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The Nature of Politics.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Jeffrey Kopstein

POL100 September 10, 2012 The Nature of Politics ҉ An act of collective existence -if you don’t participate in it, others will -‘man is a political animal…’ Aristotle ҉ Big Themes The point of social science is to try to make sense of the world we live in. -systematic understanding of the world -conceit, arrogance -> less scary by understanding in a scholarly way -simplifying, focusing on what matters, ignoring what doesn’t ҉ What is Important?  Is the world becoming more peaceful? -Fukuyama (1989) -based on Hegel (1806) -> the chopping bench of history -ideas, not armies ҉ History of Human Consciousness -history of philosophy -they steal ideas now (Obama, Harper) -religion/industry/economy -> material manifestation ҉ The Organization of Human Society -ancient society -medieval society -Liberal Democratic society Hegel looked out his office window in 1806 and saw Napoleon’s troops. He believed it to be the victory of “liberty, equality, and fraternity”. -this idea has not been surpassed? -no other ideas have come to challenge the BIG idea -is this the end of history? ‘Too often the unyielding attention on the narrow, the irrelevant, the vapid is the preoccupation of the human mind’ Hegel -Fukuyama believed Hegel was right, but a bit off -> Nazism/Communism -therefore not end of history in 1806, but rather in 1989 -big challengers to liberal democracy were defeated in the realm of ideas -> THE REAL REALM. -yes, communism still exists, but it is a powerless idea. -yes, there are Christian, Jewish, Islamic fundamentalists -> not universal, not a challenge ҉ And now what? -a world of peace, trade, democracy -Afghanistan is a tiny pocket of unease, isolated -we should look for big ideological challenges  In this sense, liberal democracy is the end stage. ҉ Clash of Civilizations Fall of the Berlin Wall -> speculation about the future of the world order -Samuel Huntington was sceptical, also predicted a rollback -believed the Fukuyama thesis was fatalistic -between 1974 and 2010, 53 countries experienced political crises -> 50% never returned to democracy -therefore Fukuyama’s view is narrow -“Liberal peace and prosperity” are illusory ҩ Inequality ҩ Contested Citizenship ҩ Exclusion  Fukuyama, therefore, understands the world by the standards of the Cold War -not the end of history, then, bu
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