Political Science | Political Tyranny
Y396 | 0521 | 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 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, 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).