As the years have progressed, the significant developments in the field of Political Science, especially in the area of Political Thought have had effects on the modern-day ideologies that we encounter today. It was stated by Dante Germino that political philosophy, as a field, is considered as an ongoing discourse regarding the culminations of political existence, it also discusses the different realities that can be found in the political field. (Germino, 1970) Which proves that the field of political philosophy is one that had been used by the classics up until the postmodernists, seemingly, it is one of the oldest fields in political science.
This paper aims to provide a response to the question regarding the effects of the development of political thought (particularly from modern to postmodern) to the connection and interaction of ideas and actions of society. The different political thinkers to be utilized in this paper would be Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx who represent the Modern thinkers and subsequently, Friedrich Nietzsche and Max Weber will represent the postmodern thinkers. It is important to note that every association made is a comparison between modern and postmodern thought.
To distinguish the difference between the two periods, would mean to differentiate practically the past and the present. It was stated by Fredric Jameson that the idea of “postmodern” is what takes the shape of the modern period in the world today, he had also stated that the shift from modern to postmodern is the magnification of the past modern thinking in terms of advancement (Jameson, 1984) The difference lies in the underlying contexts of their thoughts, given that the two eras are far apart, development had played a big role in this transition.
Germino had given an insight that states the modern era in the field of political thought had intentions regarding the understanding of the political field, particularly of man’s sequential needs and distresses. He had also mentioned that it is widely accepted that the result of the transitioning modern age, was “secularization.” (Germino, 1970) One can say that the modern thinkers, in their time, were mainly inclined with the thought of looking for the general truth in humanity and the different aspects which humans is ascribed to do, with regards to religion.
Pauline Rosenau explained postmodernism through her eyes, she mentioned that the era of postmodernism is a new and growing cultural revolution, a new perspective on how we perceive and translate the things around us. (Rosenau, 1992) Postmodern thought had made its influence in society due to modernization and advancement, the thinkers in this period were more concerned with their subjective side of thought formulation. She had described some postmodernists to debate against some “epistemological foundations” including the ideas and insights gained during the Enlightenment, particularly negates reliance in the thought of advancement and rationality. (Rosenau, 1992)
There are several explanations for the transition of modern to postmodern, a fitting description would be to use one of Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous lines, contained in his book “The Gay Science”, particularly located in Aphorism 105. It was written that God is dead, and that we, people, had killed him. (Nietzsche,1882) For a person, like Nietzsche that isn’t inclined ideally with religion, this statement would be appalling, but the reason behind this statement was that God did not just die, he was killed by us, people, pertaining mainly to the rise of the scientific revolution. (Williams, 2012)The Enlightenment brought about drastic changes to the way people perceive phenomena around them. Nietzsche was a postmodern thinker, and to state this line must mean that the modern period had really secularized and that the postmodern period was drawn to subjectivity.
The postmodern thinkers did not entirely oppose the somewhat traditional thinking of the modernists, but they had offered their own perspectives with regards to the ideas and thoughts that they formulate. To formulate a possible distinction between them, modern and postmodern thinkers are partnered together with their contemporaries to see the similarities and dissimilarities in a certain thought.
Marx and Weber
Capitalism: For (Weber, 1905) had mentioned that the people who possess the spirit of capitalism, tends to be averse to the Church. Religion was said to be the vital factor that lures people away from labor. The spirit of capitalism does not need any religious presence and they feel the attempt of religion to affect the economy, it would be held as an unwarranted intrusion. While Marx reiterates that the Capital is being used as a social power instead of a personal one. He feels that the lower class/proletariat has, whatsoever, no relations to the bourgeoisie which is intended as the national identity at that time. This, then, uses religion as a bait which lures the lower class into doing the interests of the ruling class. (Marx ; Engels, 1848)
Marx and Weber have the same thoughts regarding the relationship between capitalism and religion. They both realize that religion is misused in the capitalist scene. The only difference that would be apparent is that Marx disregarded religion and thought for capitalistic gains, while Weber simply made a distinction that the two factors do not meet.
Marx and Nietzsche
Freedom: (Nietzsche,1887) gave pertinence on the topic of slave-morality. He said that revolt among slaves starts with their ressentiment. The low concepts of slaves are directly derived to its counterpart, which is methodically immersed in life and desire. A group of men which apply ressentiment are destined to become smarter than any other group of men. Consequently, Marx stated that the bourgeoisie class, had stopped the existing feudal associations, and the other relations that make the working-class inferior, it had established a single unthinkable form of freedom, which was then, Free Trade, making all of the working class succumbed to it. The bourgeoisie needed to revolutionize their means of production and with that, the relations of society. (Marx ; Engels, 1848)
Basically, freedom was somehow shown through the abolishment of feudal relations, the endpoint of their statements. For Nietzsche, the master-slave relation was one that was awaiting revolt, he had even mentioned that the rising lower class were smarter and capable individuals compared to their masters. For Marx, the abolishment of the feudal relations, equated into the complete control of the bourgeoisie to the working class.
Hegel and Nietzsche
Religion and Politics: (Hegel, 1820) had given importance to religion as the key to a stable state, because this is where man retraces his “consciousness” and he does not lose himself in the process, even if there are feelings of being lost. (Nietzsche,1886) isn’t really a pursuer of religion, states the ability of religion to mask the different social conditions that can happen around any other person.
In the first part of the paper, secularization was said to be in the modern era, which is seen to be correct due to the use of Hegel, sees religion and politics of being intertwined. Nietzsche stands on a neutral ground when it comes to Religion, since in his book, On the Genealogy of Morals, he mostly talks about the asceticism and the ascetic ideals (Nietzsche,1887)
Development of Thought
To state that the political thinker’s reasons for having different ideas (with regards to the recurring thoughts) is not unusual since people have different thoughts, would be to state the obvious. From his book, Beyond Good and Evil, Friedrich Nietzsche, had described the philosopher as a mirror of what he perceives society to be. He had come to the conclusion that the ideas and beliefs that a philosopher envisions will depend highly on his/her environment which include the different social issues and stratification being held at that particular time. (Nietzsche, 1886) This could be the reason for the growing influence of thinkers on the society, due to the fact that they can relate to the given thought, they consider the idea and they live by it.
The development given example beforehand had an impact in the society through reaching the consciousness of people. For further reference, Germino had stated that this notion of man having its “self-consciousness” and precise inquiry with the different ideals of politics had transpired in a specific point in time in a specific kind of civilization which had bestowed unto man, the “self-consciousness” in a historical perspective (Germino, 1970). An example of this situation, in a general sense, would be the instance of mere ideologies becoming political thought in the postmodern era. i.e. Marxism, Maoism and etc.
As an answer to the given question, the application of the different “isms” or ideologies on the field of political science have been proof of the imprint that the various range of political thoughts offer. Its effect on the political association of people gave colors to the wide spectrum of beliefs in the political world. These ideas and insights were only ideas believed by several political thinkers. Proving clearly that the concepts used in the modern and postmodern eras have been translated into action through political ideologies and application of thought.