, he’s loyal to you and he’ll protect you. It was a natural order for the elites to protect those at the bottom.  People accept the fact that they’re at the bottom of the order. It gave a type of stability to the whole system. This begins to collapse with democracy. No one knows where they stand in life. The nobles begin to beat down the peasants as the peasants try to clammer for power. The peasants feel like they’re being denied something and try to take down the nobles. Church allied with the old order, rather than democracy. Thus, people for democracy end up becoming atheists, which was horrible for Toqueville, because a good society needs religion to draw them together. o What’re you going to do in that situation? o Page 9. “I conceive a society which …
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