PP101: Political Philosophy, an Overview

Image of Voting BoothI mentioned earlier that the conservatives were throwing around the words Socialist and Socialism when talking about Health Care Reform and proposed changes to the Income Tax System. I think it would be a good idea to examine just what these words mean and how they fit into the broader political Spectrum.

I won’t do it all in one post!!

I know that 1000+ words creating a solid mass of text on a computer screen is not necessarily an attractive feature. I will take the subject one piece at a time. I hope you will stick around for the entire course of my reflection.

I will compare and contrast many ideas of political and economic thought and philosophy from Capitalism to Socialism to Communism and what it means to live in a Democracy, Republic, or Dictatorship. These terms are not all mutually exclusive. You can have a Capitalistic Dictatorship and a Socialist Democracy.

Modern usage has skewed the meaning of some of these terms. We call Communism a political system when in reality it is an economic system. Likewise Democracy, a political system, has been mistaken for Capitalism, an economic system.

Historically, political systems have tended more toward Dictatorships than Democracies. Monarchs, Emperors, or Czars ruled by fiat. Though they would have advisers, they had the last word. And often the advisers who survived are the ones that agreed with the advisee.

Many of these leaders were hereditary. But many were conquerors. They could maintain their status by being good to their subjects. The philosophy that justifies Monarchy states that if the ruler has great power and wealth they have the responsibility to protect the people under their influence. The subjects trade safety for obedience.

Others ruled by fear. If they didn’t obey the government could incarcerate, torture, or kill them. Even if that meant given up claim to any property they had or needed for their own survival. Sons sent to continual wars, pantries emptied to pay taxes, property given up for the ruler’s pleasure. Even wives could be taken and used as desired by the ruler.

Here’s a brief list of future topics:

  • Capitalism, Socialism, Communism:  Definitions
  • Democracy, Republicanism, Dictatorship:  Definition
  • Examples of Traditional Political Systems
  • Examples of Economic Systems
  • Modern Examples of Political-Economic Systems
  • Why Words Cause Fear to so Many Americans
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