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The Political Values of Political Actors Intro to Politics and Political Analysis POSC 120 Braunwarth
Key Questions: • Political Values: important beliefs about what goals, principles, and policies are worthwhile in public affairs • How do the actual political values of political actors compare with civilized values such as peace, liberty, justice, and welfare? (we’ll look at these in turn) • Can political actors harmonize different, sometimes competing, values? • How do the values of political leaders differ from those held by common citizens (and why should they differ in a democracy)?
Values of Nations: Security and Peace • Most nations say they believe in security in peace • Yet 30-40 wars at any one time • 87.5 million killed in 20th c. • Are all wars fought in self-defense? • Huntington focuses on the different values of different civilizations leading to a “clash of civilizations”
Values of Nations: Liberty, Human Rights, and Democracy • Fundamental tradeoff between demands for safety and belief in basic individual rights and freedoms • Huntington predicted the development of democracies would ebb and flow with an overall increase • Democratization Impediments? • Culture • Poverty • Kleptocracy - no democratic institutions “frail democracies”
Values of Nations: Justice, Equality, and Liberty • It’s the same tradeoff between order and freedom • Developed countries understand justice in terms of liberty • Developing countries understand justice in terms of equality • Some look at justice in terms of income distribution • U.S. is more skewed than other democracies • But is more skewed in the developing world, often as a result of consciously designed policies
Values of Nations: Welfare and Economic Well-Being • Maslow notes that the values of people who make up political communities are rooted in, and correlate with, a hierarchy of human needs: • What do we need to satisfy before higher-order goals like love and freedom? • What do you give away for safety and security • What if you really are safe but you don’t feel safe? • How is this relevant to the situation in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?
Basic Values • Among citizens of a given society, is there broad consensus or significant disagreement about certain basic values? • Is there consensus or disagreement in Iraq? • How about the U.S.?
Culture Wars • In the United States there has been widespread agreement among Republicans and Democrats on some basic issues but a clear difference on government spending for services. • However, in recent years, it would appear that culture wars have become more evident in recent years. Issues of dispute include: Abortion Gay marriage Prayer in public schools Euthanasia Genetic research Sex education in the schools
Interest Groups • Many political scientists are skeptical about national and popular values. For them, politics is a tug-of-war among competing interest groups. • There are various types of Interest Groups: Religious Ethnic and racial Professional associations Special interest and reform
Class Some political scientists--those influenced by the egalitarian ideas of Marxism or socialism--call special attention to the interests held by each of the various classes, especially workers and capitalists. Class values are critical to understanding the political process.