Weeks+4-5 - Political Ideologies'The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways the point is to change it does each ideology encompass

Weeks+4-5 - Political Ideologies'The philosophers have only...

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Political Ideologies 'The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways: the point is to change it.' K ARL M ARX Theses on Feuerbach (\845) No one sees the world as it is. All of us look at the world through a veil of theories, presuppositions and assumptions. In this sense, observation and interpretation are inextricably bound together: when we look at the world we are also engaged in imposing meaning upon it. This has important implications for the study of politics. In particular, it highlights the need to uncover the presuppositions and assumptions that we bring to political enquiry. At their deepest level, these assumptions are rooted in broad political creeds or traditions that are usually termed 'political ideologies'. Each of these 'isms' (liberalism, socialism, conservatism, feminism, fascism, and so on) constitutes a distinctive intellectual framework or paradigm, and each offers its own account of political reality, its own world view. However, there is deep disagreement both about the nature of ideology, and about the role, for good or ill, that it plays in political life. 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 and fall of ideologies be explained? Has ideology come to an end? Could ideology come to an end?
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Contents What is political ideology? 40 Liberalism 41 Elements of liberalism 41 Classical liberalism 43 Modern liberalism 43 Conservatism 44 Elements of conservatism 45 Paternalistic conservatism 46 The New Right 47 Socialism 48 Elements of socialism 49 Marxism 50 Social democracy 55 Other ideological traditions Fascism Anarchism Feminism Environmental ism Religious fundamentalis m The end of ideology? 61 Summary/Ques tions for discussion/Furt her reading 62
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40 3 • POLITICAL IDEOLOGIES I What is political ideology? Ideology is one of the most controversial concepts encountered in political analysis. Although the term now tends to be used in a neutral sense, to refer to a developed social philosophy or world view, it has in the past had heavily negative or pejorative connotations. During its sometimes tortuous career, the concept of ideology has commonly been used as a political weapon 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 to uncover the origins of conscious thought and ideas. De Tracy's hope was that ideology would eventually enjoy the same status as established sciences such as zoology and biology.
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