Law, Politics, and Philosophy

Tuguegarao City, Cagayan. Atty. MICHAEL JHON M. TAMAYAO manages this blog. Contact: mjmtamayao@yahoo.com.

Political and Economic Ideologies

Michael Jhon M. Tamayao, M.Phil.

 

I.

Before we embark into the intricacies of our subject, “Political and Economic Ideologies,” it is wise to define first the basic terms and concepts. This is in order to avoid ambiguity and vagueness later when we discuss the various political concepts and theories. Although the definitions are not exhaustive, as these terms will be our object of study for the entire seminar, they will nevertheless be helpful in commencing our discussion of the subject.

 

What is Politics? The word “politics” is derived from the Greek word “polis” which means “city,” which during the Greek period, and as it is today, refers to a sovereign state.[1] Basing on its etymology, politics (and other related words, such as politic, political, politician, and polity) has something to do with the affairs of the state.

Politics is the science of government. As a science, it is a systematic body of knowledge (for the most part, practical) that deals with the government and regulation, maintenance and development, and defense and augmentation of the state. It also deals with the protection of the rights of its citizens; safeguarding and enhancement their morals; and, harmony and peace in their relations. Thus politics is the way in which we understand and order our social affairs, and acquire greater control over the situation.[2]

What is Economics? Economics is derived from the Greek word “oikonomia” which means management of household. Economics is the science that treats of the production, distribution, conservation, and consumption of wealth.

What is an Ideology? The word “ideology” is derived from the two Greek words, idea, which means idea, and logos, which means science. The term therefore literally means “science of ideas.” The word was first coined by Destutt de Tracy, a French philosopher and writer.

In its contemporary usage, ideology refers to the very ideas themselves which are meant to give structure and meaning to the human world. As such, every ideology gives direction to our political and social activities; it is the perspective through which we picture and likewise control reality and, by extension, the people. It is a comprehensive set of beliefs and attitudes about social and economic institutions and processes.[3]

 

Politics and economics are intimately entwined. The primary issues in politics are about economics, and the most significant economic problems are settled through politics. The concept of the best form of government, the promotion of social justice, the eradication of poverty, and who should exercise power are timeless political issues, which can be addressed only with respect to the polity’s economic system. The way outputs are produced, the definition of what constitutes output, what is produced, and who decides development policy are significant economic problems, which are settled as much in the political arena as in production.[4] Politics happens within the economic structures. Thus, to understand politics, it must be done in the light of an economic system, and to understand economics, it must be done in the light of a political system.

Because they are comprehensive systems of beliefs and attitudes, ideologies are almost always about politics, economics, and social relationships. Ideologies are always political and economic, for that by which we order and give structure to our political and economic affairs is through an ideological framework. It is now clear and discernible how the terms lead to each other, and why the definitions we just did, although separately done, must eventually lead to a more unified discussion.

 

There are as many ideologies as there are people believing in them. For our own purposes and due to time constraint, this paper will discuss only the three dominant ideologies, namely liberalism, conservatism, and socialism. Liberalism will be discussed in the light of the political philosophies of the classical liberal theoreticians, John Stuart Mill, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Adam Smith. Conservatism, which is a reaction to the revolutionist ideals, will center on the political theory of Edmund Burke. And our discussion of socialism will be limited to communism. Communism will be discussed with reference only to The Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels.[5]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

II.

An ideology is presumably rational because it tries to make sense of reality.  The three dominant ideologies of conservatism, liberalism, and socialism (which will be discussed in this seminar) are recognized for their rational, logical style, which probably helps account for their dominance.[6] However, ideologies, especially those that rely greatly on faith and belief, likewise have an element of irrationality. This, nonetheless, proves to be a useful component, because, although an idea is contrary to common sense, a true follower accepts it; this becomes an avenue for an unwavering loyalty to the system and for authentic unity amongst members. [7]

Ideologies are normative rather than just explanatory in approach. Thus, what shall be discussed below are all guidelines, more than mere theoretical descriptions, for societal organization and function.

 

 

 

Liberalism

By definition, liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and the rejection of arbitrary authority. But because people have different views on the concept of liberty, liberalism is rather ambiguous.[8] Various liberal schools sprouted; among the most noteworthy are the Lockean liberalism and democratic liberalism, both of which contributed to the ideology of the French Revolution.[9] Liberalism finds its roots in the humanist affirmation of human excellence and individual responsibility, best associated with Renassaince. With the rise of individualism, man could no longer be regarded as having a fixed place in a divinely ordained world. Liberals picture life as a race, a restless competition; one which have casted away the fetters of tradition and religion, and replaced them with a new form of social control: the state that is increasingly executive.

Because of numerous references to the concept, it becomes necessary to go back to the theoretical landmarks of liberalism. Liberalism finds its most famous concoction in the classical theories of John Stuart Mill, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, for its politico-philosophical aspect; and in the theory of Adam Smith for its economic aspect.

John Stuart Mill. Traditional liberalism started from Mill’s concept of negative freedom, that is, freedom from constraints, particularly from that of the State. He was careful though not to push this notion into anarchist extremes. He also believed in democratic government, but he was profoundly worried about the tendency of this government to suppress individuality and override minorities.[10] Hence, his central concern in his socio-political writings was to show the importance of personal freedom and the development of strong individual character and to devise ways in encouraging their growth.[11]

Although he thought it was the most likely of his works to be of enduring value, On Liberty (1859) is considered one of the great landmarks of classical liberalism. In it, Mill tackles the perennial issue: what powers should society have over individuals?[12] He maintained the view that the individual is sovereign over his own body and mind; that “the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection.”

Mill equated “individuality” with continued effort of self-development. Individual freedom is freedom from constraints. The State must therefore not suppress individual differences and the development of genuine minority opinion. Democracy, with its controlling public opinion, must not be an avenue for tyranny. Instead, it must develop personalities strong enough to resist public opinion and immediate yielding to it. Mill’s strong emphasis on this point showed his fear of democratic tyranny more than aristocratic tyranny.

It is important to note that Mill, as a liberal, purported that “representative government” is the best form of government. More than any other form of government, it encourages the growth and development of individuality. It engages the individuals by giving them direct participation in the process of governing. Representative government thereby makes them active, intelligent, well rounded, and sensitive but impersonal to public issues. Mill was careful, however, in promoting a democracy that was represented by the minorities as well as majorities.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679). Along the lines of his pessimistic account of human nature, Thomas Hobbes constructed his socio-political philosophy.[13] He began his liberal theory with the idea that the “natural state” of man is a state of war; that under the state of nature “man is a wolf to another man.” Man competes for his basic needs, often violently, and, as such, he is in constant fear of violence (or death) from another man. To ensure therefore his personal safety, he challenges others and fights out of fear, or establishes his reputation as a defense from others.

Hobbes stated that the sovereign or political authorities are not natural to man. It is true that some are stronger and wiser than others, but each man has the entrenched capacity to kill another. Since even the strongest needs sleep, the weakest can take that opportunity to slit the former’s throat. It was completely clear for Hobbes that there is no natural right for anyone to rule. In addition, Hobbes spoke of man’s “right of nature.” This is the right to self-preservation at all cost. From this primary right comes the right to judge what will ensure our existence. Under the state of nature, judgments are very drastic; the possibility of trusting a third party in the resolution of a problem is unlikely to happen. No one in such state can serve as a judge for another because of the radical, mutual distrust among men. Man must, therefore, be a judge of his own cause. It is true that we have varied judgments about things, but what is right “for me,” regardless of what you think, is and will always be right “for me.” All moral judgments are limited to individual judgments and never raised to general principles. This makes moral judgments in the state of nature “amoral.” Thus the over-all picture in the state of nature is that it is the interaction of selfish and amoral human beings.

The state of nature is an unfavorable situation for man. He is in constant threat of a violent death. He therefore ought to avoid it and endeavor for peace. As the core of Hobbes’ teachings about the laws of nature, man must treat his fellow the way he wants others treat him. In order to implement this, man must enter into a social contract whereby he surrenders his right of nature to the sovereign power and drastically limit this right only to right to defend his self from immediate threat. Only the sovereign ruler retains his right of nature because all judgments about the affairs of the community are delegated to him. He decides the norms of action and the rules of property. He judges disputes and resolves them.

Man’s fear of death and the need for security are both the psychological foundations of prudence and civilization. The horrors of the state of nature can only be overcome through the institution of a government. Man’s voluntary entrance into the social contract marks the transition from state of nature to civil society. In the civil society, only the sovereign authority is the true judge.

John Locke (1632–1704). In his work The Second Treatise of Government, John Locke said, “Men… by nature are all free, equal, and independent… The only way whereby anyone can strip himself of his natural liberty and put on the bonds of civil society is by agreeing with other men to join and to unite into a community for their comfortable, safe, and peaceable living amongst another, in a secure enjoyment of their properties and a greater security against any that are not of it.” Locke in here gives us a picture of man’s natural state and the condition by which man enters a civil society. In the state of nature, man has absolute freedom of choice. Contrary to Hobbes’ pessimistic assertion, Locke firmly states that man is naturally good and reasonable in his dealings with other men. Even before man’s entrance into a government, reason and conscience exert an influence to man’s judgments. Using reason, man knows that he ought not to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or property. Hence, for Locke, although it is true that in the state of nature, one is a judge to his own cause, it is not the case that man wages war against all. But to avoid inconveniences in his interaction with other men, he must enter into a compact which limits his freedom as per prescribed by the norms of that compact. Unlike Hobbes, however, Locke says that the sovereign ruler is accountable to his subjects, and the government’s main goal is to preserve, nurture, and protect the rights of its citizens.[14]

Locke further states that “the chief and the great end… of men’s uniting into commonwealths and putting themselves under government is the preservation of their property.”[15] He proposes that, by uniting and putting themselves under a government, men preserve their rights. The government or state is a necessary institution, ensuring order and law at home, defense against foreign powers, and security of possessions – the three principles summarized as “life, liberty, and property.” As a consequence their lives, as compared to the state of nature, become more comfortable and peaceful.

Locke further says, contrary to the idea of Hobbes, that the sovereign ruler is not exempted from the norms of the government – a sovereign ruler is still accountable for all his action. The power of the sovereign is limited to the protection and preservation of the natural rights of the people. Thus, if the government fails to protect man’s basic rights, i.e., rights of life, liberty, and property, then the people could resort to a justified rebellion. This is the idea of a “limited government.” The power of the government is constricted to its task of securing and nurturing the rights of the people. Anything beyond this duty is a sign of an abuse of power.

Furthermore, Locke justifies the right to property (as a product of labor) by citing it as a necessary means for sustaining our lives. Before the emergence of civil societies, men toil the soils, which are not their own, in order to meet their needs. Their labor, however, transforms these publicly owned things in the state of nature into privately owned properties. Nonetheless, there is a limit to the amount of accumulated properties. According to Locke, it must just be enough to meet our needs, so that nothing is spoiled. The right to property is a natural right of man. This natural right is secured through a government.

Unlike Hobbes, Locke believes that the mutual consent of men to form a social contract does not result to an absolute sovereignty. For him, the intention of the subjects in mutually consenting to form a compact is the protection of their rights. This is effectively carried out by dividing the government into three powers, which are the legislative, executive, and the judicial, and by majority representation in the legislature. Moreover, it is not the sovereign that confers the rights to his citizens, as Hobbes believes, but these rights are naturally owned by the citizens, and must therefore be retained and respected by the sovereign. These rights are deduced from man’s nature, and they are not products of a sovereign’s freedom of choice.

 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778). Rousseau was particularly opposed to the artificialities of contemporary societies, and stressed the importance of the human being’s natural development. Man’s evolution from the primitive societies to the present is a fall from happiness to misery. This road to perdition is irreversible; thus, man must preserve, argued Rousseau, the simplicity and innocence of the less politicized societies and protect them from further corruption. Moreover, he contended that even though man is free, man is everywhere chained by his artificial needs. As culture appears to attain an ever increasing sophistication, genuine human relationships slowly disappear. Man is lost and alienated from his real self. To be free again, people must be trained to be good, not merely powerful, by teaching them what human relations ought to be. In his works Emile and The Social Contract, Rousseau was determined to improve the conditions of man through his theories on politics and education. As a liberal, his main thrust was to teach the art of living, of providing the fundamental principles that underlie the whole of man’s development from infancy to maturity.[16] For him, a “truly free man” was one with a “well-regulated freedom” developed through sound education. It must be noted though that Rousseau’s emphasis on individualist education, as in the case of Emile, in no way excluded the idea that true education must eventually be for the society.

Rousseau, like Locke, was convinced that man by nature is good, but his goodness has been corrupted by the maladies of modern societies. Men enter into a social contract because of the obstacles to their preservation in the state of nature. But in entering into such a contract, they lose their freedom. Hence, Rousseau sought for a form of social contract or “association which will defend the person and goods of each member with the collective force of all, and under which each individual, while uniting himself with the others, obeys no one but himself, and remains as free as before.”[17]

Rousseau envisioned a society whose sovereign was the people themselves. All parties to this social contract are collectively named “people”, who call themselves “citizens,” in so far as they participate in the exercise of sovereign power, and “subjects,” in so far as they put themselves under the laws of the state.[18] The “general will” of the people that is always rightful and always tends to the public good, replaces the individual will, which though not corrupt, is often led astray. In an enlightened republic, which Rousseau considered the ideal type of state, people will experience the highest form of freedom, namely, that of living under laws freely chosen and of their own making.[19] The success of this form of government hinges on a good education.

 

Adam Smith (1723-1790). The economic aspect of liberalism finds its classical expression in Smith’s account of “free market economics.” He was instrumental in bringing conceptual clarity to the chaotic European market and in enlightening Europe for the first time of its economic system. In his work An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of Wealth of Nations, Smith expounds how the free market is guided by what he calls “invisible hands.”

Smith argues that every individual continually exerts himself to find the most advantageous employment of capital that is for him in the production and sale of goods that satisfy the greatest needs of the people. Although a capitalist is motivated to act through “self-interest”, he is bound to satisfy these needs of the people.[20] By intending his own gain, he contributes to the general welfare: “by pursuing his own interest, [the individual] frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he intends to promote it.”[21] The capitalist is led by an “invisible hand” to promote an end which is outside his intention.

Smith is known to be a supporter of laissez-faire[22] capitalism. With the belief that individual self-interest is guided by the market’s invisible hand, Smith strongly opposed government intervention into business affairs. Minimum wage laws, trade restrictions, and product regulation are considered detrimental to the country’s economic health. Capitalists support this laissez-faire policy of Smith, although they often twist his words to justify mistreatment of workers. However, Smith is wary of the formation of monopolies. Capitalism is good because of competition which encourages economic growth and it benefits the members of the society; but collusion among groups of capitalists chains the invisible hand of the market from performing its task.

 

From the foregoing discussions, it could be surmised that the liberals believe in the capacity of all individuals to live satisfactory and productive lives, for all are capable of reason and rational action. But because people are often caught in a difficult situation, the government must ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to achieve the best possible life and to fulfill his or her individual potential.[23] The Philippine Constitution, as well as the CSU philosophy, is founded on this liberal concept.

 

Conservatism: Burke and Anti-revolution

With the belief that the wisdom of the past is more likely to be right than the fleeting trend of the moment, the conservative believes that the present political system or that which has been passed on to us by past generations must be conserved. If we wish to change or improve the existing political system, it must be based on the components of the past systems.

In the Reflections on the Revolution in France, Edmund Burke (1729-1797), who is considered the articulate spokesman and intellectual apogee of conservatism, attacked egalitarian advocacies on absolute liberty, equality, and democracy, as well as criticized abstract theories and the political principles on change by revolution. He emphasized with eloquent forcefulness the complexity of both man and nature, the wisdom embodied in institutions (the church, the state, and private property) and in traditions. He assailed the rationalist or idealist approach in understanding the political phenomena, saying that such approach is of limited value because it has neglected human passion, prejudice and habit; reason, in itself, cannot explain and penetrate the essential mystery of man and society, much more with the universe. For him, presumption and prejudice are rather more valuable basis than reason for the operation of government. Society was not a conscious creation of man, for men were molded and born subject to established society.[24]

Revolution, which represents a complete break with the past and abandonment of tradition, fills the heart of a conservative with disgust and horror. The fabrication of a new government entails not only the destruction of sound principles of political action but also the squander of the guidance of nature. Nature is for Burke wisdom which needs no reflection; nature is itself its own reason. State policies and our political system must therefore be placed in just correspondence and symmetry with nature, with the world. By conforming to nature in our artificial institutions, and by calling in the aid of her unerring and powerful instincts, we fortify the fallible and feeble contrivances of our reason.

In Reflections, Burke elaborates further that “the science of constructing a commonwealth, or renovating it, is, like every other experimental science, not to be taught a priori. Nor is it a short experience that can instruct us in that practical science… It is with infinite edifice, which has answered in any tolerable degree for ages the common purposes of society, or on building it up again, without having models and patterns of approved utility before his eyes…”[25]

Burke said that some are born into “a natural aristocracy.”[26] From this definitely nonegalitarian point of view, a conservative believes that individuals are not of equal value to society; some are born to lead, to whom others not fit to rule owe allegiance. The circumstances of their births give them the necessary abilities and insights; these entitles them to do the leading, guiding, and governing” part of humanity, a right or privilege not present to others. Deeply supporting the concept of “birthright,” Burke further states that nature not only teaches us to revere individual men on account of their age, but also on account of those from whom they have descended. “Levellers,” who only pervert the natural order of things, think they are combating prejudice, but they are combating nature. Some are naturally to be accorded higher descriptions than others. Thus, with his famous polemic style, Burke writes: “The occupation of a hair dresser, or of a working tallow chandler, cannot be a matter of honor to any person – to say nothing of a number of other servile employments. Such descriptions of men ought not to suffer oppression from the state; but the state suffers oppression, if such as they, either individually or collectively, are permitted to rule.”[27]

Conservatives are loyal to their church, their king, and their country. Their respect for their past makes it natural for them to be deeply religious and nationalistic. Religion is, for a conservative, the basis of civil society, and the source of all good and comfort.[28] Man by nature is a religious animal, and, as such, religion is his first prejudice. It is not that it is a prejudice non-constitutive of reason, but involving it rather in profound and extensive wisdom. Atheism, on the other hand, is not only against reason, it is also against human instincts. All states take ground on the different religious systems, and their government officials, who are consecrated by God Himself, stand in high and worthy notions of their functions and destinations. To the conservatives, a religion connected with the state is necessary, for in the performance of a political duty, man is to account for his conduct in that trust to the “one great Master, Author, and Founder of society.”

Moreover, conservatives may establish ties with other countries with similar beliefs, but they are on a constant guard of their own system against enemy states. These ties are mutual, because as they give aid and comfort to their allies, their allies are thwarted from becoming the friends of their enemies.[29]

Burke affirms the liberal proposition that the society is a contract. However, such contract is for him to be “looked on with other reverence” because it “is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection.”[30] It is a partnership, not only of the past, but of all generations – of the dead, the living, and those yet to be born.

It must be underscored that although conservatives are against revolution, they are equally opposed to unchanging reaction. It is true that evils are latent to change, but change is imminent and inevitable. And should change happen, it must be done by a slow, almost imperceptible, but well-sustained progress. Reformations must proceed upon the principle of reverence to antiquity, and that they be done upon the analogical precedent, authority and example of the latter. Time assists this long process of compensating, reconciling, and balancing the contending principles found in the minds and affairs of men. The society so established from such a grueling process achieves excellence in composition. And having fixed itself with sure, solid, and ruling principles of governance, it could be left to its own operation.

Conservatism, more than anything else, is practical and realistic. It averts idealism and all abstract, metaphysical sophistications. Institutions, which the conservatives promote, are not patterned after theories; theories are rather drawn from them. Tried by their effects, institutions are presumed to be good if they make the people happy, united, wealthy, and powerful. They are the result of various necessities and expediencies.[31] Through them, political ends are best obtained. Unlike in the case of the old “proven and tested” institutions, “a new and merely theoretical system expects every form of contrivance to appear, on the face of it, to answer its ends”[32] which in fact does not happen. Thus, Burke stresses that we should follow the example of our forefathers, and if there is a need to change, make the reparation as nearly as possible in the style of their establishment – cautious, circumspective, and moral.

 

Socialism: Communism and The Manifesto

 

Socialism is a belief which states that the means of production of a society must be publicly owned and managed.

Historically speaking, socialism is a modern conception; not only was the socialist means of production impossible during the ancient and medieval times, it was even unconceivable.[33] Production back then took place only in scattered workshops, stores and agricultural strips, each known for their valued trademarks. The idea of amassing all resources and placing them under the sole management of the government goes beyond, theoretically and realistically, the system of ancient and medieval commerce.

It was only at the very threshold of the modern period that the first authentic socialist position was formulated. In his Utopia, Thomas Moore spoke of a society free of money, wherein people share meals, houses, and other goods in common. The problem, however, is that Utopia was the work of an individual genius and not the reflection of a social movement.[34] It was only in mid 17th century, during the English Civil Wars, that socialism took the shape of a social movement and had its first practical expression. During this period, Gerrard Winstanley (1609-1660), who led the Digger movement, fought for an “agrarian communism,” believing that the earth is a common treasury. This movement, however, was short lived, as it was century and a half later in the movement led by Babeuf during the French Revolution. But in the 19th century, as a child of the Industrial Revolution, socialism emerged as a significant issue immensely affecting the political and economic life of the advanced western countries. It presented itself as a socio-economic structure which could (or for the socialists, should) alter the 18th and early 19th century capitalist Europe.

Socialism, although full of brilliant insights, was still not systematized. It was just that – a collection of passionate beliefs and hopes.[35] Then just at the right time, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels entered the picture; it became their historical mission to integrate and systematize the variegated socialist beliefs. Thus, the Manifesto was born, the profound synthesis of socialism. It was the embodiment of socialist thoughts and the crystallization of the socialist vision. It raised socialism as world force and changed the direction of history. As such, not only was the Manifesto one of the most important documents in the history of socialism, but it was too in the entire history of the human race.

What was the message of socialist Marx and Engels in the Manifesto? What made it so profound and life-changing?

With such a compact message, it is hard to divide the Manifesto into chewable parts. But for discussion purposes, and with the hope of penetrating the communist thought, we divide the document into five central concepts: (1) historical materialism, (2) class struggle, (3) the nature of capitalism, (4) the inevitability of socialism, and (5) exploitation and alienation.

Historical Materialism. History is a dialectical process; it is not a collection of unrelated facts, but a universal process in which everything is related.[36] Borrowing the idea of G.W.F. Hegel, Marx and Engels believed that history follows the dialectical pattern of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Social structures, as theses, are countered by opposite social structures, the antitheses; and from their interaction is the birth of a new social structure, which is a synthesis or advancement beyond the previous social structures. However, unlike Hegel, they thought that what governed the pattern was “matter,” and not the Geist (Spirit); that the controlling forces of history are the material forces and especially those of economic production.[37] Thus, their historical dialectic is called historical materialism, in contrast to Hegel’s historical idealism.

Marx and Engels believed that through this philosophy they could see, even predict, the destiny of humankind. History’s movement has been decoded, its logical pattern has been revealed. The central project of human history is nothing less than the production and reproduction of material life.[38] Part I of the Manifesto brilliantly speaks of this pattern as it maps out the rise and development of capitalism from its primitive beginnings in the medieval period to its full-blown form in the 19th century.

Class Struggle. History is essentially social, and not one directed by individuals.[39] The Manifesto speaks of this social history as a “history of class struggles” between “the freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf… oppressor and oppressed.”[40] Ancient Rome was divided into patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; Middle Ages into feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, serfs, and other subordinate gradations. Capitalism emerged from feudalism, until what remained now is the basic division of bourgeoisie and proletariat. The bourgeoisie class owned the means of production and employed labor, while the proletariat class sells its labor power to live.[41] The former is the class of capitalists, while the latter is the “class of laborers, who live only so long as their labor increases capital.”[42]Engels explained that all existing societies before this were also based on basically the same economic system – some people did the work and other appropriated the social surplus. In securing their livelihood, some work; some own. The materialistic, social history created groups of fundamentally antagonistic interests. These conflicting groups, and not individuals, underlie the socio-historical movements.

Nature of Capitalism. Although the word “capitalism” does not occur in the Manifesto, it was nonetheless profoundly discussed. Capitalism, the bourgeois society, is Marx’s main subject of interest. He describes it as a form of economy which “has left no other bond between man and man than naked self-interest, than ‘callous cash payment.’”[43] It is an economy which converted everyone, from physicians and lawyers, and priests and the scientists, into paid wage-laborers, and has reduced family relation into mere money relation.[44] Furthermore, capitalism, after having destroyed all hitherto industries, constantly revolutionizes its means of production, constantly expands itself throughout the whole surface of the world. Clothed with its identity as “civilization,” capitalism draws nations together but concentrates property in the hands of few. Through this form of economy, the bourgeoisie “created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together.”[45]

But this immense productivity will ironically turnout to be capitalism’s own downfall. It has conjured up such gigantic means of production that, like a sorcerer, it can no longer control the powers which its spells summoned. Not only has it forged the weapons that bring death to itself, it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons, the proletariat.[46]

The Inevitability of Socialism. Marx and Engels categorically state, in the last sentence of Part I of the Manifesto, that the fall of capitalism and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable. Aside from the mere fact that capitalism is the cause of its own doom, it also creates and trains, by virtue of its nature, the proletariat which at certain stage of development must overthrow capitalism and replace it with socialism.

Victory of the proletariat entails the emergence of a classless society wherein the proletariat and bourgeoisie disappear, and everyone is equal and entitled to the effects of his own work. Since it is private property or ownership of such property that constitutes the division between the bourgeoisie and proletariat, “abolition of private property” and its attendant form of consciousness that manifest this proletarian victory. This is at the heart of Communism.

Exploitation and Alienation. In In Tucker, Marx said, man, even though bestowed with natural capacities, is a “suffering, conditioned, and limited creature,” dependent on nature for his sustenance.[47] Man must therefore interact with nature, i.e. through labor, in order to satisfy his needs. Thus, labor is essential to human existence, for what man is, is how he produces – people are defined by the work they do.

The first historical act of man was his attempt to control the world in a way that serves his interests. He developed tools, technology in the broad sense, that eventually led to the creation of more needs. During the industrial revolution, technology and human needs and wants simultaneously developed and escalated in unimaginable proportions.

Under capitalism, owners are in the position of dominance to increase their own gain; that in the struggle between the capitalist and the workers, the owners of capital have a distinct advantage. While capitalists are driven by their interest in personal profit, workers become impoverished as they are provided with only those wages necessary to continue production. In addition, bureaucratic capitalism depersonalizes production. It removes the unique stamp of the individual on his work. Everything becomes a routine, workers become automatons. The quality of work is no longer important, only the quantity matters. Labor is no longer seen as an expression of creativity, but an object apart from man. In capitalism, man becomes alienated from his own work. As Marx said, the worker “is at home when he is not working, and when he is working he is not at home.”[48]

If we are defined by our work, yet that work is taken away from us and made into an object, then we are separated from our own sense of self.[49] We forget that our basic character as human beings is to creatively produce – work is our end in life. What happens in capitalism is that we see work as something reprehensible, as something to be avoided. We work only because we have to, because we need the money or because we are forced to work.[50] Not only are we alienated from ourselves, we are also alienated from one another. We see others as mere components in our instrumental world. The distance between ourselves and others become more and more unbridgeable, and the conditions, which this bureaucratic capitalism create, give rise to a society devoid of human qualities, best described as a society of machines.

What is worse is that we submit to this dominance and exploitation, believing that things are supposed to be this way. More than the system itself, what enslaves us is our false consciousness. We are afraid to question the circumstances under which we live, and we fail to uncover the underlying reason of our suffering. Marx and Engels are firmly convinced that capitalism “has resolved personal worth… for naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.”[51] Thus, communism, as an ideology and social theory, intends to clear the clouded conceptions of men by illustrating the conditions of domination that chain us. It challenges us to bravely saunter the path toward freedom. The reality of our condition compels us to act. “From each according to his ability,” said Marx and Engels, “to each according to his needs!”[52] The Manifesto ends with a serious caveat and a vigorous exhortation, “Working men of all countries, unite!”

 

 

III.

 

Should we let time and experience tell us where to go and what to follow, as the conservatives propose? Should we be confident with our individual capacities and liberties, as the liberals assert? Or should we forcefully remove private property and establish a classless society, as the communists advance?

In seeking for guidance and in gaining control over the social situation, we resort to, or even create our own, ideologies. These ideologies are very difficult to resists, for they define reality as the mouth of men says it so. But as accepting them is important, evaluating them is equally important.

What guidance would we wish from these ideologies? Do they lead us to the much-coveted “good life”? Should we change them as they are already impractical? Is the consciousness given by these ideologies genuine or false? All these questions are ought to be asked after looking into the exquisite and passionate thoughts and ideologies of the past as well as of the present.

 

 

 

END


[1] Greek cities, such as Athens, Sparta, and Corinth are called, not just cities, but “city-states” which have their own sovereignty. They were self-sufficient, highly independent, and with a Constitution and government of their own.

[2] B. Ponton and P. Gill, Politics, Introduction. (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1982), p.6.

[3] Kay Lawson, The Human Polity: An Introduction to Political Science, Quezon City: KEN, Inc. (1989), p. 57.

[4] Martin Carnoy, The State and Political Theory (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1984), p. 3.

[5] All references to The Communist Manifesto are taken from the translations of Paul M. Sweezy and Leo Huberman, The Communist Manifesto, Principles of Communism, The Communist Manifesto After 100 Years (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1968). Henceforth, Communism.

[6] Lawson, p. 56.

[7] Cf. David E. Ingersoll, Communism, Fascism and Democracy (Columbus, Oh.: Charles E. Merril, 1971), p. 9.

[8] This ambiguity is more marked in the French language than in any other European language. The French word for liberalism, libéralisme, is understood to embrace all the lefties creed of socialism, anarchism, syndicalism, and communism; or a political doctrine at variance with the creeds of the left.

[9] Whereas Lockean liberalism understands freedom as being left alone by the state, the other liberalism sees freedom as ruling oneself through the medium of a state that one has made one’s own. Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Volume 5, p. 324.

[10] See Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Second Edition, p. 228.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Political Theories, p. 182.

[13] In his work De Cive, Hobbes boldly describes man as a greedy being, who insists on taking what he could have and strives to avoid death at all cost. His acts are rationally geared only towards self-interest and avoidance of death.

[14] Although they have stark differences, Thomas Hobbes’ and John Locke’s (political) philosophy also have striking similarities. For one, they make use of similar themes, such as “the state of nature,” “natural law,” “right of nature,” and “social contract,” in discussing their political theories. It is therefore important to distinguish the ideas of the two in order to know their respective tenets.

[15] Locke uses the term “property” in two senses. In its first sense, property is the general name for “lives, liberty, and estates” of individuals. This is the inclusive sense of the term. In its second sense, on the other hand, property means the “product of one’s labor.” Property in the quoted statement is used in the first sense to mean anything that is present and owned by men.

[16] Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd Ed., p. 510.

[17] Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract, p. 60.

[18] Cf. Ibid., pp. 61-62.

[19] Roth and Sontag, p. 307.

[20] It is interesting to note that this egoistic economics of Smith runs contrary to his moral philosophy, which is largely centered on “sympathy.”

[21] Smith, Adam, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977), p.

[22] This is a French term which literally means “leave alone.”

In the early part of his career, Mill also supported a general policy of laissez-faire. But with an increasing realization that political freedom is useless without economic security, he welcomed, though with reservations, the economic theory of socialism.

[23] Lyman Tower Sargent, Contemporary Political Ideologies, 5th ed. (Homewood, III Dorsey, 1961), p. 3.

[24] Political Theories, p. 49.

[25] Reflections, p. 58.

[26] Edmund Burke, “Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs,” in Edmund Burke, Works, vol. 4 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1866), pp. 174-175.

[27] Reflections, p. 60.

[28] Reflections, p. 60.

[29] Lawson, p. 59.

[30] Reflections, p. 63

[31] Reflections, p. 64

[32]Reflections, p. 64.

[33] Paul Sweezy and Leo Huberman, “The Communist Manifesto After 100 Years,” in Communism, p. 87-88. Henceforth, Sweezy.

[34] Sweezy, p. 88.

[35] Sweezy, p. 89.

[36] Ibid., p. 352.

[37] Roth & Sontag, The Questions of Philosophy (California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1988), p. 352-353.

[38] Encyclopedia of Philosophy

[39] Roth & Sontag, p. 348.

[40] Communism, p. 2.

[41] Roth and Sontag, p. 348.

[42] Communism, p. 13.

[43] Ibid., p. 5-6.

[44] Ibid., p. 6.

[45] Ibid., p. 10.

[46] Ibid. p. 13.

[47] Marx, in Tucker 1978, p. 115.

[48] In Tucker, p. 74.

[49] Robert Denhardt, Theories of Public Organization, (California: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, 1984), p. 24.

[50] Ibid., p. 25.

[51] Communism, p. 6.

[52] Karl Marx, “Critique of the Gotha Programme,” in Karl Marx: Selected Writings. Edited by David McLellan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), p. 569.

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This entry was posted on December 5, 2010 by in Politics and Governance.

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tamayaocsu

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Tuguegarao City, Cagayan Atty. MICHAEL JHON M. TAMAYAO manages this blog. He is currently starting his private law practice. Contact: mjmtamayao@yahoo.com; Tel. No. 09353343739. PROFILE: Atty. Tamayao is currently teaching law, philosophy and social sciences at the Cagayan State University. He finished his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy degree at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Santo Tomas and graduated in 2005, garnering the highest academic honors in that Academic Year. He pursued Licentiate in Philosophy and Master of Arts in Philosophy degrees at the same university, completing them both in 2007. In 2009, he took up Bachelor of Laws and Letter at the Cagayan State University, where he also teaches. He passed the 2013 bar exams, and now currently taking up Master of Laws and Letters at the San Beda Graduate School of Law.

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