Politics and Government Some Basic Concepts Mr. Currie SO 408 AP Comparative Government and Politics
DEFINITIONS OF POLITICS “Who gets what, when and how” Harold Lasswell Conflicts and struggles over the leadership, structure and policies of governments. “War is politics with bloodshed. Politics is war without bloodshed.” Mao Tse Tung
POLITICS The goal of politics is to have a share or a say in the ◦ composition of the government’s leadership, and/or ◦ how the government is organized, and/or ◦ what its policies are going to be.
POLITICS & POWER “Having a share or say in the composition, organization or policymaking of government is called power or influence.” “The study of politics is the study of influence and the influential. The influential are those who get the most of what there is to get.” Harold Lasswell
Politics and Power Power is the ability to influence another’s behavior. Power is getting someone to do something they wouldn’t otherwise do.
POLITICS & POWER Power always involves a relationship between people and groups. When someone says that a person has a lot of power, one should ask: ◦ Power to influence whom to do what?
POLITICS & POWER Three Dimensions of Power ◦ 1 st : The ability of one person or group to get another person or group to do something it otherwise would not do. ◦ 2 nd : The ability not only to make people do something but to keep them from doing something.
POLITICS & POWER Three Dimensions of Power ◦ 3 rd : The ability to shape or determine individual or group political demands by causing people to think about political issues in ways that are contrary to their own interests.
Types of Power Coercive - dispense punishments ◦ Threaten the use of Force “Political power comes from the barrel of a gun.” (Mao Tse Tung) “But it is the Party that controls the gun.” Utilitarian – promise something ◦ Reward - distribute positive reinforcements
TYPES OF POWER Manipulative Power ◦ Shape values and attitudes ◦ Brainwashing ◦ Propaganda ◦ Socialization
TYPES OF POWER Personal - identification with, attraction to or respect for the power holder (charisma) ◦ Expert - assumption that power holder possesses superior skills and abilities ◦ Informational - based on persuasive content of communication Legitimate Power – more about this later
Power Resources Political power or influence requires resources. An individual’s power to influence the behavior of others stems from his ability to use resources. Things that give potential power to the possessor. ◦ Characteristics ◦ Possessions
Some Resources of Power information and knowledge access trust and integrity votes money visibility and showmanship
POLITICAL RESOURCES Political resources, and therefore political power, are unequally distributed. ◦ People possess unequal amounts ◦ Various degrees of skill in using them, and ◦ Different degrees of interest in employing them.
Power Resources & Power Use Think of power resources as a battery Power is potentially available but cannot be used until a complete circuit is available
The Problem with Power “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.” ( Lord Acton) However, ◦ “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac” according to Henry Kissinger
Power at the Nation-State Level “Hard” Power ◦ Using military and economic resources to coerce or induce Command power is used to compel or bribe others to do what you want them to do “sticks and carrots” Delivered via economic, diplomatic, or military instruments ◦ Based on the work of Joseph Nye
Power at the Nation-State Level “Soft” Power ◦ The ability to affect others by attraction and persuasion An indirect force A country may obtain the outcomes it desires in world politics because other countries want to follow it Admiring its values Emulating its example Aspiring to its level of prosperity and openness
Power at the Nation-State Level “Soft” Power ◦ It emanates from the attractiveness of a state’s culture, political values, and foreign policies Culture – in places where it is attractive to others Political values – when it lives up to them at home and abroad Foreign policies – when they are seen as legitimate and having moral authority
Power at the Nation-State Level “Soft” Power ◦ Rests on the ability to shape the preferences of others Companies invest heavily in their “brand” ◦ Encourages other international actors to cooperate with a state (or a multistate organization like the European Union) to pursue what they perceive as shared goals and values. ◦ Less costly than the use of command power
Authority - A Special Form of Power the RIGHT to use power a kind of power with which people voluntarily comply because they respect it as necessary, just, and therefore LEGITIMATE Authority is recognized or accepted power that obtains obedience without the use of force.
AUTHORITY Laws are usually obeyed because people believe they should be. It is this belief that converts POWER into AUTHORITY, producing voluntary compliance. When a government loses the respect of its people - its legitimacy - it must increase the force necessary to maintain its rule
LEGITIMACY & AUTHORITY Legitimacy - the belief among the governed that the government has the right to claim and exercise its political powers. Civil disobedience denies the legitimacy of a law and implies that a higher moral authority takes precedence over unjust laws.
GOVERNMENT’S AUTHORITY extends to all individuals within its geographic boundaries it can be used to redefine the authority of individuals, organizations, or institutions; it alone regulates the use of legitimate force in society it includes the power to arrest and imprison, even punish by death those who violate its rules
Sources of Political Authority Constitutions (and laws and court decisions) Appeals to conscience or values Tradition God Expertise Charisma “Consent of the governed” public opinion
GOVERNMENT The formal institutions through which a land and its people are ruled. The individuals, institutions, and processes that make the rules for society… And possess the power to enforce these rules
GOVERNMENT A group of people within the state/country who have the ultimate authority to act on behalf of the state. ◦ They, and only they, have the right to make decisions that everyone in the state has a duty to accept and obey.
GOVERNMENT A particular set of institutions and people authorized by formal documents, such as a constitution, to pass laws, issue regulations, control the police, and so on. ◦ Make rules for society ◦ Enforce those rules ◦ Decide “who gets what” and who pays ◦ Regulate the legitimate use of force in a society
GOVERNMENT Government makes rules determining who will get the valued things of a society Government attempts to resolve conflicts among individuals and groups over the valued things of a society
GOVERNMENT Government alone regulates the use of legitimate force in society It is the only institution that legally ◦ can take people’s property (taxes) ◦ imprison people ◦ kill people (execution)
GOVERNMENT Why have governments at all? ◦ “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” James Madison ◦ If people were always good and honest and decent and competent and compassionate and filled with love, there would be little need for government.
GOVERNMENT Why have governments at all? ◦ Governments are mainly designed for the times when people disagree, ◦ not for the times when people agree ◦ people can settle disagreements through peaceful political means, or ◦ take up weapons and kill each other
GOVERNMENT A world without government would be nothing less than “a war of all against all.” (Thomas Hobbes) ◦ anarchy Without government, life would be “nasty, brutish and short.”
FUNCTIONS OF GOVERNMENT From Adam Smith ◦ Minimal functions for a market economy Corresponds roughly to libertarian principles ◦ Provide a set of rules, about the ownership and transfer of property Legal system including courts ◦ Provide a level of social peace (law & order) ◦ Provide a secure currency and banking system ◦ Provide protection from outside invasion (national security)
Why are the world’s governments expanding? (circa late 1970s) 1. As people become more prosperous, they may want more and more done for them and are willing to pay for it. ◦ “post-materialist” politics 2. As governments become more clever at using “hidden taxes” such as excise taxes and payroll withholding of income taxes, they get away with taxing people more heavily, and the state grows.
Why are the world’s governments expanding? (circa late 1970s) 3. Electoral democracy results in a “bidding up” of the state’s operations as parties & politicians compete to see which can promise more services to voters and perhaps gain power. 4. Once governmental bureaucracies are established, they develop internal pressures for expansion. Inevitably, they succeed in slowly ratcheting-up the scope of their operations. (“mission creep”)
Why are the world’s governments expanding? (circa late 1970s) 5. As world trade grows and states’ economies become more and more subject to disruption by events in the international economy, their governments are less and less able to control what is happening in the state. (Globalization) The government must then grow in order to compensate for the greater difficulty they find in functioning.
Growth of the State in the 21 st Century (The Economist, Jan. 2010) 1. The Financial Crisis (circa 2008 and continuing) ◦ Billions/trillions propping up banks and staving off depression. Takes 2.75 years to spend $1 billion @ $1 million/day – how about $1 trillion? ◦ The state/government now play a larger role in the financial sector. ◦ The government portion of the GDP is up, thanks to bailouts, stimulus and recession.
Growth of the State in the 21 st Century (The Economist, Jan. 2010) 2. Growth pre-dates the “Great Recession” ◦ George W. Bush administration Medicare drug coverage Expansion of the “national security state” “War on Terror”; Iraq; Afghanistan ◦ Expansion of government by Tony Blair’s Labour Party in the UK Domestic Programs International interventions
Growth of the State in the 21 st Century (The Economist, Jan. 2010) 3. Demographics ◦ Aging populations in many countries Require more access to health care, pensions, etc. 4. Spread of Regulations ◦ e.g., President Bush added an average of 1,000 pages of federal regulations each year he was in office; ◦ This activity has continued (accelerated?) during the Obama administration.
Growth of the State in the 21 st Century (The Economist, Jan. 2010) 5. Demands for more state intrusion ◦ Protect us, keep us safe, make us whole ◦ National security states ◦ “wars” on terror, drugs, illegal immigration, crime, ◦ Stop foreclosures, create jobs, balance budgets ◦ “Post-material values” Government should focus more on “quality of life” issues Demands more intervention, regulation, etc.
Growth of the State in the 21 st Century (The Economist, Jan. 2010) 6. Globalization ◦ Greater job insecurity = greater demand for safety nets Unemployment compensation, etc. ◦ Global market failures (“climate change”) demand government response. ◦ Rise of “state capitalism” (Chinese economic model; roughly copied by Russia) ◦ Rise of “sovereign wealth funds” as investors Controlled by governments and funded by oil revenues, etc.
GOVERNMENT “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence -- it is force.” George Washington Because government has the ability to make people do things they may not want to do (POWER), ◦ people have good reasons to distrust and fear that it may threaten liberty
ROLE OF GOVERMENT The real debate in contemporary politics is whether to have a large government or a small one.
ROLE OF GOVERMENT “The real fight is over ◦ what the government should do, ◦ how it should do it, ◦ who will pay the costs, and ◦ who will receive the benefits of government.”
ROLE OF GOVERMENT “…the current debate over how big and powerful government should be is really a debate about which groups will receive government services and who will be asked to pay the costs.” ◦ “nanny state” ?
ROLE OF GOVERMENT Disagreements about “promoting the general welfare.” ◦ To what extent should governments regulate business? ◦ To what extent should governments redistribute income? ◦ What is the proper balance between government promoting equality and government supporting individual freedom? ◦ How far should government go in protecting individual freedom?
ROLE OF GOVERMENT Liberals, Conservatives, Libertarians & Populists all have different answers to the previous questions. So do Democrats, Republicans, and members of the Tea Party. As do the Labour Party (UK), the CCP (China), United Russia (Russia), the PDP (Nigeria), the PRI (Mexico) and the Revolutionary Guard (Iran)