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?
-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
-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 Contested Citizenship
Fukuyama, therefore, understands the world by the standards of the Cold War
-not the end of history, then, bu