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INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL IDEOLOGIES Thursday, September 5, 2002 Susan V. Thompson, ed. Read online or subscribe at: CONTENTS 1. Introduction: A Tool Kit for Discussion 2. One Link: A Glossary of Terms 3. Right vs. Left 4. Liberalism vs. Conservatism 5. Anarchism 6. Marxism, Socialism, and Communism 7. Libertarianism 8. Fascism 9. Other Resources 10. Credits 11. Get Involved 12. About the Bulletin INTRODUCTION: A TOOL KIT FOR DISCUSSION Terms like right and left, liberal and conservative, socialist, communist, anarchist, etc. are used frequently in political discussions. But people frequently misunderstand or confuse the actual political ideologies that these terms refer to. We don't all have degrees in political science, and such terms are often loaded with assumptions that more accurately reflect the political leanings of the person using them than the ideologies themselves. In an effort to clear up some of these misunderstandings, we are offering an online guide to political ideologies. This bulletin is meant to be an introduction to the most commonly mentioned political ideologies, including their definitions, frequently asked questions about them, criticisms of them, and their general positions on war with a look at the war on terrorism in particular (where possible). We try to treat all ideologies fairly, despite our own leanings. Ultimately, we hope that it will help you to approach others with more knowledge and understanding. Note: Of course, we also recommend that you don't end your research about the various ideologies here. There is a wealth of information out there which examines these ideologies in far more depth and detail. ONE LINK: A GLOSSARY OF TERMS This excellent glossary of political and economic terms provides information on everything from anarchism to capitalism to "pork barrel" to "welfare state" in an easy-to-use and understandable format. If you have a question about a political term, chances are you can look it up here. Definitions from this glossary are used in several places throughout the rest of the bulletin. RIGHT VS. LEFT The traditional political spectrum places people on a line somewhere between "left" and "right." These terms originated with the seating arrangements of the French Assembly in the 1790s, where the monarchists sat on the right, and the republicans on the left. In current usage, especially in the US, left is generally associated with liberalism and
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right with conservatism. This page on teaching the political spectrum includes a diagram of the traditional political spectrum, and includes summaries of liberal and conservative viewpoints.
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