Good Essay About The Development Of Nationalism, Absolutism, Socialism, Communism, Totalitarianism, Islamism, And Republicanism
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There are a number of important ways that political theories have shaped the world. Different people have different understandings of the ways governments should work, and these varied understandings have, of course, led to a number of conflicts, wars, and even genocides over the years. In today’s world, most countries have abandoned their socialist and communist political traditions in favor of republicanism; however, different countries all have different elements of nationalism, absolutism, socialism, communism, totalitarianism, Islamism, and republicanism in their political systems.
Nationalism is not necessarily a political system in the same way as many of these other political systems are. Nationalism is a term that refers to how people feel about the country that they are a part of; the Chinese people, for instance, are known for being very nationalistic and very loyal to their country, although their government sometimes treats them very badly (Koizumi, 1994).
It is important to note that being nationalistic is not necessarily a good thing. Although being proud of one’s country and one’s people is fundamentally important for most people, nationalism can breed some negative actions and negative emotions on the part of the individual (Koizumi, 1994). In some cases, nationalism can go too far, and it can lead to some terrible actions on the part of the people of a country, as can be seen with the Germans during the Holocaust (Arendt, 1973). Although many of the Germans did not necessarily support what the Nazis were doing or have any real negativity towards the Jewish people of Germany, they were whipped into a nationalist fervor by the Nazis and were convinced that the Jewish people were the enemy (Arendt, 1973).
Republicanism as a whole system of government is a relatively new concept for humanity (Zuckert, 1994). Republicanism allows the people to govern themselves through popular sovereignty, the idea that the people should have the right to choose the people that would be their leaders (Zuckert, 1994). Although some form of republicanism first existed in Rome, the political theory fell out of favor with the people and governments until the Age of Enlightenment restored interest in the concept (Zuckert, 1994). The creation of the United States was one of the first successful modern iterations of republicanism. Republicanism is often offset by nationalist sentiment, because people are invested heavily in their country when they have a hand in choosing their leaders.
Unlike republicanism, socialism and communism do not allow the people to choose their leaders. Ideally, under socialist and communist rule, there would be no leaders at all; the people would be leading themselves. The underlying tenet of socialism ad communism is equality for those of the lowest classes; these people were people who were downtrodden for most of humanity’s history. It was not until much later that communism and socialism arose and proposed a change in the way the workers are treated (Engels, n.d.).
Although they are very similar ideas, socialism and communism are completely different philosophies. Socialism promotes equality in society, but it allows people to continue to receive pay and make their own choices about the ways in which they spend their time and their money; it is part of a political system, rather than being a political system that is completely independent (Engels, n.d.). Although socialism could be its own political system, republican governments around the world have developed it into a coexisting system. Alternatively, communism promotes the complete equality of the people in a society. People must work toward a communal goal, and then they are given rations and goods from the communal pile of goods (Marx & Engels, 1948). There were a number of communist experiments in the twentieth century, but most of them collapsed when the communist regime turned out to be a totalitarian dictator in disguise.
Totalitarianism and absolutism are two sides of the same coin. Unlike socialism and communism, these two forms of government give complete power to an individual or a group of individuals. Absolutism usually refers to an absolute monarchy, in which the rulers are kings, queens, or other royalty, and the mandate for rule for these individuals is a mandate from God or some higher power (Zuckert, 1994). Alternatively, totalitarianism is the absolute rule of the people by an individual or a group that has taken power through some other means; often, this rule is done through the manipulation of nationalistic sentiment in the people (Arendt, 1973).
The development of multiple totalitarian systems during the early twentieth century should have taught humanity the cost of allowing nationalist fervor to run wild (Arendt, 1973). The most famous convergence between nationalism and totalitarianism happened in Nazi Germany, but Cambodia, Vietnam, and China are all excellent examples of this convergence as well (Arendt, 1973). As totalitarianism was rising, however, the number of absolute monarchies in the world fell; people became much less willing to listen to leaders who claimed a mandate from God (Zuckert, 1994).
Islamism is a movement that is almost unique to the Middle East and northern Africa. Islamism is the institution of Sharia Law—Islamic law—into the political system in a country (Middleeastfellowship.org, 2015). Although Sharia Law does not have to be extreme, totalitarian, or extremely conservative, it often is; many of the laws that are instituted are designed to keep certain societal standards of dress and behavior in place for subsections of the population.
There are many important issues at play when discussing political systems, and the political system in every country developed differently. Many thousands of studies have been done on the political systems that exist around the world, and they still have not done an exhaustive job in documenting each type. However, there are forces at work in each individual political system that can be generalized across the board; that is what is important for political science as a whole.
Arendt, H. (1973). The origins of totalitarianism. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Engels, F. The development of socialism from utopia to science. Edinburgh: Socialist Labour Press.
KOIZUMI, T. (1994). NATIONALISM AS IDEOLOGY, NATIONALISM AS EMOTION, AND THE PITFALLS OF NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT. Cybernetics And Systems, 25(6), 747-761. doi:10.1080/01969729408902352
Marx, K., & Engels, F. (1948). Manifesto of the Communist party. New York: International Publishers.
Middleeastfellowship.org,. (2015). How are we to explain the development of 'Islamic Fundamentalism'? | Middle East Fellowship. Retrieved 11 April 2015, from http://www.middleeastfellowship.org/learn/islamic_terrorism/explain
Zuckert, M. (1994). Natural rights and the new republicanism. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
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