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A Way To Organize And Classify Political Factions

The people and government officials are divided into many political factions. Which factions they fall into, in our model, is decided by their upheld ideologies, a set of multiple ideas. Importantly, to define different ideas is not to make them strictly conflicting or parallel to each other, but to explore their different emphases. The nature of human activities, including political ones, is to pay more attention to selected emphases while giving up some to others. Opportunity costs are ubiquitous.

Taking a step forward, the emphases here are defined as advocated and emphasized methodologies to achieve an assumed common goal by any political practices in any modern regime: higher well-being for its people. Military expansions, environmental protections, and internal suppression, they are all at least claimed to be for defending the people’s well-being. Of course, there can be exceptions when and where some regimes openly claim that they are not functioning for their people’s interests. For this, Sharp Paul’s response to the critics of his analysis assumptions is to be referred to here.

To question whether an assumption is thoroughly realistic loses the point of the end by assuming a condition. A better question would be, can the assumption be useful for the later analysis and its fruit of conclusions?

As said, the major factor in classifying an individual’s political faction is his or her emphasized political methodology based on some things to achieve others. In this description, there are three variables: the base (the “some things”), the achievements (the “others”), and the methodology that transforms the base into the achievements. These three respectively are similar to chemical reactants, products, and reactions transforming the former into the latter. To evaluate one of the three precisely, the other two should ideally be kept equal. In our case, to evaluate the emphasized political methodology, we keep the base and the achievements (goals) the same for all. This assumption is mostly unrealistic, but it is still a good starting point. With a conclusion based on the assumption, we then can gradually loosen the assumption bit by bit to supplement other conclusions to the original one, jointly producing a comprehensive classification and then evaluation of all factions.

While different factions can hold different definitions of well-being, there are some very foundational elements of well-being that are recognized by all factions, like order, peace, harmony, material affluence, equality, freedom, etc. Each of these commonly appreciated elements is valued by different factions to various degrees and with various weights. This variety can be seen as internal diversity under the assumed equal definition of the people’s well-being by different factions, or can interchangeably be part of the different definitions of the term well-being. Which observing point is adopted depends on the specific contexts of a discussion.

When introducing the characteristics of each faction, the logical chain of discussion is as follows.

  1. To cut in from a faction’s upheld methods to achieve and maximize the foundational elements of people’s well-being 

  2. To go back to how they have different understandings of the people’s maximized well-being, a state’s political goal in general, and the resources that the state already has

  3. To analyze again their corresponding upheld methods. 

A recapture of the analogy of chemical actions is that the reactants are then assumed to be an objective set of all material and immaterial resources that a state already has, and the expected products are then a maximized well-being for the whole people. The chosen reaction route, which is not unique for each reaction, from the common reactants to products is then the emphasized methodologies. A main task would then be to analyze the chemical, economic, and other kinds of efficiencies of each kind of reaction route.

A specific analogy is how oxygen gas (O2) and hydrogen gas (H2) can be produced by water (H2O) either by electrolysis, very high temperature, or photoactivation in chlorophylls. To reach the two products, each faction upholds either of the three pathways as the best. The economic costs of electrolysis are the cheapest, the operational difficulty of heating is the lowest, and the plants which are used in the photoactivation method can provide other benefits than producing oxygen and hydrogen gases, like filtrating airborne pollutants. You see, these argued advantages from costs, difficulty, and cleanness are not conflicting with each other, but just by different emphases, or discourse systems. Any of the advantages can be (perceived) more important under specific contexts. Their choices of emphases are thus a reflection of the core of their upheld chemical reactions.

Following this analogy, people’s ideas and then political factions can be summarized with different but not conflicting discourse systems. Some concern the axis of communism and capitalism, while others democracy and autocracy, Westernizationism and traditionalism, etc. Their goal is the same, to achieve the people’s well-being based on what the state or nation already has.

A step forward, we can find an inter-transformability between different factions. For instance, the Maoist Communists emphasize any forms of fundamentalist communist theories by Chairman Mao Zedong and sometimes an admiration of the figure himself, while the Nationalists (Traditionalists) emphasize on preservation and a Renaissance of the social and political values and systems advocated by Chinese classics in modern politics. Maoism in many ways integrates Chinese traditional elements into its political schemes. Given this, a certain part of the Maoists can be re-translated as the Traditionalists under specific contexts of time, location, and policy, and vice versa. The boundaries of the factions are usually fluid and contextual, and their ideas are not integrally inexistent under harmony.

To sum up, how the political factions are classified depends on each’s advocated and emphasized methodologies, respectively exercised by the government, the people, or both, to achieve the universal elements of better well-being of the people in a state with a common set of available resources. The factions won’t be strictly conflicting with each other, given their respective experiences and thus adopted discourse systems, and are able to transform to each other under specific contexts. 

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