Social Studies: Main Political Ideologies

What is a Political Ideology?
An ideology is a system of opinions and values about society and the way it should be organized and governed. These ideas are shared by a group of people “belonging” to the ideology.

Liberalism
Liberalism appeared in the late 18th century, paving the way to an industrial society during the said period by allowing new groups to gain political power. It appealed to the middle class in the growing cities.
It’s main philosophers were Locke, Smith and Voltaire.
Liberalism believes in mankind; you are rational, you are capable, you can make sensible decisions about your own life, you are developable. Since you are able to make sensible decisions, your property and income should not be stolen or taken over by the state.
You should also have various freedoms such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from coercion, economic freedom, et cetera.
Mainly this means the state can not interfere in your affairs, and in extreme liberal cases the state should not be allowed to take taxes, as this is regarded as stealing from your property.
Liberalism believes in democracy without a king where one man gets one vote and the power is focused around the parliament.

Conservatism
Conservatism appeared after the French Revolution, when the philosopher Burke wrote a book on the subject, criticizing the rapid changes to society which the said revolution had brought.
This ideology spread, mostly appealing to the aristocracy and clergy.
Conservatism believes society should undergo development, but in a very slow pace. They like to compare society with a human body, growing all the time but very slowly. A revolution could mean chopping an arm off, and it should therefore be avoided.
It also makes use of hierarchy whenever possible. God is on the top, followed by the king, the noble, et cetera. In the family this hierarchy is also applied thus making the father the one in charge.
Conservatism believes that the way to maintain stability in society is by avoiding so-called “social mobility”, the ability to move between groups in society (e.g. earning enough money to move a class up from farmers).

Socialism
The acting people behind Socialism were Karl Marx, Engels and Vladimir Lenin (I had no idea until recently his first name was Vladimir).
Socialism was based on several different points, one being “historical materialism”, i.e. Karl Marx’s interpretation of history. He wrote several books about Socialism which still are a foundation for modern Socialism.
He pictured society as an evolving entity with four different stages. Slave society, Feudalism, Capitalism, and lastly Communism. He believed all societies would eventually evolve into Communism, as it was the last stage in the evolution.
Marx description of the different stages included the well-known so-called “class struggles”, i.e. the struggle between the poor and the rich.
During the slave society the struggled lied between the slave-owners and the slaves themselves.
Feudalism brought struggles between the clergy and aristocracy and the peasants. The landlords owned the land and the peasants farmed it in exchange for protection from the lords.
According to Marx, Capitalism brings on struggles between the employers and the employees. Marx’s image of Communism was a struggle-less society.
To achieve communism Marx believed that society had to, inevitably, go through a bloody revolution with certain period of dictatorship following. The last few remains of capitalism had to be cleaned out, and for that society needed a firm hand, i.e. a dictator.

Nationalism
Nationalism is a vague concept, not really an ideology but still a host of ideas that play important roles in modern politics. As I noted in the post Basic Political Concepts, “a nation is a group of people that share common characteristics of culture, language and historical experience”. Hence, Nationalism is about the love for ones country and the common identity the inhabitants share.
Generally there are two kinds of nationalism, citizenship nationalism and ethno-nationalism. Citizenship nationalism emphasizes kinship and solidarity towards the own state. It derives from the French revolution and the enlightenment.
Ethno-nationalism emphasizes kinship and solidarity towards the people. The objective is to have one state with one nation. It derives from the German romanticism.
To summarize this two-sided coin one can say that Nationalism is a gnome keeping states together, but also a seed of war.

There will be more to come!

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