Modern Political Philosophy and the U.S. Government

Political philosophy is something what every government is grounded on. Applicatio of particular theories allows to construct a democratic or authoritarian regime in accordance with recommendations of thinkers who themselves developed the theories of democracy or authoritarianism. It is rather interesting to discover that neither of the prominent political philosophers, be it Machiavelli, Locke or Hobbes, believed that he was constructing a plain theory, which can not be realized in practice.

Each of them deemed their concept to be ultimate and universally applicable, although their theories covered only particular aspects of state governance, but not the entire practice of public authorities existence. The problem which any government has to face in this field is to reconcile the contradictory theories, use their advantages and avoid disadvantages. In this paper I shall examine the political theories of Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke and attempt to discover how their respective theories are applied by the American government.

I will pay special attention to Hobbes’ method of deductive reasoning, which I am going to use to investigate the social contract theory proposed by Hobbes. based on this theory I will attempt to propose changes in the structure of the American government aimed to better its functioning on the grounds of political philosophy. Perhaps it would be surprising to apply Machiavelli’s theory to the American government, since Machiavelli’s concept is designed for a “Prince”, in other words a sole dictator, and it is therefore a very authoritarian concept, while American government is democratic, or at least it declares itself to be democratic.

Yet many of the Machiavelli’s points are highly applicable to this government, and Machiavelli’s theory flourishes in the USA, whether consciously or not. Since the government is already strongly established and recognized by the people, I shall avoid speaking of the methods of obtaining power described by Machiavelli and concentrate on the methods of rule and maintaining power. In “The Prince” Machiavelli pays special attention to the relations between a ruler and the subject. A relevant section of his masterpiece work is called “Concerning Cruelty And Clemency, And Whether It Is Better To Be Loved Than Feared”.

Here Machiavelli observes that a monarch may be either loved or feared by his subjects. The best for the monarch is to inspire both love and fear, without hatred. But, in case it is impossible to do so, it is better to inspire fear, than love, because fear depends on the will of a ruler and love does not . The present US government seemingly inspires more love than fear. Relying in legacy obtained from the Founding fathers, reminding the citizens of the glorious history, using “noble lies” in combination with actual socially oriented policy, the US government is very successful in inspiring love.

Representation of the people in the Congress and their participation in the election procedures do make them feel that it is their government. Yet fear is an element of rule in America as well. It takes a form of a skillful scaremongering concerning terrorism, that allows the government to establish an ever stronger control over the people and causing talks of evolution towards totalitarianism. Although there is not sole “prince” in the USA, his role is successfully played by collective public bodies.