Political Science Notes.docx

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Political Science
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David Carvounas

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Political Science notes Ideology Ideologies are predicated on the Age of Enlightenment belief that people could improve their conditions by taking positive action instead of passively accepting life as it came. Ideologies are the result of attempts to develop political accommodations to the economic and social conditions created by the Industrial Revolution. Ideology is a political term, it consists of a view of the present and the future, it is action oriented, it is directed towards the masses, in simple terms. The two factors most responsible for the political world in which we now live are 1) the belief that people can themselves take active steps that will improve their lives and 2) the Industrial Revolution. Almost every modern social condition and political idea is supported by these two factors. The phenomenon of political ideologies is unique to our era because it is a response to a unique set of economic, social, and political circumstances. Ideology and Philosophy Although each ideology is founded on a set of philosophical beliefs, philosophy is composed of three basic characteristics that distinguish it from ideology. First, philosophy tends to be profound. It attempts to penetrate the veneer of human existence and to address the actual meaning of life itself. By contrast, ideology is uncomplicated and shallow, the world is usually explained in very simple terms, and little attempt is made to deal with the multitudinous variables we confront. Usually, right and wrong are made very clear, and people are simply asked to believe in them and to act accordingly. Although philosophy can be the set of principles upon which an entire society bases its action, it can also be taken up by a single individual. Philosophy tends to encourage introspection. The objective of philosophy is to explain the universe and help the reader find a place in it. Ideologies, instead explain the world, and ask for people to take definite steps to improve their lives. People are not asked to investigate the complex and underlying variables of human existence. Instead, they are called on to act, and this emphasis on action often demands suspension of contemplation. The philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to change it. Chapter 2 The Spectrum of Political Attitudes Radicals are people who find themselves extremely discontented with the status quo. Consequently, they wish an immediate and profound change in the existing order, advocating something new and different for society. All liberals share a belief in the equality, intelligence, and competence of people. Moderates find little wrong with the existing with the existing society, and their reluctance to change it is only exceeded by the conservatives. Differing from liberals in most respects, conservatives are dubious about bold efforts to improve the world for rear that is incompetent meddling might, indeed, make things worse. Only the reactionaries reject current institutions and modern values. They would see society retrace its steps and adopt former political norms and policies. Basically, people on the right revere authority, tradition, elitism, and property rights, whereas those on the left emphasize political liberty, social change, human equality, and human rights. Beyond these philosophical convictions, there are several other motivations that cause people to lean to the left or right. Psychological factors about the need for change are important. Economic circumstances also play a part. Age is another factor. Finally, ones view about the condition of human nature is probably the most important consideration in determining with which side of the spectrum one will identify. Understanding The Spectrum Radical| Liberal| Moderate| Conservatives| Reactionary Left ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Right Change Or Policy Options Political change can be a very complex subject. With reference to the spectrum of political attitudes, we must actually learn four things about the change of policy option desired. First, we must determine the direction, forward or back, in which a proposed change would carry society. In other words, is the change progressive or retrogressive? The second thing one must determine when trying to locate desired policy options on the spectrum is the depth of a proposed change. Would the desired change amount to a major or a minor adjustment in the society? The third aspect we must consider is the speed at which people want change to occur. Obviously, the more upset people are with the status quo, the more impatient they are likely to be, and therefore, as a general rule, the more rapidly they would like to see the existing order transformed. The last factor we must consider is the method we use to accomplish change. People at practically every point on the political spectrum use violence. The death penalty, property expropriation, chokeholds, police techniques, and warfare itself are examples. Radical A radical may be defined as a person who is extremely dissatisfied with the society as it is and therefore is impatient with less than extreme proposals for changing it Hence all radicals favor an immediate and fundamental change in the society. In other words, all radicals favor revolutionary change. Liberal Liberals are placed closer than radicals to the status quo point on the continuum because they are less dissatisfied with the fundamentals of society. Indeed, the liberal supports the basic features of that society. Radicals are basically opposed to the political system that governs them, so they are apt to oppose the law because they see it as an instrument with which those who dominate the society maintain their control. Liberals, on the other hand, generally appreciate the concept of the law, and although they may want to change certain specifics of it, they will usually not violate it to accomplish their political objectives. Instead, they try to change the law through legal procedures. Liberals seek change in the system by several important means, but they reject attempts to revolutionize the system because they support its essentials. Liberalism is one of the byproducts of the Enlightenment, of the scientific method, and ultimately of the Industrial Evolution. During the medieval era, people looked heavenward for Divine relief from their wretched earthly existence. Faith in human potential, as well as esteem for humankind in general, was very low. Through use of the scientific method, people began to make improvements in their material existence, and in so doing, they began to develop confidence in their ability to solve many problems that they had previously borne with little complaint. Classical Liberalism and Contemporary Liberalism Classical liberals -Whose principle spokesman was John Locke (1632 1704). -Believed people were capable of being moral, competent, and intelligent. -Locke asserted that Natural Law (The use of reason to analyze human nature and developing rules to figure out rules of behavior. Developed by nature and universal. All people equal.) -Believed that government oppressed people, the less government the better. -Revered individuality and private property was protected from government confiscation. - Contemporary Liberalism Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)Still viewing people as intelligent creatures, contemporary liberals remain optimistic about our ability to improve life. - The concentration of wealth places power in the hands of those who control the means of production - People with economic power will use it to make themselves even more powerful and at a greater advantage economically politically. - Believe government can be used by the weak to make sure that they are protected against the oppression of the powerful. - More egalitarian than the classic liberal. - Afraid that economic power can be used as political power Moderates Moderates are fundamentally satisfied with the society, although they agree that there is room for improvement and recognize several specific areas in need of modification. However, they insist that changes in the system should be made gradually and that no change should be so extreme as to disrupt the society. Conservative Conservatives are the most supportive of the status quo and therefore are reluctant to see it changed. The essential difference between the two viewpoints rests on their respective confidence in when; the ideal can be accomplished. Conservatives support the status quo not so much because they like it because they believe that it is the best that can be achieved at the moment. Put differently, conservatives oppose change because they doubt that it will result in something better, not because they do not desire improvement. -They do not believe human reason is powerful enough to even completely understand, let alone solve, societys problems. -Conservatives tend to favor authoritarian controls over the individuals in society. -Conservatives tend to place great reliance for dealing with societys problems on the passage of time, authority, institutions, religions, and traditions. -The conservatives will see the War on Poverty problem as an issue that the free market should solve. Tories and Entrepreneurs Those who are referred to as Tories, closely follow the prescriptions of Burke. They make no bones about the fact that the excellent of society should rule, but at the same time, they sh
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