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Lesson One: Classic Comic Strips

The comics will naturally be read with some rapidity and I hope that they may give some notion of the recurring plots of politics. The quotations beneath the frames are for discussion. Some may not be directly to the point. Perhaps you will have better ones to introduce. Perhaps a scholarly student may introduce one. Contradictory ones should be especially invited or presented by yourself. All should be asked to prepare the final frame's inscription. And I would imagine that if every student were to read his or her contribution aloud, we should obtain some profound and amusing results. It might not be a bad idea to Xerox a list of everybody's quotations and ask one student to write a commentary upon them.


It is interesting to compare Hoyle's rules for poker (or John Scarne's; he wrote a kind of sociology of poker-playing and disagrees in some respects with Hoyle) with Robert's Rules of Order (Scott, Foresman and Company, 1970) for legislative and other meetings. Students should know that these rules were not copied from the stone brows of Mount Rushmore. Roberts has changed from edition to edition,l and I would recommend that the world drive to rewrite history that we shall be advocating have a task force on the rewriting of the rules of order in the light of the future society's needs.


Some question on the cartoon frames:

1. Does the Federalist quotation constitute economic determinism?

2. Does our society agree with St. Thomas as to what is or is not robbery?

3. Have you ever been part of any group that had an absolutely democratic character? Describe it.

4. Is government a result of a condition of labor in society and inevitable as such?

5. Do all revolutionary ideologies come from charismatic leaders?

6. Does the man with the club, or the leader, or both, truly follow Lasswell's formula?

7. Is Aristotle naive, and, if so, why has he been so much read throughout history?

8. Can you express Birdwhistell's quotation in easy language while retaining its compactness and exact meaning?

9. Are authorities, like parents, usually surprised whenever their subjects appear to operate independently?

10. Could one infer that the more widespread the leadership, the less difficult it is to put down the group or control it?

11. Does the American Constitution express the will and interest of the classes in power?

12. Have you ever spoken with anyone who believes that the people are not the source of right? If you have, describe the person.

13. Try to write down a case in which some moral, religious, political, or social declaration or promise was made that was not in the interest of a given social class. What do you conclude about Lenin's remark?

14. Do you think that Roberto Michels' Iron Law of Oligarchy applies to American History?

15. How do you determine whether injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, as Thoreau would require of you?

16. Could you say that Merriam's statement is true in the long run but not in the short run?

17. Analyze Locke's statement in the light of Lenin's quotation above.

18. Are hope and optimism more necessary for a new government or for one that has been established for a long time?

19. It looks like Pedro is becoming alienated again. Is that possible in a representative government such as the Council of Greater Hooverville?

20. Have you ever had a dream that clearly had something to do with power or government? Describe it and interpret it as best you can.

21. How are education, science, and government tied together in a modern republic?

22. Can revolution occur in a time of prosperity? If so, is it because humanity likes disorder? Is mankind predisposed to violence?

23. If power is the essence of the state, how does it happen that people did not long ago invent ways of maintaining absolute power perpetually?

The scenario of the cartoon is simple and stupid. Yet somehow I feel that all the major concepts of political science could be introduced in relation to the behavior of the characters. Perhaps ask the students to thumb through the rest of the book over the weekend and come back with at least one example of some idea of political science that was not mentioned or portrayed in the cartoons but that has some relationship to the behavior of the characters. For example, in the Chapteron obedience and the state, disarmament is treated. How does that enter into the behavior of the cartoon characters?


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