LANGUAGE AND POLITICAL SCIENCE

ABSTRACT
Language and politics shape thinking and provide a way to order and see coherence in the world. Everything that people do in their everyday lives depends on language and politics. Language, religion and territory are very often of critical importance to nationalities. Language, politics, politics of language, language as part of politics, identity, politics and language, and cultural aspects of language are discussed in this essay. Finally, political science, as an international and interdisciplinary field, integrates the study of government, public policy, political processes, systems, and political behavior. In order to achieve the best approach to this issue, some keys concepts are discussed to understand political science in a general sense.
PALABRAS CLAVES
Lenguaje – política – poder – gobierno – nación – estado – soberanía – legitimidad – democracia

RESUMEN
El lenguaje y pensamiento político forman y proporcionan una manera de ordenar y ver la coherencia en el mundo. Todo lo que la gente hace en su vida diaria depende del lenguaje y la política. El idioma, la religión y el territorio son muy a menudo de suma importancia para las nacionalidades. El lenguaje, la política, la política del lenguaje, el lenguaje como parte de la política, la identidad, la política y el lenguaje y los aspectos culturales de la lengua se discuten en este ensayo. Por último, la ciencia política, como un campo internacional e interdisciplinario, integra el estudio del gobierno, las políticas públicas, los procesos políticos, los sistemas y el comportamiento político. Con el fin de lograr el mejor enfoque para este tema, algunos conceptos claves son discutidos a comprender la ciencia política en un sentido general.

KEY WORDS
Language – politics – power – government – nation – state – sovereignty – legitimacy – democracy

1.1.   LANGUAGE

Language is perhaps the most important function of the body. It allows sustenance as a child. The human species lives in a world of language where the possession of language, more than any other attribute, distinguishes humans from other animals. Linguists have long been interested in language, in such matters as its origin, nature, and uses. Language has provided people with such a rich source of myth, religion, and wonder, that even today, the mystery of language is seen as the source of human life and power.

There are some interesting stories about how language could have originated.   In Genesis, there is the giving of names by a deity and the diffusion of tongues following the destruction of the Tower of Babel. Another example story which is not biblical, of the Spanish Emperor Charles V, tells that language was best used for certain topics. English was the proper language for commerce, German for warfare, French for women, Italian for friends, and Spanish for the worship of God (Wardhaugh,1977).

Despite all the Biblical and non-biblical stories, theorists and linguists, still continue to have considerable anxiety about how language is used in society. For these specialists, language is defined as, “A system of arbitrary vocal symbols used for human communication.”  A scientific attitude towards this phenomenon can be construed. First of all, there is broad agreement that languages are all made possible by the same genetic information and all share some universal characteristics. Secondly, languages, no matter which one, are all processed by the brain in basically the same way.

Evidence about how the brain processes “arbitrary vocal sounds” into human communication comes from archeological records. These records suggest that communication with language emerged about 200,000 years ago when the human species developed a flexible vocal tract to make wide distinguishable sounds. The ability for an individual to model the world for him/herself, to transfer or communicate information, and share feelings and ideas using language, has been probably the most advantageous evolutionary adaptation of the human species.

For language processing, the brain administers two systems: a system of sounds, which allows a small number of sounds to be used over and over again in various combinations to form units of meaning; and a system of meanings, which allows these units of meaning to be arranged in a finite number of ways to express simple and complicated ideas. Speakers of any one language use only certain sounds and only certain combinations of these sounds to make meanings, while speakers of other languages combine sounds to form units with other meanings. So the human brain is capable of producing, combining and managing or understanding an enormous amount of arbitrary sounds that become language. But usually, most people communicate with one, two or three languages at most.

Language is a finite system of elements and principles that make it possible for speakers to construct sentences to do particular communicative jobs, but their possible combinations are infinite. All languages seem to be characterized by   systems of rules of certain kinds. All have nouns and verbs. All have consonants and vowels. All have devices which allow speakers to make statements, ask questions, and give commands or make requests. All have means for referring to “real world” objects and relationships (Wardhaugh, 1977). And all allow their people the freedom to create original sentences, to talk about anything within the realm knowledge, say things to each other, and express their communicative needs. Human language is the cement of society allowing people to live, work, and play together, to tell the truth but also to tell a lie, or lies. Sometimes language is used merely to keep communication channels open so that if any need arises to say something of importance, a suitable channel is available.

1. 2.    POLITICS

Politics shapes the way a society lives every second of every single day because world events can be examined from a variety of perspectives. Essentially, politics determines how the human species as a society organizes, governs, and interacts. Politics combines the distinct and separate threads of daily life to give people different vantage points on what life is all about. In many ways, life is the use of power, through language and politics. World history shows the human species interest in power. For example, it may be evidenced in terms of a political state, or in terms of an interpersonal relationship such as marriage, or it can be seen in national activities such as elections.

Politics, put simply, is the process by which groups of people make collective decisions. Therefore, politics and the behavior that defines it, definitely shapes peoples attitudes, not only as individuals within a society but also as a civilization in general. Naturally, a consequence of politics is learning to identify the positive and the negative political arguments that have occurred throughout the course of history.

Incidents and controversies around the world arise as governments try to control what languages or forms of languages are allowed to be taught or used for certain purposes.  It is important to point out the politics of language in the effort to make English the official language of the United States.

1. 3.   POLITICS OF LANGUAGE

Language is functional at meeting the communicative needs of its own speech community. All languages adapt to meet the changing contexts and needs of a specific speech community. There is a true language that is spoken worldwide which is sign language. It is the only language that is expressed in the same way in all countries of the world. Probably, the mute and deaf people have the most perfect speech community as far as equivalence of expression and unity of thought.  Outside of sign language, one-half of the world’s total population speaks but eight languages. These are: Mandarin, English, Hindustani, Spanish, Russian, Arabic,  Bengali and Portuguese. Knowing these languages, it is possible to speak with over two billion people. There are some languages such as Dutch/Flemish(called collectively Netherlandish) and Norwegian/Danish, Hindu/Urdu, Malay/Indonesian and Thai/Lao which are considered separate languages out of political consideration that also are a part of the global social communication network. Even languages that have very few speakers, such as Apache with only ten, are counted as valid communication cultures.  But in speech communities, sometimes one group will have more power, status or economic resources than the other. In this case, the language variety of that dominant group is often perceived as having higher status as well, especially if speaking it affords increased access to power or wealth.  Therefore language has often become a very influential part of politics.

The most powerful feature influencing spoken language is its ability to mark a person´s identity as a member of the group closest to him/her in everyday life.

1. 4.   LANGUAGE AS PART OF POLITICS

Language standardization occurs from a variety of forces.  It may be from institutions in the private sector, or en masse: the broad public with a huge population of individuals who are the controlling segments of society. All these segments together contribute to language standardization.

Individuals may decide on a certain language of communication to be spoken and what is considered standard and what is not. Invariably, the standard form is very close to the language the decision-makers use. A society decides on standardization of a specific language when users of a language all agree on one set of variants and genres that will be understood by everyone, whether in spoken or written texts.

Notwithstanding influence from the masses, governments must also make language standardization decisions since language standardization is a policy response to one of the most fundamental properties of language: it varies and it changes.  Magazines, newspapers, and news agencies often produce editorial guidelines on how language is to be used within their pages. These standards are enforced by editors and proof-readers and go on to have a broad indirect influence on the thousands of readers of the publication (Fasold, 2008).

To see more clearly how language works its way into politics, it is important to understand some basic concepts explained by the sociolinguist of language Joshua Fisherman (1972). Fisherman draws conclusions about language and politics from people’s everyday discourse. Then, he gives them technical definitions.

Fishman distinguishes “nationalities” from “ethnic groups”. Nationalities are social groups concerned with their status in relation to any other social group. Nationalities have a relatively complex level of organization. They are keenly aware of their distinctive customs, values and actions taken to preserve and strengthen their ties. Nationality groups are also highly aware of the political forces at work in the country they live in, and are eager to extract concessions from their governments that will give them political advantages. A nationality may or may not control territory as a sovereign nation but usually insist on some level of autonomy within a nation. A nationality group’s main goal is the establishment of its own sovereignty: to become a new country of its own right.

Ethnic groups are concerned primarily with their own local affairs and they do not have much interest in other social entities, except possibly their closest neighbors. Ethnic groups usually do not make strong demands on government. Sometimes there is a softening of the boundary lines between the two groups. Some nationalities are more like ethnic groups in not being demanding of the governments that control them, and some ethnic groups behave something like a nationality group.

Fishman also distinguishes a nation from a state. “Nation” is identified on a world map as a different color area from areas around it. Nation is also a state that is ”largely  or increasingly” under the control of one particular nationality (Fishman, 1972:4).  And, “state” is a political unit with control over and responsibility for all the people that live within it.

Fishman gives some examples of world countries which he considers are technically not nations at all, but rather multinational states. They are Iceland, North and South Korea, and probably Portugal. But what makes these multinational states?  A multinational state is just a country with more than one nationality within its borders.

What does nationality and ethnicity have to do with language? Simply, nationality expresses meaning through the portrayal of its symbols of national identity. These symbols are religion, territory, and language. The nature of language as a symbol is of critical importance to nationalities because they defend their language or ‘national symbol’ with great energy. A national language is like the national flag. It becomes a point of defense. National and official languages are almost always spoken, and countries are no doubt best off if the language is loved.

1. 5.    IDENTITY, POLITICS AND LANGUAGE

Language is an important part of a nationality because language is part of the identity of the person who speaks the language of a particular nationality. Language has its value, although more symbolic than functional. Fishman depicts the nature of language as a symbol for nationalities, and makes a distinction between “nationalism” and “nationism”.

According to Fishman, nationalism is concerned with the identity of a people, their awareness of themselves as a unified group, distinct from others. In the case of nationism, this concept has to do with the nuts and bolts of governing. A nationalist language is the official language used to carry out government tasks. To choose the language of one of several nationalities as the country´s national language is bound to offend the others and risk political instability. The reasons for language loss around the world are because groups or ethnic groups do not see or do not consider their language as important to their identity. The group begins to give up their language over several generations in favor of another language that seems more politically or economically advantageous. In North and South America, for example, indigenous groups replaced their language with English or Spanish. Africa and Asia use the language of the former colonial power, as at least one of their official languages. Many times, the language of a former colonial ruler makes no sense as a national language, or as a symbol of national identity. There are some cases that can be used as an illustration to understand this fact.

The Kurds are among the most nationalistic of all the world´s nationalities that do not control their own state. Kurdish areas are in parts of Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. Until 1991, if a person was caught singing in Kurdish, he could be arrested. Kurds wanted to establish their own state, Kurdistan, but the states that control the territory do not want to give the territory up.

In China, until 2004, the television cartoon show featuring Tom and Jerry   spoke local dialects, like Shanghainese. The Beijing government put a stop to it insisting that dialects had to be replaced by Mandarin, the official language.  In 2002, the government of Singapore put a rating of NC -17 on a motion picture consisting of excerpts from the lives of four ordinary Singaporeans. The NC-17 rating means that no one younger than seventeen is allowed to see it. Although there was no violence and no sex in the movie, the government considered the dialogue included bad grammar.

In another example of government control over language,  voters in the state of Alaska in the United States overwhelmingly passed an initiative amending the state’s constitution to make English the state´s only official language (the amendment was later struck down in court (Fasold, 2008). A small village of only 380 residents brought up an appeal in the state court contesting the English only legislation and asking that local government business be conducted in Yup’ik.

After studying the case, the judge who decided against the Alaskan Official English amendment said that legislating against the use of certain languages is wrong because, “Language is the beginning; it is part of  who we are” (Rosen, 2002). It is clear then that the differences between languages and dialects are too vague. Everyone knows that people use the language  to get ideas across to other people and when people speak in one language or dialect they are displaying affinity with one social group.

1.6.   CULTURAL ASPECTS OF LANGUAGE

People use language to do far more than just communicate. Over time they have adapted to the differing needs of their speech communities. Language varies from one culture to another, within and between societies. The implication of speech may vary from culture to culture, depending on who is speaking and the situation spoken of. Often languages change as a result of contact with other languages and their cultures. Language change reflects the emphasis of the contact through the social, political, and military history of a speech community. Language signals people´s social identities, their geographical origin, social status, and ethnicity. People let the world know who they are by the variety of the language that they use. They reveal their geographical and social status origins after saying just a few words (Fasold and Connor-Linton, 2008).

Culture is transmitted from one generation to the next in several ways. First, it is transmitted through the socialization of children (Vygotsky, 1986; Wertsch, 1985). The social codes or cultural frameworks for communicative interchanges modeled for children to learn, guides their actions and interactions throughout their life (Agar, 1994; Goffman, 1986). This, then, is the seed of future political thought in children who have been exposed to a dominant language and accept it as part of the local culture. These children, when grown and hold positions of importance in their respective country, will not oppose the foreign country´s plan for economic expansion. A dominant country that influences through local colonial country school programs can count on winning negotiations for trade, commerce and other legally bound contracts between nations when the youth of the colonial country have been raised and educated in the language of the dominant country. The beauty of the plan is that it works most effectively on a long term basis, little by little the exposure to books, magazines, movies and songs bring about a softening, or acceptance of the imperial country’s scale of values. It might even tear the cultural unity of the original culture group. It tears nations apart. This is the “soft culture” method of political control that will guarantee support for the imperial nation long into the future.

Soft culture, also coined “soft power” by Joseph Nye in his book “Bound to Lead” in 1990, defines the concept with the definition “getting others to want the outcomes you want”. Soft culture is the ability to achieve political ends through attraction (Liaropoulos; 2012). The means to attract is through culture, political values and institutions. An example at hand is that of the United States, which has been attractive to the rest of the world, especially through its popular culture.

 

Nevertheless, there are times when a nation is not successful managing the communication levels and different areas required to control the information intended for a specific cultural group. Failure to win the military occupation in Iraq by US and Coalition Forces in March, 2003, had a lot to do with a lack of cultural communication planning, including building credibility with the local population, filling information vacuums, responding to misinformation and refuting conspiracy theories. Moreover, an important aspect to consider is that not one nation in the world today has absolute control of the information sphere, therefore, where information can enter from other sources with other cultural nuances, then there will be mixed response to a communication initiative.

 

Cultural philosophy, values, and beliefs are communicated through both verbal and nonverbal means. Cultural values are shared from one generation to another through parenting practices that teach social and communicative behaviors.  Cultural values are communicated through the media, policies, laws, and the philosophies or pedagogy of such institutions as schools (Vygotsky, 1986; Wertsch, 1985). To understand cultural variations in communicative interactions, we must understand the ways cultures vary and how cultural constructs are communicated by parents and other involved adults. Cultural differences are promoted through child socialization practices and supported through social interactions.

 

2.   POLITICAL SCIENCE

Political science is quite tricky to define, but as an international and interdisciplinary field, it integrates the study of government, public policy and political processes, systems, and political behavior. In order to achieve the best approach to this issue, keys concepts are discussed to understand political science in a general sense.

2. 1.  POLITIC AND POWER

To some politicians ‘politics’ and ‘power’ sometimes have two different concepts, focusing on a humanistic and / or academic perspective.  Weber, Lasswell and de Jouvenal present their views on this subject being characterized primarily by individual people exercising power; Crick and Parsons view it primarily as whole societies, and  the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary professes that it is governments; and the Marxologist, Nicos Poulantzas views  the social classes as “the primary political actor’”. Their search about how human beings exercise power might be thought to be completely separate from actually seeking to exercise that power. Because of the contrast in definitions, politicians describe them as “zero-sum” and “non-zero-sum” theories of politics. In fact, in the end, all of them suggest that politics may often be more an art than a science.

One of the joys, and also the frustrations, of the study of politics lies in the variety of methodological approaches adopted by writers to examine the process, systems, and political dynamics of all countries and regions of the world.  The three main contemporary academic approaches can be described as traditional scholarship, social science and radical criticism.

The method of examining politics through traditional scholarship has been led by Plato and Aristotle, who were the first academic writers to study politics and their works are still reviewed in most British universities. They combined insights from various different sources to discuss moral issues such as the best form of government or justice.

The social science method to study politics uses modern quantitative/computerized methods of ‘analyzing data’ scientifically and techniques that relate to the kinds of inquiries sought: primary sources such as official records, and secondary sources such as statistical analysis, case studies, and experimental research. The approach used by radical criticism is actually a general doctrine calling for the radical change of existing (Western) societies; it can be argued from an ecological, theological or feminist perspective.

‘Power’ is “an organization ‘that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory´”. (Weber, in Gerth and Mills, 1948:78).  This means that, in practice, “politics” and “power” go together because politics is viewed as a method to reach power.  A vivid example of power is the confrontation or division of America between ‘North’ and ‘South’. Where ‘North’ seems to be ‘a world market domination (economic and military)’ and ‘South’ is called ‘Third World’, ‘developing’ or ‘underdeveloped’. Developing is, of course, a polite euphemism for not yet developed or ‘underdeveloped’. Thus ‘underdeveloped’ really implies general inferiority as against ‘developed’ countries. The ‘South’ then is a very loose term to describe the less industrialized countries of Africa, Latin America and Asia.

2. 2.  GOVERNMENT AND GOVERNANCE

‘Government’ and ‘governance’ were once synonyms. These  elements of political science must be studied carefully to appreciate their differences. The globe is seen as divided into countries or nations, each of which has a government whose people recognize its authority or accept its governance, in order to maintain order among them, by force in the last resort, if necessary. The government may, of course, be divided into central, regional and local levels and executive, legislative and judicial branches, but all these bodies are seen as a system for making decisions on behalf of the nation (or society) and maintaining law and order (Tansey and Jackson, 2008).

By analyzing the role of the secular government through time, it’s possible to realize that in medieval Europe, there was royal influence (kings and emperors) over Church appointments and at the same time, churchmen often manned royal administration. Also, governments have been involved with environmental issues from almost the earliest times, but in the twenty-first century, information technology can be seen to be at the core of social and economic development. It is not only transforming business, but also society and government. Nowadays, governments are using the new information and communication technologies to deliver 24-hour, 365 –days –a- year online services to citizens. Taylor and Williams (1990) define it as ‘a system of governance within which the development of innovative information systems is producing, and will continue to produce, new rationales for the restructuring and changing focus of government’. They add that governments have always been ‘data heavy’; now they are becoming ‘information rich’ – able to effectively convert their data into information for decision making.

2. 3.  ETHNICITY AND RACE

Ethnicity and race are concepts often seen as two aspects of the same thing, but they are not the same.  Social scientists used different approaches when trying to understand the nature of ethnicity as a factor in human life and society. The traditional definition of ethnicity and race is related to biological and sociological factors respectively. It is very important to distinguish them. “Race” refers to a person’s physical appearance, such as skin color, eye color, hair color, bone/jaw structure etc. A striking example of   racism is drastically illustrated in  the history of ethnic relations that occurred when the African-American arrived in the United States. For many years blacks were retained as slaves on southern rural farms and plantations. As a result, this group has been the last to achieve anything near equal status with the WASP (White Anglo – Saxon Protestant) majority.

‘Ethnicity,’ on the other hand, is social in nature because it is based on cultural differences identifiable in terms of religion, politics, occupation, nationality, language or beliefs. As Pareto (1976) puts it, for every desirable unevenly distributed social quality, there exists an ‘elite’  that possesses that quality in abundance – whether it be economic, political, social, sporting, or even ‘sex appeal’ – and, consequently, a usually more numerous ‘mass’ that suffers from a relative lack of that quality (Stephen d. Tansey and Nigel Jackson, 2008)

Ethnic conflicts can be found in US cities, in Northern Ireland and in  former Yugoslavia, as well as in Africa or the Indian subcontinent.  The most extreme expression of the attitudes towards racial and ethnic difference implicit in a pattern of dominance is the Holocaust, where the Nazi state machinery  attempted to eliminate  ethnic, national or racial group (the European Jewry) from a particular geographical area (or indeed totally). This is known in international law as genocide.

Political parties may use ethnic or racial references in their names, or refer specifically to sectors within a state’s population such as: national – Scottish National Party, Inkatha (‘Spear  of the (Zulu) Nation’); ethnic/racial – Malaysian Chinese Association; religious – Christian Democrat, Jan Sangh (Hindu);  or class/occupation – Labour, and Peasant seek to unite groups to socialize them into particular political cultures. These parties are seen as fighting for the interests of ‘their’ group, so ‘their’ group benefits from their success.

Then again, ethnicity may also cover a way of life or a certain descendancy (e.g. Gypsies) or to a hereditary social status such as the Scheduled Castes Federation (e.g. the Untouchables of India), or The Nigerian National Democratic Party (e.g. a faction of the Yoruba peoples of western Nigeria). There are also examples of divisions between localities, regions and, in some cases, national areas within states, such as political divisions between England and Scotland because of their influence of historical conquests and of migration into England and across the sea to Northern Ireland and North America.

In some instances, ethnic identities are often related to former nationality (e.g. Irish-American), current religion (Jewish) or colour (African-American). There were also religious and linguistic differences that served to heighten awareness of local loyalties and, indeed, led to different perceptions of national identity. For instance some  inhabitants (protestants, English-speakers and Serb-speaking Orthodox)  in Northern Ireland, Quebec and Kosovo may see themselves as inhabitants of a locality within a currently constituted state (the United Kingdom, Canada or Serbia) or (Catholics, French-speakers, Albanian-speaking Muslims) may feel loyalty to a different national identity, either to another state or to the region as an independent entity.

Differences between ethnic and racial groups also have origin in many divisions or conflicts which appear to be religious in nature, but historically, have had little to do with theological considerations. One example is the unrest between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. Their conflicts appear to be related to two social groups competing for economic and political opportunities.  Similarly, divisions may be seen between Palestinians and Israelis (Islamic/Jewish conflict) which appear to be a conflict between rival national groups for land and resources.

2. 4.  IDEOLOGY

‘Ideology’ is a difficult term to interpret.  An ‘ideology’ is a set of ideas that constitute one’s goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive worldview, or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society. One important clue to the ways in which people identify themselves politically is to consider the names of political parties. Many of the names refer to the “ideologies” considered as liberal, socialist, communist, and conservative. To Popper an ideology is an all-encompassing and closed system of thought. Consequently, ideological thinking should be opposed to scientific theorising which always produces falsifiable hypotheses. Some ideologies that have recently come to prominence in the West are communitarianism, feminism, ‘ecologism’ and Islamic ‘fundamentalism’.

The term “ideology” was born in the highly controversial philosophical and political debates and fights of the French Revolution in the nineteenth – century politics. In that period, political movements and thinkers were classified as right wing and left wing because in the first National Assembly when the pro-monarchist conservatives sat on the right (monarchists and clerics favoured the interests of the established propertied classes), the revolutionary republicans (anti-clericalism and the interests of the masses -workers or peasants) sat on the left. Furthermore, the right is seen as against political, economic and social change, and the left in favour of it. In a medieval European context, monarchism might be seen as a centrist rather than a right-wing ideology.

Marxists tend to use the word ‘ideology’ to suggest the dominant ideas of society, which they see as reflecting its means of production, and therefore the exercise of power. Thus from many points of view liberalism may fairly be described as the ideology of the capitalist era. Ideologies are neither right nor wrong, but only a relativistic intellectual strategy for categorizing the world.

Marx states that a society’s dominant ideology is integral to its superstructure.  Engels dwelled upon the idea of a logic history seen as   ‘means of production and exchange’. Both men adopted a collectivist and conflict- oriented view of politics. They foresaw socialist revolution taking place in the most developed capitalist countries.

In the twentieth century, Marx´s heirs were Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin (leaders of the former Soviet Union). Lenin developed Marx´s doctrine of the dictatorship of the proletariat and democratic centralism whose party leadership was seen as representing ‘the working class or emergent majority´. ‘Democratic centralism’  was defined by the 1961 Communist Party Constitution as including the election of all the party organs, strict party discipline, subordination of minorities to majorities and lower organs to higher organs. (Stephen d. Tansey and Nigel Jackson, 2008).

Numerous East European countries, China, the Far East and Cuba imitated the regime inspired by the apparent success of the Soviet regime in building a strong industrialised state capable of defeating Nazi Germany.  The ‘cult of personality’ developed  around Stalin in the Soviet Union was also imitated with varying degrees of justification by indigenous leaders such as Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, Hoxha and Castro.

2. 5.   NATION STATES, SOVEREIGNTY, AND LEGITIMACY

‘Nation states’, ‘sovereignty’ and ‘legitimacy’ are concepts that can be studied together. The ‘nation state’ is a state that self-identifies itself as deriving its political legitimacy from serving as a sovereign entity for a nation that has a sovereign territorial unit. It is such as a political and geopolitical entity.

‘Sovereignty’ is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic region, such as a territory or the supreme lawmaking authority within a specific jurisdiction. It is the exclusive right to exercise supreme political power (e.g. legislative, executive, and/or judicial). ‘Legitimacy’ is the popular acceptance of an authority and recognition by the public, of the authority of a governing law or a régime, whereby authority has political power through consent and mutual understanding, not coercion. The three types of political legitimacy are: traditional, charismatic, and rational-legal.

The concepts of sovereignty, legitimacy and nation-state can be used all together when referring to ‘state’. The United Nations, in international law, has incorporated the concept of the ‘sovereign state’ when referring to ‘state’ today. The legitimacy of a “state” is based mainly on the idea of ‘the right of self – determination’ that each nation has. There are some specific case examples to take into account when considering the different problems and stages of development toward becoming a nation-state.  Thus the people of a nation consent the establishment of a government over them which supports a system of law appropriate to their culture and traditions. In human history, this idea came clearly only with the French and American Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century. Many aspects of European governance did not seem much like sovereign ‘nation states’  until about 1919, after the Treaty of Versailles. Or, for example, Palestine, a territorial part of Israel, has been made an internationally recognized state by the UNESCO. Another example of the slow development for notions of nation-state is the African region, which has only come near  to this model  since the 1960. It’s important to note  that ‘states’  live under a certain type of government with a given territory (province, country, city, or district), whereas sovereignty gives  supreme power and authority in their territory. Thus legitimacy is a big step towards sovereignty. As a result, both concepts are fundamental as the primary factors of international politics.

2. 6.  DEMOCRACY

‘Democracy’ means the government by people.  President Lincoln of the United States described government in the Gettysburg address as ‘Government of the People, by the People, and for the People’ (Stephen d. Tansey and Nigel Jackson, 2008).  This definition may suggest that all people should have a say in one way another in everything that affects their lives. Lincoln´s principles were widely accepted not only in the liberal democracies of Western Europe, North America, Australia, but even in communist countries and single-party nationalist regimes in the ‘South’.  In the Greek city- state of Athens, important decisions were made by all the citizens on behalf of the population in a popular assembly by majority vote. But foreigners, slaves and women were excluded to vote – although they were precisely most of the population. The exercise of decision- making by the majority of citizens is still practiced in Switzerland, and in several states of the United States.

In modern liberal democracies, ‘democracy’ is viewed in terms of the opportunity for citizens to choose their rulers at periodic intervals. This is undoubtedly an important element in ensuring modern democracies, forcing rival groups of potential rulers to compete for popular votes to maintain some responsiveness to the interests and desires of their constituencies. Some electoral systems are either based simply on a single-member constituency known as ‘first-past-the post’ system, traditionally used in British general elections. Another style is based on a national constituency system divided proportionally between parties, as in Israel. Thus, for instance, France has a second vote in any electorate in which no candidate gains an overall majority. The US has a preliminary ‘Primary’ election within each of the two major parties. Similarly, India also has a federal parliamentary constitutional republic, thanks to Ghandi.  In Australia, the votes of the weaker candidates can be transferred until one candidate obtains a majority.

Democracy is founded on respect for individual rights and characterized by a bicameral legislature, an independent executive, a limited Constitution, and a permanent judicial review.  Thus, in short, democracy requires that all qualified citizens have an equal opportunity to express their opinion on any matter. Democracy implies more than belonging to a political party or voting at periodic elections to choose a leader. It is an ideology with a method for rulers to have contact with their citizens. It’s basic guarantees are:  free and fair elections, freedom from corruption, and effective political participation in order to improve all areas of government:  education, housing, retirement, social security, health care, or action in economic efficiency, concerning jobs, industrialization, or small business policies and taxes.

Some international issues confront the basic core of democracy. According to a survey conducted by Trust Law, a legal news service run by the Thomson-Reuters Foundation, Afghanistan took the top spot as far as being at right angles against the ideals of democracy. It seems, the nation has a dismal healthcare system, extreme poverty levels, and frequent registers of violence against women. The Congo, Pakistan, India and Somalia follow in suit.

There are situations in other countries that a democratic value system could not allow. In Saudi Arabia, based on Islamic religious laws, serious criminal offences which are not only internationally recognized crimes such as murder, rape, theft and robbery, but also apostasy, adultery, witchcraft and sorcery, include criminal law punishments  such as public beheading, stoning, amputation and lashing.  In the case of women, feminine members of society are still obliged to practice tribal customs. All women, regardless of age, are required to have a male guardian (patriarchy). They cannot drive, vote or be elected to high political positions. For that reason, many aspects of Islamic politics are subject to much disagreement between conservative Islamists and liberal movements within Islam. However, it is promising that King Abdullah has declared that women will be able to vote and run in the 2015 local elections.

In the same respect as Saudi Arabia, India is also exposed to numerous social criticisms. While democracy is viewed in the world as an equalitarian living style, India still has cultural practices that reduce women to objects and treat them as property of their husbands. The majority of the poor people suffers from hunger, and the needy are without hope, and live in a caste system. That is why Mother Theresa of Calcutta dedicated her life to help them get out of their slums.

 

CONCLUSION

Language influences political science. The use of language in political science is to create acceptance favorable to the government system at hand. But there are limits in which political system must honor and recognize an individual of specific collective group. There is only one race, the human race. Africans, Asians, Arabs, Caucasians, Indians, and Jews are not different races. Rather, they are different ethnicities of the human race. For that reason, language or dialects should be respected. Language is the identity, history and soul of society.  Individuals whose customs, traditions and dignity reflect the social and moral pertinence of their language group are equal to the very drops of culture that make the entire human species.

 

REFERENCES

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Lewis, Gary J.; Bates, Timothy C. (2011).  From left to right: How the personality system allows basic traits to influence politics via characteristic moral adaptations. British Journal of Psychology, August, Vol. 102 Issue 3, p546-558.

WEBSITES

http://www.whatisdemocracy.net/

http://scholar.google.com.pa/scholar Ideology

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_MarxKarl Marx

http://www.apsanet.org/content_9181.cfm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nation_state

http://www.rieas.gr/research-areas/global-issues/transatlantic-studies/1519-being-hard-on-soft-power-.html

Para citar este artículo puede utilizar el siguiente formato:
Cruz, Alejandra Maria: "Language and political science" en Revista Caribeña de Ciencias Sociales, marzo 2013, en http://caribeña.eumed.net/language-political-science/

Revista Caribeña de Ciencias Sociales es una revista académica, editada y mantenida por el Grupo eumednet de la Universidad de Málaga.