Modern Politics

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Politics have come a long way from Niccolo Machiavelli in the late 1400’s to current political philosophers of the twentieth century. Many of those great theorists had one single thing in common: they have strived to break old concepts of political thought, being it racial and gender inequality, or ideas on how to be a leader with less opposition. In modern politics, after a long period of centralized governments, the brief trend of gaining freedom and equality has been deteriorating and the creation of an illusion of freedom has slowly replaced the true freedom of speech and thought. In the times of Machievelli, governments were centralized under the power of a prince. In his book “The Prince,” Machiavelli discussed how a prince should act in order to be fully respected and maintain full power. He suggested that a prince should do whatever was necessary to achieve his objectives and never rely only on ideals; additionally, no price was too high to pay for success, and a prince should focus more on being loved than feared if not possible to have both at the same time. On the same thought, “a prince should not worry if he incurs reproach for his cruelty so long as he keeps his subjects united and loyal” (RWH, p. 20); in other words, a prince should sometimes be cruel. Moreover, Machiavelli did not believe in individual freedom. Even the prince needed to follow rules to maintain his success and everyone else had to follow the prince’s orders and live with fear. Hobbes had a similar view of Machiavelli’s. He believed that “kings, whose power is greatest, turn their endeavor to the assuring it at home by laws or abroad by wars” (Leviathan, 83). This required a need for a centralized government with full powers to the ruler. Small changes to this political thought arose with John Locke; although still believing in a centralized government, Locke did not grant full power to the king. All government powers had to be limited by life, liberty, and property, and one should “do whatsoever he thinks fit for the preservation of himself and others within the permission of the law of Nature” (RWH, 139). Next in history we have Marx and Engels’ “The Communist Manifesto.” In this book, the authors explained the history of class struggle and suggested a very different way of how society should work. They noticed that “every form of society ha[d] been based…on the antagonism of the oppressing and oppressed classes,” and that the only path to form a new society was through this class struggle (CM, 64). Here, in a similar view from the Free Speech movement, the oppressed mass should fight for their rights; however, unlike the Free Speech Movement, this fight was not only to secure their freedom and equality, but to end a capitalist world that was being created by the oppressing class. Marx and Engels claimed that the “work of the proletarians ha[d] lost all individual character…[and men were becoming] an appendage of the machine” (CM, 58). As a consequence, the mass was losing their buying power exponentially and being forced to work longer hours in order to keep up with the price of the commodities. To end the injustice seen in front of their eyes, they created a new political party, the Communist party, where “capital [would be] converted into common property” to lose “its class character” (CM, 68). This form of government was installed in a few countries for a period. However, it did not benefit the oppressed class as they suggested; instead, it united the bourgeoisie and proletariats, and the only class remaining was now oppressed by the Communist party. In a different view from Marx and Engels, Ortega y Gasset examines the creation of the "mass-man," not in terms of social class, but in terms of actions in society. He claims that due to “liberal democracy, scientific experiment, and industrialism,” no man was “confronted with obstacles and limitations” from birth (RM, 8); a man could change his path to becoming a noble by doing...
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