Monday, July 12, 2010

Poly Sci 101, Where did I miss it? Was it only me?

It seems to often happen that when I pick up a book to read about a something in which I'm interested, I come across concise, unanticipated summary of another topic.

In reading, Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (Acemoglu and Robinson, 2006), just such a fortuitous phenomenon occurred.

In laying out their framework to proceed to the discussion they want to have, the authors point out that:
- All social choices are conflictual,
- Politics is collective decision making about choices in a society,
- Collective decisions are reflected as policies,
- Political power is the capacity for one group to obtain its favored policies over another,
- the Political system is the allocation of political power available to society (i.e. not the power that is inherent in wealth or guns),
- Political institutions (i.e. free entry into politics, one man one vote, etc) are the key factors in determining the political system results for today and, importantly, structural changes that affect the future structure of political institutions.

This is a very basic framework that I discovered for the first time in this book. All the respected faculty of the fine institution of undergraduate learning that I attended and whose courses I sat in never even came close to instilling this level of understanding of government or politics into me.

Accurate reality: We've chosen a political system called democracy, which shares political power based on majoritarian vote as a key institution. Another key institution is limiting the actions available to the shared collective government through constitutional limits and the rule of law. We need to convince the majority that it is still correct to limit the capacity of governments at each level to that role which they are most suited.

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