Archive for the ‘Section 6’ Category

The Problem of Global Capitalism

After one hundred and fifty years, Avineri’s reassessment of The Communist Manifesto’s close minded view of capitalism as an unchanging industry “dependent largely on machinery that was powered by steam derived from burning coal” raises interesting issues. The Communist Manifesto presents a compelling and eloquent argument misused by power-hungry oligarchs of history and Avineri asserts that there is more to be gleaned from this document he asserts was “intended to be a key to the hieroglyph of history.” He, seemingly accurately, describes the living entity of a capitalist nation and a government’s ability to adapt it to society’s needs in a way that Marx could not foresee. However, this should not entirely discredit Marx’s view on the weaknesses of capitalism.

Avineri makes the assessment that “an internal polarization between capitalists and proletarians” has been translated to “an external one between ‘capitalist’ and ‘proletarian’ nations.” His assertion that a global capitalist environment has emerged is particularly interesting and deserves further comment. This is something not heavily addressed by Marx, who believed capitalism would give way to revolution internally, but is important to our nation as we continue to exercise relations with other countries.

It is important because a global economy resembling capitalism has drawbacks similar to those outlined by The Communist Manifesto and therefore our nation must be conscious of this similarity if it hopes to adapt. I assert this because global capitalism is causing our nation to police the world. Currently there exist, whether we are willing to admit it or not, bourgeoise nations and proletariat nations. Furthermore, it is the general consensus that we exist as a bourgeoise nation, and this creates understandable unrest and resentment between the nations we exploit. Avineri asserts that it is here Marx and Engles are justified in their assessment of capitalism:

“[Marx and Engles] have been vindicated by the facts of globalization—the sweatshops of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, with their child labor, their horrendously unsanitary working and living conditions, and their lack of minimum-wage laws and basic social welfare networks. Here, then, are the successors of the sweatshops of London’s East End or New York’s Lower East Side.”

It is here that the assessment made in The Communist Manifesto seems much more applicable to modern life. It is perhaps a harsh view of America’s international politics, but it must be acknowledged that we are an unwelcome presence in many lives overseas and our first interest is our own nation. Overwhelming majorities in many countries are beginning to speak out against our imperialistic tendencies. For example, our presence in Latin America is actively and vocally detested in many of the countries, yet we stand our ground. While it is a complicated issue, America should reassess its (especially military) presence in the world. We should actively transform our capitalist outlook in the way Avineri suggests is possible internally in a nation. He makes an excellent point about the transformative nature of capitalism as its saving grace. This should not be overlooked by our international relations.

  • Avineri, Shlomo. The Communist Manifesto at 150.
  • Lavaque-Manty, Mika. “After Marx.” Polsci 101. Angel Aud. B, Ann Arbor. 14 Dec. 2009. Lecture.

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Burke’s Necessary Drapery

Burkes stance on the necessity of “pleasing illusions” to a successful government is particularly interesting when examined. He explicitly states that it is crucial that the government be run from the inside, with very little transparency, by those worth to run it. He sees humanity as incapable of individual judgement; his lack of faith, to some, could be seen as demeaning to the general public. Most people would like to believe that they can aspire to be more than a “swinish multitude” — this ideal of aspiration is central to the foundation of the American Dream.

Despite the negative picture his assertion paints of humanity, I am tempted to agree with the basis of what Burke presents; there is a multitude in America that needs to be told what it wants to hear, that should view the government from behind a veil, and that relies on an illusion of happiness. Citizens that deny the presence of these illusions in our present government are not looking hard enough, and those that would venture to argue they should be removed should prepare for chaos. This viewpoint may look like a path to dystopia, and understandably so; however, I think it is fair to assume that a good number of my peers would agree that not everyone is fit to govern — is only a step away from my thinking. Furthermore, not all the “decent drapery of life” are inherently wicked. As Burke ventures (which I feel he is correct in doing), religion is among these and of paramount importance. Religion is well-intentioned and does not aim to deceive, but does act to pacify the general public. It gives people a sense of security and community, and is subsequently used to the advantage of many politicians.

The view I hold is easily misconstrued; I do not see it as black and white or as harsh as Burke does, and I do have concessions. While I do agree that the general public is not fit to govern and not all are meant to learn, I do not agree with the way Burke distinguishes between the governed and those fit to govern. There is a middle-ground that he does not acknowledge; people exist that do not fit their circumstances and, if it seems rational to try, can learn and surpass their standing. I realize that this retracts a good portion of Burke’s theory about the people, but I feel it is a necessary concession. In short, a person should be under the illusions Burke sets forth, unless that person has the power to remove it. Only when people reach the seat of governance should they see the other side of the veil.

This is how I feel at the present; however, I welcome criticism and would like to the opportunity to look at the issue from my fellow classmates’ perspective.

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Was America’s use of the atomic bomb against Japan justified?  Was its use really necessary to end the war?

We may never know; it’s a hypothetical, hindsight, what if situation.  It probably wasn’t necessary, seeing as the rest of the Axis was defeated by then, but there is no doubt that the use of the atom bomb was efficient in ending the war and saved American lives.  Was it right, however, to kill a couple hundred thousand Japanese, most of which were civilians?  In Walzer’s sense of utilitarianism, it was certainly justified for President Harry Truman to dirty his hands.

Truman had two options:  use the atomic bomb and end the war swiftly, while killing tens of thousands of innocents, or wage war in a more traditional air, land and sea approach, which would certainly increase American casualties while possibly allowing another attack on the US, and prolong the war indefinitely.

The utilitarian concerned solely with American interests would most certainly agree with President Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb; it provided the greatest benefit to the greatest number of Americans.  Today’s utilitarian concerned with mankind in general should also agree that the American development and use of the atomic bomb was the right choice, for it provided the greatest benefit for not only Americans, but the greatest number of humans as well.  For, at the moment, the use of the bomb not only prevented prolonged warfare, but, also has effectively prevented future use of the atomic bomb.  Truman’s use of the atomic bomb on Japan showed the world the devastating consequences of nuclear warfare and future implications of a future world war using atomic bombs, which would almost certainly result in total destruction of the world.

Was the American government’s choice to develop the atom bomb wrong in and of itself?  In a world driven by progress, someone else (namely, Germany, according to Einstein) was bound to harness the power of uranium chain reactions, so the U.S.  cannot be blamed for the invention of nuclear weapons; the U.S. simply developed the power first.  On a side note, development of the atom bomb also helped to develop nuclear power as a viable energy resource.

Utilitarianism or not, it appears that Truman and the U.S. were right to get their hands dirty.

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Niccolò Machiavelli, in The Prince, describes important qualities and attributes a “ruler” must have in order to govern a successful nation. The main quality I want to focus on is “Is it better to be loved or hated as a ruler”. Machiavelli states that an efficient ruler must possess both qualities. However, as he goes on in Chapter 12 he comes to the conclusion that being hated is better than being loved. I feel that a country of people who are truly in love with their ruler will have greater prosperity in the future. If the ruler has found a way to gain the love of his subordinates, there is a sense that they who do anything to protect him and the country even if it means giving up their life. I think the bond of true love wouldn’t be broken in times of despair and hardship, I think it is actually made stronger in those times.

For example lets look at the horrific disaster that took place on 9/11. When a terrorist regime hi-jacked United States airplanes and crash them into the World Trade Center, and a few other places. Thousands of people died that morning and families we shook at their roots. However, the United States didn’t tremble, the love and passion that our country holds helped us ultimately win the fight against terrorism. Even though, the Bush adminstration was and still is under question about their motives and intentions in getting involved in the Middle East, the country stayed strong and fought the battle together. Another key is that Bush’s approval rating was at its highest peak during the weeks following 9/11, this indicates that the citizens of the U.S. fully trusted the actions that the government was taking. The trust didn’t come because of fear, it came from the affection which is the underlying theme of our country.

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