Chapter 6: Challenges to Dominant Ideologies.
Francis Fukuyama “The End of History”:
1) Fukuyama -> liberalism has won, because the ideology of communism in the context of the
Cold War had failed. Therefore liberalism will spread throughout the world.
o Underestimates the degree of political and institutional variety in the world.
o Interprets that society cannot be based around a narrative ideology.
1) Challenge to modern assumptions about reason
2) No single idea can encompass all facets of social and political worlds. Celebrates differences,
subjective nature of ideologies, and no universalism or foundations.
3) Critique of ideologies, not an ideology itself. Recognizes the limits of a “master narrative”. The
search for a central answer is futile, because the world is too diverse. World cannot be
objectively observed but is socially constructed in a variety of ways.
4) Some say PM is not a normative theory, it simply describes the world as it is.
5) PM is also associated with relativism: no political or moral commitment is absolute. Discourages
commitment and is criticized as destructive. Seen as simply opposing what is around us, without
an alternate solutions.
6) In response, it is not PM’s fault that the world is not the way modernists wish it to be, PM gives
a more realistic approach. Instead of how it “ought” to be (like modernism), PM tells us how it
actually is. PM actually questions, skeptically, existing beliefs rather than ruling them out
1) Assumes that women are unequal in society w.r.t men. Women are oppressed in a variety of
ways and that political theory has failed to account for this inequality. Several categories exist:
a) Liberal Feminism:
First wave feminism. (late 19 - early 20 centuries). Women should have the same formal rights
as men (political and work spheres). Wollstonecraft and Mill advocated for political and legal rights
for women. First wave liberalism has helped in securing greater equality for women in the public
arena. However it did not change the political and economic arenas where women interacted with
men. Due to rising inequality, many women advocated for positive discrimination. Elimination of
sexist attitudes in society through education.
b) Second Wave Feminism:
Relatively recent development (1960s). Emphasize that the exploitation of women is more central than liberal feminists think. The problem is not inequality in the system, it is the system itself,
which is ‘patriarchal’ and therefore unethical. This oppression is all-pervading, and hence “it is not
equality that women want, but liberation” (Hoffman and Graham). Some argue that there is sexual
repression under the patriarchy which has made them passive and submissive (and also physical
injury and death at the hands of patriarchal societies).
c) Marxist Feminists: Patriarchy is a product of the organization of economic classes in the
capitalist system. Second Wave Feminists believe it to be rooted in biology. This gender based
domination is ignored by conventional political theory. By upholding patriarchal domination in
families, state contributes to gender based oppression.
2) Second wave feminism is often criticized for politicizing all aspects of our lives, totalitarian
tendency, “..accountable to their sister for every aspect of their behavior” (Bryson 1999). Creates
a false image as women as helpless victims and men as their enemies. (Jaggar 1983). Ignores
the oppression of women on the basis of race and class. Feminism has been focused on
white upper class women.
3) Socialist feminist believe that transformation of society via changing the state will improve
working life for men AND women. Marxists don’t think the state as useful, and that women doing
domestic labour frees men to do the ‘real’ work.
4) Firestone(1972) regards biological differences as a source of women’s impression, but is
rejected by Pateman who says that “implicitly accepts the patriarchal claim that women’s
subordination is decreed by nature.” Biology is neither liberating nor oppressive.
5) Some feminists (Dworkin 1981) have rejected pornography as being sexually liberating for
women, while liberal feminists (McElroy) have sought to reclaim for women.
6) Feminists have also embraced postmodernism because it celebrates differences between men
and women and their relative importance.
1) Environmentalism came into focus in the 1970s, but became mainstream in the 1980s. Partly a
consequence of sever environmental problems, extinction of species, etc. and several
international gatherings like Stockholm Conference (1972) which help establish environment as a
key issue, Kyoto Protocol (Japan 1997) tackled global warming. Later meetings have been
useless. Divided into two parts:
a) Environmentalism: Single issue concern, not necessarily inconsistent with a range of ideologies;
reformist or light green approach.
b) Ecologism: Separate ideology with its own distinct ideas; radical or dark green approach
2) ECONOMIC REALM:
Radicals see economic growth as incompatible with environmental protection. Part of a normative
claim that we can live more fulfilled lives in a non-materialistic world. Empirical claim of natural
limit to growth, increasing population and consumption will result in economic and political
collapse. (Limits to Growth Report) However, critics say that there is no necessary tradeoff between economic growth and
environmental protection, in fact, reformists argue that it is possible. Therefore sustainable
development is the central idea of reformist thought.
Sustainable development can be defined as that which “meets the needs of the present generation
without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (WCED 1987).
Definition is criticized for being very vague, hence the principle of Ecological Modernization was
adopted (Hajer, 1997). Which states that:
a. Growth need not depend on non-renewable resources.
b. Production of environmental goods can be a source of economic growth.
c. Environmental damage is not cost-free, hence strong economic incentive to protect the
environment. (2006 British Government Report on Climate Change).
3) PHILOSOPHICAL REALM
a. Reformists take an anthropocentric view (human centered) of the world. Humans have value
but the natural world does not because it has no value in our social world. We protect the
environment in our best interests.
b. Radicals take an eco-centric view. They believe that nature has an intrinsic moral value
independent from humans. Difficult to embrace philosophically because western thinkers place
sentiency (feelings, emotions) as a benchmark for moral importance. Thus polluting a river harms
the extrinsic value of the river, but it doesn’t wrong it. Only sentient beings who were harmed by
the pollution of the river are wronged.
c. Is it necessary to have an eco-centric view to protect the environment? Some critics believe that
it is more important to protect the environment in our best interests. Not because they forests are
being harmed. So, eco-centric view may be irrelevant.
4) POLITICAL REALM
a. Reformists believe that environmental problems can be solved politically. Radicals believe
widespread changes in society are necessary. Hence many radical thinkers advocate
decentralized anarchist social structures. (Schumacher 1973). Some thinkers, like Goodin, have
questioned the efficiency of this approach. If international systems cannot co-ordinate on the
environment, how can tiny self-governing communities ensure effective co-ordination?
b. What about agency? Which group will bring about change? Middle Class (Porritt 1984) or the
unemployed (Gorz 1985)? Also Agency is linked with questions of justice, as those affected from
environment most likely to campaign for reform (rationale of Environmental Justice Movement).
5) Distinct Ideology?