Ideologies

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An ideology is a system of ideas whose scope may be broad or narrow. Like natural or social scientific theories, ideologies typically posit a few "primitives" or basic assumptions that are either untested or untestable. Political ideologies are systems of ideas about politics and typically also contain untested and/or untestable assumptions. Consider the following ideological statements:

"There are a lot of ways to think -- including "for yourself"."

The basic assumption made in a backhanded manner here is that individuals "ought" to think for themselves rather than accepting canned conclusions from mass media, government or academic authority figures, etc. However if one considers the extraordinary degree to which ordinary people are subjected to indoctrination by family, schools, popular culture and news media, it is unlikely they could actually "think for themselves" without undergoing considerable efforts to ground all of their beliefs that were previously accepted from their community.

See also Political theories.

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Contents

List of Political Ideologies

Left-Right Ideological Spectrum

The primary political dividing line for the last three centuries in the Western world is the left-right ideological spectrum. The criterion most useful for distinguishing between the left and right is the assumption made about human nature. Political ideologies, movements, parties, theorists and activists of the left have tended to assume that human nature is plastic to a greater or lesser degree, and that it is a function of the society in which the individual human being is born and socialized. Good societies, those that meet human needs including opportunities for self-actualization, produce good people, those who are intelligent, courageous, cooperative, compassionate and honest. Political ideologies, movements, parties, theorists and activists on the right have tended to assume that human natures are fixed to a greater or lesser degree, and that all their natures are independent of the society in which they have been born and socialized. In the minds of rightists even the best society will produce people who are stupid, cowardly, selfish, and dishonest. Observers may wonder whether rightists are not projecting their own poor self-conceptions onto all of humanity. In any event, the assumption that human nature is plastic to a greater ot lesser degree empowers leftists in attempts to build better societies. The contrary assumption rationalizes the authoritarianism of the right.

A related criterion used to distinguish left from right is the assumption made with respect to equality and inequality. Political ideologies, movements, parties, theorists and activists of the left have tended to assume that greater equality is necessary to provide everyone in society with opportunities for self-actualization. Political ideologies, movements parties, theorists and activists on the right have tended to assume that inequality is both natural, inherited, and preferable. In its most pathological form --Nazism-- some groups are held to be in a discrete lower category. Races and peoples are assumed to be unequal, and within the Aryan master race the leader is superior to all other persons.

The conservative obsession with maintaining order (an ideological code word for maintaining an existing unequal distribution of power and wealth) has led many to assume that the left always favors change while the right always opposes change. This is mistaken.

American Liberalism vs. American Conservatism

American liberalism encompasses the center-left political space that would be described as centrist, social-democratic and green in other advanced industrial democracies. American conservatism encompasses the center-right to rightist political space that would be described as Christian Democratic, Popular, Secular Nationalist and Sectarian Nationalist in other advanced industrial democracies.

America's current "two-party system" (a right-wing Republican Party and a center-right Democratic Party) do not reflect or represent this ideological split.

Cognitive Constructs

Political Identity

One area of active study in the social sciences is the manner in which political identity (e.g. a tendency to favor a particular political party or ideology) develops. Much of this study flows from observed links between Politics and Profession, Politics and Fiction Genre, and Religion and Politics, as well as various political trends associated with Demographic Politics.

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