My Theory – College Essay Essay
A composition of ones own political ideology is a complex task to accomplish. It takes meaningful observation of ones present society, the ideologies of past philosophers, and a fusing of different beliefs to offer a better one. It would model Marxs dialectic of having an old order (thesis) to fuse with the new order (antithesis) to form a combination (synthesis).(Brown) This is my humble synthesis of political theories to my own shaping of society.
First, society would be considered to be a living body. Too much focus has been on individualism and not enough on societal well being. Each human is a cell in the body of a society. This is concurrent with the philosophy of Aristotle.(Jowett) The state is a development from the family through the village community, an offshoot of the family. Formed originally for the satisfaction of natural wants, it exists afterwards for moral ends and for the promotion of the higher life. The state in fact is no mere local union for the prevention of wrong doing, and the convenience of exchange. It is also no mere institution for the protection of goods and property. It is a genuine moral organization for advancing the development of humans.
The communal ownership of wives and property as sketched by Plato in the Republic rests on a false conception of political society. For, the state is not a homogeneous unity, as Plato believed, but rather is made up of dissimilar elements.(Arnhart) The classification of constitutions is based on the fact that government may be exercised either for the good of the governed or of the governing, and may be either concentrated in one person or shared by a few or by the many. There are thus three true forms of government: monarchy, aristocracy, and constitutional republic. The perverted forms of these are tyranny, oligarchy and democracy. The difference between the last two is not that democracy is a government of the many, and oligarchy of the few; instead, democracy is the state of the poor, and oligarchy of the rich. Considered in the abstract, these six states stand in the following order of preference: monarchy, aristocracy, constitutional republic, democracy, oligarchy, tyranny. But though with a perfect person monarchy would be the highest form of government, the absence of such people puts it practically out of consideration.(Brown) Similarly, true aristocracy is hardly ever found in its uncorrupted form. It is in the constitution that the good person and the good citizen coincide. Ideal preferences aside, then, the constitutional republic is regarded as the best attainable form of government, especially as it secures that predominance of a large middle class, which is the chief basis of permanence in any state. With the spread of population, democracy is likely to become the general form of government.
Which is the best state is a question that cannot be directly answered. Different races are suited for different forms of government, and the question which meets the politician is not so much what is abstractly the best state, but what is the best state under existing circumstances. Generally, however, the best state will enable anyone to act in the best and live in the happiest manner. To serve this end the ideal state should be neither too great nor too small, but simply self-sufficient. It should occupy a favorable position towards land and sea and consist of citizens gifted with the spirit of the northern nations, and the intelligence of the Asiatic nations. It should further take particular care to exclude from government all those engaged in trade and commerce; “the best state will not make the “working man” a citizen; it should provide support religious worship; it should secure morality through the educational influences of law and early training. Law, for Aristotle, is the outward expression of the moral ideal without the bias of human feeling. It is thus no mere agreement or convention, but a moral force coextensive with all virtue. Since it is universal in its character, it requires modification and adaptation to particular circumstances through equity.
Education should be guided by legislation to make it correspond with the results of psychological analysis, and follow the gradual development of the bodily and mental faculties. Children should during their earliest years be carefully protected from all injurious associations, and be introduced to such amusements as will prepare them for the serious duties of life. Their literary education should begin in their seventh year, and continue to their twenty-first year. This period is divided into two courses of training, one from age seven to puberty, and the other from puberty to age twenty-one. Such education should not be left to private enterprise, but should be undertaken by the state. There are four main branches of education: reading and writing, Gymnastics, music, and painting. They should not be studied to achieve a specific aim, but in the liberal spirit which creates true freemen. Thus, for example, gymnastics should not be pursued by itself exclusively, or it will result in a harsh savage type of character. Painting must not be studied merely to prevent people from being cheated in pictures, but to make them attend to physical beauty. Music must not be studied merely for amusement, but for the moral influence which it exerts on the feelings. Indeed all true education is, as Plato saw, a training of our sympathies so that we may love and hate in a right manner. (Arnhart)
I hold the view that humans are born good. They have an inborn capacity to feel guilt, regret, and compassion, and these imply a natural tendency towards being good as opposed to being neutral or evil. I agree with Rousseau’s conviction that in the ideal environment he describes in Emile children will best develop their natural tendencies.
Now, I am quite aware that I could have said that I view humans as evil because of their inborn capacity to feel hatred, rage, and malice. In the context of the evolutionary origin of these feelings, however, it should be clear that these feelings are part of what make humans good. To be good means to help one’s kind, and to fight against those who are of a different kind. Evil and what is morally wrong is generally something that is harmful to one’s own kind.
The question is now how we should define our own kind. The capacity to biologically reproduce is a dividing line between different species. But this is not enough to base one’s identity on. A more sensible dividing line is nation and race, which refer to subclasses of human beings.
Different races (i.e. nations) should have radically different political systems and social structures to differentiate them (to make them genuinely different). The questions of who should rule and what the social contract should be are too important to be predefined by tradition or the opinion of the majority. Rather, there should be a variety of answers implemented by various races.(Geuss) I believe that Rousseau’s view that “each person should willingly surrender some of his natural liberty to the community of the whole in order to gain protection and security” should be just one of the possible social contracts. Another possibility would be to for each person to give up all of their natural liberty in order to be part of a powerful society.
I think that Rousseau’s ideas were quite appropriate for his time, and a necessary first step for a new chapter in the evolution of political systems. Rousseau and his contemporaries’ ideas of representative and responsible governments have spread so effectively that the few characteristics that remain to distinguish different races today are mere superficialities such as language, ethnicity, gestures, and mannerisms. The meaning of race inevitably loses its significance in a world where the coincidence of the particular location on this planet in which an individual is born determines his race.
This leads to the possibility of a new way of defining a race, based on one’s views on pedagogy, economic systems, religion, art, and science. Much change is necessary until such races could begin to evolve. People would need to hold much stronger convictions than they do today. This may be facilitated through the use of genetic engineering or drastic social engineering. And I am sure that one of the prerequisites will be to do away with the stultifying routine and regimentation of schools, which Rousseau had already criticized in the 18th century. Unlike him, I do not have a particular set of alternatives in mind, but I believe the state should take the liberty to actively experiment with different kinds of environments with the young.
In short, I advocate an era in which nations will use any means short of physical force to recruit and maintain their populations.
Necessity is the plea of every infringement on human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. — William Pitt
The great myth of our time is the collective American myth that democracy is the ultimate principle and most important philosophy of a free people. I disagree. Democracy is good only as far as it empowers individualism. A simple rule of the majority is not a sufficient safeguard of individual liberty.
Democracy has succeeded as a form of government because it is, in the hands of an intelligent and civic-minded people, the best and most effective way to preserve for the individual the absolute right of self- determination. The cornerstone, the fundamental tenet of our civilization is not democracy, it is freedom and self-determination.
Very briefly, I describe my political philosophy as “progressive libertarianism”. Slightly less briefly, I believe that government can and should be able to help people out, but should not tell them what to do, or how to live their lives.(Wolin)
By acting together, we can solve many of the problems facing our society today, such as environmental degradation, or providing high-quality health care to all Americans. But unfortunately, by acting together, we often resort to tiresome laws and regulations that restrict personal freedom with no benefit to others. We need to remember that legislatures can steal a man’s freedom as easily as can tyrants.
As a nation, we are rich enough to be able to provide many services and benefits, and to make sure that they are available to all. But this concentrates power in the hands of the few. And history is full of civilizations brought low by this concentration of power.
We need to ensure that we remain a cheerfully participatory democracy, at all levels of government. We need to keep as much power as close to the people as possible. Local elections provide individuals with a much greater say in their government than do state elections, while state elections themselves are more truly democratic than federal elections.
Indeed, it was this decentralization that has historically made the United States such a powerful example of democracy. Many nations elect presidents and national parliaments. But we elect school boards and judges, city councils and county sheriffs. This means that, in all likelihood, you know the people you are voting for, as neighbors and as friends, or quite possibly, you are running yourself.
Here’s what I stand for:
Increased support for fundamental scientific research
Further exploration of space and settlement of the solar system
Reduced spending on military research and a redirection of that money to civilian technology
Abolishment of “self-protection” laws designed to save us from ourselves (e.g. seatbelt laws, marijuana laws, speed limits on desolate and empty roads, etc.)
Reduced personal income tax, made up for by increased corporate income taxes
Abolishment of the death penalty
A foreign policy that, whenever possible, works together with our allies, instead of a unilateral decision-making that often upsets off our friends.
Oppose gun control laws, and oppose all forms of gun registration or licensing.
Oppose censorship in all forms.
Support the free and unrestricted use of strong encryption to protect electronic privacy.
What’s wrong with our political parties?
Lots. All of our political parties, whether from incompetence or from obedience to their corporate paymasters, stand for ideas and promote policies which are destructive to the civic life of our nation.
What’s wrong with the Republicans?
Rampant corporatism, which in the name of free enterprise, subsides and supports large multinational corporations at the expensive of true entrepreneurs and small businesses across America
Excessive militarism, which argues for even larger military budgets, despite the fact that we have no enemies, now or in the foreseeable future, that can pose any threat to our security.
Destructive ignorance of environmental concerns, including the refusal to support renewable energy research, or to take seriously the threat of global warming and climate change
Authoritarian instincts that destroy privacy and freedom in the name of “national security”
What’s wrong with the Democrats?
Support for intrusive and demeaning government programs
Support for late-term and partial-birth abortion. While I see nothing wrong with morning-after pills and first-trimester abortions, this just seems like murder to me.
A general attitude that holds the American citizen unable to lead his own life without guidance from the government
Authoritarian instincts that destroy privacy and freedom in the name of “fairness”. (Portis)
In conclusion, society is a rubix cube of different political theories. A fusing of different correct philosophies is the only way to successfully reach a utopian society. It takes trial and error and testing of the truths to bring about the real truth. Society is ever-changing and political theory must change with the times. Unchanging truths in society is as attractive as its real meaning, idol.
Bibliography (End Notes)
1.Arnhart, Larry Political Questions: Political Philosophy from Plato to Rawls (Prospect Heights, Il.: Waveland Press, 1993)
2.Bowle, John Western Political Thought: From the Origins to Rousseau ( London: Barnes and Noble, 1961
3.Brown, Wendy , Politics Out of History, Princeton University Press
4.Geuss, Raymond , History and Illusion in Politics, Cambridge University Press
5.Jowett,Benjamin , rev. Jonathan Barnes (in The Complete Works of Aristotle, vol. 2, Princeton, 1984).
6.Mill, David van , Liberty, Rationality, and Agency in Hobbes’s Leviathan, SUNY Press
7.Portis Edward Bryan , Political Theory and Partisan Politics, State University of New York Press
8.Wolin, Sheldon , Tocqueville Between Two Worlds: The Making of a Political and Theoretical Life, Princeton University Press