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Lecture 11

Classical Soc - Lecture 11.docx
Classical Soc - Lecture 11.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough

Classical Soc – November 30 – Lecture 11 AGENDA - The Future of Democracy o Revolution o Centralization - Centralization - Spencer: Biography o Evolution and ethics o Sociology and biology o Evolution  Factors  Dimensions The Future of Democracy - Revolution o Less poverty  You have fewer people living in poverty, and the distinctions between the rich and poor are less clearly marked. Although there are rich people, they tend not to have a status as a separate class that exists forever. It’s always fluctuating.  If people from the aristocracy want to go up the hierarchy, they have to eliminate those above them. o Middleclass property owners  Own a bit of property. If there were to be a revolution, that would be bad for you because you have something to lose. In general, people who are middleclass tend to be the least revolutionary of all classes.  Aristocrats are more revolutionary because they don’t care about money and don’t have much property. They have nothing to lose.  The middleclass has enough money to care about keeping it, but not so much that they start thinking about other things in life that they really want.  Strike against Revolution. o Commercial habits  People who are in the markets buying, selling, trading are against revolutions because they prefer predictability. This way they can plan for the future.  Not revolutionary. o Lack of Public Spirit.  Most people only care about their own little private worlds and so they don’t get worked up in the great questions of politics and revoltutions. They don’t work very hard to promote a revolution because they don’t really care.  You don’t really care about the public issues, you’re more concerned about yourself and your small world. - Why don’t ideas change very much? o People have very similar opinions.  When we’re all thinking similar thoughts, it’s rare that someone comes up with something revolutionary.  We’re not truly individual; we’re unique, but we’re doing the same things. o Incremental innovations  In an aristocracy you can have radical innovation because one guy at the top has a new idea, and that changes everything. He only has to convince a few more people at the top, and everyone else follows.  In a democracy change isn’t so radical because a few elites can’t command everyone to change. Everyone has to accept it and we all have to be convinced one by one. That is more gradual, thus, it is not revolutionary. o Domestic concerned  We’re all focused on our home life, so we don’t have time to think of revolutionary ideas. o Conformism  In a democratic society we’re just one little person in a big society. We think that if everyone else is thinking one idea, they’re probably right, and so we just tend to agree.  The real threat that Toqueville is concerned about is not revolution, but NOT being able to change: stagnation. (616). Democracy in any society will at times need to have great public movements. But we’re often so comfortable in our position that we’re afraid to do that. Everyone knows change needs to be implemented, but they don’t want to do it. The threat is not constant revolution, but the inability to change themselves when the time comes. Centralization - Democratic people tend to have an emotional desire for giving the central authority and government a lot of power. Since democratic people want to think of everyone as equal, it makes us very resentful of people who get special priviledges. There’s a tendency in democracies to try to take away special priviledges, and give an abstract to a central government as opposed to people. There’s a pressure to have a centralized government that will run people’s lives with abstract, universal rules. o Tocqueville was worried that this would lead to the idea that the central government would be like parents: it will solve your problems. The idea that a government will give you welfare if you don’t have a job, you go the state if you have problems. You don’t rely so much on your personal connections. You give your children away to the government for 7-8 hours a day in order to school them with a curriculum set by the government. The government can regulate you in whatever way they wish. The state can treat you like a child.  Ie. Trans-fat has become illegal in some states because it’s unhealthy; what, you can’t decide whether or not you want to eat fast food?  662  Soft Despotism : don’t let yourself be turned into a child.  It’s not inevitable. There are factors which influence whether or not a country is likely to succumb to this: o Tradition of Freedom  If the people are more likely to participate anyways, they are less likely to be controlled by the government. o Violent Revolution  How did the country become democratic? If it was a violent revolution, that country is much more likely to have a stronger central authority because in the process of revolution the existing elites, which provide a buffer between the central authority and the average person, would probably be killed. o Education Level  Of the country entering democracy. If they have a lower education level, they’re less likely to develop secondary associations (bowling clubs, dancing groups, political groups). They don’t create them and instead give the government more power, assuming that they know what they’re doing. o Wars  The more wars a country participates in, the more the government is centralized. o Threats  If you’re constantly feeling threatened as a country, you’re more likely to be centralized. - Stagnation is the inability to change when problems arise (the more centralization you have, the more you may stagnate), but centralization is the gathering of the authority into one government. SPENCER - Born in the 1920s, in the parts of England that were ____ - Family was very religious, but a part of Non-Conformist religion. Very temperate. Fun is bad. Part of that religious outlook was that every individual human should be able to guide his or her own life- this translates into keep the government out. - Taught at home by his father, who trained him in science and engineering; not the classics (latin, philosophy). This makes him very different. - Worked for a while as an engineer for railroads. - After, he started writing articles, arguing for extreme restrictions on the government controlling the country. Was against poor laws (welfare), established church, restrictions on trading; a very laissez-faire attitude. - First book was called “Social Statics” and was about the structure of society. o Like Compte, he emphasized the steady progress of humanity.  However, he was against central authority; government intervention and planning.  Thought society was a self-regulated organizism that didn’t need social priests. - Started advocating the developmental hypothesis which was similar to Darwin’s Evolution of Species (which was written 7 years later). Coined the term, “survival of the fittest”. - Was a bachelor his whole life. Was always kind of nervous and anxious in his life. Took a lot of opium because he couldn’t sleep. - Spent the end of his life as a hermit who ran away from society. - By the end of the 1800s, he was thought of as an intellectual equal to Darwin. - Evolution and Ethics o Believes that humans are a part of the natural environment, just like everything else in the environment. They evolve, and as they evolve, their relationship ____ changes. o Instead, you have to look to society as an evolving system and ask how certain kinds of attitudes and behaviors are supportive of society’s integreation into its environment, or the dysfunctions which exist which hurt its chances of adapting to its environment.  IF characteristics are GOOD, then we say it’s morally good.  If characteristics are BAD, then we say it’s morally bad.  Ie. In ea
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