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Alan Cromartie

Max Weber approached legitimacy as a subcategory of 'domination', by which he meant 'the probability that certain specific commands (or all commands) will be obeyed by a given group of persons'. The ultimate source of legitimacy theories was probably the bias towards individualism that was introduced by Christianity. Because the objective of Christians was salvation, political activities were inessential to their self-conception, and it was possible to hold that earthly governments were something contingently willed by Providence. Thomas Hobbes was the first great thinker to face up to our political predicament. The Hobbesian detachment of a reflective self from the activities that it engaged in involving him in developing a picture of that self as holding beliefs supportive of his state's authority. John Lockean's legitimacy was founded on the memory of an uncoerced decision to put oneself into subjection, but such events were virtually unknown.

in Political concepts
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Kevin Harrison and Tony Boyd

Liberalism has become the dominant ideology at the start of the third millennium. This chapter traces the origins of liberalism back to the late seventeenth century and the political turmoil in England that followed the civil wars of the middle of the century. It outlines and discusses the main themes of 'classical' and 'New' liberalism. The key themes include the individual and his/her rights; an optimistic view of human nature; a belief in progress; a commitment to freedom; limited government; the economy and liberalism; and a commitment to internationalism. The limitations of British liberalism began to become evident just before the First World War and it was almost eclipsed during the inter-war period. The chapter discusses the apparent renaissance of liberalism that followed the collapse of Soviet communism during the late 1980s and the apparent triumph of liberal capitalist democracy on a global scale.

in Understanding political ideas and movements
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Ian Carter

Isaiah Berlin, the English philosopher and historian of ideas, called the two concepts of freedom 'negative' and 'positive'. One might be tempted to think that a political theorist should concentrate exclusively on negative freedom, but a concern with positive freedom should be more relevant to psychology or individual morality than to political theory. Freedom is therefore a 'triadic relation', that is, a relation between three things: an agent, certain preventing conditions, and certain doings or becomings of the agent. Critics of libertarianism, typically endorse a wider conception of 'constraints on freedom' that includes not only intentionally imposed obstacles but also unintended obstacles for which someone may nevertheless be held responsible. Socialists typically assume a broader notion than libertarians of what counts as a 'constraint on freedom' though without necessarily embracing anything like Berlin's 'positive' notion of freedom.

in Political concepts

In the story of post-Cold War conceptual confusion, the war in and over Kosovo stands out as a particularly interesting episode. This book provides new and stimulating perspectives on how Kosovo has shaped the new Europe. It breaks down traditional assumptions in the field of security studies by sidelining the theoretical worldview that underlies mainstream strategic thinking on recent events in Kosovo. The book offers a conceptual overview of the Kosovo debate, placing these events in the context of globalisation, European integration and the discourse of modernity and its aftermath. It then examines Kosovo's impact on the idea of war. One of the great paradoxes of the war in Kosovo was that it was not just one campaign but two: there was the ethnic cleansing campaign in Kosovo and the allied bombing campaign against targets in Kosovo and all over Serbia. Serbia's killing of Kosovo has set the parameters of the Balkanisation-integration nexus, offering 'Europe' (and the West in general) a unique opportunity to suggest itself as the strong centre that keeps the margins from running away. Next, it investigates 'Kosovo' as a product of the decay of modern institutions and discourses like sovereignty, statehood, the warring state or the United Nations system. 'Kosovo' has introduced new overtones into the European Weltanschauung and the ways in which 'Europe' asserts itself as an independent power discourse in a globalising world: increasingly diffident, looking for firm foundations in the conceptual void of the turn of the century.

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Kevin Harrison and Tony Boyd

Starting with Marxism, this chapter examines Karl Marx's theories of history, economics and politics. It discusses the controversies within Marx-inspired political organisations in the nineteenth century, particularly the challenge mounted to orthodox Marxism by the 'revisionist' school. The chapter then analyses twentieth-century attempts to establish concrete political systems claiming 'Marxist' legitimacy, with particular attention to the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. It examines attempts to reinterpret Marxism to make it relevant to twenty-first-century social and economic conditions. Turning to the wide-ranging form of political thought known as anarchism, the chapter discusses anarchist views of human nature, the state, liberty and equality, and economic life. The chapter concludes with a critique of anarchism and some thoughts as to its relevance to modern politics.

in Understanding political ideas and movements
From Afghanistan to Iraq
Kerry Longhurst

This chapter centres on the German responses to September 11 2001 and the ‘War on Terror’. It examines the post-Cold War transformation of the role of the Bundeswehr in the 1990s and tries to assess the nature and extent of change in German strategic culture. It also shows how strategic culture affects policy behaviour. This chapter determines that in the aftermath of the war in Iraq, the Iraq German security policy became focused on three interconnected matters, namely: the reform of the Bundeswehr, the creation of a practical European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), and the re-building of relations between Germany and the US.

in Germany and the use of force
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Jonathan Seglow

This chapter explores what it means to move multiculturalism from the outskirts to the centre of our political thinking. It explains the range of multicultural rights and examines an important attempt to theorise them. The chapter considers Will Kymlicka's Multicultural Citizenship to defend cultural protection along liberal lines. Influenced by Inuit communities in the Canadian Northwest Territories, Kymlicka regards a culture as a civilisation, self-sufficient and with its own social institutions. The chapter explores the attempts to go beyond Kymlicka's largely liberal approach with a more radical 'politics of recognition', which says that we recognise cultures on their own terms. Charles Taylor's elegant essay 'The Politics of Recognition' has given the politics of recognition a rich philosophical background. Taylor's account of recognition seems to hover between endorsing the values a culture subscribes to and affirming a culture's specific identity, which need not require endorsing all its values.

in Political concepts
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Kevin Harrison and Tony Boyd

This chapter discusses the concept of the nation first in general terms and then in relation to the nations of the United Kingdom (UK). The United Kingdom has great difficulty in being identified as a 'nation-state'. For most of its people there are two competing 'national' identities: 'British', associated with the UK, and 'English', 'Welsh', 'Scottish', and in Northern Ireland 'Loyalist British' and 'Irish'. The problem of nation and national identity can be investigated through a study of Northern Ireland, where issues of national and state identity have contributed to the political crisis. The chapter focuses on some features associated with the nation, identifying cultural and political aspects of nationhood: nation and state; race and nation; language and the nation; religion and national identity; government and nation; common historical and cultural ties; and a sense of 'nationhood'.

in Understanding political ideas and movements
Open Access (free)
Kevin Harrison and Tony Boyd

This chapter distinguishes a number of varieties of nationalism: liberal, reactionary and radical. It provides a brief history of nationalism from the pre-Renaissance period to the twentieth century. Then the psychological appeal of nationalism is examined, as is its impact on international politics, and on empires and multi-national states. The chapter considers the elements of nationalism: sovereignty of the people; ethnic nationalism and civic nationalism. It identifies a number of stages in the development of nationalism: proto-nationalism; early modern nationalism; nationalism in the age of revolutions; twentieth-century nationalism; and post-Cold War nationalism. The chapter also considers whether nationalism as an ideology serves particular political interests. Nationalism can fulfil a number of political functions such as promoting social change, creating social cohesion, or strengthening the hold of the ruling class. The chapter offers a critique of nationalism and some reflections on its possible future.

in Understanding political ideas and movements
Ciarán O’Kelly

This chapter is about national ties and how they are supposed to act as a glue that holds the state together in the eyes of its citizens. A nation-state is one where all the people in the state are bound together by ties of national solidarity. Nationalists argue that solidarity derived from 'thin' concepts like 'justice' and 'utility' cannot bind people to their states. Conceptually, the sources of solidarity have either derived from the ideas of ethnicity or of civic unity. The questions provoked by the attempts to redeem civic nationalism concern the coherence and practicality of civic solidarity. Some contemporary political theorists regard nationalism as an anachronistic vestige of less enlightened times or as a distraction from the real issues of politics. The rise of ethnic nationalism and of imperialist racialism led to the sidelining in the more established nation-states of the republican traditions associated with civic nationalism.

in Political concepts