The Pathos of Politics (83) Ideology Synopsis


▫ Ideology is a doctrinal belief system about politics. Ideologies invariably overlook the nuances of actuality for an overarching vision based upon mythical axioms about human nature and economics.

▫ At the root of all ideologies lies the desired role of government and its circumscription. A core paradigm is what responsibility government has for the welfare of its citizens. The spectrum of ideologies ranges primarily upon the degree of governmental interference in people’s lives that is welcomed.

▫ Conservatives value tradition, and so feel vested in the status quo. Modern conservatives favor a strong police state, minimal social services, and low taxes, especially for corporations, which they view as the dynamo of prosperity.

▫ The meaning of liberal has been muddled through history: shifting in priority from individual freedom (classical liberalism) to societal well-being (social liberalism). Classical liberalism is now labeled libertarianism, which is right-wing. Bowing to decades of denigration by conservatives, American social liberals now tend to call themselves progressive, which is left-wing.

Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~ English politician William Gladstone

▫ Those who would turn back the clock to recapture imagined past glories are reactionaries. Fascism is a reactionary ideology of inequitable absolutism. With the opposite aim regarding equality, radicals would empower the state to install a revolutionary regime, typically socialist in its ideals. A different revolutionary paradigm is embraced by anarchists, who would dispense with state control, with the fond hope that people would voluntarily cooperate to build a better world.

▫ Religious zealots favor theocracy. While Christian theocracies existed in Europe during the Middle Ages, these societies became politically secular during the Age of Enlightenment. The only extant theocracies are the Islamic ones in the Middle East.

Tribalism has been underestimated in our understanding of politics, and ideological coherence and political and scientific literacy overestimated. ~ Canadian psychologist Steven Pinker