Political Science | Political Tyranny
Y396 | 20647 | Bielasiak
Time and time again, history has witnessed the rise of political
leaders who have turned into tyrants. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, by their
ideas and actions, have defined much of the 20th century. Less
renowned leaders, in all corners of the world, continue to preach
hate towards other people, and to define politics as the struggle
between good and evil. What enables these leaders to harness the
forces of hate and conflict? What is their power to mobilize entire
communities, even nations, to perpetrate mass murder and genocide?
To answers these and similar questions we examine the lives and the
deeds of the most important tyrants of the 20th century. We will
study not only Hitler and Stalin, but also some of their more recent
imitators, the little Hitlers and little Stalins of North Korea,
Iraq, Yugoslavia and other tyrannies. We will look at both the lives
of the leaders and the conditions that allowed them to attain
political power, and at the consequences of tyranny – the politics of
hate and conflict.
Seminar requirements include active participation in class
discussions and assignments, short papers on political conditions,
the public lives, and the political ideas of tyrannical leaders, and
a final exam. The required readings include Daniel Chirot, Modern
Tyrants: The Power and Prevalence of Evil in Our Age (Princeton UP,
1994), as well as some additional articles on reserve.