Ideologies: 'Isms and
virtual handout comparing a variety of important ideologies,
is a comprehensive set of beliefs about the political world—about desirable
political goals and the best ways to achieve those goals."
The ideology can
describe what is or it can envision what ought to be.
Ideology can refer
to the beliefs of one person (liberal/conservative) or one million
(Communists). As such there may be varieties of interpretations. Which was
correct Communism, the Chinese, the Soviet, or neither?
It is usually
assumed that a political ideology displays high
coherence, complexity, and
salience, but it may be low on any of these dimensions.
“political ideology” is usually applied to one of a few comprehensive and
widely held sets of beliefs. Most of these are 'isms. However, any
relatively complete bundle of political beliefs could be termed an ideology.
their own internal logic, and each ideology is based on assumptions and value judgments
individual and human nature
(is man good, bad, can he share? Is he
emotional or rational? Violent or non-violent?),
the proper relationship
between the individual and society (is the highest value individual freedom or
is the collective good paramount?), and
the desirability of establishing
certain kinds of equality among individuals (legal, political,
take a look at some 'Isms:
Mussolini and Hitler
ideology in the 20th century: basis for Mussolini’s government in
Italy (1922-1943), and Hitler's Nazism in Germany (1932-1945). But not just those
two: fascism also appealed to leaders in the developing world: Chiang
Kai-shek in China and Sukarno in Indonesia.
Essence of fascism
is the fundamental importance on the
unity and harmony of
government and society. Fascism is defined particularly by its
opposition to forces
the might weaken that collective unity.
In particular, fascism is
anti-socialist (it opposed radical egalitarianism, the idea that there should
be continuous struggle in society and that there should be seizure of private
property by the state).
And it is anti-democratic, proudly so. Competitive
politics are seen as destructive and destabilizing.
In fascism, society
and government should be organized into an organic whole with all groups
coordinating their actions, social and economic activities to achieve the good
of the whole.
assumes that the top leader is the embodiment of the national will and that
all should obey the will of the leader. "Heil Hitler" ("Hail to Hitler").
The ideology in
the Nazi variant and European Far Right versions is
usually associated with beliefs about the
racial superiority of the nation.
Some within the country may be scapegoated and/or persecuted.
It is easy to sit
here in Wilmington in the 21st century and look at fascism as a discredited ideology of
the past, but that is not the case. There are continuous reappearances of
groups with fascist leanings: Far right in Europe discussed earlier in the
course: Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, France, Germany. In times of national hardship,
especially, fascist solutions can appear to provide easy answers to complex
problems. Why are we economically behind? "Because the Jewish people are
engaged in a conspiracy against the nation." Why can I not find a job?
our government’s permissive immigration policy has allowed Muslims from North
Africa to swamp us and take our jobs and turn our country into a crime-ridden
hellhole like the one from which the immigrants came." When we talked about the National Front
in France: anti-immigrant, law and order.
In addition, we
look now at fascism from the time of democracy’s victory, but in the
earlier twentieth century, this was not the case. Germany under Hitler long not
recognized as a threat because Hitler was lauded as a leader who was picking
Germany up by its boot straps, implementing law and order. Considered an
alternative governing system.
mistake is that socialism=Marxism, and that is not the case.
important goal is to
provide high-quality, relatively equal conditions of life
for everyone, with an active state assisting in the achievement of this goal
(different from Marxism, as we'll discuss shortly).
during the nineteenth century as industrialization was proceeding. Many were
impoverished and exploited (think of a Charles Dickens novel or Sinclair Lewis’ The
Jungle). Socialism evolved as a distinctive ideology among those concerned
that the plight of these individuals would not be addressed by existing
ideologies (classical liberalism and conservatism—below), neither particularly
concerned about these groups at the bottom of the scale, and in fact, making
up a majority of the population.
socialists, individuals are not innately selfish or aggressive. If anything,
humans are caring and social by nature.
a large extent individuals’
attributes are determined by their environment. Consequently, it is important
to create an environment that encourages individuals to place the highest
value on cooperation and sharing and to believe that the most important goal
for each individual is to increase the collective good of all.
society. While individual rights and freedoms are valued, the most important
value is identified as the good of the society as a whole.
individual’s interests must be subordinated to, or at least coordinated with,
the overall interests and needs of everyone else. All groups must encourage
attitudes of cooperation and service to the common good.
The government has
a crucial role through education and civic training and through policies that
provide every individual with good material living conditions and security.
Thus government must take an expansive role, ensuring that every citizen has
access to quality education, shelter, health care, jobs, and financial
Disparities cause misery, alienation, and pervasive conflict in society. Thus
the ideology of socialism centers in a deep commitment to use the power and
policies of the state to increase the material as well as the social and
political equality of its members. Such equality is believed to transform
people into fulfilled, happy citizens who willingly contribute to the common
(As variant of socialism, above)
Starts from the same place as socialism. Nature of
individual and commitment to equality.
But a far more complex and
History progressing in a pattern. Important to
understand the mechanisms of change.
To Marx, how does history progress? For Marx,
all history is a history of class struggle. Interspersed in history are a
series of revolutions, broadening political and economic power, but made in
the name of all the people, actually serving a certain group. (Marx: MCP “All previous
historical movements were movements of minorities, or in the interest of
minorities. The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent
movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority.”)
Where does the nature of the
political structure come from?
Economic structure underpins the political structure. Politics, culture, even
morality, ideas all spring forth from economic structure (they are
superstructure) and the relations of production (who has capital—things to
invest, money, land and those who don’t—have to sell their labor for wages).
What are the classes to which
Marx is referring?
(control capital) (small traders will sink
into proletariat because capital not sufficient for modern scale of industry).
Some bourgeois will break away as struggle reaches climax and align themselves
with the workers' movement. Most bourgeois lazy, do not work, and do not produce.
only has labor to sell. A “class of laborers,
who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their
labor increases capital. These laborers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are
a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed
to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.”
Elsewhere: “He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most
simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required of
Discuss the Communist Manifesto:
What does Marx think of capitalism?
Did Marx want to abolish all private property?
does he think of the bourgeoisie in the industrializing nations?
How will the revolution occur?
What is the state?
What will happen to the state under Communism?
didn't things happen as Marx had predicted?
Marx was right about?
What does Marx think of
It is a fearsome thing,
swallowing up all before it. “It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to
adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it
calls civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In
one word, it creates a world after its own image.”
elsewhere: “The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has
created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding
generations together. Subjection of nature's forces to man, machinery,
application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam navigation,
railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation,
canalization or rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground — what
earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in
the lap of social labor?”
Capitalism a necessary stage,
enormously productive, creation of wealth, globalization reduces the power of
the nation state. “National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and
more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there
arises a world literature.” This globalization a necessary progression in the
development of cross-national proletarian consciousness, revolutionary
Creates conditions for its own
“like the sorcerer who
is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called
up by his spells.” Referring to crises, over-production.
Bourgeois democracy that Marx
was observing. Did he view that as true democracy? Why not?
Myth of bourgeois democracy is that it is not democracy, just partial
democracy. Think about the time that Marx is writing. Most countries the
franchise is very limited. Ideals of bourgeois democracy hide reality of an
exploitative system built on capitalism, exploitation of the workers, who have
no capital, have to sell their labor for wages. In England, observing the most
advanced industrial country in the world. Saw the suffering of the people,
hoped to understand why that suffering was occurring and to develop a program
for ending it. Communist Manifesto: “The modern bourgeois society that has
sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class
antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression,
new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.” Elsewhere: “the bourgeoisie
has at last, since the establishment of Modern Industry and of the world market,
conquered for itself, in the modern representative state, exclusive political
Bourgeois democracy bad, why
else? Reduces everything to
cash value, specialization of labor dehumanizing.
man will be able "to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in
the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever
becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic." (Marx, "The German Ideology.")
Did Marx wish to abolish all
private property? No, only bourgeois
private property. Other types (small artisan, small peasant, etc) preceded the
development of the bourgeoisie and are not dependent on exploiting others.
Already abolished for nine-tenths of the population. Paid only enough to
survive and breed more workers, no accumulation.
How will the revolution occur?
For Marx, the next revolution will be led by the working class and it will be
global (it will start in the most advanced countries), but nations
unimportant—just another way for bourgeois and reactionaries to divide workers
of the world from one another. In Marx’s thought, history is an inexorable
progression—an iron law.
This will happen. Capitalism will
cause the socio-economic-and political conditions which precipitate revolution
and transition to socialism. “But with the development of industry, the
proletariat not only increases in number; it becomes concentrated in greater
masses, its strength grows, and it feels that strength more.” Development of
unions, win some victories, riots break out occasionally. Modern
communications help them to spread message to other workers, grow stronger
(Ten-Hours bill in Britain).
How will one class overthrow
its oppressors? Progress from one
stage to another will be violent because the power-holding class will attempt to
maintain its control.
What is the state?
Famous line from Marx: “The executive of the
modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole
bourgeoisie.” State is political power used to oppress one class by another.
What will happen to the state under Communism? As progress, state will
be used to manage the whole resources of the economy. “To centralize all
instruments of production in the hands of the state, i.e., of the proletariat
organized as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as
rapidly as possible.” With state control (under control of proletariat) no
longer oppression, no longer need for “political power.” Under Communism, state
will eventually wither away. After socialist goals achieved, classes
disappear, no longer a need.
Who are the Communists?
The Communists are a party. “The Communists are distinguished from the other
working-class parties by this only: (1) In the national struggles of the
proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front
the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all
nationality. (2) In the various stages of development which the struggle of the
working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and
everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.” Most
progressive of the working class parties.
What mistakes did
Marx make? Why didn’t things happen just like he said?
Lenin recognized that the workers
would not overthrow the system by themselves. They could be divided by petty
concessions ("trade union consciousness"). Needed a vanguard party to lead the
Assumption of human nature?
Historical progression as iron law
State did not wither away, needed
to enforce coercion required to keep large Communist dictatorships in power.
Did not foresee the
embourgeoisement of the workers, creation of "middle class" society.
"They pretend to pay us, we pretend
to work." MPC: “It has been objected that upon the abolition of
private property, all work will cease, and universal laziness will overtake us.”
Didn’t realize that putting
economic resources in the hands of the state would create a new class, lording
it over others by control of resources, access.
Anything Marx was
Industrial labor, repetitive tasks
Even if Marxism may be a decaying
ideology, Marxist analysis still influential, particularly in academic circles.
One of the aspects that is still influential is the idea that politics, culture,
morality, everything arises from the economic system. That there is a structure
and a superstructure. Marxist Feminist analysts would say, for example, that
because men have always controlled economic and political power, history is
written as if they were the only actors of importance. What is important in
history? The acts of great men doing great things. Don’t see a book on the
evolution of child care in the Middle Ages, because society doesn’t consider
that, traditionally a women’s role, to be important. What comes to be considered important a
direct result of existing economic and political power relations.
Liberalism are difficult because the terms liberal and conservative are used
in different ways in some different contexts.
The foundation of
conservatism is to prevent or slow the transition away from a society based on
traditional values and social hierarchies.
So, the idea of
conservatism is to prevent change or at least slow it down.
Individuals are unequal in intelligence, skills, and in status. Some
individuals are superior to others, and it is clearly preferable that those
from the superior groups should be in a position of power in society and in
society. Individuals have a basic need for order and stability in society.
These individuals belong to different groups, which are unequal in power,
status, and material possessions.
Social harmony is maintained when these
various groups work cooperatively together. Traditional values and ethics
provide the guidelines for group cooperation and individual behavior. And it
is the role of institutions like the family and the church as well as
government, to communicate and enforce these values. Individual freedom is
valued, but only within a framework of mutual responsibility. Must behave in
a way consistent with traditional values.
Superior groups should protect the
weak from severe hardships, a responsibility the French call noblesse
oblige. Tradition and
religion rather than reason should guide society.
Egalitarianism—hierarchy the natural state of things. Foolish and destructive
to seek to impose egalitarianism. Would cause disorder and trample on
individual freedoms. Market case—would destroy proper incentives to be a
productive member of society.
this jive entirely with current use of the term conservative in the United
Current conservatism heavily influenced by classical liberalism
The ideology of
liberalism places the
highest value on individual freedom and posits that the
role of government should be quite limited.
It is this element
which influences contemporary conservatism in the US, limited government (US
conservative opposition to the bailout package 2009). But
conservatism willing to use the government to maintain traditions and values.
Not free to do whatever you please, even among consenting adults. Whereas a
true, consistent classical liberal would allow consenting adults to do what
they please, absent harm to anyone else.
Why is the term
liberal confusing? Well, liberals
could refer to classical liberals (who put the stress on individual freedom)
or it could refer to US liberals-discuss more in a moment.
like many of the US' founding fathers, believe that men are imbued with certain natural rights: to life, liberty, and
each individual is rational and has the ability to use
his reason to determine sensible rules
that shape how she should live.
Essentially, every individual is capable of deciding rationally how to pursue
his own needs and to avoid harming others. Notice two important contrasts
with conservatism: 1) each person is rational and the responsibility falls to
the individual using reason to determine what is in his best interest. 2)
there is no higher value than the freedom of the individual to pursue his
celebrate laissez-faire economy with little government regulation and small
be equal before the law, but the government should not set out on a project to
create material equality. Individuals will pursue their interests, and
different outcomes will result.
include: John Locke, Adam Smith, and Milton Friedman.
on the other hand, have very different sets of beliefs.
They believe that
equality is the desired goal and that the government should be a tool for
achieving it. The confusion stems in part from FDR’s presidency (1933-45).
Faced with the Great Depression, Roosevelt argued for a “New Deal” in which the
central government had a clear duty and responsibility to assist actively
in economic recovery and social action. While not proposing the expansive
government role in the economy and egalitarianism of socialism, he did insist
that government must be very active in solving economic and social problems.
Among other things, government must actively regulate business, create jobs,
and distribute extensive welfare services to citizens, including cash payments
and increased provision of education, housing, health care, and so on. To
avoid the politically negative label of “socialism,” Roosevelt terms himself
and his policies “liberal,” contrasting them to the conservative policies
asserted by his opponents (which were actually classic liberalism, limited
government, laissez-faire economics, and individual freedom). Roosevelt’s
terminology caught on in the US.
have a couple of streams here:
Issue comes up. How would people
from the various ideological streams propose to handle it?
Bailout of the US
the last US presidential election ideological?
US politics generally ideological?
ideology a good or a bad thing?
Hopefully, this class has brought together things we've learned in many
different class sessions: on Marxism and the Russian Revolution, on Mao Zedong's
Communism but also on European socialism (France's economy) and the Conservative
Party (Tories) in the United Kingdom.
you found an ideology whose assumptions and goals you agree with, perhaps not.
Updated: October 18,
Johnson Tan, tanp@Uncw.edu
Return to Dr. Tan's