Review for Midterm 2 Comparative Government
Questions on the readings to think about
First three readings, we mostly went over these in class:
What distinguished European cities in the 11th and 12th century from cities in the past
(ancient Greece and Rome)? What were the factors that led to their growth? Why did they
become agents of modernization contrasted to cities in the Ottoman Empire?
When Berman argues medieval communes were communitarian in nature, what does he
mean? How did guilds play a role in city life?
How are medieval communes different from their modern equivalents?
Medieval communes were secular. What does this mean? Did they reject religion?
What were the major factors that led to the establishment of national monarchies and the
melting away of feudal Europe?
- King's Officers
-Finances - borrowing
How did Britain's political development differ from France according to Rice and Grafton?
How did the Republic of Venice survive for so many centuries? What makes it different from
other cities? What is the significance of Venice?
The Old Regime and the French Revolution:
Up until the French Revolution at the end of the 18 century, there were certain provinces
in France that had a degree of autonomy that could be considered similar to the townships
in America that Tocqueville finds so important to the political health of a nation. One such
example is Languedoc. Its system of semi-autonomous self-government helped Languedoc
to grow and flourish. This was fairly unique in the old regime and indeed after the
revolution as well. What aspects of Languedoc are unique in the old regime? How are they
similar to other cases that we have studied (the city-states, townships etc.)?
Democracy in America:
What is different about Americans’ both in their thinking about governance and agency
within their government structure, especially compared to the French after the Revolution?
What is the “public spirit?”
How do townships work? Why are they autonomous? What benefits does this have?
What is the difference between centralized administration and centralized government
according to Tocqueville? He believes that centralized government has many benefits and that the absence of it can cause problems, what are these strengths and weaknesses?
Tocqueville is much more concerned generally though, with the centralization of the
administration – please review this in light of the Rahe reading as well.
“The partisans of centralization in Europe are wont to maintain that the Government directs
the affairs of each locality better than the citizens could do it for themselves” – how does
this attitude reflect the way Europeans see their governments? Although Tocqueville does
not agree that centralization is better, he does believe that Americans have a unique
conception of governance, as already mentioned.
How do provincial institutions and the political affects of American administration help to
combat Democratic Despotism? Why does Democratic Despotism happen? Have the French
fallen victim to it according to Tocqueville? Why?
The French Disease
According to Rahe, why did Tocqueville focus on townships and administration in
Democracy in America? What was Tocqueville trying to remind the French of? When did the
French lose this? Did the Revolution help to return these rights?
Tocqueville, in the chapter of Democracy in America that we read, begins to discuss how
Democratic Despotism arises. Rahe goes deeper into this saying that Tocqueville believes
that there are some unfortunate consequences of democratic societies. One of these is the
desire for equality, something the French hold dear. Why does this equality lead to
centralization? How does this lead to Democratic Despotism?
As we have talked about, central government and central administration are slightly
different. How did industrialization affect the centralization of administration in Europe?
In what ways are the central government and the central administration growing in France?
France was said to lack the public spirit by Tocqueville, how does Rahe help us to
understand that in the modern age? Why does he say that France is an oligarchy? What
would need to change to bring France back?
What is the French Disease? Perhaps it is easiest to conceive of this if you look at
Tocqueville’s healthy American administration in 18 and 19 century. I suggest making a
State Bureaucracies and Local Government in France:
As I have tried to go over in class, although I probably did not spend enou