Fall 2001
Professor Bruce Larkin
TA Claire van Zevern
TA Pascha Bueno
TA Alec Stefansky
TA Ranak Gandhi
Earth & Marine B206
MWF 12.30-1.40
University of California at Santa Cruz

Politics 70

Global Politics

Politics 70: Global Politics
[Links to Online Class Pages]
Syllabus Links Notices
[Class Members Only]

Politics and government are always about something: economics, or security, or how to organize decision-making and collective action in society. The ‘something’ is necessarily consequential--it must matter enough to capture people’s attention--and it must pose a problem. Sometimes there is a problem because people aren’t sure what to do, or how to do it. Sometimes the problem lies in people disagreeing about what to do and how. And sometimes the problem is that novel resources, or an unusual degree of resources, or an unusual degree of coordination are believed needed. All issues in national politics, from the Depression of the 1930s to the abortion controversies of the 1990s, are of this sort.

This course looks at a set of problems in global politics. As we’ll see, these are also national issues. But they are world-wide, or at least very widespread, in scope, and they concern many national societies.

At the beginning of the species’ 109th millenium (for some hypothesize that we are all descendants of a small band of men and women, perhaps fewer than 2000, whose species came into existence about 108,000 years ago), the toughest issues all seem to include the question whether--if they should become subjects of political action at all--they can best be managed by nation states or require global decision and action.

In this course, we’ll take up some of the toughest issues. In a nutshell these are:

Population and environment. Demographers anticipate--in the absence of deliberate action to the contrary--that global population will reach more than 9,000,000,000 in your lifetimes. Is that desirable? If not, should it be a subject of collective decision and action? Of what kind?

In November at The Hague states met to consider ‘global warming’, a consequence of industrialisation, on a scale which is driven in part by population growth. Is this a ‘policy problem’ or will it be solved automatically by the market?

Economic and social justice. Is it just that the populations of some nation-states are ‘rich’ and others ‘abysmally poor’? Or is it simply inevitable? Or is it a proper subject of global policy? If you think there is a ‘global issue’ here, how would you describe it? What course is it likely to take, in the next ten or twenty years, if people act much as they have in the past? If there is a ‘global issue’, what should be done, and by whom? Again, is this a ‘policy problem’ or will it be ‘solved’ by the market?

Is it right and just that some peoples do not enjoy the fundamental non-economic preconditions of a decent life in society? First of all, what are these? They could include: personal security, security of one’s home, security from arbitrary action by the State, access to health services, access to education and information, freedom of expression, freedom to come and go, freedom to buy and sell and seek work. But -- and here is the ‘global’ element -- if people do not enjoy social justice in this sense, do other societies have a ‘right’ to help them do so? A duty? Or are measures to change other societies interference and therefore wrong?

The catchword of the 1990s has been globalisation. Is ‘globalisation’ compatible with economic and social justice? Should it be a subject of national policy? of international policy?

Security. The United Nations Charter assigns the ‘primary responsibility’ for the maintenance of international peace and security to the UN Security Council, but since 1945--when the Charter came into effect--the ‘big powers’ have built and relied on national forces, not subject to Security Council control, to maintain their ‘security’. If the choice were yours, would you choose a world of ‘big powers exercising self-help’ or a world of ‘collective security under the Charter’? Or some other variation? And--whatever your preference--are your persuaded it can be achieved, given that people and societies are as they are?

Do nuclear weapons pose a special issue, which cannot be resolved by political means?

Democratisation. How can you tell a ‘democracy’ from a polity which is not? Does it matter whether societies are ‘democracies’? Should ‘democratisation’ be an objective of the United States? Of other countries? Of the United Nations? Should incentives be given to states which adopt democratic practices . . . and punishments or denials imposed on societies which do not?

Does an ‘ethnic group’ have a right to form a state of its own: independence? autonomy? Expression of its own culture? To be free from discrimination? Who decides that an ‘ethnic group’ is denied its rightful place by the State? Who speaks for it? What does it mean for global politics if a group takes up arms in the name of ‘national identity’?

Information. Some argue that the soil in which global governance will grow is that of communications, from the adventures of travelers and explorers hundreds of years ago through the revolutions in publishing, shipping, radio, film, television, and most recently the technologies, infrastructure, and content of the Net and Web. In fact, it is the capacity to move from home which has made world war possible . . . and now the militaries are preparing ‘information warfare’. Are there key decisions about the Net and Web which, if taken in the next few years, could make the difference between a future world of ‘global security and freedom’ and a future world of ‘global danger and repression’?

All concern the key considerations of global politics--the state, ‘interests,’ ‘power’ or capability, and action--and the central categories of all politics and political study--interpretations, claims, and the negotiation of complementary projects. All concern ‘borders’: are rights, obligations, and duties within a society also rights, obligations, and duties outside that society? And if they are exercised--acted on--in other societies, how can it be determined whether those acts are ‘unwarranted interference’?

Each of these issues is big enough for a course by itself, so we’ll adopt the following method. We will take up each topic for two weeks. In the first of the two weeks we will scout the problem, answering questions like “what kind of problem is this?” and “how important is it?” and “can politics address this problem usefully?” In the second week we will consider one or two specific cases which illustrate the broader topic. For example, under the topic ‘population and environment’ we could look closely at the problem of ‘global warming’, the Kyoto Protocol, and debates at the just-completed [November 2000] climate conference in The Hague. In fact, we will do that.

You will write four five-page papers and take a final exam. The papers are due on Friday of the third, fifth, seventh, and ninth weeks. Attendance at class and the once-a-week section is required, and a ‘presence list’ will be kept.

Required Reading [Online]

Required, recommended, and suggested online articles are listed in the file P70.Links.html


These are a central part of your reading and performance for this course, so please pay them close attention. There will also be required supplementary material in the Newsletter:


Notes for all class members, and a classlist, will be in


which is restricted to class members [password to be provided in class].

Required Books [BayTree Bookstore, except the Reader]

Reader [Available ‘soon’ from the UCSC copy center]. Two articles:

Brown, Lester R., et al. State of the World 2000 (W. W. Norton, 2000) [WorldWatch Institute].

Graham, Kennedy [ed.]. Forword by Kofi Annan. The Planetary Interest: A New Concept for the Global Age (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1999).

Holden, Barry [ed.] Global Democracy: Key Debates (Routledge, 2000).

Smith, Dan and Michael Kidron. The State of the World Atlas, 6th edition.

Suggested Books [Please order from the bookshop of your choice]

Held, David. A Globalizing World? .

Kaldor, Mary. New and Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999).

McSweeney, Bill. Security, Identity and Interests: A Sociology of International Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). Cambridge Studies in International Relations 69.

Turner, Stansfield. Caging the Nuclear Genie: An American Challenge for Global Security (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1997)

Instruction begins on Wednesday, 19 September, and ends Friday, 30 November. The final exam for Politics 70 is Tuesday, 4 December, 9-11 a.m. in the regular classroom. 12 November and 23 November are holidays: the class will not meet.

Part I

Required: Brown, et al. State of the World 2000 and Graham [ed.], The Planetary Interest. Heilig [in Reader].

Suggested [skim]: Mapping Globalization. Special issue of The American Behaviorial Scientist, Vol. 44 No. 10, June 2001.

Sessions 1-5. Population and Environment.
     Week 1. What are we doing to the planet?

Are there ‘too many’ people? What are the discernible demographic trends? Births? Life expectancy? Numbers? Is population size properly a question for politics (rather than, say, personal choice)? What are the latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? What do they mean? Are there other changes--potentially harmful changes?--in the global environment? Are they attributable to human actions? If so, are they also properly subjects of political decision and action?

     Week 2. Case: Warming.

Case: Global Warming and Implementing the Kyoto Protocol. What were the arguments at The Hague? What followed at Bonn? How were the issues addressed? Is the ‘international community’ doing a good job? an adequate job? of addressing global warming?

Sessions 6-10. Economic and Social Justice.
     Week 1. Poverty: declining? growing?
     Week 2. Cases: Globalization.

Cases: Effects of ‘globalization’. What do case studies, and figures in the United Nations Development Report, tell us about effects of ‘globalization’? Is the WTO evil? Russia victim of exploitation by the industrial powers? Africa forgotten? Does global ‘development’ trickle down, or not? If these are policy issues, where should political measures be taken? and what should they be?

Session 11. Taking Stock.

There is an ongoing struggle in the United States about whether the national government [or government at any level] should be concerned with public health, the environment, economic policy, social welfare, health services and education, which takes the form of specific arguments about narrowing or extending the role of government in each of these spheres. Some say that in a representative democracy the government should address these subjects: after all, it is guided and governed by its elected representatives. Others say that less government is better: these subjects should not be the work of the democracy, but should be decided and undertaken by groups, corporations, localities, individuals, none answerable to elected representatives of the people. Is there an analogous issue at the global level? Can governance work if some States decline to accept, or to make, binding rules achieved through broad discussion?

Part II

Holden, Barry [ed.] Global Democracy: Key Debates, and Turner, Caging the Nuclear Genie.

Sessions 12-17. Security.
     Week 1. What is ‘Security’?
     Week 2. Case: Nuclear Weapons.

Case: The Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime. What was decided at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference in April-May 2000? Are the nuclear powers really committed ‘unequivocally’ to give up their nuclear weapons? Why have leading political and military figures from the United States and other countries come out in favor of sharp reductions or complete elimination of nuclear weapons?

Sessions 18-22. Democratisation.
     Week 1. What is Democratisation?
     Week 2. Case: Democratisation as Policy Aim.

Case: Is ‘Democratisation’ a US Foreign Policy Aim? Should It Be? Consider US policy toward China, apartheid-era South Africa, post-1991 Russia, and former Yugoslavia. Can outsiders make a difference? Of what kind? Is every ‘ethnic group’ entitled to its ‘own’ democracy? Who is to decide? and who is to decide whether (as in Chechnya, or Kosovo) militants should take up arms for independence?

Sessions 23-28. Information.
     Week 1. Do the Net and Web Make Global Governance More Necessary? More Possible? More Dangerous?
     Week 2. Cases: Censorship, Surveillance and Control.

Case: Examples from Russia, Britain, China and the United States of Government Measure to Surveil and Control the Net and Web. Will the Net and Web make for freedom and democracy? or for repression and authoritarianism? Are the Net and Web already significant for our other topics (population, environment, economic and social justice, security, democratisation)? Are Net and Web changing how international politics is done? and even how it is studied?

Session 29. Conclusion.

How This Class Will Work

You will receive eighteen or twenty handouts during the term, each containing statements, claims, or assertions. As you listen to the corresponding lectures, evaluate the claim or statement, on the following scale:

I agree. I would adopt this claim as my own view. Likely. But I’m not sure. This is definitely a candidate claim ‘I would adopt as my own.’ Not likely I’d adopt this as my own, but it is worth discusÐsing. Perhaps I’d adopt parts of it. Not likely I’d adopt this as my own, but because others believe it true it’s a claim that should be understood. I would not adopt this claim as my own.

There will be a space in which to make notes about your reasons for your judgment about the claim. Of course, your judgment will be provisional: you might later change your mind, either about the judgment, or about the reasons. This exercise is organized around two questions, which you can ask about any claim you consider worth thinking about:

Your four five-page papers will be organized around these questions. For each paper you will choose a claim [from the handouts received up to that point] and one or more of the assigned books. In your first page (or less) you will show which of the five positions on the scale you chose and write a concise, even somewhat schematic or outline statement of your reasons; it need not include any citations or references, though it should convey your reasons clearly. Of course, you may identify a combination, or a middle position, or a variant, of the five check-boxes. In the following four pages (or more) you will make an argument, stating your position, constructing the argument, offering evidence, considering (even if briefly) the most powerful counter-case, and offering a conclusion. In this section the emphasis will be on clear statement, an effective, sequential structure, apt citation of the works read, and a statement why you reject the strongest contrary or alternative position.

Your four five-page papers are due on October 5, October 19, November 2, and November 16.

The Final Exam

The final exam will consist of two one-hour essay questions. In each case, you will be given a choice of three or four of the handout statements on which to write. And the assignment will be some variation on “assess this claim, stating your argument, identifying the strongest contrary or alternative position and your reasons for adopting your position rather than a different one.”

The final exam for Politics 70 is Tuesday, 4 December, 9-11 a.m. This is the only time the exam will be given. Students who plan to depart for Christmas holiday prior to the exam should not take this course. You must pass the final exam to pass the course.

Office Hours

Monday 2.30-3.30 and Wednesday 11-12 in Cowell 183 [Cowell Library]. Feel free to send queries to me at larkin@learnworld.com. If the regular times don’t work, please arrange another time with me.

The TAs are Claire van Zevern, Pascha Bueno, and Alec Stefansky, and Ranak Gandhi.