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Cover Political Ideologies

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

Cover Political Ideologies

5. Anarchism  

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.

Chapter

Cover Political Thinkers

31. Habermas  

Kenneth Baynes

This chapter examines Jürgen Habermas's major contributions to social and political thought. Habermas is regarded as one of the most influential figures in contemporary political theory. In his later work Habermas has begun to expand the normative political implications of his work in social theory and philosophy, culminating in Between Facts and Norms. This chapter first provides an overview of Habermas's earlier work, especially his study on the transformation of the liberal or bourgeois public sphere, before discussing his theory of communicative action (or action based on mutually supposed validity claims). It then considers Habermas's attempt, in Between Facts and Norms, to develop an account of deliberative politics anchored on the idea of political legitimacy and concludes with an analysis of cosmopolitanism as well as his views on discourse theory, democracy, the system of rights, and ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ publics.