Introduction to Ideology. Liberalism and Individual Freedom.
Oct. 8 2013
Political Ideologies straddle 2 important elements of political science, study of
political culture, values. Political philosophy, how politics ought to be
exercised. How can political ideologies refine our view on how politics should
be and how they are practiced?
Introduction of ideology
Liberalism and Individual Freedom
Liberalism and Legal Authority
Concept of Political Ideology
Definition: A coherent belief system about politics and government that is accepted as truth by
Political Focus: set of beliefs about a particular subject matter politics and government
Relatively Coherent: usually based on some key idea, theme or cause
Accepted as Truth: sets of beliefs are actually held by people in the world. Sociological
element. Ideas about politics people hold dictate their behaviour.
Other Systems of Belief
Ideologies are thus concerned with a specific sort of “political” issues or questions
Different from Other Sets of Beliefs (example Religion)
Distinguishes political ideologies from other sorts of belief systems, Religion is concerned with a very different set of issues and question: How is the universe ordered?
Is there a God? How do we come to know God and his commands?
Qualification: This is not to suggest that political ideology and other belief
systems, such as religion, are completely independent of one another.
They can huge overlap and influence with one another.
Why Study Political ideologies?
The study of political ideologies help us:
Explain: understand and explain political events (overlaps with political culture and socialization)
Assess: develop and refine our own ideas of how politics “ought” to be organized ( overlaps with
Question of “Ought”?
Legal Authority: What rules should we institute to govern the exercise of power?
Liberalism :rules that protect individual choice and liberty
Conservatism: rules that promote social cohesion and community.
Socialism: rules that promote economic equality
Feminism: rules that gender quality.
Liberalism in Modern Canadian Politics – dominant in Canada
Many of our basic political institution are structured according to lberal principle ( hence, the term”
E.G.: constitutional law, democratic process, judicial process.
Liberal values are broadly held by Canadians across religious, ethnic, and geographical lines.
Many of the ongoing political debated that we have in Canada are framed or influenced by Liberal
E.G.: Social policy (healthcare), economic policy (fee market capitalism), morality policy gay
lesbian rights, and abortion). Other Ideologies in Canadian Politics
Other ideologies also have considerable influence in Canadian politics.
The Conservative Party of Canada, for \E.G., combines elements of both liberalism and
While it is often “Classical Liberal” on the issue of small government and privatizing public services,
it’s often very conservative on moral issues, such as abortion, gay marriage and etc...
NDP in Canada represent both Reform Liberalism and Socialism
Liberalism and Individual Freedom
Coherent Set of Beliefs
Ideologies represent a set of political beliefs organized along a basic idea, them or cause
What, then, is the basic idea, principle, or theme of liberalism?
People are to live a life of their own choosing, free from the external interference of others (parents,
church, and government).
2 key assumption underlying this basic value: (1) individualism and (2) liberty.
Assumption #1: Individualism
Individuals are the basic units in political society.
Each person is unique with their own set of interest, ends and needs.
Contrasted with Collectivism
The basic unit are groups based on particular social or economic groups.
Economic: Human beings are defined by the economic class ( richpoor; workersowners)
Social: Human beings are defined by their ethnicity, religion or race ( French vs. English;
Christian vs. Muslim; Visible Minority vs. Caucasian) Assumption # 2: Liberty
Definition: individual is free from the interference of other human beings to choose how to live
their lives ( absence of external interference) free from power of others
Liberty from Government
Individuals are to enjoy a certain level of freedom from government and the state.
State should not use its power to dictate what religion we sh