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Chapter 1

Chapter One of PIDI

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Western University
Political Science
Political Science 1020E

Political Ideologies and the Democratic Ideal Chapter 1 (1-17) 25 October 2011 - the class of three political ideologies - liberalism, communism, and fascism - dominate world politcs - how are we to make sense of this new world it is bewildering clash of views and values? - how are we to assess the merits of, and judge between, these very different points of view? - we need to look closely at what the proponents of these opposing views have to say for themselves - put their words and deeds into context - political ideologies arise out of particular backgrounds and circumstance, and they typically grow out of some sense of grievance or injustice - we must understand the contexts in which they have taken shape, and that requires understanding something of the past, of history - every ideology and every political movement has its origins in the ideas of some earlier thinker or thinkers - the ideas of econmists and politicial philosophers, are more powerful than is commonly understood - to forget the past is to increase the risk of repeating its mistakes (George Santayana) - if we wish to effectively and live peacefully, we need to knwo something about the political ideologies that have had such a profound influence on our own and other people's political attitudes and actions A Working Definition of Ideology: - ideologies attempt to shape how people think - and therefore how they act - an ideology is a fairly coherent and comprehensive set of ideas that explains and evaluates social conditions, helps people understand their place in society, and provides a program for social and political action - it has four functions: explanatory; evaluative, orientative, and programmatic functions Explanation: - why social, political, and economic conditions are as they are, particulary in times of crisis - every ideology tries to answer question to make sense of the complicated world in which we live - all ideologies offer a way of looking at complex events and conditions that tries to make sense of them - ideologues are people who try to persuade others to accept their ideology Evaluation: - to supply standards for evaluating social conditions - those who follow one ideology may evalute favoruably something that the followers of a different ideology greatly dislike - communists look upon class struggles as a good thing, while fascits regard it as an evil - all ideologies provide standards or cues that help people asses, judge, and appeaise social policies and conditions so that they can decide whether those policies and conditions are good, bad, or indifferent Orientation: - supples its adherent with an orientation and a sense of identity - of who he or she is the group (race, nation, sex, ect.) to which he or she belongs, and how he or she is related to the rest of the world - people need something to find their soical identity and location Political program: - tells its followers whaty to do and how to do it - if it does not perform all four functions - it is not a political ideology - political ideologies frequently borrow from scientific theories to help explain why the world is as it is Human Nature and Freedom: - for a political ideology to perform these four functions it must draw on some deeper conception of human potential, of what human beings are capable of achieving - a set of basic beliefs about human nature and a conception of freedom Human Nature: - some conception of human nature - some notion of basic human drives, motivations, limitations, and possibilities - is present, at least implicitly, in every ideology - each ideology's notion of human nature sets limits on what it considers to be politically possible - the program a political ideology prescribes id directly related to its core conception of humman nature - to its no
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