Liberalism, Conservatism, Socialism, Marxism, Anarchism, Feminism, Fascism Essay Examples
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Liberalism (Reading 1)
Mill proposed a “very simple principle” of liberty in which he argued that the only justifiable reason for restriction of individual liberty is if individual conduct either causes harm or threatens others (Mill, Bromwich, Kateb, & Elshtain, 2003). Mill clarifies his argument by giving specific examples, and then explaining the application of the argument to each example. Mills provides a delineation of the appropriate region of human liberty stating that it covers the inner consciousness primarily. It is also inclusive of the freedoms of conscience and liberty of thought and feeling and freedom of opinion, on any subject. The liberty of tastes and pursuits is also a crucial part of it. Mill believes that freedom of opinion is essential and beneficial to society hence, should not be limited under any circumstances (Mill, Bromwich, Kateb, & Elshtain, 2003). This contradicts his feelings on freedom of action which he feels can be limited in some instances. One modern application of Mill’s thesis is the right to personal preferences as long as they do not harm others. This liberty of tastes and pursuits is still contentious today.
Burke posits that the primary principle on which the commonwealth, as well as the laws are consecrated is a tradition (Burke). He argued that there was a need to respect tradition, and an existing establishment should not just be cast aside. He postulates that a lack of respect for tradition and an abandonment of the traditional set up would eventually lead to anarchy. This was exhibited by the sequence of events in the aftermath of the French Revolution (Burke). Burke believed that the relationship between individuals and the state was of paramount importance. He did not believe that people should have a right to choose and to dismiss their leaders. Rather, he believed that the state should provide guidance to the people since the people did not necessarily know their best options. Sometimes, the decision made by people may not be the most favorable. Burke argued the case for a monarchy and disagreed with democracy. Burke believed that society was a contract, and this contract was between the living, the dead, and those who were not yet born. Each is a link in the social contract but is also a part of a wider link within the greater society that establishes a link between the physical and the spiritual world (Burke).
According to Bernstein, democracy is principally the suppression of class government, although this does not necessarily mean the suppression of the classes themselves (Steger, Selected Writings Of Eduard Bernstein, 1920-1921, 1996). Democracy should not belong to a particular class of people, and instead it should belong to everyone. Bernstein advises the labor movement to renounce the idea of social transformation, which is the final goal of the Social Democracy. Instead, it should make the class struggle its primary focus. The workers should adopt scientific socialism in order to be able to eliminate the idea of class government (Steger, The Quest for Evolutionary Socialism: Eduard Bernstein and Social Democracy, 1997).
Marx in his theory of revolution posits two central concepts. The first one is the explanation of the working of society and the nature of capitalism (Ferguson Jr. & O'Neil, 1973). Marx also gives proposals for the elimination of this capitalism through a revolution arising from its unsatisfactory nature. Marx posits that the primary determinant of a society’s other aspects is its economic situation. Hence, he argues that materialism is the basis of society. He established four basic types of society’s primitive, feudal, slave and capitalist (Giddens, 1971). He further argued that the forces of production and the control over them are responsible for classes and class conflict. Marx posits that under a capitalist system, certain classes are dominant and hence benefit more from the factors of production than the other classes. Hence, they are very rich, and he brands them by the name the bourgeois. On the other hand, there are the poor, ordinary people called the proletariat. He argues that the proletariat should rebel against the bourgeois in order for social change to occur (Giddens, 1971).
According to Kropotkin, human beings should learn from how species, including humans, evolved. He argues that the evolution was because of a focus on cooperation as opposed to competition (Kropotkin, 1902). He demonstrated various examples of cooperation in the animal kingdom. Hence, he showed that animals rely on cooperation in order to be successful in evolution. He posited that the vast majority of animals showed a preference to live in societies and not as individuals. Hence, this association provided them with the avenue to fight against the natural conditions that did not favor their continued existence. Hence, he argued for a system of voluntary cooperation in all sectors, which he called mutual aid (Simkhovitch, 1903).
An objection to this theory was the reason for the animals supporting each other. Opponents argued that animals did not have the conscious ability to extend cooperation to each other. Instead, they just did so without conscious knowledge. However, Kropotkin answered this by using Adam Smith’s argument that human beings give aid since they mentally picture themselves in similar circumstances (Simkhovitch, 1903). Hence, he argued that the same reasoning applies to the animals. He argued that animals too, have this empathy, hence the reason they help each other. Kropotkin felt that mutual aid is particularly important in local production since it promotes self-sufficiency (Kropotkin, 1902).
According to Hitler, each person’s blood contained his or her soul and the soul of the person’s race. This concept was termed as “the basic principle of blood” (Hitler & Manheim, 1943). Hitler thus posited that the Aryan people were a supposedly superior race to all others. He stated that their blood contained the very essence of creativity, and all cultures stemmed from it. Hence, since this race was the best, it should also be the most dominant. In order for dominance to be exhibited, he argued that this race should not interact and intermarry to avoid tainting. Thus, a country’s culture stemmed directly from its dominant race. Hitler claimed that Germany, and thus the Aryan race, had not become the dominant race in the world and hence the mistress of the globe because they lacked the “herd instinct” that other races had, and which had helped then to unite so much (Hitler & Manheim, 1943). However, regardless of this, Hitler believed that the highest task of the German state and the Aryan race was to achieve the domination of the world (Hitler & Manheim, 1943).
Simone de Beauvoir doubts the sincerity of the attempts by the Soviet Union to create equality between men and women because she feels that they are borne out of the desire to join the European Union (de Beauvoir, 1953). She believes that women are still viewed as being second-class citizens hence she does not feel that these attempts are sincere. The view that a woman is defined by civilization relates to the treatment of women over time. She is clearly of the opinion that a woman is made and shaped by the influences around her, and not simply born. In order for the new woman to appear, the construction and perception of women in society must first change (de Beauvoir, 1953).
Burke, E. (n.d.). Reflections on the revolution in France. . Raleigh, N.C: Alex Catalogue .
de Beauvoir, S. (1953). The second sex. New York: Knopf.
Ferguson Jr., A. T., & O'Neil, S. J. (1973). Marx's Writings on Revolution. The Review of Politics, 260-262.
Giddens, A. (1971). Capitalism and modern social theory: An analysis of the writings of Marx, Durkheim and Max Weber. Cambridge [U.K.]: University Press.
Hitler, A., & Manheim, R. (1943). Mein Kampf. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Company.
Kropotkin, P. (1902). Mutual aid, a factor of evolution. . London: William Heinemann.
Mill, J. S., Bromwich, D., Kateb, G., & Elshtain, J. B. (2003). On liberty. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Simkhovitch, V. G. (1903). Reviewed Work: Mutual Aid a Factor of Evolution. by P. Kropotkin. Political Science Quarterly, 702-705.
Steger, M. (1996). Selected Writings Of Eduard Bernstein, 1920-1921. New Jersey: Humanities Press.
Steger, M. (1997). The Quest for Evolutionary Socialism: Eduard Bernstein and Social Democracy. Cambridge University Press.
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