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Department of Politics


Robert W. Sutherland, Instructor

October 2012

REACHING THE INSTRUCTOR: E-mail is the best method. Others are slower and less certain.
CLASS MEETINGS: South Hall 10; see schedule below
TEXTS:Commonwealth by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (Penguin Books 0-14-303559-2); Burke, Select Works of Edmund Burke, Vols 1 & 2 (Liberty Fund vol 1: 0-86597-163-3 vol. 2: 086597-165-X). Online texts by Marx & online/photocopied speeches by Castro
STUDY QUESTIONS for Commonwealth: 30%
EXAMS--70%, including a mid-term (30%) and a final exam (40%).

  • ACADEMIC HONESTY: Cornell College expects all members of the Cornell community to act with academic integrity. An important aspect of academic integrity is respecting the work of others. A student is expected to explicitly acknowledge ideas, claims, observations, or data of others, unless generally known. When a piece of work is submitted for credit, a student is asserting that the submission is her or his work unless there is a citation of a specific source. If there is no appropriate acknowledgement of sources, whether intended or not, this may constitute a violation of the College's requirement for honesty in academic work and may be treated as a case of academic dishonesty. The procedures regarding how the College deals with cases of academic dishonesty appear in The Compass, our student handbook, under the heading "Academic Policies--Honesty in Academic Work."
  • DISABILITIES POLICY: Students who need accommodations for learning disabilities must provide documentation from a professional qualified to diagnose learning disabilities. For more information, see: Students requesting services may schedule a meeting with the disabilities services coordinator as early as possible to discuss the needs and develop an individualized accommodation plan. Ideally, this meeting would take place well before the start of classes. At the beginning of each course, the student must notify the instructor within the first three days of the term of any accommodations needed for the duration of the course.
  • Portions of the Catalog on adding and dropping courses are incorporated here by reference.
  • GRADING SCALE for the course is A = 1750-2000, A- = 1650-1749, B+ = 1550-1649, B = 1450-1549, B- = 1350-1449, C+ = 1250-1349, C = 1150-1249, C- = 1050-1149, D+ = 950-1049, D = 850-949, D- = 750-849, F = 000-749. The number of points possible on any given exam or paper can be calculated by multiplying 20 points (A++) by the value (a percentage) of the exam or paper in determining the final grade. For letter grade equivalents, multiply the percentage times: 18 = A, 17 = A-, 16 = B+, 15 = B, 14 = B-, 13 = C+, 12 = C, 11 = C-, 10 = D+, 9 = D, 8 = D-.


I. REVOLUTIONARY THOUGHT--Ancient (Aristotle, Locke, Am. Rev.) vs. Modern (Rousseau, French Rev., Marx & his legacy)
II. MARX--Revolutionary Impulse and the General Cure of Human Misery by Science & Revolution

A. Misery & its cure in On the Jewish Question
B. Science & the glory of violent action in The Communist Manifesto
C. Castro and globalization

III. Wisdom of Experience in Balancing Conservation & Change

A. Burke on the American Revolution
B. Burke on the French Revolution

IV. Commonwealth: Marx for the 21st Century?

ASSIGNMENTS--To be done before class on the day indicated:

Week I: Day 2
-- 9:30: Marx, On the Jewish Question; :Marx, The Communist Manifesto
Week I: Day 3--9:30: Castro, Speeches on World Health & Revolution, Revolution in the Countryside, U.S.& "the system,"
4:--9:30: Castro, Speeches on Neo-liberal Globalization#1, #2, the Press, Democracy, & the "Empire;" "The Barbaric World Order..." "Cuba's Achievement and America's Wars"President Bush at West Point; World Under the rule of Nazi Concepts & Methods
5-- 9:30:Burke, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents . . . .
Week II: Day 6-- 9:30: Burke, Speech on Moving His Resolutions for Conciliation with the Colonies
7-- 9:30:Burke, Reflections on the French Revolution, pp. 85-187
8--9:30: Burke, Reflections on the French Revolution, pp.187-340, 361-365
9 - 9:30: MID-TERM EXAMINATION: In class exam
10: --Noon: MID-TERM EXAMINATION Essay Due
Week III--Day 11: Commonwealth, pp. vii-55 SAM TRACY Questions Due 5pm Friday 10/12
9:30: Commonwealth, pp. 56-100 JOHN KIM Questions Due 5pm Sunday 10/14
13-- 9:30: Commonwealth, pp. 101-164 NA RA PAK Questions Due 5pm Monday 10/15
14-- 9:30: Commonwealth, pp. 165-218 T. COOKE Questions Due 5pm Tuesday 10/16
15--9:30: Commonwealth, pp. 219-311 LEDA JUENGERMAN/DAN ROWLAND 5pm Wednesday
Week IV: Day 16:
Commonwealth, pp. 306-383 GERIN EATON Questions Due 5pm Thursday
Day 17: 5- 8:00 In Class FINAL EXAMINATION
Day 18: Noon: Essay Due


  1. What is the class struggle & how is it related to revolutions in the means of production?
  2. What is the bourgeoise, its personality, culture, & the contradictions leading to its demise?
  3. What is the proletariat, its stages, struggles, & its vanguard?
  4. What does Marx think about: communism, freedom, bourgeois individuality, bourgeois families, historicism & democracy, differing kinds of socialism & the place of communism in the political struggle?


    1. How, in the May 14th speech, does Castro update the revolutionary impulse by applying it to Cuban experience and then expanding it to world concerns?
    2. How, in the June 3rd speech , was the Revolution accomplished and what achievements of the Revolution does Castro stress? To what extent is tourism a challenge to socialism and how does it evoke a revolutionary emphasis on science? How does Castro address terrorism?
    3. How, in the June 20th speech , does Castro's discussion of education set up his attack on the "system?" Write a paragraph characterizing Castro's use of the term.
    4. How, in the July 3rd speech , does Castro link the "system" to "neo-liberal globalization?" What alternative globalization does Castro propose? How does he link it to Christianity? Why does Castro initially compare globalized imperialism to the Bay of Pigs and Vietnam but then use very different terms to explain it in a larger Caribbean context?
    5. What, in the August 21st speech , does Castro mean when he says that "an artificial economy has turned the world into a large casino . . . ."
    6. How, in the November 12th speech, are press and the state related under socialism and capitalism? How does Castro enlist "communication" and "communicator" against the "empire." What will be the "empire's" fate and how will it be brought about? How does Castro respond to those worried about democracy in Cuba?
    7. What features establish the barbarism of the current world order, according to Castro?
    8. What evidence supports the cataclysmic end of such an order? How will Cuba fare in the aftermath?
    9. What purpose is served by the first half of Castro's 2003 speech and, according to Castro, why is Cuba's revolutionary destiny a result.
    10. What qualities of U.S. leadership and policy make it neo-fascist? What concern does it provoke about future U.S. policy towards Cuba and other socialist countries?
    11. What disconnection does Castro see between the Ameican people and the American presidency? How are the American people excused from responsibility for the facist foreign policy of their president? How did President George W. Bush gain, keep and exercise fascist powers?
    12. What is the "great new calling" of the U.S., according to President Bush, and how is it to be fulfilled?
    13. What is the the threat faced by the U.S. and why are past national strategies inadequate in meeting it? What strategy does President Bush offer for the future?
    14. What does President Bush's speech mean for Cuba, according to President Castro? How does he respond to its challenge?



    Assignment I

    Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770)

    1. What distinguishes common or general complaint from the distemper and discontent which Burke addresses?
    2. What is the Grenville government's response? Why has the "great object of policy" for that government gone unnoticed?
    3. What were the desires of the king and a faction of the court? By what methods does the faction seek to prevail as a cabal?
    4. How does a system of favoritism differ from a mixed government with discretionary power? How does such a system differ from a free commonwealth in which Parliament acts as it should?
    5. What objection to the importance of popular support does Burke cite and how does he reply to it? What is the "grand principle" for the plan of favoritism? Does it serve the interest which it claims to advance?
    6. What is the purpose of the House of Commons and what two symptoms indicates its corruption? What reformation does Burke seek and how is it to be accomplished?

    Assignment II

    Speech on Conciliation with the American Colonies (March 1775)

    1. What stages does Burke's interest in America go through (identify at least four) and to what purpose does he finally dedicate himself?
    2. What three considerations help to determine whether Parliament ought to concede? What six sources are especially relevant to the third?
    3. What three ways of proceeding does Parliament confront? Which will not work and why?
    4. What is left and what six propositions are likely to accomplish it?
  5. Assignment III

    Reflections on the French Revolution, I

      1. How important is the term "regulated liberty," used by Burke in the third paragraph? Explain in a well-developed statement Burke's distinction betweeen such liberty and the "simple view" of liberty?.What is its relationship to liberty and power?
      2. What is Burke's initial estimate of how important the French Revolution is? Who is Dr. Price and what does Burke think of his use of the pulpit?
      3. What three claims do Dr. Price and the Revolutionary Society advance?
      4. What considerations provide a key to Burke's reply to each?
      5. How does Burke defend the right to property, especially large accumulations of it?
      6. How does Burke contrast his understanding of human "rights" to those who defend the French Revolutionaries?
      7. What is "the worst of the politics of revolution"? What "natural feelings" or "sentiments" is Burke especially concerned to recognize or defend and how does he do so?
      8. Briefly describe the philosophy based on "moral imagination" and contrast it to what Burke calls "barbarous philosophy."
      9. What does Burke mean when he says that "religion is the basis of civil society, . . ." (185) What is the principle of "consecration" and why is a "perfect democracy . . . the most shameless thing in the world." (189) Why is consecration important for English political life generally, for jurisprudence, for understanding society as a contract.

      Assignment IV

      Reflections on the Revolution, II

      1. What instruction and consolations does Burke expect to be drawn from consecration? Why are they important in responding to Marx on human misery? How does Burke distinguish between the confiscators and the reformers?
      2. What harm, both direct & indirect, does Burke see done by the Revolutionary policy on church property in France?
      3. What groups are the strongest supporters of the policy and what is their basic purpose? What considerations lead Burke to advocate reform of the nobility and clergy as a better policy?
      4. What are the "causes" of "storms" in public life, what are the pretexts? How is history perverted, especially by intellectuals and writers? What is the real reformation they seek?
      5. What is unique about French attempts to reform its Church?
      6. What is Burke's main concern about Church property, esp. monasteries & other public institutions?
      7. Why does Burke hold the Revolutionary National Assembly in such contempt?
      8. Do the executive and judiciary receive any more respect from Burke?
      9. Why does Burke consider the army to be so important?
      10. How does rhetorical liberty differ from the effort to form a free government?


    To Be Determined

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