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PostSubject: History of Political Philosophy Sat Jan 02, 2016 8:51 am

The purpose of creating this thread is to share notes I made while reading History of Political Philosophy ed. Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey. I have selected this work as significant enough for presentation because of both the scope and the unique insights found in the work. What is here presented are summaries of interpretations and should be considered as such. I do not consider them to be summations of the philosopher's works but instead as hints and invitations.

What follows is a list of the philosophers I will cover in this thread in the order I intend to present them. The name of each philosopher will be accompanied by another name which is the name of the interpreter. The summaries will follow in separate posts.

Thucydides - David Bolotin

Plato - Leo Strauss
The Republic
The Statesman

Xenophon - Christopher Bruell
Memorabilia

Aristotle - Carnes Lord

Marcus Tullius Cicero - James E. Holton

St. Augustine - Ernest L. Fortin

St. Thomas Aquinas - Ernest L. Fortin

Niccolo Machiavelli - Leo Strauss

Reformation - Duncan B. Forrester

Francis Bacon - Howard B. White

Hugo Grotius - Richard H. Cox

Thomas Hobbes - Laurence Berns

Benedict Spinoza - Stanley Rosen

John Locke - Robert A. Goldwin

Montesquieu - David Lowenthal

David Hume - Robert S. Hill

Jean-Jacques Rousseau - Allan Bloom

Adam Smith - Joseph Cropsey

The Federalist - Martin Diamond

Thomas Paine - Francis Canavan, S.J.

Edmund Burke - Harvey Mansfield, Jr.

Georg W. F. Hegel - Pierre Hassner, trans. Allan Bloom

Alexis De Tocqueville - Martin Zetterbaum

John Stuart Mill - Henry M. Magid

Karl Marx - Joseph Cropsey

John Dewey - Robert Horwitz


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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Sat Jan 02, 2016 9:21 am

Thucydides

Thucydides tells us of the war which errupted between the growing Athenian Empire and the Peloponnesian Alliance, two of whose main cities were Sparta and Corinth. The reason given by Thucydides for the outbreak (though not attributed as such by all those involved) was that the growing power of the Athenians inspired fear in its neighbours. Representatives for Athens justify their expansion with speeches about honour and glory. They grow because they can, it is their benefit. In fact, they claim, anyone in their position would do as they had done and that no one has ever refrained from benefit through consideration of justice.

As the war unfolds, some are tempted to see Athens' defeats as divine justice for their unjust temperament. But on the other hand, at one point in the war Sparta betrays the state of Palatea whom they had sworn to protect in order to win the alliance of the Thebans who were instrumental in winning the war. And indeed it was not considerations for justice which held back the Spartans when they had grown in power, but their immense slave holdings which kept their focus inward and their efforts concentrated on preventing a rebellion from that abused class.

The Peloponnesian war was interspersed with periods of peace, but at one point all of Greece errupted into all out civil war, where no one held any allegiance except to their revels in slaughter and revenge, yet still they slaughtered the neutral for refusing to join them, perhaps out of envy that they might survive the strife which has gripped everyone else.

The Athenians are not shown to be without justice, but instead to have their own sense of justice which is embedded in notions of honour and the desire for glory, and it was that desire which drove them to secure the glorious image which has remained throughout history. This sense of honour is exemplified in their contempt for hypocrisy, which leads them to speak boldly and with shocking sincerity about their motives in throughout the war. The Athenian justice led them to revoke a decree made to slaughter the inhabitants of Mytiline. The decision was justified by the explanation that it was the responsibility of only a few and not the entire city that a rebellion took place there.

Or was it perhaps the inconsitency of the Athenians which led them to lose the war?

Leo Strauss wrote:
What is the character of that Greek wisdom which issues in political history? We have seen that Thucydides' wisdom presents itself as a substitute for Homeric wisdom, or rather as the consummation of Homeric wisdom. Homeric wisdom reveals the character of human life by presenting deeds and speeches which are magnified and adorned. Thucydides wisdom reveals the character of human life by presenting speeches which are not magnified and adorned[...]

This is obviously quite insufficient as an answer to our question.[Thucydides: The Meaning of Political History]
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Sun Jan 03, 2016 10:13 am

Plato

The Republic

It is laid down as a principle of The Republic that it is necessary not to tell the truth to the young and even to adult subjects.

The Guardians of the city, the warrior class, must not be friendly with the inhabitants of the city and must be hostile to outsiders.

In the "good city" each individual's place or class is dependent on their abilities, but since abilities are at least in part dependent on education and habituation, those factors would influence which class one ends up in. Socrates describes a good city where the upper classes of guardians and philosophers (who are picked as being the most able of the guardians) receive a special 'musical' education which aids to the uplift of their spirit. The guardians would be of a different kind than the rest of the city, and would not share the education of the lower classes. The Guardian class would be a hereditary caste society. Besides this, it is uncertain whether the best of any individuals can be adequately identified and so selected for their roles.

Socrates implies that his model of the "good city" cannot exist in reality. His model was based on a line of reasoning that sought to describe the form that justice would take if modelled into a human city, but he makes it clear that justice itself is perfect only as an idea, but in practice or in actually becomes distorted by influences beyond justice. This is beside the fact that Socrates' model itself is encumbered by considerations beyond the idea of perfect justice in abstract isolation and so does not itself attain "perfect justice".

The possibility of Socrates' "good city" coming into being is further complicated by the notion of the rule of philosophers, because he contends that the people of the city have no interest in the rule of philosophers and for good reason, which is that the true philosopher, being so caught up with philosophy, has no desire or even time to rule. The only way the philosopher could come to rule is by being compelled by the citizens to rule, but because the citizens do not desire this, they would need to be convinced in making the compulsion and the only one capable of that would be the true philosopher, but since the true philosopher has no desire to rule he would not try to convince them.

Further complicating matters, such a notion of a "good city" could only arise from a society that had already become 'civilized' in such a way as to provide its preconditions. In such a case, if by some strange fluke the philosopher did come to rule, the citizens of the city would have been brought up by imperfect customs, so that everyone above the age of ten would need to leave the city so that the young could be brought up entirely under the proper education and by the proper customs. But because the instutition of the Guardians could not yet have been established under the proper circumstances, it would be impossible to compel the citizens of the city to leave.

According to Socrates,

Kingdom or Aristocracy rules in favour of "goodness" and "virtue".

Timocracy is the rule of those who love honour and seek superiority and virtue.

Oligarchy is rule by the rich, where the search for wealth is the highest end.

Democracy is the rule of the free, where freedom is prized above all things.

Tyranny is characterized by the rule of the unjust.

Socrates defines justice as each part doing that which it is best suited to in the best way.

Socrates praises democracy as being free, so that the philosopher would be free to pursue wisdom, but he held democracy in a lower rank than other regimes (at least "in speech") because in a democracy individuals were at liberty to pursue either a noble or a base life without compulsion. On the other hand, in his vision of a true aristocracy, all would be compelled to live a life of the highest virtue. This line of reasoning leads him to rank democracy lower even thank oligarchy, which calls for some degree of restraint, though he says that oligarchy leads to democracy as sucessive generations of upper classes become spoiled and soften and some become disenfranchised and use their acquired skills to lead a revolt and reclaim their status.

Leo Strauss claims that The Republic does not elucidate the best possible regime but instead reveals the "nature of the city" (I believe he takes this from Cicero).

The Statesman

The dialogue is led by a stranger who engages with a young boy named Socrates in order to elucidate the nature of the statesman. The famous philosopher Socrates is also present.

The stranger tells the boy that the only true knowledge comes from something called 'dialectics' which is the art of conversation and which seeks to uncover the true essence of a thing by moving from idea to idea, as all ideas are intrinsically connected, and these connected ideas make up the composition of things. When all ideas are finally exhausted, true essence is laid bare.

The knowledge of how to rule in such a fashion as to benefit the 'body politic' justifies rule with or without either law or consent. It is irrelevant whether this is done through killing certain citizens, banishments, or bringing in others to increase the population.

Because the young Socrates is shocked by the assertion that a ruler could rule justly without laws, a conversation ensues in which the stranger explains to the young Socrates that laws are no substitute for the judgement of the wise on particular circumstances which may arise. Laws are necessary, the stranger asserts, because the wise ruler cannot be present to judge every circumstance as it arises. The laws act as rules of thumb to aid in the 'herding' of human animals. The real objection to the laws, according to the stranger, is that the wise must also adhere to them when they are beneath their wisdom, and this because the unwise do not trust the wise.

Disctinction is made between the rule of the wise and other forms of rule, in particular through law. A monarchy is a tyranny, for example, if an unwise leader disregards the laws.

The task of the King is to create a society in which the virtues are present in the citizens and balanced in moderation.

The art of the statesman includes tending the "human herd", but the art of the philosopher does not. The task of the philosopher is the search for true knowledge of the whole. Knowledge of the whole consists of parts, and knowing they are parts of the whole. To reach a knowledge of the whole a philosophical life must be initiated, and that initiation arises with effort. Exerting effort is done through action which requires a practical knowledge, to know what action should be taken and how it should be performed.

According to Leo Strauss, The Republic and The Statesman do not show the best possible ways for the city, but illuminate inevitable limitations of the city. This is characteristic of their true nature.
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Sun Jan 03, 2016 10:19 am

Xenophon

Memorabilia

Socrates describes himself as a teacher of politics. When a critic of Socrates implies that his credibility as a teacher of politics is weak because he abstained from political office, Socrates asked, Could it really be considered abstention to train as many as possible to be able to paricipate in politics?
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Sun Jan 03, 2016 8:06 pm

Thucydides....the one all the launching point for all the rest.

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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:14 am

Capitalism, as the best representation of natural processes, remains unchallenged as a socioeconomic system, because of how intimate it feels to an organism evolved within them.
Mirroring nature, so well, it also reflects the implosions nature undergoes from time to time – part of the ebb and flow, cyclical ascent and then decent to the primal.
Capitalism is so attuned to nature that if left to its own devices it cannot but decline to a state of anarchy, and this is why this system, like many others, has never practiced its own theory.
Humans could not tolerate such chaos, so compromises were made – these compromises are called "progressive", demonstrating man's intervention upon natural processes so that the decline to the primal is never fully realized and only minimal losses are accrued before the human social system begins to ascend towards its “perfection”... telos.
Modern socioeconomic political debates are over how much human intervention will suffice to establish balance between chaos, due to deregulation, and decline due to regulatory sheltering (atrophying).
Part of the Right/Left Nihilistic paradigm.
How much socialism is required to balance capitalism?

Both sides representing a level of socioeconomic regulation, and the morals this necessitates.
There is no longer a question over whether, or not, man must control socioeconomic processes, but only about how many and what form this ordering will take.

Philosophical debates, continuing from ancient times, over the definition of "best man/ideal citizen", or "how a man ought to live the best life" have been about this dilemma = how much personal power, necessitating tolerance of others, will be relinquished to the contingency of otherness; how much of self will be sacrificed to this requirement, maintaining personal contentment (happiness – well-being)?
This is the core of modern political philosophical discourse.
No solution has been found, because all human interventions, in the form of rules, and laws, result in collateral effects which must be dealt with, in turn.
Instead we have a Democratic pendulum solution: for a few years deregulation plummets the system towards the primal, promoting the best manipulators to the top, and then a corrective decade of social programs, healing the damage done, re-establishing the trust lost between citizenry and State.
Current identity confusion is the consequence of this need to shelter the weak, from the existence of superiors – protecting them from themselves by regulating who, and to what degree, will exploit inferiority.

It alludes to the master/slave dynamic.
On the one hand, the master resents self, through the slave, for being dependent upon what he considers beneath him, and the slave, in turn, resents the master's dominance over him, and when Modern methods of husbandry are applied he grows arrogant, and develops an unwarranted sense of entitlement which then increases the master's anger further.
Implosion follows in the form of revolution – such as the French and Russian ones. This was before more sophisticated methods of mass manipulation had been developed.
Today a slow simmering has taken over, bubbling up as neurosis, or small "hot events" releasing some of the internalized tensions.
Obsessions over technologies/techniques as the great equalizers is partly how the tensions are defused: entertainment, pornography, artificial realities, drugs are others.
But, for how long?
To deal with this "problem" a division of mind/body has been attempted (institutionalized schizophrenia), and a system of hiding in plain sight – the esoteric/exoteric divide: Public versus Private man.
Philosophy masking itself in complexity, abstractions: words with no real meaning outside the human brain, specialized jargon, implying and never stating clearly – the Delphic Oracle method, also adopted by Nostradamus and the Bible.

Three levels of data, of information exchange, representing the six levels of awareness – separated into three pairs (2 x 3 = 6).
Ascending/Descending phases (binary) with the last being open-ended, reflecting the movement towards godliness (omnipotence, Ideal), or a higher state of awareness.
Three levels of comprehension, corresponding to three casts, or three levels in Aryan spiritual hierarchy.
The data is available, so as to not trigger anger at being deprived of information, but is incomprehensible to the lower levels, demanding particular knowledge, with its own verbiage, and a level of awareness inherited through genetics – also a form of data transference.
Some of the tensions are avoided.

Philosophy in our time has become a debate over how to manage increasing populations and decreasing resources.
Abrahamic religions, Nihilism as the dominant most popular psychology, emerged and infected the masses because of this necessity – population pressures making it essential to offer the masses a way of coping, and to discipline them with minimal resentment and conflict.

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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Mon Jan 04, 2016 9:17 am

Aristotle

Aristotle's 'science of politics' is directed at uncovering practical knowledge - that is, knowledge that can be put into action. It is concerned with everyday understanding, speech and opinions of people insofar as they effect behaviour.

He holds that the political art, exemplified in the legislator, encompasses all other human activity by defining the purposes, extent, and forms the activities will take. Famously he referred to humans a political animal. He does not mean by this simply that humans live in large communities, but that because we have the capabity for reason and speech, we have the capacity to know the good and the bad, the just and the unjust, and when we form together and compose a society of life in common we live in unity because of we share a conception of the good life and the right way to live.

For Aristotle, the purpose of the city is to instill virtue in its inhabitants and curb vice. The reason that virtue is the highest goal is that people are not merely to live but to live "well, nobly, or happy."

The definition of citizenship includes any individuals who take part in the decision making process either through holding office or voting to elect officials.

The nature of the city is characterized by its citizens. The citizens are a function of the regime. The regime is characterized by the nature of its governing body.

Democracy rests on the acess of equal rights not on the basis of being human or being free, but because of a shared responsibility to the military defense of the city, and it is through 'bearing arms' in defense of those rights that democratic citizens retain them.

Contrary to Plato, Aristotle felt that the law was the best form of rule, because he saw that even the best individuals were subject to an excess which results from passion.

Leo Strauss wrote:
Aristotle sets forth the dictate of reason regarding slavery: it is just to enslave men who are by nature slaves; men who are slaves not by nature but only by law and compulsion are unjustly enslaved; a man is a slave by nature if he is too stupid to guide himself or can do only a kind of work little superior to the work done by beasts of burden; such a man is better off a slave than free. [The City and Man]
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:29 pm

The rise of political philosophy as the central theme of all intellectual discourse follows the course of human interventions upon the world of nature/past.
When, in the past, man sought to place himself within his environment, dominated by nature, in these times with urbanization, and man dominating every frontier, this same desire for relating to environment means he must position himself within humanity.
Politics is the art of relating to the psychological and biological dynamics of a species called homo sapient.
It is, as with all disciplines, a study of patterns.

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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Tue Jan 05, 2016 8:46 am

Marcus Tullius Cicero

Cicero belonged to the school of academic skepticism, which believed it impossible to arrive at absolute knowledge. The best that could be achieved was an approximation of the truth through more or less probably opinion. In such case, individuals would necessarily act on knowledge that is incomplete or altogether faulty, without hope of ever solving the matter with absolute certainty.

The implication of this for the political community is devistating. If the majority of individuals began to question the absolute validity of things normally taken for granted, like the common good or the concept of justice, the bonds of commonality which generally hold a society together are liable to come undone.

Due to his respect for philosophy, and because he felt that philosophy was dependent on the political order, Cicero felt that it was one of the purposes of philosophy to maintain and conduct a healthy political order.

Regarding the ancient discussion over which was the best life to lead, the active life of politics or the contemplative life of philosophy, he praised the active life with the justification that to discover the true nature of virtue, contemplation could only go so far and virtue must be practiced in order to be real. The philosophic life, on the other hand, he praised as most worthy of all, for the philosopher is self-sufficient in contemplation of the whole. But in his final and complete judgement he suggested the possibility that a combination of the active and contemplative life would be best: for the statesman to have a mind to philosophy and for the philosopher to step into action when it is in the interest of the commonwealth.
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Tue Jan 05, 2016 9:45 am

St. Augustine

Divergine from the thought of previous classical Greek and Roman philosophers, St. Augustine did not believe the city to be formed on the base of a mutual conception of citizen rights, but on a shared object of love or desire.

Law and governmental authority is necessary to curb humanity's propensity to sin by dominating and infringing on the well being of others. This is the reason for the establishment of government and slavery, both characterized by domination over others. This he takes as evidence for the inability of humanity to live by the dictates of reason. The efficacy of earthy law is the result of the attachment of humanity to their earthly possessions. Transgression of the law is curbed by the removal of property.

Whereas classical Greek and Roman philosophers saw the wisdom of the philosopher as reason that they should rightly be outside of the law, knowing better than the law as the contingency of circumstance dictated, Augustine sees a holy figue as existing beyond temporal law, free from material desire and its dictates, following the only "true" law, which is dictated by god and is the basis of existence itself.

Temporal law is imperfect, and ultimate incapable of instilling virtue in citizens, because it does not ensure the cessation of internal transgression, like the desire to murder, or to kill in what appears to be self-defense but what is in reality an act of revenge, nor does it mitigate crimes which go undetected or where the perpetrator is unknown.

It is upon these reasons Augustine defends the commandments as eternal law, being laws that individuals subsume and to which they answer with their conscience.

Temporal political states, for St. Augustine, are no different from bands of robbers or plunderers, except in their size, impact and ability to justify themselves through written law. This is most evident in the relation of states to their neighbours, and this is because of a lack of true justice within the state, which is impossible to attain among naturally flawed humanity.
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:00 am

St. Thomas Aquinas

According to Thomas Aquinas, the best political society will inculcate those virtues proper to life in society. One becomes good through the use of practical wisdom in regard to nature. With this faculty, anyone is capable of possessing a morally uplifted soul. Nature is revealed through the scriptures and the presence of Christ on earth. Those virtues which are to guide humanity in social life are courage, justice, moderation, and prudence.

Moderation entails the use of reason to assure that excess of desire does not lead one to painful or morally reprehensible action.

Courage should be instilled in citizens to ensure that they feel no doubts and no fear in doing what is necessary for the greater good.

Knowledge of justice will regulate the interactions among citizens, so that they know when to abstain from wronging one another.

A developed sense of prudence will aid individuals in their judgement of a situation and help them to know and to act on the knowledge of the greatest good.

According to Aquinas, there were other virtues but they were components of these four main virtues. Liberality and friendliness, for example, he saw as integral components of justice and aids in ordering the interactions among citizens. Memory, inventiveness, caution, and circumspection, these and similar traits he held as part of prudence.
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:05 am

Journal of Political Philosophy

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:28 am

Machiavelli

If Machiavelli's The Prince inspired anything in what is today called realist politics or Realpolitik then it was a sense of politics as strategy for acheiving an end at any cost. In political theory, those ends generally being the establishing and maintaining of power and/or national stability. "The ends justifies the means" does not quite describe what Machiavelli taught, because there is no justification involved in the establishment and maintenance of power and rule. A new meaning was given to virtue, which was to be embodied by rulers alone. Those who knew which steps were to be taken and were effective in their execution. 'Goodness' became a quality of the ruled, which was little more than a measure for judgement of the ruler on whether obedience to the dictates of the rules laid down had been followed.

A new state must be founded on terror, Machiavelli tells us, cruel acts which keep citizens in line.

Only after inheriting an already peaceful state can a leader safely express magnanimity, though a good leader is miserly. If all the funds are used on magnanimous acts funds will be needed from the citizens which will inspire resentment.

It is crucial for the state that it is periodically revived to the status of its beginning, for it is through this implied state of fear that the citizens are kept in line peacefully enough that the affairs of state can run without interference.
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:31 am

Reformation

Humanity is utterly fallen into sin. They are incapable of good works. Those works of good they do are God acting upon the earth. It is only sin and evil that is one's own. Humanity cannot seek God. Humanity wishes to be God. All that can save humanity is faith, but faith too is not of human choice but is a gift for those chosen by God.
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Thu Jan 07, 2016 8:44 am

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon lived under a monarchy and said it was the best form of government. A monarchy frees up time from politics to pursue science and philosophy.

The proper vocation given to a strong state is imperialism, and so its proper character is that of aggression, not justice. Bravery is necessary for citizens to commit great deeds on the state's behest.

It is not wise, Bacon advises, for a state to set about to conquer by war, incurring heavy losses to both treasury and morale, when instead one can make allies and boost the treasury through diplomacy and trade. For this citizens should be trained in the arts of rhetoric and business.

The polity projected by Bacon was ideal for the developing thrust of capitalism.
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:08 pm

Hugo Grotius

Hugo Grotius is an example of an early jurist who explained civil society through reference to laws and rights. In doing so he defined those terms in their functions for society. His definition of right was threefold. First, it consisted of acting justly, which was to be understood in a negative sense of not acting unjustly, which is to say that an unjust action is any action which is harmful to the social peace and interferes with individuals living peacefully among one another.

The second definition of right bears resemblance to the modern notion of "rights". It encompassed the right to liberty and power over oneself, but also authority in relations that were deemed natural, such as a right of a parent to give orders to their child, and a master to order his slave. It also included the right to defend oneself and protect one's property.

The third definition of right was in the sense of law. He also broke law into a further two parts which he called natural and volitional. Natural law was to be understood in light of humanity's ability to reason. When an individual acts in line with reason they are following nature.

Volitional law was again broken into three parts, which were first defined by 'natural relationships', which might also be understood as roles. That is, all actors knowing their roles must follow those roles as they are so defined. Whether the role is mandatory or voluntary would presumably depend on the hierarchical positioning of the role in question, for example those of master and slave.

The second definition of volitional law was municipal or civil law, which was accorded by the civil power of a given region. The third definition was international law, which would be decided among nationas and was to be dictated by the will of those nations, and so was changeable.

Grotius states that the ruler has supreme rights and power over the political society. The ruler therefore might abuse those powers, but since natural law (reason) dictates a foremost necessity of social peace and order, it is not legitimate for the citizens to dethrone their king.
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:25 pm

Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes looked at humanity as being led by what he called the "passions", which encompassed both desires and distastes. What an individual considers good or evil depends on their tastes. The purpose of thoughts are to seek out the means of procuring the objects of desire. Hobbes thought that human happines was the ability to satisfy one desire after another. Because many humans share similar desires, there arises competition to procure them. If there was no law, Hobbes argued, people would stop at nothing to secure their priority of access to those objects of esire. It is for self-preservation and for the security of those objects, Hobbes contends, that individuals have obtained and wish to safely keep, that people submit to the authority of political society.

Hobbes saw vanity and pride as the sources of pleasure of the mind. Glory, he saw as the result of others recognizing one's power. Laughter, he saw as resulting from one's own triumpth or from witnessing the folly of another by which one's prie was elated in comparison.

It is only in society, Hobbes wrote, that industry can flourish, because without the security that society brings there would be no way of securing the results of hard work. It is likewise in society that culture can flourish, and the joys and benefits that culture brings, as culture is itself the shared practices in a society of individuals.

Hobbes saw self-interest as the basis for morality. He felt that the reasons for war need not have been initiated by an injurty to one's country by another. The fear of another country's growing power, he reasoned, was justification enough to initiate a war.

According to Hobbes, one of the ways that government can arise is through the conquering of a society by a despot. This form of government is also legitimate, he argued, even if the reason for the conqueror's war was not just.

After the establishment of government, the people have relinquishe their rights to resistance, but since the sovereign has made no pact but instead received the loyalty of his subjects, he is not bound to the law and cannot be considered to have injured or committed injustice. Subjects, according to Hobbes, have no right to punish their sovereign.

Hobbes makes an exception to the obligations of citizens to obey the sovereign's dictates, which is when in doing so they risk their own life, or would be certain to end it, or be obliged to commit an act so base, such as killing one's own parents, that one's life would lose value. On the other hand, it is still just for the sovereign to punish such disobedience as they saw fit.

Hobbes also wrote that there were natural punishments for a sovereign who defied the nature of reason in committing unjust acts. These were the displeasure of God and the possibility of rebellion.

One of Hobbes's arguments in favor of the absolute power and authority of the sovereign is that, if the sovereign relinquishes any part of his power, if or when the time comes where it is necessary to use that power for the sake of the commonwealth, it will appear as an injustice to take up that authority to check whatever ill afflicts the society. In this line of reasoning, Hobbes argues that the sovereign must put down all opposition or else conflict will grow and so the threat of civil war, which to his mind was one of the greatest evils to afflict humanity, being characterized by uncertainty of safety and self-preservation.
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Sun Jul 31, 2016 10:54 am

Benedict Spinoza

Spinoza penned the first systematic defense of democracy. He envisioned, instead of the philosophical rulers that the ancients had proposed, instead scientific politicians. For Spinoza, humanity, in a state of nature, is made up of disassociated individuals all striving to use their power just to exist. Society is formed when reason overcomes desire and individuals come to accept compromise in favor of the benefits that a number of concerted efforts working together can bring.
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Sun Jul 31, 2016 11:21 am

John Locke

For John Locke, the 'state of nature' is the natural state of humans interacting when they are not in the presence of an authority with designated civil law to guide their behaviour. The 'state of war' arises when, in the state of nature, force is used without right to it. Civil society begins where a common authority is brought forward to moderate the actions of individuals or disputes between individuals.

Locke theorized property from a state of nature where land and foods (naturally growing vegetables and wild animals) were abundant in comparison to a relative few humans. His idea was that, so long as the quantity of natural resources was abundant enough that even if some was appropriated by one individual there would be enough to be appropriated by others. The resources were thought to be free for the taking and transferred into the personal property of any individual who uses their labour to cultivate the land, procure food, or create any other object from the natural resources. Locke based this notion on the idea that in the original state of nature all was common except individuals, who belonged to themselves, and the individual's labour, which was an extension of that self.

Locke theorized an early version of supply and demand, which stated that value is determined by the changes of the quantity and demand for any resource relative to the other. So if, for example, the quantity of any object increases while demand for it diminishes, the value is also diminished.

Reasoning from the fact that natural things like food rot and decay, Locke wrote that whatever an individual could make use of by their labour and subsequent consumption was theirs, but if they let what was theirs go to waste for lack of use, that would return to what was common and could be rightfully mae use of by anyone else.

Because people discovered something considered valuable but non-perishable, namely money, they were able to trade their surplus of perishable goods for that of imperishable value and so accumulate wealth. Those who expended more labour to produce goods for the market accumulated more wealth.

When goods are scarce, they are common and not even labour can establish a private right to them. In such cases it is the strength to take and keep those possessions which establishes a 'right' to them.

Locke wrote that, because nature possesses a fixed amount of natural resources (including wild fruit and land), no wealth can be increased except at the expense of another individual losing access to those same resources. Later he gave a proposition on how this effect could be balanced, which was that, as individuals appropriate land and apply their labour to it by farming, they increase the yield beyon that which would be present in the uncultivated natural condition, thus increasing the lot of mankind. Of course this does not take into account those who have not the means to yield a surplus except through selling their labour and forfeiting the possession of the surplus which is retained by the employer.

Resources begin to become scarce as they are appropriated by a few and there come more people who have been sustained into existence by the increase of goods, and so inequality grows. It is for this reason that a sovereign is created, to protect the accumulated wealth of the landowning class.

In the state of nature, Locke argues, people's greatest concern was for self-preservation, so that they were entitled by the 'laws of nature' to do what they needed to defend themselves and others. In a civil society, individuals relinquish their role as judges of what is a valid action for that preservation and invest it in the laws and civil authorities that act as arbitors of disputes. The exception being when no authority can be present and the life of an individual is in immediate danger, in which case the state of nature persists even in civil society.

Because individuals enter civil society for their own preservation, it is incompatible that a ruler could have access to arbitrary power outside of the law, as Hobbes argued for, because individuals would then be susceptible of arbitrary rule which put them in danger of their preservation and so negate the original purpose of entering civil society.

Locke's idea of the separating of powers was to have different bodies in charge of the legislative (law making) and executive (ministers of the state and enforcers of the law) branches of government. In Locke's original formulation, the judiciary was not separate from the legislature.

Locke thought it admissible for a good ruler to act outside of the law or even against it if it was for the good of society. He saw a problem with this reasoning, too, because a tyrant also acted outsie the law, and did it often while declaring the common good as a motive. As a corrective, Locke thought it should be up to the people to decie what was or was not for the common good, and if they judged that the actionso f the ruler were not for the common good, they have the right to resist.

What Locke means by the right of the people to resist is that, if the ruler is judge by the people to be acting against the common good of society, which the people have come together to create for their own peace and preservation, by acting against the good of society, the ruler has entered the state of nature in regards to the people, and if the ruler uses force against the people he has entered the state of war against them, and the people have the right to defend themselves.
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Mon Aug 01, 2016 9:37 am

Montesquieu

In The Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu sets out to define how different arrangements of laws influence the life and character of a society. He writes that different kinds of societies possess different kinds of laws, which reflect the goals of that kind of society and influence how it will function. He names some of the categories of the societies which he has in mind. They are republics, monarchies, and despotisms. Montesquieu's analysis is influenced by, among other things, the images he has of what these societies are supposed to be like.

For example, his idea of a democratic republic is a state where official positions are filled by the wealthy, whether elected or chosen by lot, depending on position. The only positions the poor are fit to fill are the "popular courts", for which they apply to the chance of lots alongside the rich. He also thought that wealth should be limited with both a minimum and a maximum. A council of elders should be created for surveillance of the people and talent should be restricted.

Montesquieu felt that a separation of government powers was necessary to preserve liberty. He based this idea of the English model of the time, but his vision differed slightly from the system put forward by Locke. Montesquieu thought that legislative, executive and judicial powers should be separate.

He thought that juries to try crimes would be best composed of the peoples' peers. The legislative powers should be divied among elected representatives as well as a body of wealthy and powerful nobles. The executive would have magistrates who the legislature could punish, but they could not punish the executive.

To Montesquieu, the 'higher' human potentialities, like philosophy, science, the arts, and poetry, were a result of growing commerce in a society, particularly international commerce. The growth of commerce brings new wealth and luxury, and the luxury sustains those 'higher' pursuits.
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Mon Aug 01, 2016 9:42 am

David Hume

David Hume held that the principle purposes of government were to protect property, enforce contracts, and to complete long-term projects of use to the society as a whole but which no individual would undertake, because their interests are in the satisfaction of short-term needs.
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:36 am

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Rousseau saw modernity — characterized by the rise of science, art, and commerce — as part of the degradation of humanity. Commerce led to inequality because the wealthy ran the government and made the laws to support their own interests by oppressing the poor so that they would work to make the rich richer. Science and art, he thought, were the result of luxury and the pursuit of unnecessary things which ultimately was a corruption of morals.

Rousseau advocated a form of republican democracy which he based on ancient cities, particularly Athens and Rome, but with what he considered improvements to their models. He felt that the political community should be small so that all would know one another and feel a warm attachment. A strong moral code was necessary and, along mutual surveillance, should be enforced by law. To ensure unity, Rousseau believed it was necessary for citizens to give up their private interests in favour of the community.

Rousseau had a very exacting view of how society should function and be regulated. His conception was formed around the idea of a "general will", which would represent the people in total. Rousseau did not believe in a representative democracy because, he thought, once responsibility for running a society had been delegated, that representative could proceed to act against the will of the people. Instead, he thought that legislation should be done by all the people together who would decide upon general laws to which everyone would be expected to adhere equally. He thought that the best government would be an elected aristocracy which would constantly consult the people as to which actions should be taken, in the context of a community small enough that all could assemble and apply general laws to specific situations as they arose.

The government would be accountable to the people, and if the people felt that they were no longer served by their leaders then the government should be abolished and established anew. In this formulation, the bonds of society could be made strong enough to sustain a community in moments without government. From this was posited the notion that the people were sovereign and the most integral aspect of a society whereas, prior, political life had been theorized first and foremost from the notion of government, to which the image of society would subsequently conform.
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Wed Aug 03, 2016 10:58 am

Adam Smith

Adam Smith, in his work Theory of Moral Sentiments, sought to work out a theory of morality that was based entirely on "the passions", or the emotions elicited by observation of the intentions and effects of actions. He was in a large part inspired by the writing of David Hume, whose theory of morals was ultimately narrowed down to feelings of approval and disapproval based on the utility of the actions in question.

Where Smith's theory differed was that he saw the consideration of the morality of an action as being an act of sympathy on the part of the observer where they project their imagination into the mind of the actor and then judge of the appropriateness of the action to the situation, or the other person whom the act is intended upon, simultaineously judging the merit of that one being acted upon for deserving the act in question. In doing so, the observer themselves has a sentiment, a feeling or judgement, about the appropriateness of the action to its target. This may, in turn, form the intention of a subsequent action on the part of the observer.

Smith grounded this theory on the concept of the impartial observer, taking the maxim that one should consider one's neighbour on the same level as oneself, which can be further translated to consideration of our neighbour on the same level as we are capable of considering ourselves and conversely they are capable of considering us. This leads the way open to relativism, as the standards which determine value become determined by changing expectations of themselves based on the tastes of others.

Smith wrote that the propensity to sympathize, and the desire to be sympathized with, are part of the reason that society forms and can function. He also wrote that it is common for people to sympathize with others in their good fortune, and wish to be sympathized in that as well. This leads to ambition and displays of wealth and the valuing of such things. As people begin to admire rank and fortune, even at the absence of virtue, and despise or neglect ill fortune, the result in a corruption of moral standards and the ordering of human relations of society.

Though he thought each person putting a mind to their own work and prosperty would ultimately produce a well rounded and prosperous society as a whole, he saw that the labour of the working poor would be use without them receiving the full benefit they have worked to produce. He thought it was the job of government to see that the people were not over exploited. At the time he was writing, the merchant and most of the manufacturing classes held the most wealth and power of all the working class, and he saw that they would use their power to dominate the system of industry, for example, by petitioning for mercantilist laws to protect their own enterprises. Smith felt it was the job of government to prevent the powers of these groups from becoming so strong as to offset the distribution of prosperity he had spoken of as 'the invisible hand'.
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Sat Sep 10, 2016 9:25 am

I will take a moment during the brief intermission of this thread's progress to bring to your attention an article which is currently being taught in esteemed universities. This article addresses current affairs as well as the future trajectory of politics not only in western developed nations but worldwide. I recommend therefore that it be read carefully, since it by it's prevalence in respected curriculum, it is not a passing fancy or ideological advocation which brings the article to attention, but the quality of its being considered by current and future generations of decision makers in developed western nations and ultimately globally, due to its subject.

Was Democracy Just a Moment - Robert D. Kaplan
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Sat Sep 10, 2016 10:35 am

I will read the article, but before I do some of my own preliminary thoughts on Democracy.

First, Democracy is not practiced as it was originally conceptualized.
Like all romantic idea(l)s, born of necessity, it quickly faces the corrective power of reality, settling for a duplicitous external facade, and an internal pragmatism.

Second, Democracy, like Abrhamism, is born of the necessities imposed by environment, which is the absence of frontiers - resulting in population pressures and resource pressures, requiring the eugenic cultivation, social engineering, of specific biological traits, and the stiffing, repressing, sublimation of all that is destructive to harmonious coexistence
We can include the current war against identity, and how nature is being redefined to achieve the aforementioned goal.

Third, unregulated reproduction increases the propagation of unfit mutations, overwhelming the fitness that made them possible.
To accommodate the replication of increasingly deteriorating mental and physical fitness, the system promotes a kind of communal blindness, and shame, associated with perceiving such deficiencies. As a result Democracy becomes the practice of manipulating growing populations of ignorant, weak psychologies, that are drowning quality in quantities, creating the factors mentioned din my first comment, and necessitating the Abrahamic mindset, as a practical method of population control.
The masses being the product of sheltering, find it inconceivable to even consider natural processes that would entail self-knowledge they would not be able to accept, becoming a psychological barrier to any rational discussions concerning nature and, in particular, human nature.
They have to be given the lie, which they have already presupposed as being the only thing that would help them accept existence, their own.

Fourth, as I allude to, in my second comment, and have repeatedly stated, Democracy is a result of a compromise, made necessary due to the preceding system's (Timocracy) success.
This is also reflected in the war against European man, who produced the forces that now confront him and threaten to make him extinct, due to his dominance.
Dominance, leading to control, producing sheltering, which then produces weakness through which the memetic virus sneaks through, finding ready ground in minds that intuitively feel that their existence is owed to a human intervention, and so their continuance must also depend on maintaining and increasing this human intervention upon nature.
The memetic virus, mentioned, offered an ingenious and dominant inversion, to aid in this process.
It usurps, theoretically (noetically) all natural hierarchies, replacing them with its inversion, satisfying the psychological needs of the majority.

Fifth, Democracy as it is practiced in the west, presently, is founded no another compromise, made to deal with Marxism, another offshoot of the Abrahamic triad (Judaism - Christianity/Islam).
Middle Class was a construct, permitted to act as a buffer between the upper and the lower classes.
This was made obvious when the Berlin Wall ushered in a new age of Abrahamic adaptations.
Benefits given to the Middle Class, to keep them happy, are now gradually taken back, in an effort to rearrange the political dynamics to accord with the Modern global realpolitik.
Cold War, as I said elsewhere, was truly an internal struggle over which branch of Abrahamism would dominate, as a result the Marxist branch, represented by the Soviet Union, succumbed to the faster production rates of the western lie - American dream, where the slave was convinced and converted to a willing participant in its own exploitation.
Force gave way to psychological manipulation, or Bernay's application of his uncle Freud's insights - now called politics, or marketing.  
Philosophy could not have remained unsoiled by this trend.
Propaganda reaching a new level of sophistication, manipulating human nature, which is then denied relevance, to cover its own tracks.
in the east Buddhism became what Christianity/Islam was in the west - population and resource pressures necessitating the training of more docile, tolerant, less egotistical, self-less, as in ignorant of self, individuals, where individual ceases to have its Hellenic meaning, but is code for total disconnection from past/nature.  
American, so called, Individuality, is a divide and conquer, method, to castrate the individual before releasing him as a free-radical, to discover himself in relation to the immediate.
The me-me generations followed...easy to exploit and manipulate, because they had no other reference point but the current, the Modern.
Like anchor-less ships they were lost to the winds and currents, constructing their sense of self, their identity from the most immediate - shallow.

New World order was how the American Empire declared itself free form all past practices and alliances.
Protestant psychology finding a soul-mate in Judaism, both victims of past nobility.
Democracy was reinvented, with its hidden elites, and its makeshift voting processes, applying Bernay's methods.

Sixth, the desire to transplant Democracy, american style, into alien to its traditions genetic groups, is proof that genes manifest as memes, and when they are adopted they fail to take...like a transplanted organ can be rejected by the recipient's DNA.
A meme born of a particular genetic heritage, cannot flourish in an alien body, but can only be mimicked - Negro riots when law and roder crumbles is also evidence of how imitation cracks under stress and the true nature of the individual comes forth.
I call this the personae/character divide, or the prive and the public man.
This is so for all humans forced to coexist with alien, to them, DNA - an exoteric pretense, covering up a repressed, secret inner esoteric self.
When the external culture is alien to the individual's DNA, his genetic inheritance, the pressures increase, resulting in psychosis.
Negroes born and raised within European systems are suffering from this kind of psychosis. The imitation fails them, and having no past to draw sustenance from, or be proud of, they immerse themselves in the materialism of their immediate environment. They build a hyper-masculine armour, which si then sold to Caucasian and Asian boys, products of this Modern system of alienation.

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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Sat Sep 10, 2016 11:01 am

Thank you for your contributions, Satyr. I hope you find the article stimulating. As you will likely notice, democracy becomes rather a minor subject and even in its prominence is part of a scheme toward other arguments.

I do not think the world historical situation is oriented by a dichotomy of democracy or tyranny, or anything so simple as that. In fact I hope it would be clear from previous posts on this threat, though I haven't yet added The Federalist, that in the most fundamental aspect our democracy is a myth. This is significant not least because even when the author of the article refers to democracy he is enforcing its myth which I am certain he knows full well since he explicitly references The Federalist.

I hope you will find that the significance of this article, particularly in its current-historical aspect, lies beyond a simple dichotomy such as democracy or tyranny.

That being said, I would recommend particular attention to the arguments proposed alternatively to democracy in the first part of the article, because they are significant to the implication that is futher extrapolated as the article goes on, and of course for the context of human education in modern society for -> ?
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Sat Sep 10, 2016 11:07 am

I did not offer a dichotomy....I offered Timocracy, the system that made Democracy possible, and necessary.
Timocracy was not tyranny.
You will find it described [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] and in Hanson's book The Other Greeks.

Democracy was not what destroyed Hellenism, but it was a symptom of its decline.
Now Democracy is considered the height of civilization, meaning that it is either not practiced, but only sold, or decline is part of the current system's zeitgeist...perpetual victimhood.

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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Sat Sep 10, 2016 11:24 am

Satyr wrote:
I did not offer a dichotomy.... 

Yes, sorry, I was unclear with my post. I meant that my intention in sharing the article was not part of a scheme in advocacy of democracy. I thought it might come across that way because of the title of the article and its opening subject matter.

I have read your Timocracy thread before because, inevitably, I often speak of political circumstance and get referred to it. I cannot make any commentary on it as yet because I do not feel like I have advanced to the point of political theory, which is why I am as yet concerned with ethics if you will alow that as a broader term including human behaviour with consideration of an environment (and so not merely ideal circumstance).

I have nonetheless taken it upon myself to become engaged with politics as it is socially recognized because I do not feel that effort and focus are being driven by proper priorities.

I think Peter Sloterdijk might touch on an important issue in his Critique of Cynical Reason, because in ethical considerations, suspicion of deception can end up interfering with central concerns of making reasoned decisions in light of broader knowledge.

I hope the pervasiveness of multi-national corporate power also becomes evident in the article, which I think is significant in its academic context, particularly since the university in whose curriculum this is assigned is publicly funded.
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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Sat Sep 10, 2016 11:40 am

I did not mistake your article as an attempt to defend democracy.

Globalism has now come to mean Americanism, making the work of hypocrites easier.
Reaction to the recent Brexit, revealed an association which is similar in confusion as that associated with the concept Nihilism.
When a word has been entrenched in the mind of the pseudo-intellectual in relation to a previous definition, it is difficult to use it at all without evoking this connection, or to place it in its proper context.

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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Sat Sep 10, 2016 11:59 am

Ironically, a return to Sparta, mentioned towards the end, would mean a return to racial identities, making the author's an important part of western 'civilization's" decline towards apathy, and multiculturalism, within which minority groups, such as his dominating own, become invisible within a population blinded by ideology.  

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PostSubject: Re: History of Political Philosophy Sat Sep 10, 2016 12:44 pm

Something I found significant is the subtle use of economic growth as the consummation of political action:

Robert D. Kaplan wrote:
Under its authoritarian system China has dramatically improved the quality of life for hundreds of millions of its people. My point, hard as it may be for Americans to accept, is that Russia may be failing in part because it is a democracy and China may be succeeding in part because it is not. [...]  Had the student demonstrations in 1989 in Tiananmen Square led to democracy, would the astoundingly high economic growth rates of the 1990s still obtain?

This strategy of argument is of course part of a lead up to statements such as,

Robert D. Kaplan wrote:
Because tottering democracies and despotic militaries frighten away the investors required to create jobs for violence-prone youths, more hybrid regimes will perforce emerge. They will call themselves democracies, and we may go along with the lie [...]

and, after his expressions of the economic faith, he ultimately moves on to the assertions of economic determinism,

Robert D. Kaplan wrote:
For years idealists have dreamed of a "world government." Well, a world government has been emerging—quietly and organically, the way vast developments in history take place. I do not refer to the United Nations, the power of which, almost by definition, affects only the poorest countries. [...] Rather, I refer to the increasingly dense ganglia of international corporations and markets that are becoming the unseen arbiters of power in many countries. It is much more important nowadays for the leader of a developing country to get a hearing before corporate investors at the World Economic Forum than to speak before the UN General Assembly. [...] Of the world's hundred largest economies, fifty-one are not countries but corporations. While the 200 largest corporations employ less than three fourths of one percent of the world's work force, they account for 28 percent of world economic activity. The 500 largest corporations account for 70 percent of world trade. Corporations are like the feudal domains that evolved into nation-states; they are nothing less than the vanguard of a new Darwinian organization of politics. Because they are in the forefront of real globalization while the overwhelming majority of the world's inhabitants are still rooted in local terrain, corporations will be free for a few decades to leave behind the social and environmental wreckage they create—abruptly closing a factory here in order to open an unsafe facility with a cheaper work force there. Ultimately, as technological innovations continue to accelerate and the world's middle classes come closer together, corporations may well become more responsible to the cohering global community and less amoral in the course of their evolution toward new political and cultural forms.

Robert D. Kaplan wrote:
I PUT special emphasis on corporations because of the true nature of politics: who does and who doesn't have power. To categorize accurately the political system of a given society, one must define the significant elements of power within it. [...] Of course, the influence that corporations wield over government and the economy is so vast and obvious that the point needs no elaboration. But there are other, more covert forms of emerging corporate power. [...] Dennis Judd, an urban-affairs expert at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, told me recently, "It's nonsense to think that Americans are individualists. Deep down we are a nation of herd animals: micelike conformists who will lay at our doorstep many of our rights if someone tells us that we won't have to worry about crime and our property values are secure. We have always put up with restrictions inside a corporation which we would never put up with in the public sphere. But what many do not realize is that life within some sort of corporation is what the future will increasingly be about."

Robert D. Kaplan wrote:
Universities, too, are being redefined by corporations. [...] "This is the future," said the chancellor of the Omaha campus, Del Weber. "Universities will have to become entrepreneurs, working with corporations on curriculum [emphasis mine] and other matters, or they will die."

Robert D. Kaplan wrote:
Corporations, which are anchored neither to nations nor to communities, have created strip malls, edge cities, and Disneyesque tourist bubbles. Developments are not necessarily bad: they provide low prices, convenience, efficient work forces, and, in the case of tourist bubbles, safety. We need big corporations. Our society has reached a level of social and technological complexity at which goods and services must be produced for a price and to a standard that smaller businesses cannot manage. We should also recognize, though, that the architectural reconfiguration of our cities and towns has been an undemocratic event—with decisions in effect handed down from above by an assembly of corporate experts.

"The government of man will be replaced by the administration of things," the Enlightenment French philosopher Henri de Saint-Simon prophesied. We should worry that experts will channel our very instincts and thereby control them to some extent.
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