Ross School - Senior Projects 2010

Student: Nathaniel Oppenheimer

Mentor: Matthew Aldredge

Product                            

Title: Government Inc: Financial Aspects of Political History

Description:

I researched into how wealth drove governmental change in three different historical periods. In the first, I examined how the Constitution was shaped to preserve the status quo, as it did until the election of Andrew Jackson in 1828.  I then researched the rise of the Nazis and the intertwining fortunes of the Nazi Party, the Krupp family, and the German Army. Lastly, I looked at how the popularity of globalization has shifted since the 1990s. The project afforded me new historical insights and helped me better understand the research process.

Details:

Paper

PowerPoint Presentation

Abstract

John Locke once said, “Government has no other end, but the preservation of property.” For my project, I looked into the veracity of this quote in three different historical periods. In the first, I argued that the Constitution was cleverly designed as a reaction to the disastrous Articles of Confederation. I examined how the Constitution maintained the status quo for forty years. For forty years, every President was from the original thirteen colonies. For forty years, federal policy benefited the wealthy at every turn. Even as the very nature of the American population shifted, the government remained steadfast. This system continued until the election of Andrew Jackson in 1828. Jackson tore apart the system that resisted his election for as long as they could. He destroyed the National Bank, a symbol of the power wealth affords.

            I then researched into the rise and consolidation of the Nazi Party. I examined the intertwining fortunes of the Sturmabteilung, the Krupp industrial family, and the army. I examined the threat of a “second revolution,” a threat that was feared by all members of the Nazi elite. Such a revolution would have almost certainly been of the populist persuasion. I also looked at rearmament and which factions that effort favored.

            Finally, I looked at the ever-changing popularity of “globalization.” Although an abstract term, it has met fierce opposition for decades. In 1999, Seattle devolved into mayhem in response to ‘the threat of globalization.’ As the years have past, however, globalization as a concept is less of a scapegoat. Instead, the world’s ire has shifted.

            In all three time periods, populism proved to be an effective tool in governance. However, this populism has often been nothing more than a veneer. According to my research, Locke’s quote is telling across history.

            The process itself has been a very fulfilling journey. I conducted a serious research project that yielded interesting conclusions. I began in May not knowing what my project would be. I had no idea about what exactly I would delve into in the field of economics. I ended up shifting my gaze towards political economy. Although I was frustrated at times with my progress or the seemingly never-ending road to completion, I enjoyed the process immensely.

Works Consulted

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Community Member (Details)

Barnabas Malnay, PhD in international Relations from Stanford

Current employee of Magyar Telecom