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A guide for A2 politics students
Series: Understandings

In liberal democracies there is a belief that citizens ought to take an active interest in what is happening in the political world. Political debate in modern Western democracies is a complex and often rowdy affair. There are three fundamental political issues: 'politics', 'power' and 'justice', which feature in almost all political discussions and conflicts. The book assesses the degree to which the state and state sovereignty are disappearing in the modern world of 'globalised' politics, economics and culture and new international institutions. The main features of the nation and the problems of defining it are outlined: population, culture, history, language, religion, and race. Different types of democracy and their most important features are discussed. 'Freedom' is usually claimed to be the prime objective of political activity. The book discusses equality of human rights, distributional equality, equality before the law, the claims for group equality on the grounds of race, gender, class. Rights, obligations and citizenship are closely associated. Ideology is the driving force of political discourse. The book also discusses nationalism's growth and development over the last two centuries with particular reference to its main features and assumptions. It outlines the development of conservatism as a political ideology and movement in Britain during the last two centuries. An overview of liberalism, socialism, Marxism, anarchism, and Fascism follows. Environmentalism and feminism are also discussed. Finally, the book talks about how ideological change occurs and stresses the importance of rationality in politics.

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In 2002, the French party system seems to be demonstrating a fluidity, if not outright instability, equal to any period in the Fifth Republic's history. This book explores the extent to which this represents outright change and shifts within a stable structure. Portrayals of French political culture point to incivisme, individualism and a distrust of organizations. The book focuses on three fundamental political issues such as 'politics', 'power' and 'justice', which appear in almost all political discussions and conflicts. It identifies different 'types' of state in political theory and looks at the major challenges to practical state sovereignty in the modern world. Discussing the concept of the nation in the United Kingdom, the book identifies both cultural and political aspects of nationhood. These include 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'. Liberal democracy, defensive democracy and citizen democracy/republican democracy are explained. The book also analyses John Stuart Mill's and Isaiah Berlin's views on 'negative' and 'positive' freedom. Conservatism is one of the major intellectual and political strains of thought in Western culture. Liberalism has become the dominant ideology in the third millennium. Socialism sprang from the industrial revolution and the experience of the class that was its product, the working class. Events have made 'fascism' a term of political abuse rather than one of serious ideological analysis. Environmentalism and ecologism constitute one of the most recent ideological movements.

’ War (1618–48) and the wars of religion. Westphalia established the key principle of modern statehood: sovereignty . sovereignty The distinguishing characteristic of the state. Sovereignty is the right to have absolute and unlimited power, either legal or political, within the territory of a state. After around 1500, European expansion

in Understanding political ideas and movements

humanitarianism was now much more visible and clearly defined than before. This is not to say that the maintenance of international peace and security, understood primarily as regional stability, did not persist as the international community’s chief preoccupation. Initially, the principle of non-intervention, understood as the primary manifestation of the principle of state sovereignty, had

in The United Nations, intra-state peacekeeping and normative change
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the post-Cold War European security landscape. A ‘Kosovo precedent’: new wars, new interventions? When NATO undertook armed action without an explicit mandate from the UNSC, it entered a kind of international no-man’s land between upholding the sanctity of state sovereignty and that of human life. While NATO members asserted that the humanitarian and strategic imperatives of saving Kosovar Albanian lives

in The Kosovo crisis and the evolution of post-Cold War European security
Grassroots exceptionalism in humanitarian memoir

outside the systems of state sovereignty and global capital. Unlike other forms of humanitarian narrative, which are focused on humanitarian crises and projects or on the work of a particular organisation, humanitarian life-writing tells a story of individual education and empowerment. As a result the genre’s emphasis is not the typical one of compassion and pathos, though images of human

in Global humanitarianism and media culture

legitimising speech act inside the discourse of the international law, but it spectacularly fails to legitimise the violence which follows its invocation. Serbia’s attempts to legitimise its stance as a warring state defending the idea of state sovereignty was represented as an anachronism. Indeed, in Kosovo, the end of the legitimate warring state was at stake. Where is the political entity that may

in Mapping European security after Kosovo

This study explores the normative dimension of the evolving role of the United Nations in peace and security and, ultimately, in governance. What is dealt with here is both the UN's changing raison d'être and the wider normative context within which the organisation is located. The study looks at the UN through the window of one of its most contentious, yet least understood, practices: active involvement in intra-state conflicts as epitomised by UN peacekeeping. Drawing on the conceptual tools provided by the ‘historical structural’ approach, it seeks to understand how and why the international community continuously reinterprets or redefines the UN's role with regard to such conflicts. The study concentrates on intra-state ‘peacekeeping environments’, and examines what changes, if any, have occurred to the normative basis of UN peacekeeping in intra-state conflicts from the early 1960s to the early 1990s. One of the original aspects of the study is its analytical framework, where the conceptualisation of ‘normative basis’ revolves around objectives, functions and authority, and is closely connected with the institutionalised values in the UN Charter such as state sovereignty, human rights and socio-economic development.

Evolution of the normative basis

the main objective, with the utmost emphasis placed on protecting the sovereignty of state parties to the conflict. At the same time, the UN was required to respect fully state sovereignty, that is, uphold the principle of non-intervention. The notion of UN authority inherent in Hammarskjöld’s peacekeeping doctrine, however, contrasted sharply with that implicit in collective security thinking. Almost by

in The United Nations, intra-state peacekeeping and normative change
Impact of structural tensions and thresholds

and China had to be reckoned with. The main preoccupation of war-wary actors was maintenance of international peace and security. Protection of and respect for state sovereignty, and prevention of acts of aggression signified the most important ideational aspect of the new world order. The holocaust did no doubt preoccupy the minds of many, but the German and Japanese aggression in Europe and elsewhere was arguably

in The United Nations, intra-state peacekeeping and normative change