Topics: Right-wing politics, Left-wing politics, Marxism Pages: 6 (1950 words) Published: June 15, 2013
gyNew ideologies for old?
Ideology may have been an inseparable feature of politics since the late eighteenth century ( it is often traced back to the 1789 French Revolution), but its content has changed significantly over time, with the rate of ideological transformation having accelerated since the 1960s.New ideologies have emerged, some once-potent ideologies have faded in significance, and all ideologies have gone through a process of sometimes radical redefinition and renewal.Political ideology arose out of a transition from feudalism to industrial capitalism.In simple terms, the earliest,or “classical”, ideological traditions – liberalism, conservatism and socialism – developed as contrasting attempts to shape emergent industrial society.While liberalism championed the cause of individualism, the market and, initially at least, minimal government, conservatism stood in defence of an increasingly embattled ancient re’gime,and socialism advanced the quite different vision of a society based on community, equality and cooperation. As the nineteenth century progressed, each of these ideologies acquired a clearer doctrinal character, and came to be associated with a particular social class or stratum of society.Simply put, liberalism was the ideology of the rising middle class, conservatism was the ideology of the aristocracy or nobility, and socialism was the ideology of the growing working class.In turn, political parties developed to articulate the interests of these classes and to give “operative” expression to the various ideologies.These parties therefore typically had a programmatic character.The central theme that emerged from ideological argument and debate during this period was the battle between two rival economic philosophies: capitalism and socialism.Political ideology thus had a strong economic focus.This was captured by the left/right divide and expressed through the linear political spectrum.The terms “left” and “right”,which dated back to the French Revolution and the seating arrangements adopted by the different groups at the first meeting of the Estates-General in 1789, came to be associated with the preference for equality and common ownership on the one hand, abd support for meritocracy and private ownership on the other hand. * Left: A board ideological disposition that is characterized by sympathy for principles such as liberty, equality, fraternity and progress. * Right: A board ideological disposition that is characterized by sympathy for principles such as authority,order,hierarchy and duty. The battle lines between capitalism and socialism were significantly sharpened by the 1917 Russian Revolution, which created the world’s first socialist state.Indeed, throughout what is sometimes called the ‘short’ twentieth century (from the outbreak of the first World War in1914 to the collapse of communism in 1989-91), and particularly during the Cold War period (1945-90), international polotics was structured along ideological lines, as the capitalist West confronted the East.More generally, left-wing political ideas reflected a distaste for capitalism, ranging from a ‘hard left’ (communism and anarchism) desire to abolish and replace capitalism to a ‘soft left’ (socialism and modern liberalism) wish to reform or ‘humanize’ capitalism.Right-wing ideas (classical liberalism and conservatism), by contrast, were defined by the desire to defend or extend capitalism. These ideological battle lines were nevertheless made more complicated by the rise if fascism in the 1920s and 1930s.On the face of it, fascism was clearly a ‘far right’ ideology: it was fiercely anti-communist and shared with conservatism, albeit in a more extreme form, a sympathy for hierarchy and elitism.However, radical elements within fascist movements sometimes expressed ‘leftist’ views in criticizing capitalism and big business and fascism also gave expression to ideologically new ideas such as anti-westernism and...
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