Understanding politics: Ideas, institutions, and issues.

Topic of discussion : Uptopian Ideas

Required Textbook: 

 Magstadt, T. M. (2017). Understanding politics: Ideas, institutions, and issues. Australia: Cengage Learning. 12th Edition.

Required Resources
Read/review the following resources for this activity:

  • Textbook: Chapter 3, 4; review Chapter 2 (Section: Ideologies and Politics in the United States)
  • Lesson
  • Additional scholarly sources you identify through your own research
    .

  Instructions:
Explain one of the perfect political systems of Plato, Aristotle, Bacon, Marx, or Skinner. Use evidence (cite sources) to support your response from assigned readings or lesson, and at least two outside scholarly source. 

Lesson: Political Science Theories

Theories

After the fall of Rome, within Western civilizations, the Church ultimately became interwoven with the centralized power of the appointed kings and queens. But over time, philosophers, and then the people, wondered if this was the best way to organize a government. They began by questioning the Church’s role in government, and ultimately expanded into an examination of the need for monarchies in general.

These thoughts began with the work of Niccolo Machiavelli in Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries. In The Prince, Machiavelli discusses the role of power in maintaining rule. Although not a direct link to democratic thought because he is advising a prince on how to keep his control over the people, his work was one of the first to hint at a need for a separation of church and state, which is a concept that still elicits controversy today.

Church image separated from state image

Roughly a century later, Thomas Hobbes also questioned the role of the Church within the government. In writing Leviathan, Hobbes advocated the need for a large governmental structure (thus a leviathan) to rule over the people and he began to question the role of the Church in this process. Although a supporter of authoritarian governments, Hobbes was not a supporter of the Church’s power within government. Outside of this premise, he is also known for coining the phrase “state of nature.” This idea stems from his examination of what people look like without any government. He saw this state as very bleak, representing utter chaos and strife, because he theorized that without a strong ruling government to keep the peace, people would be at war with one another as they attempted to seize power from one another as a means of getting what they desired and as a way to avoid what they did not. However, in contrast to what he was proposing, by looking at humanity at its core, he introduced the idea of humanity as thinking for itself, which is the foundation of any democracy.

It was this concept that John Locke then built upon a few decades later by suggesting that the people move away from an all-oppressive ruler to a government based upon the rule of the citizens with a system of checks and balances,. Locke’s ideas serve as the basis of much of the U.S. founding documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

Liberalism Defined

The Meaning of the Word Liberal

The term liberal in modern vocabularies has taken on an entirely different meaning from its original context. Liberal, when applied to political philosophy, represents a belief that the government should interfere very little in the daily lives of its citizens. This notion allows the individual to pursue his or her own interests without fear of extreme government regulation.

Since The Great Depression, which hit the world the hardest during the 1930s, the U.S. government has trended towards a larger government, as have other Western European nations. This happened as a result of the government providing many social services to protect its citizens from the likes of economic disaster and the toils of war. How far you think the government should go in aiding its citizens depends upon which political ideology most appeals to you. The classic liberal, a categorization credited to John Locke and also known as the modern conservative, tends to favor small government, whereas the modern liberal, modeled on the work of T. H.Green, prefers more governmental programs.

How far you think the government should go in aiding its citizens depends upon which political ideology most appeals to you. The classic liberal, a categorization credited to John Locke and also known as the modern conservative, tends to favor small government, whereas the modern liberal, modeled on the work of T. H.Green, prefers more governmental programs.

Capitalism and Socialism Compared

One arrow saying Capitalism and the other saying Socialism pointing in opposite directions
 

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