Study Questions: Chapter 1
1. When has non-violent civil disobedience been used to protest and resist the law?
Answers may include movements led by people like Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr (pp. 13–14)
2. What is “legitimacy”?
The term refers to the situation where the rules and institutions that constitute the state, and which determine how governments are chosen, are accepted by most people as being reasonable. (p. 13)
3. What distinguishes politics from conflicts in the family, the workplace, social organizations, and the marketplace?
Politics involves the public (not private) realm and the use of public/state authority. (p. 4)
4. What is “totalitarianism”?
As once found in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union under Stalin, totalitarianism is a system of government that suppresses all dissent in the name of some supreme goal, and where the distinction between the state, government and society lose all meaning. (p. 15)
5. What is “cultural hegemony”?
The term is used by Marxist analysts to signify the ability of society’s dominant class to have its values and beliefs accepted as the conventional wisdom in society at large. (p. 15)
6. Why did Alexis de Tocqueville argue that the best protection against the tyranny of the majority is the existence of multiple group identities in society?
In a situation where individuals belong to diverse social groups, in addition to sharing a common citizenship with each other, tolerance of group rights is encouraged and the state is less likely to be oppressive. (p. 17)
7. What does Neil Postman mean when he uses the term “disinformation”?
Rather than mean false information, Postman used the term to mean misleading—misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented, or superficial—information. (p. 19)
8. Why are referendums and plebiscites listed as examples of direct democracy?
Both referendums and plebiscites allow citizens to participate and vote on important public questions. (p. 19)
9. Can Canada still be called a democracy when unelected justices of the Supreme Court make key decisions on public issues, as in the case of sexual orientation? Why or why not?
As Alexis de Tocqueville argued, majoritarianism needs to be tempered by protections for individual and group rights. These rights are mostly listed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Where a right is not listed, the justices must find analogous examples to expressed rights to interpret the unexpressed right. (p. 24)
10. What is the “rule of law”?