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“Political Action: the Problem of Dirty Hands”

In: Social Issues

Submitted By ida3
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“Political Action: The Problem of Dirty Hands”

POLI 2200-001
Dr. Darin Nesbitt
Ida Zaeri (300175666)
September 24th, 2014
Words: 1189

Michael Walzer took it upon himself to explain the problems within politics, a problem that is often neglected by society and the public until it is too late. The thesis of this article is quite clear and it something that he believes is important for all political scientists to read and consider thoroughly. The topic of this article is set forth through several questions: can politicians achieve good without getting their hands dirty? Is it necessary to get your hands dirty for the greater good? If a good man gets his hands dirty is he still a good man? What should the consequences of getting your hands dirty be? The thesis is clearly stated as: “whether or not a man can ever face, or ever has to face, a moral dilemma, a situation where he must choose between two courses of action both of which it would be wrong for him to undertake” (160). Walzer puts forth a compelling argument that this “dirty hands” dilemma is a common dilemma in present day politics. This problem is considered to be an issue mostly for democracies since these are the governments claiming that we are all free and equal and our leaders represent the citizens’ choice and opinions that are moral and ethical. In Communist governments and other types of suppressive governments the public has no say in the decisions of the governments and “Hoerderer in Satre’s play of that name: “I have dirty hands right up to the elbows. I’ve plunged them in filth and blood. Do you think you can govern innocently?”” (161). Walzer believes it is not possible to govern without getting your hands dirty, and that those who govern are not innocent even if their actions are the right thing to do.
Walzer uses Machiavelli to further discuss this matter that good people can do...

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