Unformatted text preview: Tyler Downey American Politcal Thought Joyce Denning 18 December 2007 In the Gilded age of American political thought new thinkers began to make assumptions on how the lives of Americans should be lived in the new modern industrial world. Like all capitalistic societies we began to see a division between the owning class and the working class. The new thinkers of the age begin to make assumptions on the way they see society and their views on human nature, freedom and equality, and the role of both the government and the citizen. One on side there are thinkers like William Summner who thinks in the way of human Darwinism that is only the strong survive and the weak will simply be weeded out of society. On the other hand we have Edward Bellamy who believes in the good in people and thinks that all people should pursue what they want in life regardless of fininichal status. Lastly, we have Emma Goldman an early 20th century Anarchist who ideas are not as evil as the word anarchist is portrayed in American society. In his essay What Social Classes Owe Each Other William Graham Sumner details his thoughts on human nature, freedom and equality, and the role of government and citizen. Sumners view on human nature are made strikingly clear early in his essay , The reason for the excess for of the old governing class lies in the passions and vices of human nature cupidity, vindictiveness, lust, ambitition, and lust. Quite simply said Sumner believes that people are anti social and will do whatever they want if its benefits them in some way. To say the least he takes the pessimist point of view on human nature thinking people are inheradintly stupid and have no capacity for reason. His views on freedom and equality are just as aptly put, Sumner belives that people should not be dependant on other people to provide for them. Sumner is a true believer in human Darwinism meaning that why he acknowledges differences in classes Sumner believes it is up to the indiuvual to set his own course and density for his or hers life. If your down you should be able to pull your self up by your boot straps and carry on if not your weak and it has been proven that you are not fit for Sumners society. His views on role of government and the citzen are written in social formula known as the forgotten man. A and B put their heads together to decide what C shall be made to do for D. A and B in the equation are the government and D is respondent of aid from the government while C is the taxpayer. Sumner believes that C has no voice in the decision of where his tax dollars are spent which is decided by A and B. Yet, the money given to government in order to pay for D which worked for and saved up by C. Sumner belives then that the government should not have to pay for D because, the State cannot get a cent for any man without taking it from some other man, and this latter must be a man who has produced and saved it. This latter is the Forgotten Man. The other view of society that we have is Edward Bellamys Looking Backward published before the turn of the 20th century. Bellamys view on humans and on society overall is much difference that that of Sumner. Bellamy belives that humans are natural curious beings with the ability to reason and generally be outwardly social toward each other. His views on freedom and equality are that of everyone in the society that contributes there best should be treated as equal within the society. Bellamy in Looking Backwards creates an utopian society at the end of the 20th century. In it everyone is free to pursue what they want to get out of life after completeting a work program that ends in their mid twenties. Everyone within the society receives the same amount of money for the same amount of contribution to the society. No one is left without a home, job, or a grumbling in their stomach. Bellamys views of the government is one of national care taker. He believes that the government should control all business therefore allowing people to be free to pursue whatever there little hearts desire in the world. While Emma Goldmans writings do have some semblance in the work of Sumner but id have to say she would chose rather to live in Bellemy polity. While her writing does come off as a dog eat dog type of world her ideas rest best with Bellamy. In her book Ancharism and other Essays she wrote, Anarchism, then, really stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government. Anarchism stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals for the purpose of producing real social wealth; an order that will guarantee to every human being free access to the earth and full enjoyment of the necessities of life, according to individual desires, tastes, and inclinations. Her use of words especially liberation in connection with the individual fare far better with Bellamy vision of society. Though the word anarchism has gotten a bad rap in the American political lexicon Goldmans ideas are really that of allowing people to act in orderly manner how they see fit to run their lives. For me personally I would have to say I live in Sumner state of mind because thats the way the game is played out in the world. No ones going to give it to you; you have to take it. The world pushes you down you push right back etc. Though lately I am becoming to come around Bellamy view on human nature; that every person is intellectually curious in some form or another and that most people are socially out going. Living in Bellamys vision of 20th century society is much more appealing to my mind then that of Sumners view on Human Darwinism. A world where I chose to pursue what I really want to do with my life and not have to worry about mounting financial concerns. True happiness is very hard to come by life and most people I think just settle to be content with their day to day lives. Its almost like I really dont even want to think about a world like that because the minute I snap back into reality Sumner vision of society will be back action. The game I guess just stays the same. ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course POS 301 taught by Professor Denning during the Spring '08 term at UMass Lowell.
- Spring '08
- Looking Backward