Does Ideology Matter in Politics Anymore?

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Does ideology matter in politics anymore?

Political ideology has been an intrinsic part of world history for over two hundred years (Heywood 1998). The modern world was moulded by ideology resulting in political, economic and social upheavals. It has been argued in the 20th century that the importance of ideology in the political world has been declining and the question set requires an analysis of the arguments put forward by those who believe that ideology influence has come to an end. This essay will challenge the view that ideology is no longer relevant in modern politics and argue that ideology is rife around the world. It will start with a definition of ideology followed with the theoretical basis required to support the claim that ideology is irrelevant. The political status of the world will be compared to these requirements using examples, such as the Occupy movement and suggest that these requirements are not being met. Then in order to fully understand why it has been argued the ideologies are no longer relevant, the historical context of when the claim has been made will be given before they are scrutinised. For the purposes of this essay, the idea of the irrelevance of ideology will come from the works of Daniel Bell and Francis Fukuyama. It seems reasonable to assess the worldwide significance of ideology against the most notable works asserting its death. These thinkers may not have exactly the same ideas but they come to similar conclusions and their core beliefs can be analysed. Any assertion that cannot be taken seriously as a criticism of Bell or Fukuyama is probably not worth being taken seriously. Before analysing the relevance of ideology in modern politics and moving on to why they are still valuable, it is necessary to provide a detailed explanation of what political ideologies are. The use of the term ideology adopted in this essay will be a simple one: ideologies are a broad view on what is political and how to form a ‘good society.’ Therefore, ideologies are totalistic because they present a wide range of views which answer questions about from how society should be organised to the role of the state. In simpler terms, an ideology is a blueprint for how society should be organised (Schwarzmantel 2008). In order to argue that ideologies are no longer relevant, it needs to be stated that liberalism is the dominant ideology of the political world. Both Bell (1965) and Fukuyama (1992) argue that it is and point to the defeat of fascism after the Second World War and the collapse of the majority of communist regimes after 1989 as proof. But did these events really leave liberalism as the top dog in the ideological field? Can we argue that we are all liberals now? This may be true for citizens of contemporary liberal democratic systems in the United States, Europe, Australia and Japan. However it must be remembered that large parts of the world such a substantial portion of the Muslim world or China do not share the liberal mind-set. Therefore, the assertion that liberalism has triumphed over other ideologies only applies in certain areas of the world. Pinning up the belief that ideology has come to an end is the idea that the bulk of citizens in a liberal society regard their society as equitable and desirable (Heywood 1998). A society would have to satisfy the interests of all dominant social groups and actualise the ambitions of a large majority of its members. Liberal societies are usually capitalist and a common criticism of capitalism, especially from Marxists is that it is inherently exploitative. In an economic sense, exploitation is often related to the expropriation of labour for profit and based on Marx's version of the labour theory of value (Marx 1967) Economist, author and professor Raveendra Nath Batra (1999) argued capitalism breeds excessive inequality and political corruption which inevitably succumbs to financial crisis and economic depression. Marxists further argue that due...
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