From the Ancient Greece until today, philosophers Plato and Aristotle still remain relevant to the society.
With their writings, leaders have adapted some of their teachings and applied it to their own states. These Greek philosophers’ knowledge has not only spread throughout their city-state but as well as across the world. Plato, in The Republic, has talked about prohibiting ownership of private properties for the leaders of the state. He compares the parts of a state and parts of a man’s soul where the guardians, warriors, and producers are the equivalent of rational, spiritual, and appetitive parts respectively. He argues that each man has one dominant part of the soul according to their role in the society and if a guardian is to obtain a property, it will agitate their recessive part of the soul – the appetitive – and may end up being greedy with wealth that will result to the guardian being a bad leader, worse, a tyrant. Plato insists on having a communal property throughout the state as it will minimize, or even dissolve, the whole possibility of having conflicts between the citizens of the state. In the modern times, Plato’s idea of communal property has flourished into an ideology called ‘communism’. Communism, as defined in the dictionary, is the abolition of private property and common ownership of goods.
The theory commenced into economic and political studies with Marx, Engels, and Lenin’s ideas. Plato had nothing to do with this ideology, but they do have the same belief and philosophy – communal ownership. Communism is often connected to Karl Marx, as it was during his time that this ideology came into light. He wrote the famous book The Communist Manifesto during his stay in Brussels for his group “Communist League.” In the book, he talks about the class struggles and the Communists of his time, its definition and their objectives. The Union of Soviet Socialist Russia (U.S.
S.R.) had communism as their official ideology until the union was dissolved. To this date, there are only five communist states left, namely: China, Vietnam, Cuba, North Korea, and Laos. In China, Mao Tse-Tung, heavily influenced by Stalin, wrote On Practice and On Contradiction, which put him on the list of five communist classics. He was the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader from 1927 until his death.
CCP was established in 1921, but China only became a communist state in 1949 as they faced many interruptions inside and outside their country. Chiang Kai-Shek and the nationalist movement were among the biggest difficulties that faced the party. During the Sino-Japanese War, they agreed to have a “united front” in exchange, they will be admitted in the national government, seeing an opportunity to expand, the communists accepted the offer.
With the struggle on the postwar problems and interference of the Soviet Union, they were able to seize power in the mainland China. Vietnam’s form of communism is a combination of the teachings and beliefs of Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. It formally commenced on June 1925, when Ho Chi Minh instituted the Revolutionary League of Young Vietnamese. He attended the founding congress of the French Communist Party in 1920 and was a professional revolutionary during the inter-war period, spending his time in the Soviet Union and China. In 1954 with the Geneva agreement, communism in North Vietnam was firmly established with a large number of citizens fleeing to the South to get away from the regime.
With the same agreement, an election attempting to reunite both parts of Vietnam was supposed to be held in 1956 but because of the communist rule making election meaningless and the refusal of the opposite, it depleted. The Second Indochina War took place in 1957, a complicated and violent war due to the hostile regimes in both parts of the country and the assassination of Premier Diem, the leader of the South. It was a success on the communists’ part although they were still distant from their final goal. Cuba has received aid from the Soviet Union but its leader, Fidel Castro, was very vocal about being an anti-communist. With the downfall of the latter state, communism was given another meaning.
Cuba decided to follow Marx, Guevara interpreting him with the emergence of “New Man,” taking care of the people’s innovative capacities for the common good. At the present time, though, they are in the middle of changing their constitution and are planning to disregard communism, only keeping it as a guide for their one-party system. After World War II, Japan backed out of Korea leaving Soviet Union in charge of the North, while United States with the South, attempting to avoid making long-term decisions for them. Due to differing governments, the states in charge agreed to temporary divide the country on the 38th parallel but the separation became more severe with Kim Il Sung organizing a communist government in the North.
Plato’s principle seems to be the framework of the modern day communism. This principle, again, though not directly connected to communism, aim to give what is good for all and abolish any kind of inequality or reason for misunderstandings. Most of the communist countries have adapted ideology after undergoing wars, often using it as a resolution to the postwar problems and other conflicts.
They also use it to alter their social statuses and the social order. The communists’ methods of social alteration often include land collectivization- distributing properties of the higher classes to the lower. Meanwhile, Aristotle, in Politics, has shared different concepts as well. He talked about the functions of government, emphasizing that a good government is where the ruler considers the collective interest and strictly conforms to the principle of justice, while a perverted government is one where the ruler does things based on his own desire and principles.
Aristotle also touched on the definition and function of a citizen. His definition of a citizen, although somewhat vague and too specific, is one who engages in political office. Because there are different types of government, there are also different types of citizen. But, still, according to Aristotle, one who shares in the honor of state is considered the highest form citizen. And as a citizen, one must abide by the principles of his community and because there are different types and forms of community, they uphold different virtues. To be a good citizen does not necessarily equate to being a man with a perfect virtue. Distribution of the function of three elements of state – namely, deliberative, judicial, and executive – was also talked about in Politics.
Deliberative, supreme element of the state is in charge of war and peace, laws, and alliances, and it is usually occupied by an assembly, or an alternation between people in a democracy. The tenure in office, members and appointment, and number of offices are usually deliberated about in the executive. This element focuses on the consideration of some matters, as well as the judging and commanding – giving emphasis on the last. Last is the judicial part.
Like in the executive, the number of law-courts, members, and mode of appointment are given attention as well. A state with a good ruler, who puts into consideration the interest of his own subjects, is one of the most important and relevant principles from before until today. There was even a research made average happiness and state of government being correlated with each other. Ott, in his research about the relation of the quality of government and average happiness of the citizens, concluded that both are, indeed, connected. With a responsible leader and a quality leadership, citizens can be assured of their welfare. Being led by a good ruler, a citizen must also prove his loyalty to and adhere with the policies of the state he is living in and fulfill the duties he was given.
While emergence of complaints and questions always happen when a certain bill is approved or a decision is made, even though it is inevitable, it can be lowered only if citizens try to get more involved in the political sector – although limitations should always be observed. Public participation, especially in the current democratic countries, is one that is mainly encouraged. Citizen engagement in political processes may help with the improvement of laws and policies implemented and those that will be implemented in the future. The last concept from Aristotle is the separation of powers. It is one of the most important constitutional principles – with the three branches needing to be autonomous from each other. It is essential to practice checks and balances and to avoid abuse of power of a branch or even the state leader.
As it is constitutional function, the separation of powers is important in assuring that the rights of the citizens are uninjured. Communal property introduced by Plato in The Republic, aims to abolish private property to avoid the guardian’s greediness to come into the picture; while present day Communism, although tweaked a lot, also consider into their principle the idea of land collectivization to distribute the properties of the rich to the poor. There were also different concepts included in the governance of a country that were tackled in Aristotle’s Politics.
He has mentioned about a good government with a ruler ignoring their own greed to provide quality service to his citizens. But at the same time, he defined citizen as someone who engages himself in political activities. Both are still relevant to this time as a good ruler contributes to the well-being of his subject, and a good citizen contributes in the well-being of his state and society. The idea of separation of powers is also important today, with it being an essential part of most constitutions to ensure that no one abuses all the power, prevention of a possible dictator or tyrant, and preserving the right of the citizens.
Ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle managed to live until the present time. It was through their concepts and teachings that they attained immortality. Although most have been altered or modified, their ideas still stick out.