POL326Y1 Lecture Notes - Hegemony, Technostructure

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14 Feb 2014
Topic 1 – theories, things. 05/14/2013
Domestic politics: fight for distribution of different resources, takes place through legislature and interest
groups trying to affect legislature.
IR approach to politics and FP: related more to state security, assumption that states are rational actors
pursuing security and survival (especially IR Realism). Rational because capable of recognizing
vulnerabilities, picking policy options etc.
- To what extent does US function as a rational actor in the intl system?
- To what extent are US FP decisions affected by domestic decisions – is the outcome rational?
Theories of a state: policies are the outcomes of states, so what is a state?
State: dominant paradigm is the liberal-pluralist approach. Competition between different interest
groups, political parties through elections, legislature discussions  creation of policy.
State seen as a black box, various policy inputs (elections etc)  policy outputs = neutrality.
State also seen as based upon a contract model, social contract. Agreement between people of a pol
community about how to manage their common affairs. Magna Carta (UK)
State is a dependent variable.
Marxist approach: politics seen as a matter of allocation (much like the other schools), but says that it
reflects the interest of dominant elites.
- Instrumentalists: see state as the interest of dominant elites (Ralph Miliband UK, C Wright Mills US).
Analysis focuses on common perceptions, backgrounds etc of elites running the state and private economy.
Same socioeconomic background, friends, education  same outlook. Differences however arise between
capitalists in industry vs agriculture, etc  unrest in state.
So in order for state to look legitimate, relative autonomy of the state so that other interests can be
accomodated. E.g. Bush administration in Iraq – not about US security, but oil interests abroad being
protected (**), Obama response to 2008 depression affected by financial institutions’ interest.
- Structuralists: Fred Block. They don’t deny the realities that instrumentalists point to, but say that states
act the way they do because of the structural position they occupy within a social system. Capitalist
economices function on willingness of investors to invest their money, so state has to ensure that this
functions for its own interest (reducing unemployment, raising standard of living etc).
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Statists argue that state is an independent variable, e.g. emergent states in Europe, where the model is
not contractual but an extraction-coercion model. Looks at states like Prussia under Frederick
William, where mercernaries were used to extract resources from territory. Other states in order to compete
have to do the same thing, obviously those with better resources find it easier and benefit more. Statist
argument therefore is that states produced capitalism, not the other way around.
Ikenberry - Absence of threat permits policy to become capricious. After collapse of USSR, US faced no
threats and hence nothing forced them to act rationally. Rationality comes from threat/challenge to power
from elsewhere.
Alfred & Friedlander (1980s) – argue that all these schools of thought complement each other to a certain
extent. Different schools can be applied depending on what the question to be answered is.
US FP ranges over 200 years, but a single set of institutions that has helped them go from insignificant
colony to global hegemon.
Legislature (Congress) versus Executive (President), elected separately  system of checks and
FP involves president as playing the dominant role.
Constitution: pres initially seen only as head bureaucrat. As US became more powerful, developed interests
abroad, presidential power increased.
Requirements of national security vs democracy: US saw itself as an experiment. Democracy
seen by pol scientists as a privilege the US enjoyed by virtue of its isolationist nature. Post-WW1
introduction of Espionage Act, Sedition Act, restrictions on Germans in America. Post WW2 restriction on
civil liberties of Japanese Americans. McCarthyism, attempts to resist other interest groups. Privacy issues
etc after 9/11. National security becomes more important.
Examining the Constitution:
Today’s constitution is the second constitution, first is the Articles of Confederation which established a
weak central govt based upon states that became free from British rule in 1776 getting relative autonomy.
US constitution is above politics, not a political document.
Founding fathers all from the upper crusts of American society, ruling elite and wrote the const to protect
their own interests and their status. Constitutional Convention because US was facing crises – British angry
about losing colonies, trying to get them back.
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Hence emerged 2 different ideas for constitutions. Virginia plan (preferences of those who came from large
states, where states be represented in the fed govt in accordance with population size) vs New Jersey plan
(equal rep in fed govt)  Connecticut compromise combined both, HofR by population, elected and Senate
by 2 state reps each, appointed.
Thomas Jefferson’s constitution (The Connecticut Compromise, originally): life, liberty, pursuit of happiness
(based upon Locke’s life, liberty, property – dominant elites!). Natural equality, protection of
human/individual interests.
President elected through electoral college (divided into states that have to be won, where states are
represented by # of HofR reps and senate reps – overrepresents small states). Therefore EC skews things
so that winning the pop vote isn’t enough. Person winning the most states can have fewer overall votes.
North vs South: slavery still persisted in the South. So in the South, to count population of the state for
HofR, slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person. Three-Fifths compromise.
Constitution mentions at the end of the document that the states are essentially voluntarily surrendering
their authority to a central power. Issue of sovereignty.
This essentially pooled multiple sovereignties in one central power, unprecedented. Can states take this
sovereignty back? End of const suggests yes, start suggests no (we the people)? This initial ambiguity 
attempt at confederacy quashed by center  states evidently can’t do that, state authority comes from
people not state.
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