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THE FOUNDATIONS
POLITICS:
AN INTRODUCTION

AND

STUDY

OF

2.1. General and specific understandings


2.1.1. What is Politics, and why Politics is important?
- Politics have existed since the beginning of human life
- The word Politics = Greek terminology polis = city-state/state
- In other words = the organisation of human life and living within a
society; an institution to manage and regulate (control??) human
behaviour, i.e. government, state
- Politics = the ways human beings govern and are governed
(Magstadt 2009: 4)
- Politics = the science dealing with the form, organisation and
administration of a state, or part of one, and with the regulations of
its relations with other states (Oxford English Dictionary)
- According to Aristotle (384 322 BC) Man is a political (and
social) animal
- Human nature = inclination to live in groups, yet possesses
inherently
negative/unconstructive
characteristics,
i.e.
individualistic, greedy, self-centred, aggressive, rebellious,
tendency to quarrel/disagree.
- Consequentially =
propensity to trigger
disagreement,
tension/friction, and penchant to be involved in conflicts and
disputes
- That said, (wo)man also has the proclivity to cooperate/work
together for mutual interests and benefits, i.e. to realise a
better/more ideal life (good life) (i.e. ability to fulfill basic needs and
wishes)
- All types/forms of human relationship and activities within society =
political; political activities = fundamental part of human life in
practice since (wo)man live in groups/societal living
- Study of Politics = a study of

i)
ii)
iii)
iv)

various ways to manage/govern human activities within a


society;
various ways in which (wo)men in society exercise control
over the actions of their fellows;
means/methods of resolving problems/disputes/conflicts in
human relationship, amicably, and in a peaceful,
conciliatory, and effective manner
means by which people debate and resolve the most
important values in a society (Moten and Islam 2005: 6)

- Politics = the art of the possible ; art of living and working


together
- For Aristotle, the study of Politics = mother of all knowledge,
knowledge to seek a good life and to achieve the highest good
- Politics = apparent in daily/everyday life (omnipresent) i.e. when
you vote; pay taxes; protest or demonstrate; obtain a scholarship
or place in university (or otherwise); fined for speeding, or driving
illegally without a licence; boycott certain products; practice
recycling and conservation, etc.
- Related common, everyday terms = office politics; football field
politics; household politics, etc.
- General definition/s of Politics:1) all forms of decision-making process involving a large group of
people, and that involves mutual action/s
2) competition over who gets what, when, and how (as well as
how much and why) (Lasswell 1978) ; or
3) all kinds of human activities involving the distribution of limited
goods/values in society (i.e. power, skills, knowledge, wealth,
justice, freedom and liberty, truth, respect)
** Definition of Value goals in life and human/societal
conditions that are desired (Syed Ahmad Hussein 2006: 36)
- Specific definition/s of Politics = i) general concept encompassing
all kinds of activities, institutions, and processes of administering/
managing a political unit (state), i.e. power, authority, government
and institutions concerning rule and governance, political ideas, as
well as the role/s of the authority, individual, group, society in the
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political process (namely the process of distributing the limited


values in society by the authorities)
- Summary the term politics = nebulous, subjective, multi-faceted,
multi-dimensional, comprises a multitude of meanings due to the
vastness of the field of politics
- Definition/s of Politics commonly dwell on the questions of :
i)
Power and Authority (i.e. ability to make decision/s, control,
force, influence, etc./ authority = legitimate power)
ii)
Order
(structures/regulations/institutions/procedures/practices that
shape a particular political system, i.e. state, government)
iii)
Justice (involves the question of the distribution of
goods/values who gets what, when, how, how much, and
why)
2.1.2. Fundamental Problem/Questions in Politics
- A question of morality = how to create an Ideal Society
(Perfect/Utopian)
- Definition of Ideal Society = society that is just, equal, and
peaceful,
which
comprises
free
and
prosperous
individuals/members
- The ultimate goal of politics = to realise an Ideal Society
- Essence of the political question = 1) what is the most ideal form of
Society for human beings; 2) what is the best way/s to realise it
- A subjective question = main source for philosophical question; the
role of ideology; normative values in politics (Why subjective??)
- A universal question = apparent in both Western and Eastern
political philosophy (i.e. Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Mill,
Rousseau, Kant, Montesquieu, Marx, Hegel, Nietzche, Hayek,
Rawl, Al-Mawardi, Al-Farabi, Ibn-Khaldun, Confucius, Mencius,
Kautilya, etc.
2.2.

The Sub-fields of Political Studies

- Can be generally divided, and categorised into:


i)
Political Thought/Philosophy and Political Theory
ii)
Comparative Politics
iii)
Public Administration
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iv)
Political Sociology & Political Culture
v)
International Relations
2.3. Political Thought (Political Philosophy)
2.3.1. What is Political Thought?
i)
ii)
iii)

Ideas concerning the problem and questions of political morality,


namely regarding the ideal form of political rule and the scope
and nature of what the government ought to do
Normative/evaluative/abstract Ideas on how government and
people should behave
Ideas concerning the types of political institutions that we
should/ought to have, namely all kinds of institutions (i.e.
government, legal, social, economic, culture, etc.) that
determine the basic structure of a society (Rawl 1971)

- Focus = ideas and evaluation of ideology/belief system


- emphasis on normative/evaluative questions, i.e. what ought to;
rather than empirical questions, i.e. what actually is
- value-laden in nature = evaluate what is deemed as good and
bad, and to provide prescription on what ought to be done
- Examples of normative- vs. empiricist-oriented question: how state
and society ought to/should be governed, and how
individuals/people ought to/should behave vs.
questions
regarding how state and society are actually governed and how
individuals/people do actually behave (S.A. Hussein 2006)
2.3.2 Why is Political Thought/Philosophy important?
- dwells on, and generates normative/evaluative ideas to address
the fundamental problem/questions of politics = Good/Ideal
Society; Freedom and Liberty, Justice, Equality, Rights and
Responsibility; Morality and Ethics, etc.
- The importance of normative/abstract ideas:
i)

promotes deeper/critical understanding and thinking on various/


certain issues and strategies behind the shaping of public
policy

ii)
iii)
iv)
2.3.3.

as a guideline and standard by which we can judge political life


in reality (current political institutions/system)
to make criticisms of existing political institutions and practices
to provide constructive suggestions for their reform or
replacement

Political Thought/Philosophy, Political Theory, and Political


Ideology: Similarities and Differences

- All three terms are commonly used to refer to different ways of


thinking about political ideas
- Political Ideology = relates to the beliefs of a group (belief system)
- Political Theory = more empirical in nature scientific methodology
to understand political phenomena based upon data/facts and
findings (political science)
- Interrelated and interconnected to one another, can be used interchangeably, in a general sense; not exclusive of each other
2.4. The
fundamental
Thought/Philosophy

problem/questions

of

Political

- Questions concerning :
1) Good/Ideal Society (What, Why, and How)
2) Who gets What, When, How, Why, and How Much
- Questions regarding what and how to develop the best, most
just, equal and legitimate political system
Set of general questions commonly asked/addressed in political
thought: (cf. Sargent 2003: 15-16)
i)
Human Nature
a. What are the basic characteristics of human beings as human
beings?
b. What effect does human nature have on the political system?
ii)
The origin of society and government or the state
a. What is the origin of society? Why does it develop?

b. What is the origin of government or the state? Why does it


develop?
iii)
Political obligation (duty, responsibility, law)
a. Why do people obey the government?
b. Why should people obey the government, or should they obey it at
all?
c. Is disobedience ever justifiable?
d. Is revolution ever justifiable?
iv)
Law
a. What are the nature and function(s) of law?
b. Should the regulation of society depend on the immediate
decisions of individuals or on sets of rules and regulations that
place limitations on all members of society, including political
leaders - in other words, the rule of law?
c. Should there be sets of fundamental laws or constitutions that
cannot be changed by the ordinary processes of legislation?
v)
Freedom and Liberty (rights substantive and procedural)
a. Are men and women free in any way vis--vis the government?
b. Should they be free vis-a-vis the government?
c. Assuming that some type or types of freedom are both possible
and desirable, what should these be? Should they be limited or
unlimited? Who places the limit?
vi)
Equality
a. Are individuals in any way naturally equal?
b. Should they be in any way equal?
c. Assuming that some type or types of equality are both possible and
desirable, what should these be? Should they be absolute or
relative? If relative, what criteria should be used to establish them?
Who establishes them? Who enforces the criteria?
vii) Community (fraternity)
a. Should ties among individuals composing a group form a bond
that takes precedence over the needs and wishes of the individual
members of the group?

b. If this is desirable, how can it be encouraged? If this is


undesirable, how can it be discouraged? Who decides?

viii) Power (authority)


a. Should any individuals or group of individuals be able to control,
determine, or direct the actions of others?
b. If this is desirable, what form or forms should it take? Should it be
limited or unlimited? Who limits it and how?
ix)
Justice
a. It is usually assumed that justice is desirable, but what is it? Is it
individual or social?
b. Who decides the characteristics of justice? Who enforces these
characteristics?
x)
The end/ultimate reason of society or government
a. For what purpose or purposes does society or government exist?
b. Who decides what these purposes are, or are they consciously
chosen?
xi)
Structural characteristics of government
a. What is the best or best possible form of government? Why?
b. Are there alternative forms of government that are equally good?
(adapted from Sargent 2003: 15-16)
2.5.

Political Thought: Traditional/Ancient, Modern and Contemporary


- Traditional Thought = ancient times, works of Greek, Chinese,
Indian, Christian and Muslim thinkers, i.e. Plato, Pericles, Aristotle,
Confucius, Mencius, Kautilya Al-Farabi, St. Augustine, St. Thomas
Aquinas, etc.
- Modern Thought = during the Enlightenment (16 th 19th century),
i.e. Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Bentham, Mill, Rousseau, Smith, Burke,
Owen, Russell, Hegel, Kant, Marx, etc.
- Contemporary Thought = beginning from the 20 th century ; i.e. De
Tocqueville, Hayek, Weber, Rawls, Berlin, Ronald Dworkin,
Nietzsche, Foucault, Nozick, Friedman, Habermas, Waltzer, de
Beauvoir, Anderson, etc.
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- Similarities = dwells on the same, time immemorial and


fundamental problem of politics
- Differences = needs and interpretations according to change of
time, and related political contexts.

TOPIC 3

DEMOCRACY

3.1 Introduction and Definition/s


3.1.1. What is Democracy?
- The term democracy = Greek words of demos (people) and
kratos (rule) ; meaning rule by the people
- Refers to various forms of rule of the people, i.e. i) direct, ii)
participatory, and iii) representative
- Basic distinction of the forms of democracy : i) direct (any type/form
of government in which political decisions are directly made by the
people) ; ii) indirect (any type/form of government in which political
decisions are made on behalf of the people by representatives that
are chosen by the people themselves to represent/champion their
interests in government)
- Abraham Lincolns definition = Government of the people, for the
people, and by the people
- Other related definitions and meanings:
i)
a form of governance and practices that allow the people to
express their interests without hindrances/fear or favour
ii)
a political system where people are given the political choice
to determine their ruler/government
- Popular buzzword used by various types of political systems,
including allegedly non-democratic ones i.e. DPRK
- Various types of democracy, i.e. i) liberal democracy; ii) peoples
democracy; iii) guided democracy; iv) a la carte democracy, v)
Asian-style democracy, etc.
- That said, are the meanings and definitions of Democracy
shared, objective, and universal, or otherwise??
- Because it is so popular, and everyone wants to be associated with
it, there is little consensus over the exact meaning/s of democracy;

modern political thinkers/philosophers differ/ disagree over the


essence of democratic government
- Democracy = highly subjective-normative-evaluative i.e. what is
democratic is good, what is not, is bad makes the idea/
meanings/definitions of democracy even more nebulous/
convoluted
3.2. The Historical Background/Legacy of Democracy
- existed and seriously thought about by philosophers for more than
2,500 years
- practiced in some ancient Greek states i.e. Athens (though
excluding women, non-citizens, slaves)
- Greek philosophers i.e. Plato and Aristotle critical of the idea of
democracy during the 4th century B.C.
- Plato = democracya decadent form of government, and
imperfect societyonly one notch better than tyranny; people
must be properly educated and made politically aware so as to
enable them to recognise/judge what is good and bad for the
common interests/good; lack of education and political awareness
= tendency to be manipulated = abuse of democracy (importance
of literacy and education of the masses)
- Plato = ability to rule is a rare skillneeds both talent and
extensive expertise, hence, it is as irrational to let people have a
say in how they are to be governed as it would be to let passenger
navigate a ship at sea
- Aristotle = rule based on principles of democracy not necessarily
ideal (rule of people vs rule of law); tendency towards tyranny of
the majority (Alexis de Tocqueville); social danger of democracy is
that justice will be decided by the numerical majority and will be
unjust towards minorities; Hence, ideal government = rule of law,
and combination of philosopher king and people/demos
- 15th Century = resurrected by Niccolo Machiavelli and other
republicans and civic humanists in Italy
- 16th Century = John Lilburne (and other levellers) linked idea of
democracy to social equality; John Locke promoted democratic
ideals and justification for revolution (anti-absolute monarchy) in his
Second Treatise (see Two Treatises of Government - 1690);
emergence of the social contract theory that established the
foundation for modern [liberal] democracy
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- 18th Century = idea sharpened by the likes of Jean Jacque


Rousseau (The Social Contract - 1762), Thomas Jefferson,
Immanuel Kant, Baron de Montesquieu (Spirit of the Laws - on
separation of powers), etc. led to famous democratic revolutions
i.e. French Revolution (1789) and American Revolution (1776)
- 19th Century = democratic ideas from thinkers like James Mill, John
Stuart Mill (On Liberty 1859; Representative Government
1861), Alexis de Tocqueville became central in the Western political
landscape; promoted the ideas/virtues of liberal, individualistic, and
minimal state (scope of state to be limited as narrowly as possible
to prevent abuse, oppression, tyranny of the majority; etc).
- 20th Century = democratization process political theory/practices
dominated by goals of democracy, ideas of Joseph Schumpeter,
Isaiah Berlin, John Rawl, Friedrich Hayek, Robert Nozick, etc.
- Fall of global communism led to globalization and ascendancy of
liberal democracy
- Democracy = almost universally regarded to be the only form of
legitimate rule by end of 20th century
3.3. The Social Conditions of Democracy
- In the discussion of democracy, there is distinction between
Democratic Government and Democratic Society
- The former refers to political institutions of a particular society; the
latter refers to the type of social institutions and civilisation =
prerequisite for democratic government. This means the
materialisation of democratic government = dependent on the
existence of democratic society
- Democratic society = democratic civilization (Lipson 1964); ideally
should be i) industrial society (developed); ii) ethnically and
culturally diverse to a significant extent; iii) market economy; iv)
civil society; v) high level of social equality; vi) high literacy rate
- However, such idealistic conditions refer more to Western Europe
and North America (Developed Countries)
- Important
Questions
=
What
about
the
developing/
underdeveloped/undeveloped world?; Can democratic govt be
introduced, and is it practical?; Must economic reforms and market
economy be the prerequisite?; How important is civil society to
democratic politics?
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- The general conditions for the flourishing of democracy:i)


political equality
ii)
political freedom
iii)
constitutionalism separation of powers/check-and balances
iv)
education correlation between literacy rate and political
awareness = enhance democratic practices
v)
political participation right/responsibility to vote, participate
either directly or indirectly in governing; freedom to establish
organizations (pro- or opposition/anti-establishment)
vi)
equal and egalitarian society fair and balanced distribution of
wealth/properties amongst citizens, economic/income gap =
minimal
vii) political unity (in the face of diversity in values, beliefs, culture
etc)
viii) tolerant society mutual respect, ability to negotiate and
compromise (give and take) for harmonious resolution of
societal problems/issues; key = from within the individual and
not merely based on constitution/rule of law
3.4. Models of Democracy
- In general, there are several models of democracy, which include:3.4.1. Classical Model (cf. Jacobs 1997:16)
- holds that the best procedure for making political decision to serve
the common good = peoples vote for individual candidate in
elections, and successful candidates to assemble and carry out the
peoples will (Schumpeter 1950:250)
- Underlying assumption = people know best what is in the common
good or public interest
- Different ways how elected officials represent the people:i)
as a delegate of the people convey views of constituents to a
general assembly/parliament
ii)
act independently from constituents views, but still within what
is perceived to be in the interest of the constituents

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- Classical model = elected reps. serve as delegates, and should not


have independence in making own judgment about what is in the
common good/public interests

- Problems/Flaws of the Classical Model:


i)
Assumption that people are politically aware, educated, and
genuinely do know whats in the public interest (definition of
public interest is subjective in itself); however, in reality, people
are concerned for the most part with their own self-interest, and
the interest of those around them (family, ethnic group etc)
ii)
Instead of elected officials forwarding the views of electorate, in
reality, the actual process is mostly the other way around = the
candidates offer different views of what is in the common good
(i.e. election manifesto/platform), electorate endorse the views of
whomever they elect. (meaning that peoples view influenced/
shaped by elected officials
iii)
Presupposition of a consensus among the people whom the
elected official represents (in reality, no such consensus =
constituents tend to have diverse/conflicting views)
iv)
Dubious claim that people will act on common good (not
necessarily that policies for common good are popular, i.e.
increase taxation to reduce governments spending deficit)
3.4.2. Elitist Model
- rule of the few = political decisions in the hands of ruling elites to
ensure efficiency in administration and policy-making; however,
some measure of responsiveness to popular opinion are required
- Underlying assumption = average citizen electorate/voters unable
to know enough, or politically aware enough to make informed
decisions, or participate intelligently in decision-making;
- Hence, citizen involvement limited to voting for the competing
elites, and chosen elites may make decisions that they perceive to
be in the interests of the voters
- Somewhat in tune with the enlightened despots/ruling oligarchy
argument (also reflective of the ideas of Plato and Aristotle)
- Critical of the classical model that it cannot work in the modern
world (cumbersome process, reduces efficiency)
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3.4.3. Pluralist Model


- a democratic political system comprising various interests groups
competing for power without one being predominant
- deemed by advocate as the best system of representative
democracy pluralism protects citizens from too much
centralization/ concentration of power in too few hands; allows
expression of diverse interests within society
- Critics said:
i)
overriding goal of the competing elites is to stay in power, while
all other values are secondary hence any value may be
deemed desirable and protected so long as it is to the political
benefit of the competing groups.
ii)
Exclusive in nature, competing groups tend to cooperate to
maintain status quo of the system, and their place within it, to
avoid emergence of new groups that may increase competition
for power.
3.4.4. Participatory Model
- attempt to increase level of participation by citizen in democratic
process, not just in casting of votes, but to participate more directly
in influencing decision-making and policies that affect daily life
- seeks to move from representative democracy towards direct
democracy
- encourages greater public deliberation on issues - related to idea
of deliberative democracy
3.5. Types of Democracy
- Due to its nebulous/complex/subjective nature, there are many
types/forms of democracy, which include, among others:3.5.1. Liberal Democracy
- Deemed by some as the most ideal form of democracy;
synonymous with the phrase of government of the people, by the
people, and for the people, and of the ideology of liberalism
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- Characteristics: i) open, free, and fair (and regular) elections, and


right to (or not to) vote/participate; ii) rule of the majority;
protection/safeguard of minority rights/interests; iii) uphold of civil
society (i.e. role of interest/pressure groups, workers unions, etc)
and civil rights, i.e. liberties/freedom of thought, speech, press,
assembly, religion,
movement,
freedom
from
unlawful
detention/detention without trial, etc.; iv) separation of powers
legislative, executive, and judiciary, and checks and balances; v)
decentralized political system; vi) individualism individual rights
more important than that of the community; viii) right to hold
property
3.5.2. Social Democracy
- extension of the logic of liberal democracyto the realm of the
private, where liberals deemed should not be subjected to
democratic principles, i.e. economic realm (Gutmann 1999: 416)
- Involves a degree of state interventionism in : i) economic
decision-making of state (who gets what, when, how, how much)
i.e. Keynesian economics; and ii) welfare state i.e. family matters,
childcare, education, etc.
3.5.3. Guided Democracy
3.5.4. Totalitarian Democracy
3.5.5. A la carte Democracy
3.6. The Principles of Democracy
- The generally/near-universally
democracy are:
i)
ii)
iii)
iv)
v)

accepted

basic

elements

of

citizen involvement in politics and decision-making


system of representation
rule of law
electoral system free/fair elections based on the will of the
majority rules
some degree of equality among citizens
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vi)

education and literacy

3.6.1. Citizen Involvement


- most basic characteristic of any democratic system (defining
characteristic of democracy = citizens to be involved in political
decision-making, either directly or through their chosen
representative/s)
- two approaches :
1) direct democracy citizens participate personally in
deliberation and vote on issues; debate and vote on all laws
2)
representative democracy citizens choose/elect other
citizens to represent their interests on their behalf
- Direct democracy = rarely practiced in the governing of a state in
the contemporary world (only in ancient Greek states); however,
does exist at lower levels, i.e. group, class, club, organisation, etc.
- Representative democracy = normally practiced in larger political
entities, i.e. local government, state-level, national-level elections
- Other forms of citizen involvement:
i)
active participation in political parties/interest groups;
ii)
attending political meetings, public rallies, public hearings
iii)
conducting political discussions (privately/formally)
iv)
meeting public officials over issues
v)
advocating for/against specific electoral issues, i.e. environment,
economic policy, etc. via petitions and referendums
- Citizen involvement = important, makes citizen more aware of
issues/expand political horizon; also inculcate sense of
responsibility, belonging to a community
- That said, tendency for political apathy = high, i.e. poor voter
turnout in elections (possibly due to the right to not vote)
- However, decisions will still be made even if one doesnt vote,
hence, is it better to get involved/vote, or otherwise??
- Questions to ponder:15

i)
ii)

Do high levels of not voting undermine democracy?


Does voting, participation/involvement matter?

- 3 models of democracy i.e. Elitist, Pluralist, and Corporatist share


assumption = democracy works reasonably well with low levels of
participation
- Participatory model argues that democracy = not working well,
hence ways must be found to increase citizens level of
participation
3.6.2. System of Representation
- In the modern world, direct democracy = not practical/feasible due
to size of population, diverse interests, and complexity of issues
involved = near impossible to function efficiently (i.e. policy and
decision-making processes)
- Establishment of some form of representative system = necessary
- There are 2 main approaches to the relationship between the
representative and his/her constituency:
i)
Represent by trying to reflect the diverse interests of their
constituents as precisely as possible (take up issues that
directly concern the constituency)
ii)
Represent by taking the position that one is elected to make the
best informed decision they can for the community/nation as a
whole (take up issues that do not directly concern the
constituency, i.e. external/foreign policy issues)
- In reality, most representatives adopt both approaches, with one
taking priority over the other during specific period and political
context.
- Common types of representative system in modern democracy:
i)
single-seat/member constituency/district and multiple-seat
constituency/district (based on simple majority and first-passthe-post system),
ii)
Proportional Representation (PR) (based on popular votes)
- Question to ponder: Which type is better, fairer, or more just? Why?

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3.6.3. Rule of Law


- supremacy of the law, everyone is equal before the law, no one is
above the law
- Lon Fuller (1971) = a set of principles constituting the internal
morality of law, which all legal systems should strive, to ensure the
rule of law is upheld:
i)
ii)
iii)
iv)
v)
vi)
vii)
viii)

law should be general establishing general standard of


conduct
law should be promulgated and made known to those whom
they apply
law should be prospective and not retroactive (peoples conduct
to be guided only by existing laws and not future laws)
law should be clear
there should be no contradictions in the law
laws should not demand the impossible
laws should not be frequently changed/amended
congruence between official action and the law
(cf. Ten 1999: 396)

- however, upholding the rule of law = not a simple task:


i)
not all laws are clearly defined,
ii)
not everyone agrees on their meaning,
iii)
some laws conflict, or appear to conflict with other laws
(Sargent 2003: 54)
3.6.4. The Electoral System
- fundamental platform/mechanism for a democratic political system
- crucial importance = consider by many as the only means of
realistic political participation for individuals living in a large,
modern, and increasingly complex society
- electoral system = gauge to measure level of democracy;
democratic elections = sine qua non of good government

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- Also allegedly utilized by so-called democratic states as


legitimizing tool to stay in power (i.e. Zimbabwe, Myanmar, and
some SEA states, etc.) (see Taylor 1996; Lai 2000)
- A democratic election must be:
i)
free ;
ii)
fair ; and
iii)
regular
- Dahl, Mackenzie, etc (qf. Rachagan 1993:2) = standard
requirements for a free and fair election include:
i)
an honest, competent, non-partisan body to conduct
elections (i.e. independent Election Commission)
ii)
electoral system that does not grossly distort the
representation afforded to the different parties vis--vis the
votes garnered
iii)
right to vote for the adult population (i.e. age 21 & above)
iv)
regular and consistent elections within prescribed time
limits (i.e. every 4-5 years)
v)
equal and open opportunity to establish parties,
candidacies, and contest
vi)
developed systems of political parties able to present
policies/what is in the public interests to would be voters
vii) all seats in major legislative body to be openly contested
viii) reasonably fair and open opportunities for contesting
parties to campaign
ix)
reasonably fair opportunities for media coverage of main
contenders/candidates
x)
Votes are cast freely and secretly; honestly counted and
reported, winning candidate to be duly installed in office
until term expires
xi)
Independent judiciary to interpret electoral law
(qf. Rachagan 1993:2)
- Potential distortions/problems:
i)
Election as a political tool
ii)
Potential fallacies of electoral systems = PR versus
simple-majority/first pass the post system in single
member districts/constituencies
iii)
Related electoral abuses = Constituency delimitation &
problems of malapportionment and gerrymandering
18

(see Lai 2002)

3.6.5.

Equality

- an essentially contested concept of crucial importance in 20 th


century
- a general concept can be separated into 5 types:
i)
Political equality
ii)
Equality before the law
iii)
Equality of opportunity
iv)
Economic equality
v)
Social equality
3.6.5.1 Political Equality
- Considered to be the most basic form of equality
- generally comprising: a) voting equality; b) political contest/running
for office; c) political influence
a) Voting Equality = ideally should include:
i)
reasonable access for individuals to voting stations
ii)
freedom of choice and casting of votes
iii)
each vote is equal to any other vote (same weight)
- Problems in reality =
i)
Question of citizenship and permanent residency
ii)
Age requirements
iii)
Loss of right to vote (i.e. criminals)
iv)
Age, gender and racial discrimination
v)
Choice of candidate
vi)
Malapportionment and gerrymandering
b) Political contest/running for office
- everyone with right to vote = equal opportunity to be elected into
public office
- however, potential constraints = i) wealth of candidates; ii) social
constraints i.e. gender, race/ethnicity, religion, etc.

19

c) Political influence
- equality in political influence among citizens regardless of race,
religion, gender, economic class, social caste, etc. (not hindered by
formal limitations)
- In reality, not easy to realise although laws are available to
promote such equalities, informal limitations still pervade due to
human nature
3.6.5.2. Equality before the Law
- Considered to be amongst democracys clearest goals (Sargent
2003:61)
- all people should receive fair and similar/equal treatment by the
legal system
- Justice should be colour/race/religion/gender/status blind
3.6.5.3. Equality of Opportunity
- refers to equal ability and mobility of every individual to move up or
down the social ladder (social and economic hierarchy/class within
society), depending on ones capability/ies
- no artificial barrier to prevent one from achieving what one is
capable of, through hard work and efficiency (qf Sargent 2003: 60)
- artificial barriers = race, ethnicity, gender, religion, caste, sexual
orientation, nationality, primordial elements, etc.
- In reality, equality or opportunity = dependent on value accorded
status i.e. material (wealth/money/property) vs. non-material
(aristocracy/religious position/education/etc.)
3.6.5.4. Economic equality
- subjective and highly contested meaning
- narrow terms = every individual should have relatively same
income no one is richer than the other (extreme)
- realistically = should concern equality of economic opportunities,
i.e. employment, business contracts, tender, etc. (not financial
equality)
- According to Sargent (2003), underlying idea = guarantee of a
minimum level of economic security for every individual within
society; security more crucial than equality
20

- Main argument = extreme poverty undermines effective


participation in community i.e. lack of education (middle class vs
poor toys, books, early learning, parental guidance, critical
learning age; etc.)
- There are exceptions but majority = limited success in
significantly upgrading life/climbing social strata
- Questions to ponder:
i)
Does income/financial inequality negatively affect equality of
economic opportunities?
ii)
To what extent should such inequality be tolerated/allowed?
iii)
How can income/economic gap be reduced?
3.6.5.5.

Social equality

- also deemed as equality of respect a value most complicated to


ascertain
- basis of humanity = the belief that all human beings are equal and
should be given equal respect
- in narrow terms = equal opportunity to participate in social life, i.e.
joining a club/association, visiting/using public amenities, i.e.
transport, shopping malls/shops, attending schools/universities,
etc.
- however, social inequality can deepen by selective/exclusive
participation in social activities, i.e. rich vs. poor and the type of
schools attended, transports taken/used; sport facilities utilized
- Question to ponder:
i)
If human beings are to be given equal respect just because they
are human, what about animals? (animal rights??)
ii)
In terms of education, should there be schools/HLIs which are
meant exclusively for the elite students, or should all
schools/HLIs be classless?
3.7. Freedom, Liberty, and Rights
- may differ specifically in a narrow sense yet, often used
interchangeably
- Freedom = general term (ability to act without fear, or favour and
without restrictions, or with limited restrictions)
- Liberty = refers specifically to political and social freedom
21

- Right = specific legally guaranteed freedoms (Sargent 2003: 63)


- No such thing as absolute freedom (i.e. freedom from performing
essential bodily functions eat, sleep, etc)
- Democratic society = should be relatively free, open, limited control
3.7.1. Rights : Between Natural Rights and Civil Rights
- Natural rights = rights that human beings have or should have;
more popularly call in present time as human rights
- Civil rights = rights prescribed/ordained by government
- Both are seldom distinguished in contemporary world; all rights =
civil rights
- Rights = minimal state, limited governmental interference on
certain areas of life; i.e. thought, speech, press, assembly, religion
- Most important natural rights = basic human rights = right to selfpreservation = right to secure the minimum of basic needs to
survive/live in society i.e. food, shelter, clothing.
- Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
adopted by United Nations (UN) defines human rights as:
everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security
and is entitled to realization, through national effort and in
accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of
the economic, social, and cultural rights indispensable for his
dignity and the free development of his personality (UN Charter
1948 qf. Sargent 2003: 66)
- Dual role of government = i) restrictor of liberty/rights ; ii) protector
of liberty/rights
3.7.2.

Liberty

- Commonly defined liberties (types of political and social freedom):


i)
the right to vote (or not)
ii)
freedom of thought
iii)
freedom of speech
iv)
freedom of the press
v)
freedom of assembly
vi)
freedom of religion
vii) freedom of movement
viii) freedom from arbitrary treatment by political and legal system
(simply means that government must protect the citizen from
22

government; individual must be given fair treatment by the


system)
(cf. Sargent 2003: 67)
- more contemporarily debated (but not so universal) forms of civil
liberties :
i)
freedom of information (vs. secrets act)
ii)
right to die (i.e. euthanasia)
iii)
right for abortion (pro-life vs. pro-choice)
iv)
right to choose sexual orientation (i.e. gay rights)
v)
freedom from cruel and unusual punishment (i.e. capital
punishment, torture)
- Some questions to ponder:
i)
ii)
iii)
iv)

v)
vi)
vii)
viii)
ix)
x)

Are all, or some of these freedoms of universal value?


Should all, or some of these stated freedoms be absolute?
What about the possible abuses of freedom of speech i.e.
spreading of lies, propagandas, half-truths, distortions of facts?
What about publication of pornography? Should there be
restrictions? If yes, what about culturally related artifacts? If no,
what about the protection, and the rights of children and women
(and men) from related abuses?
What about the danger of publishing materials that serve to
incite public instability/bring public disorder??
What about the sensationalisation of issues by the press (bad
news is good news)?
What about the infringement of individual privacy by the press
i.e. paparazzi culture, etc.
Should parades and demonstrations that may produce violence
be allowed? If not, what should be the limit?
Should torture and/or capital punishment be condoned?
Should detention without trial be allowed?

3.8. Current Trends


- No change in principles of democracy only change in
interpretation

23

3.8.1. Democratisation
- most dominant and widely accepted ideology in contemporary
world
- since the fall of global communism advent of globalization =
spread of democracy = process of democratization, i.e. former
socialist/ communist states, Third World states.
- democratization = process of establishing:i)
democratic institutions
ii)
democratic procedures
iii)
democratic culture (perhaps the most important/fundamental)
- however, democracy in most of these states = fragile, questionable
- Advocates of liberal democracy see these states = not genuinely/
fully democratic
- Democratizing states fall in between the continuum from
authoritarian to democracy =
authoritarian
semiauthoritarian
semi-democracy
democracy
- Critics of liberal democracy = not unambiguously universal, based
on Western political culture, values, experience, and political
context = hence, potentially conflicting with oriental/eastern political
cultures and traditions
- Alternative models of democracy, i.e. Asian-style democracy
debate during 1990s (combination of some universally-accepted
democratic values/principles/institutions/procedures with traditional
cultures/ norms/values
- Question to ponder:
i)
Does the mere existence of democratic institutions and
procedures, i.e. elections, democratic constitution, etc. makes a
country/state truly democratic?
ii)
Are liberal democratic values universal?
iii)
Are liberal democratic values mainly shaped/influenced by
western political cultures/context?
iv)
Are liberal democratic values in conflict with traditional oriental/
eastern political cultures?
v)
Are traditional oriental/eastern political cultures essentially
democratic or otherwise?

24

3.8.2. Civil Society


- generally refers to
set of largely voluntary associations and interactions.that operate
outside the formal political system and thus outside its control, in
which people learn (to appreciate and uphold) key democratic
values
(Sargent 2003: 74)
- healthy civil society = requisite to establishing democratic culture
and political system
- Example:
non-governmental organizations (NGOs), pressure/
interests groups, private enterprises
3.8.3. Group rights
- refers to the rights of a specific congregation of people who shares
a common bond/identity (i.e. ethnicity/race, religion, language,
sexual orientation, etc.) against prosecution/persecution, and threat
towards their identity
- contemporary approaches to protecting and defending group rights
i)
ii)
iii)

Multiculturalism relates to the debate over majority vs


minority rights
Diversity/Difference concept recognizing that diversity
or being different (differences) is important, good, and
valuable; i.e. catchy slogans such as Unity in Diversity
Consociationalism idea of political power sharing
between different groups, i.e. Alliance/Perikatan, National
Front/ Barisan Nasional in Malaysia

3.9. Democracys Paradox


Among democracys paradox:
i) dilemma of individuals choice subordinated to popular will

25

- i.e. individual preference for one law, but having to obey contrary
law chosen by majority; voting for losing party but having to obey
laws passed by successful rival party (Goodwin 2007: 302)
- i.e. contradictory moral beliefs of a smoker - banning smoking is
wrong; banning smoking is right if the majority thinks it right =
hence moral dilemma of the policy banning smoking = both
simultaneously right and wrong
ii) the related problem of minority
- involves the dilemma of contradiction between the basic
democratic principle of the will of the majority rules with the likes
of justice, and equality
- i.e. minority unlikely to agree that majority opinion is right ; neither
laws of the majority are just and equal towards minority hence,
minority may question validity and value of democracy itself
- Solution = institutionalize position of minority
- However, according to Goodwin, to institutionalize the position of
minorities goes against democratic equality, while to leave their
cause to the good nature of the majority will in many cases mean
that they may suffer injustice or even oppression (Goodwin 2007:
305)

26

TOPIC 4

CAPITALISM AND DEMOCRACY

4.1. Introduction
- Capitalism and Socialism = two distinct types of economic system
that have strong relationship with idea of democracy
- To some, Capitalism closely related to Democracy, while to others,
Socialism and democracy = ideal partnership
- Both capitalists and socialists claim to be the most democratic in
the economic sense i.e. genuine/true democrats
- These different groups/societies, see either capitalism, or
socialism/ socialist = negative connotation/taboo word
- Simply put = major disagreement and misunderstanding on both
types of economic systems
- These economic systems can combine with both democratic and
authoritarian political systems in fairly robust manner, i.e. socialist
democracies, totalitarian states, capitalist democracies.
4.2. Capitalism (Democratic Capitalism)
4.2.1. Introductory remarks
- Closely related and like liberal democracy - seen today as the
dominant economic system, following the fall of authoritarian
socialism/communism that marked the end of the Cold War ; what
scholars term as the liberal hour (Balaam & Veseth 2005) and
end of history (Fukuyama)
- Spread of global capitalism and the advent of a capitalist global
economy - even socialist/communist states like PRC, Russia, and
Vietnam have embraced pro-market reforms and marketisation
policies, while former Eastern bloc joining EUs single market
4.2.2. General Ideas, Assumptions, and Characteristics
- Keyword = Capital (wealth/income/money/profit)

27

- Capitalism stresses on the idea of free market, or individual


freedom of the marketplace; traditionally and popularly called free
market capitalism or laissez-faire capitalism
- Basic characteristics of Capitalism (laissez-faire economy)
i)
private ownership of property
ii)
no legal limitation on the accumulation/amassing of
wealth/property
iii)
no (or very limited) government/state intervention in the
economy
iv)
profit motive = driving force; based on individual initiative;
maximization of profit = minimize production costs + competitive
pricing of products/goods/services
v)
profit as measure of efficiency; i.e. high profit = efficient
vi)
open competition to determine who get what, when, how, how
much, and why
vii) limited/no state/govt intervention/interference in the economy
(adapted from Sargent 2003:83)
- intellectual father of capitalism = Adam Smith (1723-1790)
famous book entitled The Wealth of Nation; others include David
Ricardo, John Maynard Keynes, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman
(Chicago School); etc.
- Smiths assumptions/arguments = trait of human being, driven/
motivated most effectively by self-interest; not necessarily a
negative trait; can be constructive and advantageous in a society
which liberals see as a positive-sum game
- Assumption of Human Nature = competitive in a constructive way;
guided by reason and not emotion (Balaam & Veseth 2005: 48)
- Positive-sum game = everyone can potentially gain benefit,
without being at the expense of others (i.e. barter trade)
- According to Smith, to create the most efficient economic system
for the benefit of all = i) individuals should be free to make their
own economic decisions (meaning of free market), and free to
pursue their interest (profit)
- Assumption = economy becomes efficient due to: i) open
competition and ii) motivation to maximise profit leads to increase
efficiency in productivity and lowering of production costs
- Stresses on the importance of the invisible hand in the economy
= market price mechanism (law of supply and demand); and
minimal or ideally no state intervention in economy
28

- According to Smith, state has abusive potentials = dangerous


and untrustworthy; Argument = state intervention/interference can
lead to distortion and consequently structural deficiencies in
economy i.e. distortion of price and supply
- Role of state = minimal = create conducive institutional
environment (i.e. establish legal system, national defence/security,
print/coin money, etc) that facilitates/fosters individual action in
economic realm
- Two-pronged and complementary parts of invisible hand =
i)
self-interest drives individuals to make decisions that best
serve their personal interest, needs, and desires
ii)
competition constrain and prevent self-interest from becoming
destructive to others interest
- Competition is positive-sum rather than zero-sum
- Similar prescription for international economic activities, i.e.
international trade, finance, investment = free trade (antiprotectionism), limited regulations, freedom of capital movement,
foreign direct investments (FDIs) and the growing influence of
multinational/transnational corporations (MNC/TNC) in national
economies, economic globalization and withering of economic
- Contemporary international economic system = capitalistic in
essence; promotion of free trade (role of GATT, WTO, EU, NAFTA,
FTAs); deregulation of the international financial/monetary system,
global investment trend
4.2.3. Evolution of Capitalism and the Liberal Economic Perspective
- arose in reaction to the negative impact of mercantilism / economic
nationalism
- mercantilism = strong state; concentration of power in the hands of
the state to generate wealth in the name of national interests
(national security and sovereignty); for mercantilists, wealth =
power; human nature = pessimistic; ruled by passion, and not
reason to achieve self-interest; competition = zero-sum game;
state of nature = state of war
- abuse of power by mercantilist state; protectionist measures
imposed on international trade (trade barriers) lead to military

29

conflicts; encouragement for imperialism (i.e. Portuguese vs Dutch;


Dutch vs English; American vs English;
- ideas of Francois Quesnay (1694-1774) leader of French
philosopher group known as the Physiocrats (les Economistes)
(motto = laissez-faire, laissez-passer / let be, ;let pass / hands off;
leave me alone); and the writings of Adam Smith and political
economist like David Ricardo (18 th century) = foundations of liberal
economic theory and capitalism
- However, critics saw extreme capitalism and free market as flawed
can lead to:
i)
formation of monopoly (temporarily)
ii)
imperialistic tendencies and colonialism, i.e. British East India
Company, the Opium Wars, and the opening of China,
Commodore Perrys Black Ships and the opening of Japan,
etc.
iii)
widening of income/economic gap btwn. rich and poor
(domestically), and North-South countries (internationally)
iv)
exploitation of proletariats (workers/masses) by the bourgeoisie
(elites/landowners/factory owners, etc) in Marxist terms
v)
Darwins theory of evolution and law of the jungle = guiding
principle in maximizing profit and increasing efficiency =
marginalization of the weak
- Beginning late 19th century = changes in capitalism regulation of
economies debated as a means to avoid economic depressions
- Main advocate for regulating economy = John Maynard Keynes
(Keynesian theory of economics)
- Argument = govt should intervene albeit on specific areas to
reduce impact of economic downturn, i.e. increase public
expenditure and pumping money into economy to control
unemployment, bankruptcies of key industries/companies;
regulations of stock markets and financial/monetary systems to
prevent manipulation and abuses; social welfare net i.e. social
security, bank deposit insurance (i.e. state guarantee up to RM50K
of personal savings of individual in banks)
- Keynes = positive government action = useful and necessary to
deal with problems that the invisible hand would not correct, i.e.
inflation and unemployment (Balaam & Veseth 2005: 57)

30

- Keynes = human not always rational - driven by fear, greed,


animal spirit ; herd mentality
- Wall Street Crash (1929) and Great Depression = exposed
weaknesses of unfettered capitalism
- Keynesian style of embedded liberalism changed the face of
capitalism introduced in postwar Bretton-Woods System
- Keynesian economics = combination of strong state and strong
market; state to have crucial macroeconomic role within national
economy, while free markets to be guide for international economic
relations (between states) became mainstream view/practice in
intl economic system called Bretton-Woods (1945 -1970s)
- Interesting fact Keynesian = new-liberalism; while old
liberalism (Adam Smith) came to be called conservatism
- However, another profound shift took place in the early 1970s
saw the resurgence of traditional capitalism (more freedom, less
govt intervention) via the works of Nobel Prize winners i.e.
Friedrich Hayek (Road to Serfdom), and Milton Friedman
(Capitalism and Freedom)
- These critics of Keynesian = no different from socialist/fascist
states; called for renewal of laissez-faire conservative classical
liberalism and capitalism; gained popularity following end of
Bretton-Woods system; became dominant again by 1980s in the
guise of neo-conservatism/neo-liberalism
- Two world leaders at forefront in promoting neo-conservatism =
Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan = free market both in
domestic and international realms; sometimes called Thatcherism
or Reaganism
- Promoted reduction of state control of private-sector activities;
deregulation of market and privatization of state-owned assets/
enterprises/businesses to promote competition
- Malaysia followed global pattern = privatization policy in 1980s;
replacement for the less-efficient, state-interventionist policies
under NEP (see Lai 1999)
- Collapse of Communism = widespread implementation of neoconservative policies/renewed capitalism; free trade, deregulation
of international financial system; driving force of economic
globalization

31

- By end of 1990s = arrival of the liberal hour capitalism and neoliberalism = dominant theory following obsolescence of
communism, failure of socialism and Japanese-style mercantilism;
Advocates
see
Free-market
Capitalism
or
market
fundamentalism = only workable ideology in contemporary
international political economy
- International economic institutions like World Bank, International
Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organisation (WTO) guided by
free market capitalism
- Washington Consensus effort by IMF, WB, and US Treasury to
cultivate neoliberal/capitalist policies in less developed and
emerging market economies like the four little dragons and tiger
economies of Asia
- Policy prescription = smaller govt, larger market links the success
of free-market capitalism/econ. liberalism to the need for political
reforms
- Michael Mandelbaums Golden Triangle hypothesis:
PEACE

FREE MARKET

DEMOCRACY

- Notion of Liberal Imperialism possible intervention by US and


EU in the domestic politics of illiberal states to promote liberal
ideals and the golden Triangle of Peace, Prosperity, and
Democracy
- Hence, US intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq = in part, motivated
by notion of liberal imperialism and the rise of so-called Chicago
School political economic agenda (ascendancy of Friedman-style
economic restructuring programmes; also prior to that, the alleged
support by CIA on the coup detat of South American regimes in the
1970s (see Naomi Kleins international bestseller Shock Doctrine)
- However, critics like Samuel Huntington (Clash of Civilization)
argued that Western-based liberal values = not universal; external

32

pressure could trigger dangerous backlash from social system


with very different norms and values (qf. Balaam & Veseth 2005:
66)
- Conclusion = the universality of capitalism and liberal democracy =
subjective, could be both optimistic/good or pessimistic/bad
- Reasons to be optimistic = global consensus that economic
decentralization, and econ liberalization = desirable; forces of
globalization = pressure on states to adopt liberal economic (and at
times, political) policies/institutions
- Reasons to be pessimistic = fragility of capitalism and democracy
intro of market reforms - lead to concentration of wealth and
instability in the political foundations of liberalizing states (i.e.
Russia); end of Cold War = resurgence of tribal, religious, ethnic
differences and conflicts i.e. Rwanda, Somalia, etc. (linkage and
backlash btwn democracy and nationalism??)
4.2.4. A Neo-Marxist/Dependencia School Critique of Capitalism
- Traditional Marxists V.I. Lenin saw Capitalism = Highest Stage of
Imperialism
- Postwar promotion of liberal economic systems and free market
strategies (via Keynesian style) = promises of economic
development in Less-Developed Countries ie. Latin America, Asia.
Africa, etc.
- However, by 1960s North-South gap widened despite adoption
of liberal-capitalist system; growing awareness of exploitative
relationship between Developed Countries (DC) or the North and
Less-Developed Countries (LDC) or the South
- Triggered rise of Neo-Marxists and Dependencia School in
explaining the problems of development in 3 rd World, i.e. Andreas
Gunder Frank, Osvaldo Sunkel, Paul Baran, etc. , also called
dependencistas
- Neo-Marxist assumptions of Dependency
i)
underdevelopment = phenomenon caused by the exploitative
international relationship btwn. DCs and LDCs
ii)
free trade system and global distribution and specialisation of
production/work = accentuate the dependency of LDCs to DCs

33

iii)
iv)
v)

metropolis-satellite concept or core-periphery in the capitalist


international economic order the exploitation of LDCs profit/
wealth by DCs (neo-colonialism)
Development of DCs directly links to the underdevelopment of
LDCs
Underdevelopment will persist as long as the capitalist
international economic system remains

- Exploitative mechanisms to entrench Dependency, and deepen


the phenomenon of Underdevelopment among LDCs:
i)
Multinational
Corporations
(MNCs)
or
Transnational
Corporations (TNCs)
ii)
Uneven relationship of exchange; comparative advantage
between DCs and LDCs tends to favour and benefit DCs at the
expense of the LDCs (i.e. trade imbalances and the related
issues of free trade (but is free trade = fair trade??)
iii)
Global financial system (IMF, WB, SAP) and Foreign Aid
iv)
Lumpenbourgeorsie or bourgeorsie komprador
- Solutions/Antidote
to
alleviate
Underdevelopment
and
Dependency
i)
severance of the core-periphery relationship in the
international economic system (radical approach)
ii)
implementation of Import Substitution Industrialisation (ISI)
strategy to promote self-sufficiency
iii)
self-reliance model and regional economic groupings
- Suggested antidote = requires state intervention (strong state)
- Dependency school stimulated the South movement
- However, rapid and significant industrialization process among
some LDCs in 1970s-1990s (i.e. Brazil, Mexico, Asian Dragon and
Tiger economies) challenged the relevance of the dependencia
approach
- New-wave dependencistas = development in LDCs not genuine
seen as dependent capitalist development (i.e. FDIs, technology
transfer, foreign aid, debt-led growth, etc.) ; Implication = structural
deficiencies/ imbalances in national economy, i.e. uneven
distribution of resources/ wealth)
- The Asian Financial/Monetary Crisis (1997-1998) = a reflection of
new-wave assumptions ??
34

- Apart from Dependencia School, World System Theory by


Immanuel Wallerstein provides explanation of systemic exploitative
relationship between the core, semi-periphery and periphery
(see Diagram below)
4.3.

Issues of Uneven Development

- Since 1945 global economic development = rapid, encouraging,


implementation of variety of complex development policies based
on capitalist model (Keynesian to Thatcherism/Reaganism)
- That said, economic gap between 20% of the most wealthy/affluent
groups and 20% of the poorest groups in the world = widened from
30:1 (1960) to 60:1 (1991); 20% of the worlds richest groups
controlled 80.8% of the total global income/profit; meanwhile, 20%
of the worlds poorest groups received 1.3%.
- The North-South dichotomy = not only inter-state, but intrastate; according to Caroline Thomas, theres a growing South in
the North just as theres a growing North in the South
- Question = What causes this problem?
- Answer = deriving from two prevailing schools of thought:
i)
neo-liberalism/free-market capitalism
- blames it on the failure of government to allow the invisible hand
(market forces) to dictate and stimulate economic development and
growth (excessive state intervention); distortion of market forces
- policy prescription = minimal state/deregulation and privatization +
promotion of free trade system (laissez faire)
- perspective advocated by contemporary global economic
institutions (i.e. WB, IMF, WTO, etc)
ii)
critical alternative (Marxist, Neo-Marxist, New-Wave, Socialist)
- blames it on the free-market economic model = major culprit of
uneven development and widening of income/economic gap
- laissez faire practices in the South = surrendering of the economic
sphere to the law of the jungle; survival of the fittest; natural
selection (Darwinism)
- Negative implications of neo-liberalism/free-market capitalism:
35

i)
ii)

Profit maximization goal = tendency to focus on marketable/


profitable products; including the commercialisation of public
goods (education, welfare, healthcare, etc)
Hedonism tendency for individuals to be self-interested at the
expense of public interests

36

WORLD SYSTEM THEORY


(Immanuel Wallerstein)

CORE
(A)

A = Core
B = Semi-Periphery
C = Periphery
Bilateral econ.
relationship (trade and
investment)

37

TOPIC 5

FEMINISM

5.1. INTRODUCTION
- An ideology with core positions and variants
- Also an international movement that transcends traditional social,
political & economic barriers i.e. national, class, racial, gender, etc.
- Main concern = about the oppression of women by men; and the
need to replace what has been commonly perceived to be a
system of male dominance = patriarchy found to affect all social
institutions
- Ultimate goal = to promote gender equality = to create awareness
in both men and women regarding the need to recognise related
social restrictions (on women), and act to reduce and most
crucially, eliminate such restrictions
- Also a form of identity politics, i.e. self vs. other ; to create
awareness regarding the marginalization/exploitation of the other;
and the need to re-embrace the marginalized
- Other = not exclusively womenfolk but all marginalized groups
within mainstream society i.e. children, disabled person, old folks,
LBGTIQ
[lesbian,
bisexual,
gay,
transgender, intersex
(androgyny/hermaphrodite), questioning] community, etc.
- Main constraint = women themselves often unaware or recognise
restrictions
due
to
entrenched
socio-cultural/religious
norms/values/customs/laws; hence, the need to promote
consciousness amongst womenfolk before targeting their
opposite sex
5.2. Background and Development of Feminism
- Debate since Biblical age, i.e. Biblical tale of Garden of Eden,
Adam and Eve, and the Fall of Man womenfolk viewed with
suspicion by men in Judeo-Christian world (Goodwin 2007:200) =
the idea of women as temptresses, weaker, more irrational and
less law-abiding than men pervaded in many cultures both East
and West
- radical Demonisation of women = women susceptible to lure of
the Evil side = witchhunt during middle ages

38

- Early pre-feminist movement since 18th century i.e. Abigail Adams


(US) in her letters to husband John Adams (US President); and
Mary Wollstonecraft (England) wrote the first major work
championing women rights in Vindication of the Right of Woman
(1792)
- Such movement took place almost simultaneously with individual
human rights movement in Europe and US (which was more about
the right of man rather than woman) hence, one can say that
Wollstonecrafts work was truly arguing for human rights (both men
and women) rather than just mans rights
- In 19th Century = feminist movement began as a general movement
for sexual equality (womens legal and civil rights, including rights
to education); dominated by a single most important issue =
womens suffrage (right to vote)
- Before World War One, two most important issue for womens
movement = i) womens right to vote; ii) birth control
- The first country in the modern world to grant women the right to
vote = New Zealand in 1893; The US gave women suffrage in 1920
- However, feminist movement slowed down after success in
suffrage movement
- Marginalization, continued oppression and inequality in socioeconomic policies brought resurgence of womens rights movement
after WW2
- Famous works i.e. Simon de Beauvoirs Le Deuxieme Sexe (1949)
(The Second Sex) and Betty Friedans The Feminine Mystique
(1963) = renewal of feminist movement or the so-called secondwave feminism
5.3. The Politics of Feminism
- Feminism = political project to understand, and change womens
oppression/exploitation/inequality
- According to Salbiah Ahmad, feminism = a politics of protest
directed at transforming the historically unequal power
relationships or masculinist social structures btwn men and
women (Salbiah Ahmad 2007: 4)
- However, differences exist within feminism; can be distinguished
via their ideological inclination, namely:

39

i)

ii)
iii)

iv)

v)

vi)

liberal feminist = fights for gender equality, and womens


empowerment and emancipation in all social spheres, i.e.
exclusion and non/under-representation at different workplaces,
equal rights in military (see the act of protecting women from
combat as a way of keeping them from power)
radical feminist = sees womens subordination as universal,
hence fights to change rather than to fight for equality in
masculinist/male-dominated institutions
cultural feminist = sees women as different from men, women
more peace-oriented and nurturing, embraces womens
values unlike liberal feminists; believe that such values are
required in global politics and ecology; they also believe that
womens values are not necessarily in-born, but can be
acquired, hence, men too can learn such values i.e. nurture,
peaceful (i.e. child care, health and community care)
Socialist feminist = explains gender inequality via class
analysis, why women are responsible for reproductive and
family labour, why women are poor, why violence against
women in workplace
Black and Third World feminist = accused feminist movement
of ignoring race, culture, and colonial relations as factors
affecting women, see white women as being privileged by their
membership in the dominant race/culture despite being
oppressed in terms of gender
Post-modern feminist = questioned on differences between
women, and regarding who actually speaks for women (who
dominates the agenda setting in feminist movement?)

5.4. Difference between Sex and Gender


- Gender = code word used for women
- Second-wave feminists made a distinction between sex and
gender; sex = biological; gender = social construction
- Distinction = politically important ; differentiates between natural
and biologically defined identity with socially constructed identity
- By recognising that gender is social construction, this means that
CHANGE is possible
- In opposing all forms of oppression against women, the term
political itself needs to be redefined

40

- The famous maxim the personal is the political = driving


force/slogan for feminist movement; to subject the personal or the
private to public/political scrutiny
- In other words, a key feminist goal = to move what was traditionally
considered to be in the private (personal) realm to the public
arena (i.e. domestic violence/rape, child abuse, etc.)
Can also be seen as the goal to recognise and empower those
others who were traditionally ignored, marginalized, oppressed,
exploited ; very much a form of identity politics
5.5. Sexism and Gender Oppression
- Sexism = sees women as inferior to men; similar to racism,
ethnocentrism or any belief regarding the superiority and
inferiority of group relations
- Pervasive in wide-ranging social institutions, from language to
literature, etc.
- Examples of sexism in language = history; man = human (i.e.
man is a political animal), mankind, etc.
- Examples of sexism in culture = wife as subordinate in many
traditional Asian/oriental cultures, i.e. Indian, Japanese, Chinese,
etc (
- Examples of sexism in politics - alleged insensitive comments by
male MPs about women MPs in Malaysian parliament not so long
ago. i.e. ceiling leakage; female driver slow and oblivious on
road; women divorcees as gatal; blame on womens dressing for
rise of sexual crimes, wanita putus haid , it is unusual for
womens issues to be touched (raised) by menBut women are
supposed to be touched by men.

- Gender Oppression = physical and mental mistreatment of women


(and men)
- Physical oppression = rape, sexual abuse, assault, spousal abuse
and domestic violence, etc.
- Mental oppression = brainwashed or socialized to see women as
subordinate to men, verbally-sexist abuses, etc.
- For instance, rape = considered the most under-reported crime in
many countries (Sargent 2003:126)
- In UK, only 1 out of every 15 rape cases are successfully convicted
- According to feminist, several reasons for underreporting of rape:41

i)
ii)
iii)

Insensitivity to women trauma by police (male-dominated)


legal system traditionally treated women as responsible party,
i.e. clothing, behavior, etc.
women taught to accept such abuses as almost normal due to
socialisation process, including from husband and companions
(see Sargent 2003:126)

- Apart from rape, sexual harassment = common in workplace, i.e.


emotional, mental, and physical harassment
- Discrimination at workplace, i.e. opportunity for specific jobs, and
career advancement (see G.I Jane, etc.)
- Examples: Dismissal from job because of pregnancy; non-provision
of maternity leave to either spouse
5.6. Efforts to promote women emancipation feminist strategies
- globalizing gender issues via international platforms i.e UN system,
NGOS
- introduction of more equality of opportunities and rights to women,
i.e. reproductive rights, rights to abortion, maternity leave (2
months to 2 years); equal employment in traditionally male
dominated profession (military)
- more equal political representation (i.e. in parliament and cabinet,
establishing specific ministries)
- eliminating discrimination
- focusing on the strength of womens values, celebrating difference
between men and women
- seeking a balance between the male and female consciousness
(harmonizing yin and yang in Chinese philosophy)
- reconstituting and reconceptualising politics and political ideas to
include the Others (raising awareness of the importance of
identity politics)
- combating domestic violence, i.e. establishing domestic violence
units, making marital rape unlawful
- granting equal rights to civil partnership as an alternative institution
to marriage (include rights for same-sex partnership)

42

Questions to ponder
1) Is feminism universal in its values and ideas?
2) Should rights for abortion be legalized?
3) Should birth control be denounced?
4) Is gender equality possible in the military / sporting arenas?
5) Do you think making marital rape unlawful is reasonable?
6) What about the problems of cry-wolf, and date rape?
7) Does a wife have the right to refuse sex from her husband?
8) Should provisions made for the emancipation of women be granted
to homosexuals/gays?
9) Should married women with family (specifically home-makers) be
paid to do house chores?

TOPIC 6

ANARCHISM
43

6.1. Introduction
- roots of Anarchism in classical Greece; came from Greek
term
an
and
arkhe
(meaning
absence
of
ruler/government); idea found in classical Chinese texts on
Taoism, i.e. Tao te Ching
- emerged as a modern ideology sometime during the same
period of Marxism
- keyword = anarchy = rule by no one, no overarching
authority; seen negatively in contemporary era as chaos,
disorder etc.
- Central conviction = government/state, the law, private
property = absolute evils; man = naturally good but
society is bad; anti-capitalism, anti-law and order
- Today = forms of anarchism exists in extreme left, or right
movement, i.e. anarcho-capitalism (rightwing); another
offshoot = libertarianism, or minimalism (Sargent
2003:164)
6.2. Principles of Anarchism
- Anarchism exists in a variety of forms, and different ideas
- Most interpretation based on ideas of a group of thinkers,
i.e. Prince Pyotr Kropotkin (1842-1921), Pierre-Joseph
Proudhon (1809-1865),
Mikhail Bakunin (1814-1876),
Count Leo Tolstoy (1828 1910), William Godwin (17561836), Emma Goldman (1869-1940), etc.
- Kropotkin defines Anarchism as
...a principle or theory of life and conduct under
which society is conceived without government
harmony in such a society being obtained, not by
submission to law or by obedience to any authority,
but by free agreements concluded between the
various groups, territorial, and professional, freely
constituted for the sake of production and
consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the

44

infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized


being
(qf. Sargent 2003: 165)
A political philosophy holding that no group in society
should be coerce by anyone; and society must be made up
of a wide variety of groups, each geared towards certain
social functions
Basis = freedom and liberty from being forced or coerce;
also mean a peaceful, and free life without rules and
regulations
However, critics = anarchism may lead to chaos
Basic assumption = power/authority exercised by one
person/group over another is the cause of humans
contemporary problems, tended to be abused; authority =
oppression
Nicholas Walters = many people say that government is
necessary because some men cannot be trusted to look
after themselves, but anarchists say that government is
harmful because no man can be trusted to look after
anyone else
Anarchism focuses on the corrupting nature of power
believes that human beings are capable of organising their
affairs without the need of an overarching entity (i.e. state)
Against the existence of Law ; sees it as ruling class
weapon to oppressed the masses; the law also takes
away the individuals rational moral judgement and
impairs his/her freedom
Also against the institution of private property/capital
accumulation = sees it as encouragement for capitalists to
exploit workers

6.3. Characteristics of the Anarchist Order/Society =


i)
Natural stateless entity
ii)
Based on morality, reason, and unmediated
relationship between human beings
iii) Free from contamination/distortion by the state,
exploitation, and commerce
iv) Eschews dependence

45

- In other words, a self-regulating society where individuals


spontaneously obey unwritten, unenforced rules/laws
through instinct, reason, morality or a combination of all
three (Goodwin 2007:138)
- The key factor = self-control
- Accordingly, anarchist society = not a state of disorder,
but order is produced by individual humans internalisation
of moral values and norms based on ones moral faculty,
and ability to reason.
- In other words, human self control can replace control from
external overarching authority
- Moral basis of Anarchist Society = optimistic view of
human being; refutes Hobbesian view of human, and state
of nature
- Human nature =
i)
Naturally good and essentially innocent, and
morally neutral
ii)
Capacity for positive social behaviour (i.e.
cooperation, non-egoist)
- Against Darwins theory of survival of the fittest, i.e.
Kropotkins study of the animal world came to different
conclusion with Darwin found evidence of cooperation
between animals. Hence, believe that human society
should share similar characteristics
- Anarchisms supreme political ideal = individual freedom;
supporting ideals = i) equality; ii) cooperation; iii) solidarity
- Freedom in Anarchists understanding =
i)
freedom from oppression by external force
ii)
freedom from inequality and scarcity
iii) freedom to act in conformity with ones own
judgement
(Goodwin 2007:135)
- According to Godwin, private judgement (reason) =
essence of freedom; but reason entails giving justification

46

for ones action which will be publicly assessed and


accepted as valid (qf. Goodwin 2007:137)
- An important instrumental value of anarchism =
education, a tool for enlightenment; to help realise an
anarchist society which is based on reason and morality
6.4. Types/Forms of Anarchisms
- Traditional Anarchism can be divided into two types:
i)
Collectivist Anarchism
ii)
Individualist anarchism
- Contemporary forms of anarchism =
i)
Anarcho-Capitalism
- Contends that capitalism = only form of econ. life
compatible with individualism
- View of life similar to social Darwinist = life is a struggle
for survival
- Denounces socialist economic system as supporting those
who do not deserve to survive
- Takes position that all social and economic services can
better be operated privately for profit (not by govt or
commune), i.e. police, education, military (Sargent 2003:
171)
- Extreme value on liberty and unrestrained capitalism
including support for decriminalisation of vices, which are
deemed voluntary i.e. prostitution, drug-pushing
(Goodwin 2007:143)
- However, critics argued that transaction between a
desperate drug-addict and a drug-dealer = not a fair
transaction, because of the nature of, and the involuntary
dependency of the former towards the goods, and the
latter party (drugs and drug-dealers); same as forced
prostitution (i.e. by crime syndicates)
ii)

Libertarianism
(or
sometimes
known
as
minimalism)
- Closely related to anarcho-capitalism
- Among the best known libertarian = Robert Nozick
(Anarchy, State, and Utopia)
47

- Advocates for a minimal state, whose functions =


narrowed to just providing protection against lawlessness
(i.e. force, theft, fraud, and enforcement s of contracts);
anything more than this would violate individual rights and
freedom (Sargent 2003:171)
- Only difference with traditional anarchist = the minimal
role of an overarching authority
6.5. Questions to ponder
i)
ii)
iii)
iv)

Is the absence of a ruler/government/state possible in


maintaining a functional society?
Can social order be maintained or upheld based on
morality, reason, and self-control of individuals who
live in a stateless society?
Based on reality of contemporary socio-political order,
can an anarchist social order be realised?
Do you agree with anarcho-capitalism that supports
the decriminalisation of voluntary vices such as
prostitution?

48

TOPIC 7

NATIONALISM

7.1. Introduction

term nationalism = among the most difficult to define and


clarify with accuracy; a plethora of definitions shows that
theres a lack of an all-encompassing meaning
implicitly touched on by most renaissance thinkers like
Renan, Rousseau, Kant, Weber, Durkheim, etc.
Twin-founding fathers of the intellectual discourse on
nationalism = Hans Kohn and Carleton Hayes
Kohns definition = a state of mind, in which the supreme
loyalty of the individual is felt to be due to the nation-state
Ernest Gellner = primarily a political principle, which holds
that the political (state) and national (nation) unit should be
in congruent
Anthony Smith = an ideological movement for attaining
and maintaining autonomy, unity, and identity on behalf of
a population deemed by some of its members to constitute
an actual or potential nation
Definitions emphasises nationalisms multi-dimensional
nature it is
i) political; ii) socio-cultural, and iii)
psychological
Nationalism = a powerful and pervasive yet enigmatic force
in modern world; a primary political identity of most people

49

7.2. Characteristics, Meanings and Types

mainly viewed as a product of modernity (from 18 th century


European history)
a nebulous phenomenon = intrinsically psychological; sociocultural, and profoundly political in essence; also emotional
and instrumental in disposition
Chan & Bridge = meaning of nationalism changes with
issue, time, space, and target or object (2006:30)
synonymous with, and inseparable from the concepts of i)
Nation; ii) nation-state; iii) national identity
fundamentally concerns the nation another nebulous
term due to ambiguous relationship with other kindred
concepts like race, ethnicity, and the tendency to wrongly
be equated with the concept of the state
Basic difference between nation and state nation has
substance not inherent in state, namely a feeling, a
passion, a legitimating power that the word nationalism
possesses to an unequal degree
Nation = a people who a) share demographic and cultural
similarities; b) possess a feeling of community (i.e. we/us
versus they/others); c) want self-determination
Nation = intangible; only exist when members think it does
Nation-state = nations with political boundaries/territorial
self-determination and sovereignty
Differences between nation-state and state-nation
Nationalism = connects individuals , their sense of
community, and their political identity in contra-indication
to other nations
Links = forged when individuals become i) sentimentally
attached to homeland; 2) gain a sense of identity and selfesteem through their national identification, and 3) are
motivated to help their country (Druckman 1994:44).
Hobsbawm and Rangers see nationalism = invented
traditions
50

Zheng = nationalism comprises i) institution and ii) identity


(two core components of nation-state
Nationalism = not salient when express by individuals in its
raw and disorganised form; only becomes powerful after it
is organised and express collectively by institutions (state =
foremost institution in modern international society)
Nationalism = national identity (emphasises the
individuality and distinctiveness of a nation-state)
Identity = an interpretation of the Self that establishes
what and where the person is in both social and
psychological terms
Identity does not appears in exclusivity; only exists in
societies, which defines and organise them, and it exists
and defines only in relations to other identities
National identity = collective sentiment shared by members
of a perceived nation i.e. imagined community (Anderson
1991)
As creator of national identity, nationalism situates a
nation-state (self) vis-a-vis other national actors/states
(Others) within the international society/system
National Identity = derives from common/basic forms of
identity i.e. shared culture/religion, and primordial features
like common descent/ethnicity/race
Such attributes = suitable in forging national identity in
homogenous society; but divisive and obstructive in
formation of nation-states with heterogenous/polarised
societies
However, national identity = can transcend such divisive
features, if superseded by peoples consciousness of, and
devotion/affection for its nationality/sense of belonging to
the nation-state
Hence, use of myths, symbols, and rituals = essential in
national identity creation, to cloak internal differences,
while differentiating members of one nation from others
Such markers can generate extraordinary emotional
intensity towards nation, where strength, courage, and
resilience are derived, and under whose name they

51

participate in heroic and barbaric actions to defend the


national interests
In its radical manifestation, national identity = supreme
loyalty for people who are prepared to die for their nation
International context = nationalism legitimates the
Westphalian society if nation-state doctrine; state as
sovereign authority represents and links nation/society to
the international system
Nationalism = Janus-faced; can be either constructive or
destructive force
Constructive force = modern history saw nationalism
playing key role in decolonisation and nation-building
processes, and spuring economic development i.e., Third
World; Japan after the war
Destructive force = malignant force fuelling international
conflicts and human tragedies; i.e. imperialism; world wars;
ethno-religious and genocidal conflicts; i.e. Rwanda; Balkan;
Iraq, etc.
Particularism = tendency to invoke ultra-nationalism,
xenophobia, chauvinism = driving force of belligerent
behaviour
Two common forms of nationalism: i) state/official/elitedriven nationalism; ii) popular/grassroots nationalism
Characteristics of state/official/elite-driven nationalism:
i) Top-down orientation
ii) Pragmatic
iii) reactive
iv) National interest-driven
v) Instrumental
vi) For domestic consumption
Characteristics of popular nationalism:
i) Bottom-up orientation
ii) Idealistic
iii) Spontaneous
iv) Virulent
52

v) Intellectually coherent
vi) Critical of official nationalism
7.4 Nationalism in Reality: Issues and evaluation
a) Idea of nation-state = more myth than reality
Five basic patterns of fitting between nation and states
i) One state, One nation
ii) One state, Multiple Nations
iii) One nation, Multiple state
iv) One nation, no state
v) Multiple nations, multiple states, i.e. Afghanistan
Pashtun, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmens
b) Nationalism as both Builders and Destroyers
Janus-faced nature
Beneficent face :
i) nationalism promotes democracy (popular sovereignty)
ii) discourages imperialism
iii) allows for economic development
iv) allows diversity and experimentation
Troubled Face of Nationalism
i) Lack of concern for others (ethnocentrism)
ii) Xenophobia (fear and suspicion towards foreigners)
iii) Oppression and aggression
7.5. Countervailing Tendencies
a) Regionalism i.e. EU (1993) (from ECSC, to EEC, to EC) EU
has Parliament; European Court of Justice, and EU bureaucracy;
single market and currency Euro
b) Cosmopolitanism
c) Globalisation
CURRENT TRENDS
i)
Secession ii) Nationalist conflicts iii) Irredentism iv)
postcolonialism
ii)
Ethno-religious nationalism

53

54