Political Ideologies'The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways: the point is to change it.'KARLMARXTheses on Feuerbach (\845)No one sees the world as it is. All of us lookat the world through a veil of theories,presuppositions and assumptions. In thissense, observation and interpretation areinextricably bound together: when we lookat the world we are also engaged inimposing meaning upon it. This hasimportant implications for the study ofpolitics. In particular, it highlights the needto uncover the presuppositions andassumptions that we bring to politicalenquiry. At their deepest level, theseassumptions are rooted in broad politicalcreeds or traditions that are usually termed'political ideologies'. Each of these 'isms'(liberalism,socialism,conservatism,feminism, fascism, and so on) constitutes adistinctive intellectual framework orparadigm, and each offers its own accountof political reality, its own world view.However, there is deep disagreement bothabout the nature of ideology, and about therole, for good or ill, that it plays in politicallife.The central issues examined in this chapter are as follows:Key issues?What is political ideology??What are the characteristic themes, theories and principles of each of the major ideologies??What rival traditions or internal tensions does each ideology encompass?How have the major ideologies changed over time?How can the rise andfall of ideologies be explained?Has ideology come to an end? Couldideology come to an end?
ContentsWhat is political ideology?40Liberalism41Elements of liberalism41Classical liberalism43Modern liberalism43Conservatism44Elements of conservatism45Paternalistic conservatism46The New Right47Socialism48Elements of socialism49Marxism50Social democracy55Other ideologicaltraditionsFascismAnarchismFeminismEnvironmentalismReligiousfundamentalismThe end of ideology?61Summary/Questionsfor discussion/Furtherreading62
403 • POLITICAL IDEOLOGIESI What is political ideology?Ideology is one of the most controversial concepts encountered in political analysis. Althoughthe term now tends to be used in a neutral sense, to refer to a developed social philosophy orworld view, it has in the past had heavily negative or pejorative connotations. During itssometimes tortuous career, the concept of ideology has commonly been used as a politicalweapon to condemn or criticise rival creeds or doctrines.The term 'ideology' was coined in 1796 by the French philosopher Destutt de Tracy (1754-1836). He used it to refer to a new 'science of ideas' (literally an idea-ology) that set out touncover the origins of conscious thought and ideas. De Tracy's hope was that ideology wouldeventually enjoy the same status as established sciences such as zoology and biology.