Issue I: To what extent should ideology be the foundation of identity? Identity

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Social Studies 30-1

To what extent should we embrace an ideology?

Issue I: To what extent should ideology be the foundation of identity?

Identity: A person’s idea of whom or what one is. A person’s national identity and personal identity is made up of how they perceive themselves or how other people view them. Beliefs and values are important aspects of identity. Personal identity is the idea that you think of yourself as a unique individual. Collective identity is one that you share with other people of a larger social group such as a faith or an ethnic group. (pg. 23)

“Only you can be yourself, no one else is qualified for the job.”

Ideology: A set of beliefs and values. There is an ideological difference between those who value individualism and those who value collectivism. For example, individualists believe in benefitting themselves and value self-reliance. Collectivists believe in economic equality and placing the goals of society before themselves. However, there are some people who believe in a mixture of the two. Ideology can also influence a person’s identity. (pg. 24)

Progressivism: is a term associated with some ideologies that advocate moderate political and social reform through government intervention. Progressive ideologies generally support social justice and support the rights of workers.

A) Factors that may influence identity and ideology: (pg. 32-46)

  • Family influence:

  • Gender:

  • Religion and Spirituality:

  • Environment &Relationship to the Land:

  • Language:

  • Media:

  • Government:

B) Historic and contemporary expressions of individualism & collectivism.

Individualism: Individualism is characterized by freedom of the individual. There is a minimal or limited role of the government in the economy . Government, most of the time, is not to interfere with the way that individuals choose to conduct their lives. Thus, individualism is closely linked to the idea of a liberal ideology. Individualism is a key value of liberalism because personal freedoms and rights are protected.

Individualism is also characterized by economic freedom and private property. Most individualistic ideologies stress the importance of personal autonomy and self-reliance. There are many ideologies based on individualism. (pg. 65)

Collectivism: Collective societies limit the freedom of individuals for the good of society. Where individualism tends to be associated with liberalism, collectivism has encompassed wide range of ideologies such as communism, fascism, cooperatives, and some religious communities. The central idea of collectivism is that people work together and cooperate to achieve a common goal and to protect the common good. This communal sharing leads to economic equality. A collective economy eliminates the inequality of individualistic economies. (pg. 66)

C) Characteristics of ideology. Personal identity is shaped by ideologies:

Interpretations of History: Interpretations of history, or the past, is another characteristic of ideology, because the events in our pasts tend to influence the beliefs and values that we hold. Their views of the past will affect their identity and the way that they interpret the world. (pg. 50)

Visions of the Future: All ideologies, or the founders of ideologies, have a vision of what the world should look like in the future. These future visions all involve making life better. This vision of the future will help guide the actions of people who embrace the ideology. (pg. 50)

Structure of Society: Social structures are what bind us together as a society and help the society to function in an orderly fashion. Social structures can be formal like minimum wage laws to keep people earning and they can be informal like respecting the elderly. The ideology of a nation will determine what kind of social structures are in place in that society. (pg. 49)

Beliefs of Human Nature: Beliefs about human nature, about whether people are good or bad, are fundamental to any ideology. How you view others could determine what ideology you believe in. Individuals such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (pg. 16-18) have all attempted to explain human nature and have helped to develop different ideologies. (pg. 49)




D) Explore themes of ideologies:

Nation: Involves being linked to a specific country, like Canada eh, or a group of people with the same culture, history and traditions. People care deeply about their nation and this is an important factor when a person adopts an ideology.

Class: The division of a society into different classes of people, usually based on income or wealth. Examples include the middle and upper class. Class is important for ideologies because ideologies such as communism try to solve the class struggle by working towards economic equality.

Relationship to the Land & Environmentalism: Involves the relationship between the humans and the earth. A belief that the environment is a global concern that must be addressed is an ideology that has created movements to solve environmental problems. The creation of the Green Party and the NGO Greenpeace are examples of people with such an ideology taking action to try to influence government policies to protect our resources and the earth.

E) Individualism as a foundation of Ideology.

Liberalism: A collection of ideologies all committed to the principle and of the freedom of the individual. Liberalism has faith in human progress and tends to favour decentralized power.

Liberal societies ensure the rights and freedoms of their citizens. In Canada these rights are guaranteed by the Charter of Rights & Freedoms (1982) including the right to vote and freedom of religion. The concept of self-interest is central to liberal economies. Also, liberal economies function without government intervention except when necessary to protect individuals from harm. Citizens in liberal economies are encouraged to own private property. (pg. 73)

“The reason why men enter in politics is in the preservation of their property.”

Rule of Law: In a liberal society every individual is equal before the law and no one, not even our elected officials, is above the law. (pg. 72)

Economic Freedom: The ability for individuals to choose what they want to buy (consumerism), what to sell, and where to look after their own self-interest. Markets with limited government intervention are called free markets. (pg. 78)

Free trade: Nations that trade with each other without tariffs or taxes. Sometimes free trade may hurt domestic or local businesses so a tax is levied on some goods to protect these domestic businesses (Protectionism).

Eliminating barriers to trade creates new export markets for producers and suppliers and more choices for our consumers.”

Why is Canada ranked 6th in the world of nations with the most economic freedom? Go to then click on Country Rankings.

Self-Interest & Competition: These are two concepts that are closely related to the ideas of economic freedom. The classical liberal Adam Smith believed that competition would ensure both efficiency and that only the best producers/suppliers would survive. Smith also believed that self-interest would eventually contribute to the common good of everyone. (pg. 78)

F) Collectivism as a foundation of ideology.

Collectivism: There is an emphasis on economic equality and the welfare of all the people. Equality is achieved through heavy governmental intervention and such nations are sometimes referred to as the welfare state. (pg. 80)

Economic equality: Karl Marx envisioned that all workers would share the means of production and this would create equality and equity (fairness) among the people. However, in liberal democracies economic equality refers to government tax policies and redistribution of wealth. In Canada the government attempts of created economic equality through the policy of progressive taxation. (pg. 80)

Cooperation: is the means through which common goals are achieved. Everyone works together to achieve these goals. Although cooperation is a principle of communism even in liberal democracies there are aspects of working together such as cooperatives. (pg. 81)

Public property: is anything that is not privately owned. Public property is owned by the state or the community, and managed in the collective interests of the community.

In a communist state all industries are public property and controlled by the state such as Stalin’s policy of collectivization and the Five Year Plans. In Marx’s The Communist Manifesto (1848) he wrote, “the theory of the communists can be summed up in a single sentence: Abolition of private property.” Karl’s favorite motto was, “To each according to his need...”

The concept of public property is also present to a lesser extent in liberal democracies such as Canada. Besides Crown corporations, parks and schools are all examples of property that the government manages in the interest of all society. These properties are maintained with public money generated through taxation. (pg. 82)

Collective Interest: refers to interests that members of a larger group have in common. People that have collective interests may form groups and try to influence others to accept their beliefs and ideologies. These groups include lobby groups and NGO’s.

Collective interest is the foundation for the organization of labour movements (fancy term of unions) which began as a result of the unfair working conditions of the Industrial Revolution. As members of organized trade unions, workers were able to fight for better working conditions and better pay. (pg. 83)

Collective Responsibility: an idea that holds the whole group responsible for the actions of individuals within the group. Lobby groups such as MADD and tobacco coalitions use the idea of collective responsibility to create awareness about the dangers of drunk driving and smoking.

Sometimes collective responsibility may occur in totalitarian states such as Hitler’s Nazi Germany where it was encouraged to inform the government about dissident behaviour of neighbours and even family members. This is also true in communist China and North Korea. (pg. 85)

Adherence to Collective Norms: the following of normal behaviour relating to conduct, values, and behaviour. Dressing appropriately for church and school is adhering to the collective norm. Sometimes to achieve this norm the government must censor some information or programming as not to offend members or our society. (pg. 86)

In authoritarian states adherence to norms is strictly enforced and maintained through fear and terror. These societies usually have secret police to maintain norms and thus control.

G) The dynamic between individualism and the common good in contemporary societies.

Individualism and the Common Good: Modern societies incorporate elements of both individualism and collectivism. In Canada, which is a liberal democracy, individual liberties are provided for while protecting the common good. Our freedoms are protected by the Constitution and we may own private property and vote for whomever we choose. At the same time, Canada has government programs designed to assist those who need social assistance. The goal is to find a balance between individualism and collectivism that will provide the most benefit for the most people. This is the common good. People are free to pursue their own interests, but they also have obligations to their communities to achieve the common good. The Jeff Skoll foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation are examples of successful individuals contributing to the common good. (pg. 87)

Questions for Issue #1

  1. What are the Israeli communities known as Kibbutzim and what is their purpose? (pg. 94)

  1. Who is Dr. Muhammad Yunus and how has he combined the ideologies of individualism and collectivism? (pg. 91)

  2. What is supply and demand? When will the price of a good drop? (pg.79)

  1. Who is John Kenneth Galbraith? What did he mean by the following quote, “under communism, man exploits man, under capitalism, it’s the opposite?” (pg. 79)

  1. Read “Tommy Douglas” on page 53 and describe his beliefs and ideology. Is he an individualist or a collectivist? What are some of his contributions to both Saskatchewan and Canada?

  1. Who is Milton Friedman and which world leaders did his free market policies influence? (pg. 54)

  1. Identify six principles of individualism? (pg. 71)

  1. What are intellectual property rights? ( pg. 77)

We are now ready for Unit Exam #1

Issue #2: To what extent is resistance to liberalism justified?

A) Aboriginal contributions to the development of Liberalism

Fur Trade: the Aboriginal fur trade promoted business between aboriginals and the European settlers. Both groups benefitted from this mutual trade and is an example of early trading relationships between buyers and sellers.

The Indian Act (1876): Originally meant to assimilate (absorb) aboriginal people into white English-Canadian culture. Aboriginals were to change their lifestyle and traditions to fit into the Canadian culture. This may be similar to the issue of Residential schools.

The Red Paper (1970): The Red Paper is the Aboriginal response to the Canadian government’s policy of assimilation started in the White Paper of 1969. The National Indian Brotherhood (now the AFN) wrote the response called the Red Paper wanting for a return to traditional land ownership and treaties.

Métis, First-Nation, and Inuit Self-Determination: after receiving rights and freedoms from the government, aboriginal groups are currently working to attain the ability to make their own laws and decision making and to become self-determined.

B) The relationship between the principles of liberalism and the origins of classical-liberal beliefs.

Capitalism: (Laissez-Faire Capitalism): an economic system which is based on free markets, fair competition, consumerism, and profit-motivated producers. It is also characterized by minimum government intervention. Its greatest theorist is Adam Smith who wrote that the economy should follow natural laws. Our friend Adam believed in the idea of Equality of Opportunity. He believed that if people worked first for themselves (self-interest), everyone would be better off. He called this the trickle-down theory or the invisible hand that states that individual self-interest in a free market would lead to a stronger economy and therefore benefit more people. Smith disagreed with the existing mercantilist system at the time. Furthermore, Smith believed that the government’s role should be limited to maintaining rule of law. Other proponent/advocates of capitalism are Milton Friedman and Frederich Von Hayek. Capitalists also believe that corporations and businesses should receive tax breaks/incentives/concessions to motivate businesses to work harder and therefore to be even more successful. (pg. 112)

Lowering taxes rewards hard work and encourages risk taking which will result in creating new jobs.”

Classical Liberalism: is an ideology that embraces the principles of individualism. It values both political and economic freedoms that operate with limited government intervention. (pg. 107)

The beliefs of classical liberalism began in Europe during a period where people began to challenge the old thinking during a period called the Age of Reason. Classical liberalism challenged the status quo and advocated individual rights.

Classical liberalism is typically considered to encourage the following principles:

  • The protection of rights and freedoms and individuals self-interest

  • Humans are rationale and reasonable that benefits themselves and society

  • Economic freedom and private property

  • Protection of civil liberties

  • Constitutional limitations on government power (Checks and Balances)

  • Equality of opportunity:

Libertarianism: All schools of libertarianism support strong personal rights to life and liberty. The most commonly known formulation of libertarianism supports free market capitalism by advocating a right to private property, including property in the means of production, minimal government regulation of that property, minimal taxation, and rejection of the welfare state, all within the context of the rule of law.

The libertarian party of Canada believes that Canadians should be free to run their own lives with minimal government interference.

The Origins of Classical Liberalism: Classical liberalism finds its roots in the Age of Enlightenment, which followed the Renaissance (rebirth). The arts were flourishing, nations were growing very wealthy, and a new spirit of scientific discovery was growing among European intellectuals. (pg. 70)

Social Contract Theory: is an idea that there is a “contract” between individual and the state. Philosophers such as Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau believed in a social contract, whereby people give up some of their rights to government in order to receive order for themselves and for their property. Although each of these thinkers believed in a social contract, their ideas of what the social contract should be, differed.

Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755): Charles de Secondat, Baron of Montesquieu, was a French Aristocrat and a political satirist who opposed the absolute monarchy in France. He believed that people should be treated equally and that the government should be accountable/responsible to its citizens. This would be achieved by establishing a democracy, where citizens participate in the decision making process. Montesquieu’s most important contribution to liberalism was the idea of the separation of powers of the government into the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. In his book The Spirit of the Laws he sets up his ideas on a separation of powers. This separation of powers creates a check and balance and prevents any of the other branches from becoming too powerful. (pg. 110).

Canada’s Separation of Powers

Executive Branch

Legislative Branch

Judicial Branch

USA’s Separation Of Powers

Executive Branch

Legislative Branch

Judicial Branch

What are the differences between Canadian and American Democracy?

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679): Security over Freedom. Hobbes believed that humans were not evil, but that they were selfish by nature. Thus, in the absence of a governing body, this selfishness would result in chaos and lead to harm for all. He wrote that all people should give up their freedoms and liberties and give power to a protecting ruler called the Leviathan. This was to ensure that everyone would be secure. Hobbes did not think that it was possible to have both freedom and security. Hobbes saw the social contract as the state assuring the security of the citizens by the citizens surrendering their freedoms to the authority of the state. (pg. 109)

John Locke (1632-1704): No, not the guy from Lost! Locke (Tabula Rasa) opposed the absolute authority and authoritarianism and totalitarianism of the state and the church as he felt that the individual should rely on themselves to make important decisions, rather than having decisions imposed on them. Locke, in his Two Treatises of Government, outlined a social contract whereby people give up some of their natural rights to a government to receive social order and security for themselves and their private property. In this way, citizens can retain sovereignty over themselves. Locke further believed that the government should be directly responsible and accountable to the people. Locke believed in Representative Democracy (pg. 109)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778): Rousseau was a Swiss philosopher who was very interested in the common good. He believed that people are born good but are corrupted by society and that humans should be free and equal.

He believed that private property would lead to jealousy. Rousseau believed in Direct Democracy where the citizens make decisions directly.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873): yet another classical liberal thinker who believed that the role of the government is to protect individual freedom and the role of the individual in decision making. His works include On Liberty he writes that the only time there should be limits on our freedoms is to protect the liberties of others. Although a classical liberal his ideas are the foundation of modern liberal thought. An individual should be free but cannot impose on the freedoms or rights of others. Mill was a strong advocate of free speech and freedom of the press.

If all of mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing all mankind.”

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