Political Science | Political Tyrants
Y396 | 3572 | 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 this 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 communiti8es, even nations, to perpetrate mass
murder and genocide?
To answer 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, Uganda, Iraq 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, a brief biographical report on one of the
political tyrants, a short paper comparing the political ideas of two such
leaders, and a final exam. The required book is by Daniel Chirot, Modern
Tyrants: The Power and Prevalence of Evil in Our Age (Princeton UP, 1994).