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Political Theory and Ideology

This chapter attempts to:

a- develop a classification about individuals

orientations toward the political world.

(Political orientation refers to political belief

held by individuals. (Political behavior or

b- characterize the dominant forms of

political behavior, and some fundamental
systems of beliefs (political ideologies or
Normative political knowledge)
Normative Political Theory (the fundamental
ideas that can be the basis of an individuals
beliefs and actions)

* How society should be organized?

* Should an individual resist a governmental

Should questions are classified within the domain of

normative knowledge claims.

There are various perspectives for thinking about the

core questions of normative political theory.
Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke,
Karl Marx, and John Stuart Mill are anmong the
many important thinkers.

These political thinkers offered profound,

provocative, and influential ideas about these
bacic normative questions.

What were offered by Thomas Hobbes?

An example of normative theory: Ideas of
Thomas Hobbes on the relationship between
people and government
State of nature and social contract.
In his major work Leviathan Thomas Hobbes
argued that:

-- A powerful state should be established and

should be obeyed.
-- This argument of Hobbes is grounded on human
nature and social life:

a) although people are generally rational they were

also influenced by their passions, fears and
aggressive instincts.
b) people are essentially selfish
c) before there is government people live in a state
of nature (explain state of nature) 5
-- How can the state of nature be overcome?
-- the answer of T. Hobbes is as follows:
a) everyone will agree that it is in their individual
self interests to protect themselves from the
nasty and violent behavior of others.
b) To gain this protection everyone will give up
certain individual freedom to a powerful authority
(government) that all must obey
c) This authority has the right to use whatever
means to establish rules and laws
d) The agreement to allow such a government to
rule is social contract (explain social contract)
Political Ideology refers to a comprehensive
set of beliefs about political world.

Ideologies can include a description of

political reality and an explanation about why
something occurs as it does but they are
primarily a normative expression of what
ought to be.

* A normative expression attempts to

evaluate a situation. It is an answer to a
what ought to be question. 7
Each major ideology has its own internal
logic. (consistency)
Each major ideology is based on
assumptions and value judgments about
the following issues;

The human nature

The relationship between the individual
and society
Equality among individuals.
1) Human nature

The nature versus nurture (natural needs

versus experience): There are two different
perspectives on human nature:

A= Individual action and behavior derives

from natural processes. (nature)

B= Individual behavior is learned. (nurture)

2) Individual and Society

What is the proper relationship between

society and individual?

a) One view emphasizes the importance of

individual freedom of action as the highest

- This approach says that the individual

freedom is the most important value.
b) But another view stresses that the
collective good should be the highest

- the individual freedom must be restricted

to achieve that collective good.

3) Equality
a) Legal equality = equality before law
(equality of opportunity and equal political

b) Material equality= equality of conditions

(political equality + economic equality)

c) Natural inequality = people and situations

are naturally unequal. It is neither possible
nor desirable to establish any kind of
Classical Liberalism

Edmund Burke
- It attempts to prevent or slow down the transition
away from a society based on traditional values and
social hierarchy. (it aims to protect traditional values
and social hierarchy.)

- The core element of conservatism is to conserve

the many valued elements of the system that
already exists.

- Stability, Tradition, Loyalty to God and Country are

the most important values for conservatives.
* The individual

a) Individuals are not consistently rational.

- In many situations people are emotional and are
unable to reason clearly.
- Thus, individual rationality is not usually a sound
basis for decisions about appropriate social and
political behavior.
b) individuals are naturally unequal in skills,
intelligence, and in status.

- Some individuals/groups are superior to others.

- Superior groups should be in power.
* Individual and Society
-Individuals have a basic need for order and stability
in society.
-inequalities are natural.
-Society is composed of many different groups which
are unequal in power, status and material
-Social harmony is maintained when these groups
work cooperatively to maintain the social order.
(explain the theory of organic society)

- Traditional values and ethics provide the guidelines

for group cooperation and individual behaviour.
- The family, church and the government are
responsible to enforce these values.

- no majority has the right to limit the rights of

others. This means that there should be no
constraints on the rights of superior groups.

- Noblesse Oblige: superior groups (or nobility)

have obligations and responsibility to protect the
weak from ills and troubles.

-Tradition and religion (not reason) are the most

reliable sources for guiding society since they
support stability and moderate change.
- it is foolish and even dangerous to seek equality
because inequality is a natural aspect of society.

- Forced equality is unwise because it disrupts the

natural, cooperative hierarchy among groups,
causes social conflicts.

- Forced equality undermines individual liberty

which is of greater importance than equality.

Classical Liberalism
(John Locke)
- individual freedom is the highest value

- the role of government should be quite


- classical liberalism emerged as a

reaction to European feudal order
which was hierarchical and static.

The individual

- John Locke describes individuals in a state of

- In the state of nature each person enjoys
natural rights (life, liberty, property)
- each person is a rational and responsible
individual who is the best judge to know what is
in his/her self interests. (rationality)
- There is no higher value than individual
- individual ought to be allowed to exercise
freedom of action.
Individual and Society:
- individual should not be limited by social order in
which tradition and hierarchy are dominant.

- No one is forced to accept the authority of

- Minimal government (consent to be governed +
laizzes faire)
- Invisible hand
- no principle justifies the limitation of individual
- A Laissez faire economy guided by enlightened
self interest is a necessity.
- equality before law (equality of

government should not attempt to

create material equality because
government action can undermine
individual initiative and independence.
Even in situations of hardship the
government action is undesirable.
It is an ideology that aims to provide high quality,
equal conditions of life for everyone with an active
state assisting in the achievement of this goal.

- Socialism has a vision through which economic and

political power could be directed to benefit all groups
in society.

The Individual
- Individuals are not naturally selfish and aggressive.
-Individuals are social and caring (helpful) by nature.
- Environment determines individuals behavior.
Individual and Society
- the most important value is the common good of
- The government must have a crucial role in
providing good material living conditions and
security for people.
- All groups and institutions including national
organizations and the family must encourage
attitudes of cooperation and service to the common
- The government must take extensive or important
roles in such areas as education, health care,
employment, and shelter (protection) against
economic uncertainty. 24
- Both the organic hierarchical world of
conservatism and self-serving (individualistic)
world of classical liberalism create huge
inequalities in material conditions, status and
- These inequalities cause unhappiness, deep
alienation and deep conflicts in the society.

- The power and policies of state should be used

to increase the material as well as social and
political equality of all members of society.

Variations of Socialism
1)Marxist-Leninist Socialism (communism,
revolutionary socialism): (Karl Marx and V. I
Three assumptions in creating a good society based
on equality and social justice.
A- First, the old socio-economic order will resist
change by every means available. So change will
require violent overthrow of the old order.
B- Second, the socialist government should be
powerful in order to perform its functions. The most
important task of government includes the
restructuring of economic system with public
ownership of the major resources. 26
C- Third, a small leadership group (the communist
party) whose members are loyal to socialist ideals
must be in power.

When relative equality is achieved, both the small

leadership group and the powerful government can
be eliminated. They will be replaced by a
decentralized, citizen-run politics and efficient

from each according to his/her ability to each

according to his/her needs.
2- Democratic Socialism (Thomas Moore,
Robert Owen, Fabian socialists)
* This variant of socialism also treats egalitarianism
as its primary goal.

* But it assumes that the changes can be affected by

a government that comes to power and rules by
democratic means.

*A government that comes to power and rules by

democratic means, not by violence, can establish
*This government takes its authority from the
voluntary consent of people by election. 28
*Gradual change towards socialism with
the protection of individual freedoms.

*The government might own some of the

major economic resources and it strongly
regulates much of the economic system.

*But the government does not attempt to

plan and control all aspects of economic

* One vision of democratic socialism was articulated
by the British economist Sir William Beveridge who
argued that the government should act as awelfare
state implementing policies to overcome the effects of
classical liberalism:
a. Disease: by free health care service including
doctors, hospitals, treatment and medicines.
b. Want: by public provision of sufficient money to
raise people above poverty.
c. Squalor: by public publicly owned and subsidized
housing affordable to all.
d. ignorance: by universal, free public education
e. Idleness: by government policies that insure
meaningful work for everyone. 30
*Its variant is called Nazism in Germany
*This ideology places fundamental importance on the
unity and harmony of government and society.

Fascism is:
* ultra-nationalist
- Anti socialist, because it opposes the egalitarian
Anti-democratic, because it opposes multi-party
Skinheads, Ku Klux Klan (USA), National Front in
France, Freedom Party in Austria.

Anarchism: a political ideology based on a moral-
political ideal of society without organized
government, hierarchy and formal organizations.

Authoritarianism: A system of government in which

the political rights and interests of individuals are
subordinated, usually by coercion, to the interests
of the state.

Pasifism: The belief that the highest political and

social value is peace and the absence of violence.
Capitalism: An economic system dominated by
market economy in which economic actors
are generally free from state contraints.

Collectivism: A doctrine that the individuals

actions should benefit some kind of collective
organization such as the state, a tribe or the
like rather than the individual herself.

Corporatism: A political economy in which there

is extensive economic cooperation between
an activist state and a few groups that
represent such major economic actors as
large industry, organised labor, and farmers.
Environmentalism: The ideal that supports the
planned management of natural resources or of
total environment of a particulqar ecosystem in
order to prevent exploitation, pollution, destruction
or deplition of valuable natural resources.

Feminism: A diverse social movement promoting

equal rights and opportunities for women and men
in their personal lives, economic activities and

Libertarianism: an extreme version of liberalism which

advocate the right of the individuals to act freely
and unconstrained by the state as long as they do
bnot harm other people. 34