Although socialism, capitalism, and communism offer various benefits to society, libertarianism’s strong valuation of individual freedoms, distributive justice, and the protection against state authority interference makes it the ideal form of government. The ideal societies are characterized by free citizens with equal and inalienable rights coexisting within an egalitarian social structure. Apart from the perennial and protracted challenges in political philosophy, it also involves determining how to deploy and limit public power in a way that enhances the quality of human life and maximizes social good. Philosophers such as John Locke, Aristotle, Plato, John Stuart Mills, Friedrich Engels, and Thomas Hobbes, among others, provided insightful ideas, concepts, and principles on how an ideal society should organize its affairs. These theorists extensively explored subjects such as liberty, justice, governments, legitimacy, and the enforcement of a legal code by authorities. Although socialist, communist, and capitalist philosophies assert the significance of centralized control, the resultant constriction of individual freedoms and liberties and governmental interference erode society’s happiness and quality of life.
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Comparison and Analysis of Political Philosophies and Principles
Political philosophers explore society’s most central and defining concepts, including the government, justice, politics, liberty, and legal code application by a legitimate authority. They discuss how people interrelate, establish nations, and maintain social order. Philosophers have formulated and advanced various political theories, such as libertarianism, socialism, capitalism, and communism, with each emphasizing distinctly specific components. For instance, liberalism, associated with Aristotle and John Locke, argue that individuals are ontologically and normatively primary with rights against forcible interference by governments or other institutions of authority. Conversely, communist philosophers, including Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, earnestly advocated for government intervention across all facets of an individual’s life, such as making economic decisions.
John Locke and Aristotle’s Libertarianism
John Locke and Aristotle’s political philosophy of libertarianism is anchored on the principles of robust private property rights and the minimization of forceful interference in the private choices of individuals. The two philosophers also believed in contractual freedoms and amplified the significance of liberty of conscience. From this perspective, libertarians view individuals as sovereign beings who cannot be compelled to act against their will without a strong justification. Additionally, people have the freedom to decide how to interact with their willing peers and reserve the inalienable prerogative and entitlement to control their bodies and work. Queiroz asserts that libertarians robustly accentuate individual freedoms and view people as sovereign, deserving of protection against despotic power and violations of their liberties (1). John Locke and Aristotle’s perception of libertarianism is predicated on the fact that the deprivation or limitations of these inherent prerogatives undermine individual freedom and tend to elevate those in power, entrenching inequality.
Further, libertarians view utilitarianism as the satisfaction of people’s preferences as long as they do not infringe or violate the rights of others. For instance, the imposition of a state religion, barriers to trade, authoritarianism, and absolute monarchies derogate individual liberties and diminish social happiness. In this regard, Aristotle and Locke’s philosophical assertion accentuates the elimination of governmental interferences, controls, and prohibitions creating utilitarianism where people can maximize their happiness by receiving or becoming what they want in life. Notably, utilitarianism does not promote individual happiness at the expense of social wellbeing. This implies that libertarianism promotes fairness and justice by enhancing impartiality and equal opportunities, making people responsible for their future.
Individuals can agree on numerous basic tenets of how they should relate, including in areas such as property ownership and inherently natural rights. However, Hobbes and Plato claim that justice and orderly coexistence can only be achieved under a unilateral set of laws established by a superior body that imposes limitations on the subjects. By elevating some individuals above others, the concept of equality is violated. In this regard, Aristotle expresses profound optimism in the individual’s ability to rationally reason and act when pursuing their economic, social, or property rights. There is a strong emphasis on the ethical primacy of human beings and coercing people into social collectivism by constitutional governments or other superior beings diminishes people’s autonomy, individuality, consent, and ultimately, their happiness. Therefore, the ideal society values liberal thought, believes in equality, individual liberty, limited governmental interference, and supports private property and inherent rights.
Plato and Thomas Hobbes Aristocratic Communism
While Aristotle and Locke championed individual freedoms, consent, and equality before the law, Plato and Hobbes’s philosophical standpoint argued for the creation of an aristocratic communist government. The latter’s political theories assert that no person holds the right to own property against the sovereign. Consequently, the government may expropriate and confiscate such possessions from its subjects without their consent. This theory of the divine right of a clique of hegemonic rulers to govern others differs sharply from the Aristotelian and Locke’s conviction of the inalienability of specific liberties, including the right to own property. For instance, the only consideration Hobbes renders to freedom is that which is exercised under sovereign power. In this regard, there is an explicit direction for people to be subservient to the will of superior earthly power and lawmaking authority.
Additionally, Plato and Hobbes illustrate the instabilities and chaos which characterize societies in the absence of sovereign power. This position contrasts libertarians’ argument for the minimalist governmental interferences and only limitation of the state’s authority to error rectification or defensive roles. Although libertarianism strongly affirms the paramount value of individual freedoms, aristocratic communists believe that the right to own possessions fuels private rivalry and the eventual disintegration of the state. Moreover, Plato views hierarchy as an indispensable tool for the simultaneous achievement of efficiency and justice, which is equated to unity. Hobbes corroborates this perspective through his belief in an absolute sovereign. Indeed, the creation of a state by people ceding their rights to some authority, which legislates, regulates social interactions and enforces justice, sharply contradicts the concept of minimal interference and preservation of specific liberties. Arguably, such societies or forms of government, even when enjoying the consent of the governed, are bound to impede people’s happiness by constricting their rights and requiring validation of their choices by those in power.
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Rather than coerce people’s conscience, governments and communities should advocate and enhance freedom in all its forms and stress the equality of all individuals. Notably, society and government, which infringe on people’s rights, presume that they are incapable of using reason to distinctly distinguish right from wrong. This reflects the Aristotelian impression of a good citizen who is ethically virtuous, naturally enabled to reason, discover the good and the bad, and recognize what is just and unjust (Papouli 924). The virtues of a morally good character are socially situated and cultivated, even in the absence of sovereign power. This implies that Hobbes and Plato’s assertion of the indispensability of supreme rulers for the peoples’ peaceful coexistence is not entirely pragmatic as people can sustain and promote their wellbeing even in the governments’ absence.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engel’s Communism
Communism envisages the replacement of private property with common ownership and consumption based on one’s needs. Marx and Engels dismissed individual rights and classified them as bourgeois fantasies, which concealed the inequalities of capitalist establishments. In such a society, people are wholly preoccupied with their private interests and driven by personal impulses. As a result, the notion of liberties and rights in those communities only advances the concerns of the bourgeois while enslaving the laboring majority. Marx and Engels’ argument for communism, therefore, advocates for states with collective economic and social rights. In this regard, the government exercises disproportionate control of all values, including property ownership rights and liberties, severely limiting people’s influence on their lives. The indistinctiveness of the government needs and societal interests generates the incompatibility of individual interests with the political philosophy of communism (Yang 7). The expansive limitations and the suppression of personal liberties and freedoms are designed to preserve the state at the expense of the individual.
The ideal society and the best form of government enhance freedoms, equality, and civil liberties while exercising minimal interference. As in China, the ideological foundation of communist political systems is that societal interests, economics, and well-being are better protected if individuals are limited from their inherently aggressive pursuit of personal concerns. This political theory reflects social justice, which stresses equal access to wealth, justice, health, opportunities, and wellbeing. Realistically, this concept disregards the individual responsibility for personal improvement and supplants it with the collectivist growth of all. Arguably, this ideology cannot be said to be socially just as it takes away from people who achieve more and redistributes to those with less. Additionally, it argues that the existing social differences jeopardize the practical application of libertarian proposals due to the imminence of conflict between the disadvantaged and the advantaged (Yan 11). However, this view is at odds with the inherent ability of people to make appropriate decisions while pursuing their interests without infringing on the liberties of the other. Therefore, individuals can manage their liberties and relations without governmental interference.
Utilitarian political philosophy strives for the betterment of society as a whole since it fosters pleasure and happiness for the majority while seeking to minimize actions that cause harm and misery. However, the subversion of the interests and liberties of one person by communist state authorities while pursuing societal delight is considerably contradictory since it exposes everyone to possible suppression. While communist public policies can increase the average level of a society’s subjective wellbeing, the likelihood of causing harm to individuals while implementing those policies contravenes the entire philosophy of utilitarianism. Moreover, a community cannot be happy when its members are limited from exercising free will and choice, particularly regarding the private ownership of property, which contributes to the overall level of personal happiness. For instance, Cheng et al. contend that property rights and homeownership directly impact the subjective well-being of the people (160). Therefore, the level of happiness and social wellbeing in communist societies are adversely affected by the imposed limitations, thereby minimizing the extent to which such communities are ideal.
Political Philosophy of Socialism
Socialism is a political structure in which the government is the sole owner and the exclusive controller of all the factors of production. This implies that one of the defining attributes is the overbearing influence, social control, and regulation of all individual choices by an individual. Although socialists differ on the degree to which such powers are exercised, there is consensus regarding the claim that the government is the most appropriate instrument to implement such powers. Advocates for socialism argue that the natural state of society is incapable of initiating and promoting social justice without governmental interference. In this regard, this political philosophy favors expanded state intervention on issues such as income redistribution and regulation to achieve efficiency and eliminate the challenges of capitalism. From this perspective, socialism bears a striking semblance to communism, especially in the government’s role in activities such as consumption, investment, and other decision-making areas. Although governmental interference is designed to achieve maximum social welfare, it impedes the enterprising and industrious people from accumulating wealth and making other beneficial economic decisions.
Socialism contrasts with the libertarianism principles of free will and the inviolability of an individual’s right to choose. For instance, John Stuart Mills argued that people should strive to assist others as they pursue their personal development instead of exclusively working towards their wellbeing. However, Mill emphasizes the essence of giving unlimited liberty to man to make choices, provided the adopted course of action does not harm others. This utilitarian concept is at odds with socialism which positions governments as the decision-making body for the society (Lege 428). Therefore, a socialist society, although characterized by some degree of liberty, significantly impedes individual happiness by imposing uniformity and equality while entrenching governmental intervention.
Capitalism Political Ideology
Capitalism is a political ideology that mirrors almost all of the libertarian principles of rights to private property, competitive markets through minimal governmental interference, and the voluntary exchange of commodities, such as labor. In such a society, individuals reserve the decision-making powers regarding investments and other economic choices. Notably, the most defining aspects of a capitalist society are private property rights, competition, free markets, and capital accumulation. Consequently, this type of community is characterized by the powerful profit motive, which influences both supply and demand (Patomaki 537). The resultant aggressive competition increasingly intensifies, with the occasional problems and market failures being the only time the state intervenes. Indeed, this philosophy is significantly similar to Aristotelian libertarianism due to its robust proposal of limited or absent state intervention (Hesmondhalgh 202). However, capitalism differs sharply from communist or socialist structures, which are distinctly defined by immense interference by the state.
Capitalism arguably contradicts the concept of utilitarianism due to the widespread rivalry between individuals and the participating corporates. In such a scenario, the turbulent and antagonistic market competition sets firms against each other, often leading to the incurrence of losses, bankruptcy, acquisitions, and attrition of businesses (Patomaki 538). This reflects a war-like phenomenon where everyone is eternally engaged in the pursuit of relative tactical and strategic advantages. Additionally, the risk of failure in self-regulation is enormous, especially regarding public goods, which defies the illusion of utilitarianism in such establishments. Ultimately, individuals and people undermine one another, resulting in reduced social wellbeing and entrenched inequalities.
Liberal Democracy as the Ideal Society and Form of Government
Liberal democracy, social justice, and egalitarian governments are the prominently ideal forms of society and government, which considerably promote the creation of fair and just political systems and communities. The former underscores the protection of property, political, and civil rights, which enhances the well-being of the people due to their ability to safeguard the inherent individual liberties and free will. Under this system, consensually interact and engage voluntarily. Similarly, social justice has the greatest potential of creating a truly just and fair society due to the particular emphasis on equal economic, civic, and political liberties and opportunities. This can be enhanced by a government built on egalitarian principles, where all people have equal standing, with no groups or individuals enjoying special legal protections over the other. Notably, egalitarianism is predicated on the belief that all people are equal and should be treated equally, eliminating discrimination, injustices, and impartiality (Steckermeier and Delhey 1075). For instance, libertarianism stresses that all people have equal liberties, privileges, and entitlements. Therefore, such a social structure has limited opportunities for malpractices, for example, segregation.
Conclusively, the ideal society and form of government uphold individual liberties and create equal social, political, and economic opportunities for all. Such communal structures and state authorities are anchored on John Locke and Aristotle’s political philosophy of libertarianism. The principle underpinning of this model establishes and reinforces individual rights and liberties while treating all people impartially. Similarly, social justice and egalitarian structures enhance the true ideal of fairness and human equality. Arguably, these attributes of a socially just and fair society are unlikely to be accomplished through any other community and government models.
Cheng, Zhiming et al. “Housing Property Rights and Subjective Wellbeing in Urban China.” European Journal of Political Economy, vol. 45, 2016, pp. 160–174. Web.
Hesmondhalgh, David. “Capitalism and the Media: Moral Economy, Well-Being and Capabilities.” Media, Culture & Society, vol. 39, no. 2, 2016, pp. 202–218. Web.
Lege, Philippe. “History, Utility and Liberty: John Stuart Mill’s Critical Examination of Auguste Comte.” The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, vol. 25, no. 3, 2018, pp. 428–459. Web.
Papouli, Eleni. “Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics as a Conceptual Framework for the Study and Practice of Social Work in Modern Times.” European Journal of Social Work, vol. 22, no. 6, 2018, pp. 921–934. Web.
Patomaki, Heikki. “Capitalism: Competition, Conflict, Crisis.” Journal of Critical Realism, vol. 16, no. 5, 2017, pp. 537–543. Web.
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Queiroz, Regina. “Individual Liberty and the Importance of the Concept of the People.” Palgrave Communications, vol. 4, no. 1, 2018, pp. 1–12. Web.
Yan, Xuetong. “Chinese Values Vs. Liberalism: What Ideology Will Shape the International Normative Order?” The Chinese Journal of International Politics, vol. 11, no. 1, 2018, pp. 1–22. Web.