Module 1 Essay
Political Science 105
Professor Chad Smith
At the core of any ideology is the goal to better improve a government and the over-all quality of living for a given nation. Some of the most commonly accepted ideologies in the world today are marxist socialism, social democracy, and modern conservatism. Although they have all varied somewhat from their initial goals, all of these ideologies have gained acceptance in many countries, and are the source for major political decision making. By delving into the origins and principles of the above mentioned ideologies, one can begin to deduce which has been proven to be most successful historically.
Karl Marx himself is the primary origin for the marxist socialism ideologists, and in 1848, he wrote a document called The Communist Manifesto which described his ideas for a Utopian government. (Roskin, M., Cord, R., Medeiros, J., & Jones, W., 2014, pg. 40). This Utopia would be made possible, in Marx’s eyes, through every aspect of life being communally and socially owned. With a government run in this manner, all citizens receive equal portions of goods, land, and benefits, regardless of how much each person contributed. It is essentially the concept of a classless society, where every one reigns equal. There is also no room for profit, as all financial gain is thrown into the proverbial pile for everyone to partake in. To take it a step further, marxist socialists seek to reach a place where there is also no need for law enforcement, or really a government for that matter. The argument is that if people are not vying for monetary gain and power, all statuses are removed, and there is not a stair-step to a hierarchy, people will not be violent and ill-willed. It is the segregation, marxists argue, that causes this strife, and with equality and lack of emphasis on the individual, there will be peace.
Social democracy began as a sub-division of Marxism. It came about because the German Social Democrats, shortly following Marx, realized that they could turn the government around without drastic change or revolution. In a nutshell, social democrats have “abandoned state-ownership of industry.” (Roskin, M., Cord, R., Medeiros, J., & Jones, W., 2014, pg. 41). This is also known as a welfare state. It is largely successful at providing a stable economy and good jobs for citizens. The government is also required to provide for many daily needs such as health care, food, and housing, to even out any economic inequalities. Education is held at the highest importance, and social democrats aim for a free and exceptional education system. With a thriving economy and citizens well cared for, it would seem like there are no faults to this ideological approach. However, in order to operate a country like this, taxes are extremely high and can reach a point where financial freedom is all but lost.
According to the text, the idea of modern conservatism started initially with Adam Smith and “his doctrine of minimal government.” (Roskin, M., Cord, R., Medeiros, J., & Jones, W., 2014, pg. 39). It is rooted in liberalism, in which the founding fathers of this ideology felt that when the government got involved with capital, businesses, and profit, things went awry. A key aspect of this system is the idea of a free and self-regulating market. Government ordinance is deemed unnecessary, and it is expected that the markets will ultimately right any wrong through supply and demand, all by the discretion of the distributor. For example, there might be a business man that specializes in a particular good. If the demand for his goods increases, he simply increases production and prices accordingly. When the demand decreases, then production and pricing are also lowered. Aside from a free market and lack of government involvement, modern conservatism often relies heavily on traditions. Many modern conservatives have a religious or Christian background, and derive much of their decision making from ideas that worked in the past. In America today, modern conservatism is often associated with the right to bear arms, private schools, pro-life campaigns, same-sex marriage, and anti-drug laws. Modern conservatives also believe in individuals working for their own benefits, as well as a private life without too much government interference.
Each of these ideologies have honorable merits and generally good intentions. However, history has shown that abuse of these ideologies can lead to lack of legitimacy, authority, and sovereignty within a government. The initial intent of marxist socialism, for example, was to make people completely equal and have the country be void of law enforcement. However, in the case of North Korea, instead of the government disappearing, it has become the driving source of control in the nation. People there are equals, but they also have no individual rights and much of their daily lives are controlled and monitored. In the case of social democracy, countries such as Sweden have prospered exceptionally in the economic field. The people that reside there are well cared for, and there is little poverty, if any. However, taxation is, to put it mildly, excessive to the point that citizens may eventually have little to no financial freedom. Finally, modern conservatives are seen frequently in countries like America. Their traditional ways have proven successful in historic America, and some traits are still amiable today, such as freedom of the individual and a firm law system. On the other hand, modern conservatism is generally opposed to change, whether political or personal, and strives for an economy with out the government to monitor possibly unfair economic markets. There are pros and cons to all of these ideologies, and each should be taken with a grain of salt. But history has shown that people are happiest when the have general freedom and self-expression, and modern conservatism allows for this more often than marxist socialism and social democracy.
Roskin, M., Cord, R., Medeiros, J., & Jones, W. (2014). Political science: An Introduction (13th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall.