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A public lesson in politics

Updated: 2024-05-11 10:17 ( China Daily )
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Cover of the book, Lectures on Politics, written by Bao Gangsheng, professor at Fudan University's School of International Relations and Public Affairs. It is based on an audio course he gave on knowledge-sharing platform Dedao. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Book shows how reason and logic can help grasp subject, Yang Yang reports.

Advances in social media have enabled users to voice their opinions online and comment on a variety of topics, including political issues. However, as most people have limited knowledge of such issues, social media is often inundated with conspiracy theories, which may lead to hostility, hate speech, or worse.

Bao Gangsheng, professor at Fudan University's School of International Relations and Public Affairs, says that one of the reasons is that the public lacks a fundamental understanding of politics.

"In popular culture, people's notions of politics may not only be inconsistent with facts and logic, but are often aimed at playing to their emotions. Learning political science can help people use reason and logic to break free of the political biases created by popular culture," Bao writes in his latest book, Lectures on Politics.

Published recently by knowledge-sharing platform Dedao under New Star Press, Lectures on Politics is based on an audio course Bao gave on the platform. Launched in 2019, the 30-episode course has more than a million hits from 40,000 users, making it one of the most popular courses on the platform.

Through the 30 lectures, Bao builds a framework of political science that systematically explains the basic logic of political phenomena through 30 keywords including nation, war, monarchy, bureaucracy, republic, parliament, democracy and party from five different perspectives, such as how power manages society, how society controls power, differences and conflicts in politics, and the political issues closely related to them.

In the 249-page book, Bao uses concise language to lead readers through the world of politics focusing on interesting questions in each chapter such as: Why did democracy originate among pirates? Why do wars shape a country? How can monarchies last thousands of years? Why do many African countries have democratic regimes, yet have increasingly moved toward decline? And why do many countries not support the construction of a welfare state?

By referencing classic political issues in human civilization, Bao tries to take readers back to the historical moment in question to see how political invention emerged in different countries, to examine the logic in making political decisions at critical moments, and to explore the potential solutions for improving politics in the narrow gap that exists between idealism and reality.

Li Yun, professor at the China University of Political Science and Law's School of Political Science and Public Administration, comments on the book by saying that "as Professor Bao Gangsheng has said, politics is the art of balance".

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