Thanks for having a look at my blog. As I have a keen passion in political science, I would like to post mostly about that topic in my blog. My enthusiasm in politics was firstly jolted by Daw Aung San Su Kyi’s Speeches Collections.
Now I’ve been reading a very interesting book(political science) and I would like to summarise the important facts(which I think) from the book both in Burmese and English.
Anyone who has seen my mistakes in my writing(as my english is still poor :(- or in my translation are openly welcome for criticising or commmenting.
Chanm Nyeim Zaw.
Chapter 1: The foundation of Political Science
1.1 Studying Politics
As for a burmese, politics,the term itself, can be scary and could be afraid to speak out in public. But it seems to be changing in that attitude in burmese people as soon as the charismatic leader Daw Aung San Kyi has been released recently. People started to be felt awaken from their nightmare of living and social struggle because of the rise-again charisma of the nobel laureate Daw Aung San Su Kyi. Young enthusiastic people in burma are dare to speak again about politics in their conversation because of her. During that kind of era, I just would like to take part in that kind of conversation by posting this blog. Everyone from burma or anyone else who have read my posts are welcome for a further discussion in comments.
I would like to start from very begining about the subject,political science. The words “politics” itself is a derivation from Greek words (polis-which mean city-state governed by the decision of the mass people ( which is actually male elites). But there is a significant difference between politics and political science which I will discuss later on. Firstly political science is said to be related with most of the social science.
Roughly saying, it is related to the following social science subjects.
1.1.1 How history is related to political science
Most of the people could agree that history is giving a main contribution to the political science. History could be define as studying mainly of the government body of a society and its effect to the society which could be in the bracket of studying every event that happened on earth. Political scientists study the same way but they may look for different things in different way. Historians will study one episode for every corner of the details, digging up documents and archives but political scientists not only look for the facts that deep but also they also conlude at some point of generalisation. To be contrast,while historians just look for just the plain facts about Stalin’s Soviet Unions, political scientists will also compare and contrast about the similarities and differences between the Stalin’s Soviet Unions and other communist government such as Mao’s People Republic or even with a western democratic government. The historians become de facto political science when they do comparative study in history.
1.1.2 How human geography is related to political science
Human geography could be defined as human territorial differences in his behaviour and attidutes about their habitual borders,ethnic areas,trade flows and centralisation of power in politics. As long as these behaviour and attidutes are too much varieties in a narrow region, there would be a lot of political conflicts in that region.The political problems in arab regions( Israel and Palestine ) are highly related to human geography dissimilarities and also the conflict between Sri Lankar’s government and the Tamil Tiger Rebellion will aslo apply in the same topic, the differences in humangeography made the Tamil Tiger feel themselves unique to the regional Sri Lankans and want to separate from them as a different nation. So studying human geography also could become inevitabily studying about political science.
1.1.3 How economics is related to political science
Some economists even said economics is the subject matter of politics. But genuine political scientists will say the opposite that it’s only one of the things that matter most. What the economists mean that only good economy could bring a peaceful political system(i.e to be democratic).But political scientists argue that sufficient economic development may be the basic for the democracy but in order to get that development, the role of the economic policy which could be made by a good-enough political system would be essential. It could become like a classic loop hole, “the begining of the egg, which could be frome a hen and then that hen itself is come from an egg…etc.” But the point we get here is good economy alone cannot be a solution for democracy. When economists come into question about the policy, they become political economists.
1.1.4 How sociology is related to political science
As the human geography itself is a branch from social science or sociology, that science become the most contributive one for political science which could be more than economics does. Political science conventionally starts by looking at the society “who thinks what” about politics. These “who thinks what” about politics can be only get by the views of social science into the society among social classes,regions,religions,genders, and age groups and that’s why sociology become essential in political science.
1.1.5 How psychology is related to political science
Psychology,particularly social psychology, gave political science about the basics of which personalities are attracted to politics,why and under what circumstances people obey authority figures ,and how people form national,group and voting attachments. Studying about the dictator such as Hitler,Stalin and Mao Zedong or even even trying to understand and study about our dictator Than Shwe will be mainly psychological. Only psychological understanding of him could be find a way to communicate him or at least persuade him to come out from where he hiding, behind the fog of gas curtain( used to be said teak curtain,no longer applied as almost all teak are gone).
1.2 Political Power
In political science, studying about power become essential for a lot of reasons. The concept “the political power” itself could be assumed as occasional brutality by some people and could also have a negative sense in meaning. But a government without power,a happy band of brother (as terrorist said) or a band of commarades( as communists said ) couldn’t be functional in reality as the communists has to transforming themselves into conventional structures of leaders and led and the terrorists the same way. To the question might be come out ” why do some people hold political power over others? “, there are diffferent kinds of approach to that questions.The following could be some of the approaches:
1.2.1 Biological Approach
Aristotle firstly said that “Man is by nature a political animal”. He meant that humans live naturally in herds,like elephants or deer.They need each other for sustenance and survival.And it’s also natural that they array themselves into ranks of leaders and led,like all herd animals. But that could be only true partly, as sometimes political groups or human herd could fall apart and disobey their authority and rebellious at the same time which could never be found in any animal grouping or herd.
1.2.2 Psychological Approach
Psychological studies also show that most people are naturally comformists.Most members of a particular group see things in the group’s way and that way is usually from the natural group leaders. Obedience to authority and groupthink suggest that human have deep-seated needs_possibly innate_to fit into groups and to go along with their norms. Perhaps this what makes human society possible,but it also makes possible horrors such as the Nazi Holocaust and the more recent Balkan massacres.
1.2.3 Cultural Approach
Human behaviours are biologically inherited into genes or they are just learned by the survival in the environment has always been an argument until now.Anthropologists believed that all differences in human behaviours are cultural. Cultural influence could be transmitted into the society by the way of the religious values,geographical region’s effect,family values and the mass media. It is seem to be assumed as these values,assumption and beliefs could be learnt but it will be difficult to point out each of which single factor could affect to what extent can be very difficult to point out. Communists tried the same way in the belief that they could teach and influence their propaganda to the public but failed for some reason as not all behaviours are learnt or inherited in genes. Politicians everywhere tend to become corrupt, regardless of culture.
1.2.4 Rational Approach
This approach is quite simple which is based on human’s natural ability,reasoning. Political scientists argue that humans have sufficient reason to form civil society,to obey an authority figure and form a governmental body as they reasoned that they feel safer than anarchy. And even if the government become abusive, they won’t give up on systemising the society and will form a new one.The previous approaches,biological,psychological and cultural, not much taking into account human reasoning. But,on the other hand,it is quite convinced already that the way the terrorists think is beyond rational and strongly based on the fundamentalism of the religion which could be explained as one of the cultural influences.If the leaders believe that human behaviours are as predictable and controllable as they are only rely on the biological,psychological and cultural causes, they will think they can get away with all manner of corruption and misrule. The current military junta might be unintentionally believing in that way without acknowledging themselves that they could timelessly surpress the people not to raise up their own head to look up them by leading people not to be enoughly educated and restricting in every human rights so that people will become biologically inherited and being culturally influenced that they can’t be oppose and psychologically drowned themselves. Anyway it’s always good to think that if the rulers fear that people are rational,they will respect the public’s ability to discern wrongdoing.
1.2.5 Irrational Approach
Late in the 19th century, a group of thinkers expounded the view that people are basically irrational,especially when it comes to political power. Normal people could be emotional and can be dominated by myths and sterotypes which could be feed by a charismatic leader to control these people. The first practitioner of this school of thought was Mussolini by facism and followed by the Hitler in Germany with the same way.A soft-spoken Muslim fundamentalist,Osama Binladen, got an irrational hold on thousands of fanatical followers.As discussed in above rational approach, that way of persuasion could lead to drastic results for the people. Some detect irrationalism even in the most advanced societies, where much of politics consists of screaming crowds and leaders’ striking heroic poses which is being seen on the most democratic country ,the U.S,United States of America itself.
In fact, all of these approach should be considered in every given political situation as all of them are the most contributive factors in the study. As British historian,Lord Acton said “Power tendss to corrupt;absolute power corrupts absolutely”, studying politics can be unpleasant and distressful.So as long as we started to study about it, we could be angry at the facts we found out and became inclined to one side. Then it will not be look like studying politics as a science(political science) and our study will only become a unbalanced and biased historical fact.”Biologists may behold(study) a disease-causing bacterium under a microscope.They do not ‘like’ the bacterium but are interested in how it grows,how it does its damage, and how it may be eradicated.Neither do they get angry at the bacterium and smash the glass slide with a hammer.” Wanna-be political scientists should be study in the same way,i.e study things as they are and not as they wish them to be. In my opinion,it could also quite similar the way the theravada buddism do its vipassana practising, seeing everythings as life and way on its own as it happening knowing that without one’s control(anatta) and not happening as one wish to be.
For a normal people as a student of political science, there are ways to study to prevent not to be unbalanced and biased.A scholarly work should be reasoned,balanced and supported with evidence.
Before the ending of this chapter, there is an important verification between politicians and political scientists. People are often didn’t get the clarification between these two terms and mistaken occasionally.
Politicians Political Scientists
1.love power 1.are skeptical of power
2.seek popularity 2.seek accuracy
3.think practically 3.think abstractly
4.hold firm views 4.reach tentative conclusions
5.offer single causes 5.offer many causes
6.see short-term payoff 6.see long-term consequences
7.plan for next election 7.plan for next publication
8.respond to groups 8.seek the good of the whole
9.seek recognition 9.seek professional prestige
Chanm Nyeim Zaw.
(mainly refered -and somtimes copied :)- and summarise the book_Political Science:An Introduction(9th Edition) written by Michael G.Roskin and his political scientists colleagues.