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For most of history, human societies have been ruled by dictators of one sort or another. Despite repeated tides of democratization, over 40 percent of the countries in the world today and half its population are still ruled by non-democracies. The aim of this course is to provide a critical understanding of the dynamics of contemporary authoritarianism, the sources of its resilience, and its impact on global politics.
First, the course will examine the key differences between democracy and autocracy, and among different types of autocracies. The second part will investigate the means by which contemporary autocracies stay in power. In addition to traditional tactics like repression, clientelism and propaganda, we will explore how autocracies adopted economic, nationalist and populist appeals, and nominally democratic institutions like parties, legislatures and elections, to sustain their rule. This segment will also explore the societies ruled by dictatorships, as well as the forces behind the waves of democratization and authoritarian resurgence. It will look at popular opinion and mobilization in autocracies, the sources of resistance, and the dynamics of protests and rebellions that sometimes topple these regimes. The third part of the course will focus on the international behavior and impact of autocracies. Are autocracies more likely to initiate domestic and international conflicts? Can they effectively integrate in the global economic currents and develop their countries? Or are all forms of authoritarianism doomed to eventually result in underdevelopment, corruption and cronyism? Can Western democracies establish and maintain workable relationships with authoritarian regimes and contain their worst tendencies? This segment will examine the accumulated evidence on these issues and discuss the potential future of authoritarianism in global politics.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
mid-term exam, term paper, class participation
Political Science majors