GOVT 2301
Fall 2008
Readings and Notes




Understanding "Government" and "Politics"

To put this in context, a little bit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

For my lecture students: On Monday September 8, we will have a short multiple choice test on the definitions below, with one or two short answer questions on the topics we ill discuss in class.

For my internet students: Using your email searching skills, do the following: Get comfortable with the way that the terms "liberal" and "conservative" are used in contemporary discourse. Then look up the respective positions taken by the two principle presidential candidates on issues like the economy, social and moral issues, energy, immigration and more. What are the liberal positions on these issues and what are the conservative positions? Is there a key ideological distinction between the two candidates on these issues or do they take similar stands? On which side does the American public tend to stand? Which do you think is the winning side of the issue? Email me 500 words on this subject by Monday September 8th.

Lecture topics:
Government
Politics

Be comfortable with the following terms:
- look these up in dictionary.com and be prepared to define them.
Government
Sovereignty
Autocracy
Oligarchy
Democracy
Authority
Totalitarianism
Authoritarianism
Constitutionalism
Arbitrary
Tyranny
Coercion
Consent

Politics
Natural Rights
Divine Right
Values
Equality
Freedom
Liberty
Interests
Political Culture - (traditionalist, individualist, moralist)
Ideology
Conservative
Liberal
Socialism
Libertarian

Also read through the following Wikipedia Pages: Liberalism and Conservatism
- Get familiar with the general topics included in each page. I'll add detail--what sorts of things you might be tested on--beginning Monday.

Subjects

The Origins of Government
Locating Sovereignty
The Trouble with Democracy
On Political Conflict
The Ideological Spectrum

Outlines of Discussions

The Origins of Government
- coercion
- consent
- what binds governments? persuasion? force? payoff?
- what relationship ought to exist between the rulers and the ruled?

Locating Sovereignty
- who is in charge? the autocrat? the oligrachy? the people?
- what is are the pros and cons of each?

The Trouble with Democracy
- mob rule
- the fate of the Roman Republic
- wht democratize? Adam Smith. John Stuart Mill

On Political Conflict
- what is "politics"?
- what is the nature of conflict in society?
- self interest
- values

The Ideological Spectrum
- what is ideology?
- the full spectrum - from communism to fascism
- freedom v equality / the individual v the state
- American ideological spectrum - liberalism v conservatism