Hypocrisy in Politics

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Throughout history we have seen many revolutionary movements come and go; some have lasted decades where others have only lasted for a few days (if that!).Ultimately they all share one common factor – they are all in a sense hypocritical. This article will be looking at hypocrisy in political theories and in current governments and will pose the almost impossible questions that are “how do we fix it?” “Can policy fix it?”

 

I know that it is a bold statement to say a lot of political theories are hypocritical, but if you look at it in a certain way it does make sense. A key example of this is Marx and his stages of socialism; the ultimate end of political evolution he claimed ends with communism. This theory is known famously as “Marx’s theory of history” (Shaw, 1978). It is considered by Marxist thinkers that communism is the ultimate end for politics and each country will go through a number of stages in order to reach it. This has been proven to occur in other countries when each of these stages has happened one after the other but, in my opinion, deep inside these stages is a hidden hypocrisy.

 

When looking at the stages of socialism which Marx himself says is crucial in order to reach communism, we see that one of the stages is capitalism! Yes, capitalism, the arch nemesis of communism – its polar opposite one would argue, is seen as vital by Marx. This is where the hypocrisy starts to show. The idea is that capitalism needs to happen to encourage people to overthrow it and replace it with socialism. Therein lies the problem – if capitalism is seen as one of the components needed in order for socialism to exist, then how can Marxist and socialist thinkers be that opposed to it? People argue that the existence of capitalism is needed to highlight the inequality inherent in the system for people to rise up and overthrow it but if socialism is so good and capitalism is so bad, why have capitalism in the first place?

 

This is where Lenin comes in. He had the exact same thought and sought to improve upon Marx’s ideas of stages. His idea was to “skip the element of capitalism” (Lenin, 1905) and go straight to socialism. This seems to demonstrate that one of the world’s most famous revolutionary politicians saw the hypocrisy in traditional revolutionary socialist thought – Why wait for capitalism to become established to have a revolution,just have a revolution NOW!

 

Anarchists are as a whole also considered revolutionary and they also do not escape the issue of hypocrisy. Even though there are many different anarchist groups they all share one common idea – that organisation and state control are bad. Anarchists are against control and organisation and want a much more level structure than the traditional hierarchical structure. They want to spread their message – as do most political groups and in this modern day the main ways of doing so are through TV, Internet or printed news. It is within their methods that the hypocrisy is clear to me once again. Media such as television or news is either controlled by big businesses or in other countries controlled by their governments – both types of ownership epitomise a system of organisation and structure. For example Fox News is a huge business empire that owns many news channels and newspapers and was made clearly through strong capitalist ideals of being the best and reaching for the top. Many of those features seem to me to be against the main ideas of anarchy as news corporations are built on structure and organisation. This is greatly hypocritical; anarchists wish to spread their views through a medium which would not exist if it wasn’t for the structure that anarchists so strongly disagree with.

 

However, there is a way which anarchists groups are now by-passing these hypocritical actions. This is through the use of the internet – anyone and everyone who has access to a computer can make a webpage or a blog expressing their view. The internet can be used as a means to carry out a group’s political actions. “The Web has become a haven for a young, educated class yearning to express its worries and anxieties.” (Vargas 2012)  This has been exemplified by “cyberhacking group “Anonymous”” (CNN 2013). They are constantly growing in support on the internet as they can instantly get their message to anyone in the world by exploiting this relatively new and “un-hierarchical” structure.

 

However what is crucial is that non-revolutionary political systems can also have their fair share of hypocrisy about them. Therefore Democracy deserves to be mentioned as it has some very hypocritical ideas. You only need to look at the UK and its system of first past the post. The idea behind it is that the person or party that gets the most votes, even if it is only by one, wins. This to me seems to go against the idea of democracy (politics for the people and by the people).Even if 49.9% of the country votes for Labour in every constituency, the Conservatives will win every seat due to the current system, and Labour could theoretically end up with nothing. For a political system based upon reflecting the ideas of the people, the current system does not seem to reflect this. For further proof about the hypocrisy interlinked with democracy, you need only listen to Malcolm X who famously stated that “Democracy is Hypocrisy”.

 

To try to get this problem out of democracy, policy must make it fairer. There are huge differences in opinion in how to do this. Recently there was the referendum on changing the voting system to AV. This would have eradicated the consequence of one person who got slightly less votes getting nothing, but many people were against it on the grounds that some people could get elected who was not someone’s first choice. Other ideas could be a system of proportional representation where the percentage of votes equals the percentage of seats. This sounds like a better system but this in itself has a lot of problems; by looking at historical evidence, it is most likely to produce coalition government which can be highly unstable. For example, Italy has had over 60 governments since WW2 and, just last week, their government almost fell apart from within due to Berlusconi threatening to get his ministers to resign. Furthermore, we can look at Germany’s post-WW1 government, the Weimar Republic, which was considered to be the most democratic government in history but, through manipulation, Hitler made it into a dictatorship! This clearly shows a lot of debate and thought needs to be done if the UK and its democratic system are ever going to become less hypocritical. I personally think becoming more proportional is the way forward for British democracy, but with so many different ways to go about it and looking at mistakes of the past; it is going to take better people than I to come up with the best solution.

 

Written by Sam Toombs, edited by Hannah Finney

 

Sources: 

“Marx’s Theory of History” by William H Shaw

“Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution” by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

“Spring Awakening – How an Egyptian Revolution Began on Facebook” by Jose Antonio   Vargas

Online article -“Alleged ‘Anonymous’ members charged in cyberhacking conspiracy”by Bill Mears for CNN