POLI SCI 3083 Santa Monica College Political Science Theories Questions


Santa Monica College


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Can you help me understand this Political Science question?

1. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of elite theory. In your essay be sure to discuss the work of Mosca and Michels. You should also include any relevant material discussed in class. Feel free to supplement your discussion with your own observations of politics and society.(however, be sure to demonstrate your knowledge of the material we studied)

2. Compare and contrast how Lenin and Bernstein would respond to the following question: How is socialism to be achieved?

3. Describe and evaluate the approaches of Weber and Strauss to the study of politics.

Pick two of the three questions to be responded to. You must stay on topic, and use citations correctly. Use both of the provided files to base what you want to write off of! Please remember to STAY ON TOPIC. This is extremely important, and I cannot stress this enough.

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this Mar Lenin Transition from Marx to Lenin The Dictatorship of the Proletariat Remember that for Marx and Engels all govts are dictatorships. A means by which one class consolidates its power over another Quoting from the Communist Manifesto ...Political power is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another If the proletariat during the contest with the bourgeoisie os compelled by the force of circumstances to organize itself as a class, if by means of revolution, it make itself a ruling class, and as such sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will along with thee conditions have swept away the existence of class antagonisms, and of classes generally and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy (Marx and Engels 1848) Thus for Marx revolutionary politics constitutes a transition to a post political classless society Lenin is to Marx as Thomas Jefferson is to John Locke * That is he took the work of a major philosopher, made adaptations applied the theory to a particular historical situation. There is another way that Lenin is similar to Jefferson. Both were political activists as well as political theorists. Lenin was the leader of the Bolshevik revolution and the first leader of the Soviet Union. In Marxism there is a concept called “praxis” which refers to the dialectical unity of theory and practice. *John Locke was a major British philosopher of the Seventeenth Century and is considered the founder of classic liberalism. Lockeʼs ideas form the basis for our Declaration of Independence. Leninʼs major works are Revolution 1917 What Is To Be Done? 1905 and State and this Mar Leninʼs Three Major Adaptations of Marx 1. The Party, 2 .The Dictatorship of the proletariat 3. imperialism & the Weakest Link The Party For Marx the Communist Party was a broad based democratic organization As the working class became conscious of its alienation and oppression it would organize itself as a revolutionary party When the material conditions were present, and class consciousness was developed they would make the revolution Through force* the workers led by the party would overthrow the capitalists and install the transitional dictatorship of the proletariat. Bernstein and the revisionists would have a different view of the party They would argue that in some capitalist societies, the working class could work through the system, speak to the issues and fight for reforms that would lead to democratic socialism. Lenin would hear none of this, but his view of the party would differ from Marx as well The key issue was class consciousness Lenin would argue that left to their own devices, the workers would never develop genuine class consciousness. To put it in contemporary terms they would never be “woke” The best they could do was trade union consciousness. They would understand the need to form unions and fight for higher wages, but would never understand that revolution was necessary Key quotes from What Is To Be done All worship of the spontaneity of the working class movement only strengthens bourgeoisie ideology . What Lenin means is that unorganized this Mar “spontaneous” actions could be counterproductive and actually harm the revolutionary cause. Can you think of examples? But the workers were not, and could not be, conscious of the irreconcilable antagonism of their interest to the whole of the modern political and social system We have said that there could not have been social democratic consciousness among the workers. It would have to be brought to them from without The history of all countries shows that the working class exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness the conviction that it is necessary to combine in unions, fight the employers and strive to compel the government to pass necessary labor legislation Why? Because as a result of false consciousness they would never develop an understanding of theory quote 6 Well who does then? Revolutionary intellectuals like Marx, Engels and Lenin. The theories of socialism, however, grew out of the philosophic, historical and economic studies of the educated representatives of the propertied class, by intellectuals...Marx and Engels and in Russia... it arose s a natural and inevitable outcome of the development of the socialist intelligentsia Therefore a vanguard party was necessary a highly disciplined party Those who had correct consciousness Those who understood the material conditions of existence Who understood the theory of historical materialism Those who know what was to be done They, the vanguard would lead the masses to revolutionary victory this Mar A party of professional revolutionaries Narrowly based rather than broadly based Highly centralized, secret and conspiratorial ..the organization of the revolutionaries must consist of those who make revolutionary activity their profession The moral to be drawn is simple. If we begin with a solid foundation of a strong organization of revolutionaries, we can ensure the stability of the movement as a whole and carry out the aims of both social democracy and the trade unions(by social democracy he means the revolution) These revisions had significant ramifications for the course that the revolution would actually take, particularly in Russia Note: Some defenders of Lenin would argue that the vanguard is not as elitist as I am making it out to be. Many years ago, a friend said the vanguard was in touch with the masses but simply a step ahead of them. Thatʼs what vanguard does, it leads. Hmm, is Lenin merely reasserting Michelsʼ “Iron Law of Oligarchy” Dictatorship of the proletariat Now for Marx the dictatorship of the proletariat was like his concept of the party relatively democratic and very broad based Government by the working class, the vast majority of the people Only dictatorial in the sense that all states are dictatorships. Remember, Marx believed that the state was simply a means by which the ruling economic class protects is material interest and subordinates the rest of society. As Engels put it “the state is the executive committee of the bourgeoise” this Mar For Marx, the revolution would replace the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie over the proletariat, with the dictatorship of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie. And of course, this would be a transitional state necessary to create the conditions for a future classless society, where the state has “withered away” Some of what Lenin says indicates that this is what he intends A transition from bourgeoise to proletarian democracy Replace the smashed state machine with fuller democracy: abolition of the standing army. All officials to be elected and subject to recall. It is still necessary to suppress the bourgeoisie and crush their resistance The organ of suppression is here the majority of the population and not the minority. Once we have overthrown the capitalists, crushed the resistance with the armed hand of the armed workers, and smashed the bureaucratic machine.. The subordination however must be to armed vanguard of all the exploited working people people i.e. the proletariat This is a key quote. By “vanguard” does Lenin mean the proletariat(working class) or the party?) But in practice and to a certain extent in theory(see the above quote) the dictatorship of the proletariat becomes the dictatorship of the party acting for the proletariat. This is clearly what happened in practice. The political reality of communist states is that political power is held by the Communist Party. Obviously a more authoritarian model than Marx had presented quote. Some would argue that this came later with Stalin. It was Stalin who moved the Soviet Union in an authoritarian and ultimately totalitarian direction. Others argue that it was Lenin who turned the corner in this more authoritarian direction Others argue that this authoritarian turn was necessitated by outside capitalist forces that attempted to crush the Revolution. Britain and the United States both intervened against the Communists in the Russian Civil War. this Mar This lead right to Leninʼs third major contribution Imperialism and the Weakest Link Marx had predicted, wrongly of course, that the revolution would occur in the most advanced, industrialized capitalist countries, Britain, France, Germany etc Certainly not in places like Russia, China and Cuba Why not? Because Marx argued that the communist revolution could not occur until the material conditions for revolution were present. This could only occur in a fully developed capitalist system. Thus there was a theoretical need to explain why the revolution occurred in these “less developed” countries. By the standards of classic Marxism Russia in 1917 was “backward” It was still in the very early stages of capitalism, industrialism was just beginning, the bourgeoisie was not the ruling class. But the revolution did happen and needed an explanation Lenin did not invent the theory of imperialism but he adapts it to Marxism and uses it to explain why the revolution occurred in Russia in 1917 Now as you might guess the Marxist- Leninist analysis of imperialism and colonialism is essentially economic The advanced capitalist societies must colonize(directly or indirectly) the 3rd world in order to exploit natural resources exploit cheap labor expand their own markets ease the burden on their own working class, Thereby making them less radical Obviously this opens up all sorts of interesting discussion. Contemporary critics of American Imperialism will argue that while the U. S. doe not have colonies in the traditional sense of the term, we along with other wealthy nations, exercise an economic domination of the Third World. I the imperialists this Mar control global capital and that gives them the means to control the global economy. U.S. intervention if various parts of the world is a means of protecting these economic interests. But for Lenin the key point is that capitalism is now an international system and that the revolution can occur at its weakest link, Russia It is no longer sufficient to apply historical materialism to individual societies. The international capitalist system and its contradictions must be analyzed if the objective conditions for revolution are not present in a particular countries that is not a problem If the international system is ready for revolution then the chain of capital can be broken at its weakest link and in 1917 Russia was the weakest link Tyranny of the Czar Suffering of the peasants Russiaʼs disastrous involvement in WWI It was in the context of these revolutionary circumstances that Lenin” s vanguard party did what “had to be done” Reflections The trajectory of socialism looks like this: Utopian Socialists(Owen, Fourier, St. Simon) Marx and Engels Lenin v Bernstein Gramsci Stalin v Trotsky Western Social Democracy Mao, Castro Personal Reflections Although Marx is one of my major influences, I have never been a fan of Lenin. In my opinion, he did take Marxist theory and practice in a more elitist this Mar and potentially authoritarian direction. On the other hand, I would never equate him with the evils of Stalinism. Lenin died in 1923 and he had warned others about Stalin. Defenders of Lenin would say that if he had not taken the direction that he did, there would have been no revolution, it would have failed. Others argue that Lenin and the Bolsheviks essentially hijacked the revolution and took it in the wrong direction. This is an issue for historians. Of course one need not be a Marxist-Leninist to appreciate his emphasis on organization. There is considerable evidence that social movements do not succeed without disciplined organizations. Thing donʼt just happen, people organize and make them happen. That is why organizers are often called communists. Summary Outline Leninʼs Three Major Adaptations of Marx The Party The Dictatorship of the Proletariat Imperialism and the Weakest Link Bernstein and Democratic Socialism Democratic Socialism democratic state +socialist economy More precisely Public ownership and control of the economy combined with a democratic government Relationship between democracy, socialism and capitalism various combinations capitalist economy +democratic state capitalist economy+authoritarian state socialist economy+democratic state socialist economy+authoritarian sate Democratic socialists usually argue that democracy and socialism are inseparable Their logic goes something like this. If the people are going to own and control the means of production they will inevitably do so through a government. Therefore the government must be democratic. How else could the people control the economy? Authoritarian socialism is not true socialism Democratic socialists usually argue that capitalism is incompatible with democracy. The economic inequality that is essential to capitalism undermines the political equality that is essential to democracy. So they are saying that you cannot have socialism without democracy and You cannot have democracy without socialism. Most conservatives and libertarians argue that capitalism, with its emphasis on individualism, economic liberty, private property and the free market, is the only economic system compatible with democracy. From their perspective socialism expands government and threatens liberty. Many liberals would say that it just depends. There are authoritarian socialist states and democratic socialist states. The are authoritarian capitalist states and democratic capitalist states. Can you think of examples of these combinations? Democratic socialists are often Marxists but usually not Leninists. Of course, the Leninists accuse them of “revisionism”. Also there are many democratic socialists who do not identify as Marxists. How does democratic socialism differ from Marxism/Leninism ? 1. Evolution rather than revolution. Socialism can be achieved peacefully through gradual reform. In those capitalist societies with democratic institutions(parties, elections, parliaments) socialists should work within that system. Workers should form their own political party to compete with the capitalist parties Use civil liberties like freedom of speech, press and assembly. Speak out on issues, offer alternatives, propose reforms Run candidates for office, get elected and govern 2. There will probably never be a pure (classless)communist society The state will not wither away, but that is fine, provided that the socialist state is a democratic state Indeed socialists may lose elections and some-but not all-of their reforms will be undone. However, they will continue as the peaceful opposition, criticize the government, offer alternatives, win the next election, govern the country and move it closer to the ideals of socialism. As you may noted in your reading, Lenin thinks that this evolutionary approach will never succeed. Revolution is necessary. Eduard Bernstein is a major figure in history of democratic socialism He was the leader of the German Social Democratic Party(SPD) He wrote Evolutionary Socialism, published in 1899 He was an arch rival of Lenin who calls him a revisionist. In Marxist jargon, revisionist is usually a pejorative term. For some Marxists, revisionists are heretics. Is Bernstein a Marxist? Yes, he is a follower of Marx and Engels but argues that revisions of their theory and practice are necessary in light of historical changes The overall theory of historical materialism is sound but it must be revised and adapted to to take into account significant changes that Marx and Engels could not have anticipated in 1848 Some of Marxʼs prediction had simply not come true Capitalism was not on the verge of collapse Class warfare is not escalating at a rapid pace There is a growing middle class between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Perhaps the middle class and the proletariat can be allies on some issues Reforms are taking place extension of the suffrage(right to vote) growth of unions some laws regarding child labor Some capitalist privileges are being slowly eroded as workers gain power Thus in this period the emphasis should be on the political struggle between the classes and the extension of democracy Quoting Engels who was Marxʼs co-author and closest collaborator The task of social democracy is to Organize the working class politically Fight fight for all reforms which raise the working class politically and transform the state in the direction of democracy So the struggle for socialism has two fronts The fight for the working working class, Fight for reforms that benefit workers higher wages, worker safety, etc The fight for democracy, For reforms that protect and extend democracy Hm, this sounds a lot like liberal democracy. People cannot govern themselves if they do not have the rights to do so What is the relationship between socialism and liberalism? From the perspective of orthodox Marxism liberals are enemies. Why ? How would this be even more true for Lenin? Bernstein agrees that liberals are enemies when they support capitalist interests but they are allies when the support the workers Putting this into contemporary context, a democratic socialist would argue that liberals are allies when they support universal health care, but they are enemies when they support the insurance or the pharmaceutical interests. Bernstein does believe that classic liberalism developed as a capitalist ideology. That its historic task was to create the political conditions for capitalism . Nevertheless, and this is crucial, even while liberalism was a bourgeoise ideology it still advocated progressives values such as freedom and equality. Indeed for Bernstein, democratic socialism is the fulfillment of liberalism What would Lenin say about that? Bernstein Rejects the Dictatorship of the Proletariat This is a major break from both Lenin and Marx For Bernstein the transitional state must be democratic for everyone Members of the bourgeoisie will lose much of the power and privilege that they held under capitalism, but they will not lose their political rights. Indeed, they might use those rights to win the next election, but hey, thatʼs democracy. For Lenin, and probably for Marx, this is a grave error. The proletariat must use its power to crush the last remnants of the bourgeoisie. Brief interlude from “recent” history In the early 1970ʻs the people of Chile elected a socialist government led by Salvador Allende. Reforms were instituted. However, in a military coup, backed by the economic elites and the CIA, the democratic government was overthrown. For a number of years after that Chile was a dictatorship. No doubt Lenin or Castro would have said, “that is what happens when you let your enemies stick around” But for Bernstein democratic socialism requires democracy Universal suffrage is crucial It can be a tool for the workers, it enables them to form a party, run candidates, win elections, pass reforms, achieve the goals of socialism Nationalism Here is another break from orthodox Marxism. Marx had stressed that socialism was an international movement “Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains” For example, why should German workers fight French workers in a war that makes the capitalists rich? Capitalists put their class interests above the nation, workers should do the same. The worker has no country Bernstein argues that while this might have been true in the 1840ʼs, it no longer applies. Now that workers are citizens, with rights, they do have a stake in their country Of course socialists should oppose unjust wars. But if the war is just it should be supported. Thus, in World War I, German socialists did support their countryʼs war effort. Some saw this as the death knell of international socialism As you might guess L ...
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Final Answer



Political Science Theories
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Question 1.
Relationships and social structures in society have been studied by a wide array of
scholars since for many ages. The elite theory is one of the countless theories that explain and
describe different aspects of the distribution of power within the contemporary society. The
theory states that in any given society, a small group consisting of economic elites and other
influential people hold almost all the power that there is and leave the rest of the population with
no say, even in issues that directly affect them. This small minority holds significant power
through different avenues. Most of them hold positions in corporate boards and corporations, and
they have control over different networks related to policy planning. They also have access to
massive sources of financial support, and this is one reason why they seem to have significant
power over government and corporate decisions—a typical exemplification of “money talks.”
One of the strengths of this theory is that it extensively explains how power is concentrated
among a small number of people in society, and goes on to explain how this concentration
manifests itself in almost every realm of life. The majority, also known as counter-elites, in most
cases, are powerless, and all their interests are unified—they are treated as one group that is
incapable of making any tangible decision in society. The oth...

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