Political Theory/Ideologies of Government

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Ideologies of government[edit | edit source]

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

See also the: Religion in Political Theory Wikibook.

The content is divided into 14 main ideologies, each which has sub-ideologies, such as one ideology being Communism, and a sub-ideology of it being Stalinism.

The 14 main ideologies are:

  • Anarchism
  • Absolutism
  • Communism
  • Conservatism
  • Environmentalism
  • Fascism
  • Liberalism
  • Nationalism
  • Socialism
  • Social Capitalism
  • Social Democracy
  • Marxism
  • Capitalism
  • Pancasilaism

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, 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 | edit source]

Anarchism is anti-state, asserting that all hierarchical power structures are corrupt. Anarchism is similar to Communism in the desirability of the destruction of the state and socioeconomic classes--the difference, however, is that there is no temporary 'lower stage', or 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 expressions 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.

Absolutism[edit | edit source]

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

Communism[edit | edit source]

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', which had a devastating impact upon millions of people, 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. Others would argue that Communism is always destined to produce dictatorship if one is realistic about human nature.

Conservatism[edit | edit source]

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 an evolving order, in which institutions adapt gradually with the times. European conservatism originally supported the fitness of a monarch and aristocracy to rule, since these institutions were seen to have developed over a long period and to be important for social stability. Conservatism still tends to resist radical change, however its goals have changed. Conservatism today opposes state control of activities that have traditionally been matters for the family and individual responsibility.

Environmentalism[edit | edit source]

Environmentalism (or ecologism) is an ideology which rejects the human-centered core of other political theories, and emphasizes instead the priorities of the biosphere. It sees humanity as only one part of an interrelated web of life, which incorporates the living planet itself. Environmentalism stresses that current human economic and political activity has come with an unacceptable 'price tag' of environmental damage and irreparable harm. It advocates a radical directional 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 altering 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 Australia, where the first 'green parties' emerged, and Europe, where they have experienced significant electoral successes.

Fascism[edit | edit source]

Fascism is a less rational 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.

Liberalism[edit | edit source]

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 | edit source]

Nationalism is a belief, creed or political ideology that involves an individual identifying with, or becoming attached to, one's nation. Nationalism involves national identity, by contrast with the related construct of patriotism, which involves the social conditioning and personal behaviors that support a state's decisions and actions.[1]

From a political or sociological perspective, there are two main perspectives on the origins and basis of nationalism. One is the primordialist perspective that describes nationalism as a reflection of the ancient and perceived evolutionary tendency of humans to organize into distinct groupings based on an affinity of birth. The other is the modernist perspective that describes nationalism as a recent phenomenon that requires the structural conditions of modern society in order to exist.[2]

Socialism[edit | edit source]

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.