This course aims to introduce students to contemporary political theorists and debates from the post-WWII period in particular. With the demise of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War towards the end of the century, Western liberalism appeared victorious. Francis Fukuyama argued:
“The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism… What we may be witnessing in not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.”
Yet many developments we have witnessed around the world cast doubt on this assertion: Wars, economic crises, growing inequality and poverty, starvation, environmental destruction, and mass social movements that challenge existing power structures. Liberalism and liberal politics have also been challenged theoretically by many different strands of thought.
Many of the theorists/philosophers we will read do not fit neatly into specific “ism”s and many influential contemporary schools of thought (such as Poststructuralism, Postmodernism, Feminism, Critical Theory, Neo-Marxism/Post-Marxism) refer to heterogeneous bodies of work and have fluid, dynamic boundaries. Therefore, our investigation of contemporary political thought will be organized around debates surrounding some key political concepts, such as justice, equality, power, freedom, oppression, and democracy. We will be reading primary as well as secondary texts.
Specific objectives include providing the students with:
- Awareness on a more comprehensive understanding of “political” and “politics”.
- Awareness on various political problems that continue to plague the world.
- Understanding of different contemporary schools of thought and how they relate to Liberalism.
- Skills of critical thinking and formulating their own thoughts on key political concepts.
- Skills to make sense of political phenomena in a theoretically-grounded manner.