POLITICAL SCIENCE 1301 MAJOR ESSAY

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  • 1. SECTION ONEMy name is Leong En-hui and I advocate Socialism as a political system.As such, I value a society defined by collective ownershipof the goods and services that arelikewise enjoyed by all. Shared management over the production means and its subsequentdistribution and exchange illustrates and emphasizes the equality of all societal persons whilemaking their welfare, rather than blind capitalist pursuit, paramount[1]. While variouspermutations of the political ideology have since manifested, differing primarily in economicmanagement and degree of government intervention, a major constant is that the privatization ofservices is undesirable, due to its potential unsustainability and inherent discriminatoryundertones.Class struggles are inevitabilities and hallmarks of capitalist economies, for the socialstratification resulting from disparities in earning power and authority births feelings ofalienation and discontent. The divide is further skewed such that economic benefits are theentitlement of only a small societal segment with the majority perpetually exploited by theformer[2].In Marxian perspectives, the capitalist model is fundamentally unsustainable due to invariablyfalling profit rates. The reflexive compensation of wage and benefit reduction further propagatesthe disgruntlement of the marginalized working class, and I thus support the latter’s acquisitionof class-consciousness and their deserved emancipation via non-violent socialist revolution.The resultant establishment of cooperative or autonomous state enterprises allows egalitariandistribution of services according to need.Equal representation and the simultaneousnationalization of healthcare, education, and utilities creates a safety net reducing poverty whileensuring that no individuals are left behind. It is therefore hoped that their stakes in sharedresources will confer upon the people a sense of both ownership and belonging, with anincreased happiness index being observed.As such, pure socialism sees the extinction of capitalist relations, based on pure and primaryeconomic freedom[3].In this ideology, rudimentary abolishment of class divisions is imperative. With reference toMarx’s Communist Manifesto, confiscation of inheritance and centralization of credit is ofprimacy, with the rich-poor divide narrowing through the introduction of necessary taxes.Devoid of the slavery to exploitative work, the former proletariat is at liberty to pursue his owninterests, cultivating his talents without fear of potential imperialist oppression.The eventual merger of social strata coupled with equitable labour liability and benefit then givesrise to Communism, a stateless, classless society wherein a superabundance of material allowsfor distribution “from each according to his ability, for each according to his need”. Communism,
  • 2. while not a predestined inevitability, is an aspired destination, and in my imagined world, thesocialist society is but a transitory step prior to its establishment.The values exclusive to the imagined society would include, but are not limited to, cooperation,altruism, personal dignity, and solidarity at familial and federal levels[4]. Society is thereforedefined by the summation of its constituent individuals and their interactions, and it is hoped thatthe restoration of equality will allow continued harmoniousness that may be sustained andpropagated for the generations to come.(References: Socialism & the Class War, John Mill (Oxford Journal)International Socialism Journal, Issue 133, Megan TrudellPolitical Ideologies:An Introduction (3rd edition) Andrew Heywood (2003), Chapter 3:Socialism, pg 84-100Socialist Values and Culture, James Petras January 4, 2002)SECTION TWOActivity 1: The acquisition of class consciousness is integral to proletariat revolution. The formercan be expedited via awareness raising and education. Workers cannot improve their workingconditions if they perceive a flawless status quo. Various social media (newspapers, flash mobs,campaigns, performances) can thus be harnessed for the widespread, rapid dissemination ofinformation and propaganda in which the proletariat is made aware of capitalism’s negativity andany preferable alternatives[5]. Subtle advertising (subliminal or otherwise) may be incorporated toboost confidence levels, taking into account that the proletariat has long been subjugated toauthority and potentially averse to challenging it, however entitled they may be. The proletariathas to be informed and made to wholeheartedly believe that change is their right and reward both.Activity 2: Drawing reference to the Communist Manifesto, primary agricultural industriesshould be combined with secondary manufacturing ones, facilitating the transition betweenproduction and processing. The corresponding divide between town and country should benarrowed, with necessary urban redistribution, allowing for a more equitable populationdistribution throughout the country, thus circumventing overcrowding in certain areas and braindrains in others. To prepare the youth for the abolishment of class divisions, I propose an activityinspired by Chairman Mao’s “Down to the Countryside” campaign where privileged youth weresent to rural areas to experience and gain a newfound and heightened appreciation for the labour
  • 3. of the underprivileged. Assignments to manufacturing and agricultural industries can beintegrated into standard school curricula, possibly on a summer internship basis.Activity 3: Graduated abolition of property in land, confiscation of private property, andestablishing a universal rental system. Property, while argued to provide necessary shelter, canwiden the rich-poor divide, with social classes associated and stigmatized by the kind of propertythey inhabit. People exhibit propensities for associating with those in their social strata whilealienating the lesser endowed, making equality a farce. Furthermore, properties can be used asgambits in economic dealings, where their removal is threatened or their mortgaging madenecessary. I propose the construction of public housing synchronous with the repossession anddemolition of private property, with certain existing ones being converted for the former purpose.Accommodation assignment will be random independent of all extenuating factors except inspecial cases (e.g. disabilities)Activity 4: Internal check and balances are imperative. Socialist states are those in whichequality and human rights are paramount, spared from unequal power distribution. However,Chinese and Russian examples demonstrate that authority can often be seized by a particularlyinfluential party that subsequently replaces the dictatorship it sought to eradicate. The inherentdanger of personality cults forming (as with Mao and Lenin) likewise prompts the formation of avigilante party in which good governance is key. Legislation and necessary red tape must exist tofacilitate the distribution of resources. Strict criteria and action plans must be set and adhered to.Restrictions on how long each member can serve are required, for the state and vigilante groupboth. No related individuals can hold positions within parties at any given time.References:5. Proletariat into a Class: The Process of Class Formation from Karl Kautsky’s The ClassStruggle to Recent ControversiesPolitics of Society 7, no. 4 (1977): pp. 343-401SECTION 3My ideology would potentially be largely contested by liberalism, characterized by theestablishment of an egalitarian, merliorist society in which equal rights to property, life, andliberty are maintained and upheld as fundamental human entitlements. Opposing the archaicview of divine right, it embodies a tolerant and non-organic society where individuals are treatedas such, with autonomy to carve their destinies as they deem fit[6] Blind respect by virtue ofblood or birth is discouraged with only meritocracy being proportional to the benefits dispensed,and people are entitled to voicing their opinions without fear of oppression[7].This freedom, however, is not unchecked. Liberal founding father John Locke has long promotedthe hypothetical social contract which explicitly states that people are by nature cannibalistic,with propensities for disorder, and a corresponding set of laws should therefore be constructed to
  • 4. circumvent anarchistic evolution. “Without law there is no freedom[8].”; as such, liberal societiestend to boast constitutional governments elected by the people.The degree of government intervention varies between liberal branches, with some promotingthe concept of negative freedom in which one has the right to engage in any activity desired,even if it harms oneself. Others believe in positive freedom where the government plays asignificant role in helping individuals maximize and develop their talents.Most liberals nurse an openness to progress[9], a respect for the individual (e.g. his right toprivatize), the need for informed consent, and free will. It therefore often boasts free competitionwithin a self-regulating market.The principle of collective ownership may not resonate well with the liberal who believes thatproperty is a fundamental human right. Forceful removal of property, then, even if for the allegedgreater good, compromises on the ex-owners entitlements, effectively devaluing him as amember of society.By way of simple extrapolation, the removal and subsequent redistribution of wealth means thatthe will of the perpetrator is imposed upon the former possessor, with the latter being compelledinto the obedience that is discordant with liberalism, wherein no one should be subjugated toanother.Furthermore, the progressive liberal may oppose the potentially stagnating social climate, citingthat the healthy competition between privately-owned companies leads to collectiveadvancement and overall societal progression. The alternative of widespread nationalization andequal distribution of resources would mean a suppression of enterprise with little incentive towork hard, fostering a spirit of dependence in which the people thrive on handouts by the state.Conversely, socialists strongly oppose the Laissez Faire ideal characteristic of many liberaleconomies. The existence of free markets allows for the flourishing of a privileged aristocracythriving on the surplus and unreciprocated labour of the marginalized working class. Consideringthat the labour of the latter supports the entire economic system, they deem it only fair that theworking class likewise reap their fair share of spoils, lest eventual worker discontent culminatesin violent revolution that effectively destabilizes the economy.Quoting Winston Churchill: Socialism needs to pull down wealth; liberalism seeks to raise uppoverty[10].References:6. The Liberalism of the Other- John Durham Peters (University of Iowa) International Journal ofCommunication 2 (2008), Book Review 699-706
  • 5. 7. Political Ideologies:An Introduction (3rd edition)Andrew Heywood (2003), Chapter 1:Liberalism ,pg 10-248.LiberalismAgainst the Nation: A False Hypothesis of Historical AnalysisSergiuMiscoiuJournalfor the Study of Religions and Ideologies, Vol 4, No 12 (2005)9. `Liberalism and World Politics, Doyle, Michael , 1986. American Political Science Review80(4): 1151-1164.10. Winston Churchill on Liberalism, Daily Kos (2012)SECTION 4Outside of radically capitalist branches, liberals boast a deontological society where anindividual’s welfare is of ethical primacy. Socialists agree that individuals should be valued,protected, and aided wherever possible. We agree that the interests of the people should be keptat heart, even if the means to the end are antagonistic. While liberals may resent activegovernment intervention, the concept of positive freedom can be incorporated, wherein thegovernment actively creates conducive environments for individuals to attain self-sufficiencyand self-realization[11].It is unlikely that socialists will ever consider property a fundamental human right, seeing thatone is not born with it and that public accommodation likewise provides a perfectly adequateshelter. It is also unlikely that liberals will welcome a heavy income tax for fear that taxation willbecome a significant financial burden that leads into the poverty it sought to abolish. Both partieswill also resent changes that disrupt all that they have been accustomed to.However, I am cautiously optimistic about a co-existence of both societies, even if not outrightcoalition. At their hearts, both political ideologies are humanist, with universalist elementspromoting the unity of human beings as a single species, personal and cultural discrepanciesnotwithstanding[12][13].Perhaps we can reach a compromise in the area of privatization. While I am adamant that utilitiesand transport should be nationalized due to them forming the necessary infrastructure uponwhich all other economic activities are built, flexibility can be exercised in education. Whilegovernment-funded public schools will form the majority with education being a free entitlementthat is both compulsory and guaranteed, I welcome the introduction of private schools, namely inniche areas of e.g. private schools for the arts/sports/music where curricula focuses on particularspecialized doctrines as opposed to the conventional school syllabus.
  • 6. Considering that a minority of the population will be enrolled in such institutions, the privateschools are unlikely to pose a significant usurping threat to the government schools while stillproducing specialized labour and allowing individuals to develop their personal talents. Also,standard school curricula could be integrated into that of the private schools with mandatoryannual examinations being implemented throughout the country to maintain overall educationalstandards. This also provides a necessary safety net should the student fall short in his chosendiscipline; he will still be able to enter the mainstream workforce, given the prior compulsorytraining. Singapore’s model of privately-funded niche schools proves a desirable model toemulate.Should long-term stability prevail, perhaps steps can be taken toward the formation of a centristsociety which is defined by social liberalism. The individual’s freedom and welfare are balancedwith the good of the encompassing community. If liberals are granted greater autonomy in thearea of marketing and international free trade, they are beholden to distributing a fraction of thatwealth to the community. However, social liberalism tends to operate on a small scale, and assuch, is a desirability rather than an actual destination.References:11. `Conflict and Cohesion, 1976 Stein, Arthur A., Journal of Conflict Resolution 20(1): 143-172.12. `The Clash of Civilizations? (1993) Huntington, Samuel P, Foreign Affairs 72(3): 22-49.13. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996) Huntington, SamuelP. ,New York: Simon & Schuster.