GBST 373
A Global History of Mass Dictatorship Fall 2024
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed HIST 377

Class Details

What if the majority supports dictatorship? Is it dictatorship or democracy? How far is the contemporary American democracy from Alexis Tocqueville’s observation of America as the ‘tyranny through masses’? What’s the dividing line between democracy and dictatorship? How could the communist regime use the metaphor of ‘people’s democracy’ to justify the proletarian dictatorship? How distant is Mao Zedong’s ‘dictatorship by the masses’ from the plebiscitary democracy? How different is the French Jacobin’s ‘Sovereign dictatorship’ from the Fascist’s ‘new politics’ based on popular sovereignty? How different is Jacobin’s ‘totalitarian democracy (Jacob Talmon)’ from the Cold War paradigm of totalitarianism? ‘Mass dictatorship’ as a historical oxymoron is a hypothetical answer to those questions. This course is designed to encourage students to respond independently to those questions. Putting comparatively diverse dictatorships, including fascism, Nazism, Bolshevism, Maoism, developmental dictatorships, and (neo-)populisms in a global historical perspective, this seminar course would raise doubt about the conventional binary of democracy and dictatorship and problematize the Western democracy. This course is motivated by “how to democratize contemporary democracy.” As a participatory observer of the American presidential election 2024, we will investigate a global history of mass dictatorship with a critical gaze.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 15
Class#: 1936
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Class participation: 30%; Pop quizzes: 20%; There will be four quizzes. Each quiz, five points worth, contains questions about recent readings, lectures, discussions, and other class discussions. Final Essay: 50%; Instructions will be given in class several weeks in advance. The final essay needs to be written as an answer with two tiers of argument and supportive examples. The length is about 2,000 words.
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: GBST concentrators and HIST majors
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
GBST 373 Division II HIST 377 Division II
DPE Notes: Taking a global, comparative approach, this course evaluates the experiences of people on different continents with dictatorships and how these authoritarian systems and regimes operate differently in each context.
Attributes: GBST East Asian Studies
GBST Latin American Studies
GBST Middle Eastern Studies
GBST Russian + Eurasian Studies
GBST South + Southeast Asia Studies
HIST Group G Electives - Global History

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