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Chapter 3: Political Ideologies

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Aquilius Turner

on 17 September 2012

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Transcript of Chapter 3: Political Ideologies

Political Ideologies Chapter 3 Ideologies are often based on theories but simplified & popularized to sell to mass audiences, build political movements, & win elections. Intro It is a plan to improve society.

Anthony Downs, "Ideology is a verbal image of the good society, & of the chief means of constructing such a society."

Political ideologies are are commitments to change political systems. The exception is classic conservatism, which aimed to keep things from changing too much.

Ideologues make poor political scientists, for they confuse the "should" or "ought" of ideology with the "is" of political science.

Ideologies never work precisely the way their advocates claim. All ideologies contain wishful thinking, which frequently collapses in the face of reality.

Ideologies, when measured against their actual performance, are more or less defective & should all be taken with a grain of salt. What is Ideology? The Major Ideologies Frederick Watkins of Yale called 1776, "the Year One of the Age of Ideology" - & not just for the American Revolution.

That same year, Scottish economist Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations, thereby founding classic laissez-faire economics.

Smith argued that the true wealth of nations is in the amount of goods & services their people produce.
Smith was refuting an earlier notion, called mercantilism, that the bullion in a nation's treasury determined its wealth.

He reasoned that this was not the path to prosperity. Govt interference retards growth. By getting the govt out of the economy, by leaving the economy alone, you promote prosperity. Classic Liberalism Won't free competition unsupervised by govt lead to chaos? No. The market itself will regulate the economy.
Supply & demand determine prices better than any govt official.
"That govt is best that governs the least." ~ Thomas Jefferson
In the late 19th C, liberalism changed & split into modern liberalism & what we now call conservatism

The original ideas of Adam Smith are referred to as classic liberalism.. Classic Liberalism (cont) We should call the ideas of Edmund Burke "classic conservatism", for his conservatism diverges in many ways from modern conservatism. Burke agreed that a free market was the best economic system. Burke also opposed crushing the rebellious American colonists.
Burke strongly objected to the way liberal ideas were applied in France by revolutionists. There, liberalism turned into radicalism, influenced by Rousseau & Thomas Paine.
As is often the case, an ideology devised in one place becomes warped when applied to different circumstances.
Liberals place too much confidence in human reason. People are only partly rational. Burke, in his 1792 Reflexions on the Revolution in France, predicted that France would fall into military dictatorship. In 1799, Napoleon took over. Classic Conservatism The best institutions should be preserved or "conserved". They are not perfect but they work. Things should change but only gradually, giving ppl time to adjust.

A state w/out the means of some change is w/out the means of its conservation ~ Edmund Burke Classic Conservatism (cont) he helped discover the irrational in human behavior
he saw that institutions are like living things; they grow & adapt over time
revolutions end badly, for society cannot be instantly remade according to human reason Why Burke was an important thinker... His emphasis on religion, traditions, & morality has been taken over by modern conservatives. Burke By the late 19th C, it was clear that the free market was not as self-regulating as Smith had thought.

Monopoly produced a large underclass of the terribly poor. In short the laissez-faire economy created some problems.
Thomas Hill Green rethought liberalism in the 1880s. The goal of liberalism was a free society. Green thought of positive freedom. Govt was to step in to guarantee the freedom to live at an adequate level.
Classic liberalism expelled govt from the marketplace; modern liberalism brought it back in, this time to protect ppl from a sometimes unfair economic system. Modern Liberalism The ppl who stayed true to Adam Smith's original doctrine of minimal govt are known as conservatives. American conservative got a big boost from Milton Friedman. He argued that the free market is still the best, that Adam Smith was right, & that wherever govt intervenes, it messes things up.
Modern conservatism also borrows from Edmund Burke a concern for tradition, especially in religion.
Modern conservatism is a blend of the economic ideas of Adam Smith & the traditionalist ideas of Edmund Burke.
Modern Conservatism Critics deplored the growing gulf between rich & poor. Karl Marx wrote to promote revolution. An outline of his ideas appeared in his 1848 pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto, which concluded with "The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of all countries, unite.!" Marx participated in organizing Europe's first socialist parties. Marxist Socialism Marx's Capital was a gigantic analysis of why capitalism would be overthrown by the proletariat. Then would come socialism. Then later on communism. Communism, then, was the predicted utopia beyond socialism.
Marx focused on the ills & malfunctions of capitalism & never specified what socialism would be like. It's precise workings he left vague. Marxist Socialism By the beginning of the 20th C, the German Social Democrats (SPD) had become Germany's biggest party. Some began to think that the working class could accomplish its aims w/out revolution. Edward Bernstein developed this view. In his Evolutionary Socialism, he pointed out the real gains the working class was making & concluded that Marx had been wrong about the collapse of capitalism & revolution. Reforms that won concrete benefits could also lead to socialism.
In revising Marxism, Bernstein earned the name revisionist, originally a pejorative hurled at him by orthodox Marxists. Social Democracy Social democracies have become welfare states: Welfarism would be a more accurate term than socialism.
There is one catch. Welfare states are terribly expensive. To pay for it, taxes climb. Social Democracy (cont) A smaller wing of the original socialists stayed Marxist and became the communists. Vladimir I. Lenin made several changes in Marxism, producing Marxism-Leninism, another name for communism. Communism Imperialism
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