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Concepts and Problems of Comparative Politics

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Title: Concepts and Problems of Comparative Politics


1
Concepts and Problems of Comparative Politics
2
Politics
  • Focuses on human decisions
  • Power
  • Who gets what, when, where and why?
  • The authoritative allocation of values for a
    society?
  • Political science the study of human decisions

3
Why Governments?
  • What are the functions of government?
  • Enhance security, community, nation building
  • Secure order
  • Protect property
  • Promote economic efficiency and growth
  • Addresses problems of market failure
    (electricity, water, sewer)
  • Public good(s) issues
  • Non-excludable
  • Not rival (consumption does not detract from
    someone elses)
  • Subject to market failure
  • No incentive for private production (clean air,
    national security)

4
Why Government?
  • Protect the weakest members of society
  • Provide parameters of social justice
  • Formally defined
  • Governments are organizations of individuals
    legally empowered to make binding decisions on
    behalf of a community.
  • OR
  • Governments are the formal institutions that make
    decisions about public policy and the processes
    and procedures of decisionmaking.

5
Why Government?
  • Comparative Politics
  • is thus the comparative study of decisionmaking
    in political systems
  • Related to a given territory (national territory)
  • Backed by authority and coercion (self-defense or
    expansion)

6
Nature of Man in Social Groups
  • Thought
  • Hobbes and Weber Rousseau and Locke
  • Weber
  • The defining characteristic of government is its
    monopoly over the use of force
  • Hobbes
  • State of nature inhospitable (condition of man
    without government)
  • Man in conflict against all
  • Nature is barbaric and fear filled
  • Government is the only solution to inevitable
    chaos
  • Concerned with internal and external security

7
Nature of Man in Social Groups
  • Rousseau
  • State of nature brutish without law, morality
  • Men ally to form society
  • The Social Contract agreement on membership
  • Government is a source of power and inequality
    and thus human alienation and corruption
  • Questioned assumption that majority will always
    correct
  • Government should act morally. Should ensure
    freedom.
  • Locke
  • State of nature not in conflict until the
    creation of property
  • Property is the source of conflict (Its mine!)
  • Government with a limited role (protecting
    property) is good
  • Must have an agreed upon social contract
  • Establish and enforce property rights and rules
    of economic exchange.

8
Government as the Problem?
  • Critics Anarchists and Libertarians
  • Anarchists
  • Communitarians who see societies as communities
    of people who in their natural condition are
    equal
  • Governments lead to corruption in these
    communities which leads to oppression and
    alienation
  • Alternative is voluntary cooperation

9
Government as the Problem?
  • Libertarians
  • Individualists who see society as composed of
    human beings with some fundamental rights
    (property, freedom of speech)
  • The more government gets involved, the more prone
    it is to violate basic rights e.g. law
    enforcement.
  • Alternative is a society of unfettered
    individualism
  • Ayn Rand

10
Government as the Problem?
  • Destruction of Community
  • Does government build or destroy communities?
  • Violations of Basic Rights
  • Define basic rights?
  • Does the power held by governments allow them to
    violate rights?
  • Economic Inefficiency
  • Surplus? Deficit?

11
Government as the Problem?
  • Government for Private Gain
  • Rent Seeking benefits created through
    government intervention in the economy
  • Tax revenue or profits created because government
    restricted competition
  • Food subsidies
  • Gas/oil/energy subsidies
  • Influence trading? (insider information)
  • One persons gain is anothers (or societys)
    loss
  • Vested interest and inertia
  • Once rents are created, difficult to abolish
  • House of Lords in Great Britain

12
Alternatives to Government?
  • Markets and Voluntary coordination
  • Very small government
  • Extreme decentralization
  • Free market, individual property rights
  • Thoughts????

13
Political Systems Properties of
  • Two Elements
  • Independent parts with environmental boundaries
  • A set of institutions that formulate and
    implement the collective goals of a society or
    groups within it?
  • Defined A particular type of social system
    involved in making authoritative public decisions
    that has sovereignty.
  • Decisions are backed by legitimate coercion and
    compellance (power)
  • Legitimacy those who are ruled believe that
    their rulers have a right (by law or custom) to
    implement their decisions by force if necessary
  • The right to rule
  • May ebb and flow over time

14
States
  • Internal and External Sovereignty
  • Old and New States
  • Classification by Developmental Status
  • Classification by Size
  • Classification by Governmental or Political
    System Type
  • A particular type of political system that has
    sovereignty

15
Internal and External Sovereignty
  • Sovereignty
  • Independent legal authority over a population in
    a particular territory based on the recognized
    right to self-determination
  • Kuwait
  • Internal Sovereignty
  • Right to determine matters regarding ones own
    citizens without intervention
  • External Sovereignty
  • Right to conclude binding agreements with other
    states

16
Sovereignty Today
  • Traditional forms joined by new forms
  • Supranational organizations
  • European Union
  • North American Free Trade Agreement
  • United Nations
  • Eg 1994 17 peacekeeping missions, 100,000
    peacekeepers
  • United Nations subunits or related orgs
  • FAO, WHO, UNESCO, IMF, World Bank

17
Old and New States
  • 1945 - 68 states increased by 117 by 1999
  • 1999 185 member states in the U.N.
  • 1990s - 20 new states
  • Taiwan, Switzerland, Vatican not members of the
    U.N.
  • First, Second and Third World
  • Advanced industrial democracies, Communist bloc,
    underdeveloped/developing nations
  • Still useful as a categorization?

18
Does Size Matter in Politics?
  • Big and Small States
  • Russia 17 million square kms
  • Vatican City gt ½ sq km and gt1,000 residents
  • China 1.2 billion population
  • Does size determine politics?
  • Does area and population determine economic
    development, foreign policy and defense issues?
  • Geographic location important to defense central
    location means you need a large army to do this
    you need high level of resource extraction
    gtauthoritarian regime?
  • Population growth rates and implications for
    economic development
  • Economies need to keep pace with population
    growth

19
Building Community
  • Common identity and sense of community among
    citizens important
  • Without a unifying factor cleavage can dominate
  • Japan example of a population that is ethnically
    homogeneous with shared language, little
    religious diversity and strong political history
    in addition, enjoys relative geographic isolation
    from neighbors
  • Nigeria extremely large and diverse population
    no common pre-colonial history sharp religious
    divisions 250 ethnic groups language diversity

20
Nations, states, nation-states?
  • Nation a group of people with a common identity
    (how people identify themselves)
  • Nations do not necessarily have government or
    state
  • Some nations have close correspondence with state
    e.g. Japan, France, Sweden
  • Nationhood as culture?
  • State political system with sovereignty
  • Nation-state cases in which the scope of legal
    authority and national identification coincide
  • What about multinational states?
  • U.S.S.R, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia

21
Nationality and Ethnicity
  • Ethnicity Weber humans who entertain a
    subjective belief in their common descent because
    of similarities of physical type or of customs or
    both
  • Croats, Serbs and Muslim Bosnians groups which
    differ by religious custom, marriage and
    historical memories but are physically similar
    may believe themselves to be descended from
    different ancestors and thus genetically
    different
  • Jewish population of Israel today heterogeneous
    from a homogeneous start culture endures but
    not genetic homogeneity

22
Other sources of division
  • Language
  • Religious differences and fundamentalism
  • What happens when divisions persist?
  • How do these sources of difference impact
    politics?

23
Cross-Cutting Cleavage
  • Political cleavage
  • When national, ethnic, linguistic and other
    divisions systematically affect political
    allegiances and policies
  • Cross-cutting cleavage
  • Groups that share a common interest on one issue
    are likely to be on opposite sides of different
    issues
  • Eg Netherlands class and religion cross-cut
  • Catholics and Protestants are equally likely to
    be rich or poor and discrimination does not focus
    solely on Catholics

24
Cumulative Cleavage
  • Cumulative cleavages the same people are pitted
    against one another over and over again on a wide
    variety of issues.
  • Eg Northern Ireland Catholicism and poverty and
    history of discrimination Protestantism and
    wealth and no history of discrimination
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