Political Theory/Ideologies of Government

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Ideologies of government[edit]

The purpose of government is to establish the terms under which men will live together.

See also the: Religion in Political Theory Wikibook.

The content is divided into 9 main ideologies, each which has sub-ideologies, such as one ideology being Communism, and a sub-ideology of it being Stalinism.

The 9 main ideologies we will discuss are:

  • Anarchism
  • Authoritarianism
  • Communism
  • Conservatism
  • Environmentalism
  • Fascism
  • Liberalism
  • Nationalism
  • Socialism

Most political parties will fit into a few of these descriptions, for instance the Democratic Party of the USA would have elements of Democracy, Liberalism, Conservatism and others, to different extents. It is rare that a major political party in any country would only fit into one category. Anarchism, being anti-state, is rarely found in traditional governmental systems.

Anarchism[edit]

Anarchism is anti-state, asserting that all hierarchical power structures are corrupt. Anarchism is similar to the above mentioned destruction of power, currency, and classes. Although, the difference is that there is no Temporary Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Anarchism does not mean chaos; rather it implies localized direct, participatory forms of governance which should challenge whatever forms are agreed upon by those directly affected. In this sense, anarchism might be described as a form of 'ultra-democracy', with the total absence of elements such as centralism, remote representation or entrenched power bases or systems. As anarchism is inconsistent with 'government' as it is most commonly conceptualized, its most potent expression have been through different organizations. The most historically successful Anarchist views are those of Anarcho-Syndicalists, who believe in complete unionization of workers to achieve equal rights and labor value rather than capital. Anarchism is emerging, through means such as the Internet, as a potent ideology in the anti-capitalist movement, where myriad grass-roots, non-hierarchical groups have coordinated direct participatory political actions.

Authoritarianism and Totalitarianism[edit]

A form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator (not restricted by a constitution or laws or opposition etc.)

Communism[edit]

Communism derives in the most part from the works of Marx & Engels. However, it must be noted that Marx's vision of 'communism' and what emerged as 'Communism' are often in fundamental conflict. The majority of people see Communism as a Stalinist power-hungry regime, which is the model 'communism' took in practice for most of the past century. This is partially wrong with regard to the ideology itself, as there are a few factions within Communism. Communism is the result of the process by which workers, the proletariat, overthrow their capitalist and bourgeois masters and take control of the means of production. The producers become the owners of their production. Lenin applied Marxist ideas to a pre-capitalist context (unlike those late capitalist economies in which Marx predicted a communist revolution would emerge). In Leninism, the Communist revolution is headed by a revolutionary vanguard, basically people who are made to control the revolution and protect it from the capitalists and other threats. Thus, Communism is a temporary dictatorship of the proletariat. Original Marxist Communism states that the Proletariat consists of the ENTIRE working class, as opposed to just one person. This dictatorship is only temporary as it is to ensure the destruction of currency, capital, and multiple classes. This is not a violent stage as neither currency, capital, or classes exist outside of the mind. The Labor Theory Of Value best represents this, as if you are lost and alone, you cannot live off capital, currency, and it does not matter to your class, but if you live off your labor then you will continue to live. No one should privately own anything so everyone will be equal. While top-heavy centralized or Stalinist models of communism are widely considered as 'failed experiments', there is much in original Marxist theory of communism that remains open to new interpretation and application.Some see this as especially relevant to the current phase of globalization of capital.

Conservatism[edit]

Conservatism emerged in response to the rise of liberalism and the liberal challenge to absolutism and social hierarchy based on privilege. Conservatism emphasized a 'natural order' based on tradition and slow evolutionary change. The hierarchical nature of society was seen as part of that natural order, the fitness of the monarch and aristocracy to rule having been 'established' over a long period. Conservatism still tends to resist radical change or attacks on social privilege.

Environmentalism[edit]

Environmentalism (or ecologism) is an ideology which rejects the human-centered core of other political theories, and emphasizes instead the priorities of the planet Earth. It sees humanity as only one part of an interrelated web of life, which incorporates the living planet itself. Environmentalism stresses that human economic and political activity has come with an unacceptable 'price tag' of environmental damage and irreparable harm. It advocates a radical change in humanity's view of 'progress' based on economic expansionism and sees a 'higher morality' of living in harmony with nature, reducing human consumption and accepting a consequent lowering of living standards. As environmental crises such as global warming and depletion of fossil fuels have become more evident, environmental ideology has featured more significantly in political parties in Western nations, particularly in Australasia, where the first 'green parties' emerged, and Europe, where they have experienced significant electoral successes.

Fascism[edit]

Fascism is less a rational or logical theory of ideas than it is a recipe for power and political opportunism. Fascism emerged in the context of post-World War I economic difficulties and social crisis and articulated a rejection of liberalism and parliamentary rule as 'failures'. It also articulated a rejection of communism as a further direct threat to the middle class groups that had felt severely the impact of those economic and social difficulties. In their places, fascism emphasized 'strong' leadership, appealing to a long tradition of autocracy prior to recent and allegedly 'failed' democratic regimes. The ideology is nationalist, authoritarian, militaristic, (somewhat) socialist and action-based rather than theory-based. War, expansionism and totalitarian controls of the populace are all justifiable in terms of power. Under Hitler, fascism acquired elements of racism and 'scapegoating' that in neo-fascist expressions are often directed against immigrants or refugees.

Liberalism[edit]

In this section we will study:

  • Individualism - individual freedoms, in a civil society.
  • Classic Liberalism - Including natural rights, utilitarianism, economic liberalism and social Darwinism. Emerged alongside the rise of capitalism to reflect the political interests of the burgeoning middle classes. During the transition between absolute monarchies to constitutional governments, liberalism articulated the rights of those outside the traditional power structure to freedom from arbitrary rule and economic restrictions.
  • Modern Liberalism - Including Freedom, Welfarism, and Keynesianism. Liberalism first developed a welfare agenda in response to the rampant social inequality and misery that emerged in the wake of the industrial revolution and in response to the articulation of rival ideologies such as socialism.

Nationalism[edit]

Socialism[edit]

In its early forms, socialism was a reaction against the stark inequality and misery produced by the Industrial Revolution and emerging capitalist economies, where those with property had political voice but those without were open to exploitation and oppression. Though many somehow confuse communism and socialism, they are two different things. Socialism is concerned with welfare of the people, and as such is concerned with providing healthcare and education and the provision of other necessities of a healthy life in order to create a more 'level' society. The reasons for nationalization of industry and other aspects of society vary depending on the specific socialist system. Communism also has these goals in mind, but is very anti-capitalistic in nature. Unlike communism, one of the corner stones of socialism is to have the state own all capital and natural resources within its sovereign territory. This means that the people being represented by the government, will control everything and thus social classes would be greatly undermined or eliminated altogether (a Communist ideal). So, increasing education so that people may properly elect representatives, providing high-quality media that is untainted by private interests, and reducing apathy are often socialistic goals. The main difference between Communism and Socialism are that Socialists seek change through government. Communists feel this is slow, this is reflected by Marx in his books, and thus the need for revolution, which would let them quickly change things. Marx argued that the powerful had never, throughout history, willingly relinquished their power and that revolution would be necessary to overthrow capitalism. History has many examples by which socialists have achieved change, and many countries have a democratic socialist party in power.