POL326Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Donald Rumsfeld, C. Wright Mills, Aggregate Demand

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14 Dec 2016
Last class: theoretical considerations; the study of US FP calls between IR and comparative politics; each
of these has its own assumptions in understanding of making policies;
Cotiuatio of theoetial disussio
- Other component of the core of Political Science field: the nature of the state;
- State: different perspectives define a state;
o Political thinkers share an understanding of the nature of states;
o Liberals tend to share one thing in common: see states as what in science lingo would be
called a depended variable; those that act upon the state; influence the actions of the
state; this arises out of the political theories of Rousseau and Locke (Contract Theories);
most thinkers recognize this as implicit contract; social contract embodied in
constitution that spells out the relationship of state and those that are governed; state
is a neutral entity; forms the arena within which groups within the society try to
advance their interests by influencing policies; different methods of doing so; like
democratic way of electing leaders, expecting them to implement policies in agreement
with their choice of electing that leader;
o Lobbying; US unique in terms of the opportunities provided to citizens and outsiders
trying to influence the US government; due to enormous numbers of access points to
the government; parliamentary system has far fewer access points;
o State itself remains neutral in this type of system; various groups in a tug of war to
influence policy;
o Marxist: substantially different but not all different; but have more in common than
being different; they view state as a dependable variable; to understand actions of
state, do’t look at the state ut the atios of the goeet;
o Ma did’t ite uh aout the state ut eoois; state is the collective means for
ougouisie to futhe thei ais; tool of the ulig lass; lieals do’t ie it as a tool
of the ruling class; liberals view it as a contest between different groups;
o If it is a tool of the ruling class, what does that mean?
o During Marx, most of Europe not democratic; even in England power concentrated in
the House of Lords;
o Marx argued capitalism did not change this nature of state;
o In 20th century more democratic societies in Western Europe; Marx argued one person
one vote did not guarantee change; Why?
o Two studies: late 50s and 60s; one in the US by C Wright Mills called Power Elite; the
other The Capital State in GB by Ralph Milliband; what these two writers noted is the
close relationship between elites in government state and elites that govern economy;
they tend to come from similar social backgrounds; tend to be members of the social
clubs and social circles; tended to share the same outlook;
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o Furthermore, in both British and American cases, a kind of revolving door relationship
happened; move from corporate elite to government and from government to
corporate elite; as such, policy outcomes tend to reflect the interests of the dominant
elite than the average citizens; but not willing to go so far as Marx declaring state a tool
of the elite; reason: one of the key aspects of the state is the notion of legitimacy; state
derives its authority from the consent of the government; that consent takes the form
of holding regular elections; those elections have to be perceived to be fair; otherwise,
the masses will no longer view them legitimate and instead take to the streets and
engage in rioting; since capitalism cannot afford riots, and chose democratic institutiosn
to prevent riots, they must maintain the appearance of neutrality;
o To summarize: state is relatively autonomous; prime function of state, as these
instrumentalists, is that state needs to keep economic system and the also function as a
legitimate institution of serving the public; on occasions has to act contrary to the
interests of the elites;
o Nonetheless, policies particularly foreign policies; to explain them, for example, the
decision to go to war in Iraq; why go to war?
o From the persperctive of instrumentalists, not hard to explain; simply need to look up
the decision makers; G W Bush; oil-man from Texas; Dick Cheney, from a long chain of
revolving door of relationship of elite and corporate world; Haliburton one of the major
contractors of oil industry; Donald Rumsfeld also part of the revolving door relationship;
o As such, as per instrumentalists, Blood for Oil; as such, Bush administration did the
bidding for the oil industry;
o That all Marxists buy this easy connection; a number of Marxists have come to critique
this vision of state; and put forward a Structuralist interpretation:
o The do’t de a of the epiial fidigs of the istuetalists; hoee, the
argue, at best, that is part of the picture and kind of a distorted picture;
o Role of the state is not to reflect the individual capitalist interests but to help the long
term interests of the capitalists as a whole; they noted through American history;
o American government took actions that were roundly denounced by all upper-class;
example: actions of New Deal of F D Roosevelt; 9132, Depression; one of the few to
understand the nature of depression and to get out of it and to internalize it;
o That is the general perception or acknowledgement that capitalist economy is not self-
regulating but subject to crisis; John M Canes, said this was part of the long business
cycle; government needs to intervene to regulate it; aggregate demand and aggregate
demand needs to be balanced; if not balanced, recession; this happened during the
Great Depression; a period of deflation; seems a good idea to consumers but to
producers problematic; Canes argued all you need to do is print money;
o How can you do that? By printing and using that to higher people to build infrastructure;
o New Deal also tried to increase demand by imposing minimum wage; capitalists fought
it vigorously except Ford;
o Other means of New Deal to increase demand: social welfare system;
o Wagnar Act: legalization of labour unions; allowed them to advocate for higher wages;
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o Why did it go through anyway; to a larger extend it was deemed necessary;
furthermore, it could not rely on ruling elites to come up with this idea;
o Why did elites not do this? Competition; why did the states did not do this? Competition
with other states; only the Federal government could do so;
o They had to take these actions as they saw revoltuions in Russia and Euruope;
something had to give; the federal government took actions against ruling elite
interests; what is in the interest of individual capitalist is not the same as the interst of
the capitalist system; Marxists argued capitalist class aware of their interests;
o But capitalists do not argue for that; they see interest by their immediate benefits; they
act on the interests of their immediate profits; as such difficult to rationalize a sysmte as
a whole;
o Structuralists argued that states need relative autonomy so to act against individual
capitalists to rationalize the interests of the capitalist system as a whole;
o Structural forces (capitalist system) does not allow actors to act contrary to the benefits
of the capitalist system; as such, still a depended variable;
o Fred Vlock: ruling class does not rule; (realists)
o Realists come from a different perspective; states are rational actors; they are not
depended variable; they act on their own and rationally on their own;
o Are they in total denial of the impact of the capitalist society and democratic
institutions? Not necessarily;
o Their view derive from historical understanding of the evolution of states; the first thing
they reject is the contract model of the origin of states;
o That relates to some extent to previous lecture: Liberals from Anglo-Saxon world;
realists from Germanic worldview of Europe; US constitution as the social contract and
Magna Carta in Great Britain; in each case, seen as the origins of the modern state;
o However, realists argue, US and GB are anomalous; a closer examination would also
lead to a different conclusions: how did states come to begin?
o Extraction coercion Cycle: reference to Prussia; 16th century Prussia a fairly small centre
of power that controlled a few thousand mercenaries; but Fredrick William used those
mercenaries to expand his territory to extract more resources; used that to expand
mercenary army; so on and so forth; in 80 years, the Prussian Army transformed into a
modern state; no longer mercenaries but standing armies of 70,000 and permanent tax
collection beauracracy;
o Charles Tilly: in War Making and State Making as Organized Crime; he argues that
making of the states is in many ways analogous to a protection racket (threat comes
from the same person offering protection); in some cases threats real and in most cases
not real; in most cases the threat came from their own tax collectors; in that regard,
states have a similar kind of origins;
o States emerge through an over-lapping 4 processes; War Making and State Making;
o State making: in order to function need to eliminate other wielders of force that
threaten their ability to function as a state; both outside and inside the territory they
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