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Political Philosophies – Utilitarianism and Anarchism – World History – Free PDF Download

Utilitarianism:

  • Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that states that the best action is the one that maximizes utility.
  • “Utility” is defined in various ways, usually in terms of the well being of sentiment entities.
  • Jeremy Bentham, the founder of Utilitarianism, described utility as the sum of all pleasure that results from an action, minus the suffering of anyone involved in the action.
  • Utilitarianism is a version of Consequentialism, which states that the consequences of any action are the only standard of right and wrong.
  • Unlike other forms of Consequentialism, such as Egoism, Utilitarianism considers the interests of all beings equally.
  • Proponents of Utilitarianism have disagreed on a number of points, such as whether actions should be chosen based on their likely results( act utilitarianism) or whether agents should confirm to rules that maximize utility( rule utilitarianism).
  • There is also disagreement as to whether total( total utilitarianism) or average( average utilitarianism) ability should be maximized.
  • Famous philosophers of this school are Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.
  • In his 1859 essay “On Liberty” and other works, John Stuart Mill argued that Utilitarianism requires that political arrangements which satisfy the Liberty principle( or harm principle), it is the sole purpose of the law should be to stop people from harming others.
  • The main objection to the utilitarianism is the inability to quantify, compare, or measure happiness or well being, further Karl Marx, in his Das Kapital, criticizes Bentham’s Utilitarianism on the grounds that it does not appear to recognize that different people have different joys.

Anarchism:

  • Anarchism is a political philosophy which rejects( and supports the elimination of) compulsory government or compulsory rule, and holds that society can( and should) be organized without a coercive state.
  • This may, or may not, involve the rejection of any authority at all.
  • Anarchists believe that government is both harmful and unnecessary.
  •  Philosophical Anarchism contends that the state lacks moral legitimacy, that there is no individual obligation or duty to obey the state and, Conversely, that the state has no right to command individuals.
  • However, it does not actively advocate the revolution to eliminate the state, but it calls for a gradual change to free the individual from the oppressive laws and social constraints of the modern state.
  • The term “Anarchy” derived from the Greek word “Anarchos”( without ruler).
  • Up until the 19th century, the term was generally used in a positive manner, to describe a coherent political belief, and it was only later that it became used pejoratively( to mean something akin to chaos).
  • Anarchism is relative to Libertarianism( which advocates maximizing individual rights and free will, and minimizing the role of the state) and, in particular, to Libertarian Socialism( which advocates of worker oriented system that attempts to maximize the Liberty of individuals and minimize the concentration of power or authority), but it is all but synonymous.
  • There is no single defining position that anarchists hold, beyond their rejection of compulsory government or the state, and proponents may support anything from extreme individualism( the political outlook that stresses human independence and the importance of individual self reliance and Liberty) complete collectivism( the political outlook that stresses human independence and the importance of the collective).

History of Anarchism:

  • Humans lived for thousands of years in societies without government, according to Anarcho Primitivists.
  • It was only after the rise of hierarchal societies that Anarchist ideas were formulated as a critical response to, and rejection of, coersive political institutions.
  • The “Tao Te Ching”, written around the 6th century BC by Lao Tzu, encouraged many Chinese Taoists to live an anarchistic lifestyle.
  • In ancient Greece, Diogenes of Sinope( a Cynic) and Zeno of Citium( a Stoic) argued( in opposition to Plato) that reason should replace authority in guiding human affairs, and envisaged a free community without government.
  • There were a variety of anarchistic religious and political movements in Europe during the Middle Ages and later, including the Brothers and Sisters of Free Spirit, the Klompdraggers, the Hussites, the Adamites, the early Anabaptists, the Diggers and the Levellers, but none had much widespread influence,.
  • Modern Archaism arose from the secular thought of The Enlightenment, particularly John Jacques Rousseau’s argument for the moral centrality of freedom.
  • Even though he did not use the term himself, The English political philosopher William Godwin developed what many consider the first expression of modern anarchist thought and formulated the political and economic conceptions of anarchism.
  • Godwin opposed a revolutionary action and saw a minimal state as a present “necessary evil”, which would become increasingly irrelevant and powerless through a gradual process of reform and enlightenment.
  • He also advocated extreme individualism, proposing that all cooperation in labor be eliminated.
  • Edmund Burke, in his “A Vindication of Natural Society” of 1756, advocated the abolition of government, although the later claimed it was intended as a satirical work.
  • Thomas Jefferson spoke of his respect for a society with no government, such as he saw in many Native American tribes, and Henry David Thoreau was another influential American with anarchist sympathies.
  • The Frenchman Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was the first self-described anarchist, and has been called the founder of modern anarchist theory( as has Godwin).
  • Proudhon proposed what he called spontaneous order, whereby an organization( sufficient to maintain order and guarantee all liberties) and what is without central authority, and the institutions of the police, monarchy, officialdom, organized religion, taxation, etc, disappear or are reduced to a minimum.
  • He published his “What is Property?“, in which his famous acqusation “Property is Theft” appears, in 1840.
  • Later in the 19th century( sometimes called anarchism’s classical period), An artist communist theorists, like Russian Mikhail Bukanin and Peter Kropotkin, built on the Marxist critique of capitalism and synthesized it with their own critique of the state, emphasizing the importance of a communal perspective to maintain individual Liberty in a social context.
  • Around this time, there was also a spate of acts of violence in the name of anarchism, such as sabotage and assassinations, as well as industry elections and strikes, intended to further spark revolution, but these actions were regarded by many anarchists as counterproductive or ineffective.
  • In the 20th century, anarchists were actively involved in the labor and feminist moments, in uprising and revolution such as Russian Revolution of 1917, and later in the fight against fascism.
  • Working Anarchist communes have been established at Christiana in Denmark, Catalonia in Spain, and the free territory in Ukraine, among others.

 

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