Political Philosophy

Political philosophy does not necessarily sound very exciting but it is important. It also leaves plenty of scope for disagreement. A point of view often has more to do with emotions than logic and fact. My chosen sources say something about me but I am far from being ashamed of the company I keep. There are good men to know and others, enemies to know about.

Messrs. Mill and Paine were both Libertarian. The Popes were more concerned with the moral obligations of rulers & ruled. The results of honest toil are property. Property rights should be respected. That contrasts with the exactions of the tax men in England who deprive us of some 80% of our gross income. They oppose Capitalism and Communism. The King James Bible saith What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? - the Lord GOD of hosts. Back in the 1950s the Church told us that the Family was under threat. They were right. Sadly they were not effective in countering the forces marshalled against it. They were right on some other issues too. Political Science deals with how things are done to whom, who rather why. Some philosophers were not just wrong, not just Useful Idiots, they were vicious & dangerous. Karl Marx being one. Adolf Hitler is another.

You may wish to look at the sources. Read for yourself, think for yourself and decide for yourself.

Political Philosophers
Tell us why we should run things their way. Some are sensible. Some are vicious, blatant rogues. Some are plausible, which makes them effective. The effective ones include Karl Marx & Adolf Hitler; both adherents of Hegel, a sour faced devil. Look at the harm they wrought, then think whether they would, with advantage have been hanged at birth.


Political Scientists
Are the men or even, just possibly women who study how who does what to whom. Political Philosophy is about the reasons, the why rather than how. One might argue that women understand politics rather better because they are prone to be interested in people.


Adolf Hitler
Adolf was a sensitive soul, an artist, war hero and successful author. He also gets a bad press because he didn't like Jews and did something about them. Being blamed for the Second World War didn't help.


Antonio Gramsci
Was a destroyer, vicious and dangerous. He knew full well what Pope Leo had to say about the evils of socialism in Rerum Novarum and decided to destroy the Church. He had huge success too. His recruitment of Lenin's Useful Idiots to destroy Western Civilization by their Long March Through The Institutions was highly effective and is going on to this day.


Has nothing to do with the Conservative Party as currently constituted; far from it. Conservatism is a decent approach to life, one that deserves being better understood. In explaining Roger Scruton, the well known professor of philosophy has done us a service.


Karl Marx
His ideas led to almost 100 million murders. See The Black Book of Communism for more and better details. There are still millions using his ideas to destroy.


John Stuart Mill
Mill's book, On Liberty addresses the nature and limits of the power that can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual. One argument that Mill develops further than any previous philosopher is the harm principle. The harm principle holds that each individual has the right to act as he wants, so long as these actions do not harm others. If the action is self-regarding, that is, if it only directly affects the person undertaking the action, then society has no right to intervene, even if it feels the actor is harming himself. Mill excuses those who are "incapable of self-government" from this principle, such as young children or those living in "backward states of society". It is important to emphasize that Mill did not consider giving offense to constitute "harm"; an action could not be restricted because it violated the conventions or morals of a given society. The idea of 'offense' causing harm and thus being restricted was later developed by Joel Feinberg in his 'offense principle' essentially an extension of J.S. Mill's 'harm principle'.
He sounds reasonable to me albeit he wanted women to be given the vote. But you can read his chief book, On Liberty and decide for yourself.


George Orwell
Was a writer, socialist, an honest man and a passionate Englishman. He was hated by left wing subversives for telling the truth about their manipulation. See for example Nineteen Eighty Four


On Liberty - A View From Amazon.com
The terms 'liberal' and 'socialist' have undergone many changes in meaning over the past century and a half. By the definitions of his own day, Mill was certainly the former and arguably the latter. By today's definitions, he would be neither. For his time, he was a remarkably progressive, even radical, thinker. He was, for example, an ardent advocate of women's rights. On the other hand, his paternalistic attitude toward developing societies is typical of his age.

The basic principles of both liberty and ethics that Mill propounds have been much criticized. It is easy to list exceptions, provisos and limitations to them, but they relate to extremely complex and intractable problems, and with such issues it is necessary to start with greatly simplified models, on which you can build. As first approximations, Mill's principles are actually quite good. That they are not the last words on the subjects should not distress us. Nothing ever will be. Only bigots arrive at final, absolute answers....... Some parts have to be carefully reread to make sense of all the subordinate clauses. But when he is good, he is very good. The section on free speech is classic........ In Utilitarianism, Mill is building on the work of Jeremy Bentham, who in turn was part of a tradition that can be traced back to ancient Greece and the philosopher Epicurus.......... The Bantam edition.... is compact and cheap, but the introduction by Alan Dershowitz is appallingly bad.  
A good intro. He got Dershowitz bang to rights.


Tom Paine
Thomas Paine (29 January 1737 – 8 June 1809) was an English pamphleteer, revolutionary, radical, inventor, and intellectual. He lived and worked in Britain until age 37, when he emigrated to the British American colonies, in time to participate in the American Revolution. His principal contribution was the powerful, widely-read pamphlet Common Sense (1776), advocating colonial America's independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and of The American Crisis (1776–1783), a pro-revolutionary pamphlet series.

Later, he greatly influenced the French Revolution. He wrote the Rights of Man (1791), a guide to Enlightenment ideas. Despite not speaking French, he was elected to the French National Convention in 1792. The Girondists regarded him an ally, so, the Montagnards, especially Robespierre, regarded him an enemy. In December of 1793, he was arrested and imprisoned in Paris, then released in 1794. He became notorious because of The Age of Reason (1793–94), the book advocating deism and arguing against Christian doctrines. In France, he also wrote the pamphlet Agrarian Justice (1795), discussing the origins of property, and introduced the concept of a guaranteed minimum income.
Common Sense reads well to this day. Get it from the Gutenberg Project.


Living Contract
Edmund Burke told us that the living contract is an implicit arrangement between the dead, living & unborn which carries forward the gifts of the past. This makes more sense than the idea of a social contract.


Social Contract
Society is a contract between the living, the dead and the unborn according to Burke. It sounds good to me but not to the Wiki which has its own version.


Common Sense - the Wikipedia's View
Common Sense was a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine. It was first published anonymously on January 10, 1776, during the American Revolution. Common Sense presented the American colonists with an argument for independence from British rule at a time when the question of independence was still undecided. Paine wrote and reasoned in a style that common people understood; forgoing the philosophy and Latin references used by Enlightenment era writers, Paine structured Common Sense like a sermon and relied on Biblical references to make his case to the people. Historian Gordon S. Wood described Common Sense as, “the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era.”
Worth reading still. It does not help the Divine Right of Kings theory.


Rerum Novarum
Rerum Novarum is subtitled "On Capital and Labor". In this document, Leo set out the Catholic Church's response to the social instability and labor conflict that had arisen in the wake of industrialization and had led to the rise of socialism. The Pope taught that the role of the State is to promote social justice through the protection of rights, while the Church must speak out on social issues in order to teach correct social principles and ensure class harmony. He restated the Church's long-standing teaching regarding the crucial importance of private property rights, but recognized, in one of the best-known passages of the encyclical, that the free operation of market forces must be tempered by moral considerations:

"Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice.".
The Wikipedia can be honest. This may well be one of those writings that is.


Quadragesimo Anno
Changes since Rerum Novarum
Pope Pius XI issued his encyclical exactly forty years after Rerum Novarum....... In the first part he reviews and applauds the encyclical of his predecessor. The Church can be credited with participating in the progress made and contributing to it. It developed a new social conscience. The welfare State has become a reality and the once powerless workers have unionized and form a powerful opposite to representatives of capitalism.

But for Pope Pius, this did not solve the social problems that Leo XIII talked about. New problems developed including a degree of industrialization, which was unthinkable in 1891. Industrialization has become an undeniable fact, effecting not only the workers in factories but society as a whole. The division of societies into opposing social classes increased, so the Pope. Both sides are highlighting differences and resulting social unrest is truly possible.

Private Property
The Church has a role in discussing these issues. Social and economic issues are vital to her not from a technical point of view but in terms of moral and ethical issues involved. Ethical considerations include the nature of private property. within the Catholic Church several conflicting views had developed. Pope Pius XI declares private property essential for the development and freedom of the individual. Those who deny private property, deny personal freedom and development. But, so Pius, private property has a social function as well. Private Property looses [ sic ] its morality, if it is not subordinated under the common good. Therefore governments have a right to redistribution policies. In extreme cases, the Pope grants the State a right of expropriation of private property.

Capital and Labour
A related issue, so Pius is the relation between capital and labour and the determination of fair wages. Pius develops the following ethical mandate: The Church considers it a perversion of industrial society, to have developed sharp opposite camps based on income. He welcomes all attempts to alleviate these cross differences. Three elements determine a fair wage: His family, the economic condition of the enterprise and the economy as a whole. The family has an innate right for development, but this is only possible within the framework of a functioning economy and a sound enterprise. This Pope Pius concludes, that solidarity not conflict is a necessary condition, given the mutual interdependence of the parties involved.

Social Order
Industrialization, so Pius XI, resulted in less freedom at the individual and communal level, because numerous free social entities got absorbed by larger ones. A society of individuals became a mass and class society. People are much more interdependent, than in ancient times, and become egoistic or class-conscious in order to save some freedom for themselves. The pope demands more solidarity, especially between employers and employees through new forms of cooperation and communication. Pius draws a negative view of Capitalism, especially of the anonymous international finance markets. He identifies here problems: dangers for small and medium-size enterprises, who have insufficient access to capital markets and are squeezed or destroyed by the larger ones. He warns, that capital interests can become a danger for states, who would be reduced to be “chained slaves of individual interests”

Communism and socialism
Regarding Communism and Socialism, Pope Pius noted increasing differences. He condemns communism but also the social conditions which nourish it. He demands that moderate socialism not only distance itself from totalitarian communism as a matter of convenience, but as a matter of principle, in light of the dignity of the human person.  Dignity and human freedom are ethical considerations, which cannot be solved from a hostile class confrontation. Ethics is based on religion, and so, the Pope, this is the realm where the Church meets industrial society.
The Church has been good on analysis but not very effective in influencing the debate.


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Updated on 27/06/2016 19:20