7 Important Resemblances between “Plato” and “Fascists”

2. Both believe in the natural inequality among human beings. According to them nature ordains that superior shall rule over inferiors.

To the Nazi’s “out of all races, the Aryan race is superior, out of the Aryan race, the Germans are superior out of them elite are superior and out of elite the Fuehrer (the leader) is the superior most”, Similarly Plato championed Greek superiority.

3. Both have no faith in democracy. Plato denounces democracy as the rule of ignorant people. The fascist denounce democracy, as a stupid, corrupt, slow moving, impractical and inefficient form of Government.

4. Both Platonism and Fascism views dictatorship of one man as best form. Plato thinks of a philosopher king in whom all the powers of government are concentrated. For the Fascists, it is Fuehrer who is omnipotent and omnicompetent.

5. Both make the individual as means to an end. The state is made an end.

6. Both deny the importance of public opinion and people’s right to change the government. The government is based not on the consent of the governed but some over arching good of society championed by elite.

7. They are more interesting in laying emphasis on duties rather than on rights.

Short Essay on “Political Theory”

David Held:

“Political Theory generally aims to explain things coming out of political life.”

Andrew Hacker:

“Values and facts are embedded in Political Theory. They are dependent on each other.”

Karl Popper:

“Theory is like a net with the help of which one can catch the world to understand it.”

Political theory deals with the conditions of collective life. It provides a system of rule to guide social relationship on one hand and studies the evolution, nature, necessity and purpose of government, on the other hand. It tries to relate them with human perception and nature.

As such it tries to evolve a framework for analyzing man’s political concerns and evolving mechanism to solve these problems.

It must be noted that most of the theories came out in the midst of crisis. Wherein they attempted to solve the problems however, in their quest to address immediate problems, they engage with perennial issues as well. They are not limited context bound. Instead their focus is often wide enough to cover the world at large.

Thus, political theory is a generalized statement about political life. It outlines a conceptual framework by which knowledge is synthesized. Different theories have different sort of connection with the concepts.

As such, there arises difference in the kind of problem they think to be of more serious nature and consequently differences arise also in prescribing the remedies.

Hence, they enjoin both empirical and ethical statements. This has been best illustrated by A. Hacker; it is “dispassionate and disinterested.

As Science it describes political reality without trying to pass judgment on what is being depicted either implicitly or explicitly.

As Philosophy, it prescribes rules of conduct which will secure the good life for all of society and not simply for “certain individuals or classes”.

Sabine identifies two phases when political theory reached its height:

1. Ancient Greek

2. Seventeenth Century England

Short Biography of “Aristotle” – (Life, Influences and His Philosophy)

Aristotle studied under Plato for 20 years from the age of 17 to 37. This association was “the factor most important in the shaping of his philosophy- political and other.”

Prof. Roster says “Aristotle is the greatest of all Platonists. He is permeated by Platonism to a degree in which perhaps no great philosopher besides him has been permeated by the thought of another”.

2. Influences:

Aristotle was influenced by Plato in his following ideas:

1. Social nature of human beings

2. State as a natural institution

3. Aristocratic nature of government

4. Denouncing democracy

5. Idealized the city state

6. Commensurability of interests between individual and state.

7. Interdependence between ethics and politics.

In addition to it, Aristotle was greatly influenced by

1. His father who was a biologist, this led Aristotle to compare state with organism and individuals with organs.

2. The turbulent state of affairs led Aristotle to believe that rulers were idealist. If political actualities could be examined, the prevailing state of affairs could be improved.

3. Personal experience of a happy married life.

4. Preconceived Greek notions and myth of Greek superiority. His justification of slavery and notion of citizenship confirms his biases.

3. Position of Aristotle:

Aristotle, the ablest of Plato’s disciple is novel in many respects. Unlike his master, Aristotle devotes his attention to political realities and can be rightly hailed as father of science of politics. Aristotle’s Work: The Politics

4. State Natural Institution:

Aristotle, a disciple of Plato imbibed a few teaching of his master. One such similarity in the political philosophy of the two thinkers is to treat state as a natural institution, possessing moral authority. The state aims at moral perfection of men who can achieve self sufficiently only in the state.

Natural character of the state is justified by Aristotle on following grounds:

Firstly, Aristotle insists that the two primary instincts of reproduction and self preservation force the men to associate with family is the first step in such direction and state is the union of several villages which is a union of several families.

Secondly, According to Aristotle, state exemplifies the real character of man. They can realize themselves only in the state. Being a rational creature man can develop their rational faculties only through membership of state.

Thirdly, Aristotle stresses that the state is an organism and individuals are its part.

Fourthly, Aristotle’s dictum “man is political animal” and “state is natural” reinforces each other.

The ideas of politics have been enriched enormously by Aristotle’s view that the state is a natural institution.

As Ross points out,

“Aristotle did a good service to political thought by insisting that the state does not exist merely by convention but is rooted in human nature”.

By doing so, he paved the way for collective political life for common good of the citizenship.

4 Important Factors for the Rise of Liberalism

But with the growth of international commerce in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, with the invention of printing and the improvement of communications, a new individualistic order began to take shape. Social life became more and more characterized by acquisitiveness, the pursuit of power and the striving for honour.”

A number of factors contributed to the rise of Individualism which in turn affected the domain from which these factors had originated. They are as follows:

1. Economic:

Demand for free trade against the merchandise policies pursued by the state led to pulls and pressure. Its outcome was a theory of laissez-faire state wherein economy was to be governed by the law of supply and demand.

2. Religious:

Christianity’s belief in the equality of human beings in the eyes of God that was re-emphasized by the reformation of the 1950’s gave impetus to individualism: Kant exposed the equality of human beings in terms of attribute of dignity.

3. Scientific:

Pobbes’s insistence on the self atomized nature of social world was greatly influenced by the principles of physical mechanics that were being recently discovered.

4. Political:

Locke emphasizes on natural right made it obligatory on the part of every social and political institutions to preserve and protect them. It was characteristically a demand of newly emerging bourgeoisie society.

4 Important Reasons for the Decline of Political Theory

Easton:

S.P. Varma in his work “Modern Political Theory” identifies following causes for the decline of political theory which have been attributed by Easton. These include:

1. Historicism:

According to David Easton, writers such as Dunning, Sabine, Mcliwain, Lindsay, Carlye, are more interested in describing the causes for rise of an ideology, system of values etc. They do not engage in stimulating their own thought to find solutions to contemporary social problems.

2. Moral Relativism:

Easton accuses Hume and Weber of having relativistic attitude towards ‘values’ and neglecting what consequences do they have for the ‘facts.’ However, a political scientist to be sensitive towards social problems, construct values and not transplant them.

3. Confusing Science and Theory:

Easton accuses the political theorists of using science and theory in a wrong way. In fact, he points out that mere use of scientific method cannot generate theories. The latter task involves identifying major variables and establishing a harmonious relationship between them.

4. Hyper factualism:

Easton accuses writers like Paul Bryce of using theory simply to accumulate facts. Such tendencies, in his opinion fail to relate themselves with the significant problems in a political system. He observes “theory without facts may be a well- piloted ship with an unsound keel.

But where preoccupation with fact-gathering siphons away energy from seeing the facts in their theoretical significance then the ultimate value of factual research itself will be lost”

Cobban:

Alfred Cobban presents a very pessimistic picture of political theory. He holds that despite being an intellectually rich tradition since the time of Plato, there has been a dearth of such work since the 18th century.

Among the external causes for the decline of political theory, he mentions increasing role of the state and bureaucratic machinery and military establishment.

However, political theory with which he associates political philosophy has been deeply affected by growing influence of scientific attitude and historical approach.

Pointing at the earlier phases, he observes “they wrote to condemn or support existing institutions, to justify a political system or persuade their fellow citizens to change it because, in the last resort, they were concerned with the aims, the purpose of political society cannot remain insulated from the sphere of ‘values’, it will have to engage itself in such exercises and only then can it give a sense of direction.

Germino:

Despite being an advocate of decline thesis, Dante Germino is optimistic about its future. Like Cobban, he locates the decline of political theory to the growing ascendancy of Scientism.

But he also brings in what he describes as ‘ideological reductionism’ found in the works of Tracy, Comte and Marx.

These writers considered ideas as a reflection of and determined by some determinate variable, while Tracy considered sensation as the source of ideas. Marx gave importance to matter.

Such scepticism with the state of political theory set pace for methodological purification and theory building. It found its most elaborate accommodation in the behaviouralism characterized by Germino as ‘Neo Positivism.’

Essay on the Plato’s Theory of Justice

1. Critique of Prevailing Theories:

To develop his own theory of justice, Plato discusses the prevailing theories of justice. Three of them are:

i. Theory of Cephalus: Traditional:

Cephalus considers justice as speaking the truth and paying what was due to gods and men. This discussion assumes that justice is an art which gives well to friends and evil to enemies instead.

Plato holds that true justice means “doing good to all and harm to none”. Furthermore he says that it is not always possible to distinguish between the enemies and the friends. Plato argues that theory of Cephalus treats justice individualistic, rather than a social concept.

Instead, concept of justice should have a universal application. By treating justice as an art, it is made an instrument of those wielding power.

ii. Theory of Thrasyachus:

Radical:

Thrasyachus represents the outlook of radical sophists. According to him,

“Justice is the interest of stronger”.

It believes in the prince, “might is right”. Plato rejects it out rightly and holds that justice can never be the interest of stronger. The government is an art and it aims at perfection of only act. Moreover, justice is always better than injustice and a just man is wiser, stronger and happier than an unjust man because he also knows his limitations.

iii. Theory of Glauco: Pragmatic:

He treats justice as an artificial thing—a product of social convention. This theory is the precursor of the social contract theory. In the state of nature there was no justice, or state.

Many weaknesses combined together and created the state. Justice is the child of fear and is based on the necessity of the weaker and not the interest of the stronger.

Plato criticizes it on the ground that it considers justice as something external or an importation. He holds that justice is rooted in human mind. Though it is located in both, the individual and the state, but encompasses it in larger quantity and in visible form.

2. Plato’s Theory of Justice:

As a perfect dialectician, Plato contrasts the three elements of state, viz., rulers, soldiers and farmers with three elements of human mind, viz., reason, spirit and appetite each representing the three attributes of human mind. This led Prof. Barker to remark “this triplicate of the soul, whatever its source is the foundation of much of the republic”.

3. How it can be achieved:

Justice for the society can be realized if each group performs the function; it is best suited to perform without interfering in the affairs of others. Thus justice implies a sort of specialisation and the principle of non-interference and harmony.

Justice is the bond which holds a society together, a harmonious union of individuals, each of whom has found his life work in accordance with his natural fitness and his training. It is both a Public and Private virtue because the highest good both at the state and its members is hereby conserved.

Basic Principle of Theory of Justice:

1. It means functional specialisation. In it each component of the state performs the functions, it is best suited to perform, and justice can be ensured in the society.

2. It implies non-interference. Only when no component of the state interferes with the sphere of other’s duty that unity can be ensured moreover, only by doing so a society can benefit from the work of an individual

3. It implies a principle of harmony. Three human virtue, viz., wisdom, courage and temperance representing three classes are harmonized by the justice.

4. Criticism:

1. Based on moral principles, but lacks legal sanction.

2. Three-fold, clear-cut division of classes is impractical.

3. Neglects the producing classes concerns in participation of government.

4. Is a case for absolutism?

5. For Popper “Open society and its enemies”, Platonic justice gives rise to totalitarianism and ignores humanitarian principles like liberty, equality etc.

6. Individuals are made a means to an end.

Despite limitations one cannot refuse to appreciate platonic eyesight into philosophical questions. If we take cognizance of his time, many of Plato’s criticism would fall flat; the greatest contribution is that he visualized a prospect for peace and order in a society where some form of political crisis was the order of the day.

4 Important Factors Which Influence the Production

(1) Land:

Land is the most important factor of production. It is a free gift of nature. In everyday usage, by land we mean the surface of the earth. But in economics the word ‘land’ has a special meaning.

Besides surface of the earth, it also includes free gift of nature, such as forest resources, mineral resources, or anything that helps us in carrying out production of goods and services and is provided by nature free of cost.

(2) Labour:

Labour is an important factor of production and is capable of mobilising all other factors of production to achieve the desired output. In economics, labour refers to all kinds of exertion – manual (physical) or mental, skilled or unskilled, scientific or artistic – put in by human beings for gaining or achieving monetary benefits. All that works which is done for the sake of pleasure, love, kindness or charity cannot be called ‘labour’ in Economics.

(3) Capital:

It is a produced means of production. It is a means of production because it helps in the production of wealth. Buildings, plants raw materials, machines, highways, ports etc are example of capital.

(4) Entrepreneurship or Organization:

It is a specialized human element related to ‘production’. The entrepreneur (organizer) plays an important role in modern times because it is the entrepreneur who takes up the risk and sets the entire productive machinery into motion. It is under his leadership that production goes ahead and business prospers.

Essay on the Origin of “Political Thought”

The important developments of his life time were the defeat of Athens in wars against Spartas, the establishment of tyrannical rule of reactionaries, execution of his master (Socrate) by reactionaries. The prevailing condition in the society was inhuman and unsatisfactory.

He grew up in a city at war: “The Peloponnesian war”, which began just before his birth and lasted until he was twenty three it ended in defeat and humiliation of Athens and in the breakup of the confederation.

Nature of Greek Society:

Greek society was plagued by violence and selfishness among the ignorant and incompetent politicians.

The fierce spirit of factionalism often created instability of government in the city state. Such conditions in Plato’s opinion were due to discrepancy between economic interests between owners and non-owners of property.

Society exhibited high degree of conservatism. There was hardly any consideration for reason. Citizenship was confined to rich make population. Slaves were an important component of Greek economy. The belief in the superiority of race influenced the thought of the period.

In the political realm, lottery was used to political office. Politics was used for economic gain. The state itself was divided as Plato says “in every state there were two separate states”.

Impacts

Schools Prior to Plato:

Prior to Plato, there existed some school of thought which had profound impact on Plato’s thinking.

The Sophists:

They were a group of teachers who gave practical education and left a deep impact on the history and thought of the Greeks. They believed in the selfishness of man and considered state as an artificial contrivance. They completely ignored the moral considerations.

They held that force was the basis of all political authority and the political authority was justified in being selfish and even tyrannical.

Socrates:

Plato’s association with Socrates was the outstanding fact of his life. It was from Socrates that Plato derived what remained the central focus of his thought—the idea that virtue is knowledge. He saw a close relationship between ethics and politics.

Socrates sentence to death at the age of 70 on the charge of corrupting the youth was turning point in Plato’s life. The family took decision to abandon a political career that was most suited to him.

Socrates deductive and dialectical reasons together with following three doctrines were adopted by Plato.

1. Socrates dictum that virtue is knowledge

2. His theory of Reality

3. His theory of knowledge

From his theory of knowledge, Plato built up his whole structure of rule of philosophy, his ideal state and philosopher king. From Socrates doctrine of reality came the concept of “idealism” in philosophy and political thought.

The outwardly things are merely the superficial appearance of things. They are not real and permanent but ephesmal and phenomenal in nature.

According to Socrates ‘Beauty exists without a beautiful thing—its outward manifestation. From Socrates idea, he thinks of an ideal state “city in Heaven”.

By the theory of knowledge Socrates meant real knowledge, i.e. permanent, scientific, and mathematically true and based on reason. For Plato it is the philosophers, the embodiment of real knowledge and not the slaves of opinions and superstitions, who have the commanding position in his ideal state.

Pythagoras:

Plato’s visit (388-387 B.C.) to Italy proved to be a factor of crucial importance. From him, Plato imbibed the spirit of mathematic as a philosophic discipline.

Thus, the prevailing state of anarchy in Athenian society had profound impact on Plato. Similarly, teaching of sophists and his meeting with Pythagorean thinkers influenced his outlook.

But, it was Plato’s association with Socrates and execution of his master that substantially molded his life. Perhaps it won’t be unfair to say that in essence many of stances are Socratic. Barker acknowledges “the image of his teacher never faded from his mind and he actually represents the greatest legacy bequeathed by Socrates to mankind”.

Plato’s Works:

The Republic

The Statesman

The Laws

Difference between Plato’s Communism and Marx’s Communism

A comparison between Platonic Communism and Modern Communism reveals more dissimi­larities than similarities.

Differences:

1. Plato’s communism is the outcome of conditions of Athens in the 4th century B.C. But, Modern communism is the result of the most complex conditions arising due to the industrial revolution in the Nineteenth Century Europe.

2. Plato’s communism does not want total transformation of society. The producing class remains intact. It is applied only to the Guardian class.

But, Marxist communism is mainly concerned with alteration of economic structure of the society. It aims at abolition of private ownership of the means of production. All economic resources are centralised by the machinery of communist party.

This led Barker to remark that “Plato’s communism was aristocratic; it is a way of surrender; and it is a surrender imposed on the best. It exists for the sake of the whole society, but not for the whole society.”

3. While Plato’s communism concerned prohibition of things that enabled Guardians to discharge their function, modern communism is concerned with common ownership of the means of production.

4. Plato’s scheme of communism covered both; communism of property as well as wives. On the contrary, modern communism is concerned only with means of production.

5. Plato’s communism aimed at making the Greek city state, a self sufficient properly governed unit. But, modern communism espoused a global vision to bring about a world revolution to usher in a communist society.

6. While Plato’s communism was aristocratic; modern one is ‘Proletarian’.

7. Plato’s communism had high degree of abstraction with great philosophical rigor. Modern communism is more realistic combined with scientific rigor.

Essay on Plato’s Communism of Property

Secondly, if the philosophers and soldiers are to act according to justice they must have nothing to do with ‘Property’ which is the outward manifestation of “Appetite” which in turn is the element assigned to the farmer class.

For their sustenance the guardians should depend on the peasant class.

Thirdly, he believes that the most significant factor that leads to corruption and degradation in a state is the combination of economic power with political power.

Therefore, he pleads that those who exercise political power should have no economic motives and those who are engaged in economic activities should have no share in political power. According to Barker, “Plato starts from practical considerations and in this sense his communism is the most practical feature of his ideal state”.

Plato’s purpose in envisaging communism is to produce the greatest degree of unity in the state. Private property was a stumbling block in the way of such unity. Hence Plato would like to abolish the property itself.

Plato’s communism of property is only a secondary method of bringing about unity in the state. The primary method is his scheme of education.

Plato feared that the possession of private property would give rise to selfish considerations and deviate the attention of the philosopher rulers from public service.

He therefore deprived the two ruling classes of the right to property. In the words of Sabine, Plato felt that “To cure the greed of rulers there is no way short of denying them the right to call anything their own”.

For Plato the rulers should live in barracks and have meals at a common table. They should not possess private property because it was bound to undermine the value of virtue, which was the most important ingredient of the ruling class.

He repeatedly insists that his communism is meant only for the guardian class. Thus, says Barker “Platonic communism is ascetic and just for that reason it is also aristocratic.” It is imposed on the best and only the best.