IGNOU ASSIGNMENT REFERENCE MATERIAL (2017-18) E.P.S.-11 POLITICAL IDEAS AND IDEOLOGIES
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IGNOU ASSIGNMENT REFERENCE MATERIAL (2017-18) E.P.S.-11 POLITICAL IDEAS AND IDEOLOGIES
Answer all questions. Try to answer in your own words.
A) DCQ: Answer the following in about 500 words each.
Q1. Compare the term political theory with other inter–related terms.
Ans. A distinction can be made between political theory and similar terms. Such as political science, political philosophy and political ideology, though many treat them interchangeably. The differentiation between political theory and political science arises because of the general shift in intellectual perceptions brought about by modern science. Political Science has tried to provide plausible generalisations and laws about politics and political behaviour. Political theory reflects upon political phenomenon, processes and institutions and on actual political behaviour by subjecting it to philosophical or ethical criterion. It considers the question of the best political order, which is a part of a larger and a more fundamental question; namely, the ideal form of life that a human being ought to lead within a larger community.
Specific political theories cannot be considered as the correct or final understanding of an event. The meaning of an event is always open to future interpretations from new viewpoints, each explaining and analysing from a particular standpoint or concern in political life. Furthermore, political theory is critical in its endeavour, for it gives an account of politics that rises above those of ordinary people. There is no tension between political theory and political science, for they differ in terms of their boundaries and jurisdiction, and not in their aim. Political theory supplies ideas, concepts and theories for the purpose of analysis, description, explanation and criticism, which in turn are incorporated in political science.
Write an essay on the revival of political theory.
Ans. In the 1930s, political theory began studying the history of ideas with the purpose of defending liberal democratic theory in opposition to the totalitarian tenets of communism, fascism and Nazism. Lasswell tried to establish a scientific political theory with the eventual purpose of controlling human behaviour, furthering the aims and direction given by Merriam. Unlike the classical tradition, scientific political theory describes rather than prescribes. Political theory in the traditional sense was alive in the works of Arendt, Theodore Adorno, Marcuse, and Leo Strauss. Their views diametrically differed from the broad ideas within American political science for they believed in liberal democracy, science and historical progress.
Strauss reaffirms the importance of classical political theory to remedy the crisis of the modern times. He does not agree with the proposition that all political theory is ideological in nature mirroring a given socio-economic interest, for most political thinkers are motivated by the possibility of discerning the principles of the right order in social existence. A political philosopher has to be primarily interested in truth. Past philosophies are studied with an eye on coherence and consistency. The authors of the classics in political theory are superior because they were geniuses and measured in their writings.
Q2. Discuss the philosophical approach to studying politics.
Ans. Philosophical approach is another traditional approach in Political Science. It was applied by Plato and Aristotle in the ancient times, by al- Farabi, Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushed in the middle Ages and by Kant, Hegel, Green, Bosanquet and Allama Iqbal in the modem dmes. Political Philosophers concentrate on the ideas, values and doctrines about politics and discuss the good life and the best or ideal State to achieve. As such, philosophical approach is a normative approach in Political Science.
The theories and doctrines of the great philosophers are of immense importance for all times. In present times, however, the philosophical or normative approach has been seriously questioned. It is considered to be insufficient by the political scientists of the behavioural and post-behavioural schools. For it makes Political Science unscientific and unsound.
Philosophical approach to studying political science is advanced by Leo Strauss.
What is the empirical conception of political theory? Elaborate.
Ans. Empirical political theory refuses to accord the status of knowledge to those theories which indulge in value judgements. Naturally, therefore, normative political theory is debunked as a mere statement of opinion and preferences.
The drive for value – free theory started in order to make the field of political theory scientific and objective and hence, a more reliable guide for action. This new orientation came to be known as positivism.
Under the spell of positivism, political theorists set out to attain scientific knowledge about political phenomena based on the principle which could be empirically verified and proved. Thus, they attempted to create a natural science of society and in this endeavor, philosophy was made a mere adjunct of science. Such an account of theory also portrayed the role of a theorist as of a disinterested observer, purged of all commitments and drained of all values.
- B) MCQ: Answer the following in about 250 words each.
Q3. Discuss the Gandhian theory of state.
Ans. It is generally agreed that one of the major consequences of colonial rule in India was the emergence and consolidation of an overdeveloped state and a relatively underdeveloped society. This distorted development has important implications for class formation and domination in the developing societies. As Richard L. Sklar points out in the context of Africa, “class relations, at bottom, are determined by relations of power, not production”. This negates the well known Marxist theory of class consolidation on the basis of economic categories. This also means that the classification employed by the Marxists in the advanced capitalistic countries has very little practical relevance in comprehending class based politics in post-colonial societies. The crucial role of the state in the developing world is reflected by the fact that the modern state is a leviathan in power, wealth and domination with regard to other societal formations, institutions and organizations.
The characteristic features of civil society.
Ans. Following Diamond, the features of civil society may be enumerated as follows:
First, civil society is the realm of organised social life that is open, voluntary, selfgenerating, at least partially self-supporting, autonomous from the state and bound by a legal order or set of shared rules. It is distinct from “society” in general in that it involves citizens acting collectively in a public sphere.
Second, civil society is concerned with public ends rather than private ends. It is an intermediary phenomenon standing between the private sphere and the state. Thus, it excludes parochial society: individual and family life and inwardlooking group activity; and it excludes economic society: the profit-making enterprise of individual business firms.
Q4. Distinguish between legal and political sovereignty.
Ans. Distinction is sometimes drawn between legal and political sovereignty. The sovereign is supposed to be absolute and omnipotent. It functions according to its own will. Law is simply the will of sovereign. There is none to question its validity. Legal sovereign grants rights to its citizens and there can be no rights against him. It means rights of citizens depend on the will of legal sovereign and any time he can take away.
It is political sovereignty. In practice absolute and unlimited authority of the legal sovereignty does not exist anywhere. Even a dictator cannot act independently and exclusively. The will of legal sovereignty is actually sharpened by many influences, which are unknown to law.
Examine the issue of location of sovereignty.
Ans. Sovereignty is the essence of the state, implies external and internal independence from other states and involves legal supremacy over persons, the question of its exact location still remains. To this, various solutions have been offered, which we would now be looking into.
Sovereignty of the People: This theory was also known as the theory of popular sovereignty, which meant that the people have the supreme power and they are the source of all powers.
Sovereignty as Constitution Making Power: After the theory of popular sovereignty had successfully accomplished its work of overthrowing royal sovereignty and establishing democratic governments, it was re-examined in an effort to find a more definite and legal location of sovereign power.
Q5. Distinguish between power and related terms.
Ans. The precise connotation of power became difficult, when the term became interchangeable with several related themes like control, influence, authority, force, domination, coercion and the like. Keeping this in mind, that it might create confusion for students of Political Science, it is necessary to highlight the important points of distinction between power and related themes.
Power as discussed earlier is the capacity to conquer, or one’s ability to control others. In doing so, power could be based on elements like fraud, tactics, manipulation, or even be derived from legal and constitutional procedures. International politics is nothing but a manifestation of power struggle.
Force, on the other hand, is different from power. It is the most brutal manifestation of power. The techniques involved in physical force are restraint, coercion, threat, intimidation, blackmail, terrorism and military domination. So power can be called latent force, while force is manifest power.
Discuss Jeurgen Habermas’ views on the legitimation crisis.
Ans. According to Habermas modern capitalist societies or liberal democracies do have a system of drawing out consent and support of the people. He, therefore, focused not merely on the inequalities, which prevailed in capitalist societies, but concentrated also on the machinery through which legitimacy was maintained viz., the democratic system, the party system, social and welfare reforms etc. At the same time, however, Habermas pointed out the difficulties of legitimation, which would invariably be faced in a political process that produced and sustained unequal class power.
Crisis Tendencies: Crisis tendencies emerged as a result of a fundamental contradiction between the logic of capitalist accumulation and popular pressures unleashed by democratic politics. Legitimating Crisis -1973; Capitalist societies, based on the pursuit of profit and producing class inequalities, have to sustain political stability by invoking a normal claim to rule. In such a system, legitimacy is secured by democratic processes, which lead to further demands for social welfare provisions, increased popular participation and social equality. This in turn puts pressures on the state to expand its social responsibilities, and raises demands for state intervention for removing inequalities, forcing it to increase expenditure on welfare measures.
Q6. Write a note on the Marxist critique of liberal citizenship
Ans. Marxist criticism of bourgeois citizenship has focussed on its failure to address itself to inequalities in modern capitalist societies. In an inherently unequal system, which thrives on producing and perpetuating class inequalities, rights can only be ‘superficial trappings’ of equality. Civil and political rights were products of bourgeois revolutions, and developed, alongside capitalism. While these rights alleviated some ill effects of capitalism, they did not intend to, and could not therefore, dismantle the structures of inequality which constitute capitalist societies. Attacks in recent decades by a strand of liberal opinion on social rights, citizenship rights catering to the claims of marginalised sections of the population to welfare benefits from the state, prompted some writers on the left to defend rights.
On the relationship between equality and liberty.
Ans. That liberty and equality are opposed to each other has been an important current of early liberalism. Classical liberalism gave so much importance to liberty that equality became a slave of it. It believed that liberty is natural and so is equality. So by nature liberty and equality are opposed to each other. Early liberal thinkers like Locke, Adam Smith, Bentham, James Mill, and Tocqueville felt that there should be minimum restrictions on the liberty of the individual. For example, Locke did not include equality in the list of three natural rights. Similarly, men like Lord Acton and Alexis de Tocqueville insisted that equality and liberty were antithetical. They argued that the desire for equality has destroyed the possibility of having liberty.
- C) SCQ: Write a note on the following in about 100 words each.
Q7. Direct Democracy
Ans. In a direct democracy, all citizens, without the intermediary of elected or appointed officials, can participate in making public decisions. Such a system is clearly only practical with relatively small numbers of people in a community organization to tribal council.
Different views on Representative Democracy
Ans. There are different views on representative democracy. The first implies that in representative democracy, political power is ultimately wielded by voters at election time. Thus, the virtue of representative democracy lies in its capacity of blind elite rule with a significant measure of political participation.
Ans. Communitarians are first and foremost concerned with community. Two or more people constitute a community when they share a common conception of good and see this good as partly constitutive of their identity or selves. Such a “constitutive community” may be a close friendship, family relationship, neighbourhood or even a comprehensive political community.
Ans. Some political thinker views fascism as the product of cultural and moral breakdown in the aftermath of brutality and savagery of World War I. According to Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation, World War I destroyed the foundations of 19th century Europe and unleashed a long period of crisis marked by war mobilisation, privation and dislocation.