Political Ideologies Outline Ideology and politics

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Political Ideologies


  • Ideology and politics

  • Ideology and hegemony

  • The evolution of ideology

  • Major modern ideologies

  • Conservatism

  • Liberalism

  • Fascism

  • Socialism/communism

  • End of ideology?

Ideology and Politics

Liberal Party of Canada

  • Web page: www.liberal.ca

  • Liberal Party of Canada’s “philosophy”:

  • “….It is dedicated to the principles that have historically sustained the Party: individual freedom, responsibility and human dignity in the framework of a just society, and political freedom in the framework of meaningful participation by all persons”.

Progressive Conservative Party

  • Web Page: www.pcparty.ca

  • Constitution:

  • “….a belief in the… supremacy of democratic parliamentary institutions and the rule of law… A belief in the equality of all Canadians… in the freedom of the individual…

New Democratic Party (NDP)

  • Web page: www.ndp.ca

  • Mission Statement:…“New Democrats seek fundamental change. We will apply the resources of government and the strength of cooperation and community to advance our society toward the goals of equality, social justice and democracy.

Canadian Alliance

  • Web Page: www.canadianalliance.ca

  • Declaration of Policy:

  • “To satisfy Canadians’ broad aspirations in a world that is changing ever more rapidly requires striking a careful balance. A balance between particular and common interests; freedom and responsibility; self-reliance and a clearly defined role for government; respect for diversity and the need for common values; limited government and social needs; preservation of our natural heritage and careful use of our resources; individual rights and the common good.”

Communist Party of Canada

  • Web page: http://www.communist-party.ca/

  • The Party Constitution:

  • The Communist Party of Canada is the Marxist-Leninist party of the working class dedicated to the cause of socialism. It is a voluntary organization of like-minded people which strives to unite in its ranks the most politically advanced and active members of the working class and of other sections of the people exploited by monopoly who are prepared to work for the achievement of working class state power and the building of a socialist Canada. The Communist Party of Canada has no interests separate and apart from those of the working class from which it springs.

What do These Concepts Mean?

  • Freedom

  • Equality

  • Social justice

  • We employ terms like “liberal”, “socialist” and “conservative” to describe political parties, as well as the policies they advocate and implement.


  • Ideologies comprise a “political vocabulary” which we use to interpret and discuss political issues.

  • “Ideology is one of the most elusive concepts in the social sciences.” (McLellan, 1986; 1)

  • Term first coined by Enlightenment French philosopher Destutt de Tracy (1796) referred to a science of the study of ideas. (literally idea –ology)

  • “Ideologues” were later blamed by Napoleon for spreading false and subversive ideas.

Ideology as Political Weapon

  • Often the term ideology has been used as a political weapon condemning or criticizing a rival set of views or ideas.

  • Marx argued that his own approach was “scientific” rather than “ideological”

  • Conservatives would argue that their approach is “pragmatic” rather than ideological

Various Definitions of Ideology

  • The ideas of the ruling class which propagate false interests among the suppressed classes (Marx)

  • All embracing doctrines that claim a monopoly of truth and suppresses opposition in totalitarian regimes (Arendt, Popper)

  • Sets of ideas that distort political reality by attempting to simplify and explain politics. (Oakeshott)

Defining Ideology

  • In order to engage in a systematic analysis of ideologies, we need a definition that is both inclusive and neutral.

  • Heywood:

  • “An ideology is a more or less coherent set of ideas that provides the basis for political action, whether this is intended to preserve, modify or overthrow the existing system of power.

The Role of Ideas in Politics

  • Everything has to pass through the mind of the individual before he or she acts

  • What people think and believe about society, power, rights, etc., determines their actions

  • Two main concepts about the role of ideas in politics

  • Political ideology

  • Political culture

Functions of Ideology

  • People need an ideology – a coherent set of ideas for purposeful action

  • All ideologies

  • Offer an account of the existing social order,

  • Provide the model of a desired future, a vision of the “good society”

  • Provide people with programs of political action

  • To uphold the existing power structure (portraying it as fair, natural etc.) or

  • To challenge it by pointing out its flaws

Four Key Functions of Ideology

  • Explanatory [Empirical]

  • Explaining how the world Works

  • Evaluative [Normative]

  • Deciding whether things are good or bad

  • Orientation

  • Supplying the holder with a sense of identity

  • Programmatic

  • Telling people what to do and how to do it

Political Spectrum:

  • Political ideologies, through opposition, competition, fusion, mixing, etc.–exist in constant interaction with each other

  • Together, they form a political spectrum

  • It is a useful tool of political analysis

Political Spectrum: The Standard Linear Model

Political Spectrum: A Two-dimensional Model

Ideology and Hegemony

Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937)

  • Antonio Gramsci was an Italian writer and revolutionary

  • Arrested in 1926, kept in prison 1928 – 1937, where he wrote the Prison Notebook.

  • He wondered why working class revolutions failed; why the working classes were not inclined to revolt, especially in the Western World (America and Europe)

Definition of Hegemony

  • Gramsci’s answer is hegemony—working classes aspire to (want) what the middle class has, but the middle class keeps the lower classes in check through media persuasion

  • Hegemony is the way in which one ideology comes to dominate others; it is a form of social control, a means of symbolic coercion

  • Control by consent

  • Resistance to hegemony is also important

Control by Consent

  • "...Dominant groups in society, including fundamentally but not exclusively the ruling class, maintain their dominance by securing the 'spontaneous consent' of subordinate groups, including the working class, through the negotiated construction of a political and ideological consensus which incorporates both dominant and dominated groups." (Strinati, 1995: 165)

  • (source http://www.theory.org.uk/ctr-gram.htm#hege )

Gramsci on Hegemony

  • The ruling class dominates symbolic production through control over the ideological sectors of society (culture, religion, education, the media).

  • This explains the institutional basis of false-consciousness.

  • Awareness of this can only be achieved with the help of an external agent.

Althusser: Ideological State Apparatuses

  • Capital-owning classes needed to reproduce the means of production, which includes a compliant labour force trained in ‘proper’ attitudes.

  • The ‘ideological state apparatuses’: organised religion, formal education, the family, the legal system, the media, cultural production

Manufacturing Consent

  • Video show: Manufacturing Consent, Part I Thought Control in a Democratic Society

  • “When you can't control people by force, you have to control what people think, and the standard way to do this is via propaganda (manufacture of consent, creation of necessary illusions), marginalizing the general public or reducing them to apathy of some fashion. — Noam Chomsky

The Evolution of Ideologies

Changing Ideological Landscape

  • Ideologies are not static or set in stone.

  • They respond to political events, as much as they affect political events.

  • Early Ideologies

  • The earliest ideologies were religions.

  • Many of the earliest rulers in history were priests.

  • In the Modern Age, political ideologies become increasingly secular (non-religious, some anti-religious), but religions continue to serve as important sources for ideologies to this day

  • Examples: Christian democracy, Christian socialism, Protestant fundamentalism, Islamic radicalism

Development of Modern Ideologies

  • Classical liberalism rose in the Enlightenment.

  • Important thinkers:

  • John Locke

  • Adam Smith

  • de Montesquieu

  • Rousseau

  • John Stuart Mill


  • Conservative thought arose in response to the excesses of the French Revolution of 1789.

  • Important thinker: Edmund Burke.

  • In the U.S., conservative thought also blended with classical liberalism.


  • In the 19th century, socialism, communism and anarchism were responses to the economic distresses brought by industrial capitalism.

  • Important thinkers:

  • Robert Owen

  • Charles Fourier

  • Saint-Simon

  • Karl Marx

  • Friedrich Engels


  • Fascism and its most extreme form, Nazism, developed in the early 20th century as a reaction against the perceived failings of liberalism, conservatism, socialism and communism.

New Ideologies

  • New ideologies emerge in response to new needs.

  • Developing out of (and in reaction to) liberalism in late 20th century were:

  • Feminism

  • Environmentalism

  • Postmodernism

Class and Ideology

  • Each major ideology has its main roots in the interests of a certain class, or a section of a class, or several aligned classes

  • For instance, in 19th century Europe:

  • Conservative ideologies were rooted in the interests of landed aristocracy and clergy – classes losing power as a result of modernization

  • Liberalism was rooted in the interests of the rising bourgeoisie

  • Socialism was rooted in the interests of the working classes

  • The special role of the intellectuals in the production of ideas

Crisis and Ideology

  • Crises create powerful demand for new ideas

  • A catastrophe (major war, economic collapse, ecological disaster, famine)

  • Major deterioration of social conditions

  • Breakdown of a state

  • A revolution or a counterrevolution

  • During the time of crisis, people commit themselves to ideas much more strongly (become more ideological) than in normal times

Major Ideologies

  • We cover four ideologies that have dominated modern political life and thought

  • Those ideologies have offered comprehensive political worldviews

  • Other ideologies have not developed into comprehensive systems of thought -but have had major influence on national and global politics

  • Due to time restrictions other ideologies are not discussed.

Basic Philosophical Disputes

  • The differences between ideologies are rooted in basic assumptions about:

  • Human Nature

  • ‘Naturally’ good, cooperative, even perfectible

  • Inherently flawed, evil, dangerous

  • Individual vs. society:

  • Which interests come first?

  • Freedom vs. equality:

  • ‘Freedom from…’ versus ‘Freedom to…’

  • How much social inequality is acceptable?

  • What if the two values clash?

  • Role of government


  • Desire for a free, open, tolerant society

  • Humans as rational and able to recognize and promote self-interest

  • Liberty and equality of opportunity

  • Classical Liberalism versus Welfare Liberalism

Absolute Despotism

  • Before classical liberalism, the dominant idea was that God created political society, not people.

  • Monarchs ruled through divine right.

  • If people suffered under a bad king, it was God’s will.

  • Disobeying a bad king was a sin; killing a bad king was regicide.

  • Therefore, people had a duty to accept and obey

Hobbes, Leviathan (1651)

  • Under conditions of anarchy, humans are born equal.

  • Cardinal virtues of anarchy: force and fraud.

  • No property.

  • No justice.

  • Only war.

  • Humans share inborn drive to

  • Preserve personal liberty;

  • Dominate others.

  • Order needed for industry and civilization.

  • Government is constituted to make order.

  • Human nature requires authoritarian political orders (monarchy).

John Locke, Two Treatises of Government (1690)

  • Under conditions of anarchy, humans are born equal.

  • Natural law: People have rights to life, health, liberty and possessions that no one should harm

  • Problem: It is left to property owner to defend property.

John Locke, continued

  • Solution:

  • To secure their rights, people give up some freedom and form government.

  • The people retain their sovereignty, and the government is just a mechanism to help them.

  • The individual is superior to the government.

  • The government’s purpose is to protect rights.

  • It is a type of contract.

  • Laissez faire capitalism.

Classic Liberalism on Equality

  • Their view was that people in the state of nature are equal in their rights, but not in their talents or their wealth.

  • Economic inequality is not necessarily unfair, since it is based on people’s free choices.

  • Freedom to make choices is a higher value than equality.

Classic Liberalism on Freedom

  • Negative freedom

  • Freedom is understood in terms of constraint or restriction

  • Absence of interference or coercion constitutes freedom.

  • Individuals are free to do whatever they wish as long as their actions DO NOT:

  • interfere with the rights of others;

  • compromise social-political order that makes liberty possible.

Core Assumptions of Classic Liberalism

  • Liberty and equality are incompatible.

  • Substantive (or material) equality constrains ability of individuals to accumulate property; and requires excessive government intervention in private lives.

  • Society opposes the individual.

  • Collective existence is inherently limiting to individual autonomy.

  • Government is a necessary evil to be limited.

  • Small & limited government is best

Evolution of Liberalism

  • The result of classic liberalism was laissez faire capitalism.

  • Terrible economic & social conditions for workers, including children.

  • Government powerless to act.

  • Led to rethinking liberalism.

  • A good society might need more than right procedures.

  • It also needed certain outcomes.


  • The philosophy of Utilitarianism emerged.

  • Governments should pursue policies that create the greatest good (or utility) for the greatest number of people.

  • This utility calculation would provide a rational guideline for government policy.

  • After utilitarianism, liberalism developed into Modern Liberalism.

Modern Liberalism

  • Modern liberalism is not fearful of government power.

  • Instead, government power can be a force for good, limiting the worst conditions of poverty, illiteracy, racism, exploitation, etc.

  • Rise of the concept of “positive freedom.”

  • State should intervene to allow individuals to be “free” from poverty, disease etc.

  • Keynesian economics.

Two Types of Freedom

  • T.H. Green (1836-1882)

  • Freedom means the ability as well as the right to do something.

  • Expansive liberty.

  • Two types of freedom:

  • Negative freedom: freedom from government intervention (e.g., Bill of Rights).

  • Positive freedom: freedom requires government to intervene in social & economic spheres (e.g., education, health care, housing)


  • Libertarian (Hayek, Nozick)

  • Other labels: “classical liberal” and “conservative.”

  • Minimal interference by government.

  • Often mixes social conservatism (hierarchy and values).

  • Formal equality—equality before the law.


Formal Equality


Humans are DifferentNot Equal

Liberalisms Four Functions

  • Explanatory:

  • Social conditions are the result of individual choices and actions

  • Evaluative:

  • Societies work best when individuals are free to do as they wish without harming or violating rights of others

  • Orientation:

  • Rational, self-interested individuals (and hence equal)

  • Programmatic:

  • Programs for promoting individual liberty (classical) and opportunity (welfare)


  • Human imperfection

  • Focused on conserving existing social order

  • Custom and tradition as ‘latent wisdom’

  • Organic view of society

  • Acceptance of inequality

  • Freedom and order

Traditional Conservatism

  • Developed as a reaction against the excesses of the French Revolution.

  • Conservatives blamed the bloodbath on the Enlightenment idea that human beings could consciously create political society.

Founder of Traditional Conservative Ideology

  • Edmund Burke (1729-97)

  • British writer & member of Parliament in late 18th century

  • Reflections on the Revolution in France (published in 1790)

Traditional Conservatism

  • The origin of political society.

  • Conservatism argues that political society develops gradually over time out of custom and human experience.

  • Human nature is not rational.

  • People’s ability to reason is severely limited.

  • Therefore, efforts to improve a society will likely have terrible unanticipated consequences.

  • Not opposed to all change, but it is should be gradual, a slow evolution

Traditional Conservatism

  • Inequality is the natural order of things.

  • Politically, people should defer to elites to govern.

  • Socially, people need to accept problems like poverty, which society cannot solve.

  • Inequality is unavoidable

  • “Believe me, Sir, those who attempt to level, never equalize…Burke, Reflections

  • Inequality is also beneficial to all

  • Making everyone equal would result in everyone having less.

Traditional Conservatism

  • The acceptance of authority.

  • Members of political society need to accept their roles in order for the whole society to be healthy and strong.

  • Challenging authority is destabilizing.

  • The purpose of government.

  • Government should be strong in law & order, to control the unruly elements in society.

  • Government’s goal is to provide for human needs, especially the needs for order, stability and control.

  • The lack of order destroys people more than tyranny.

  • Government is not formed to protect rights.

  • Against democracy:

  • No guarantee against tyranny [similar to Plato]

Traditional & Contemporary Varieties

  • Traditional Conservatism

  • Opposed to free market capitalism because it broke down old social roles.

  • No fear of an active large government becoming tyrannous because the elite would be the governors.

  • Contemporary Conservatism

  • Conservative thought in the U.S. (the Republican Party) different from Burke’s because it grew out of classical liberalism.

  • Support for capitalism

  • Suspicious of government power

  • See justice as equal opportunity, not equal outcome

  • Anti-welfare

Conservatisms Four Functions

  • Explanatory:

  • Social conditions are the result of human imperfections

  • Evaluative:

  • Success is a question of social order and harmony

  • Orientation:

  • Each of us is part of a greater whole, and we should act with interest of society (not just self) in mind

  • Programmatic:

  • Slow and cautious change

Fascism & Nazism


  • An ideology opposed to liberalism, conservatism, socialism, and communism, because they brought economic depression, political betrayal, national weakness, and moral decline.

Roots of Fascist Thinking

  • The work of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) influenced fascists, particularly the view expressed here:

  • Man does not search for happiness.

  • Only the English liberal does that.

Fascist ideology & Mussolini

  • Italian dictator Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) coined the term in 1919,

  • Fascism refers to the Roman symbol for “power through unity” – a bundle of reeds called “fasces,” individually weak but collectively strong.

Ideas of Mussolini

  • Mussolini argued that citizens were empowered when they were subordinated to the state.

  • By blindly obeying the state, they helped the state thrive, which benefited them.

  • To Mussolini, this distinguished the fascist state from repressive authoritarian governments, which sought to crush people, & not empower them.


  • Organic view of society (society over individual)

  • Mussolini Slogan: Believe, obey, fight

  • Irrationalism

  • Rejection of democracy

  • Elitism (cult of the “superman”)

  • Statism (anti-capitalism)

  • Racism and militant nationalism

  • Militarism


  • Fascism taken to its extreme form.

  • Racist and anti-Semitic elements that did not appear in Italian fascism.

  • Nazi racial theory-Three races:

  • Aryans (Germanic) – culture creating

  • Jews – culture destroying

  • Middle – culture maintaining

  • At various levels of hierarchy between Aryans and Jews.

Fascist Regimes

  • Other fascist regimes

  • Spain under Franco

  • Portugal under Salazar

  • Regimes with fascist elements

  • KMT under Jiang Jieshi (1931-1936)

  • Argentina under Juan Peron (1946-55)

  • Chile under Pinochet (1973-1990)

  • South Africa apartheid regime for Blacks (1945-1990)

Generalissimo Jiang Jieshi

  • Jiang title, "Generalissimo", was used only by one other major world leader, Francisco Franco of Spain, who also had close ties with the Nazi military in the 1930s.

  • Such were Jiang’s ties to the Axis powers that he sent his son to train in the Nazi military and take part in the Austrian annexation of 1938.

Jiangs Son in Nazi Uniform

  • Jiang’s son, Jiang Weiguo (Chiang Weikuo), joined the Nazi Army for the 1938 Austrian Anschluss, was later Secretary General of the Council of National Security of Taiwan.

  • After Nazi connections publicized in recent years, suddenly he is "not really Jiang's son" and disowned post-mortem to "save a face".

Jiang Weiguo (Chiang Weikuo)

Military Advisers from Nazi Germany

Fascisms Four Functions

  • Explanatory:

  • Problems from ‘enemies of the nation or people’ (scapegoats)

  • Evaluative:

  • Strength and unity of the nation or people

  • Orientation:

  • Define yourself as part of nation/people (not as individual)

  • Programmatic:

  • Believe, obey, fight (elites in complete control)


Origins of Socialism

  • Ancient roots – Judeo-Christian belief in the common good, which takes precedence over individual desires

  • Term “socialism” coined in 1827 by British socialist Robert Owen to describe his view of a cooperative new society.

Early Socialists Owen 欧文

Early Socialist: Charles Fourier 傅立叶

Early Socialist: Saint-Simon 圣西门

  • Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon, often referred to as Henri de Saint-Simon (1760 –1825), the founder of French socialism

The Communist Manifesto

Socialists Take Exception to Each of the Three Tenets of Liberalism

  • Individual freedom—Freedom to accumulate and dispose of property is glorified way of saying that the state and law protects ability of the few to exploit the many.

  • Limited government—prevents masses from using the state and law to level inequality.

  • In genuine democracy, government constituted by people.

  • Public-private split—there is no final distinction between a public sphere (political society) and a private sphere (economy or civil society).

  • Inequality in one means inequality in the other.

Class Struggle

Socialisms Emergence

  • Liberal political parties in 19th century Europe failed to address the desperate needs of working people.

  • Flaws of Liberalism

  • Individualism or social class

  • Restriction of political power, but not economic power

  • Classical liberalism views poverty as an individual choice or failure, not the result of social structures.

  • In England, socialism became a political movement in 1884, with the creation of the Fabians, who provided the basis for the new Labor Party.


  • Socialism provides a different conception of individual responsibility & of government.

  • Fraternity:

  • Socialism is an ideology arguing that citizens are best served by policies focused on meeting the basic needs of the entire society rather than on serving the needs of individuals as individuals.

  • Community

  • Humankind will be unified and cooperative, once wealth is owned and used for the common good (social ownership).

  • Capitalism exploits the very people who create society’s wealth.

  • Socioeconomic equality

  • The equality of outcome as opposed to the equality of opportunity ����

Two Directions of Socialism

  • Major division between revolutionary socialists (Communists) and reformist socialists (Social Democrats)

Revolutionary Socialism

  • Based on Marxism-Leninism:

  • Proletarian revolution seen as inevitable given the inherent exploitation of the capitalist system.

  • Revolution will eliminate private property—the means for some to exploit others.

  • Bourgeoisie will fight, so revolution will be violent.

  • A dictatorship of the proletariat will follow to weed out remaining capitalist elements.

  • Socialization of industry and agriculture under Stalin.

  • In the end, a classless society with no more oppression or internal contradictions.


  • Eventually, the contribution principle is replaced with the motto “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

  • People will be free to choose how they labor, and can be creatively productive. They will be able to live to their fullest potential.

  • “...while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, cowherd, or critic” (German Ideology).

Social Democracy

  • A variation on socialism that argues that socialism and democracy can work together.

  • A compromise approach which accepts private ownership and the market but seeks to redistribute wealth according to communal/moral principles.

  • Change comes through peaceful democratic processes like elections.

  • Democratic governments should promote economic as well as political freedom & equality.

What are the Similarities and Differences between Communism and Social Democracy?

Social Democracy in Practice

  • Socialist political parties compete and win office in every western democracy except the United States.

  • Argentina Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Fiji, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, Netherland, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Venezuela.

  • Why might this be so? What’s different about the U.S.?

Socialism/Communisms Four

  • Explanatory:

  • Social conditions determined by economic and class relations

  • Evaluative:

  • Sharpness of class divisions (exploitive?) determines health of society

  • Orientation:

  • People should think of themselves in terms of their class position

  • Programmatic:

  • Policies must be put into place to advance economic equality (which is a prerequisite for ‘true’ political equality)

The End of Ideology?

Daniel Bell (1960)

  • Daniel Bell (1960) The End of Ideology: On the exhaustion of political ideas

  • Argued that in post WWII Western countries, managed capitalism was no longer debated, rather debates were technocratic in nature, concerning optimum methods for delivering affluence.

Francis Fukuyama (1989)

  • Francis Fukuyama (1989) argued that we have reached “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of government…the victory of liberalism” (page 4)

  • Argued that in the impending collapse of the USSR represented the triumph of Western Liberalism over competing ideologies.

The End of Ideology?

  • However, Bell’s argument was undermined by the emergence of the New Right in the US and UK – current climate of highly polarized competition between Republicans and Democrats.

  • Fukuyama’s approach has been challenged by Islamic fundamentalist groups (such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda) who oppose Western, liberal values.

Summary: Ideology in Politics

Directory: gpa -> wang files
wang files -> State and society in early Republican politics, 1912-18
wang files -> Review of China's Political History? All societies are in some measure the products of their past
wang files -> 5. Citizen Attitude and Political Behavior Ideology vs. Political Culture Both are belief systems made up of cognitions, values, emotions
wang files -> Introduction to Comparative Politics gpa 2130
wang files -> Gpa 1070: Government and Politics in China Wang Shaoguang
wang files -> Executive-Legislative Relations Presidential and Parliamentary Systems Outline
wang files -> The State and Economy Why was Economic Reform Necessary? Economic development is impossible unless the following three problems can be solved
wang files -> To get rich is glorious: Rising expectations, declining control, and escalating crime in contemporary China
wang files -> 2 Classification and Comparison Normative Approach of Research

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