Review sheet for Exam #2

The review sheet for the second exam is now available.

Please remember that the exam will be Tuesday, May 8, at 4:15 pm. We will meet in Spes Unica 145.


Questions for Havel’s “The Power of the Powerless”

"The woman who ignored the greengrocer's slogan may well have hung a similar sloganjust an hour before in the corridor of the office where she works. She did it more or less without thinking,just as our greengrocer did, and she could do so precisely because she was doing it against the background of the general panorama and with some awareness of it, that is, against the background of the panorama of which the greengrocer's shop window forms a part. When the greengrocer visits her office, he will not notice her slogan either, just as she failed to notice his. Nevertheless, their slogans are mutually dependent: both were displayed with some awareness of the general panorama and, we might say, under its diktat. Both, however, assist in the creation of that panorama, and therefore they assist in the creation of that diktat as well. The greengrocer and the office worker have both adapted to the conditions in which they live, but in doing so, they help to create those conditions. They do what is done, what is to be done, what must be done, but at the same time-by that very token-they confirm that it must be done in fact. They conform to a particular requirement and in so doing they themselves perpetuate that requirement. Metaphysically speaking, without the greengrocer's slogan the office worker's slogan could not exist, and vice versa. Each proposes to the other that something be repeated and each accepts the other's proposal. Their mutual indifference to each other's slogans is only an illusion: in reality, by exhibiting their slogans, each compels the other to accept the rules of the game and to confirm thereby the power that requires the slogans in the first place. Quite simply, each helps the other to be obedient. Both are objects in a system of control, but at the same time they are its subjects as well. They are both victims of the system and its instruments." (Havel: The Power of the Powerless Section VI)The scene Havel presents here is a rather hallow and depressing one of indifference, not only to the desires of others, to to the desires of oneself. He makes it seem as though instead of living our lives with free will, desires, hopes, and vibrance, the average person simply drifts through life playing the role we are expected to play. This would go against the American ideal in so many ways simply because the United States prides itself on being a land where a person can build themselves from the ground up and take ahold of any opportunity presented to them. But, is it not true that, simply as a statistic, most people born into poverty will live and die in poverty? They are simply playing the role from the script life gave them and doing what the general population expects from them.

How do Havel's views contrast with the American Dream? Is there any ring of truth to Havel's opinions in our nation today?
XVI- The post-totalitarian system is mounting a total assault on humans and humans stand against it alone, abandoned and isolated. It is therefore entirely natural that all the "dissident" movements are explicitly defensive movements.Is this really true? Not all movements are defensive. While they may retaliate for the offenses against them, not all are strict defensive maneuvers.
Section 2As Havel describes, this dictatorship is much different from what is considered a normal dictatorship. If it is so different, can it still be called a dictatorship?
Section VI, page 6Havel discusses how the greengrocer putting a sign in his window is just a symbol of obedience to the government. He then goes on to say that citizens are "...both the victims of the system and its instruments" and that "...everyone in his own way is both a victim and a supporter of the system" (pg. 6). So my question is, what would be the opposite of that? Say the greengrocer and the office worker didn't put up the sign like they were told, and didn't obey the government at all, this would mean they would no longer be fueling the dictatorship. He says that the people have "...adapted to the conditions in which they live...they help to create those conditions" (pg. 6). So what if they didn't adapt to the conditions? How would the government be changed if all of the population did not succumb to its current rules?
part IIIIn part III, how does Havel demonstrate that individuals living is post-totalitarian states may be living a lie?
Part V:

"In any case, experience has taught us again and again that this automatism is far more powerful than the will of any individual; and should someone possess a more independent will, he must conceal it behind a ritually anonymous mask in order to have an opportunity to enter the power hierarchy at all. And when the individual finally gains a place there and tries to make his will felt within it, that automatism, with its enormous inertia, will triumph sooner or later, and either the individual will be ejected by the power structure like a foreign organism, or he will be compelled to resign his individuality gradually, once again blending with the automatism and becoming its servant, almost indistinguishable from those who preceded him and those who will follow."
Do you think leaders in the U.S are guilty of doing this? Do you think the behavior of those who enter power relates to Havel's idea? How so?

Discussion questions

Havel reading for Friday, 27 April

I realize that the Havel reading for tomorrow is substantially longer than most readings. Get through as much as you can so that we have a place to begin discussion, but don’t worry overmuch if you don’t make it all the way through.

Announcements, Assignments

Communist Manifesto, Day 2

Section IVI do not support Communism or Marxism, however, I found it interesting that Marx declared an alliance at the end of the section with the social democrats in support of other various communist revolutions and calling them to action. Marx truly believed that communism was the best way to go. His enthusiasm was enough to grab people's attention, and make his presence known.
Sec III. 1. A. Feudal Socialism
pg 1196
Sec II bottom of pg 1195
From his statements about the aristocracy and the bourgeois, Marx gives the impression that he believes individuals will act in a way that will gain them power. For example, "In order to arouse sympathy, the aristocracy were obliged to lose sight, apparently, of their own interests and to formulate their indictment against the bourgeoisie...". Do his thoughts on the innate good of people have any parallels to Machiavelli?

Marx discusses the policies that will be applicable in advanced countries. He names things such as "a heavy progressive tax, abolition of all right of inheritance," etc. How possible is it that these ideals even be adopted and accepted by the working class or those that stand to benefit from them? It often seems that even in the United States it is difficult to convince people to adopt policies similar to these even if they would benefit them.
End of Chapter II. Proletarians and Communists: "Bourgeois marriage is in reality community of wives."Why does Marx touch on the topic of marriage? What is the role women play in the bourgeoisie? Can they benefit from communism? If so, how?
III: Socialist and Communist Literature, section 2: Conservative, or Bourgeois, SocialismThere seems to be a criticism towards any type of service. The claim is that people only want to help society for the purpose of attaining a bourgeoisie society without a proletariat. Does Marx believe that economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, etc only care about making everyone bourgeoisie? Can they not have truly good intentions of helping the less fortunate through their service besides just trying to eliminate the proletariat?
Section IIMarx focuses on the tense roles between the bourgeoisie and proletariat and the inevitability of a revolution on behalf of the proletariat. Many countries are not as extreme as Marx but have added in social welfare systems to prevent this uprising and assist the proletariat. Even with these measures, many countries still have inequality among classes. Would Marx agree or disagree with the welfare measures of capitalist societies like the US or of social welfare systems in Nordic countries? Why or why not?
Section IIMarx talks about the abolition of bourgeois property as a goal of Communism. Property is a huge incentive for people to display exceptional work. How can he defend that overall this move would actually benefit society as a whole. It appears that without such benefits, the quality of work would decrease.

Discussion questions

Communist Manifesto, Day 1

page 1189Marx begins his discussion of the various classes. According to Marx is it possible for someone to improve their position in society? For example, could a member of the working class one day become an officer? If they can improve their status, how do they go about doing this?
section IIHow does Karl Marx defend the idea of getting rid of private property when that is many peoples motivation. How can he think that we would have the innovation that we do today if people were not given rewards for going that one step farther. If they do not recieve private property they dont have that one thing that they can say the worked to get.
Sec 1. "The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part" pg 1186Marx makes the claim that all revolutions have been devised by the bourgeoisie in order for their class to expand their markets and amass more wealth. Do you think Marx makes a valid point? Why or why not? Where do you think Marx's view of revolutions being a means to an end for an advancement of a class would be accepted? Where do you think it would be ignored or dismissed? Does Marx's view of history have any weight or is it purely a biased account?
Section I. of Communist Manifesto

"It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom - Free Trade." (Pg. 1187)

"The lower strata of the middle class - the small tradespeople, shopkeepers, and retired tradesmen generally - all these sink gradually into the proletariat, partly because their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which Modern Industry is carried on, and is swamped in the competition with the large capitalists, partly because their specialized skill is rendered worthless by new methods of production. Thus, the proletariat is recruited from all classes of the population." (Pg. 1189)
In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx describes that a Communist revolution is only possible through a Capitalist society. Does this mean that it is possible for the United States to go through a Communist revolution if aspects get that bad?

The first passage above describes that individual worth is only as much as what one makes (materialistic society). That can be very true of the United States. Also, relating to the second passage, in the past years, income disparities have increased immensely. Income increases have been especially prominent in people like CEOs (a person of the bourgeoisie in Marx's opinion). Could the fact that the "We are the 99%" movement be the beginning of a class revolution that Marx is talking about? Could it be considered a modern version?
"And here it becomes evident, that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law...Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society." (page 1191)Compare Marx's bourgeoisie to Rousseau's sovereign. How do their ideals contrast?

Discussion questions

Event of interest

Here are the details:

On Monday April 23 at 8pm in Debartolo Hall, room 101 the movie Nefarious will be screened. The following is the description on the events page for the Center for Social Concerns. I’m almost certain its free for students, there are posters for this all around the ND campus.

“Notre Dame Christian Athletes will play host to a screening of the film Nefarious. Nefarious depicts global sex trade and is being shown around the country by the anti-trafficking organization Exodus Cry. Cosponsored by the Center for Social Concerns, Student Welfare and Development, Iron Sharpens Iron, Ndeight and Peace Fellowship and Four:7.”

If you’re not already maxed out, this would be a suitable event for extra credit.


Short reflection assignment

The short reflection assignment will provide the material for our discussion on the last day of class. Details of the assignment are here; it is due no later than class time on April 30, though you are welcome (even encouraged) to submit it earlier.


Discussion questions for *On the Social Contract,* Book IV

Book IV Chapter 1"But when social bond begins to relax and the state to grow weak, when private interests begin to make themselves felt and small societies begin to influence the large one, the common interest changes ans finds opponents. Unanimity no longer reigns in the votes; the general will is no longer the will of all." Rousseau believes that then leads to the general will "becoming mute." If man is part of the general will and the will of all, how do they become so separated? And if sovereignty is the exercise of the general will, then if the general will is no longer heard, does sovereignty cease to exist?
Book 4, chapter 1: "Does it follow from this that the general will is annihilated or corrupted? No, it is always constant, unalterable and pure; but it is subordinate to other wills that prevail over it." Even if the general will is subordinate to other wills, can it not change if the will of all changes? Can people evolve in their thinking of what the public good is, changing the general will?
III Elections

"But I have already said that a real democracy is only an ideal."
When discussing elections, Locke references Montesquieu. Why is this significant in the context of the book and the time? Why does Locke consider democracy to be only an ideal? As we touched on in class Monday, why is he so critical of democracy/representative government?
Book 3 Chapter 15
Book 4 Chapter 3
Throughout his text, Rousseau emphasizes the importance of small government. How opposed would he be to the system we have now...with the various levels of government since though we do have large overreaching government at the federal level, we also have local government? Would he be strongly opposed since each individual isn't directly involved and he was not in favor of representatives? In our complex world today, would it even be possible to develop his system or would it be too chaotic to have a plethora of small governments with no strong central system?

Rousseau clearly has a distaste for money, and believes that individuals would ideally do everything themselves? Would we really be in chains if we handle things with money and don't do everything ourselves? It seems as though now we would actually be limiting ourselves even further since money allows us to have a system of specialization and larger production? What would Rousseau say about the corruption and problems we've faced in the last several years with Wall Street and the Gov? Even in this time would his solution be to do everything ourselves and keep the system smaller?

Rousseau discusses drawing lots as a form of election in a true democracy and says the outcome would be almost indifferent. He goes on to say that true democracies do not exist. What would he propose be the most ideal form of election then? Is that what he was suggesting when he discussed the time when choice and lots are mixed?
"This magistrate restores each term to its true relationship to the others, and which creates a link or a middle term either between the prince and the people or between the prince and the sovereign, or on both sides at once if necessary. This body, which i call the tribunate, is the preserver of the las and the legislative power ...For although it is unable to do anything, it can prevent everything." ch. 5 933How can Rousseau expect the leaders or sovereign to be mediated by the tribunate, or take it seriously, if it is given no power and it is not in their constitution? There are similar limits on these members to prevent them from becoming from too powerful that are a lot l like the term limits of those in the House and Senate. The only difference is that their powers and limits are written in their Constitution, and are, therefore, placed as a legitimate power in the government. They may prevent certain legislation from passing but may also allow legislation (difference of having some power to execute). How would Rousseau compare his idea of checks and balances with ours within the three branches? Would he approve?
Chapter 8 - On Civil ReligionRousseau notes that the relationship between personal religion and the state would be tense but should not hinder each other. However, Rousseau also notes that all citizens must abide by certain religious/moral beliefs, such as the existence of a God, the belief in an afterlife, the importance of the law, and tolerance. Is this idea of civil religion reasonable, especially with conflicting religious beliefs and atheism?

As we are approaching the end of Rousseau, are any of his ideas realistic for a government today?

Discussion questions

Discussion questions, *On the Social Contract,* Book III

question1- Book III 5th paragraph: “the government gets from the Sovereign the orders it gives the people, and, for the State to be properly balanced, there must, when everything is reckoned in, be equality between the product or power of the government taken in itself, and the product or power of the citizens, who are on the one hand sovereign and on the other subject.”

question 2-8th paragraph part III: “the government, then, to be good, should be proportionately stronger as the people is more numerous”
question 1- If the government is a body set up to secure mutual correspondence to maintain liberty in the civil and political arena and if by general will I agree to be a part of a state, does that mean that I have somehow agreed to laws that hinder our freedom and rights such as laws that are meant to restrict some from obtaining public services or means to discriminate against certain groups of people (like the Roma in Europe)? Does that mean that the general will somehow wants this even though these people are part of our society and are entering our society willingly? What if there are laws that attack the sovereignty of the citizens but are accepted by some citizens but not those who are attacked? Is that acceptable because it is the general will?

question 2- do you agree that a larger population should be governed by a stronger government? Why would some argue for a weaker government? (such as progressives and conservatives on economic/social issues?) does this go against Rousseau’s idea of a strong government alongside a large population?
Book III, Ch. 2Rousseau brings about the idea that in a large state, which needs to have a strong government with a high capacity level, there should be few rulers. In effect, the corporate will of the government will be more reflective of the particular wills, which will create a state that is more active and engaging of the population. There must be a few individuals that are dedicated to the interests of the state and will not endanger the state's interests. While Rousseau advocates for smaller states in general, the question arises of whether a large state should really have only have a few rulers that dictate the wills. What happens if they do not have the interests of the state in mind and then, in turn, lower their capacity to rule over the large state? Should there be a larger ratio of government to back up the wills of the people?
"According to the natural order, on the contrary, these various wills become more active in proportion as they are more concentrated. Thus the general will is always the weakest, the corporate will is first of all, so that in the government each member is first himself, then a magistrate, and then a citizen- a gradation directly opposite to the on required by the social order." (Book III, Chapter 2, Morgan Anthology page 906)Rousseau states that by human nature, the will of the individual will inevitably be the strongest and most influential of those in the government. Think back to Plato's "Republic" and how he suggested training the philosopher kings. Do you think that there is a way to train these magistrates so that the general will would be the dominant rule of the others?
Chapter 4. "Nothing is more dangerous than the influence of private interests on public affairs" In this chapter, Rousseau acknowledges that a true democracy has never existed however he did lay some ground work for what one would look like. Remarkably his structure looked a lot like the ideal communist set up. Do you think communism could actually be the foundation for pure democracy? And since Rousseau acknowledges that human beings almost always put their own private interests above the public one how would one go about ensuring private interests don't overwhelm the legislature? Any ideas for checks and balances when it is the entire population one must keep in check?
Chapter 8Rousseau talks about how the kinds of climates determine the type of government that can thrive. What would he say in a place like the United States where we have vastly different climates throughout the country? Should we be split up into different governments for this or is there a way for the two places to survive in harmony. Also does he believe that climate should be that important in determining the lines that should be drawn between different governments? If so why shouldn’t people be able to decide what government they wish to people to no matter the type of climate they live in?
Chapter 10 page 918 Rousseau gives his definition of a tyrant and explains how one leads to the dissolution of government. Does Rousseau believe that the people have a right to overthrow a tyrant in order to prevent their government from being dissolved?
Chapter 13 of Book III

"I answer further that it is always an evil to unite several towns in a single city, and that anyone wanting to bring about this union should not expect to avoid its natural disadvantages."
In this passage, Rousseau, a fan of small states for the best governing, says that cities should not be grouped together or else there will be clashes, mixed opinions, and different people to govern.

Would Rousseau agree that a prime example of this problem would be all of the boundaries drawn by colonial powers in Africa? By mixing the different people together, many clashes occur, especially ethnic tension. What would Rousseau do to fix the problems with African civil conflict if he was alive today?
Discussion questions

Discussion questions for Rousseau, *On the Social Contract,* Book II

Rousseau, Bk 2, Chapter 3

"There is often a great deal of difference between the will of all and the general will. The latter considers only the general interest, whereas the former considers private interest and is merely the sum of private wills."

"For the general will to be well articulated, it is therefore important that there should be no partial society in the state and that each citizen make up his own mind."
Often the interests of citizens are swayed by political parties, interest groups, etc. This can make it difficult for an citizen to "make up his own mind." How might Rousseau feel about political parties and interest groups? Would he consider these partial societies?
p. 892-893, Chapter 3"It follows from what has preceded that the general will is always right and always tends toward the public utility." I can understand the second part, but how is it always right? Taking a realist approach to this statement, I find it hard to believe that any society can run solely on the preservation of the general will. I can see how in theory, this statement might be true, but how is it supposed to be enacted? Rousseau also says that, "The populace is never corrupted, but it is often tricked, and only then does it appear to want what is bad." Again, this is a high expectation even for a small populace. He seems to be giving credit to their errors by saying that it was not their fault that they erred in the first place. I don't understand why Rousseau does not have his people own up to their mistakes instead of pretending they didn't make one.
Chapter 5: End of paragraph 2

"Because it is under this condition alone that he has lived in security up to then, and because his life is not only a kindness of nature, but a conditional gift of the state."
With this quote, does Rousseau mean that the state grants life as a gift to its citizens? Does he therefore believe that life is not a gift from God?
Chapter 6Is it easier for impartial people to rule more fairly than passionate people when maintaining order and government?
"As nature has set bounds to the stature of a well-made man, and, outside those limits, makes nothing but giants or dwarfs, similarly, for the constitution of a State to be at its best, it is possible to fix limits that will make it neither too large for good government, nor too small for self-maintenance. In every body politic there is a maximum strength which it cannot exceed and which it only loses by increasing in size. Every extension of the social tie means its relaxation; and, generally speaking, a small State is stronger in proportion than a great one." Chapter 9 Paragraph 1Rousseau emphasizes the necessity of striking the balance in size between to large and too small. He explains that a large city states have a hard time adequate administrating over the entirety of their land and population. It also is more given to insidious factions causing harm to society on the whole. Also, he claims that the size can be oppressive, hiding any talent buried in the population. How functional is the American government in light of this criticism? Is our administration flawed or did our forefathers find the perfect way to administer over several million people in our Constitution? Would you say that the United States, which has often been called the "land of opportunity" oppresses its inhabitants and suppresses their talents or helps them to foster them?

Discussion questions