POL 1000 - Intro to Politics & Government


“Politics is the art of the possible.”

Otto Von Bismarck (1815-98), remark, Aug 11, 1867


“Politicians are like diapers.  They both need changing regularly and for the same reason.”

Author Unknown.


“Man,” Aristotle informed us, “is by nature a political animal.”  Gender inequity aside, this is a very telling observation.  We are, after all, much like any other creature.  Humans adopt strategies of hierarchy and dominance, specialization and cooperation, just as do ants and elephants.  Indeed, tests of strength and power, hard-fought competition, and mutually-beneficial collaboration are hallmarks of both the human and natural worlds.  What makes humanity different, however, is the sheer complexity and scale of the mechanisms and methods adopted in pursuit of these efforts.  Moreover, the stakes are much higher, for humans excel at the procurement of material substance.  Thus not only do we create elaborate institutions, but so too do humans appear innately gifted in the matter of accumulating ‘stuff.’  Note how one of the chief characterizations of human communities is the relative abundance of goods in excess of a person’s immediate need.  Such concern with wealth is not a fluke, but rather the reflection of a decidedly unique trait.  And it is the one of the things that makes us so very interesting.


But what to do with this wealth?  Who gets what, when, and how?  Here now is the stuff of politics.  As Aristotle knew, within any political community the interaction of wealth and power will impact material outcomes greatly.  How they do provides the fundamental pillars of any political association.  Everything from institutions to ideology rest upon conclusions about how these matters can—and should—be resolved.  The foremost concern of Politics 1000 is therefore to impart a toolkit that can be used to explore these basic building blocks of any community.  How is surplus distributed, and to what degree are individuals free to pursue their own accumulation?  Who gets to decide, and how has this come to be?  We ask these questions because they expose the very roots of power, the sinews of which run through our societies still.



Course Documents


Memorial - Intro to Politics Syllabus - Fall 2011.doc


0. Course Introduction - Pol 1000.ppt


1. Intro to Poli Sci.ppt


2. Contending Approaches.ppt


3. Methodology.ppt


4. Liberalism & Conservatism.ppt


5. Socialism.ppt


6. Fascism.pptx


7. Feminism & Ecopolitics.pptx


8. The State.pptx


9. Branches of Government.pptx


10. Federalism & Federations.pptx


11. Political Parties & Electoral Systems.pptx


12. State-Society Relations.ppt


13. Democracy & Democratization.pptx


14. Globalization.ppt


15. Nations & Nationalism.ppt


16. Religion & Politics.ppt


17. Citizenship & Political Community.ppt


18. Assignments & Writing2.ppt