hogan
Categories:

Archives:
Meta:
June 2018
S M T W T F S
« May    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
09/26/12
THE PATH TO WORLD PEACE?
Filed under: POLITICS, #FEMINISM
Posted by: J. P. Hogan @ 1:24 pm

[A copy of a college philosophy course paper of mine - not sure I gave the expected or popular analysis and/or answers to assignment - yet do think I still hold this opinion as then conceived as mine - I am though now posting this before re-reading it - having re-read it even recently.  Don’t at the moment remember the name of the course then while at Villanova in mid eighties - I acquired an undeclared Philosophy Minor - got the credits for minor without registering such intent or achievement within Philosophy Department bureaucracy.]


“CAPITALISM - THE PATH TO WORLD PEACE”
                BY: J PETER HOGAN

Plato, Machiavelli, Marx and Fanon all spoke about ideal
societies in the form of relatively small communities.  Does
this mean there can be no utopias on the global scale?  or,
were they just limited by their time and environment?  Today
we are concerned about global societies.  Our primary concern is
the path of international relations:  How the hundreds of
nations in the world can and will relate peacefully.  We are
striving for world peace while we also strive to improve our
ability to destroy our world.  World peace is a slow process
and cannot and will not occur until all nations have a common
link.  I believe the threat of global destruction is not enough
itself, that something else is also needed, something tied to
everyday life.  The market is such a thing; the international
market is unifying the world.  The industrial giants have
gotten away with some atrocities yet still they have
successfully done more to further world peace than any other
body.  The atrocities occurred because these firms were
breaking new grounds which existing laws were inadequate to
control;  there were not internationally accepted laws
protecting the rights and property of all human beings as
equals.  Today an international body is needed to establish a
global justice system.  As more and more nations begin to
compete in the international market, general principles of
proper and acceptable behavior must be agreed upon and
practiced.  These also must be enforceable.

I propose to study how these philosophers saw their ideal
societies as well as show how and why some are realistic
and others will remain dream  I will also explain how I see the
path of international relations with a view towards future utopias,
and will show that only one of these four philosophers presented
a plan for society that when applied to the real world can work
efficiently and peacefully in the international arena.

Plato’s republic can be seen as the forerunner to
capitalistic society.  In the REPUBLIC each person is
encouraged to pursue his own interests and to specialize in
this interest in order to maximize his happiness and the
society’s well being.  This very closely resembles Adam Smith’s
justification of the free market system with his “invisible
hand principle.”  The theme is identical while the motives for
the individuals are expressed differently.  Socrates wanted the
individual motivated solely by his love for his art, not for
material gain nor for the acquisition of wealth.  In the
REPUBLIC Socrates set up a city which had not been “bloated by
the fever,” but instead remained a very plain community,
content with subsistence level existence.  Even the rulers of
the city refrain from luxuries and fancy foods.  Socrates
believed that wealth as well as poverty was detrimental to the
community, so he eliminated them from his ideal society.  As an
ideal society we do not necessarily expect it to match natural
human tendencies.  Socrates refused to admit a human desire for
private property.  I can understand his efforts to omit this
since it seems that most wars have occurred over questions of
property rights;  the have-nots wishing to acquire the goods of
the haves.  If we go back to Socrates’ ideal society and
recognize materialism as a natural human tendency, then what we
have is a capitalistic society.  Each individual would be
motivated not only by the love of his art but also by his
desire to increase his possessions, leaving society to be
controlled by the pursuit of individuals’ self interest.  This
can only peacefully occur where there are well defined and
accepted laws governing property rights.  Still, as in the
REPUBLIC, justice would be the minding of your own business but
might be extended to include the minding of your own property
and respect for the property of others.  Plato was not alone in
his omission of the human desire for private property;  many
other philosophers have done the same.

Machiavelli, however, did not omit human materialism.  The
prince was a wise man solely because he understood some basic
principles about human nature and about the nature of the
masses.  Machiavelli, in THE PRINCE, wrote not as a
philosopher about how things ought to be but as a political
scientist about how things were.  His prince realized that the
majority of people have very simple desires and that as long as
a ruler could satisfy these desires he would be able to
maintain control.  He realized that most people actually desire
to be ruled so that they themselves don’t have to worry about
the everyday issues of controlling a society.  They just want
to concentrate on their own desires, their immediate self
interests.  The combination of these two facts leaves a ruler
a lot of leeway to do what he wishes.  As long as the ruler
protected the rights of his subjects, they would be willing to
do his work, work his lands to produce products which he could
sell for his personal profit.  The prince got wealth off the
labor of his subjects; he had title to the resources, the land,
and traded with his subjects for their labor.  Of course he
owned the land on which they lived and the homes in which they
lived, so this he considered as part of their wages while the
other parts of it were the food they ate, the protection he
provided, and the justice he enforced among his subjects.  The
Prince will be able to keep his subjects content as long as
their limited desires can be met; but, when technology and
invention create new products to tempt their desires the task
becomes more difficult because they will all desire to increase
their standard of living.  If the prince cannot satisfy their
new desires then he will most likely have to resort to fear to
keep them in line, and can do so because he controls their
rights.  Fear is, according to the prince, the most effective
way of keeping people in line.  Fear will always be a means of
effecting human behavior, while ideally we wish it wouldn’t be.
Ideally, we would like respect to be the only true motivator.
But, unfortunately it is not.  As a result we must make and
accept laws which will protect the rights of the people and
their property.  We should not ignore or dismiss the human
tendency to desire property and increased comfort.  When such
is done a realistic picture is not possible.

Karl Marx, for example, based his whole community on the
premise of public property.  It takes a revolution to bring
about his “communistic ideals.”  A revolt by the”have-nots”
against the “haves.”  The have-nots revolt because the
possessions and rights of the haves are protected while their
rights are ignored.  There is obviously an imbalance of power
and wealth.  Marx saw the solution as a revolution in which the
haves are over thrown and all capital possessions are entrusted
to the society as a whole.  Marx too ignored the human desire
to possess property.  His ideal falls apart after the
revolution when some of the revolutionaries, usually the
stronger use their might to obtain for themselves the
possessions conquered.  It usually turns out that the new
capitalists, who were the leaders of the revolt, used the
revolution solely to achieve personal wealth.  Is this much
different than before the revolution?  No, because it is the
same play but with a different cast and the price of the change
includes the lives of many.  Marx envisioned an altruistic
government; one that had the responsibility of making sure that
everyone was doing what they were best at, while also making
sure that everyone got equal pay.  Marx failed to admit that
the individuals know best their own interests and abilities and
that they should pick their own career from those offered in
the society.  Marx saw equal distribution of wealth as the
answer to property disputes.  Yet, this can only succeed where
all individuals desire the same things and have some other very
powerful motivation to do their best in their endeavors.
Usually it requires promises of great returns to motivate
people and empty promises can only work a few times.  Attempts
to actualize his ideal society has failed.  They have put the
ownership of capital in the hands of the public, in very loose
terms.  The wealthy class previously were the owners of capital
and the means of production but now are the new controllers of
the means of production, the government.  The general populace
usually becomes worse off;  they no longer participate in a
Society focused on the individuals’ interests.  Instead of
having a competitive state they have a monopolistic state.
Marx’s ideals and observations did little in the long run to
greatly improve the well being of its subjects.  Where it has
been attempted it has been corrupted.

Frantz Fanon was confronted with oppression and wealth
inequality problems in Algeria.  The colonized state was
experiencing greatly uneven wealth distribution; the natives
were very poor and becoming worse off while the settlers were
getting even wealthier.  Ideally this should never have
occurred to such an extent.  The natives’ rights would have
been protected.  If this had been the case any development in
country would necessarily have been approved by the leaders
among the natives.  The natives would have most likely demanded
payment for land desired by the settlers.  If this had been the
case the revolution would not have been necessary because the
settlers would have been there with the consent of the natives.
This obviously did not happen, and did not happen because the
natives had a lifestyle with very simple laws and the settlers
came from a society with very complex laws and one that saw
peoples like the Algerian natives as barbaric and uneducated.
I propose, however, that even with these differences in culture
had the settlers made reasonable deals with the natives to
fairly reimburse them for land and labor the natives would have
grown to accept and coexist with the settlers.  This would
necessarily have occurred if there were internationally
enforceable human rights and property rights for all alike.
Instead the natives were exploited and excluded to the point
where their only option was revolution.  This was the surest
way to educate the mass of natives about the ways of the
settlers.  The natives would have to understand their foe
before they could beat them.  As we know from reading THE
WRETCHED OF THE EARTH, the end results of the revolution were
primarily negative: The economy was worse off; many people
were dead; and now the native elite were exploiting the masses,
as the settlers had done before them.  The few positive aspects
were that the native population had been brought together under
a common cause through which they were educated about
themselves and the settlers and through which they gained
national character.  Education is the first major step to
realizing equality and freedom.  Fanon saw the struggle as a
third world nation against an industrialized nation.  Algeria,
however, did not gain control over the industrial nation but
instead regained some control over itself.  Algeria cannot win
this battle against oppression until all property rights are
protected and property transfers are left to the open market,
where the buyer and seller will have to reach a mutually
acceptable deal.

Following what Machiavelli had to say most people are
content working for other people, as long as they are treated
fairly and respected as human beings.  As Plato also believed
some people are naturally referred to be the rulers, not
everyone, nor most people have the inclination to rule.
Recognizing these as realities leaves every society, past and
present, with the dilemma of class systems.  Marx tried to
avoid this by having an equal distribution of wealth.  In the
real world this does not work; people like to be paid according
to the amount of work performed, not less.  Some people prefer
to work more and harder than others there will be uneven wealth
distribution, due to human nature.  Some people start preparing
for the future at an earlier age and are thus better prepared
to succeed when their time comes.  Others who only played as
children may be limited to being laborers for the rest of their
lives.  After generations some families will be better off
because they have consistently prepared for the future and now
as a result have many more opportunities than families who have
not.  The inequality of opportunity then is an accumulation of
behaviors and influences over time.  Yet, for those whose
opportunities were effectively limited through exploitation,
such as the slaves, steps should be taken to try to increase
their class’s opportunities, to partially balance out the jump
the exploiters got on them.  We must be sure, however, to
ensure that it will still be up to the individual to improve
his own position and the future position of his descendants.
Yet still we will be left with a concentration of wealth by a
minority.  The difference between each society then is left to
the structure of its government.

Monarchies, as we saw in THE PRINCE, keep the wealth among
the rulers.  The government has absolute control over its
subjects because that is what they truly are: their subjects.
The peasants had no means of recourse for evil or harmful acts
by their master; their masters chose what rights they had.
Attempts to actualize Marx’s ideals have turned out no better
than monarchies.  Here there was a larger government which
still held control over the citizens.  The government lived off
the labor of the citizens as the monarchs had done.  In both
these cases it is interesting to realize that the rulers often
resorted to fear to keep the citizens in line.  These problems
cannot be resolved until the interests of the masses are
represented in government.  Concentration of wealth is natural
and acceptable as long as the wealthy do not control the
government.  It is necessary, however, that the government not
only look after the welfare of the citizens but that they
also look after the interest of the society to see that
businesses thrive in a competitive market.  Where competition
cannot feasibly exist the government would regulate the
monopolistic industry to keep it from exploiting the masses.
Ideally, government’s responsibilities should be limited strictly
to the establishment and enforcement of human and property
rights.  Other responsibilities of government as we know it
today would not be necessary.  The market would control these
through the voices of the educated consumers, while the
government is left responsible for guaranteeing the rights of
its citizens.

When we look at different forms of government we should
remember their fundamental purpose: The protection of the
people and their rights.  All governments recognize this, yet
some only affirm and protect a select few rights.  Societies
were formed for the benefit of individuals.  The individuals of
the society determine its success or failure through their
efforts, production, and behavior.  History shows that a
society’s success is directly related to the degree of freedoms
enjoyed by the individual citizens.  Where citizens have
freedom of choice and their property rights are protected we
have seen economic success.  Governments, such as in Russia,
that suppresses the rights of the people and keeps the citizens in
fear has much less economic success.  These oppressive
governments have ignored the fundamental purpose of government;
they are not pursuing the interests of the individual citizen
but instead are exploiting these people to further their own
cause and interests.  Government should be for the people and
should emphasize and protect human and property rights.  The
individual is best able to make decisions concerning his self,
so leave the decisions to the individuals, and hold them fully
responsible for their decisions.  As more and more governments
become primarily concerned with the well being of the
individuals a greater degree of world peace will be achieved.
All this simply because more people would have to respect the
rights of others.  Governments, however, can only do so much to
further the cause of freedom.

The individuals of all societies must pursue the path of
freedom, whether they are garbage collectors, business
executives or the political leader.  Otherwise we will never
fully achieve world peace.  There can be no global peace until
we all think of the globe as an entire society.  There has to
be a focus on the whole.  This is highly possible and is
actually occurring at a rapid pace, thanks to industry.  As I
mentioned, governments can only do so much; well, the private
sector can do a lot and has.  The international market for goods
and services is unifying the globe as well as increasing the
standard of living across the world.  Through the ventures of
international businesses countries have united to better their
own positions; just as individuals came together to form the
first society.  The international market has provided a link
among all those countries that chose to participate.  The
expansion of industries, however, should not go unchecked; it
is vitally important that these firms be held responsible to an
international authority concerned with guaranteeing the human
rights and property rights of all equally.  Without such, these
firms would be able to exploit the ignorant and oppressed.  We
would be left with situations similar to Algeria’s, as
described by Fanon:  The natives were naive to the ways of the
West when the settlers came, and the settlers came believing
the Algerian natives to be almost subhuman and not deserving of
the rights recognized in western societies.  Had their rights
been respected they would have been able to negotiate with the
settlers to reach a deal that would benefit both parties.  This
would only work if the rights of the people within the country
were protected.  When these conditions are not met the natives
might be limited to revolting in order to regain their
freedoms.  In such cases violence may be the only means to get
the ball rolling towards freedom and world peace.
Lasting peace can only exist where individuals respect
Each other’s rights and compete not with their might but with
their minds.

THE WRETCHED OF THE EARTH discussed the problems
that result when rights are denied and people can only compete
with one another with force.  Fanon seems to be encouraging the
protection of human and property rights but spends most of the
book complaining about the oppression, and venting his anger
against the capitalistic system that caused the unrest.  He
generalizes to conclude that capitalism is to blame whereas the
real culprits are those capitalists who behaved like
Machiavelli’s prince.  Fanon should have realized that
capitalism was Algeria’s best path towards increasing the welfare
of the people and the country, to bring the country out of the dark
 ages.  Capitalism can, however, only flourish where the
rights of the people and their property are protected.  Marx
did not recognize the benefits to society of the evils attached
with private property and saw the best way to achieve this as
the abolition of private property.  He failed to acknowledge
that this was fundamental to human progress, that people use
the promise of acquiring property as motivation.  People
compete to prove to themselves but also to better their condition
with the rewards of victory.  Without the private property and
with equal pay for all there would be no real incentive to
produce above minimum subsistence levels.  Machiavelli spoke
often of competition but never applied it to society as a whole
(at least not in THE PRINCE).  He was concerned with
competition, among rulers, for power.  THE PRINCE is not
concerned with the structure or fairness of societies,
but is concerned with the means and methods of achieving and
maintaining power.  The prince was only concerned with his own
rights and interests.  Plato, on the other hand, was concerned
with how to construct and maintain a peaceful and efficient
society.

Plato’s ideal society laid the foundation upon which
capitalism developed.  Plato was the only one of these four
philosophers who described an ideal society that when injected
with a bit of reality would produce a successful free society.
Plato’s ideal society has over the years become a reality in
essence:  Capitalism as we know it today is a direct descendent
of Plato’s ideals, but with luxuries and without his population
control methods.  The fundamental principle that capitalism and
Plato’s ideals have in common is what Adam Smith described as
“the invisible hand principle:”  That the pursuit of self
interest is in the best interest of the whole society.
Societies have been founded by individuals to permit specialization
and increased production in order to increase every
participant’s standard of living.  The well being of the society
will be protected as long as the individuals of the society
continue to recognize the benefits to be gained.  Since
capitalism is a system based on the individual and his/her
desires, then the individual is most likely to remain content
with his condition.  The expansionary trends of capitalism
have, though with some negative side effects, done much to
unite a large portion of the world so far.  The nations of the
world are beginning to concentrate more on economic competition
than military, and are learning to exist peacefully with one
another.  Today those oppressive governments are initiating
actions to make themselves more competitive in the
international market.  The rulers of these countries are
motivated by their self-interests to improve the economic
position of their country and in so doing are necessarily
increasing the well being of the citizens.  This process has
been progressing throughout history and will continue to at an
increasing rate as more people become educated about and demand
the benefits of a society designed primarily to increase their
own freedom and well being.  A society whose success demands
the respect of other’s rights and property.  The beauty of
capitalism lies in this fact but also in the fact that it works
for societies of all sizes and that we can achieve world peace
through the peaceful pursuit of our self-interest.        

Comments are closed.