Plato and Karl Marx: Compare and Contrast
Choose either Plato or Aristotle and one other thinker from those discussed in class (with the exception of Machiavelli). Compare and contrast the political philosophies of the thinkers chosen so as to discuss key concepts of political theory including democracy, equality and rights including the (civil) right to protest and to disobedience.
It is interesting to see the views and opinions of different philosophers who lived in different time period when it comes to the subject of political theory. These philosophers may not have directly written about political theory, but their way of thinking can be applied to political theory. In this essay I am going to talk about Karl Marx and Plato. We can say that; these two philosophers share different opinions about political theory.
The first philosopher that I have decided to discuss is Karl Marx. Marx was a 19th century German philosopher who had communistic political views. Marx lived in a period where the western world was dominated by the capitalist political ideology. Being a communist Marx found many problems with this ideology and wrote them down in his books. Marx says that communism is good as he believes that communist expresses that we as humans always have a place in the world heart. In general he found 5 problems with capitalism, he gave his views on why they are incorrect and he also gave his ideal world views, which naturally are communistic views due to his political ideology.
A problem with the capitalism when is comes to political theory is that modern work is alienated. He says this as he feels that in this modern world you don’t know what your contribution to the product your making is. In the past a carpenter made a whole chair himself whilst in this modern world on a production line various people come together fitting different parts in order to make a chair. Marx sees work as a source of joy and therefore you see yourself in the object you are making. The second problem that Marx finds is that the modern world is insecure, and that technology makes us terrified of being abandoned.
The third problem that Karl Marx finds is related to equality. He believes that in this modern world, workers get paid little whilst the capitalists who own the companies keep on getting richer. He sees this inequality himself in the time he was living in where poverty was very present. In this capitalist world, the low wages for the workers make bigger profits and Marx says that a bigger profit is a fancier word which is used instead of exploitation. This exploitation also comes in contact with the democracy which was present at that time where, only the elite where able to vote and had rights. Marx sees this as theft where prices of goods was high whilst wages where low, and this inequality annoyed Marx and saw the profit made by the companies as a reward for ingenuity.
The fourth problem that Marx found with capitalism and so due to his political philosophy he found wrong was that capitalism is very unstable. This instability will lead to crisis. Marx believes that crisis are endemic to capitalism. The problem is that we can produce too much than what one needs to consumer. Marx calls unemployment freedom as there are too many products therefore abundance of goods. In this modern world we have the potential to give everyone the basic necessities and also give wealth to everyone.
Although capitalism is done by capitalists, Marx also believes that this form of politics is wrong as it is bad for capitalists too. Capitalism, forces everyone to put their own economic interest at the sole of their lives. He believes that feminism is good for leisure. As he believes that unemployment is good, he therefore is saying that females should be happy not to work as this gives them time to relax. This cannot be said for males as they are the ones who are working all the time. So, as Marx believes that capitalism is a bad way of politics as it teaches us to be anxious, competitive, confirmative and politically complacent, Marx lists 4 important ides in his book titled the communist manifesto where he lists his ideal world.
Marx’s ideal world is based on communism. The first thing he believes is that, there should not be any privatisation of property together with no inheritance of the wealth of the family. This is a common communistic trait, where everyone works for his own money and nothing is given to the individual without doing anything. This is Marx’s ideal form of democracy which in reality could function but due to the modern world we live in where a family business is the key source for the income of the family, with Marx’s idea, the family would suffer. Also, many individuals would disagree that property would be owned by the state, as not everyone would get their fair share of property due to corruption which happens in every form of government.
Another burden that many people face in this modern world is the issue of tax. Marx believes that tax is good for a state as it’s a form of revenue which in return is pumped backed into the state through, services which would be offered free by the government. What Marx does not agree with is that the fluctuation of the tax percentage. He believes in his ideal communistic world that, there should be a steep gradual increase in income tax for all.
The third thing that Karl Marx believes in is that there would be a centralised control of banking, communication and transport. This would be an ideal idea for all types of government to implement as it’s a win win situation for all. The people would be happy as they would have efficient banking, communication and transport and also a win for the government as it would be in control of three needs that everyone needs. It would be much better having a government owned company rather than privately owned one.
The fourth and final thing that Marx believes that is important in his ideal world is that of free public education. This free public education would be equal to all and beneficial to all as every child would have the opportunity to be educated which would in return improve their pay if are coming from a family have a farm.
All these points that Marx makes are all communistic and therefore equal to all if practiced well. Unfortunately, the right to protest would be very limited in this type of political system as any protest would be silenced by the state.
The next philosopher that I have decided to discuss is Plato. Plato was a Classical Greek philosopher. He is said to be a key figure in the development of Western philosophy. We can interpret Plato’s philosophies into political philosophy through his books most notably The Republic. Plato, lived in the times of the collapse of the great city state of Athens as so his philosophical theories are based upon what he experienced in those times.
Plato, talks about happiness and the good live in most of his works. He believes in virtue which is crucial for him. Virtue meaning reason and query and also, the virtue is the centre point of ones life. Plato also believes that you should always put the greater good ahead of yourself. He believes that in order for you to be happy the people around you therefore the greater good should be happy too.
It is interesting to note that, Plato is one of a few philosophers who believe that, the ideal rule is where the rulers base their reasoning on virtue. His ideal form of rule is democracy which comes from the Greek word, demos and kratos, which means rule for the people. Living in such in the Greek city state Plato, saw democracy in its beginning and therefore in his work we can find Plato criticising the Athenian people on how they are using democracy.
Plato, believed that only intelligent people should be thought philosophy which was then key to help you on how to rule. The first, rather obvious, strike against Athenian democracy is that there was a tendency for people to be casually executed. It is understandable why Plato despised democracy, considering that his friend and mentor, Socrates, was condemned to death by the policy makers of Athens. Plato would write about the trial of Socrates in his first essay The Apology. Plato would later describe the trial of Socrates as a doctor being persecuted by a pastry chef and judged by a jury of children. Still, Socrates was not the only man to be executed in such a manner.
Therefore, we can say that Plato is in a way expressing the right to protest due to the incident that happened to his friend Socrates. The right to protest in a democracy is key for it to function properly and everyone’s voice is heard.
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