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That government is best which governs not at all (Henry David Thoreau; Civil disobedience, 1849)



Henry David Thoreau, an American author, poet, philosopher, historian, in his essay Civil disobedience said as I guess, very wise phrase. That government is best which governs not at all. Some people believe that Thoreau just paraphrased Thomas Jefferson, an American Founding Father, who said one day "That government is best which governs least" which means that a perfect government should leave the people alone to govern themselves individually, that any government is just an exploitative machine. The less government we have, the better said a friend of Thoreau. Talking about political ideologies I can say that it is a Liberal approach to the concept of government. Liberals suppose that government should serve to people, but not to intrude into citizens lives. Every person is supposed to be free, without being pressured by a government. And it's more in terms of government doing things like dealing with wars and other governments.

In addition I personally vehemently agree with all these American political figures in his view of government. Especially, it can be said in this manner in respect of our country. Cause our political elite often takes steps in pursuit of own venal objectives, not in favour of Russian people.

 

3) The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways: the point is to change it (Karl Marx: Theses on Feuerbach, 1845)

Karl Marx, a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement. During his lifetime he published various books such as The Communist Manifesto and Capital. Not less known are his eleven short philosophical notes united by him under a title Theses on Feuerbach. It was a critique of the ideas of Marx's fellow Young Hegelian philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach. Among these 11 notes there is one that deserves special consideration. It says that philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways: the point is to change it. I guess that it's possible through observation to interpret how we think, but to philosophize about it is rather pointless because it changes nothing. Karl Marx is trying to say here that knowledge only goes so far. Generations of philosophers have gained knowledge off of each other and themselves, but it comes down to personal change in how we think and view the world. We are all one in one reality but your world is different from say mine or Karl Marx's. Whenever philosophers interpret they use thought of what they know, and say they know.



 

4) Democracy is the worst form of government except all the other forms that have been tried. (W. Churchill, Speech, UK Commons, 1947)

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a British Conservative politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He was a man of amazing thoughts and ideas. Nowadays, lots of people quote Churchill. His quotations really deserve special consideration. One of these was said at the meeting of The UK Commons in 1947. Talking about forms of government he said that a lot of polities have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

I feel that this phrase can be considered to be an expression demonstrating Churchills views of democracy. It means that in spite of his first words Democracy is the worst form he believes it to be the best form of government. It can be proved by his House of Commons speech in 1944: elected representatives decide what form of government they wish to have in their country. If that is democracy, I salute it. I espouse it. I would work for it.

I join to Churchills opinion. Democracy is by all means the most appropriate. But I personally believe that democracy should be limited, cause under an absolute democracy the state machine (because of impossibility of effective government of people) begins to malfunction and that often results in political disorder and chaos.

 

5) No citizen shall be rich enough to buy another, and none as poor as to be forced to sell himself proposed Rousseau.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a French philosopher and writer. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.

Rousseau was an outstanding follower of liberalism. He is famous for his own theory of Social Contract. So he criticized T. Hobbes, English philosopher of 16th century and a founder of the conception of Social Contract, because he considered Hobbess theory as a main reason of creation of the modern state where the rich and the powerful impose their will and that entails inequality as a fundamental feature of human society.

The extreme spirit of democratic liberty which is the characteristic of Rousseau's political philosophy led to the creation of various doctrines of equality. It can be proved by his own words "no one citizen should be rich enough to buy another, and no one as poor as to be forced to sell himself." This phrase clearly emphasizes political views of French philosopher. All his thoughts were devoted to equality, equality in everything.

Certainly, to my mind, it is an utopian idea, because equality is impossible even theoretically. A modern life proves it once again. But in the 18th century it seemed feasible to Rousseau and other figures of the French Revolution. They wanted people to live better. The revolution has won, but humans didnt become equal. Moreover, in some aspects, they became more unequal than before.

6) War, in our scientific age, means, sooner or later, universal death (Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays, 1950)

Bertrand Arthur William Russell was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic. Russell was a prominent anti-war activist; he championed anti-imperialism and went to prison for his pacifism during World War I. Later, he campaigned against Adolf Hitler, then criticised Stalinist totalitarianism, attacked the United States of America's involvement in the Vietnam War, and was an outspoken proponent of nuclear disarmament. He devoted lots of works to the problem of disarmament. One Russell's most characteristic and self-revealing books was Unpopular essays, published in 1950. It caused a considerable resonance in the society. One phrase in this book really deserves our attention. Russell says that War, in our scientific age, means, sooner or later, universal death. Its a rather wise and just statement. I think, It is necessary to mention that this book was written after the invention of nuclear weapon. And so, to my mind, this quotation reminds us on the one hand that in the period of the Cold War nuclear weapon is a deterrent thanks to which there was no war. But on the other hand if it used, for instance, at the moment of Caribbean Crisis it could lead to disappearance of the world.
SO, of course, being also pacifist, I completely agree with Mr. Russell in his view of nuclear weapon and weapon in whole.

 

7) The strongest is never strong enough unless he turns right into might and obedience into duty. Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Social contract (1862)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a French philosopher and writer. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.

Rousseau was an outstanding follower of liberalism. He is famous for his own theory of Social Contract. So he criticized T. Hobbes, English philosopher of 16th century and a founder of the conception of Social Contract, because he considered Hobbess theory as a main reason of creation of the modern state where the rich and the powerful impose their will and that entails inequality as a fundamental feature of human society.

So, in 1762 he wrote a book, causing a significant resonance. It is Social Contract or Principles of Political Right. He fought for popular sovereignty not for a representative democracy because he supposed that freedom could be only provided that a direct rule of people was clearly prescribed in laws. Thereby Rousseaus quote The strongest is never strong enough unless he turns right into might and obedience into duty is very interesting. I guess that Rousseau means here that a sovereign must legitimate his power. Indeed, force doesnt create right. Legitimacy is the only way to make people obey. Lots of philosophers said it before Rousseau. And I completely agree with all of them. Only legal sovereigns, if I may use this expression, can hope that their rule will be stable and successive.

 

8) If elections changed anything theyd abolish it. The title of the book by Ken Livingstone (1987)

Therere a lot of controversies about attribution of this quote. Some say that it was Andrew Lack, onetime president of NBC (National Broadcasting Company) who first used this phrase concerning the 2000 presidential election in the USA. But almost allowedly this quote is in fact the title of K. Livingstones book. So, Kenneth Robert Livingstone is a British Labour Party politician. And being a Mayor of London in 1987 he published his political tract with elements of autobiography which was called If voting changed anything theyd abolish it.

Here I should mention Emma Goldman, a famous anarchist known for her political activism, writing and speeches. In fact she initiated the so-called non-voting strategy when she said If voting changed anything, theyd make it illegal. It means that voting does not make any positive difference. Political power and influence all the same continues to rest with the economic and political elite.

Certainly, Livingstone, beingBritish left-wing politician, proceeded from Goldmans statement. After all, the UK is a bright example of political changing. We know that there is two-party system in the Great Britain which is led by Conservative and Labour parties. The politics of these parties is different, especially, if we are talking about economic sphere. And in case of the Conservatives victory the privatization process occurs while the victory of the Labors leads to nationalization. It means that they always abolish activities of each other. My point in this respect is that its a shadow of the past. Nowadays, different political forces dont have a priority target to abolish all reforms of previous Governments.

 

9) Class is the basis of British party politics; all else is embellishment and detail. Peter Pulzer (1967)

Social class (or simply "class") is a set of concepts in the social sciences and political theory centered on models of stratification in which people are grouped into a set of hierarchical social categories. Marxian Class Theory is a broad range of social concepts related to the study of Marxism. According to this theory society is divided to social layers (strata). Each of them has its own political views which influence their choices during the elections.

Peter Pulzer, a famous British professor, declared some time Class is the basis of British party politics; all else is embellishment and detail. Im personally in favour of these words. After all, if we are talking about the Great Britain, for example, workers would rather vote for the Labours, but private owner - for the Conservatives. I guess you agree with a statement that nearly all personal qualities are built during childhood and adolescence. And the Pulzers quotation once again reminds us about the fact that the origins of politicians regardless of their ideological views, influence their political activity.

10) Like all channels of political communication, elections are a two-way street that provides the government and the people, the elite and the masses, with the opportunity to influence one another.

 

An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office.[1] Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century. This is nearly the only way of legitimation of the authorities. Each election introduces into the political life a new order which is set by newly elected power. In this respect Id like to clarify meaning of a well-known aphorism concerning election institute. According this saying, elections, like all channels of political communication, are a two-way street that provides the government and the people, the elite and the masses, with the opportunity to influence one another. The fact is that during the pre-election campaign both voters and candidates can influence each other. Candidates have to consider popular opinions, wishes and interests. At the same time the elite itself can manipulate voters by means of mass-media, propaganda and so on. Also a usual way to deserve confidence of voters is giving pre-election pledges.

In summary, election institute plays a significant role. On the one hand, it is a good means for voters to make the elite consider popular aspirations. On the other hand, this is the best way for the power-seeking to achieve their own aims and legitimate their rule.

 

11) In politics, shared hatreds are almost always the basis of friendship Alexis de Tocqueville :Democracy in America (1835)

Alexis de Tocqueville was a French political thinker and historian, an eminent representative of the classical liberal political tradition. He is best known for his Democracy in America and The Old Regime and the Revolution. In both of these works, he explored the effects of the rising equality of social conditions on the individual and the state in western societies. Democracy in America (1835), his major work, published after his travels in the United States, is today considered an early work of sociology and political science. So Tocqueville is also famous for lots of his quotes. For example, in Democracy in America he said In politics, shared hatreds are almost always the basis of friendship. And indeed, hatred is a very serious and strong feeling and, to my mind, if you experience this feeling in relation to somebody, you respect this person and regard him as an individual who is able to confront you and who is equal. And these facts just prove that former enemies may become real friends both in politics and in ordinary life, because you wont make friendship with that person who isnt respected by you.

But, on the other hand, its allowedly that in politics you cannot have friends, cause, as Machiavelli said Theres no moral in politics. Being based on this point of view, I can say that Tocquevilles statement is wrong.

However, if not to take it into consideration and to assume that moral can be a feature of politics, I completely agree with a French political thinker in his view of friendship in politics.

 

12) When parties cease to fear the ballot box, they are likely to become unresponsive and ideologically entrenched


An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office.[1] Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century. This is nearly the only way of legitimation of the authorities.

In this respect Andy Heywood, the leading writer of politics textbooks in the UK, said one day When parties cease to fear the ballot box, they are likely to become unresponsive and ideologically entrenched. And I completely agree with Mr. Heywood, cause when a party is too confident of its victory it starts not to implement electoral promises, solve social and economic problems, but it deals with such issues as party image, ideology, propaganda, and so forth. But for making a ruling/ leading party carry out pre-election pledges it is necessary to keep it within the condition of fear and to introduce the mechanisms of direct democracy. Thereby, only on the assumption of effective popular restrictions of power parties will really implement reforms in favour of people, not in their own ends.

 

13) My policy is to have no policy remark made by A. Lincoln to his secretary (1861)

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States. He successfully led his country through its greatest constitutional, military and moral crisis the American Civil War preserving the Union while ending slavery, and promoting economic and financial modernization. Lincoln has been consistently ranked by scholars and the public as one of the three greatest U.S. presidents.

Talking about his political life I can say that his guiding rule was: My policy is to have no policy. It was not that he was unprincipled; rather, he was a practical man, mentally nimble ( ). I guess that this quote is linked to the fact that Lincoln belonged to the generation of liberals who reduced the role of the government to the activity of night watchman. This night watchman mustnt interfere into the life of society and especially into the market activity. The state's only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud, and the only legitimate governmental institutions are the military, police, and courts.

On the other hand, this quotation can also be understood as the fact that Lincoln had no political or philosophical ideology. He belonged to politicians whose principle was going downstream.

So, I feel that we cant define exactly what Lincoln meant. But Im in favour of the second point of view, according to which Lincoln just had no guiding political principles that would help identify his ideological postulates.

14) Where you stand depends where you sit, - aphorism

Where you stand depends where you sit, this maxim ( ) can be attributed to Nelson Mandela, a South African politician who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. Before being elected President, Mandela was a militant anti-apartheid activist. In 1962 he was arrested and convicted of sabotage and other charges, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Mandela went on to serve 27 years in prison. As President, he frequently gave priority to reconciliation, while introducing policies aimed at combating poverty and inequality in South Africa.

From my point of view N. Mandelas aphorism means that you have chosen a side in some kind of debate, so you "sit" on the side of a particular issue. Stand" here means what you approve of. Therefore, the position you take on a matter depends on where you are situated in life. In other words, you behave in a way that serves your own interests.

This is a really wise saying. In the field of politics, it can be demonstrated when were talking about incapacity of high-ranking officials to understand the problems of common people because of the difference of social positions.

15) What people see and understand is, to an extent, what their concepts and values allow them, or encourage them, to see and understand.

You see what you want to see and you hear what you want to hear. This is a meaning of a maxim What people see and understand is, to an extent, what their concepts and values allow them, or encourage them, to see and understand. Indeed, nearly all people pursue their own interests. Interests appear under some value paradigms of individuals. People see the world through the prism of their own outlook. Because of this they cant be objective and impartial.

In the field of politics it can be demonstrated on the example of authorities-citizens relations. After all, their values and concepts are always different. Therefore, to maintain legitimacy is a very hard task for the political elite.

I personally agree with this aphorism. Sometimes, I notice this fact in my behaviour. Indeed I do what I see right to do. My life views correct my behaviour in one or another situation.

 

16) In the absence of government, life would be solitary, poor, nasty (), brutish () and short, - T. Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy. His 1651 book Leviathan established the foundation for most of Western political philosophy from the perspective of social contract theory. He was one of the founders of modern political philosophy. His understanding of humans, obeying the same physical laws, remains influential; and his account of human nature as self-interested cooperation, and of political communities as being based upon a "social contract" remains one of the major topics of political philosophy.

Indeed, in his most famous work Leviathan. Hobbes set out his doctrine of the foundation of states and legitimate governments originating social contract theory. Leviathan was written during the English Civil War; much of the book is occupied with demonstrating the necessity of a strong central authority to avoid the evil of discord and civil war. Therefore, he often said In the absence of government, life would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. He meant that all people are by nature evil, having own interest which they pursue by means of brute force. Thats why Hobbes suggests people to conclude a Social Contract. According to it, people give a part of their sovereignty to a ruler. And he governs and such a way sets the order and stability.

As for me, I completely agree in the respect that the absence of government results in chaos. But I dont agree with his theory of Social Contract. To my mind, Rousseaus theory of Social Contract is more just and up-to-date.

17) if few of us are originators, we are all sound () judges of policy, - Pericles (43 BCE)

Pericles was a prominent and influential Greek statesman, orator, politician, philosopher and creator of Athens democracy. During the period of his ruling Athens lived in prosperity. Certainly, he left after himself a lot of maxims. One of such quotes is his saying that "We alone regard a man who takes no interest in public affairs, not as a harmless; but as a useless character; and if few of us are originators, we are all sound judges of policy." To my mind, Pericles maxim means that if you are not a part of the political process, then you are useless, and have no reason to complain about the laws that are passed. And indeed there is the wide-spread criticism of politicians from the population. Every legal and legitimate government is in danger, because it can become irregular because of discontent of the citizens who voted for it before. As it was possible in Ancient Greece its also possible nowadays. Nothing changes in politics. It continues to live by the same laws.





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