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Lecture 1: Politics 101

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Jeffrey Kopstein

Politics 101 9/9/2013 9:12:00 AM On the Nature of Politics  “Man is by nature a political animal…and he who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god…” - Aristotle, Politics Big Themes of Class  Justice, knowledge, charisma, legality  Democracy, Dictatorship, War, and Peace  The point of social science is to try to make sense of the world we live in  How do we make sense of it? o By simplifying, by focusing on what matters and ignoring what doesn’t. That way the world is less scary Democracy and War  Is the world becoming more democratic and more peaceful?  Francis Fukuyama  fall of Berlin=end of history  Summer 1989  Hegel history is understandable, there is a structure to history, the way that it unfolds – beginning, middle, and end o The history of the big ideas=philosophy, human capacity of understanding the world History of Human Consciousness  History of philosophy  Not kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers, or celebrities: they steal ideas, big ideas  THE CLASH OF IDEAS o When you see war, what you are seeing is people dying but what’s really happening out there is a clash of ideas  Industry, economy, religious practice are material manifestation but what’s really going on is the ideas that inform those practices Ideas and the organization of human society  Really big ideas organize human society  Ancient society  Medieval society  Liberal Democratic state Hegel and Liberal State  Hegel and the Battle of Jena: victory of “liberty, equality  Once all the big ideas are gone, history has ended.  Too often the unyielding attention on the narrow, the irrelevant, the vapid is the preoccupation of the human mind. It is theory alone that helps us transcend this poverty of the human condition  The big idea: Liberal Democracy Fukuyama  Hegel was right but he was a bit off  1806 but 1989  history has not ended yet because new ideas came along o Communism  Big challengers to liberal democracy had been defeated in realm of ideas (fascism and communism) – The REAL REALM o Liberal democracy is the last one standing Challengers  Yes, communism still there but outside Cuba, North Korea or the steps of Sidney Smith Hall, nobody willing to die for it or betray their country for itpowerless idea  Christian, Jewish, Islamic fundamentalism: yes they are there but they are not universal and therefor not a real challenge Where does that leave us?  World peace, trade, democracy  Yes we still have wars but they are not wars of bi ideas or if they are liberalism wins  Example Russianobody is going to die for Putin (small player)  We should look for big ideological challenges  But in a sense, history is over Clash of Civilizations? 9/9/2013 9:12:00 AM An Examination of Samuel Huntington’s arguments A Pessimistic Rejoinder  The Clash of Civilization: Remaking of World Order (book)  Democratic countries went from 40 to 114
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