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2 Utopias, Theories, and Ideologies


How do people accept illusion as reality? ... Philosophers (intellectuals) make the best leaders/kings ... to confuse 'shadows' with 'reality' relevant today? ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: 2 Utopias, Theories, and Ideologies

2 Utopias, Theories, and Ideologies
Political Theory Utopias
  • Utopias are idealized worlds
  • Utopias are helpful for studying politics because
    they are ideas taken to extremes
  • Political Science deals with ideal types or
    models to explain complex phenomenon

Classic Political Theory
  • Political science originates with the ancient
  • They believed that the purpose of the polis, or
    state, was to promote the happiness of citizens.
  • The normative nature of classic political theory
    sharply contrasts with the modern scientific
    ideal of dispassionate and objective study.
  • There are still political scientists who write
    normative political theory.
  • Grand theories conceive of politics on a grand

The Top Seven Dead White Male Political Theorists
  • Plato
  • Aristotle
  • Machiavelli
  • Hobbes
  • Locke
  • Rousseau
  • Marx

  • 427-347 B
  • Socrates Pupil
  • Wrote dialogues as starting points for
    discussion Socratic Method
  • Questioned nature of Truth
  • Theory of ideas or forms
  • Most famous work

The Republic
  • One of the most influential works in Western
  • How to Live a Good Life
  • Nature of Justice
  • Nature of an Ideal Republic
  • Allegory of the Cave

Analogy of the Ideal Republic
  • One of the first major, systematic expositions of
    abstract political theory
  • Speculating on ideal state utopian thinking
  • Divides people by innate intelligence, strength,
    and courage
  • Aristocracy rule by the best

Analogy of the Ideal Republic
  • PRODUCERS not overly bright, strong, or
  • AUXILIARIES Somewhat bright and strong, and
    especially courageous defensive and policing
  • GUARDIANS virtuous, brave, and extraordinarily
    intelligent run the state
  • Temperance lower groups obey higher
  • Just Dont simply obey, but do so willingly

Analogy extended to individuals
  • Identifies intellect with Guardians
  • Spirit or emotions with the Auxiliaries
  • and bodily appetites with the Producers
  • Courageous if spirit is courageous
  • Wise if intellect is wise
  • Temperance when emotions ruled by the intellect
    and bodily appetites ruled by emotions and
    especially intellect
  • Just when obey willingly

Questions before reading Allegory of the Cave
  • Is what you see always what you get?
  • Is what you see always the truth?
  • Describe an experience in which something that
    looked true turned out to be false or vice versa.
  • How do people accept illusion as reality?
  • What can happen if the illusion is shattered and
    reality is revealed?

  • What is an allegory?
  • A symbolic representation about the human
  • How might we replace the cave metaphor today?
  • Perhaps a movie theater
  • Central point prisoners are not seeing reality,
    only a shadowy representation of it

  • How much do the people in the cave know of
    themselves and others?
  • Ignorant and ignorant of their ignorance
  • About what are they talking?
  • Would mistake appearance for reality

  • If a prisoner is released from the cave and
    compelled to look at the light, what will he
    experience? Why?
  • Pain, cant force to learn
  • What does the sun symbolize?
  • Truth

  • If the liberated prisoner goes back and tries to
    enlighten his fellow prisoners, what reaction
    will he get? Why?
  • Ridicule and attack
  • Majority are sure of themselves
  • Why would the prisoners have such a bad opinion
    of his experience outside of the cave?
  • Threatening and hard to understand

Political Lesson
  • Why must the liberated prisoner return to the
  • Wont care for honors
  • Must share vision (Socrates)
  • Reluctant rulers govern best
  • Philosophers (intellectuals) make the best
  • Why do you think the people of Athens were
    antagonistic to Platos ideas?

Contemporary Society
  • To what extent is tendency to confuse shadows
    with reality relevant today?
  • Cave is like Platos conception of democracy
  • Most people base political decisions on
    superficial and fluctuating pseudo-knowledge
  • Describe other contemporary caves in which
    people might feel imprisoned

Aristotle The Rebellious Student
  • Aristotle (384322 B.C.) was more of a realist
  • Highly critical of Plato
  • He thought one could learn far more by observing
    the way that things actually work and the way
    that people actually behave.
  • Not worried about idealized forms
  • Much more pragmatic
  • Still concerned with human potential and desire
    for happiness

Aristotle The Rebellious Student
  • According to Aristotle, everything worked toward
    a specific end, or telos.
  • The telos for human beings is happiness.
  • People should create governments with this human
    end in mind.
  • Also, he believed, man is a political animal
    people are naturally social.
  • The polis is an extension of the natural
    associations people form.

Aristotle The Rebellious Student
  • Some types of governments are better at helping
    people achieve happiness than others.
  • One could improve a bad form of government.
  • Therefore, one need not only be concerned with
    the ideal world, but also with improving the
    flawed world that we know.

Machiavelli The Reality of Power
  • Niccolò Machiavelli (14691527)
  • Father of modern realism
  • His realist perspective was shaped by the
    politics of his day
  • Italy fractured
  • chaotic situation in Florence
  • he is tortured for participation in government

Machiavelli The Reality of Power
  • Political theory should be based on the way that
    people actually live and the things that they
    actually do.
  • What did he think human nature is like?
  • He believed people are ungrateful, fickle, and
  • One who wishes to lead has to work with this

Machiavelli The Reality of Power
  • Concerned with how to hold and exercise power
    given unflattering nature of humans
  • Machiavellis advice was cold, sometimes brutal,
    but it dealt with the realities of the politics
    he observed.
  • Many still use Machiavellis advice on power

Machiavelli The Reality of Power
  • What was Machiavellis utopia?
  • He wanted a government strong enough to secure
    peace and security.

Hobbes The Purpose of Government
  • Thomas Hobbes (15881679) was an empirical
  • In his work, The Leviathan, he sought to craft a
    scientific theory of politics and government.
  • Begins with a thought experiment, asking what
    life was like in a state of nature before

Hobbes The Purpose of Government
  • What was life like in Hobbes imaginary State of
  • Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
  • Why would people form governments in this
  • People are rational pleasure seekers they want
    peace and personal security.
  • So what do they do?

Hobbes The Purpose of Government
  • Government begins when people join together to
    form a Social Contract.
  • They trade their liberty for protection from the
    harshness of the state of nature.
  • Because the state of nature is so harsh, they
    turn their freedom is over to a sovereign with
    supreme authority.
  • The sovereign is responsible for securing and
    maintaining the peace.

Hobbes The Purpose of Government
  • This sovereign has all power in the society.
  • Once people consent to join the social contract,
    they hand over all rights including the right to
  • They sovereign can do whatever is necessary to
    ensure domestic tranquility.
  • There is no freedom of speech or freedom of
  • Why would rational people consent to this?
  • Hobbes gives us the negative utopia of the state
    of nature to contrast with the positive utopia of
    a life of security.
  • The negative utopia lurks in the background as a
    justification for the sovereigns rule.

Locke Civil Society
  • John Lockes (16321704) Second Treatise of
    Government also begins with a state of nature.
  • How does Lockes state of nature differ from
  • Made up of rational individuals who all have
    natural rights to life, liberty, and property.
  • But, encounter certain inconveniences, primarily
    in their efforts to gather property
  • So, enter into Social Contract to protect Life,
    Liberty, and Property
  • Emphasis on Consent and Limited Government

Locke Civil Society
  • However, the state of nature can suddenly turn
    into a state of war if a few people seek to
    violate natural laws.
  • There are inconveniences with meting out justice
    in the state of nature.
  • Locke argued that when people come together in a
    state of nature, they first form a civil society.

Locke Civil Society
  • Civil society then creates the government.
  • Government is limited.
  • People only surrender rights that are absolutely
    necessary for the government to carry out its
    primary function the preservation of property.
  • Lockes utopia is one where the government exists
    as a subcontractor for the civil society.
  • The subcontractor continues as long as it
    performs its responsibility to protect.
  • All are free to enjoy their rights, property, and
    the fruits of their labor.

Locke Civil Society
  • Why does this sound familiar?
  • Very influential in creation of U.S. Government
  • What happens if the government does not live up
    to its end of the social contract and fails to
    protect its citizenry or abuses its power?
  • The U.S. Declaration of Independence declares
    That whenever any form of government becomes
    destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the
    People to alter or to abolish it, and to
    institute new Government.

Rousseau Why Cant We Be Friends?
  • Jean Jacques Rousseaus (17121778) political
    theory does not stress individualism to same
    degree as Hobbes or Locke.
  • He did not believe that civilized society was an
    improvement on the state of nature.

Rousseau - (17121778)
  • Rousseau also starts with a state of nature
  • People were primitive and simple-minded, but had
  • Rousseau thought civilization was the problem.
  • It made people focus on their individual desires,
    robbed them of their compassion, and promoted
  • In his work On the Social Contract, Rousseau
    writes, Man is born free, and everywhere he is
    in chains.

Rousseau - Why Cant We Be Friends?
  • What should people do?
  • Enter into a social contractone that is
    different from Hobbes or Lockes
  • People need to place the common good of all above
    their own personal interests
  • In exchange for surrendering individual rights,
    each person joins in the solidarity of the
    general will.
  • The general will is the voice of the majority
    speaking for the common good of all, where each
    person ignores his or her own personal stake.
  • All who participate grow through their

Rousseau - Why Cant We Be Friends?
  • The general will is the sovereign.
  • If people do not follow the general wills rules,
    they will be forced to be free.
  • How does Rousseaus vision of human nature differ
    from either Hobbes or Locke?
  • He has a higher view of human potential

Modern Thought The Contractualists
  • Hypothetical State of Nature with no government
  • Individuals rationally join together in a social
    contract to form a government to protect
  • Hobbes Need a sovereign leviathan with supreme
    power to maintain order
  • Locke Rational and reasonable individuals
    consent to form a limited civil society to secure
    life, liberty, and property
  • Rousseau Unanimous agreement to create a popular
    sovereignty under the general will of the
    community in which each have civil and moral
    liberty and a better opportunity to fulfill

Karl Marx You Will Wait!
  • Karl Marx is also generally agreed to be one of
    the most influential political theorists.
  • Most of his theoretical impact comes in relation
    to government and the economy.
  • We will focus heavily on his work when we cover
    government and the economy.

Non-Western Political Theory
  • Sun Tzus Art of War is, perhaps, the oldest
    secular text still in existence, and it is still
    widely read and incredibly influential.
  • One key element of Chinese political theory that
    contrasts with Western models is its focus on the
    society first and the individual second.
  • Indian political theory is built upon the idea of
    innate human obligations rather than the idea of
    innate rights.
  • Islam includes substantial space for what might
    be called tribal identities and other local
  • Islamic political thought is also the only major
    body of political theory that is not focused on
    the state, but on the idea of a nation that
    transcends borders and governments.

  • Definition A coherent set of ideas that links
    thought with action
  • Features
  • Coherent and comprehensive set of ideas that
    explains and evaluates social conditions
  • Helps people understand their place in society
  • Provides a program for social and political action

Ideologies and Religion
  • Religions perform similar roles
  • But tend to be concerned with the supernatural
    and the divine
  • Ideologies are more interested with the here and
    now on this earth
  • Political ideologies aim to help people live as
    well as possible in this world

Human Nature
  • Implicit in each ideology is some conception of
    human nature
  • Are we competitive or cooperative?
  • Is human nature constructed differently under
    different ideological systems?

  • All ideologies claim to promote freedom
  • But define freedom in different ways
  • Human nature and freedom are essentially
    contested concepts
  • Freedom (and ideologies) includes
  • an agent,
  • a barrier or obstacle blocking the agent,
  • and a goal at which the agent aims

  • The difference between political theory and
    political ideology centers on action.
  • Theory is aimed at developing knowledge.
  • Ideology is about organizing and directing
    goal-oriented action.
  • Marx wrote both theory and ideology, and it is
    clear to see the difference between his
    theoretical writing and his ideological call for
    the workers of the world to unite.

Distinguishing Ideologies from Theories
  • A crude way of distinguishing between theories
    and ideologies is to think about the audience.
  • Political theories are written for elites.
  • Ideologies are written for the masses.

Distinguishing Ideologies from Theories
  • Political theories, generally are
  • complex,
  • logically robust,
  • usually accompanied by an epistemology (a theory
    of the nature of knowledge),
  • written for a select audience, and
  • in some ways, timeless, because they raise
    questions and provide answers for problems that
    persist throughout the centuries.

Distinguishing Ideologies from Theories
  • Ideologies
  • attempt to convince mass numbers of people,
  • paint dramatic pictures of the utopia its
    proponents hope to achieve,
  • are written in simple enough terms to be
  • contain how-to instructions for achieving the
  • Because ideologies must appeal to large numbers
    of people in specific countries at specific
    times, they are also usually malleable enough to
    be changed to meet the necessary conditions.

Classical Liberalism
  • Emphasis on Individual Liberty
  • As humans are fundamentally rational
  • Everyone should have equal opportunities
  • Origins can be traced to a reaction against the
    rigid medieval social structure
  • Religious Conformity (no separation between
    church and state)
  • Ascribed Status (Social Standing fixed or
    ascribed at birth)

Classic Liberalism The Mother of all Ideologies
  • Idea of rational individuals with freedom
    articulated by Hobbes and Locke and culminate in
    the American Revolution.
  • Adam Smith (17231790) added economic freedom as
    a key variable.
  • Are classic liberals realists or are they
  • To the extent that they believe government is
    necessary to control the human beings selfish
    nature, they are realists.
  • Some might argue that their faith in unregulated
    economic markets is idealistic.

Classic Liberalism The Mother of all Ideologies
  • The closest ideology to classic liberalism in
    existence today is libertarianism.
  • Libertarians believe the government should
    provide military protection, a police force, and
    basic infrastructure, such as roads and bridges,
    but do little more.

Classic Conservatism
  • Associated with 18th c. British parliamentarian
    Edmund Burke.
  • Reaction to the excesses of the French Revolution
  • Human Rationality is Limited
  • The life of an individual is short
  • Social institutions have developed over centuries
    of experience, success, and failure
  • Hence we should rely on tradition and convention
  • People should be very wary of changing things
    until they understand all ramifications.

  • Need government under a prescriptive constitution
    based on the reality of time-tested experience
  • Recognizes the need for prudent change but
    critical of those who throw out all of the
    existing order in favor of abstract ideas like
    liberty, equality, and fraternity
  • Society is much more than the sum of its
    individuals and Government is an embodiment of
    the values and traditions of the community and
    not just simply a perishable utilitarian agreement

Classic Conservatism
  • Institutions and traditions are shorthand for
    information that would be impossible for any
    group of human beings to possess.
  • Classic conservatives believe that people should
    be very wary of changing things until they
    understand all ramifications.
  • The perfect world envisioned by classic
    conservatives tends to be negative.
  • They draw a picture of the anarchy that might
    result from the careless elimination of treasured

  • History evolves in ways we can understand
  • Wanted to isolate the determinate motor forces of
    history (like Darwin)
  • Spent years studying and developed a
    sophisticated theory of historical development
  • Not a revolutionary, but a scholar
  • Historical Evolution is Inevitable

Karl Marx
  • Underlying force of history is economics
    (economic determinism)
  • Historically, economic systems have been
  • Capitalism exploits the labor of the worker by
    keeping them poor and debased and alienating them
    from the products of their labor
  • Because exploitive, will inevitably fail and be
    replaced by a communal society from each
    according to his ability, to each according to
    his needs.

Economic Determinism
  • Economics drives History
  • Forms the base STRUCTURE of society
  • SUPERSTRUCTURE - politics, religion, social
    customs, intellectual work - is built on the
    economic structure
  • Tribal - Feudal - Capitalism - Communism
  • History is one of class struggles

The Dialectic
  • Theory of How History Evolves
  • Exploitation - Contradictions - Change
  • No system is without Contradictions
  • Contradictions will point out change
  • Only a non-exploitive system can ultimately
  • a.k.a. Historical Materialism
  • Wheres the contradiction in capitalism?

Worker Alienation
  • How are workers alienated in capitalism?
  • Work is dehumanizing and repetitive
  • Producing value for someone else
  • alienated from means of production
  • religion teaches them to be obedient
  • Cannot develop their own humanity
  • Will develop Class Consciousness
  • The workers of the world will then revolt and
    cast off the rule of the capitalists
  • They will institute a classless society where
    justice and fairness prevailed.

  • Karl Marx argued that the key to understanding
    capitalism was its division of classes.
  • Under capitalism there are two classes, the
    proletariat and the bourgeoisie.
  • The bourgeoisie are the capitalists who control
    the machinery of the state and who benefit from
    the inequities of the capitalistic system.
  • The proletariat is the working class, which gets
    paid only a fraction of the worth of the goods it
    produces and the services it provides.
  • Because the proletariat do not make enough to
    purchase the goods they supply, there is constant
    overproduction and, consequently, economic

  • Marx believed there would be a day when workers
    from advanced industrial nations would realize
    that they shared more in common with the other
    workers around the world than they did with the
    capitalists in their own countries.
  • The workers of the world would revolt and cast
    off the rule of the capitalists
  • They would institute a classless society where
    justice and fairness prevailed.
  • In Marxs utopia, there would be no need for
    government as we know it.

  • Marxs ideology has been adopted and changed to
    meet various circumstances.
  • Vladimir Lenin applied communist principles to
    the feudal conditions of Tsarist Russia in the
    early twentieth century.
  • Marxist-Leninism shifts the focus from
    exploitation of the proletariat within capitalist
    societies to the exploitation and colonization of
    countries, imperialism, by advanced capitalist
  • Lenin also changed Marxs revolutionary vision
    there could be a central communist party that can
    organize the revolution

Democratic Socialism
  • Early twentieth century
  • Believed that people are inherently social
  • Argued that classic liberalism placed too great a
    stress on individualism.
  • Envision a society characterized by social,
    political, and economic equality.
  • Believe that a socialist state can be achieved
    through democratic means

Democratic Socialism
  • Social democrats believe in operating a political
    party in democratic countries in order to achieve
    the socialist policies.
  • There is a difference between democratic
    socialists and social democrats.
  • Democratic socialists believe that a socialist
    state can be achieved through democratic means.
  • Social democrats, on the other hand, aim to
    modify the harshness of capitalism with the
    infusion of some elements of socialism.

Reform liberalism
  • Late nineteenth / early twentieth centuries
  • Government should regulate the economy and remove
    major inequities caused by the capitalist system.
  • Government should also remove the obstacles that
    hinder people from competing equally and pursuing
    their individual goals
  • What kind of opportunities can government
  • It should provide education, job training, a
    safety net, etc..
  • What is positive liberty?
  • By removing barriers that prevent the achievement
    of peoples full potential, there is more freedom
    to do more stuff
  • What is negative liberty?
  • The removal of government prohibitions limiting
    various conduct
  • Which is the goal of reform liberals? Which is
    the goal of classic Liberals?

  • Fascism is a twentieth century ideology.
  • Fascists argue for the supremacy and purity of
    one group of people.
  • They believe in a strong military rule headed by
    a charismatic dictator of a ruling party.
  • In what type of environment does fascism often
  • Fascists often emerge during a severe economic
    depressions. Why?
  • People want security and prosperity
  • The leader promises to take control of the
    economy and works with businesses to plan

  • Public spectacles are used to reinforce
    traditions and to motivate people to support the
    ruling party.
  • What is the fascist opinion of democracy?
  • Fascists dislike democracy because it dilutes
    customs and traditions and because it undermines
    the dictators authority.
  • What is the role of nationalism in fascist
  • Nationalism plays a strong role in fascism as
    does a belief in constant vigilance against
    enemies at home and abroad.
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