Political Thought and Action POT 3003 | My Paper Hub
Mill on the rightful limit to the sovereignt...
Mill on the rightful limit to the sovereignty of an individual over himself
John Stuart Mill was an individual born
in 1806 and lived up to 1873. He was raised under utilitarian principle and as
he grew up developed thoughts that would help shape social-political
environment. Mill believed that, for there to be socio-political stability and
peaceful existence of a society, there should be a precise definition of
liberty of individuals and power for the state. As a result, Mill’s developed
an essay named On Liberty that stated his ideologies on the subject. The piece
is divided into several parts (Ogunkoya, 2011). We will focus on the part that
deals with the limits to the authority of society over Individual. Our focus
will help determine the right limit to the sovereignty of an individual over
himself, determine where the influence of a society begins and the reason for
According to Mill, society and the
individual should receive control over the part of human life in which each is
particularly interested. Mill rejects the idea of a social contract and in
support of this proposes that since people get the protection of the society,
in return owe specific conduct. He suggests that people should not uphold
themselves in behaviors that would affect the interests of others in the
society which are considered as rights. Instead, people must share the burden
of defending the society justly and its people from harm. He also proposes that
people may be censured by opinion only if it was harming others and violating
their rights, this is, however, not by law. Therefore, the society has a
mandate over any aspect of human behavior that affects interests of others. It
can be derived that Mill argues that individual sovereignty over themselves is
limited to the actions that affect only the individual (Ogunkoya, 2011). If an
action, therefore, affects another person then the society steps in. Mill
believes that the society does not have interest in the aspects of life that
only affect the person acting or people in consent to the action. He argues
that behavior like that should be legally and socially permitted and accepted.
Stuart proposes that people should not in any way try to keep a person from
doing what they wish to do with their lives. He justifies this by saying that
one’s interest in knowledge of another individual is little as compared to the
individual’s interests on themselves.
Mills further goes to point out that he
does not mean that people should not be allowed to identify a fault in other
people behaviors. Instead, he believes that recognizing and pointing out a flaw
in an individual is acceptable as it’s a natural reaction to specific acts and
is not intended to punish the person (Ogunkoya, 2011). He, however, cautions
that this is not a point to express moral reprobation or make the individual
uncomfortable. Mills suggests that the individual should not be treated with
resentment if they engage in activities that are not popular with the other
people that only affect him/her.
Mills identifies several criticisms that
may be developed following his thesis and as a result, comes up with a
counteractive argument for them. The first criticism he identifies is the
question of how any part of an individual’s conduct is an issue of indifference
with another member of the society. In a counteractive argument, he suggests
that no human being is entirely isolated such that their actions cannot hurt
those who depend on the individual (Ogunkoya, 2011).
In conclusion, individual’s sovereignty
over themselves is acceptable if their actions only affect the individual and
not any other person in the society. The society’s sovereignty, however, starts
when the conduct of the individual affects other members of the society. People
are not entirely isolated from the society; therefore, their actions may affect
others. All individual decisions must, however, be respected.
Marx on worker’s alienation
Karl Marx was one of the most
influential thinkers of the nineteenth century, who advocated for the creation
of a society that is classless to attain democracy and equality. He, therefore,
criticized capitalism, saying that it is the means by which dominant firms gain
power. He believes that workers under the capitalist system are treated as
commodities. All this in the theory of alienation. In this theory, he expresses
that workers are disappointed with their work for many reasons one of them
being controlled by a hierarchy of supervisors and managers. As a result,
individual creativity has been dealt away with all in the name of effectiveness
and efficiency. The capitalist system according to him makes a lot of profits
but gives very little to its workers. According to Marx, the alienation results
in workers being suspicious of each other considering the nature of capitalism
(Lowe, 2015). In this discussion, we will look at Marx’s theory of alienation
Alienation according to Karl Marx is a
consequence of capitalism because, under the system, workers are manipulated by
capitalism forces to increase output and productivity. As a result, the workers
lose determination and hope as worker’s activities are focused on specific objectives
(Lowe, 2015). The organization aims to ensure that maximum exploitation of
workers is done to ensure optimal value of the workers. Since the worker is
considered to be an instrument, this can lead to loss of his/her identity
resulting in resentment and frustration hence alienation.
Alienation according to Marx, comes in
different forms which include alienation from the product of own labor, the act
of producing itself, his/her species being, and producers. Under alienation
from the product of own labor, Marx argues that the capitalist system creates
an illusion that workers are adequately compensated for their labor. However,
the system controls workers by getting all the benefits, and due to the
enormous profits and little compensation to the workers, it can lead to
resentment and frustration among the workers. In the act of producing itself
alienation, Marx believes that the system encourages repetitive work patterns
which can be mechanical and do not create intrinsic value for the workers (Cox,
1998). As a result, the power of workers is regarded as a commodity that can be
exchanged with wages. With the massive supervision of their activities, workers
can feel trapped hence resentment as they feel like they have been deprived
their destiny. Under his/her species being alienation, Marx believes that human
beings pursue dynamic thinking as they pursue multiple endeavors. However, the
capitalist system stifles this aspect hence lack of motivation and creativity
alienating humanity from its nature. Finally, in alienation from producers Marx
believes that the capitalist system confines labor to a commercial commodity
position (Cox, 1998). As a result, social relationships are disregarded in the
pursuit of betterment. The competitive nature of the system, as a result,
causes conflict and alienation in high levels.
Marx’s view on capitalism and his
definition of workers’ alienation make sense. It is only through understanding
his primary aim of developing the concept that we can see how it makes sense.
Marx insists that his intentions of developing the theory were not for moral
condemnation of the system but rather a theoretical understanding (Sayers,
n.d.). Although it could be used as a moral condemnation, the theory was a
theoretical approach on human nature’s ability to develop a system that not
only supports the development of the firms but also personal hence the need to
shed light on it.
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