Politics and international studies personal statement
According to Aristotle “If liberty and equality, are chiefly thought to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in government to the utmost”. Reflection on the disparity between the philosopher’s idealised maxim of democracy and my own dissatisfaction with the actual, gave cause to my decision to become an academic in political science.
My interest in the perpetual conflict between the state and the individual began out of concerns that the government were sacrificing our ideals under the justification of national security. Accusations of Britain’s complicity in torture and the encroachment of anti terror legislation on civil liberties motivated me to go beyond the syllabus and read extensively into political theory. Through reading Frederick Hayek’s didactic “The Road to Serfdom”, I was introduced to the potential role of the free market in inhibiting governments’ use of coercion. In order to make an informed judgment, I also scrutinised Karl Marx’s criticisms of the bourgeois society in the “Communist Manifesto”. “Two Concepts of Liberty” by Isaiah Berlin, neither advocated positive or negative freedom but rather acknowledged that the paradox of both concepts was beneficial in any society. The seminal political essay was significant in re-evaluating my political views in support of value pluralism. It was primarily through engaging in such meticulous analysis that encouraged me to join the Labour party, following the emergence of the global financial crisis. Active participation within the party has required that I be well informed on the former New Labour government, as a result I have read Anthony Crosland’s influential “The Future of Socialism” and gained Chris Mullins perspective as a junior minister in “A View from the Foothills”, both of which have been constructive in expanding my knowledge of the ideology of social democracy. Party membership has also allowed me to experience my first taste of political activism, having recently represented the Berkshire constituency at the party’s South East conference. Although economic policy dominated the conference’s agenda, my pragmatic contributions on neglected issues notably constitutional reform, has led senior party administrators to nominate me as a regional representative on the young Labour national committee.
My supposition that the conflict between the state and individual is “perpetual” is not an unjustified cynicism, but rather gains recognition from history. While all roads no longer lead to Rome, studying the collapse of the Roman Republic in Ancient history has shown the detrimental consequence’s of an overambitious general utilising too much autonomy. My decision to study A level Economics alongside A level Government and Politics has provided me with a broader understanding of pragmatic government. Returning to college for a third year has allowed me to perform a foray into A level Philosophy. In anticipation of starting the origin of rights module, I have read various existentialist works by Sartre and John Rawls’ abstract “A theory of justice” and have since become interested in the different conceptual schemes of Continental and Anglo-American philosophers.
Working as a partner within the John Lewis partnership provided a rare opportunity of analysing a business with a perceived direct democratic doctrine. I write “perceived” because after my curiosity into the decision making process I reached the conclusion that the company was an indirect democracy at best. This self governing façade became evident after I discerned that all proposals have to be endorsed by the chief executives before being put before the ordinary employee. This pattern parallels that of UK referenda and contains characteristics of an oligarchy.
Following higher education, my aspiration is to become directly engaged in the process of government and I see a Politics degree at university as a invaluable stepping stone on the steep gradient of a political career.