POSC 124 Grossmont College America Authoritarian Ruler Argumentative Essay



POSC 124

Grossmont College


Question Description

Okay, for this week we were to begin our series on authoritarianism, dictatorships, and illiberal democracy.

I have uploaded the lecture slide for the introduction to authoritarian regimes and the readings. They are in the file section on the canvas website.

For homework, I want you to look at the lecture slides, and also read the Zakaria piece on illiberal democracy and an excerpt form How Democracies Die. Up until recently, one area of academic debate was if the United States was currently experiencing some form of authoritarianism, and if President Trump exhibited some aspects of authoritarian rule (this is a controversial discussion). So here, is what I want you to do. Read these pieces and looking at "How Democracies Die" write in a 2-3 double-space pages if you think we are currently living in a period of illiberal democracy and/or if President Trump does in fact have or is an authoritarian ruler. Remember I want to read your thoughts! Do you agree with the authors, yes, no, and why not!



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Authoritarian Regimes POSC 124 October 2, 2019 Source of Picture: Slate.com Learning Objectives Objectives: 1. Identify “Authoritarian Regimes” 2. How can authoritarian regime resemble a democracy 3. Why are authoritarian regimes on the rise? 4. Distinguish between authoritarian regimes, totalitarian regimes, and democracy Who is the least Free? What do these countries have in common? Beyond Democracy Are we experiencing a decline in democracy? If so, why? Democracy: “A political system in which political power is exercised either directly or indirectly by the people.” How do we rate Democracies? Ratings and Status Characteristics Political Rights: political rights questions are grouped into three subcategories: Electoral Process (3 questions) Political Pluralism and Participation (4) Functioning of Government (3). How to Measure Freedom? Civil Liberties: The civil liberties questions are grouped into four subcategories: Freedom of Expression and Belief (4 questions) Associational and Organizational Rights (3) Rule of Law (4) and Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights (4). Freedom House Non-Government Organizations like Freedom House Human Rights Watch Monitor the level of Freedom around the world *This is rather difficult Is Freedom on the Decline? Part of a Broader Discussion: 1. Future of liberalism 2. End of Liberal World Order 3. Rise of Great Power Authoritarian Regimes (or rather return to normalcy in world affairs) 4. Disillusioned with ‘liberalism’ and the west? 5. Isolationism from US and UK? Non-Democratic Regimes and Power Nondemocratic regimes: Usually understood in term of what they deny their citizens, specifically participation, competition, and liberty.” What is a Non-Democratic Regime (5 Parts): 1. Small group of individuals exercise power over a state 2. Lack of constitutional responsibility to the public from the Government 3. Public plays little role in selecting leaders 4. Individual freedoms are restricted 5. Nondemocratic regimes may be institutionalized and legitimate Typology of Non-Democratic Regimes Often the following terms are used interchangeably but they actually mean different things! Totalitarianism: “A nondemocratic regime that is highly centralized, possessing some form of strong ideology that seeks to transform and absorb fundamental aspects of a state, society, and the economy, using a wide array of institutions.” Totalitarian Regimes Continued Some Examples: Stalinist Russia Or Mao’s China (Current China?) Totalitarian Regimes: 1. Seek to control and transform all aspects of the state, society, and economy. 2. Use violence as a tool for remaking institutions 3. Have a strong ideological goal 4. Have arisen relatively rarely Totalitarian Regimes Think of Mao and the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution Goal: 1. Move from agricultural economy to industrialization 2. From privatization to collectivization 3. Transform China into a Communist State and Centralize Power around Mao *See BBC Documentary Why do Non-Democracies form? The saying goes… “No middle class, no democracy” But… Modernization can be disruptive (think of moving from agricultural economy to an industrial economy?) Some Explanations for Nondemocratic Rule: 1. Elites do not want to share power or resources 2. Elites want to enrich themselves (Remember Robert Mugabe and the Lottery) 3. It can be deadly to lose power Why are Resource Rich Countries Nondemocratic Resource Trap: Theory of Development in which the existence of natural resources in a given state is a barrier to modernization and democracy. But WHY?: The existence of natural resources is a barrier to modernization and democracy because (1) provides wealth with no taxation, (2) No taxation no representation or need to listen to people and (3) natural resources cannot simply be moved (to lose power is to lose access to those resources) Is it Really about Oil? What do you think? https://www.theglobaleconomy.com/rankings/Oil_revenue/ Look at Oil and GDP What do these countries have in common? Is it really about oil?
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Explanation & Answer


America’s Authoritarian Ruler
Although the United States was founded on principles of independence and
freedom, its government has failed to remain true to those intentions as time progressed.
Throughout the centuries, the American government acquired more and more power,
particularly when the country was in crisis. From the New Deal to the Patriot Act, the
government slowly shifted something more authoritarian. Present Donald Trump is the
result of the accumulation of governmental control over its citizens, really showcasing
the United States’ illiberal democracy and the authoritarian ruler who now governs it.
Although President Trump ran on the slogan, “Make America Great Again,” his
presidency has proven that his intent was never to revert the country to its original way
of life, but to take advantage of the high degree of power that the government has and
exercise it. This is the definition of an authoritarian ruler. An authoritarian regime is a
government that controls most aspects of the public’s l...

rzezrre2020 (1810)

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