SOC314H1 Lecture Notes - Antonio Gramsci, Moral Authority, Alexis De Tocqueville

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13 Apr 2012
of 6
SOC203 Lecture - March 12th/12
According to Weber:
1. The state is an association that claims sovereignty over a territory. (p. 78)
2. Authority is legitimate domination (p. 78-79)
3. Charisma is the authority of the ‘eternal yesterday” (p. 78-79)
4. In domination by virtue of legality, obedience is expected by virtue of devotion and personal
confidence in revelation, heroism, or other qualities of individual leadership. (p. 79)
5. Organized domination calls for control of a staff & of material means of administration. (p. 80)
6. States vary depending on whether those who govern own the administrative means. (p. 81)
7. The feudal vassal aid out of his own pocket for the administration of his fiefdom. (p. 81)
8. The development of the modern state involves the expropriation of the autonomous and ‘private
bearers of power. (p. 82)
Continuation from Last week:
- talked about enlightenment
- reason*
- what is enlightenment? a text write in response in a contest by a German journal
- Kant won this contest
- enlightenment was to move out of this child-like state
- describe public opinion (commonly understood: kind of information produced by polling firms)
- public opinion = opinions arrived at in public fora in which citizens are able to bracket their sta-
tus - not b/c of the status of the speaker but b/c it is the strongest point
- Hegel’s antagonism*
- he was antagonistic to the idea that public idea should rule - Kant = public opinion as the vehicle
of reason
- Hegel = difficult to come to a consensus as to which opinion was the best
6. Tocquevilles skepticism
- resemble parental authority
- equality encourages people to remain in this infantile state that Kant says that we can get out of
by grouping together
- a pressure towards intellectual conformity
- does not destroy anything, but prevents much from being born
- hinder, restrains, stifles so much that in the end - each nation is no more than a flock of timid and
hard working animals with a government as its shepherd
- SOFT DESPITICSM of democracy*
- contrast Tocqueville w/ Hegel
- Hegel as well does not trust a public opinion
- description from Tocqueville of a public opinion which people try not to stand out in the crowd
and be eccentric and think for themselves
- the solutions are different*
- Hegel and Tocqueville share some kind of pessimistic attitude
- Tocqueville’s solution is a scaled down solution than Kant’s
- Tocqueville is skeptical
- only an elite can form these debating clubs or public fora in which the best ideas can be articulat-
- in other words, Tocqueville - contrary to Hegel - argues for democracy - a representative democ-
racy in which power is concentrated in the hands of a few
7. Marx - the problem disappears
- the problem of authority disappears
- a society divided into different classes
- impossible for a proletariat to have the same interests as the bourgeoisie
- Marx - those who control the means of production also control the means of cultural production
- Marx adds false consciousness*
- by false consciousness - Marx is referring to an awareness that does not do justice to one’s class
- a member of the proletariat - victim of false consciousness - unable to see that his/her interests
are oppose to the bourgeoisie
- not having a good grasp of your own interests = false consciousness*
- fundamental way in which Marx & Hegel differ
- Hegel = reason will not be the populace amongst public opinion - the state then can transcend the
different class interests that put classes against each other
- this is not true for Marx - The state is only another tool for class domination
- the state in Marxist theory has a very different position than it has in Hegels theory
Profs own view
- Marx
- what Marx does is sweep under the table a very important problem
- premise: every political collectivity has to make binding decisions*
- decisions that will hold
- authoritative - states as we’ve known them have had control over fewer resources
- would these challenges disappear in a classless society?
- Marx sweeps under the carpet the problem of authority in the following sense - deems authority
into social classes as illegitimate*
- public opinion - depends on the context
- public opinion vs political authority
- dealing w/ system of ideas - collection of interrelated parts
- if you change element; you change others
- the word public opinion takes on different forms in different contexts
The theme of this part of the course: AUTHORITY*
- distinction of class in itself and a class for itself
- a class in itself is a class that we recognized from the outside as a distinct class - even if the mem-
bers don’t know they belong to it
- without those members necessarily knowing they belong - they need class consciousness*
- common understanding of who their class members are
- class consciousness - constitutes a class for itself (see themselves as a class)
- false consciousness - no class consciousness
DURKHEIM - suicide*
- just read section 2
- moral authority
- distinction between 2 different kinds of claims = empirical and normative claims
- the premise for the reading next week is a normative claim*
- explain to the reader why moral authority is a good thing in society
- normative claim - moral authority is good
- descriptive claim = when moral authority weakens; suicide increases
- starts w/ what he believes is obvious to everyone - a balance b/t our needs and what the environ-
ment has to offer is desirable
- the environment does not provide us with what we need; we are in trouble
- with animals - needs are fairly constant (humans beings - by contrast with animals; the needs of
human beings change)
- under certain circumstances; the needs of human beings become unlimited, no boundaries
- what happens under these conditions?
- Durkheim says that when we have boundless needs we are setting ourselves up for pain & dis-
- if we have unlimited needs we are bound to have dissatisfaction -- PAIN
- moral premise = to avoid pain, there is a need for society to restrain individual needs
- place a check or limit on our needs
- assuming that if society is not there to restrain our needs; we will be incapable of doing it our-
selves (we need society to do this)
- the premise = moral authority is good
- the foundations of this premise - we are incapable on our own to place restrictions on our needs
- not an incorrect view of human beings - but does not give us credit for a lot of autonomy
- humans can then only be limited by an authority
- authority - moral before it is legal
- what does he mean by this = the limits that are imposed must seem to be apart of the fabric of so-
ciety - not from lawmakers
- ties this idea of needs and authority and happiness to SUICIDE
- Durkheim looks at the problem historically
- religion*
- the state*
- the family*
- but looking at the Europe of his own day - he says appetites for material prosperity is excited
- we feel like we need MORE
- he adds: “restraint today seems like a saculage”
- common understanding in our society
- unlimited needs are a recipe for pain b/c they can never be met
- in other words - we are setting ourselves up for disappointment
- Durkheim believes that this is especially true during times of economic crisis
- same thing for economic growth however*