Political philosophy is the study of the all-encompassing makeup of a government broken down into its simplest components to test its legitimacy as a governing body.
Also known as a political theory, this deeply involved study considers the rights, laws, liberties, property, justice, and politics that are deployed by the government in question and meant to be both utilized and followed by the people in which it is established for.
Political philosophy works as a benchmark of sorts to determine the efficacy and efficiency of government in terms of its potential of working as the ruling body of a particular set of individuals determined by state or country lines.
This study also works as a set of checks and balances of sorts to figure out if the political system is worthy of being followed by the people or whether it is justly worthy of potentially being overthrown by those same people.
The preceding was the formal explanation of the field of study that is political philosophy,but the term also is commonly used as a more casual description of the beliefs, ideals, and views of a particular set of politics.
Political philosophy asks the questions of whether or not a system of governing principles is necessary. This incredibly important branch of philosophy asks us as a people to dig deep into the set of rules and principles established by our governments to allow us to think for ourselves and discover what is working for us and also against us as law abiding citizens.
Without us, the government would be nothing, so we must find it in ourselves to become a part of the solution to the current issues that are dividing us as a people by actively learning of all of the components of our governing body.
As citizens, we should be encouraged to support the components of our government that are working, but we must also be willing to question what is clearly not in order to start a movement to correct these issues in a civilized manner.
We as a people are truly stronger together and we must put aside our differences for the benefit and greater good of all and put an end to the divisiveness that is currently tearing us apart.
Before delving deeper into the principles of political philosophy intended to allow you to develop a healthy relationship with your government, we will first shed light on the origins of the important branch of understanding.
Origins of Western Political Philosophy
Political philosophy has roots all over the world including India and China, but for the sake of shining light on the origins of the westernized iteration, we will focus on its beginnings in ancient Greece.
At a time when city-states such as Athens were forming their models for the optimal form of government, those in command went through all of the potential options including monarchy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy and tyranny. These five options were laid out by the renowned philosopher, Plato in hopes that the people would decide for themselves the best form of government that would suit as many as possible.
During this time, Plato would release his most well-known work titled, Republic, which would work as the basis for Western political philosophy.
The main goal of Plato’s Republic would be to decipher exactly what the most efficient and balanced understanding of order and justice would be to the city-state and those of which lived under it.
Plato would goon to lay out the five forms of government in a manner in which a metaphorical man would represent each form.
This visualization technique would work to show how the five men or governments were related to one another and how each could evolve or devolve into the other when presented with certain circumstances.
Aristocracy and the Oligarchy
Aristocracy was represented by the aristocratic man or philosopher king and was the form of government that Plato was in favor of.
In this form of government, the philosopher king at the head of the ruling class would be a man of tremendous personal integrity. This philosopher king would center his rule on love and understanding and would base his existence on firm roots in wisdom, knowledge, intelligence, understanding, and compassion.
Directly underneath this omnipotent group of philosophers would be the ruling class who would focus and dedicate their lives to ensuring that the orders and teachings of the kings were followed at all times.
This middle ruling class would make sure that the majority of people underneath them would abide by the rules set forth by the philosopher kings.
In this system, the ruling class would work to bring out the very best in the majority of people of the city-state. Both the philosopher kings and members of the ruling class would be unable to own property or material possessions – keeping them away from the need for material possessions.
Free from materialism and a need for ownership, these heads of the government would have a clear mind to focus on only the best interests of those beneath them that required guidance.
The kings and ruling class would work to nurture and guide the common man towards a life of intelligence, understanding, and wisdom. This common class and majority of individuals would be the only ones allowed to own land.
Plato believed that this supreme form of government could devolve into a timocracy if those of the ruling class started to shy away from their principles and began to abuse their power for personal and monetary gain.
These ideas would quickly lead to the belief that only those that own property could participate in the government activities, an idea that would overshadow the heartfelt principles of the aristocracy.
Through further corruption, the timocratic man would further devolve into the oligarchic man and all-out oligarchy where a select few rule over the many. Through an oligarchy, all of the people of the city-state would be separated into the rich and the poor,allowing only those well off monetarily to truly prosper from the form of government.
Plato then believed that oligarchy would eventually further devolve into democracy which would flip the power to the poor
Due to their status of having little, they would divert all of their beliefs and goals into earning worldly possessions and monetary gain that would cloud their judgment on what is best for all.
The democracy would eventually break down into all-out anarchy where any semblance of order would be erased and open the doors to all-out chaos.
Plato’s views on government were extreme, but his views on wisdom, love, and compassion being the most important in terms of leading a group of people are something that we can all strive for to correct the downfalls of our current democracy.
Key Takeaways of the Political Philosophy of Our Democracy
Plato had several great points, but his views on democracy were incorrect in that when truly preserved and nurtured with the greater good of all in mind, it can work in a way that is best for every person in the United States.
Democracy can be an extremely effective form of government when the focus of monetary and materialistic gain is set aside for love, compassion, and understanding to be the driving forces of those appointed by us.
Democracy has been shown in our nation’s past that it can be extremely effective in allowing the governing body to represent the greater good of the people.
At some point, though, greed and corruption got in the way of this, which trickled down into the hearts and minds of all citizens.
We must take the time to tear away this tribe mentality of republicans and democrats and look instead to the character that makes up those who we have the right to elect to office.
The us-versus-them mentality has driven us to the point where respectful discourse is a thing of the past. A differing opinion was once seen as a chanc eto work things out to reach a middle ground of understanding. Now, if you do not agree with someone, it creates a state of anger and aggression that causes further party divides and manifests negativity leading to hatred.
Many of the principles set forth by our founding fathers truly had the best interests of us as a people in mind regarding the rights, laws, liberties, property, justice set forth for all of us to follow.
The checks and balances set forth worked for an impressive amount of time, but unfortunately,the difference of opinion of values which lead to the creation of different parties has gone too far. These opposing ideas in the form of two major parties used to allow for two healthy sides of an argument that would allow for common ground to be reached that would appease all.
Now there is no room for discussion as these differing views on every subject possible is causing us as a people to drift further and further away from each other.
Perhaps if we take the time to educate ourselves on all topics in question and bring the focus back to love and the betterment of all – we can bring back the universal values that once made our nation truly great.