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Power and Authority

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Political Institutions, Economic Growth, and Democracy: The Substitute Effect

For more information on the source of this book, or why it is available for free, please see the project's home page. You can browse or download additional books there. To download a. Various states and governments obviously exist around the world. In this context, state The political unit within which power and authority reside.

This unit can be a whole nation or a subdivision within a nation. Thus the nations of the world are sometimes referred to as states or nation-states , as are subdivisions within a nation, such as California, New York, and Texas in the United States. Government a The group of persons who direct the political affairs of a state; and b the type of rule by which a state is run. Another term for this second meaning of government is political system The type of rule by which a state is run.

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The type of government under which people live has fundamental implications for their freedom, their welfare, and even their lives. Accordingly we briefly review the major political systems in the world today.

The type of government with which we are most familiar is democracy A political system in which citizens govern themselves either directly or indirectly. An example of such a democracy in action is the New England town meeting, where the residents of a town meet once a year and vote on budgetary and other matters. However, such direct democracies are impractical when the number of people gets beyond a few hundred. Representative democracies are thus much more common.

In these types of democracies, people elect officials to represent them in legislative votes on matters affecting the population. Representative democracy is more practical than direct democracy in a society of any significant size, but political scientists cite another advantage of representative democracy. At least in theory, it ensures that the individuals who govern a society and in other ways help a society function are the individuals who have the appropriate talents, skills, and knowledge to do so.

In this way of thinking, the masses of people are, overall, too uninformed, too uneducated, and too uninterested to run a society themselves. Seward, M. The representative claim. Regardless of our political orientations, Americans can think of many politicians to whom these labels apply, from presidents down to local officials.

Centre-State Relations - Article 245 - 255 of the Indian Constitution - Legislative Relations

As we discuss in Chapter 14 "Politics and Government" , Section To the extent this influence occurs, representative democracy falls short of the ideals proclaimed by political theorists. The defining feature of representative democracy is voting in elections. Like the colonists, people in these nations chafed under arbitrary power. The example of the American Revolution and the stirring words of its Declaration of Independence helped inspire the French Revolution of and other revolutions since, as people around the world have died in order to win the right to vote and to have political freedom.

Democracies are certainly not perfect. Moreover, in not all democracies have all people enjoyed the right to vote. In the United States, for example, African Americans could not vote until after the Civil War, with the passage of the 15th Amendment in , and women did not win the right to vote until , with the passage of the 19th Amendment. In addition to generally enjoying the right to vote, people in democracies also have more freedom than those in other types of governments. Figure The freest nations are found in North America, Western Europe, and certain other parts of the world, while the least free lie in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

Source: Adapted from Freedom House. Map of freedom in the world. Monarchy A political system in which power resides in a single family that rules from one generation to the next generation. The power the family enjoys is traditional authority , and many monarchs command respect because their subjects bestow this type of authority on them. Other monarchs, however, have ensured respect through arbitrary power and even terror.

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Balance of Power in World Politics - Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics

Royal families still rule today, but their power has declined from centuries ago. Today the Queen of England holds a largely ceremonial position, but her predecessors on the throne wielded much more power. Though Iraqi national strength remained the same, the gap between Iraq and multinational forces considerably widened.

This case suggests that even though the immoral actions of a state may not decrease its absolute strength, they may to a great extent weaken its relative strength. Realists view survival as the sole priority of national interest, because if a state is destroyed, other interests cease to exist. That is why although many realists pay close attention to the security of states, they may ignore the role of norms. Moral realists also admit that security constitutes the primacy of national interest; nonetheless, it is only one component of national interest rather than the entirety.

A rising state or a hegemon is often immune to ruination by other states, but faced with the conflicts ensuing from the distribution of international power. The hegemon is determined to defend its dominance, and the rising state attempts to increase its influence. In this contest, the practice of international moral principles plays a direct role in reinforcing their international power. Obeying basic international moral principles will help to promote their international strategic credit, which in turn plays a crucial role in obtaining, maintaining, and expanding their international influence.

The aim of practicing morality and improving strategic credit is to establish the international authority of a great power, because its leadership cannot be solid without authority.

The distribution of power

Credit and trustworthiness are necessary conditions in all human social entities, regardless of their civilization, culture, political party, society, government, or non-governmental organizations, for establishing leadership or authority. Moral realists also distinguish the differences between authority and power when underlining the importance of international authority. Power refers to control or impact on others by coercive force, while authority means leadership that others willingly accept.

The police and medical practitioners respectively represent power and authority in our daily life. The same applies in international politics. The EU provides authoritative leadership in dealing with climate change, based on its achievements in reducing carbon dioxide CO 2 emissions. Therefore, a rising state is able to increase its international power by promoting material strength, but cannot establish international authority through that approach.

It can attain international authority only by establishing strategic credibility through moral actions. Because authority and power are different in nature, one state could enjoy higher international authority than the other even when both have the same level of international power. For example, the US continuously improved its international power as sole superpower during the period between the end of the Cold War and the financial crisis of But its international authority suffered a dramatic decline after it launched the war in Iraq without UN authorization in There are other cases that illustrate the relationship between immoral actions and a decline of international authority.

Bush did not place the same value on international strategic credit as Clinton. The financial crisis exposed to the world the Wall Street fraud. As a branch of realism, moral realist theory follows the fundamental assumptions of realism. As a scientific IR theory, it must be built upon mutually related assumptions and contain no contradicting logics. This section will discuss the moral realist corollaries derived from the variables of morality, interests, strength, power, and authority, as previously discussed, and realist assumptions.

These corollaries will serve as the foundation of moral realism. Corollary 1: Interest pursuit is the primary dynamic of state actions as well as of the evolution of international norms. Realism assumes that human nature is selfish, thus that states controlled by human beings are driven by interests.


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  6. Moral realists agree that interest pursuit has primary impact on state actions, but also emphasize the importance of societal perceptions in policymaking. Nevertheless, policymakers have different societal perceptions, or acquired nature, according to Xunzi, due to the differences in their lives, including education, and such perceptions may make them adopt different strategies to deal with similar problems. For instance, the liberal Clinton Administration and neo-conservative Bush Administration adopted different policies towards international arms control and nuclear proliferation.