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pol paper 2 - 10 Which do you think are the most useful...

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10. Which do you think are the most useful concepts with which to think about politics: a) power, fear, and cruelty, OR b) truth, virtue, and a community of morals? Why? Use at least two thinkers we have read to support your argument. 1
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Sarah Benton Intro to Politics B Paper 2 November 11, 2009 I believe that the most useful concepts with which to think about politics are the concepts of power, fear and cruelty. These negative concepts, while not ideal in the practice of dealing with people, have proven throughout history to be the most effective means of a central political power controlling its constituents. The other three positive concepts, truth, virtue, and a community of morals, while wonderful and helpful to a community, only detract from a leader’s ability to be a figurehead of said community. The negative concepts can be proven in everyday American society, especially by looking at various governmental projects such as the legal and judicial systems, the FBI, local law enforcement, and other bodies that govern through force and intimidation. These groups enforce the law of the land through promises of punishment. One might ask, would 2
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someone commit a certain crime if they knew there would be no consequences? One might speed or steal from a store while knowing the police will not see him, or a child might steal money from a sibling, knowing a parent will never catch them. With the instatement of rules, laws, and consequences, law-abiding Americans might find themselves herded into making certain decisions based on the consequence (i.e., ‘I am late for my meeting. If I get a speeding ticket, it could cost me $50. If I am late, I could lose my job. I will speed.’). This power over the decision of a citizen is a perfect example of how the governing political body might use the useful, negative political concepts of power, fear and cruelty to control their citizens, therefore ensuring order from chaos in their communities. The concepts of fear, power and cruelty are discussed in many of the works we have read this semester. One work, Aristotle’s The Politics , discusses these ideas through a different lens. According to Aristotle, all organizations are formed in order to reach some common goal, generally the common good. In order to achieve what he describes as “good”, one must exist within the legal, moral and ethical boundaries of government, and maintain good citizenship.
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