Free «Comparative Politics» Essay Sample
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Politics refers to the struggle for power in any group that ultimately grants an individual or group of individuals the authority to make decisions for the large group. Power, on the one hand, refers to the ability to influence others or impose one’s will on them. Comparative politics thus refers to the practice of learning and drawing similarities in domestic politics in different countries. Comparative politics emerged from the wide field of political science even though it owes its origin to the political ideologies of great Aristotle. The paper will discuss the scope and definition of comparative politics, its change especially after World War II and its major impacts.
Change in Comparative Politics after World War II
The field of comparative politics went through tremendous changes after World War Two because of various reasons that include the increase in the number of countries in the world. In 1945, the United Nations only had fifty member states but that number has now increased to around 190. The increase in number of countries in the world brought in new political ideologies that changed the scope of politics leading to the change in comparative politics. The other reason for the change in comparative politics was the influence of political and social settings. The policies that guided diplomatic relationships revolved around the war between democrats and socialist republics. Comparative politics focused on the economic gains that countries targeted to achieve from post war alliances and compensations for war losses. This anticipation of gainful relations occasioned changes in comparative politics.
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Anglo-American philosophers as well as other continental European theorists turned away from the relativistic typology as well as cyclonical theory on political change advanced by Aristotle. The theorists believed that times had changed so much and even political theories had to change to suit the demands of the moment. They perceived the ideologies advanced by Aristotle had served their time and could no longer cope with the demands of post-World War states. Ideas of liberty and civil rights triumphed over ideas of logic and rationalism advanced by earlier philosophers. The new American philosophers such as Pareto, Mosca and Michels advanced the elitist political rule paying little regard for the ideological characteristics. They change their ideology of political change to that of democratic and constitutional reforms. After World War Two the global political power balance shifted from Europe to America and the Soviet Union. America and Russia emerged as the new superpowers with two different advancing political and economic ideologies.
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America advocated for democratic government and capitalist economy whereas Russia advocated for socialism in economic affairs and socialism government. The theory of democracy dominated political rhetoric and even political science studies. Political science advanced tracing its roots from American democratic ideas that defined comparative politics on the basis and principles of democracy. This diminished interests in the area of political classification as almost the entire world leaned towards democratic ideas. Graduates of political science, a course only offered in America then toured the world with new ideas in the field of comparative politics. America’s emergence as a superpower had a lot of influence on newly formed states that had separated from large empires or from imperialism.
These new states quickly copied from America political ideologies to show loyalty and solidarity with their ideologies. Three quarters of the world embraced democratic ideologies and thus comparative studies turned into comparison of the same system of government in one country or another. This required a change in comparative politics to remain relevant. The later disintegration of the Soviet Union and the collapse of socialism rendered democracy a monopoly and thus comparative politics had to widen its scope to incorporate the newly created ideas.
There was a change in comparative politics after World War Two: after the war the United Nations was formed that introduced guidelines on how countries had to relate in order to maintain peace and avoid aggression. The guidelines on relations as provided by the United Nations necessitated changes of the countries’ policies and accommodation with the provisions of the United Nations. The United Nations also provided a platform upon which countries could make their analysis of different political systems. This meant that comparative politics could now encompass a comparison of many countries which was different from the period before the formation of the United Nations when comparison was only possible between close neighbors which in most cases shared the same experiences.
The principles of democracy also widened and the new concepts had to be incorporated in the field. This led to fundamental changes in comparative politics. The American School of Political Science formalized the studies of comparative politics, an act that saw students from across the world going to America to study. The growth and spread of university education enhanced the spread of ideas of comparative politics. The establishment of diplomacy to replace previously abolished secret democracy brought in ideas that changed comparative politics.
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Open diplomacy created the need for countries to train diplomats in different system of government where they would represent their countries diplomatically irrespective of the system of government that their countries prefer and use. The change in comparative politics led to a better definition of comparative politics as it narrowed down the scope of the term from the comparison of different political systems across the world to that of studying issues that affected democracy. The scope of the field centered on democracy and democratic ideas. It further narrowed down the study of comparative politics to the study of America’s democratic system viewed as the best in the world at that time. The change of the scope in comparative politics was occasioned by the limited number of world’s political systems. The collapse of the socialist republics in the post-World War era narrowed the alternatives to the study. It resulted in the limited number of systems that could offer a platform for comparison. It narrowed the objective of comparative politics to the division of power in a democratic state and redefining the very principles that govern democracy.
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The change led to a better definition of comparative politics. It even shaped the studies into a subject separating it from the broader political science. Comparative politics emerged as an independent field with its own dimensions. Institutions that offered strictly comparative politics emerged in America, the democratic world powerhouse of that time. This led to the emergence of a new breed of theorists with new ideas different from those advanced by Aristotle and upheld by various scholars, for example the Renaissance legends such as Montesquieu. Since the change in comparative politics narrowed down the objectives of this field, it led to the specialization in the field and the drawing of specific objectives of the field independent of the wider political science. It therefore suffices to conclude that the change allowed to give this field better definition.
The change of comparative politics after World War Two led to a better definition of the genre in that it provided the basis for comparison and improvement. To make an improvement on any system of government there must be the basis for comparison. The change of political world systems provided an opportunity for analyzing the beneficial aspects of the emergence of new systems. The change was also caused by the desire of analysts to identify the ideal type of government to emulate and also to identify weaknesses in their systems of government and make appropriate adjustments. These adjustments led to a better definition of comparative politics. The change was also influenced by valuable lessons from history from which the countries learnt from the mistakes of others and avoided repeating those mistakes. Learning from the mistakes of others ensured that young countries avoided pitfalls that other mature countries had once found themselves in enhancing change in political systems and structures thus affecting comparative politics.
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The change was also influenced by the new diplomatic relations among countries across the world. Scholars and diplomats from different countries met and exchanged ideas on a neutral platform thus ensuring that these countries change their perception and concepts in comparative politics. Comparative methods led to political dictatorship of strong democracies such as America. Since America was the brainchild behind the ideology, all principles had to be aligned with those of the mother country. Comparative methods also limited innovation as it undermined efforts to practice other forms of political ideology. This kind of monopoly in political philosophy provides a thriving environment for perpetuation of dictatorship that ultimately occasioned change. It was very easy for the philosophers behind democracy to induce dictatorial tendencies in this foreign ideology; this necessitated change in the field. It should be noted that comparative methods served to bring in fresh ideas to the existing systems. These ideas had no mechanisms for maintaining their checks and balances and thus change to rectify the situation was inevitable.
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There are four methods for conducting comparison analysis; and they include assessing differences in related cases. It also involves assessing similarities in similar cases, assessing differences in unrelated cases and, lastly, assessing similarities that exist in different cases such as Chinese, Russian and French uprising. The logic behind comparing many different systems is to have a broad base for analysis. It also provides vast experiences of different countries, thus enabling the researchers to identify the ideal recommendation method for adoption. This ensures that countries stay away from system that has proven inefficient over the years. This prevents states from making mistakes similar to the past ones and thus provides important guidelines for the ruling class to identify and adopt the ideal method.
The principle of comparative analysis delves into all the dimensions of comparison to ensure that no area is left unattended that makes the outcome reliable and credible. These four stages ensure that all the possibilities come on board for analysis and final decision making since the outcome determines political future of many states, and this proves why these four principles are adhered to the latter. Comparative politics changed because it adopted theory into practice, in other words the theory should be practical, for example the by standers’ theory, unlike a bad theory that only contains studies that cannot be put into practice such as the creation theory. A good theory is always based on deep research. This gives the theory a strong foundation of knowledge and deep facts whereas a bad theory in most cases hinges upon hearsay, political rhetoric and unconfirmed reports. Bad theories present misleading information that has no basis and cannot be tested and ascertained.
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It is clear the change in comparative methods led to a more objective definition as it strictly focused on the American style of democracy. Comparative politics was more of studying the ideas of democracy as demonstrated by America. The objectives narrowed down to concepts of democracy. The scope narrowed to major on comparison between the levels of democratic freedoms that different countries exercised. This was a form of coming to agreement with the fact that majority if not all the countries accepted one kind of political philosophy. The scope changed from the comparison of different philosophies of leadership to that of studying similar philosophies. The scope worked out the guidelines for studying similarities in the same philosophies and thus led to the establishment of more definitive objectives of the field.
America’s rise to become the world superpower after World War Two changed the scope of comparative politics changing its approach in terms of how it was related with other countries. The majority of the countries had fought alongside America in World War Two, thus solidifying their relations with the new superpower. This led to the change in comparative politics in that America focused on restoring its relation with foreign countries while fronting economic prosperity as opposed to the initial objective of fronting support for war. America now focused on re-establishing economic ties as opposed to scouting for allies to support one another in the event of the War outbreak.
The objectives of comparative politics took an economic angle in that the countries wanted to establish economic ties in a bid to rescue their economies that were on a downward spiral after the World War. The scope of comparative politics changed in that it had to involve aspects of economic integration for post-War survival. The countries established new economic ties that had to overcome the animosity of the World War.
Comparative politics changed in that countries had to adopt relations that would maintain world peace and prevent the outbreak of another war. The objectives changed in that they incorporated strategies that guaranteed world peace and provided guidelines that would be adopted in the event of conflict. The era of suspicion had not ended and countries stopped spying each other and embraced open relations. The change of comparative politics became more objective in that they established a formal structure that guided the field while ensuring that the outcome remained uniform as long as the procedures followed remained the same. It now becomes a formal study with specified guidelines than before when it was practiced informally. Introducing formality in the field eradicated the secrecy that defined the politics of pre-World War Two.
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The objectives of comparative politics were better defined in that they expanded to incorporate issues such as conflict resolution mechanisms as well as utilization of natural resources. After World War Two many countries found themselves in internal conflicts that arose from the distribution of natural resources and the settlement of internal political turmoil. The objectives narrowed down to the precise actions to be adopted in the event of such an occurrence. It is, thus, clear that comparative politics changed significantly to cope with new political structures and power shifts that followed. The change not only redefined clearly the objectives of comparative politics but also separated them from the wider objectives of political science. It also shaped a career with new goals and objectives. Scholars all over the world travelled to America to acquire new skills in the newly established field. The narrowed objectives encompassed attainable goals and objectives of comparative politics.