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Chapter

8. Reviewing the ‘classical’ legacy  

Left–right politics in the age of ideology

Paul Wetherly

This chapter examines the legacy of the ‘classical’ ideologies in terms of their European origins, expansion, and dominance. Classical ideologies such as liberalism, conservatism, and socialism can be understood as contrasting responses to the intellectual, social, and economic transformations known as the Enlightenment and modernization, especially industrialization and the rise of capitalism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The chapter first considers the idea that liberalism constitutes a dominant ideology before discussing the relationship between ideological principles, party politics, and statecraft. It then analyses the relationship between the classical ideologies in terms of the Enlightenment and the left–right conception of ideological debate. It also introduces the notion of ‘new’ ideologies and the extent to which the dominance of the classical ideologies can be seen in the character of the political parties that have dominated Western democracies.

Book

Edited by David Boucher and Paul Kelly

Political Thinkers is an introduction to Western political thought. This third edition provides an introduction to the canon of great theorists, from Socrates and the Sophists to contemporary thinkers such as John Rawls and Hannah Arendt. Each chapter begins with a chapter guide, a biographical sketch of the thinker, a list of their key texts, and their key ideas. Scholastic commentary enables readers to understand the social and political contexts that inspired political thinkers. This edition features two new chapters on Arendt, one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, and Hugo Grotius, whose work on just war continues to inform international law today. Following an introduction, the work is structured into five sections.