Political Concepts.docx

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Department
Political Science
Course Code
Political Science 1020E
Professor
Charles Jones

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Politics, Power, and Authority Sept. 10 Political Science, pg. 3-23 Concept: a term, idea, or category  ie. Democracy, power, authority  A good definition of a concept is clear, concise, and pointed Conception: a broader understanding or interpretation of a concept What is Politics? Politics: the activity or process by which groups reach and enforce binding decisions affecting the collectivity as a whole “A political system can be designated as the interactions through which values are authoritatively allocated for a society; that is what distinguishes a political system from other systems lying in its environment” – Easton Three Aspects of Politics 1. A group activity 2. Makes decisions which affect the group 3. These decisions become binding for the group as a whole and are enforced Two Views of Politics 1. Pursuit of the interests of the whole community a. “sagacious and judicial” 2. Collision between groups pursuing their own narrow gains a. “crafty and scheming” For the Whole Community “Man is by nature a political animal” – Aristotle (384-322 BC) 1. The highest human activity; what sets us apart from other species 2. The pursuit of common goals- citizens should want to participate a. “the ideal citizens rule in the interests of all, not because they are forced to by checks and balances, but because they see it as right to do so”- Nicholson 3. In some ideals, violence is wholly removed from politics and is viewed as an “inevitably futile attempt to transcend politics” (Goodin and Klingemann, 1996) a. Very idealistic; politics is full of conflict For Personal Interests 1. Narrow interests > collective benefits 2. Leaders place own goals ahead of community 3. Politics was defined by Lasswell as “who gets what, when, how” (1936) 4. Marx depicted the exec of the modern state as a “committee for managing the whole affairs of the common bourgeoisie” (1884) 5. Politics is the competition between groups (both ideological and material) 6. Public dialogue often moderates the pursuit of private concerns until it can be passed off for common good Politics; a mix of both natures 1. Both shared and competing interests, both cooperation and conflict, both reason and force 2. Should not narrow our view of the concept to one conception, but rather, view politics as the interaction of both 3. “Pure conflict is war. Pure cooperation is love. Politics is a mixture of both”- Laver (1983) Government or Governance? Government: a collection of institutions responsible for making collective decisions for society. More narrowly, government refers to the top political level within such institutions 1. In a broad sense (wide conception), government refers to any organization that makes decisions for the community (anything with public authority) rather than just those elected to political assignments a. Includes police, military, public servants, etc. 2. Cases for Gov’t a. Classic Case i. Provides us with protection (security) from harm we would otherwise inflict in pursuit of personal gain ii. Gov’t allows us to change anarchy to order and provide an opportunity for cooperation iii. Absolute gov’t is an escape from a life that would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” – Thomas Hobbes (1651) b. Economic Case i. Efficient way to make and enforce decisions (Coase, 1960) 3. Establishing a government creates new dangers and there is a risk that a “commonwealth” will abuse its own authority. So how can we avoid these dangers? Governance: denotes the activity of making collective decisions, a task in which government institutions may not play a leading, or even any, role. In world politics, many issues are resolved by negotiation: governance without government 1. No universally accepted definition; somewhere between politics and government 2. Regular procedures for resolving political issues (brings in ‘non-governmental actors’) 3. Task of managing complex societies; the coordination of public and private bodies (merging of public and private authority) a. ie. Sport run by its own governing body and government only intervenes in extreme cases 4. Government is one player- a regulator more than a provider 5. Example of governance: European Union- regulation and negotiation between member states 6. Another example: there are agreed regulations for the use of internet (ie. Governance) but no one government 7. Governance can refer to the policies and activities of government Classifying Governments “Political regimes will never fit neatly into intellectually defined boxes, and any system of classification has to accept the existence of ambiguous, borderline and mixed cases” Rule By… Form One Few Many Genuine Kinship Aristocracy Polity Perverted Tyranny Oligarchy Democracy Genuine Form: govern in the common interest Perverted Form: govern in their own interest Polity- rule by a moderate middle class, exercised through law A Classification of Modern Governmental Systems Liberal Democracy: Representative and limited government operating through law provides an accepted framework for political competition. Regular elections based on near universal suffrage are free and fair. Individual rights, including freedom of expression and association, are respected. Examples: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India (Good example of predominantly liberal democracy in what is still mainly a poor country)  Free to join and form political parties  Independent media allows voters to obtain understanding of issues before election  Individual freedoms subject to constitutional limits but are also protected against governmental excess Illiberal Democracy: Leaders are elected with no or minimal falsification of the count. To keep potential opponents off-balance, rulers interfere with the rule of law, the media, and the market. Individual rights are poorly entrenched and the judiciary is weak. Examples: Post-military states in Africa and Latin America (e.g. Venezuela), several Asian states (e.g. Malaysia), some post-communist states (e.g. Russia). Note: Venezuela under Chavez and Russia under Putin returned to a more authoritarian version of democracy.  Controlled election and media  Many countries move through this stage on the way to liberal democracy or authoritarian regimes Authoritarian Regime: Rulers stand above the law. The media are controlled or cowed. Political participation is usually limited and discouraged. However, the rulers’ power is often constrained by the need for alliances with other power-holders such as landowners, the military and religious leaders. Examples: Military governments, ruling monarchies and personal dictators. Authoritarian rule is the most common form of rule in history.  Population lacks effective means of controlling ruler  Elections may not take place or are rigged  Political parties may be banned In the totalitarian states of the twentieth century, participation was compulsory but controlled as the government sought total control of society. Heavy reliance on party members, state police, and informers. Examples: Communist and fascist regimes. More recently, Iran after the Islamic revolution in 1979
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