Thursday, 28 July 2016 06:37

A talk on political ideology in American politics

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A Little Lecture On Political Ideology And American Politics For Steve Kuburowa

Ozodi Osuji

Steve Kuburowa:

I am going to make an exception to my general rule of not responding to you (sooner or later, you end up having verbal fight with those who try to correct your assertions).  I will respond to you by giving you a little lecture on political ideology and American politics; I do so because obviously you do not understand either. In your usual grandiosity you assumed that folks like me are ignorant of America's politics and the nature of political ideology.

POLITICAL IDEOLOGY

We live in society and naturally have ideas on how our society ought to be governed. Ideology is a belief on how the human polity ought to be governed. It is not predicated on science but belief. It is a system of beliefs.   Generally, each person has ideas on how his society ought to be governed (political culture and political socialization play roles in folks beliefs regarding how their society ought to be governed).

There are several political ideologies competing in the ideological market place; they are conservativism, liberalism, socialism, fascism, communism, (if you add economics, then you can add mercantilism and capitalism and mixed economy and corporatism).

No person is pure in his political beliefs; generally, people are a mix of some of the ideologies; we can plot each person on the ideological spectrum, a continuum that goes from left (communism) to right (fascism); most people are in the middle hence are called moderates or centrists (in the USA a mix of liberalism and conservatism).

CONSERVATISM

Briefly, conservatism is based on negative perception of people. The conservative believes that people are by nature self-centered and evil and therefore need a strong government to control them. The philosophical precursors of conservatism are Nicolo Machiavelli (1527), Thomas Hobbes (1651) and John Locke (1688).

Hobbes, in his book, Leviathan (1651) noted that in the state of nature people are self-centered and look only after their self-interests and warred with each other and killed each other. They, therefore, lived in insecurity for each could kill each. They seek security and set up a government to prevent them from killing each other. Hobbes visualized a powerful government, a leviathan, to rein the people in.

John Locke, in his seminal book, The Second treaty on government (1688), essentially agreed with Hobbes but wants to make that government limited in the scope of what it does.

Jean Jacquie Rousseau, in his book, Social Contract (1760) pointed out that only the people have a right to select their leaders and therefore those who ruled by what they called the divine right of kings rule illegitimately. Rousseau single handedly delegitimized the rule of monarchs in Europe.

Charles Montesquieu in his book, The spirit of laws  (1774) seeking to reduce tyranny called for government to be divided into three branches and for  the three to be in adversarial  relationships  and that way prevent the accumulation of power in one hand. Thus, our current division of government into legislative, executive and judicial branches

The conservative believes in a strong national security state; he wants a powerful military, police and judicial system and penal system for they are needed to control the people or else they killed each other.

A powerful military is necessary to prevent other nations from attacking and conquering ones nation; in foreign policy the conservative seeks balance of power; his nation's power must be equal or more than others or else they attacked and defeated it; nations, like people, are seen as predatory and the powerful would attack and devour weak ones.

The conservative believes that maintaining national security is the only proper role of government. He does not believe that it is the function of government to take economic care of the people.

As he sees it, a government that takes care of the people results in what he calls the nanny state; such governments concentrate too much power in the hands of rulers who then tyrannize the people.  In pursuit of liberty he wants a small government that performs limited role in the human polity.

In the Western world conservative parties include the conservative party (Tory) in Britain, The Republican party in the USA and the Christin Democratic Party in Germany.

Political parties are bands of people who have identical views on how the human polity ought to be governed, people with similar political ideologies; political parties exist to articulate the political aspirations of their members; they campaign to capture governments and rule them; as opposed to interest groups that merely want to influence public policies but not rule society directly.

CLASSICAL LIBERALISM

Classical Liberalism (which conservatism is a part of) wants liberties for the people; it fears big government's ability to tyrannize the people; the Bill of Rights in the USA constitution (the first ten amendments to the US constitution passed in 1791) is part of liberal ideology.

Both the Republican and Democratic Parties are liberal parties! Properly construed they are right and left wings of the same liberal party (Steve, are you learning some political science or would you rather only make noise about politics?).

However, in the 1930s President Franklyn Delano Roosevelt trying to inject some socialism into American politics, realizing that Americans are viscerally opposed to socialism, began calling his public policies liberal. He believed that Americans would accept his new deal policies if they are called liberal instead of what they are, socialist.

Thus, it came to be that in the USA we now call the Democratic Party liberal when what we want to say is socialist party.

The Republican Party is actually more the liberal than the Democratic Party, if you employ the term liberalism correctly.

At any rate, in American politics liberalism has come to mean supporting big government, a nanny state that takes care of the people via welfare and other handouts.

SOCIALISM AND COMMUNISM

Socialism came into being in France when men of goodwill realized that the incipient capitalist revolution, following the industrial revolution, concentrated wealth in a few hands and that the owners of capital worked their proletariats eighteen hours a day and that included children. Folks like Joseph Proudhon called property theft. Charles Fourier thundered that society must be reorganized so that workers owned the means of production.

In England, Robert Owen, a Scottish factory owner, read the French socialists and tried to build a factory and city where the workers controlled the joint (he did some of that in the USA even though his factories were mostly in Britain).

Karl Marx who studied Hegelian philosophy got into the mix and wrote ponderous book (Der Capital, and with Frederick Engels in 1848 wrote the Communist Manifesto) in which he provided what seemed to him alternative economic theory...alternative to Locke's labor added value justifying private ownership of property.

Marx wanted the people who worked in factories to own the factories. He talked about what he called dialectical materialism, how societies progressed from primitive communism to slave society, to feudal society, to bourgeois society and finally to communist society. He said that the contradictions in each state of society led to conflicts and wars; the thesis, what is, and the antithesis, what opposed it, fought and were resolved in a synthesis, a new society.

For some unexplained reasons he believed that these contradictions would end in a communist society. Thereafter, people would live in peace, working no more than six hours a day, reading poetry in the evenings and doing science in the day; folks would no longer exploit others for from each is taken his ability and to each is given his needs.

V.I. Lenin, upon reading Marx, realized that Marx was an academic and is utopian hence not practical. In his book, Political Party Lenin pointed out that left alone workers can only develop trade union consciousness but would not be able to overthrow the bourgeois class that ruled capitalist society; so, he advocated a political party made of professional agitators like himself (the children of the bourgeoisie...his father was a superintendent of schools...revolutions are always led by the children of the rich , not poor people, Mao's father was a governor of a province in China, Castro had PhD and the son of a landed Cuban gentleman) who would bring about the anticipated communist revolution on behalf of the workers. He wanted the communists to rule society for a while until the people are ready to take over (it ended up that the communists ruled the USSR forever, the people did not take over, the communist party did not wither away as it is supposed to do...Joseph Schumpeter explained why, for in society a few have more information, power and money and will always rule low information folks).

Lenin and others formed the Bolshevik party (the Menshevik party was a bourgeois, social democratic party led by Kerensky).

In 1917, during the First World War, Russian soldiers simply refused to fight and walked away from the German war front. Germans wanting to control events in Russia shipped Lenin (in a train box car) back to Russia to get a handle on the chaos that was unfolding in Russia. The Tsar (Nicholas) had abdicated and Lenin was supposed to act as a German agent.

He landed at the Finland train station in Saint Petersburg and like an old fox changed sides and took the side of the striking soldiers and workers and manipulated them and seized power and drove Kerensky and his social democratic party (the Tsar had handed power to the social democrats...Kerensky as leader, he ended up at my Alma Matta, University of California) out of power and became the leader of Russia.

The capitalist West, especially the USA declared war on the Bolsheviks hence the Red and White Russian civil war.

Trotsky was the minister of defense and defeated the American supported Russian turncoats.  In the meantime, Lenin died in 1922. Within his party, Stalin, a petty thief from Georgia, who worked for Lenin as his secretary seized power and drove Trotsky into exile, to Mexico where he had his agents murder him.

The distinction between socialism and communism is that socialism generally embraces elections, getting to power via elections (as in French socialists who compete for offices, such as the present president of France, Francois Hollande, a socialist), whereas communists want to use force to take over government and rule the people (such as the Castro brothers in Cuba, Lenin in Russia and Mao in China).  The goal of communism and socialism is the same: the people owning the means of production so as to minimize the exploitation of labor by the owners of capital.

FASCISM

Fascism is extreme nationalism. Benito Mussolini called his extreme nationalist party the Fascia, derived from ancient Rome, those who supported the nation, right or wrong.

Hitler and his Nazis copied Mussolini and thus we call them fascists. Essentially, the fascist sees the individual as having no value apart from the state, nation and is only useful if used to fight wars for the state and attain glory for the nation, if he dies at war all the better for living alone he is nothing, he is living for nothing other than to eat and may be become homosexual. Fascists have no regard for civil liberties. Every person is used to serve the state, make it powerful.

Fascists like war, for in war men are at their best, they fight and die for the father land and do not live long to have the luxury to become homosexuals.

Without war to kill off young men they become homosexuals, as is happening in the West. Thus, Fascists encourage perpetual wars, for they believe that war selects for vigorous men and get sissified men killed.

(Do you see any value in Fascism...unless the West returns to going to wars many of the men would become homosexuals and the women lesbians and society would degenerate and die off...realistic Vladimir Putin understands the need for wars to avert homosexuality...traditionally, the children of the rich and artists, with no real work to do,  tended to be homosexuals but now most people have no real work hence the rapid growth of homosexuality in the West ,a prelude to the collapse of the West and China takes over the leadership of world civilization.)

CAPITALISM

Capitalism is ownership of the means of production by the owners of capital, rich folks.  It is predicated on Adam Smith's seminal book, the wealth of nations, published in 1776.

Interestingly, while Smith argued for folks to be allowed to pursue their own self-interests and let selfishness lead them to produce only what other selfish people would buy, he was personally a socialist. He wanted rich folks to use their money to serve the public (philanthropy) but he did not want the government to do so (to avoid big government hence tyranny).

Smith was reacting to the prevailing economic system of his time called mercantilism

MERCANTILISM

In mercantilism the state decided who traded with whom, even what ships one transported ones goods in (it had to be ships of one's country...Americans revolted against England's mercantilism in 1776 and adopted Smith's economic theory that railed against mercantilism).

MIXED ECONOMY, ALA KEYNSIAN ECONOMICS

The capitalist economy has a tendency to have periods of boom and bust, inflation, depression and recession. It is not stable. At one point it has almost full employment then followed with mass unemployment?  In 1929 the Western economy crashed and over 25% of the people were unemployed.

John Maynard Keynes talked about ways to avert capitalist economic swings from wealth to poverty. He posited fiscal, taxation and other ways to manage the economy. In his 1933 book on how to deal with unemployment he expanded on what we now call Keynesian economics.

In fiscal policies, governments use titration of finances to generate growth or depress it. During depression when demand is low the government is to lower taxes to give people more spending money (taxation policy) and they would buy more things hence stimulate the economy.


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Ozodi Osuji Ph.D

Ozodi Thomas Osuji is from Imo State, Nigeria. He obtained his PhD from UCLA. He taught at a couple of Universities and decided to go back to school and study psychology. Thereafter, he worked in the mental health field and was the Executive Director of two mental health agencies. He subsequently left the mental health environment with the goal of being less influenced by others perspectives, so as to be able to think for himself and synthesize Western, Asian and African perspectives on phenomena. Dr Osuji’s goal is to provide us with a unique perspective, one that is not strictly Western or African but a synthesis of both. Dr Osuji teaches, writes and consults on leadership, management, politics, psychology and religions. Dr Osuji is married and has three children; he lives at Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

He can be reached at: ozodiosuji@gmail.com (907) 310-8176