Lecture 14 – January 17, 2011 – Liberal Ideology
Definition of ideology in short: at its most basic expression, an ideology is the articulation of a
global system of thought that is based on the critique of status quo. This critique opens up a
view of the future, and entails/offers a precise program of action. Ideologies employ
propaganda in order to convince the many, and as such they deform and magnify aspects of
social reality. Exam question!
Role and functions of ideology: ideologies offer meaning and identity in a world that remains
ultimately without meaning. In a secular world, full of meanings is no longer the same.
Human beings are creatures who believe or mean to believe, people can choose their own
Ideology is playing the role of a secular religion
There are inherent risks associated with ideological thinking
Biggest risk: induces the form of ideological laziness, put aside your critical thinking skills
Another risk: Ideology has the tendency to present what it says as being the absolute Truth,
imposing this truth on others
Capitalism is part of liberalism
Liberalism is not just an economic theory
If we were to understand liberalism, there are many dimensions
Liberalism will articulate the elements that we will find in the other two major
Oppositions between liberalism and socialism are not as clear cut.
Socialism is liberalism’s legitimate offspring. Socialism takes ideas within liberalism and
pushes them to the maximum extension. It naturally flows from liberalism.
Historically speaking, liberalism will present itself as being an alternative to
religion/religious thinking. It’s developed as a substitute for the outlook and teaching of
the middle ages.
Liberalism will not only refuse the Middle Ages, but also the renaissance.
o Liberalism argues that we cannot return to Athens or Rome. Reason why
liberalism rejects renaissance is religious mystification.
o Liberalism also rejects antiquity, because in both Athens and Rome, the mores
(habits of the heart, modes of being in society) were war like.
o Liberals wants to substitute war for commerce.
Liberalism suggests something that’s completely different
Social force behind the liberalism is the merchant class, bourgeoisie
Liberalism is the theoretical justification of the rise of the bourgeoisie as the dominant
One of the reasons why exploring liberalism critically helps us understanding our
unquestioned assumptions (good or useful)
Political parties are not the same as ideology, they are power driven and can have ideas
that does not resemble ideology
Fundamental ideas that make up liberal thought, 7 different propositions/tenets,
Universal to particular (Way to answer exams) which are very complex
o NATURE (the outside world and inside world, such as the soul) for liberalism is
governed by the laws of nature (laws that exist for everybody and all times)
human beings must obey these laws of nature. If we are to
develop/flourish/enjoy the greatest happiness possible, all we have to
do is to obey these laws of nature
Nature is abundant and generous
Ideologies all have readings on how to become happy
Human happiness is found in nature
But it’s a particular kind of happiness with the full use and consumption
of physical nature
Happiness also found by obeying the laws of nature