Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Final Report: Marx, Plato, and Creating a Perfect Society, Part II (H1)





    In my previous installment, I compared the two different pseudo-utopian societies presented by Karl Marx and Plato, and analyzed the factors that would contribute to their eventual success/failure if implemented. I also examined the pros and cons of the society we are a part of today, and pointed out that there is definitely room for improvement. Finally, I finished the post off by presenting what I believe to be the key for creating an ideal society that will stand the test of time. For coverage's sake, here's a quick list to recap in more detail:

  • The communist society Marx believed would overcome the capitalist system and bring equity and freedom to the triumphant working class was doomed to fail, as it ended up being even more exploitable than the current social complex. This is evident in the rise of communist powers such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in the early-mid 20th century, who were able to gain the support of the public by masquerading as champions of the socialist ideals, but promptly turned upon their people once they had achieved the absolute power they had sought the entire time.


  • The ancient Greek philosopher Plato outlined his ideas for the "perfect society" as well, almost two millennia before Marx was even born. However, Plato's Republic is nearly the complete opposite of what Marx had in mind, structurally speaking (Marx's communism is obviously motivated more by economic factors, but they are comparable on the grounds of measurement of social status between the individuals that theoretically make up the two societies). Plato envisions a nation divided into different social classes, such as soldiers, merchants, scientists, etc., all ruled by a caste of philosopher-kings. The success of such a society relies entirely on the citizens' contentment with the individual tasks which they are each assigned early on in their lives; needless to say, not many people would be willing to settle for being forced to spend their lives in a position that they do not enjoy. Plato's Republic would collapse under the weight of the envy and resentment which would fill its populace from the moment of its inception.


  • Our society today is adequately composed for most, but there are areas in which it can be significantly improved. Although modern society has made great strides towards equality for all races, genders, religious creeds, sexual orientations, etc., there are still conflicts between different groups which make productivity and advancement in certain fields a painstakingly slow process. Specifically, I mentioned the contentment with physical and emotional weakness that permeates our society, and how most of our generation is coming into the real world expecting the rest of society to hold their hand in every aspect of life, instead of dealing with its challenges and bettering themselves individually. I ended the post by explaining that the way to minimize such conflict is to create a brand new society which is tolerant and indiscriminant of all manner of people, but by necessity excludes those whose personal beliefs directly conflict with the ideals that your society is built upon.
   
    To conclude my final project, I would like to bring all of the ideas I have presented together to outline what kind of society I personally would like to see created. I will divide this section into 3 major areas of concern: its ideal form of government, its economic system, and the ideas which make up its very social foundations.

I. Government

On the structure of the government, I tend to lean towards a kind of fusion between classical Greek and Roman systems. Ideally, the populace of my society would be very well educated, enough to take interest in and vote on major issues themselves in a kind of direct democracy (one of the prerequisites for being eligible to be a part of said society would have to be passing a screening process to determine if one were intelligent enough and had enough of an interest in the laws governing him or her to participate in the democratic process). However, an elected council would exist to perform the task of relegating resources to specific projects, and other minor decisions which it would be unnecessary to take a population-wide vote on. One major function of this council would be to elect a suitable leader in times of crisis; in the event of something such as facing aggression from a hostile nation, this council would elect an individual of particular expertise to temporarily lead the nation with absolute power in the fashion of the dictators of the ancient Roman republic. This dictator would receive complete control over the government and military in order to swiftly end the conflict rather than having its resolution taking a lengthy trip through civil and bureaucratic channels. The leader would then be expected to relinquish their power once the problem was resolved, or face the wrath of an incredibly intelligent and strong citizenry. While I am on the subject of international conflict, I will say that this society would have no means of declaring unprovoked war upon another nation. Although other societies may not share the same beliefs as mine, it is important to remain cordial with them and refrain from conflict when possible. However, I believe if an aggressive power will not see reason, then the only way to deter such attacks in the future is to smash the opposition into oblivion, and make sure anyone else who may have the same idea sees it. You don't want to be seen as a provocative, aggressive nation who looks for every opportunity to show off its might. But you have to be willing to show the rest of the world that you will never allow it to interfere with your civilization's destiny.

II. Economy

This subsection will be short, because as I said in the last installment of my project, the development of a complex economy is an unfortunate and unnecessary occurrence. I believe that it should ultimately be up to the people themselves to decide what kind of economic system to develop within the ideal society, but it would likely end up being a laissez faire-style capitalist economy based on the values the people would wish to uphold.

III. Social Ideals

This is arguably the most important part of this section, and the one for which I am likely to receive the most criticism. In my previous installment, I stated that a successful society must be built upon a specific set of ideals, and here I will lay out the ideals that form the civic base of my society. This society would (theoretically) be unfettered by political corruption and economic greed, unbound from the restraints of conflict between different religious beliefs, unhindered by injustices towards different kinds of people in general. As such, there would be far more time and room for improvement, for both society and individual. As a society, scientific advancement is one of the most important goals. It raises the standards of living for everyone, and compounds upon itself to essentially make further scientific discovery easier and faster. As individuals, self-improvement is the ultimate driving force. Discard your petty insecurities and forget your self-misery, and your body an mind become free to grow and become more than they were before; the kind of people in my society would be the kind who are not content with mediocrity, who strive to achieve higher knowledge and physical prowess to accomplish some end, if not just for its own sake. Because of this focus on self-improvement, the people of this society would constantly encourage one another to become stronger and smarter, to overcome physical weakness and mental barriers and get as close to perfection as they possibly can. Contests of strength or wits would likely be a common occurrence; physical conflicts would not be as looked down upon as they are today, provided they began with an honorable challenge and not a cowardly blow from behind, and took place in a suitable environment. Of course, those with legitimate disabilities which impede their physical capacities would not be looked down upon by the rest of society, as they could still be honored as successful scientists, teachers, etc. Another important aspect of this society is its sense of justice. It is my belief that if your people lack the conviction to sentence their criminals as they are due, then you invite calamity by weakening your society from within. The laws of my ideal nation would be clear to all citizens and taught extensively to everyone; if one were to break these laws, they would be doing so in full knowledge of the consequences of their actions. Their fate if caught would ultimately be up to the communal decision of a large court made up of citizens from many different backgrounds, but I see no reason to rule out such extreme measures as the death penalty if the perpetrator has done something incredibly severe. Separation of church and state means that you cannot rely upon the idea of some divine power sentencing your criminals for you, so you have to be willing to give them what you and your fellow citizens deem that they deserve. Prisons are a huge waste of time and resources, so anybody who committed a major crime that wasn't outright murder would be documented and exiled instead, and barred from returning to the society and spreading their poisonous criminal ways among others.

    In conclusion, the ideal society I would like to see created is not perfect. No society can be perfect, because there will always be conflicting opinions amongst individuals. But you can minimize this conflict by creating a new society based on a specific set of ideals, and being highly selective (but not discriminatory as we see it today) as to who you allow into it. The society I would found would be built upon the ideals of honor and justice. The individuals in this society would work hard to improve their lives in any way possible, and they would all come together to create an indestructible nation which is more than the sum of its parts. This is getting pretty long, so I'll go ahead and cut it off here. I welcome any comments or criticism about how I interpret Marx and Plato, or potential flaws in the rough outline of my ideal society.

Total word count: 3,690
Comments on other's 1st posts:
https://cophilosophy.blogspot.com/2016/11/h1-look-into-work-of-john-rawls.html?showComment=1480584374786#c4803426497057856546
https://cophilosophy.blogspot.com/2016/11/is-god-dead-first-installment.html?showComment=1480585284521#c5288084862075673453




5 comments:

  1. I believe the reason that the Marxist structure struggled in the real world was because of the similarities it had with ancient philosophers. Perhaps the structure would have worked long ago, however, not in the modern world of the 60's and 70's. (H1)

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  2. "Our society today is adequately composed for most" - really? The discrepancy between the top 1% and everyone else has never been greater. Haters have been given a platform in the White House. The political process in Washington has been dysfunctional for years, and the only thing scarier is the prospect that it may now actually "function" and roll us back a generation or more with respect to social progress and expanded tolerance of difference.

    "physical conflicts would not be as looked down upon as they are today, provided they began with an honorable challenge" - you want to bring back duelling and honor-killing? And capital punishment, and exile... ? No thanks. Your brand of perfection is not for me.

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    1. Dueling and honor killings? Hardly. I meant that one wouldn't be considered a criminal for getting into a little scrap. Sometimes one may need to knock their selfish and arrogant bullies on their asses every once in awhile to remind them about the importance of humility. As for capital punishment and exile, I'm going by what's going to work, not what would be ideal in a world full of sunshine and rainbows. Someone who has murdered, robbed, and destroyed does not deserve any amount of public resources going towards sustaining their miserable life in a prison or putting them through a rehabilitation program and hoping they don't come out of it planning to further capitalize on the fact that society is too spineless and weak to dispense true justice. You can't say any of this isn't fair either, because I specifically stated that each and every citizen would be made fully aware of every facet of the laws which govern them, and in breaking them would be doing so in full knowledge of the consequences.

      I never said it was perfection, in fact I acknowledged that such a concept is impossible to achieve. And it's alright if it's not something many want to be a part of; as I said, you can't just include whoever into a society which is based off of a certain set of ideals. Humanity has flung itself to the far corners of the world. Its cultures have sharply diverged from one another, its people rarely work towards the same goals. There has been and will be war and petty diplomacy so long as the human race is so large and diverse. It would be nice if we lived in a perfect world where everybody could coexist without threat of conflict higher than a heated debate, but we don't. There will always be some sect of people, some religious or racial supremacy groups, some terrorist organizations, some greedy corporate rings that just want to watch the world burn for one reason or another and refuse to listen to logic and rationality. Create an insurmountable civilization made up of mighty and intelligent individuals, and you can at least make sure your society will stand the test of time and further the mission of the human race while all others fall from infighting and a lack of conviction.

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  3. I'm highly intrigued by your post because, although I'm not convinced it would actually work, You seem to have put great thought into how to make a society that would make everyone better and be stable which I personally feel are conflicting things. It's also interesting because although I've put quite a bit of thought into design a society, the goal of my society was to be stable and make scientific progress rather than to be good for the people. Someone once got in an argument with me about how unethical my society would be from which came the quote "1984 is not a guide," and so I'm rather curious about how you view Orwell's classic distopia. And however harsh you may want to be, I ask you to remember one thing when criticizing the Big Brother society; it worked exactly as it was supposed to.

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    1. Haha, it did indeed. I grimly admire the utter control the leaders of the different dystopian societies in 1984 had over the minds of the people, because it certainly is as highly impressive as it is terrible. I don't find it very realistic however, almost for the same reason I don't think Plato's Republic would last very long. I find it hard to believe that the vast majority of the citizens of the world would be persuaded to live in a complete totalitarian nation without realizing that life can be so much better; surely such a radical kind of society could never arise in the first place, much less exist entirely without mass revolution throughout its entire short history. Even the Soviet Union, which was smaller than any of the 3(?) major nations in 1984 and was like child's play compared to the complete control the fictional nations had over their citizens lasted less than a century and fell overnight.

      Likelihood aside, the ethical nature of such a society is a far more touchy subject. From the outside looking in, one can clearly see that these nations are abominations sustained by war, ignorance, and powerful propaganda; however, the point of the novel is to illustrate the fact that a person born into this kind of society literally knows of nothing better. To them, it is completely ethical. Even the government officials themselves may believe at that point that what they do to further their goals is just. What it really boils down to for me is truth. It could be considered completely ethical if it weren't for the fact that one man and one woman were able to pierce the veil and realize that they could have so much more. If a freethinking individual, uninfluenced by nationalist propaganda or some kind of incredibly unconventional beliefs of their own, decides that they have been living a lie and that a free society gives citizens more opportunity to grow and advance in relative peace while maintain their individual liberties, then the truth is out, and the current situation is no longer ethical.

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