Introduction to Politics- Lecture Notes
What is politics based on Morgan’s Thesis?
Politics could be a means of war or avoiding war
Our freedom to choose our own future
War is declining, number of deaths because of war is dropping too
Democracies tend not to fight each other, more people living in democracies
Morgans thesis is that war is a harmful mean, a cultural tradition we’d be better off without
Other side, some people might say war is in our human animal genetic make up
Morgan would say ppl used to say that about slavery, male dominance ect but these things are
no longer what they once were
Humans have capacity for both war and peace
What is politics?
Elections- people with formal decision making power are put into place- formal politics
Demonstrations- informal politics- tea party protests- 1% protest- people expressing their voice
to seek social change
Policy Decisions- environmental (windmills/windfarms near housing)- health policies (central or
private)- education policies (separate schools funded by the state, free post- secondary
education)- Law making (legislation, taxes, spending on health education infustructure,
constitutions, relations between provincial and federal governments)
Decisions are made that affect you (policies, taxes)
Law assigns your rights and duties- what youre entitled to ect
Those decisions are enforced. Even if you’re not interested in what the law says you still have to
follow it- it will always have an impact on you
Politics seems to be about controlling other people. Laws of property (what is yours and what is theirs).
Those rules are enforced; violators are penalized (fines, prison, even death in some areas). Politics has
power over life and death of you and others
Particular Case: Hispaniola- Politics Matters
This island contains Haiti and Dominican republic
On Dominican Republic it is relatively healthy whereas Haiti is very poor. Haiti is brown, DR is
Different environmental conditions. Haiti has lower rainfall from easterly wind and mountains so
lower soil quality but Haiti has a history of slavery, so higher population density.
Haiti is poorest country out of Africa. DR 7 times richer than Haiti.
DR export oriented, Haiti sustainable living oriented
Consequences of Political Decisions
DR better off than Haiti due to history of development of institutions and recent leaders of
Both had slavery and dictatorships but DR dictator decided to have more park land and be more
Political institutions and decisions and the history of those create the political differences Some Meanings of Politics
Formal Government Activity
Dishonestly seeking personal gain (self-interest, becoming a politician in some places is a useful
means of getting rich)
Noble Pursuit of the public good (Jack Layton inspired people, tried to help people)
“Who Gets What, When, and How?”
A biological order that includes humans, apes, and monkeys
Who is the cruelest primate?
Apes are political too
Competition, power, conflict
Dominance strategies and alliances (males getting together to corner a female or keep other
Winners and Losers
Characteristic male politics, inter group warfare, aggressive, territorial, hierarchical
As genetically close to humans as chimps
Peaceful, gentle, loving
Erotic and egalitarian
A study done in 2008 that when they’re in danger they hunt and eat other monkeys but sexual is
Politics involves conflict and power over others but also involves negotiation (chimps vs bonobos)
What is politics?
Elements of Politics
Binding Decisions (apply whether you like it or not)