Author: Jack Long Martinez
Applied in: Winter 2015
University Offers: Durham
In The Soldier and the State Samuel P. Huntington writes that “collective will supplants individual whim”, and it is this notion of the collaborative power of humanity which is key to my desire to study politics. I find both mankind’s ability to draw strength from the creation of societies and the interrelationships between political powers intriguing and I am eager, therefore, to explore the world’s civilisations in detail.
As an introduction to my study of global political cultures, I read J. Stiglitz’s novel The Price of Inequality; his exposure of the flaws in US social structure prior to the Great Recession gave an insight into the workings of contemporary American society, with the author focusing in particular on the relationship between the nation’s reckless financial sector and the suffering of the USA’s “99 percent”. I subsequently read F. Fukuyama’s After the Neocons. This text furthered my understanding of American politics, discussing the consequences of the Bush administration’s incorrect application of neoconservative theory with regards to foreign policy and criticising its reliance on overwhelming military force as the key driver of cultural development.
Undertaking an extended project concerning the extent to which Francoist Spain was a fascist state allowed me to explore the political history of both Spain and Europe as a whole. My research led me to conclude that, in spite of sharing traits with its Fascist contemporaries, the absence of typically fascist ideals such as militaristic expansion and utopianism meant that the regime could never itself be truly classed as fascist. This view echoes that of S J Woolf, who labelled Franco’s fascism as “at best…half hearted”.
In order to understand international politics in a broader context, I also read Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man; through his analysis of political development over the course of history and identification of Western liberal democracy as the ultimate political system, the author indicates the past’s importance in shaping today’s politics. It is questionable, however, whether Fukuyama’s views concerning Western society are valid, with the prominence of competing cultures-particularly Islam-casting doubt over their legitimacy. His argument has, therefore, been widely disputed, with S. Huntington, for example, describing belief in “the universality of Western culture” as “false” and “immoral”.
Politics and social organisation is not, however, only important on an international scale. It governs interaction at any level, be it within government or among communities, which inspires me to explore all forms of political activity. Publications such as The Economist and literature such as R.Peston’s How do we Fix this Mess? developed my interest in national politics. Work experience with Norman Lamb MP achieved similar outcomes; I gained a practical insight into the varied role of an MP at local level, with my drafting of letters to constituents, policy research and exchanges with Mr Lamb and his staff all proving to be invaluable in expanding my understanding and appreciation of Britain’s political system.
Outside the classroom, I have been heavily involved in charitable work. I raised several thousand pounds as an executive on Norwich School’s Appeals Committee and worked with the international charity ‘Smile’, for which I delivered speeches to audiences of over 900 people within Norwich Cathedral. Communication was also crucial to my role as Managing Director of a Young Enterprise company, through which I appeared on BBC Radio Norfolk. In addition, I have provided mathematics tutoring to GCSE pupils in school and played tennis to national standard. Moreover, I have recently been appointed Deputy Head of Norwich School, making me responsible for various aspects of school life, such as the Consultative Committee-the large pupil-led body which exists to voice students’ concerns on school matters-and the prefect body.