Political Science | Power, Reason, Violence: Political Thought Since the World Wars
Y490 | 28666 | Scheuerman
This course offers a survey of political and social thought since
the mid-twentieth century. We examine a series of provocative
attempts to make sense of the most striking political and social
trends of the last half-century: the rise and decline of right-wing
(fascist and National Socialist) dictatorships, Holocaust, emergence
as well as increasing fragility of the welfare state, decolonization
and proliferation of national liberation movements, a seemingly
endless sequence of terrible wars, along with some successful non-
violent political and social movements, ascent and subsequent demise
of communism, and globalization. The course readings tackle a number
of fundamental questions: is freedom still possible in contemporary
society, or are we instead doomed to succumb to authoritarianism?
Have we become conformists unable to take initiative or act
spontaneously? Is it possible to realize social justice under
capitalism, or must it be dramatically modified if we are to do so?
What is the proper role, if any, for violence in struggles for a
better society? How should we make sense of the terrible political
crimes splattered across the pages of recent history? What is
globalization, and what dilemmas does it pose for liberal democracy?
What political changes are necessary if we are going to respond
effectively to the challenges posed by globalization? These are
difficult questions. But I hope to convince you that we need to
think seriously about them if we are going to make our planet a
livable place for all of us.