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An Affiliated Institute of MCU

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1 An Affiliated Institute of MCU
Current World Affairs Mahapanaya Vidayalai An Affiliated Institute of MCU Semester I 2011 Part IX

2 Buddhism and Politics The word politics comes from the  Greek word  (politika). Greek poli, meaning 'citizen', and the Greek suffix -ics, which denotes a body of facts or knowledge. So, the word 'politics' literally means knowledge of being a citizen.  Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs. It also refers to behavior within civil governments. Political science as a separate field is a relatively late arrival in terms of social sciences

3 History of politics Western politics can be traced back to the Socratic political philosophers, Plato  (427–347 BC), Xenophon (c. 430–354 BC), and Aristotle ("The Father of Political Science") (384–322 BC). These authors, in such works as The Republic  and  Laws by Plato, and The Politics  and Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle In  ancient India, the antecedents of politics can be traced back to the Rig-Veda, Mahabharata and Chanakya   (c. 350–275 BC) was a political thinker and wrote the Arthashasra, a treatise on political thought,  economics and social order. It discusses monetary and fiscal policies, welfare, international relations, and war strategies in detail, among other topics. The Manusmriti, dated to about two centuries after the time of Chanakya is another important Indian political treatise. Ancient China was home to several competing schools of political thought, most of which arose in the Spring and Autumn Period. These included  Mohism (a utilitarian philosophy), Taoism (a school of thought based on the supremacy of the state), and  Confucianism. Eventually, a modified form of Confucianism became the dominant political philosophy in China during the Imperial Period. This form of Confucianism also deeply influenced and were expounded upon by scholars in  Korea and Japan.

An autocracy is characterized by a supreme, uncontrolled, unlimited authority, or right of governing in a single person, as of an autocrat. The key here is that the autocrat has absolute power. An autocrat requires a massive amount of force (in an army for instance) to exert control over an unwilling people. 2) COMMUNISM Strictly speaking, communism means a scheme of equalizing the social conditions of life; specifically, a scheme which contemplates the abolition of inequalities in the possession of property, as by distributing all wealth equally to all, or by holding all wealth in common for the equal use and advantage of all. 3) CONSERVATISM A political philosophy that tends to support the status quo and advocates change only in moderation. Conservatism upholds the value of tradition, and seeks to preserve all that is good about the past. 4) DEMOCRACY There are two major modes of democracy. 1. Government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is retained and directly exercised by the people. 2. Government by popular representation; a form of government in which the supreme power is retained by the people, but is indirectly exercised through a system of representation and delegated authority periodically renewed; a constitutional representative government.

5 Political System 5)FASCISM A relative newcomer ( Mussolini) fascism is characterised by elements of pride in the nation, anti-Marxism, the complete rejection of parliamentary democracy, the cultivation of military virtues, strong government, and loyalty to a strong leader. 6)IMPERIALISM The policy that aims at building and maintaining an empire, in which many states and peoples, spread over a wide geographical area, are controlled by one dominant state. 7)MONARCHY Form of rulership whereby a queen or king, empress or emperor holds absolute or limited power, usually inherited. 8) PLURALISM Government carried out by a process of bargaining and compromise between a variety of competing leadership groups (business, labour, government, etc.). Advocates of pluralism claim that it best serves the democratic ideal in a complex modern society, in which individual participation in every act of decision-making is impractical. According to pluralism, individual rights and interests are protected by a sort of extra-constitutional checks and balances: No single group holds the dominant power position, power is always shifting, and individuals can have influence on policy-making through being active in one of these power groups.

6 9) PLUTOCRACY Government by the wealthy, or by a government primarily influenced by the wealthy. This system is as open to the social engineers as any other, and is against any principle of individual liberty. 10) SOCIALISM Sharing the same collective view of mankind as communism socialism is a political system in which the means of production, distribution and exchange are mostly owned by the state, and used, at least in theory, on behalf of the people. The idea behind socialism is that the capitalist system is intrinsically unfair, because it concentrates wealth in a few hands and does nothing to safeguard the overall welfare of the majority 11) THEOCRACY A state or government which is run by priests or clergy.

7 Political System 12)LIBERALISM (CLASSICAL) A term which has changed its meaning, in the nineteenth century in Europe, the great age of liberalism, the term stood for freedom from church and state authority and the reduction of the power of royalty and aristocracy, free enterprise economics, and the free development of the individual. Liberalism advocated freedom of the press, religious toleration, self-determination for nations. 13) CAPITALISM Capitalism doesn't aim at equal ends because they do not occur where people are free to choose their own paths. Those better off do have more opportunities (not more freedom), but that in no way gives one person (or group) the right to rob them of these opportunities and give them to another. 14) THE REPUBLIC A republic is a political system whereby political power is explicitly is granted with consent of the people and ruled according to law.

8 Some terms Anarchy - a condition of lawlessness or political disorder brought about by the absence of governmental authority. Commonwealth - a nation, state, or other political entity founded on law and united by a compact of the people for the common good. Communism - a system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single - often authoritarian - party holds power; state controls are imposed with the elimination of private ownership of property or capital while claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people (i.e., a classless society). Confederacy (Confederation) - a union by compact or treaty between states, provinces, or territories, that creates a central government with limited powers; the constituent entities retain supreme authority over all matters except those delegated to the central government. Constitutional - a government by or operating under an authoritative document (constitution) that sets forth the system of fundamental laws and principles that determines the nature, functions, and limits of that government. Constitutional Democracy - a form of government in which the sovereign power of the people is spelled out in a governing constitution. Constitutional Monarchy - a system of government in which a monarch is guided by a constitution whereby his/her rights, duties, and responsibilities are spelled out in written law or by custom. Democracy - a form of government in which the supreme power is retained by the people, but which is usually exercised indirectly through a system of representation and delegated authority periodically renewed. Democratic Republic - a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them. Dictatorship - a form of government in which a ruler or small clique wield absolute power (not restricted by a constitution or laws). Also, a system in which the citizens do not possess the right to choose their own leaders. Ecclesiastical - a government administrated by a church. Federal (Federative) - a form of government in which sovereign power is formally divided - usually by means of a constitution - between a central authority and a number of constituent regions (states, colonies, or provinces) so that each region retains some management of its internal affairs; differs from a confederacy in that the central government exerts influence directly upon both individuals as well as upon the regional units. Federal Republic - a state in which the powers of the central government are restricted and in which the component parts (states, colonies, or provinces) retain a degree of self-government; ultimate sovereign power rests with the voters who chose their governmental representatives.

9 Some terms Maoism - the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism developed in China by Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung), which states that a continuous revolution is necessary if the leaders of a communist state are to keep in touch with the people. Marxism - the political, economic, and social principles espoused by 19th century economist Karl Marx; he viewed the struggle of workers as a progression of historical forces that would proceed from a class struggle of the proletariat (workers) exploited by capitalists (business owners), to a socialist "dictatorship of the proletariat," to, finally, a classless society - communism. Marxism-Leninism - an expanded form of communism developed by Lenin from doctrines of Karl Marx; Lenin saw imperialism as the final stage of capitalism and shifted the focus of workers' struggle from developed to underdeveloped countries. Monarchy - a government in which the supreme power is lodged in the hands of a monarch who reigns over a state or territory, usually for life and by hereditary right; the monarch may be either a sole absolute ruler or a sovereign - such as a king, queen, or prince - with constitutionally limited authority. Oligarchy - a government in which control is exercised by a small group of individuals whose authority generally is based on wealth or power. Parliamentary Democracy - a political system in which the legislature (parliament) selects the government - a prime minister, premier, or chancellor along with the cabinet ministers - according to party strength as expressed in elections; by this system, the government acquires a dual responsibility: to the people as well as to the parliament. Parliamentary Government (Cabinet-Parliamentary government) - a government in which members of an executive branch (the cabinet and its leader - a prime minister, premier, or chancellor) are nominated to their positions by a legislature or parliament, and are directly responsible to it; this type of government can be dissolved at will by the parliament (legislature) by means of a no confidence vote or the leader of the cabinet may dissolve the parliament if it can no longer function. Parliamentary monarchy - a state headed by a monarch who is not actively involved in policy formation or implementation (i.e., the exercise of sovereign powers by a monarch in a ceremonial capacity); true governmental leadership is carried out by a cabinet and its head - a prime minister, premier, or chancellor - who are drawn from a legislature (parliament). Republic - a representative democracy in which the people's elected deputies (representatives), not the people themselves, vote on legislation. Socialism - a government in which the means of planning, producing, and distributing goods is controlled by a central government that theoretically seeks a more just and equitable distribution of property and labor; in actuality, most socialist governments have ended up being no more than dictatorships over workers by a ruling elite. Sultanate - similar to a monarchy, but a government in which the supreme power is in the hands of a sultan (the head of a Muslim state); the sultan may be an absolute ruler or a sovereign with constitutionally limited authority. Theocracy - a form of government in which a Deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler, but the Deity's laws are interpreted by ecclesiastical authorities (bishops, mullahs, etc.); a government subject to religious authority. Totalitarian - a government that seeks to subordinate the individual to the state by controlling not only all political and economic matters, but also the attitudes, values, and beliefs of its population.


11 Buddhism and Politics Many politicians drag the name of Buddha as communist, capitalist or socialist. Actually, Buddha was not related on these issues. No political system, no matter how ideal it may appear to be, can bring about peace and happiness as long as the people in the system are dominated by greed, hatred and delusion. Firstly, the Buddha spoke about the equality of all human beings and that classes and castes are artificial barriers erected by society. The only classification of human beings, according to the Buddha, is based on the quality of their moral conduct. Secondly, the Buddha encouraged the spirit of social -co-operation and active participation in society. This spirit is actively promoted in the political process of modern societies. Buddha encouraged the spirit of consultation and the democratic process. When a serious question arose demanding attention, the issues were put before the monks and discussed in a manner similar to the democratic parliamentary system used today. The Buddhist approach to political power is the moralization and the responsible use of public power.

12 Peace Process The Buddha preached non-violence and peace as a universal message. Not only did the Buddha teach non-violence and peace, He was perhaps the first and only religious teacher who went to the battlefield personally to prevent the outbreak of a war. He diffused tension between the Sakyas and the Koliyas who were about to wage war over the waters of Rohini. He also dissuaded King Ajatasattu from attacking the Kingdom of the Vajjis.

13 Good Government The Buddha discussed the importance and the prerequisites of a good government. He showed how the country could become corrupt, degenerate and unhappy when the head of the government becomes corrupt and unjust. He spoke against corruption and how a government should act based on humanitarian principles. The Buddha once said, 'When the ruler of a country is just and good, the ministers become just and good; when the ministers are just and good, the higher officials become just and good; when the higher officials are just and good, the rank and file become just and good; when the rank and file become just and good, the people become just and good.'(Anguttara Nikaya) In the Cakkavatti Sihananda Sutta, the Buddha said that immorality and crime, such as theft, falsehood, violence, hatred, cruelty, could arise from poverty. Kings and governments may try to suppress crime through punishment, but it is futile to eradicate crimes through force. In the Kutadanta Sutta, the Buddha suggested economic development instead of force to reduce crime. The government should use the country's resources to improve the economic conditions of the country. It could embark on agricultural and rural development, provide financial support to entrepreneurs and business, provide adequate wages for workers to maintain a decent life with human dignity.

14 Good government In the Jataka, the Buddha had given to rules for Good Government, known as 'Dasa Raja Dharma'. These ten rules can be applied even today by any government which wishes to rule the country peacefully. The rules are as follows: 1) be liberal and avoid selfishness, 2) maintain a high moral character, 3) be prepared to sacrifice one's pleasure for the well-being of the subjects, 4) be honest and maintain absolute integrity, 5) be kind and gentle, 6) lead a simple life for the subjects to emulate, 7) be free from hatred of any kind, 8) exercise non-violence, 9) practice patience, and 10) respect public opinion to promote peace and harmony.

15 Good government Regarding the behavior of rulers, He further advised:
- A good ruler should act impartially and should not be biased and discriminate between one particular group of subjects against another. - A good ruler should not harbor any form of hatred against any of his subjects. - A good ruler should show no fear whatsoever in the enforcement of the law, if it is justifiable. - A good ruler must possess a clear understanding of the law to be enforced. It should not be enforced just because the ruler has the authority to enforce the law. It must be done in a reasonable manner and with common sense. -- (Cakkavatti Sihananda Sutta)

16 Good government The Buddha's emphasis on the moral duty of a ruler to use public power to improve the welfare of the people had inspired Emperor Asoka in the Third Century B.C. to do likewise. Sometimes the Buddha is said to be a social reformer. Among other things, He condemned the caste system, recognized the equality of people, spoke on the need to improve socio-economic conditions, recognized the importance of a more equitable distribution of wealth among the rich and the poor, raised the status of women, recommended the incorporation of humanism in government and administration, and taught that a society should not be run by greed but with consideration and compassion for the people. The doctrine preached by the Buddha is not one based on 'Political Philosophy'. Nor is it a doctrine that encourages men to worldly pleasures. It sets out a way to attain Nibbana. In other words, its ultimate aim is to put an end to craving (Tanha) that keeps them in bondage to this world.

17 Confucius  In ancient times in China there lived a sage Confucius ( B.C.). He was renowned for his sagacity, wisdom, impartiality, justice, and the capacity to see through the distant consequences of human actions. In due time he was invited by the king of Lu province to govern the kingdom. And he ruled for twelve years with the blessing of the king and the growing happiness of the people, showing what wisdom can do when consistently applied in social-political affairs. This was a clear demonstration that politics could be a noble and beautiful art benefiting all. For Confucius the ideal consists of the harmony between the superior individual and a well ordered society, which is based on the mutual moral obligations of the five basic human relationships between: ruler and minister, father and son, elder brother and younger brother, husband and wife and one friend to another. Government is to be conducted through the ruler's moral example. The difference between the mature man, whom Confucius calls a superior man and an immature man, whom he calls an inferior man, is that for the former the rule is moral principle.  Confucious' teaching has survived over two millennia and is still inspiring people. What matters is that he is a shining example of a philosopher who built his philosophy on spiritual principles and yet was capable of applying this philosophy to practical and political affairs with such a success that he can truly be called a philosopher king.

18 Ashoka  Ashoka was an Indian king who ruled in the third century B.C. ( ), he conquered all the neighbouring kingdoms and truly unified India at the time. He became a follower of the Buddhist creed of compassion and non-violence. He did not relinquish his kingdom. He did not run to a cave in the mountains to repent. Instead he ruled as a spiritual monarch. And remarkable indeed was his rule and his achievement. First he built stupas (Buddhist monument/chapels) in all the villages and towns of India. Each of them was a visible commandment that compassion, social justice, and non-violence were to be the foundation of society. Then he carved in rock his famous edicts proclaiming that social and political life was to based on the spiritual foundations of justice and compassion.  He did not create a religious state run by the monks, although he sometimes considered himself a Buddhist monk. He was a truly enlightened monarch. He ruled single handedly through his various emissaries who ran from one end of his empire to another carrying his messages and overseeing that justice and non-violence were observed. His purpose was to establish good government based on the principles of justice and non-violence. As it happened, he succeeded in both: in establishing good government and in spreading a deep spiritual awareness among his people, an awareness which was based on Buddhist principles.


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