The Ideal Society
An ideal society can fall anywhere along a hypothetical scale; but most commonly they fall at one end of the scale and very rarely go into the middle grounds.
The Vatican II, which was a conference that addressed relations between the Roman Catholic church and the modern world, described some very important characteristics of what it means to be catholic. In this description the ideal society takes the role of making a classless society that everyone lives in peacefully.
In the Vatican II, the ideal society has a few points that must meet recognition first before it can be formed. It first says that in the Council in the Pastoral Constitution there was the Aggiornamento and Solidarity. Aggiornamento states that the themes or circumstances of a situation are always going to change, and therefore the rules and way of thinking should naturally change with it. To have outdated laws and rules that serve no purpose causes disgruntle; it is ignorant to ignore the changes that take place and one should accommodate for such. Solidarity states that both Christianity and this ideal society is meant for everyone. To repress one from living in this ideal society would indeed make the society imperfect because if there is a source of unhappiness this will corrupt and prevent the morality needed for an ideal society.
The Vatican II also says that economic or social classes is a direct cause of the faulty society that which we have today. In order to meet the ideal society requirements equality must be distributed amongst all the people while respecting the rights of both individuals and different societies. The large economic split is the main reason for what is holding us back and until we solve this problem, advancing to the next step will be difficult.
To meet the requirements of justice and equity, every effort must be made, while respecting the rights of individuals and national characteristics, to put an end as soon as possible to the immense economic inequalities which exist in the world, which increase daily and which go hand and hand with individual and social discrimination.
The Vatican II differs from Marx and Tolstoy in that the main inspiration of helping others and doing good for each other is not only a worldly or materialistic aspect, but also as a spiritual aspect as well. The importance of loving our bodies is specifically important in this life because they are brought with us into the next, therefore such activities as church and prayer groups can be seen as important to survival and the ideal society as food and shelter.
The human person, though made of body and soul, is unity. In itself, in its very bodily condition, it synthesizes the elements of the material world, which through it are thus brought to their highest perfection and are enabled to raise their voice in spontaneous praise of the creator.
Leo Tolstoy, a Russian philosopher, Christian, and social reformer, comes from the same perspective when trying to interpret his ideal society. He was a devout Christian but saw the most importance of Christianity lied not in tradition and rules but pacifism and nonviolence. Everything Tolstoy worked on or believed in revolved around complete pacifism. Pacifism is specifically important though because through non-violence, Tolstoy believes the ideal society can be achieved.
Much like The Vatican II, some specific guidelines must be met first for the ideal society to be achieved. To begin Tolstoy says that those that life in agricultural societies tend to be the most pacifistic so our ideal society should be modeled around that. Tolstoy shuns upon private property because it is the influence of greed and deprives the ideal society of the oxygen it needs to breath, without it there is no hope because just like Vatican II, everyone must meet equality.
Most importantly though Tolstoy demands that everyone must convert to his reasoning and philosophy and become completely pacifistic. Then when the last final person converts the ideal society can finish forming. Tolstoy claims that if everyone is pacifistic and only care about each other and living well, there will be no need for government or laws. Everyone will act accordingly as they should and live in harmony if they live as Tolstoy tells them to. It will essentially be an anarchist government but not in the sense we're most familiar with. It will be anarchist because there will be no government but that's only because there wont be a need for one. In addition to that Tolstoy would support any anarchist government though because he knows the power that it can hold and the destruction it can cause. He once said, Robbers are far less dangerous than a well-organized government.
Tolstoy specifically differs from Marx in that Tolstoy claims that there will be no Revolution like Marx says is immanent. Tolstoy claims that the ideal society comes about peacefully and naturally like the conversions of society to Tolstoy's pacifistic philosophy. They are mistaken only in thinking that Anarchy can be instituted by a revolution. But it will be instituted only by there being more and more people who do not require the protection of governmental power ... There can be only one permanent revolution a moral one: the regeneration of the inner man."
Karl Marx's, who was a German philosopher, historian, sociologist, and economist, main objective in life was to describe the ideal society and learn about the main cause of its restriction so his description is the most accurate. Marx claims that the basics of the current societies are the same ones that form the ideal society and both derive from human nature. Marx sees Human nature as a good thing because it is a natural instinct that has a cause and reaction. Marx says that humans express themselves by showing what they own, and they interpret what's their own by altering existing nature to call it their own. Marx stated that conflict between opposing interests is the cause for Social change, but in the beginning there was free productive work and over time it was dehumanized and manipulated towards the opportunists in control of the capitalist production.
Marx realized that each level of advancement created a new class or invention that would eventually lead to its downfall. The downfall of the level is in turn good though because with each level that humanity supersedes, all of humanity would benefit. Therefore every level humanity goes through increases the standard of living but also it is to be doomed to be superseded again because of its own downfall due to internal and class contradictions.
Marx said that feudalism would naturally come about due to the limited amount of land and resources in any civilization. Feudalism must exist before capitalism because the development of higher and lower classes is needed to achieve Capitalism. Capitalism is needed to achieve Socialism because the companies and means of production are necessary. And Socialism is needed before Communism because the class system needs to be advanced closer. Therefore Marx says that due to a Capitalistic society the proletariat(working class) should grow in numbers and develop a conscience and powerful class of its own in which they would act, and in time they will realize they must change the system. If the proletariat were to own the means of production, they would only encourage ideas that benefited everyone, this in turn would destroy the exploiting class and create a system that is less prone to fluctuation. In the new system society would be free to act without being bound to the labor market and subject to democratic values. Thus there would be little use of need for state government because in between the Capitalist and the Socialist/Communist state, there will be a dictatorship of the proletariat where the working class will hold the means of production and political power forcibly until a moment of reconcile occurs and the state won't be needed because it is distributed amongst the proletariat class. At this point pure socialism comes about which Marx describes as the ideal society.
Marx's view of an ideal society is not much different then Vatican II's or Tolstoy's because even though Marx was deemed a non-religious man, he can be looked upon as a religious one because of his pure commitment to those that are truly in need of it. That dedication that was provided by Marx was caused by both reason and faith. And therefore would lead to the same society because Marx, Vatican II, and Tolstoy all have one specific similarity; they all care most about the happiness of the average individual.
Thomas Hobbes, who was an English philosopher, best know today for his work on political philosophy, falls on the other side of the scale for the philosophy for an ideal society. His views more describe what a communist regime with martial law results in, a very efficient but unhappy society. The reasons for this theory are his two views on human nature. Two specific works The Leviathan and The Elements of Law, Nature, and Political describe his views on human nature and how they play out.
These two documents specifically focus on the human perspective and how our behavior and natural inclination is to always strive for more power and wealth. Hobbes claims this is due to the fact that humans are innately evil and had a tendency to do selfish acts. Hobbes therefore claims that the best form of government for a society with this nature is an absolute sovereign.
This theory leads him to describe his ideal society. Since humans will always be searching for more wealth and power, the only solution would be to take variable away from the equation and create one common wealth that which is governed by a sovereign power that instills marshal law. Hobbes claims that without this higher power that governs the people, there will be no motivation that pushes society towards a communal goal that is beneficial to the society; also the lack of this power creates anarchy as it is described today with no order or justice. If society doesn't feel that pressure of fear from the government then society will naturally rebel and won't behave.
Hobbes states that since the government needs to instill fear to keep it's society in line then that higher power should have the access to do what ever necessary to keep the people in sequence and to keep the common goal in hand. This power should be above the law that which it chooses to govern.
For Hobbes, the sovereign, like God is also above all laws. He thinks that the person who makes the law could not be subject to the law, if for no other reason than that the law maker could always formulate laws with an exclusionary clause that applies to himself.
Hobbes ideal society is specifically different then Marx's in almost the same ways that Communism is different then Socialism. Hobbes society best describes the Communist side and, despite Marx's work The Communist Manifesto, Marx's best describes the Socialist side. Socialism is an economic strategy to create equal opportunities for everyone. It strives to tear down exploitation and create fairness in the work place because there are many more workers then there are employers. In a socialistic society people are paid according to their quantity and quality of labor. The workers own the means of production so the decisions regarding supply, demand, price, wages, and production are unanimously made by the workers. The profit is evenly distributed amongst the workers instead of one private owner. It is not completely classless society but poverty is extinguished along with the exceedingly rich. Even though major class differences are smothered, motivation still exists because one needs to try hard to be successful. This keeps the happiness of the individual in mind and best describes an ideal society because what ideal society is filled with a bunch of unhappy individuals.
Communism is a more technical form of socialism but is both an economic and political strategy. In a communist society the government owns all means of production and all items within that society. Everyone is paid according to what they need, such as if you live with somebody or how many children you have. It does successfully create a classless society but this alone strips moral motivation. That though is Hobbes main goal; the only motivation he believes one should have is from the fear that which the government instills.
This is specifically different from Marx, The Vatican II, and Tolstoy because it is the only philosophy of an ideal society that carries unhappy individuals and its guests. The only way this society can be ideal is in the efficiency of production, but it will never acclaim truly happy individuals, which are a key element of a truly ideal society.