Archive for October, 2011

Overview on Weber

October 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Weber is the second big name in the sociological traditions. He was a racist against the chinese especially. Wants to create an encyclopedia of perfectable concepts to be applied to any social situation.

Weber is pronounced Vaybir

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Intro to IR Classical and neo Liberalism notes

October 25, 2011 Leave a comment

When Hobbes in part2 chapter 17 he mentions that the sovereign has a duty or natural benefit of creating internal peace and protection against enemies abroad. The implication is that abroad and enemies are something predefined for some political unit. In his case it is perhaps non-Britain or Muslims, not clear. But assumption that here may be organic communities before there is a leviathan. So in this case this also challenges the all men equal in a state of nature thing.

So in class we counted Smith and Kant and Hobbes in the same tradition. Prof argues that economic and political liberalism have the same roots. They hold in common an understanding of the sovereignty of the individual and an emphasis n the individual as the unit of politics.All idealists and liberals believe that humans are good but flawed so all of them place controls to highlight the inherent good and mitigate the flaws.=

Pre-sovereign state assumed to be natural, but what forges communities in politics. Is it geography? Why does the sovereign have to stop at any borders, if all men were equal there would be one global sovereign.

For Hobbes the equality is that anybody can kill anybody else.

There is tension in Adam Smith’s opinion on institutions. Are they intrinsically bad all the time?  He shows that primogeniture brought forth the wealth of towns and in this sense that institution was good. Some state intervention is good, like building infrastructure.

Wealth of town is a small city, not wealth of the state. For Smith there is no inter-state trade but trade between isolated towns. Small politically delineated classes.

All these accounts have the role of the autonomous individual as ultimately important. They maximize utility to create a good outcome.

Note: Why did the tradition of anthropology drop out in political science? If at least to debate the limits of the possible. Trend in 1500-1800 to focus on human nature. No one seems to focus on it after that period. Nazi influence? Feminist theorists perhaops are the most anthropologically aware in the field..

Note: Hospitality in Kant requires everyone to have their place. Having a place from which to provide hospitality must be crucial for admittance. So in 1882 some zionists argued that jews would always be persecuted until they had a place from which they could provide hospitality. Even for the international jews not living there.


Keohane starts with the assumption that cooperation is a puzzle. If it isn’t puzzling or unnatural it can’t be researched. So already operating within Realist framework. He gives up the individualism of classic liberalim focuses on states within anarchy, and how institutions can help ease information flows and improve outcomes and provide some stability in relations. Also gives up the cosmopolitan ideal of Kant and the possibility of moving beyond the state and bringing out the good in man.

Delinks economic from military power. Regimes influence the context in which states and actors work and therefore influences their behaviour by allowing cooperation.

All scholarship has naturalized claims. In neoliberalism  these claims are anarchy self interest, self regarding. Lack of violence is good, or is equal to peace. Institutions and regimes definitely help promote periods without violence.

The ideal realist position would claim that inst. dont’ matter since it is all about states and their power. (I don’t really agree with that)

but lib inst argue that once an inst is set up it limits the possibility of future action. Even on the powerful actor that instituted it. Inst are bureaucracies so they also grow and develop interests of their own.

Prof gives example of GATT that when US had supremacy it changed the rules to suit it.

Point: So are institutions just an inertia of the power balance in which they emerged and were founded? If so how can the US change institutions gradually to benefit its own interest? Then any radical change of institutional direction requires a disruption of balance of power. But US doesnt want disruption it wants change within the existing institutions so it takes its shots whenever it can and pushes constantly in the direction of its interests. Gradual change can be seen in change of bretton woods system (see authoritarianism reading)

(international institutions existed before european hegemony but Europeans destroyed them. They were transferred from chinese to arabs to persian relatively stable in terms of economic trade i guess or strait of malaca, so it’s not really new but a return to normalcy)

Cooperation and mutual adjustment comes to benefit the powerful party constantly. cooperation here means unfair compromise, where the weaker party gives up more. (if for you it is an inconvenience but for me it is death it is not cooperation or bargaining)

Not that all cooperation is reflection of power, but yes most of it.

Often the weaker party cannot maintain the status quo even. Either you join WTO or you don’t get loans, and are closed of the economy. So impossible to stay in prior state, that is cooperation here, it sucks.

Institutions can work well in favour of the weak however, and they can not just reflect power dynamics. EU standards first put up to be impossible for countries to join in from communist economies. But with time they saw the rules and worked towards them and now many of them are accepted and even Turkey wants to get in. So standards also create defined goals and opportunity.

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Notes from Republicanism on Montesquieu

October 25, 2011 Leave a comment

On Montesquieu:

The data that Montesquieu is using is not reliable, besides he is a racist against Chinese. What is interesting is his discussion of geopolitics and states.

So for Mont, the larger the size of the state the less likely it is to be a republic.

Large Despotism
Medium Monarchy (aristocratic almost)
Small Republic

The explanation for why this is so has to do with interior balancing (as complement to external and internal balancing in international realm) and the dynamics of rebellion and revolution.

The question has to do with how many are needed to overthrow the elites. In small polities let us say the elites are a hundred and the masses are a thousand. In this situation it is not difficult because collective action is easier to organize. If you need a ration of one to two to overthrow elites in this case you only need to organize two hundred individuals. Additionally proximity to tyrant makes him an easy target and makes tyranny felt strongly among the population.

If we have an elite of 10 million on a 100 million mass population , the coalition of citizens needed to topple tyrants via collective action is much more difficult, nearly impossible. Although things such as increase in communication and transportation technology improve the capability of communication, it also improves the capability of repression as well.

Montesqieu has a typology of regimes with having different Species/natures and different principle/spirit (civic personality, dominant norms, common mentality)

There are 3 type of regimes republic monarchy and despot. Republics is the combination of many and few in which neither rule. Monarchy which is few combined to one, and despotism in which there is noi check whatsoever on one. So Montesqieu was in favor of aristocrats because they checked the king though later this owuld be seen as reactionary on his behalf.

Structure Principle/Ethos 
Popular state Virtue
Aristocracy Moderation
Monarchy Honor (which leads to war)
Despotism Fear

To deal with the problems of scale in statehood and loss of freedom, Montesqieu proposes four recommendations that will overcome this problem.

  1. Security Liberalism: A person is not free until they are free from the fear of the state. No arbitrary powers.
  2. Separation of powers: Separation of powers ensures that despotism will not arise. Three different powers judicial, legislative, and executive. (the point here as prof Deudeny understands it is tat the powers are shared by the different bodies. So judiciary body, executive body, and legislative body all share in the three powers creating checks and balances.
  3. Confederate republic: Point 2 and 3 are the key innovations that enable republics to break the size barrier. large size is desirable in international realm because it prevents other powers from beating you up., But you do not want to slip into tyranny. It had been a rule that one had to choose one or the other international strength or internal liberty. Montesquieu provides a way out of this.
  4. Commerce.  Another synthesis of already existing ideas. Once commerce reaches a critical mass and is anchored in a strong state, it will promote a phase shift in  the entire system with regard to despotic power. Capacity of despot to act arbitrarily and appropriate territory or money is limited because wealth will leave the country.

Note: What is the size of the ideal polity. I think Jefferson argued that it had to boiled down to what he called “wards” which consisted of hundreds of people not even thousand as the basic unit of political representation.

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Foreign opinions influence American liberals and independents

October 12, 2011 Leave a comment


Article shows that american domestic political positions of liberal and independent yet politically aware demographics are influenced by the attitudes of foreign political figures and opinion. Though what is “foreign” here I assume is the UK and france and germany so not much hope for Iran for example. But good to know that someone inside america is listening to the world.

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Adam Smith Wealth of Nations, Book 3

October 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Book 3:

Chapter 1:

Source of wealth is exchange between town and country where country provides raw material and town develops that material and returns some of it to the country-side. It is a mutually beneficial relation. The more the two are close to each other the better. Note how countryside close to towns are much better off than those farther off. Division of labnour is necessary and natural order of things.

Subsistence is prior to luxury, so in the chain of things the making of raw and basic material comes before the more advanced. The country must be improved before the town or for the town to be improved. Towns can only survive on  surplus labour of the country.

Those who gain surplus prefer to invest it back into Land because it is safer, more stable, and under their eyes, whereas trade is dangerous and risky. But farmers need assistance from blacksmiths, tanners, etc.. and that class of people needs assistance to procure material and from each other, so they live together and are joined by butcher baker to create a town. These people are entirely dependent on the country surplus and if human institutions had not disrupted this it would have continued like so for a long time.

Artisan is servant to land owner, and he is only master of himself who is master of his farming land, when there is available farmland all surplus is invested in land. When there is unavailable land, artisans aim to export their products to gain money and they better their methods and techniques. The capital of the merchant is preferred to be exported domestically for it is more secure than foreign trader;s capital. The natural order in any nation then is any capital is invested ifrst in land then manufactury then foreign trade.

In Europe we find this natural order of things inverted. Foreign trade accounts for much of local income and capital investment. This is because by the actions of their government.

Chapter 2:

Roman empire was destroyed by Barbarians, link between country and town was disrupted. Towns were abandoned and country uncultivated. The land fell into the hands of a few who kept them by law of primogeniture. This prevented land from being parceled out between children. Great tracts of land were therefore left uncultivated and in the hands of one man. Owners of the land were born into wealth and didn’t know how to cultivate the land profitably. They would rather invest money into more land than improve the old. they work slaves (kind slaves) to work the land, they are owned by the land. They too cannot be expected to improve the land mcuh for they have no right to private ownership.

Because a freeman worlks the land better and because his work material have to be purchased and not provided, there came a movement of economic motivation in freeing the slaved serfs to more productively work the land. Laws in UK protected the farmer from ejection by land owner. Smith goes on on how great Britain is and how it was the only country in the 14th century to institute laws protecting property and profits of land worker vis a vis land owner. This political arrangement helps the peasant to respect the land owner. More on how UK doesnt force peasant to do extra work, house the army …Policies of Europe were unfavourable for the production of wealth.

Chapter 3:

Change in social order from Roman empire where merchants and workers coexisted to feudal where lord lived in tower separated from productive classes. In time king granted tax exemptions and arrangements of a single yearly tax to some traders, they became called free-traders. In time this group grew from personal with king to institutionalization of tax payments to king directly while they had liberty with land and produce as much as they wished. This group became free from Kings’ officers. These free traders formed communes and towns and they dealt with their own affairs so that in a short time they erected republics in the hearts of monarchies. Town voting, town self sufficiency, and town paid taxes to king. They were more productive because they were free. Sovereign lords and people all existed, and it seemd free traders got most freedom first.

Lords hated the freed Burghers, they attacked them at every chance, Burghers hated the lords. The King hated the lords so he allied with the Burghers. He gave them their own farms as payment for their defense against lords. Some of these cities in Italy grew so great as to become autonomous. This is the origin of the Burgher class in Europe.

Some cities could also isolate from the country. Those cities by the sea could by foreign trade prosper while their countrysides would languish. They used the lords and monarchs to trade for raw resources for their processed products and they therefore became opulent. Taste for luxuries spreead and merhcants found in cheaper to produce luxuries domestically. Local manufacturing can emerge as enforced directly planted or naturally to meet local demand out of agricultural farmers who expand into new areas of manufacture.

Chapter 4:

Towns then contributed to countries again after domestic manufacturing in three ways. Towns now were markets for country produce. Merchants bought land in the country which with their risk taking attitude they cultivated to produce much better output. Finally commerce introduced order and good government and the free life that came with them.

Barons grew out when the countryside depended on them for their subsistence because of their success as proprietors. They came to provide with their surplus for the survival and opulence of those who lived around them. This was before feudal law which was intended to limit the powers of the barons. This was solved better by foreign trade. The proprietors spent their surplus abroad and did not make thei subjects dependent and this liberated the subjects and fed the proprietors. Proprietor indirectly transfers support from local family to obey him, to merchants and artisans in purchasing their produce, Though he alone cannot guarantee their survival they sell to more than one that is how the economy is sustained. As he did so he fired more and more of his tenant or slaves until he needed some to keep surpus going to which the slaces agreed if they had guarantees and were given property. They become independant and resistant to proprietor.

A social revolution was undertaken by merchants and artisans with their new independence. The revolution is through their work Europe improved in economy status and value.

The capital which a country obtains by foreign trade is easily lost until some of it has been invested in the land. Therefore wealth ought to be invested in the land as much as possible.

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Book Summary, Manu Goswami, Producing India from Colonial Economy to National Space

October 7, 2011 1 comment

As the title indicates Manu Goswami traces the production of India. The term production is well fit here especially since the author focuses on the dynamics between colonial policy, their consumption by locals and the emergence of a reaction to colonial policies. This is a really nice book, well written and covers the time period in an easily readable and thorough manner. It attempts to specifically mix the global trends of the times with local conditions and is critical of the post-colonial nationalism that emerged out of colonialism in a way which does not undermine their achievements. His methodology is especially oriented against the trend of national methodologies where the borders of the study stop at national boundaries, instead Goswami traces global threads and trends into local and regional events and shows how they came together to produce India by 1950.

In several fields, pedagogy, transport, economics, knowledge, production, ideology, the British implemented policies, they had a locval effect, people reacted in their new epistemologies and these were directed against british all under changing global trends on economic nationalism, and capitalism. Ultimatley resulted in protests and convergance of local theology of hinduism foundaional myths and liberal economics and modern ideas of progress fusing into anti-colonial movement. Muslim had different experiene of founding  India.

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