Political philosophies: Collectivism and Collectivism

Political philosophies

  • Many political parties base their political action and election program on an ideology.
  • Political ideologies here has been divided into mainly 2 types:

  • Collectivism: one or some or many men should rule the others. Ex:- Socialism, Communism, Autocracy, Despotism, Authoritarianism, Conservatism, Democracy, Fascism, Monarchy, Pluralism, Plutocracy, Theocracy etc.

  • Individualism: advocates the abolition of organised authority. Ex:- Anarchism/Nihilism, Liberalism, Libertarianism, Objectivism, Capitalism, The Republic.

1. Despotism/autocracy/dictatorship

  • An autocracy is characterised by a supreme, uncontrolled, unlimited authority, or right of governing in a single person, as of an autocrat.

  • It is very similar to a dictatorship and the fundamental here is that the autocrat has absolute power.

  • An autocrat requires a massive amount of army to exert control over an unwilling people. A benevolent autocrat is a contradiction in terms.

  • A benevolent person recognises that benevolence is not something which can, by its nature, be forcibly created.

  • A benevolent leader would seek to undo the social engineering and return the society toward the sovereignty of the individual.

  • Ex:- Russia under Joseph Stalin and Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

2. Communism

  • Communism means a scheme of equalising the social conditions of life which abolition of inequalities in the possession of property or by holding all wealth in common for the equal use and advantage of all.

  • All material is centralised and distributed by legislators, the intention being to achieve equal utility (of material) by all.

  • Freedom of expression tends also to be mediated by the state for the same reasons and to maintain the ‘integrity’ of the collective.

  • In practice communism fails darkly. The only way it can be achieved is if every single member of a communist society is in absolute agreement with the above arrangement.
  • And that the legislators are not open to corruption in the form of personal acquisition or favour.

3. Conservatism

  • A political philosophy that tends to support the status quo and advocates change only in moderation.

  • Conservatism upholds the value of tradition, and seeks to preserve all that is good about the past.

  • Irishman Edmund Burke, in his Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), compared society to a living organism that has taken time to grow and mature, so it should not be suddenly uprooted.

  • It is a philosophy against radicalism of any sort, regardless of merit.

4. Democracy

  • Democracy is of two types—direct and indirect. In direct democracy, the people exercise their supreme power directly as is the case in Switzerland.

  • There are four devices of direct democracy, namely, Referendum, Initiative, Recall and Plebiscite12. In indirect democracy, on the other hand, the representatives elected by the people exercise the supreme power and thus carry on the government and make the laws.

  • This type of democracy, also known as representative democracy, is of two kinds—parliamentary and presidential.

  • The Indian Constitution provides for rep-resentative parliamentary democracy under which the executive is responsible to the legislature for all its policies and actions.

  • Universal adult franchise, periodic elections, rule of law, independence of judiciary, and absence of discrimination on certain

  • grounds are the manifestations of the democratic character of the Indian polity.


Fascism is characterised by elements of pride in the nation, anti-Marxism, the complete rejection of parliamentary democracy, the cultivation of military virtues, strong government, and loyalty to a strong leader.


  • Form of rulership whereby a queen or king, empress or emperor holds absolute or limited power, usually inherited.
  • In this century most European monarchies have become constitutional or limited, such as with the British Monarchy.

  • Such monarchies often represent a strong symbol of national identity in the people’s minds.

  • In some countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia monarchs still continue to hold absolute power. Under these conditions the state is similar to autocracy.


  • Government carried out by a process of bargaining and compromise between a variety of competing leadership groups (business, labour, government, etc.).

  • According to pluralism, individual rights and interests are protected by a sort of extra-constitutional checks and balances: No single group holds the dominant power position, power is always shifting, and individuals can have influence on policy-making through being active in one of these power groups.

  • Some claim that America is such a pluralistic society; other theories say that pluralism is in fact a myth and American society is elitist.

  • Despite this pluralism is not limited, other than by the common sense of its participants. Therefore it is still, in essence, collectivist and adversarial.

  • A state or government which is run by priests or clergy. A recent example of a theocracy is Iran immediately after the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, when the Ayotollah Khomeini gained power.

  • Theocracies are becoming more common as Islamic fundamentalism grows in strength, but its influence is almost non-existent in the West, with the exception of the USA where the ‘religious right’ have some influence.

  • The social engineering is derived from the mythical content of the state religion and could include any number of atrocities against the individual.

  • A doctrine that advocates the abolition of organised authority. Anarchists believe that all government is corrupt and evil.

  • Anarchism was a force in nineteenth century Russia, associated with Prince Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921) and Mikhail Bakunin (1814-76).

  • Types of anarchism range from pacifism to violent revolution. While most often anti-capitalist (and tending to more collectivist philosophies), there are pro-capitalist strains, depending on the view of private property.

  • The major problem with anarchism is in maintaining the freedom of the individual.

  • Without an organised objective system of law an anarchic society might be at the mercy of the criminal and the powerful, with only personal and communal self-defence to rely on.

Liberalism (CLASSICAL)

  • A term which has changed its meaning, in the 19th century in Europe, the great age of liberalism, the term stood for freedom from church and state authority and the reduction of the power of royalty and aristocracy, free enterprise economics, and the free development of the individual.
  • Liberalism advocated freedom of the press, religious toleration, self-determination for nations. It was liberalism that established parliamentary democracy. The Founding Fathers of the USA might be termed liberals.


  • A philosophy of freedom, particularly from any unnecessary restraints imposed (or indeed any restraints) by governmental authority.

  • The problem that libertarians need to address (and many do) is that of crime.

  • A national system of Law requires a national government/police, which can pose problems for Libertarians.

  • Contrary to popular belief capitalism is not a ‘system’ as such. It is the consequence of individual liberty and corresponding property rights (the right to own that which you create, or are born owning).

  • Capitalism is readily blamed for various inequalities despite having never been practised in fact, with the closest examples being 19th century USA and to a lesser extent 19th century Britain.

  • It is not a system of force imposed by people. It is a lack of such a system. It is what happens when people are free from the force of other people.

  • In order to have people ‘free’ of the force of natural conditions something must be done to make those conditions better for mankind.

  • That is exactly what people have been doing with the invention of the wheel, of machines, the production of energy and everything that followed.

  • All of this is the product of mans mind, without it mankind is returned unprotected to nature. Capitalism itself forces nothing.

  • Capitalism doesn’t aim at equal ends because they do not occur where people are free to choose their own paths.
  • Those better off do have more opportunities (not more freedom), but that in no way gives one person (or group) the right to rob them of these opportunities and give them to another.

  • Life can be very hard for an impoverished man in a desert compared to a rich man in a European landowner’s family.

  • That does not give anyone the right to rob the European and give to desert dweller.


  • A republic is a political system whereby political power is explicitly is granted with consent of the people and ruled according to law.

  • The purpose of the government is to protect the rights of the people and in discharging that purpose it derives its just power from the consent of the people.

  • Hence the words “we the people”. It is not a democracy, nor is it populism or pluralism.

  • In fact it is quite a strictly limited system where the people essentially delegate (note – delegate, not forfeit) the protection of their individual rights to a government of their choosing.

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