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Lecture 13

POLS 1000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 13: Identity Function, Mass Society, Totalitarianism

Political Science
Course Code
POLS 1000
Martin Breaugh

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January 16, 2019
POLS 1000 Introduction to Politics Lecture Week 13
Review on Last Week;
Six-point Definition of Ideologies**
1. Ideologies are a global system of thought.
2. Based on a critique of the status quo
3. This critique of the status quo opens up to a view of the future.
4. Offers a precise program of action
5. Ideologies employ propaganda to order to convince the many.
6. As such they both deform and magnify aspects of reality.
Roles and Functions
o Ideologies will offer meaning and identity in a world that remains uncertain or
undetermined as to its goals; we live in a world without meaning and therefore ideologies
seem inescapable to modern, secular societies.
o Ideologies will allow for individuals to have a guild/guild post.
o Ideologies will offer individuals a clear identity.
o This identity function will also lead to the creation of bonds of solidarity with other
people who share your ideology.
o You will feel a link/bond with even strangers who will profess to a same or similar
ideology as yourself.
o The recourse to an ideology will allow individuals to overcome the solitude that comes
with mass society.
o Ideologies allow us to break this solitude by recognizing people who have similar
ideas/perspectives on politics.
o In short, for all of these different reasons; identity, social bonds ideologies will end up
being a necessary component of modern life.
o Those who proclaim the end of ideologies are usually attempting the triumph of their own
The Risks & Dangers of Ideologies
1. Ideologies deform reality.
o Because of this we must critically analyze ideologies in order to reveal their particular
2. Ideologies offer ready-made answers to the most basic yet fundamental questions of human
o Ideologies offer moral comfort and a sense of security in a complex and opaque world.
o Ideologies can lull (calm by deception) the human mind.
o Ideologies make the mind less open to questions, interrogating one’s assumption etc.
o By offering plausible and creditable answers, ideologies can actually ruin the possibility
of critical thinking.
3. Ideologies are presented as the Truth.
o For the true believers of an ideology, this truth must be imposed on others because it’s
the truth.
o In a certain sense all ideologies seek to be upheld as the truth and seek to be imposed as
the ultimate truth of human existence.
o This idea that ideologies are presented as the Truth, it also means ideologies have
totalitarian tendencies.
They have a tendency to totalize our understanding of things.
They have a tendency to impose with violence if necessary this truth on others.
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