Political History & Theory
The study of politics has many facets, and many disciplines have their own unique methods of doing it. Political History is one such discipline. It studies the historical development of institutions and democracy. This article will discuss Structural Marxism, Historical materialism, and the production of democracy. The study of politics is not limited to one or two major historical periods, though. We also explore the relation between political history and theory, and how they are related.
Karl Marx's theory of historical materialism explains the development of class societies and the division of labour as the ultimate cause of social change. According to Marxists, humankind's continued development represents progress in the sense that it increases its power over nature. This theory also challenges the idea that human history is free of laws or causes. This theory is based on the scientific method. To better understand historical materialism, we must understand the historical process itself.
Marx compared the capitalist society to a lower-stage communist society, stating that both share many of the birthmarks of the old society. Likewise, historical materialism stresses that modes of production are not isolated but rather interconnected. The development of these forces creates coherence. As a result, each successive generation inherits and further develops them before passing them on to the next. In the process, more humanity becomes involved in the evolution of civilizations.
Marx further explained that historical development is driven by two fundamentally different structures: the production of subsistence and the creation of ever-more-complex rules and institutions. These structures are mutually dependent. Marx and Engels viewed the first stage of human history as a period of savagery, with a low level of development in the means of production. This was the condition of the human race, which is still evident in certain parts of the world.
During the Middle Ages, the Roman Empire's slave economy led to the rise of the feudal mode of production. However, these oppressed classes of society failed to unite to overthrow the slave-state, leading to a long period of social, economic, and cultural decay and the eventual arrival of the barbarians. However, this is only one of the many problems associated with the rise of the bourgeoisie. Nevertheless, this theory reflects the underlying problems with historical materialism.
In its inception in the radical 1960s, structural Marxism was a brash, new intellectual force, heralding a new era of theoretical anti-humanism. It discarded the idea of historical teleology, declaring history as a process without a subject. But it has been widely misrepresented and resented since its conception of history is a process, rather than a subject. While structural Marxism resisted Hegelian ideas of history and the subject, it has also been a vehicle for the renaissance of historical materialism in the twentieth century.
In the work A Contribution to the Criticism of Political Economy (1859), Marx examined social and economic relations as scientific systems, and the contradictions and oppressions that result from class contradictions. Ultimately, he argued that the conflict in these structures was between material forces of production and existing relations of production expressed in legal property relations. These two forces constituted the basis of society, and their sum total determined its condition.
In Structural Marxism in political, historical, and theoretical analysis, Marxism describes a system of power and class relations in three stages. The base is comprised of the forces of power in a society, while the superstructure is made up of economic, political, and legal structures. The superstructure is a system of ideology that stands beside these three. A typical example of this is the exploitation of workers in the United States.
Althusser's political philosophy was a subtly influencing force in the French political scene. He mentored students and organized colloquia, and wrote a classic book on political philosophy, titled "On the Young Marx". In the 1960s, his essay titled "On the Modern Age" (On the Youth Marx), Althusser entered a debate over Marx's oeuvre and the core of Marxist philosophy.
Historical production of institutions
In political history and theory, the production of institutions has been studied from different perspectives. Many thinkers have used institutions as a'representational' device to explain broad historical trends. However, they rarely give them explicit causal weight. For example, Marxist interpretations of the French Revolution regarded institutions as epiphenomenal extensions of class relations. Parlements were seen as the spokesmen of a noble class, with the divisions between parlements and other elitist institutions being interpreted as questions of further research. Similarly, Keith Baker has studied the discourses of justice and reason within institutional contexts.
In the French Revolution, for instance, the study of institutions was crucial to understanding the social dimensions of the Revolution. Roland Mousnier's The Institutions of France Under the Absolute Monarchy (1929) was a valuable reference work, but it couched the analysis in terms of a society of classes. This is an illuminating example of how institutions can illuminate the origins of a social revolution.
While institutions are only reflections of people, they can nonetheless be viewed as a 'production' of the social realm. The social history of institutions must be careful not to conflate the production of institutions with'social' phenomena. This would result in the accumulation of a great deal of data and information about social life in a given country, while neglecting important elements of the social landscape. And of course, it should be remembered that institutions are just reflections of the people who inhabit it.
A third important aspect of historical production is the inclusion of literary co-operatives. While it is possible to study institutions through literary analysis, history must also involve students. Those who engage in the production of history should be aware of the importance of these actors and the roles they play. It is essential to acknowledge these players and their role in shaping our societies. The purpose of historical research cannot be confined to simply understanding social formation.
Historical production of democracy
Several theorists have argued for the abandonment of democracy and the modification of its institutions. These arguments have varying degrees of tenacity, but they all attempt to explain democracy and its role in political life. The key point of this book is the necessity of democratic institutions to realize public equality. A better understanding of democracy must include a focus on freedom and equality. Democracy can only achieve these ends when it gives each subject a fair share of political power.
In addition, democratic theory suggests that democracy is the result of a peaceful compromise among competing claims for rule. If enough people are willing to compromise on their claims, each person will be equally satisfied with the result. The end result of such a process is a society in which each person has an equal say in determining policy and law. And, since this principle is not universal, democracy may be imperfect. However, it does have its positive aspects.
A well-functioning democracy protects core liberal rights. For instance, African Americans gained their voting rights in 1965 and secured more benefits from the state. A democracy also helps economic growth, a view defended by several contemporary authors. This argument is not purely instrumental, as well-functioning democratic institutions are also responsible for protecting the core rights of the liberal elite. If democracy is an ideal system for protecting the basic liberties of all citizens, it is likely that democratic institutions will promote economic growth.
In this light, democratic theory has its problems. The Arrow 1951 impossibility theorem, for example, poses serious problems for democratic theory. Scholars such as Russell Hardin and William Riker have argued that it reveals deep problems with the ideals of democracy. Although neither Hardin nor Riker are opposed to democracy, they argue that democratic ideals can be rationally justified. The problem lies in the fact that it is impossible to find a better system.
Influence of Christianity on political thought
The influence of Christianity on political thought has been a controversial issue throughout history. Those who hold Christian beliefs typically reject the idea of secularism, which views the state as essentially evil. However, they do recognize that a limited role for the state is necessary, especially for the administration of justice and security. The state, however, is not a source of truth, and Christians have not always regarded the state as such.
While a minority of Christians held secular jobs in the West, Christians dominated most of Europe. When the Roman Empire fell, the Pope served as its political leader. While the Byzantine Empire remained the center of Christianity in the East, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as the Emperor of the Romans, establishing the Christian church's interdependence with the Carolingian and Holy Roman Empires. Christian pacifism became an important political force, and the historical peace churches were the foremost exponents of it.
Although Locke's Christianity was messianic, he remained adamant that Christian doctrine must be interpreted as it is presented in Scripture. Consequently, the nature of the civil state should be examined in light of the general providence of God. However, despite his strong Christian beliefs, political thought in the West has been influenced by the ideas of Martin Luther. A good example of this is the Protestant Reformation.
Christian culture has also had an effect on art. Christian art is a rich body of writing incorporating Christian themes and values. Many pieces of Christian literature, from the Bible to Christian fiction, have Christian themes. This literature has a profound influence on any area in which Christianity has been prevalent. In particular, Christian poems often use biblical imagery or reference other works of art. This has been true for centuries in the West. This is because the influence of Christian culture on political thought is so widespread that it has influenced the evolution of Western art.