HDCS 1300 – Section III National and International Political Perspectives Section III: National and International Political Perspectives • Why are national and international political perspectives an important content area for the study of social science issues? • There are several reasons: – As globalization advances, there are crosscutting cultural, economic, political issues that must be addressed. The individual, the family, society in general are at the heart of these issues and in the path of impact. More Reasons – As technology advances, various political systems either impede or embrace the need for global efforts in business, health, education and security – As globalization advances, technology, language, culture, values all contribute or provide barriers to reaching harmony among very diverse groups. – Globalization, technology, world cultures are intertwined Context • When the topics of national and international political perspectives are discussed, a context must be provided. • National politics means American politics and the labels and alignments that are historic; • International politics refers to the axis of power around the world and what influences or sways this power to change or resist change National Politics: Labels and Alignments • Some Labels: – Liberals, Classical Liberalism, New Deal Liberalism, Progressive Liberalism – Conservatism – The Religious Right • Some Terms: – Radicals – Reactionaries – Moderates National Politics: Labels and Alignments • The terms liberalism and conservatism have been prominent in American politics for 200 years. We must not use the terms rigidly, but view in fact how they have emerged in various contexts over time. • We will begin with Liberalism Classical Liberalism • The classical root of the term liberalism is the Latin word Libertas, meaning “liberty” or “freedom” • Early 1800’s liberals dedicated themselves to freeing individuals from all unnecessary and oppressive obligations to authority – whether the authority came from the church or the state Classical Liberalism • Early 1800’s liberals opposed: – Licensing and censoring the press – The punishment of heresy – The establishment of religion – Any attempts to dictate orthodoxy in matters of opinion In economies, they opposed state monopolies and other constraints upon competition Freedom was primarily “freedom from” Classical Liberalism • They liked the French word “laissez-faire” which means “leave it be” • “Leave People Alone! Spelled out the spirit of classical liberalism • It wanted government to stay out of people’s lives and to play a modest role in general. Classical Liberalism • Thomas Jefferson summed up classical liberalism: “I am no friend of energetic government. It is always oppressive.” Early liberals invested high hopes in the political process: They were great believers in democracy – they were more willing to trust the masses than a ruling elite Classical Liberalism • Liberal social policy was dedicated to fulfilling human potential and felt the potential was enormous. • Human beings, they felt, were basically good and reasonable – outside influences or bad social environments might lead to evil and irrationality • A liberal commonwealth would be one that would remove the hindrances to the full flowering of the human personality and potential Classical Liberalism • The basic vision of liberalism has not changed since the early 1820’s – it has changed now in the way it is applied to modern society. • A change began in the latter years of the 19th century – 1890’s during the industrial revolution when small businesses grew into massive organizations that, liberals felt, overwhelmed and ran roughshod over people. • Liberals felt big business, uncontrolled, was a detriment to people, thus they began to embrace government as a savior or as a control against business – government the lesser of two evils Classical Liberalism • Liberals began to see government as a savior in educating children, in protecting children and workers through safety laws, in forcing business to act humanely, to help people through hard times, to promote a healthy economy – thus was born “New Deal Liberalism” – in the early 20th Century – 1920’s and 1930’s. National Politics: New Deal Liberalism • In the United States, the argument in favor of government did not win an enduring majority until after the stock market crash (1929) and the Great Depression of the 1930’s. • In 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted the Democratic nomination by stating that he pledged a “new deal” for the American people. National Politics: New Deal Liberalism • Thus was born as part of the liberal platform: • • • • Welfare programs Public works Business regulation And other ways of government intervening and regulating business • New Deal liberalism relied on government to liberate people from poverty, oppression, and economic exploitation; at the same time, they were just as zealous about political and civil liberties. National Politics: Progressivism Liberalism • Progressive liberalism emerged in the 1960’s and early 1970’s as a more militant and uncompromising movement than the New Deal • A University student movement – the New Left began to confront change through marches, demonstrations and sit-ins. National Politics: Progressivism Liberalism • The New Left Movement permeated the Civil Rights Movement in the South, poverty issues in the North and anti-war rallies to the Vietnam War. • By the end of the 1970’s a New Politics movement seem to express a pervasive belief that America had lost, or compromised away much of its idealism National Politics: Progressivism Liberalism • Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s the new liberals saw themselves as the true heirs to Thomas Paine from Revolutionary days, from Henry David Thoreau and his love of nature, of the abolitionists, the radical populists, the suffragettes and all other progressive reformers of the 20th century. National Politics: Progressivism Liberalism • Where New Deal liberals had concentrated on basic issues such as unemployment and poverty, the New Political liberals focused on social issues, such as: • Appealing laws against abortion; • Appealing laws against homosexuality and pornography; • Establishment of affirmative action programs for hiring of minorities and women • Passage of the Equal Rights Amendment National Politics: Progressivism Liberalism • These new liberals also became opposed to war; they were skeptical of any claim that America must be a leader of the free world; they felt that America’s race with the Russians would bankrupt the country, starve its social programs and culminate in nuclear Armageddon • By the late 1970’s liberals seemed to be split into two camps: radicals and progressives. • Bill Clinton sought to bring the party together by emphasizing that he was a “moderate” between extremes and casting the Republicans as an “extremist” party. Conservatism • Like liberalism, conservatism has undergone historical transformation in America. Early liberals espoused the views of Thomas Jefferson; early conservatives espoused views of Alexander Hamilton and John Adams • Now, conservatives take up the views of the early liberals: government is oppressive Conservatism • Contemporary conservatives are not necessarily opposed to government interference, particularly if security or threat of foreign oppression is at stake. • Conservatism has increasingly expressed itself through “The Religious Right” – a term that began about twenty years ago. Conservatism – The Religious Right • These conservatives – from the Christian tradition are concerned not so much about high taxes and government spending as they are about the decline of traditional Judeo-Christian morality: a decline they attribute to certain unwise government policies and judicial decisions regarding abortion, school prayer, pornography, gay rights. • Today Progressive Liberalism and the Religious Right stand as polar opposites. Some terms: Radicals, Reactionaries, and Moderates • Radicalism literally means “from the roots” or going to the foundation – implies a fundamental restructuring of the social order. There are radicals in both the liberal and the conservative parties, expressing this restructuring in different ways • Reactionaries are not conservators, but those who are dedicated to “turning the clock back” to better times. Repealing public education, or repealing industrialism fall into this description More on Terms • Moderates is a highly coveted term in America. It carried the meaning of sensible, practical and balanced. A person with principles, but not dogma. • The opposite of Moderate is Extremist. • Barry Goldwater – a conservative, declared extremism in defense of liberty was no vice. • Martin Luther King – a liberal, asked what kind of extremists shall we be – for hate or for love? Dividing Issues • There are many issues dividing the new liberals and the new conservatives today; differences often play out in issues as diverse as: (1) Handguns, (2) School Funding (3) Death penalty, (4) Income Tax (5) Immigration, (6) Military Force, (7) Affirmative Action (8) Free Speech, including hate speech, (9) Abortion • It is your job to understand the underlying philosophical positions underlying both sides. Dynamics of World Politics • The global stage is very different today than it was a few years ago. • Technology is one of the drivers causing this change (communication, manufacturing, health care, etc.) • Globalization is another driver - global markets and a shrinking world create new dynamics; Dynamics of World Politics • Changing Axes of the World System creates another dynamic aspect of world politics. • Countries that were together in World War II became enemies during the Cold War. • Now, who are the allies of America and who are the enemies? And will that shift and change depending on economics, technology and globalization? Dynamics of World Politics • European countries, former allies, seem increasingly uneasy about the War in Iraq and the direction that the US is taking. What changes are in our future? • Will China, a previous Cold War rival, become an economic ally? China is predicted to become a superpower in the 21st Century. How will that effect our future? Politics It is important that you begin to understand the issues at stake in not only the national political debates, but the international ones as well.
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