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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.

Chapter

1. Introduction to ideology  

Contesting the nature of the ‘good society’

Paul Wetherly

This chapter explains what ideology is, why ideology is seen as a ‘contested concept’, and what roles ideology plays in politics and society. In particular, it analyses the basic conception of ideology as a system of ideas involving a vision of the good society, a critique of existing society, and a notion of political action. It examines the relationship between ideology, politics, and policy; negative perceptions of ideology prevalent in political discourse; the idea that we are all ideologists; the components or building blocks of a basic conception of ideology; and the Marxist understanding of ‘ideology’ as false or misleading ideas. The chapter also considers whether there is an independent vantage point from which to assess the claims of rival ideologies. It concludes by reflecting on the problem of relativism and the link between ideology and globalization.

Chapter

Robert Garner

This chapter examines a range of traditional ideologies associated with the Enlightenment, including liberalism, socialism, nationalism, anarchism, conservatism, and fascism. It first explains what an ideology is and what their general characteristics are before discussing liberalism, socialism, conservatism, nationalism, fascism, and anarchism. It is noted how all of these ideologies were shaped by the Enlightenment, either—in the case of liberalism, socialism, nationalism, and anarchism—adopting its key principles, or—in the case of conservatism and fascism—railing against them. The chapter suggests that each ideology must be understood within the economic, social, and political environment in which it emerged. It also emphasizes the impact of these ideologies on the development of world politics in the last two centuries.

Chapter

David Bates

This chapter examines the key ideas and concepts of ‘classical’ anarchist thinkers. Among the ideas associated with anarchism are: a belief in the potential of human nature, and a corresponding critique of arbitrary authority; a refusal of state authority; a rejection of the institution of private property; militant atheism; and an emphasis on the importance of revolutionary politics. The chapter first considers how anarchist views on human nature, the state, political action, private property, and religion vary, and where possible, what unites them. It then discusses recent critical responses to anarchism, particularly ‘post-anarchism’, and specific historical examples of anarchism. It also analyses the extent to which anarchism can be regarded as a cohesive political ideology.

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This chapter discusses what is often regarded as the central institution, not only of domestic or national political order but also of current international or global order—the state. Alongside the state, we must also consider the idea of the nation and the ideology of nationalism—perhaps the most powerful political ideology to emerge in the modern world. There is, however, another form of international political order that has actually been far more common throughout history, and that is empire. With the rise of modernity from around the beginning of the seventeenth century, we also encounter the rise of the modern state and state system in Europe along with ideas about sovereignty, citizenship, the nation-state, and democracy. The chapter then looks at the effective globalization of the European state system through modern imperialism and colonialism and the extent to which these have been productive of contemporary global order.

Chapter

Mark Langan

This chapter examines the key ideas and concepts of nationalism as ideology. It first defines nationalism and considers how the nation is socially constructed as an imagined community. It then analyses the practical implications of nationalist ideology in terms of the functioning of the nation-state (and of nationalist political parties). It also looks at the ‘rational’ form of nationalism (that is, the civic variety) and its ‘sticky’ connections to liberalism and socialism; the link between nationalism and politics; and the relationship between nationalism and globalization. The rational and somewhat pragmatic nationalism is compared with the ‘irrational’ and emotional variant found within both conservatism and fascism. The chapter concludes by highlighting key lessons regarding nationalism as ideology. Case studies relating to Scottish national identity, Brexit, Chinese nationalism, and ethnic nationalism in Russia are presented.

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Sophia Price

This chapter examines the evolution of feminism as an ideology using the analogy of ‘waves’, a term that indicates high points of debate and activism followed by more fallow periods. It first traces the historical origins of feminism from the first to the third wave and a possible fourth. It then considers whether feminism is an ideology in its own right and goes on to identify variants of feminism such as liberal feminism, separatism and political lesbianism/lesbian feminism, transfeminism, revolutionary feminism, eco-feminism, and black feminism. The chapter also explores the links between feminism and other ideological perspectives as well as the connection between the national and global dimensions of feminism and the ways in which feminist ideology has been expressed in political movements and shaped the policies of governments and international organizations. Finally, it tackles the question of whether ‘post-feminism’ has rendered feminism obsolete.

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This chapter examines the nature of religion and fundamentalism and their relationship to politics. It first defines religion before discussing the nature and extent of religiosity worldwide. It then considers whether religion can be regarded as an ideology and goes on to assess its relationship with secular ideologies. It also explores arguments about the role of religion in politics, focusing on the secular state and ‘religious talk’ in the political sphere. Finally, it reviews the concept of fundamentalism as a form of political belief, the nature of religious fundamentalism, and the impact of movements based on religious fundamentalism in the modern world. These issues are illustrated with case studies relating to Christian (Protestant) fundamentalism, religious identity in the United Kingdom, the relationship between politics and religion in the United Kingdom vs. the United States, whether the faithful have a religious duty to get involved in politics, and Islamism.

Chapter

Paul Wetherly

This chapter examines conceptions of human nature and ideological responses to globalization. It begins with a discussion of the two reasons for the persistence of ideological dispute regarding human nature. First, ideologies differ in their views of human nature, and these differences continue to generate competing visions of the good society consistent with this nature. Second, disagreement about the good society might be built into human nature. The chapter considers the different ideological conceptions of human nature and the implications of globalization for existing political ideologies such as liberalism, conservatism, feminism, environmentalism, multiculturalism, and religious fundamentalism. It also explores a range of arguments that suggest the possibility of resolving or ending ideological debate, asking whether it is possible to show the failure of a particular ideology, whether there can be a non-ideological way of doing politics, or whether there could there be an end of ideology.

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This chapter examines Australia’s engagement with the international politics of global climate change. It first provides an overview of the problem of global climate change and its likely effects, focusing on key complexities and dilemmas regarding climate change, and the evolution of the climate change regime through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process. It then considers key drivers of climate diplomacy, from the ideology and foreign policy perspectives of different governments to the role of public opinion and the ebb and flow of international cooperation. It shows that Australia’s changing approach to climate change cooperation underscores the profound challenges for the climate change regime.

Chapter

Mark Garnett

This chapter examines the basic features of conservative ideology, with particular emphasis on its strongly contested nature. It begins with a discussion of two major issues: whether conservatism is distinctive ideology and whether the core ideas of conservatism have changed over time. It then shows how conservatism differs from varieties of liberalism and goes on to explore ‘conservatism’ in the United States, along with some apparent manifestations of conservatism in political parties and movements outside the United Kingdom. Finally, it looks at the relationship between conservatism and religion. Case studies on the ideas of Edmund Burke, Winston Churchill, Barry Goldwater, and Friedrich von Hayek are presented.

Chapter

Paul Thomas

This chapter examines Karl Marx's relationship to Friedrich Engels and their joint works of the 1840s, along with those works each of them published separately. Marx is regarded as Engels regarded him; that is, as the more important of the two, both as a theorist and political activist in the First International. The chapter begins with a discussion of the Manifesto of the Communist Party, with particular emphasis on Marx and Engels's views on ideology. It then considers Marx's critique of political economy; his concepts of use value, exchange value, and surplus value; and the ‘fetishism of commodities’ as discussed in the first volume of Capital. It also explores Marx's insights about Western European history and his theory of the state before concluding with an overview of Engels's contribution to Marxism.

Chapter

This chapter examines the importance of comparative politics for understanding human rights practices. Comparative politics has advanced our knowledge of why states sometimes violate internationally recognized human rights. Both domestic incentives and exclusionary ideologies increase the likelihood of rights violations. On the other hand, comparative politics has attempted to explain human rights protection, showing how domestic structures (both societal groups and state institutions) can influence reform efforts. This chapter first consider alternative logics of comparison, including the merits of comparing a small versus a large number of cases and human rights within or across regions. It then explores the leading domestic-level explanations for why human rights violations occur. It also describes the use of domestic–international linkages to explain otherwise perplexing human rights outcomes. Finally, it analyses the ways in which, in the context of globalization, comparative politics shapes human rights practices.