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October 02 2007
October 02 2007
• • • • Review: Political regimes Approaches to the Study of Politics Ideas and ideologies Film: The Prophets and promise of Classical capitalism
Political Ideas and Ideologies
• • • • • • • • • Ideology: As a system of ideas or beliefs that guide political action As society defined ideation structures Ideology implies a union of ideas and power Ideas come from political thinkers most of who have not been active in politics but whose ideas influence political movements. It involves the social construction of reality – highly abstract and often forcefully imposed. According to Gramsci, ideology helps us understand how dominant groups keep subordinate groups under their rule without employing coercion. Ideologies often become the "dominant discourses" in society Identified with some of most important thinkers and political figures – Karl Marx, Napoleon Bonaparte, V.I. Lenin, Hegel, Gramsci
Purpose of ideologies
What do ideologies do for the people who embrace it? • Ideologies exist to the extent that people produce, espouse and perpetuate them. Ideologies are created by human beings for human beings. • Ideologies perform the function of allowing people to encounter, work through and attempt to master fundamental desires, fantasies, conflicts and existential dilemmas • Gramsci:
– Ideology as world view – the common sense of society (the philosophy of the multitude) – Ideology as an instrument of liberation – as a articulation of the struggle against the status quo (revolutionary consciousness)
Role of Ideologies
• Ideologies perform four key functions for their adherents:
1)Explain political phenomena – give meaning to life 2)Provide adherents with criteria and standards for evaluating right and wrong, good and bad. 3)Provide adherents with an identity and orient them as a social and cultural compass 4)Provide them with a program of action – what is to be done?
The concept of Ideology: Origins
The concept has its origins in the French revolution as writers sought to understand the connection between philosophers and politicians. • Antoine Louis Claude Destutt, Comte de Tracy (1754-1836), one of the enlightenment philosophers coined the word ideology during the revolutionary period in France as ideas inspired thousands into political action. • He drew on the work of the British thinker John Locke (1634-1704). His essential argument was that we could determine the truth or falsity of ideas for the purposes of political action. • Along with other members of the Institut de France, established in 1795, Comte de Tracy sought to disseminate higher learning as their contribution to the enhancement of the revolution. Their work was informed by three assumptions: • i) • ii) • iii) Progress in social life is desirable Progress comes from correct ideas Incorrect ideas must be resisted.
History of Ideology
• Comte de Tracy’s conception of ideology had three key features:
1)The explicit linkage between logic, psychology and politics 2)The assumptions that intellectuals discover truth and political authorities determine policies to march it 3)A claim that logic, psychology and politics are linked together and coincident with science and history • These ideas emphasized rational inquiry in the natural and social world.
History of Ideology
• In 1797, Napoleon Bonaparte became an honorary member of the Institut de France and promptly seized power in a coup d’etat in 1799 – eventually becoming Emperor of France. • The ideologues set about to implement their ideas, subjecting politics to scientific ideas as a guide for post-revolutionary ‘democratic’ France. Their aim was to spread enlightenment and progress, not just in all of France but all of Europe. Rarely do ideologies have territorial boundaries (although Lenin sought to build socialism in one country). • In the same way that G.W.Bush seeks to export democratic ideas to the rest of the world, and particularly the Middle East, Napoleon and his ideologues sought to export liberal ideas of enlightenment and progress, seeking to sweep away the forces of reaction, tradition and backwardness. The enlightened use of political power was to achieve a new Europe.
Karl Marx and ideology
• Thirty years later, Karl Marx (1818-1883) began to use the word ideology but in a pejorative manner. • He argued against German ideologues suggesting that ideologies and ideologues arise in class divided societies for the expressed purpose of political domination.
– “The class that has the means of material production at its disposal consequently also controls the means of mental production”
Marx argued that thinkers are producers of ideas that the ruling classes use to regulate society. Those with power regulate the production and distribution of ideas of their age.
– “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas”
In other wards, the class which is the ruling material force of society is at the same time its ruling intellectual force’
Karl Marx and ideology
• Marx suggested that within the ruling class, there is a division of labour which ensures that some assume mental tasks while others take on material tasks. Some think, while others execute the ideas.
– “Inside this class, one part appears as the thinkers of the class (its active, conceptualizing ideologists, who make the formation of the illusions of the class about itself their chief source of livelihood) while the other’s attitude to these ideas and illusions is more passive and receptive, because they are in reality the active members of this class and have less time to make up illusions and ideas themselves” Marx and Engels, Collected Works, 1976:586
Karl Marx and ideology
• The German Ideology was to be explained with its connection with the illusions of the ideologists in general, e.g. the illusions of the jurists, politicians, connected with their material position, their job in life. • Marx argued that some of these illusions were dressed up to sound like claims about the state of nature. For instance, ‘some people are slaves by nature’ or ‘God made woman to serve man’. • Marx argued that some of the French enlightenment claims were made universal to serve particular interests. For instance, the ‘rights of man and citizen’, the great proclamation of the French Revolution, ultimately worked for the benefit of owners of private property at the expense of workers with no property.
Karl Marx and ideology
• Marx’s analysis of ideology made the leap from the Comte de Tracy position that ideology represented a set of ideas that conformed to formal characteristics, to the position that, it represented ideas, that gave validity and authority to claims that members of different classes use in the pursuit of various interests and power. • These could be reactionary, conservative, reformist or revolutionary. • These ideologies took on legal, political, religious, aesthetic or philosophic forms. • Importantly for Marx, the existence of ideologies presupposes the existence of a class behind the ideologies.
Other writers on Ideology
• Marx’s counterpart Fredrick Engels (1820-1895) classified Marx’s work as a science – scientific socialism and dismissed ideology as false consciousness. • Russian philosophers characterized Marx’s ideas as scientific ideology while Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) the revolutionary theorist and leader of the Russian revolution claimed that it was a comprehensive science that derived from an abstract logic, in essence an ideology. • Lenin argued in his famous book ‘What is to be done’ that “without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary practice” and identified it as socialist ideology. • He defined ideologies are doctrines reflecting class interests that were in some sense products of theoretical thinking and not the common place consciousness of class members themselves.
Other writers on Ideology
• Interestingly enough, another of Marx’s followers Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), who used ideology less pejoratively, claimed that it represented a system of interest articulation and reproduction involving key institutions in society such as churches, schools and mass media. • According to Gramsci, while ideology emanates from the ruling classes, it becomes hegemonic when it takes on the character of the common-sense use and understanding of the masses in society. • It is this status that makes it possible for others in society to see their interests represented by the ideology and to become part of the process of reproducing it. • This character explains the sacrifices by the subordinate classes in nationalist struggles and imperial adventures.
• Contradictory Consciousness
• Liberalism is perhaps the most dominant ideology in the world today. It is certainly the most dominant in the Western world. • Liberalism rests on two key principles: Equality and Freedom of individuals. These principles also underlie the idea of human rights and are operationalized through the creation of political rights that become legal rights that citizens can claim against the state. • The original conceptions of these principles were perhaps more narrow than their use suggests today. Fundamental to liberalism was the idea of the individual and the right of the individual to act as a free agent. • Liberalism in that sense represents the idea that the community is made up of a collection of individuals – an association of individuals, all equal and each with their interests that they are capable of advancing them equally.
Liberalism and the State
• Liberal democracies arose in response to the way feudal societies defined rights on the basis of groups – Monarchy, Royalty, aristocracy, men, women, free, slave etc. • Liberalism has evolved from the state’s role as a strictly protective institution towards a role as an enabler:
– Providing the means and resources for people to actualize their rights. – It is a shift from formal rights to substantive rights. – This is often referred to as the positive role of government and the rights that flow from it as positive rights.
The focus of much of the liberal writing about rights that forms the foundation of what came to be known as political rights or what is enumerated as civil and political rights. • The major thrust of these rights is the focus on the individual. • In a liberal democracy, the freedom and equality of individual citizens are basic founding principles.
John Stuart Mill - On Liberty
• Political ideas are associated with key political thinkers. One such thinker who is identified with liberalism is John Stuart Mill whose book titled “On Liberty” originally published in 1859 set the contours of modern liberalism. • Of the two principles we suggested above, he priorized freedom and considered it an absolute. His contribution focused on the question of what a liberal society ought to look like. He argued that it had to have maximum individual liberty. • He drew the line on harm to others arguing that short of that, society had no business intervening in an individuals life and pursuit of happiness. Mill has been criticized for implying that individuals were free to harm themselves or offend others without social sanction. His take on freedom was as a negative right.
Freedom and Liberty
• However liberalism predated John Stuart Mill, and also survived him so there are other ways of understanding the concept of freedom and liberty. • Today, freedom is understood somewhat differently. It is understood as connected to equality and requiring the intervention of governments to make it real for the majority of the population. • The state provides you with an education from childhood to ensure that you have the means to succeed as an adult. The state provides a variety of other social goods so people are able to act freely. • People are still free to live as they chose and enjoy freedom of expression, assembly, association, and thought. But these are not absolute.
Root of Liberal ideas
The British legacy:
• from Magna Carta, to thinkers like John Locke and the Bill of Rights, Thomas Paine, and John Stuart Mill • the Declaration on the Rights of Man and Citizen, the writing of Jean Jacques Rousseau, Benjamin Constant – The Social contract
The French legacy:
The American experience:
• rights as constitutional protections- Virginia Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Thomas Jefferson, The Federalist Papers.
Liberalism and Rights
• As we saw with democracy, in real life societies, there are unequal power relations that determine the process of engagement among people as well as hierarchies of interests. Left to their own devices, the powerful would have their way at the expense of the others and violate their freedom and undermine their equality. Their interests will replace the public interest. Women’s interests tend to come into play after men’s interests have been satisfied because society is patriarchal. Racialized people, Aboriginal people and persons with disability are more likely to live in poverty than others. Gays and lesbians are likely to stay in the closet because the homophobic environment makes its dangerous to come out. So for the ideals of liberalism to thrive, there needs to be state intervention to make those principles real and to protect those who cannot protect their rights.
• • • •
Liberalism and Rights
• A right is the ability to require the performance of a specific duty. • Rights represent the citizens claim against state protection. • They are often codified in legal form as part of legislation or more fundamentally as constitutional rights . • The most important such document for Canadians is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Rights protect one’s exercize of freedom by: 1)imposing duties on the state and others not to interfere with your activities 2)Giving you the power to require their implementation • Legal rights are those rights that are protected by the state through legislation. They differ from moral rights that are not enforceable by law but through moral suasion. • Moral rights are often considered social obligations. These arise from natural rights which we consider that individuals in society hold by nature and the foundation of present day human rights. • John Locke (1632-1704) argued that we had a natural right to life, liberty and property.
Rights (human and social)
• The fact that these basic equal rights are not necessarily equally exercized is a point of contention.
– Should society be responsible for our ability to exercize those rights or should the formal granting of the rights be enough?
• Further, should we all have equal access to resources that can enable us to exercize our rights? • Should this equality eliminate any inequalities and by so doing can it also eliminate any differences, distributing all resources equally? • Does this interfere with rights to property? • Capitalism is built on the right to private property • Is Capitalism the economic system of liberalism?
• Adam Smith: Theorist most identified with capitalism • Key contributions
– Expanded reproduction as the basis of wealth creation – Division of labour and specialization – Self-interest as central motivation of human action – Competition leads to improvements in production – Free trade and free market – Invisible hand as coordinating mechanism for the market
• Socialism is one of a number of radical ideas and ideologies that challenge the status quo – Marxism, anarchism, feminism, communism, postcolonialism, post-modernism • They represent both an ideology and a political movement because they organize social forces towards a political goal • Today, radical ideas tend to come from the right than from the left • But for most of the last two centuries, the ideas of people who challenged the way society was organized were embraced by the masses and in some cases led to the overthrow of the existing socio-political order
• • • • Radical ideas and ideologies challenge dominant political economic ideas liberalism/capitalism. Marxism, best known and perhaps most coherent. Others include: socialism, anarchism, feminism, communism, post-colonialism, post-modernism, environmentalism. They are both alternative ideologies and political movements that organize social forces towards collective political goals - including taking power to restructure society based on their utopian ideas Today, radical ideas tend to come from the right as well as from the left. These would include libertarianism, neo-liberalism, and variations of religious fundamentalisms. Neo-liberalism is said to represent a variation of the dominant liberal tradition, in any case. For centuries, alternative ideas and ideologies challenged dominant modes of social and political order when they were embraced by the masses and in some cases led to the overthrow of the existing socio-political order
Marxist method of inquiry
• • • • • Karl Marx’s (1818-1883): Marxism provides an impressive analysis of the workings of capitalism and a program for its transformation. Marxism is a critique of capitalism and liberalism and a road map for creating a just society, free from the exploitation of ‘man by man’ Five key elements of Marxist theory: Theory of Alienation, historical materialism, class struggle, labour theory of value, scientific socialism According to Marx, society’s primary goal is to organize its productive capacity. So from a historical materialist approach he argued that political and social order evolve progressively over time. What he called modes of production determine the stage of development. Whoever owned the means of production and technology controls the social order through exploitation. Historically, society organized chronologically based on the mode of production: His theory of the stages of development includes five modes of production: Primitive communism, Asiatic despotism, Slavery, Feudalism and Capitalism.
• • According to Marx, society is engaged in conflict because each mode of production privileges one group in society and exploits another Different interests represent an antagonistic relationship in the production process – Slaves were in conflict with their owners, serfs in conflict with the aristocracy and the feudal lords – The workers (proletariat) in conflict with the owners of the means of production (the Bourgeoisie) because the surplus value created from production is largely kept by the bourgeoisie to accumulate capital for developing new technologies and more future profits More importantly, classes coming into conflict with each other leads to a class struggle that changes the social order and the way the economy is organized This class struggle arises out of the contradictions of the process of production and the relations of production
“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”
Critique of Capitalism
• • • • • • • • Marx’s focus was largely on the working of Capitalism, the dominant mode of production of his time and our time He saw it as a whole system - not just individual producers a or companies, or even nations. The root of all evil was private property and social inequality. The system establish conditions for the worker to sell his/her labour, thereby entering into a wage-capital relationship The worker was alienated in this relationship because s/he did not own the means of production and because s/he was exploited S/he was exploited because the owner of capital wanted to maximize profit or the share of the surplus created by giving the worker as little of it as possible The capitalist seeks to maximize the surplus value from the production process He advocated the overthrow of the system and replacing it with communism What makes his work so relevant is the fact that today is that Capitalism is unchallenged as the system by which economic production is organized, perhaps the world over.
• Initially socialism called for the creation of a classless society - a form of utopia • But in its broader application, it involves a set of ideas and a program aimed at creating a socially just society in which power is not concentrated in the hands of a few but exercized in the best interest of the majority. • It also calls for the emancipation of oppressed peoples everywhere including workers, colonized peoples, Aboriginal peoples, women, racialized peoples, disable peoples, youth, etc. • Socialism has variations: – Utopian socialism – Scientific socialism – Social Democracy
• Social democracy was the variant of socialism that became most influential in the West. • Many countries were attracted to the idea of a mixed economy - an economy where the state intervenes to level the playing field but allows the market to play its distributive function • In the aftermath of the great depression, Canadian socialists embraced social democracy and formed the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation - a coalition of rural farmers and urban workers which would later become the New Democratic Party • Social democratic government have rules most of the European countries for much of the last 100 years.
• • • • A cross between scientific socialism and social anarchism, in theory, its advocates predicted the withering away of the state after the fall of capitalism and the matriculation of socialism It called for the establishment of an utopian classless society with high levels of cultural, political, social and economic liberty It would involve public ownership of the means of production to ensure social equality - Inspired by Marx’s pronounced ‘From each according to their abilities and to each according to their needs’ In practice, as was the case in the Soviet Union (now Russia) or China, Cuba, Albania, Rumania, East Germany, it represented centralized planning and the absence of the market as a mechanism for resource distribution Many of these regimes, in the name of absolute social equality became totalitarian and highly oppressive, stifling individual liberty
• Identified with such thinkers as Emma Goldman (1869-1940), Pierre Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865) it represented a critique of socialism’s overcentralizing tendencies and inability to ensure individual freedom • Anarchism rejects hierarchical forms of governance and seeks to liberates ‘man’ from the phantom of economic and political power • Advocated as the philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by ‘man-made’ laws. Concern about the:
– Social anarchism focused on the autonomy of the collective - syndicates of autonomous workers – Individual anarchism - on the autonomy of the individual
It accepts Marx’s conception of the economic base of human history Some, though not all anarchists reject violence, and since all forms of government rest on violence, they are therefore wrong and harmful to society, as well as unnecessary • Emma Goldman also advocated women’s liberation in North America
• • • • • • • • Introduces gender as a unit of analysis in the study of politics Highlights the political nature of gender relations and their consequences for women in society Sees society as hierarchical and patriarchal Seeks to achieve a more equitable distribution of resources between men and women Women earn less than men and are overrepresented among the poor. They are concentrated in low paying jobs, and low status jobs and bear a disproportionate burden of domestic work, which is unpaid Conceives the political as transcending the public sphere into the private or personal
– “The personal is political”
Patriarchal nature of political institutions and control over women’s bodies central to the feminist critique of other approaches There are liberal and radical strands of feminism
• • • Represents a belief system that seeks to protect the quality and sustainability of life on earth through conservation, preservation and protection of the natural environment and its inhabitants Anthropocentrism: A human centred world
– Humans are considered superior and have husbandry of the earth and all its resources
Eco-centrism: Rejects the hierarchical relationship between humans and other beings
– Rejects the instrumental approach to nature : nature is not a resource to be harnessed
Sustainable development: Environmentalism expresses itself most emphatically in the political and policy sphere through the discourses of sustainable development. This is associated with the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Report)
– “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”
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