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What might be the characteristics of a "good state" according to a minimum of three political thinkers you have studied during this module.

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James Sotheran SOCPL1063 - Political Thinkers Module Leader - Liz Sperling Essay - What might be the characteristics of a "good state" according to a minimum of three political thinkers you have studied during this module There will be similarities and differences in what makes a "good state" between the political thinkers which I have selected for this essay. These are Machiavelli, Plato and Marx. I will approach this question by describing each political thinker's ideas of a good state in turn, from what I have gathered from reading 3 relevant books by each author. These books are "The Republic" (Plato), "The Prince" (Machiavelli) and "The Manifesto of The communist Party" (Marx). I will then try to find similarities between these ideas. Of these 3 books, "The Republic" gives the most detailed and clear description of an ideal state. "The Prince" reads like a guidebook for a new ruler on how to maintain a hold on the principality, it's a political and military strategy. "The Manifesto of The Communist Party" describes the existing society, and the progress by which the new one takes over. The ideal state described throughout the Republic comes from a discussion of the nature of justice in the human soul, as I described in my thinker profile. Therefore Plato's idea of a good state is a "just" state. ...read more.


He believes that people respond best to the use of fear and that it should be employed as a means of control. In "The Prince" he asserts that "it is far better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both" (p.96). This statement seems to be supported by recent events in Iraq. The ruling Ba'ath party used instruments of terror to keep effective control of the people and now the regime has fallen, it appears that it was not love for Saddam that the majority of the citizens felt, but fear. They gave the impression that he was their hero, but it was only because they were living in terror of the regime's coercive measures. Machiavelli's ideal state relies on the co-operation of it's people in maintaining it. It takes priority over everything else, mankind's highest endeavour. What is striking about "The Prince" is that the citizens seem to be used as a means to an end, the end being the ruler of the state keeping their hold on power. Machiavelli believes in taking any action necessary, moral or not, to maintain order in the state. Here there is a difference between Machiavelli's and Plato's idea of rulers of the ideal state. Plato's philosopher rulers would find the use of cruelty morally unacceptable. Plato would condemn such a society as unjust, and cruelty as being part of an unjust soul. ...read more.


This is based on the idea that the acquisition of personal property results in competition between individual people and the neglect of the state and also a division between rich and poor and therefore the danger of discontent and internal revolt. These are precisely the views that Karl Marx has about the existing capitalist society. Plato's Guardians are living in a true communist society, living and eating together like soldiers, no money or personal possessions and the rest of the community providing their food. Another main similarity between the views of these political thinkers is that the best type of state is an autocracy, with no possibility of political opposition. This is a safe way to maintain power and also political differences of opinion would interfere with the running of affairs. The leaders of the state can behave with impunity. It is not surprising that these writers have no time for democracy, because if you had what you thought was the best possible idea for a state, why would you want people around with other ideas? And if the citizens are living in the best state possible, why would they want to vote for something else? Each of these political thinkers has their own ideas of a good state, some of which clash with each other. I have listed the finer details of each, and found some fundamental similarities between all of them, which apply from the ancient world to the industrial revolution. ...read more.

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