Thursday, May 17, 2007

Book Presentation for Learning Democratic Practices

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

Just for fun, and to pass along some of my recent learning, I'm posting a presentation I delivered as a student of ORLD 4500: Learning Democratic Practices, an elective course in my Adult Learning and Leadership graduate program; I will be as faithful as I can to how it went:

I. Thinking of how and where you grew up, tell me what you think of when you think of American politics. [Wrote down on the board whatever they said, including "freedom" and "corruption."]

Note: The students included a Brit, a Macedonian, a Swiss-Brazilian, a Californian, an Illinoisan, an Ohioan, a New Yorker, and me, originally from Connecticut and a New Jerseyan for the past 11 years.

II. Does the list change when I ask you to use what you read this semester as the lens through which you view the list? [Wrote down whatever they said, including "direct vs. representative democracy" and "participatory budgeting."]

III. Tonight, we'll discuss the biggest possible picture of how American politics developed.

IV. Professor Youngblood assigned this book to me [showed it] because I'm always relating social change to corporations, rather than the government.

V. I've put together this handout for you, and the really fun part comes when we study together what has happened with American political development, or APD for short, since the book was published in 2002, and that will begin on page 3 [of the handout], but first, let's get a foundation of the book's premise [passed out the following handout]:

Shaped By War And Trade: International Influences on American Political Development – The Book’s Essence and a Discussion on Its Relevance Today for ORLD 4500, Learning Democratic Practices; April 24, 2007 (This is p. 1 of the handout.)

[A series of four "New Yorker" cartoons, attributed to Cartoon Bank, and included simply to start us off with some rueful humor, where war and trade intersect:]
“When you get down to it, Dave, we’re all about people: people helping people to kill people.”
ID: 39279, Published in "The New Yorker," April 27, 1998

“Never forget, Bobby, how many brave men fought and died so that we might have a free market.”
ID: 39686, Published in "The New Yorker," June 15, 1998

“How else are we going to pay for the war?"
ID: 52773, Published in "The New Yorker," October 7, 2002

“Oh, that’s good, sir, that’s very good—‘What if they gave a war and nobody profited.’ ”
ID: 123122, Published in "The New Yorker," November 13, 2006

The Top 10 Ideas of
Shaped By War And Trade:
International Influences on American Political Development
(This is p. 2 of the handout.)

Historically, America:

1. Was born of war – by European war resisters and then by American Revolution
2. Needed national credibility among, and respect from, other nations, rather than simply being seen as a disunified collection of states, and so formed institutions:
• Two-branched legislature
• President
• Federal judiciary
3. Had no need for centralized military due to:
• Talented troops and leaders
• R&D with corporations and universities
• The promise of financed higher education for troops
• Pluralism and openness in conferring with interest groups
4. Has coached, not coerced, its electorate, resulting in more buy-in for U.S. actions:
• Committing to the highest technology to minimize American casualties
• Engaging popular support for military campaigns, until Vietnam, when president had unprecedented power from the Cold War era and acted more unilaterally
• Providing inspiration for emergence of member associations from the Civil War through World War I that shaped modern American society, including:
Red Cross
Boy Scouts
5. From the 1770s-1980s, approximately every 30 years, the United States toppled a nation that had world-power support, or a leading world power itself, resulting in:
• Independence in the 1700s
• Ensuring sovereignty; domain expansion; ultimate unity preservation in the 1800s
• International political domination through the majority of the 1900s and into 2000s
6. Coerced populations it considered outsiders: Native Americans; African Americans; Asian Americans – we tread a bit lightly re: Chinese-Americans [due to a trade treaty that we valued especially]
7. The U.S. Constitution sought to ensure:
• U.S. states were unable to create interstate commerce barriers
• National currency; bank; interstate commerce regulation
• Healthy ties with the world economy
8. Some of the greatest internal U.S. conflict has been between U.S. economy sectors that thrive in international markets and those unable to stave off foreign competition; both [Republican and Democratic] parties today are more so protectionist
9. Lesser threat of major war in the ‘90s may have contributed to increase of internal conflict; without as dire a need for the unity necessary during war, disharmony was more affordable
10. We became a nation, interacting at least as much with other nations as with ourselves; American politics, historically and now and in the future, will continue to be influenced more so than has been acknowledged previously by the field of American Political Development by our relationships with other countries, especially during war and trade. (1-10 top tips adapted from Shefter, 2002, pp. 333-357).

The Field of American Political Development: Scholarship Trends (This is p. 3 of the handout.)

Classic APD Scholarship (p. 7 [of the book])

Internal developments or processes are primarily responsible for shaping U.S. politics, including:
• New electoral alignments
• Sectionalism
• Federal system’s changing balance
• Welfare state activity expansion
The scholars of this book feel it’s not just driven internally:
In the United States, debates over the welfare state have historically been seen as quite separate from those about international relations and foreign policy. This view is inaccurate. Foreign trade, arms spending, military service, all impact society greatly and in ways that influence the demand for the welfare state and the politics of getting it (pp. 322-324).

Recommended APD Scholarship (pp. 9-10 [of the book])

Global relations and global processes are primarily responsible for shaping U.S. politics, including:
• Competing empires’ contribution to the founding of the United States
• Initial hardships in battling multiple enemies for extended sovereignty
• Hot and cold wars ~every 30 years
• Cross-national elements in its westward expansion
• Cross-border movements of free and slave labor and capital
• Trade, including its role in adding to government revenue
• 20th century leadership roles in economy and geopolitics assumed by post-WWII United States

Relevant Developments Since Shaped By War and Trade… Was Published (2002-2007)

Classic APD Scholarship (p. 7), including personal commentary Suggested APD
Internal developments or processes are primarily responsible for shaping U.S. politics, including:

• New electoral alignments[, and especially dealignment, probably because citizens see politics as the province of the rich]
• Sectionalism [via gerrymandering, which leads to greater protectionism]
• Federal system’s changing balance […Congress is now Democrat, rather than Republican, and more isolationist and protectionist than prior…and arguably, the change is due to foreign affairs dissatisfaction.]
• Welfare state activity expansion:
o [Up from 39% in 2003, 44% of all polled Americans say, “…they often do not have enough money to make ends meet.”
o Healthcare is a growing concern:
We see the rest of the rich democracies enjoying socialized medicine....Again, the domestic concern is informed by what we see in the world….]

Suggested APD scholarship focus, adapted from pp. 9-10, and expanded to be relevant for 2002-2007

Global relations and global processes are primarily responsible for shaping U.S. politics, including:
• Competing empires’ contribution to the unseating of the United States as the economic powerhouse:
o “Chinese central bank’s dollar-peg/U.S. debt purchase strategy for Chinese export growth has collaterally facilitated both the GOP drive toward fiscal imbalance and war without direct taxation—a confluence that highlights the book’s acute relevance.” (
o Russia now has world’s largest depository of natural gas (
o Today, China and India use 53% of Mid-East oil; in 20 years, they will use two-thirds (
• Continued, perceived hardships in battling multiple enemies for extended sovereignty: [I'm taking poetic license and grouping together same-sex marriage aspirants and terrorists as among America's enemies due to current Pew Research poll results that follow:]
o “Fewer than four-in-ten (37%) [of U.S. citizens polled] support gay marriage ( [...Is it fair to require equal tax payment by gay and lesbian U.S. citizens without affording us equal benefits for the taxes?]
(This is p. 4 of the handout)
o “About four-in-ten (43%) [of Americans polled] feel that torture [of suspected terrorists]…can be often (12%) or sometimes (31%) justified ( [Do they think that...the information they secure via torture will be necessarily reliable?]
• Hot and cold wars ~every 30 years:
o Iraq [...haven’t we learned from Vietnam, or the American Revolution, that a determined populace will not let the supposed powerhouse win? The Iraq War is longer than the Vietnam War at this point…which violates the typical deal that our presidents have had with U.S. citizens: All wars we engage in are relatively swift. Russia and China could be allies, but aren’t. They are watching as we...keep debting, whereas we used to have a surplus; in 1900, Britain had the best military; the highest standard of living; the pound was the world’s currency....]
• Cross-national elements in its westward expansion -- not relevant, 2002-2007
• Cross-border movements of free and slave labor and capital [I’m taking license here, and considering immigrants to be the closest we’ve got to slave labor today]:
o A steady majority of Republicans favor tighter immigration restrictions ( [Do they think that our trade imbalance will be solved by denying passage to immigrants? Or that the good jobs will disappear if Mexicans no longer need to sneak into the country? They are doing the menial jobs that most Americans likely don’t prefer to do in any case....]
o [More license taken, perhaps: iPods are made in China cheaply and sold here expensively]
• Trade, including its role in adding to government revenue:
o We are imposing a tariff on state-subsidized products (
o The tariff directly affects, and might annoy, China, which has 30% imports:GDP ratio – twice that of the United States (
o India-U.S. trade topped US$19B in 2005, US$6.2 billion of which represented U.S. exports to India, “…showing a growth of 24.96% over the previous year….” (
o Russia and GCCC (Saudi Arabia; Bahrain; Kuwait; Oman; Qatar; UAE) are beginning to determine nuclear trade between Russia and GCCC (
o Perhaps the United States will join with Canada and Latin America, like the European Union (
• 20th century leadership roles in economy and geopolitics assumed by post-WWII United States
o Economically we are still the leader, but China, the EU and Japan are gaining on us; last year, China surpassed the United States in car manufacture volume (
o Just after 9/11, “Le Monde” declared, “We Are All Americans…” but then we suffered from “super power syndrome,” according to Dr. R.J. Lifton (
(This is p. 5 of the handout.)
o Geopolitically, the United States was seen to have humanitarian motives that were relatively pure pre-Iraq and now, we can restore our reputation, perhaps, by leading the green movement (

The Essence of Each Chapter

Chapter One: For the most part, historically, American Political Development (APD) has mostly ignored the contributions of international relations and processes on the shaping of American politics (Katznelson, 2002, p. 7).

Chapter Two: Challenge began in 19th century of how to be both a super power and a liberal democracy at once. Economic powerhouse status, without needing to be a strong state, resulted from bountiful natural resources; British venture capital; plenty of labor due to high reproduction and in-flowing immigrants, and the Vienna settlement (Zolberg, 2002, p. 37).

Chapter Three: Lack of credibility from inability to make good on some key commitments thwarted the formation of a stronger state (Keohane, 2002, pp. 60-61).

Chapter Four: We were a state earlier than most give us credit for and the military played a key role in shaping our statehood, which went unacknowledged previously. (Katznelson, 2002, p. 89)

Chapter Five: Trade conflicts were the origin of competitive party politics; they informed their structure (Shefter, 2002, p. 117).

Chapter Six: Great wars inspired American civic voluntarism (Skocpol, Munson, Karch, & Camp, 2002, p. 134).

Chapter Seven: Protectionism is promoted by U.S. House of Representatives due to the geographically deconcentrated small-district system (Rogowski, 2002, p. 204).

Chapter Eight: “…the U.S. government will promote free trade only if a majority favors it” (Goldstein, 2002, p.229). Trade openness relies on support by powerful interests and trade agreements are a solution (Goldstein, 2002, p. 230).

Chapter Nine: The supposedly “weak” U.S. state helped to topple the USSR. U.S. military was contract-based and decentralized compared to Russia’s, and this was to our advantage (Friedberg, 2002, p. 259).

(This is p. 6 of the handout.)

Chapter Ten: Since the end of WWII through the Vietnam War, the president demanded relatively little sacrifice by the American people, informed us less, and upset us when it did inform us, resulting in lower participation in and assistance to the government (Sparrow, 2002, p.274).

Chapter Eleven: Successful policies depend more so on public support than on formal institutions. And “…international forces shape cleavages on policy actions, including “…trade issues, security, culture, migration….” (Gourtevich, 2002, p. 303)

Chapter Twelve: In large part, the U.S. government emerged in order to manage foreign relations, and our global interactions both primarily shape our country’s politics, even by causing in-fighting between U.S. political parties around how to handle problems begun abroad [e.g., Iraq] and likewise, can tremendously influence world events, e.g., the Soviet Union collapse and the end of the Cold War (Shefter, 2002, p. 352).

Bonus Points

The origins of the United States’ wildly powerful capitalist economy and laissez-faire ideology:
In the wake of the Vienna settlement, Europe and the Atlantic world settled down to a century of peace….Under these circumstances, the American state’s potential capacity for mustering external power remained largely untapped…the American economic pie grew effortlessly in comparison with Europe’s, thanks to the abundance of land and natural resources…British venture capital in the middle third of the nineteenth century, and a supply of labor growing rapidly through very high rate of natural reproduction and a steady stream of immigrants (Katznelson and Shefter, 2002, p. 37).

Think about India today. Sound familiar? And in 1900, Britain was on top....

War and trade concerns were a primary catalyst for U.S. competitive party politics:
Conflicts between those Americans who benefited from British international hegemony and those who feared being undersold by British industry provided the economic and social foundation for the U.S. system of competitive party politics.

If Britain’s economic hegemony created the central cleavage in the American party system, its military primacy influenced the basic structure of the nation’s political parties….Parties mobilized not only popular support but also troops for America’s nineteenth-century wars….During the Civil War, many politicians who mobilized troops were given major military commands…. (Shefter, 2002, p. 117)

War and Trade Cultural URLs (This is p. 7 of the handout.)

[In reading the book, I expected to relate most of all to the parts about trade, but instead, found the sections on war more understandable, and so in order to buy in, so to speak, to all of the writing on trade, I went web-trawling and identified URLs on both topics.

I was struck by how much art had been created around the theme of war and realized that the art most easily associated with global trade would be global advertising, and that another facet of globalization is multicultural marketing, including the sort that Commercial Closet focuses on.]


The War Scholar: A Military History Timeline of War and Conflict Across the Globe, 3000 B.C. to A.D. 1999
List of songs about war
War novels
List of war films


History of international trade(albeit Eurocentric, but still useful)
Cyber Lions Categories 2007
Film Lions Categories 2007
• Commercial Closet Association Best Practices: Building GLBT Awareness and Inclusion in Mass/Business-to-Business Advertising

How do you see American political development evolving over the next five years?

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