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Midterm Critical Summary

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Midterm Critical Summary
El Kihal Mohammed
Al Akhawayn University

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MIDTERM CRITICAL SUMMARY

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The first six chapters discussed in-class included the comparison methodology in political systems, in addition to the political attitudes and behaviors in relation with the ethical foundations of politics. Furthermore, it included an introduction to political ideologies with a focus on the democratic ones. Moreover, it showcased the development of the modern state, along with some key concepts in politics such as constitutions and processes such as pressure groups and social movements.
Before engaging in comparing political systems, it is imperative to be aware of the comparison methodology used for this kind of social science. The scientific method used in social sciences is based on the empirical method which includes several steps, of which the most important are: the formulation of the hypotheses after asking curious questions related to a topic of interest - the data collection - the data analysis - the results’ interpretation related to the questions raised.
Looking at the political attitudes of people under a specific political system helps to understand the political systems, but what is the reason behind that? Simply because looking at the political attitude of every individual might prove itself to be impossible, so social scientists started analyzing the general trend in the political attitudes of people and put it under a certain framework making it easier to link to the political system and to interpret it. While looking at the political attitudes under a certain regime, we might notice some differences that rise from a system to another. For example, to what extent people are discussing politics and how important it is to them (parochial, subject and participant cultures); also, the sub-cultures that we might have in the society and the type of political behaviors people adopt. These political behaviors can be conventional or unconventional; strikes, protests, sit-ins are considered a form of unconventional political behavior. This brings us to talk about pressure groups and social movements. These groups are seen as a basis to a pluralistic democracy, they are a set of voluntary organizations that serve as a medium between governments and their citizens. One type of pressure groups is unions. Some of these pressure groups can turn into social movements if their goals get more broad with some radical reforms in mind, such as reforms value systems
(women’s rights, gay rights, …). These social movements can themselves turn into political groups if their interests shift from influencing the government to becoming the government instead; we have seen the union “Solidarity” as an example for this scenario.
We have also looked into the formation of the modern state. We can define the state formation as the creation of its institutions and the nation building as the creation of a “single people” by welding the population with the help of a shared sense of belonging. As far as nation state is concerned, it is a state which underwent nation building. The sense of belonging might

MIDTERM CRITICAL SUMMARY

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be based on a common language, religion, historical heritage, culture or education. The first state to be established was in medieval Europe starting the 12th century (Newton and Van Deth,
2010). These states started adopting political systems as a way to organizing the authorities.
The regimes adopted by these states are mainly democracy, authoritarianism and totalitarianism. Under each of these regimes lay different political regimes, i.e. the system’s operating mode: electoral system, the system’s institutions, namely: executive, legislative and judiciary, and the relation between these institutions. We looked at nationalism and fascism as two examples of political regimes and we saw how people tend to confuse them while they are actually quite different. In fact, in a nationalist culture, people want to show their superiority to other nations, they want to own a territory that they refer to as their national territory and tend to defend their national identity. They can also go as far as imposing their national identity on others because they see it as the best which results in a colonialist thinking. As far as fascism is concerned, its definition became quite controversial given that it is used nowadays as an insult. It is usually seen as the contrary of the speaker’s point of view; Fascist democracy is one example of a term used in modern politics. Nationalism that we have discussed earlier is seen as minor democratic school of thought. The major democratic ideologies include conservatism, liberalism, Christian democracy and social democracy. I think that the democratic ideologies are a better way to organizing powers given its political party plurality, freedom of choice guaranteed to its citizen and separation of powers. Democracies can be direct or representative, deliberative or participatory. Ideally speaking, a direct deliberative democracy is the best system that ensures the consensus of all the people, but I think it is impossible to achieve in reality given its complexity and the level of the resources required to implement it for every single decision the state tries to enforce. If we look at it from a resource point of view, I see that we will be better off with a representative deliberative democracy where all parties try to converge towards a consensus that will probably satisfy a fair share of citizen. After all, they have voted for them for a reason: they believed they would represent their interests.
I wanted to keep a key concept that defines each state from the others for the end: constitutions. It defines the functioning of the state’s institutions, sets a basis for law and defines boundaries for the power of the state. It should be said that the constitution is one characteristic of the state that is worth protecting. An example of a state that became highly unstable after changing its constitution repeatedly is Egypt. In fact, Egypt has changed its constitution every year after the Arab spring (Grimsgaard, 2014). This is why in the constitution itself, it is made very difficult for any party to change it unless under extraordinary circumstances.

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MIDTERM CRITICAL SUMMARY
References

Grimsgaard, T. (2014). From revolution to constitution: Minority protection in Egypt’s constitutions since the Arab Spring (Master’s thesis). Oslo: University of Oslo.
Newton, K. & Van Deth, J. W. (2010). Foundations of comparative politics. New York,
Cambridge University Press.…...

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