Major Political Isms
Fall, 2012 ~ Instructor: Jim Bolner, Sr.  

We will examine major political “isms” (such as individualism, collectivism, socialism, fascism,
capitalism, and communism) from the perspective of political and legal philosophy. Our focus
will be on the quality of these systems of belief and ideologies and their impact on our political
institutions and practices.


I. Defining the major political isms and ideologies
    Terminology: isms, ideologies, regimes, judgments
    How do we know what we know?
    Ideas and wisdom distinguished
    Belief, faith, reason, and self-interest

2. The role of political isms in our lives
    Our nature and our world view
    Desire, passion, and reason
    The search for "right order"

3. Individualism
    Individualism analyzed
    Individualism in American politics
    Individualism and capitalism
    Pros and Cons of Individualism

4. Collectivism
    What is collectivism
    Collectivism in American politics
    Collectivism and socialism
    The continuum of collectivism

5. The intersection of politics and economics
    Property and liberty
    The inevitability of the mixture of politics and economics
    Economic power and political power
6. The future of isms in the United States
    The Madisonian-Jeffersonian ideal
    Challenges to the Madisonian-Jeffersonian ideal
    What lies ahead

Online Resources

American Ideologies - From, An Online Study Guide

http://www.ismbook.  - The Isms Book - List of Isms

Political Ideologies in the United States [Wikipedia] - Political Isms - Quick Reference - Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism - A Liberty Foundation Website - Plato's Allegory of the Cave
Plato, "The Allegory of the Cave" The Republic, Book VII - Aristotle's Politics, Book II; A Briefer Excerpt:  Aristotle, Politics, Book 2

Seat Belt Letter to the Editor - July 10, 2012

Health Care Letter to the Editor - July 10, 2012

Elections Meter - Capitalism versus Socialism

Monthly Review - A Socialist Magazine

"Ayn Rand in a Nutshell" - The Ayn Rand Institute

George Will - Progressivism and Football - September 7, 2012
PDF Word

The Declaration of Independence (1776)

The Communist Manifesto (1848)

Herbert Spencer on "The Survival of the Fittest" (1884)

David Brooks, "The Conservative Mind," The New York Times, September 25, 2012

Michael Walzer, "Which Socialism?" (1210) Michael Walzer, "Which Socialism," Dissent (2010).

Salman Khan, "Communism" - From the Khan Academy

Salman Khan, "20th Century Capitalism and Regulation in the United States" - From the Khan Academy

Salman Khan, "When Capitalism Is Great and Not-So Great" - From the Khan Academy

Text of First Presidential Debate - October 3, 2012

Salman Kahn on Education - The Diane Rehm Show - October 3, 2012 

First Presidential Debate Fact Check - From The New York Times

Budget Exercise - From

Economic Rationale for State  Intervention in the Economy

Federal Budget 2015 Exercise

Public Debt and Budget Deficit - from the Khan Acacemy

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (Chapter IV)

Text of Vice-Presidential Debate - October 11, 2012

Video of Presidential Town Hall Event - October 16, 2012 [PBS]

Transcript and Audio of Second "Presidential Debate" - NPR - October 16, 2012

Who Pays Taxes? - Center for Budget and Policy Priorities - September 17, 2012

Bill Moyers and Company - Matt Taibbi and Chrystia Freeland on the One Percent's

Power and Privileges - PBS - October 21, 2012

Video of the Third Presidential Debate - October 22, 2012  - And All Other Debates of 2012

Transcript and Audio of the Third Presidential Debate - October 22, 2012

Socialists in the Early Twentieth Century: A Study of Rustic Radicalism (The Journal of Southern History (1954)


Class Four Outline - PDF


Materials Below Suggested by Nancy Sidener

Citizens for Tax Justice:  especially,

Income distribution: the second CTJ site above
US Census Bureau,

Planet Money:, especially

Planet Money on top 1 percent income: