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Archive for the 'Dictatorship' Category

A Nation of Racist Dwarfs: Kim Jong-il’s regime is even weirder and more despicable than you thought

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Unlike previous racist dictatorships, the North Korean one has actually succeeded in producing a sort of new species. Starving and stunted dwarves, living in the dark, kept in perpetual ignorance and fear, brainwashed into the hatred of others, regimented and coerced and inculcated with a death cult: This horror show is in our future, and is so ghastly that our own darling leaders dare not face it and can only peep through their fingers at what is coming.

Hitchens reflects on a trip to North Korea in Slate

How Is America Going To End? Five steps to totalitarian rule.

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

As Hitler and Mussolini prepared to storm Europe, fascism began to generate interest in the United States. In Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 novel, It Can’t Happen Here, an American president uses an economic crisis as a pretense to take over the media, imprison dissenters, and build his own private army (the Minute Men) into an indomitable force.

Read on from Slate

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all.

From the Guardian

On Democracy

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

Here are a couple of links that might help you to answer the question for our next session. Do not limit yourself to these links:

Is democracy the desired goal of all societies and, if not, should it be? The corollary question being, is democracy the ultimate form of government for which all societies should strive?

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines Democracy for us and offers some argumentation

Plato’s Criticism of Democracy (this a secondary source but you can read the primary source in Book V of The Republic)

Watch this News Hour interview with Natan Sharansky, author of “The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror”

Chinese less restricted, except for politics

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

For the past two decades, China’s people have become richer but not much freer – and the Communist Party has staked its future that the Chinese will live with that tradeoff.That, at least, is the conventional wisdom. But with the Olympic Games opening in Beijing on Friday, training a spotlight on China’s rights record, that view obscures a more complex reality: Political change, however gradual and inconsistent, has made China a significantly more open place for ordinary people than it was a generation ago.

Read on from the IHT

Lecture on Totalitarianism

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008


Here is my Power Point, defining Totalitarianism.

My Lecture on the Mao Years

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Here is Mao’s China

Why Parties and Elections in Authoritarian Regimes?

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Although parties and elections are thought of as defining features of democracy, most authoritarian governments also rely on political parties and hold elections.Theories of democratic politics see elections as the means by which citizens hold politicians accountable for the quality of governance.Citizens may have insufficient information to monitor politicians closely and, in any event, must choose on infrequent occasions among packages of policy promises (parties) that may not reflect their own views or interests very well, but they can at a minimum oust incompetent, unsuccessful, or simply unpopular leaders in routine low-cost ways.Citizens in authoritarian regimes only rarely have this option.Authoritarian elections do not choose government leaders or the set of policies that the government will follow.Generally speaking, citizens cannot throw the bums out.Changes in leadership and policy choices are decided upon by elite actors such as military officers and high-level party officials, not citizens.Nevertheless, a substantial majority of authoritarian governments holds elections, devotes substantial resources to its support party, and spends heavily on pre-election political campaigns.

These observations raise several questions.If party formation is not motivated by the need to compete effectively in order to win elections, as standard democratic theories of parties claim, why are they created and maintainedIf elections do not choose leaders and, indirectly, policies, what function do they perform?

Read more

Since I cannot rightfully ask you to read all 30 pages of this analysis, your task is to read the first five pages, carefully skim the rest and analyze the tables at the end. Then you must type a one page essay, single-spaced essay which responds to Geddes’ research question (in bold above). Bring your essay to class.

Inverted Totalitarianism: A New Way of Understanding How the U.S. Is Controlled

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Wolin writes, “Our thesis is this: it is possible for a form of totalitarianism, different from the classical one, to evolve from a putatively ‘strong democracy’ instead of a ‘failed’ one.” His understanding of democracy is classical but also populist, anti-elitist and only slightly represented in the Constitution of the United States. “Democracy,” he writes, “is about the conditions that make it possible for ordinary people to better their lives by becoming political beings and by making power responsive to their hopes and needs.” It depends on the existence of a demos — “a politically engaged and empowered citizenry, one that voted, deliberated, and occupied all branches of public office.” Wolin argues that to the extent the United States on occasion came close to genuine democracy, it was because its citizens struggled against and momentarily defeated the elitism that was written into the Constitution.

Read on


Sunday, June 29th, 2008


Respond to these questions