Term Paper: Politics Modern Political Thought

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[. . .] Modern capitalism is far less restrictive than what they were used to. When society evolved to try to give everyone a small piece of the big pie, it eventually called it Capitalism. "Over a period of a few centuries the 'long journey' toward capitalism extended in this direction: a complex and interlocking process which involved the formation of merchant and banking bourgeoisies, the appearance of nations and the establishment of modern states, the expansion of trade and the domination on a world scale, the development of techniques of transportation and production, the introduction of new modes of production and the emergence of new attitudes and ideas." (Beaud, 17)

There are still debates on whether capitalism is actually a system or if it is merely an ideal that we accept as true. Machiavelli felt that "ALL STATES, all powers, that have held and hold rule over men have been and are either republics or principalities." (Machiavelli) The question of capitalistic actuality comes into play if this process is nothing more than an ideal. Should the ideal or system be viewed as purely an economic entity or a political, social, and cultural entity? Hobbs master piece showed that he believed "that the greatest threat to human security was the anarchy of the 'State of Nature', and that to avoid that horrific condition, where life was 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short', men must contract to establish a sovereign power with sufficient authority to enforce laws and maintain order.' This sounds just like our modern version of capitalism. But does Hobbs view equate to the modern day China who applies capitalism to a Communist ideology to create a new ideal or is he referring to the United States apply capitalism to a republic to make an even different system of capitalism? Which then is a true representation of capitalism? "

The start date or prior versions of this system or ideal seemed to be in existence in other times and places throughout our history. But most historians believe that capitalism as we know it today originally developed near the mid 18th century and took on a new meaning in the late 19th century and then met its full term potential and through evolution in the 20th century grew to a global scale. In other words, the system or ideal was in place but so were the oligarchies and imperialists. The industrial revolution at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century was the straw that broke the camel's back and helped usurp European imperialism. Hobbs would have approved.

The only thing that matters was the fact that the feudal serfs and narcissistic kings were all gone -- or, have they simply been redefined? "Much of the social analysis that focuses on the injustices and inequalities in U.S. society has been influenced by the ideas of Karl Marx and the Marxist tradition. Central to Marxism is the understanding that capitalism is an economic system with two major classes. The capitalist class owns and controls the means of production, capital, and continually tries to increase its profits. The working class, which is the large majority of the population, sells their labor power, their capacity to work, in return for a wage. Profits come largely from paying employees less than the value they add to production. Marx called this exploitation." (Bohmer) Because imperialism final retreated, there must still be more of a social implication. "Such dominions thus acquired are either accustomed to live under a prince, or to live in freedom; and are acquired either by the arms of the prince himself, or of others, or else by fortune or by ability." (Machiavelli)

Industrial Revolution

The Prince has influenced many great leaders, "all great leaders since Moses have known that a feared enemy must be crushed completely. (Sometimes they have learned this the hard way.) If one ember is left alight, no matter how dimly it smolders, a fire will eventually break out. More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation: The enemy will recover, and will seek revenge. Crush him, not only in body but in spirit." (Greene & Elffers) This line of reasoning clearly defines the British Empire. The industrial Revolution had a dramatic affect on not only Britain, but the entire world as imperialism also grew in direct proportion. "The entire population of these modified crown colonies amounted to 5,700,000 in 1898." (Abrams et al., 2022)

Consider that in just over one hundred years, the British nation transformed itself from a mainly rural and agrarian populace into a realm comprised of newly industrialized hamlets with main sources of income derived from the many new local factories, mines or workshops. The factories for example, required steady new sources of raw goods and materials and as a result, in order to maintain these supplies, Britain was forced as a nation to pursue and expand into a more global imperialistic system of colonialism. Machiavelli would have not covered this type of growth in The Prince. "I WILL leave out all discussion on republics, inasmuch as in another place I have written of them at length, 1 and will address myself only to principalities. In doing so I will keep to the order indicated above, and discuss how such principalities are to be ruled and preserved." (Machiavelli) The result was the growth of a nation expanding throughout the industrial revolution.

This expansion created many more individuals who were in an economic and political position that was equal to royalty more so than at any other time in history. These individuals became the new primary audiences for economic, political and social thinking. This new audience was much more cost effective and politically motivated as well as fully aware of social movements. "Capitalism is first and foremost a historical social system." (Wallerstein, p. 13) The church was beginning to lose its grip in general so it may have been fate that writers of the time were able to be so heavily influenced by the early and middle stages of the industrial revolution and the end of the Victorian Era. Thomas Hobbs held very strong anti-church and radical religious views. He would have appreciated the loss of the churches power and the capitalist drive to a more materialistic view of the world. Suddenly capitalism altered the economic systems of the world to incorporate the idea of free markets, free religion and free property rights.

What Capitalism offer the world

"The commonwealth is instituted when all agree in the following manner: I authorize and give up my right of governing myself to this man, or to this assembly of men, on this condition; that thou give up, thy right to him, and authorize all his actions in like manner." (Hobbs) Capitalism changed many notions about how things should be and offered new ideas that were accepted by some and rejected by others. These included a new concept of a private sector, property rights, economic growth, economic mobility and distribution of wealth. From these ideas came symptoms like competition, entrepreneurial motions and free markets. Machiavelli and Hobbs both had very strong historical ties to sovereign states and neither may have appreciated these notions of individual property rights and free labor for example. Over time however, both would have more than likely become supports of the capitalistic view of life.

In Leviathan, Hobbs clearly rejects the doctrines related to a separation of powers because he supports the idea that a sovereign must 'control civil, military, judicial and ecclesiastical powers.' However, a major advantage of capitalism is the removal of the sovereign institution controlling the all property and thus allowing for the notion of free ownership of property. In modern times, albeit the recent mortgage backed security debacle, contracts of ownership, shared risk, availability of loans for new projects, collateral for loans and credit are all solutions to the problems coming out of sovereign power which enhances economic growth.

Free markets were a side effect of property ownership. Machiavelli would have had a time understanding land could be acquired without marriage or war. "Now I say that those dominions which, when acquired, are added to an ancient state by him who acquires them, are either of the same country and language, or they are not. When they are, it is easier to hold them, especially when they have not been accustomed to self-government; and to hold them securely it is enough to have destroyed the family of the prince who was ruling them; because the two peoples, preserving in other things the old conditions, and not being unlike in customs, will live quietly together, as one has seen in Brittany, Burgundy, Gascony, and Normandy, which have been bound to France for so long a time: and, although there may be some difference in language, nevertheless the customs are alike, and the people will easily be able to get on amongst themselves. He who has annexed them, if he wishes to hold them, has… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Politics Modern Political Thought.  (2009, December 2).  Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/politics-modern-political-thought/3128

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