Ideology denotes a belief system. In its political connotation, it refers to a set of comprehensive belief about politics that seek to condemn or justify in existing system.
Generally, it is action oriented. Mark N. Hagopian in his “Regimes, Movements and Ideologies” characterises it as “a programmatic and rhetorical application of some grandiose philosophical system, which arose men to political action and may provide strategic guidance for that action.” Marxism, Nazism, Fascism are prominent political ideologies. Importance of Ideology
Although, the importance of Ideology has always been cause of crucial concern in the realm of political theory but the Russian Revolution (1917) and rise of Fascism in Europe led to renewed interest in study of political Ideology.
Different Views on Ideology:
Equated Ideology with “false consciousness”. In his analysis of the capitalist mode of production, he came to the conclusion that every dominant class at a given stage of production makes its use to maintain itself in power.
Saw it in neutral terms. He grasps its practicality and held that even proletariat can have an ideology.
Labelled Marxism itself as an ideology.
Contrasted ideology with Utopia, while the former is concerned with conservation, the latter is associated with change. He also labelled Marxism to be an ideology.
Talked about the ideological hegemony of the bourgeoisie and explained the continuance of capitalist system in west. Components of Ideology
Ray and Bhattacharya in their work ‘Political Theory’ lists following structural components of Ideology:
1. Its linkage with a grand philosophical system.
2. Its programme content derived from its philosophy.
3. Its strategy of achieving the programmatic goal.
4. The coverage of its following (What groups or how much of the population subscribes to it). Functions of Ideology
1. Provides tools to action.
2. Helps in securing legitimacy of political regimes.
3. Evaluates and influence the political systems.
4. Helps in exercising controlling political process.
5. Help in channeling collective will.
6. Helps in mobilizing masses towards collective goal. End of Ideology
Most of ideologies, according to Alan R. Ball “are mainly consequences of interactions to the French Revolution of 1789 and the industrial revolutions that dominated the nineteenth century”. But, immediately after the end of Second World War, a debate ‘the end of ideology’ raged the western intellectual circle.
The debate started with a conference on “The Future of Freedom” held in Milan, Italy (1955). A series of work followed this is conference and all of them emphasized on unidimensional approach to political issues. Most noteworthy was the association of some of the erstwhile Marxists and sharing their views. Important Works
P.dward Shils: “The End of Ideology” (a report)
Daniel Bell: End of Ideology
Ralph Dawendor: Class and Class Conflict in Industrial Society
S.M. Lipset: Political Man
J.K. Galbraith: The New Industrial State
W.W. Rustow: The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-communist the views outlined by these writers include:
Daniel Bell: Daniel Bell argued that ideologies are exhausted and we have reached a post industrial society. They are prone to similar developments. Whatever differences and problems exist between them are purely of technical nature and do not require remedies in the doses of ideologies.
Ralph Dahrendorf: Ralph Dahrendorf advocated a conception of post-capitalist society where the class structure has substantially undergone modification.
S.M. Lipset: S.M. Lipset described the division between ideologies of right and left. The problems are not so profound in western democracies that they can require existence of ideology. Instead, problems are such that they can be better dealt with administrative and technical innovations.
J.K. Galbraith: J.K. Galbraith located a bureaucratic and technocratic organization in the structures of power. They are not capitalists.
However these themes received reversal at the hands of C. Wright Mills, Macpherson, Alisdair Maclntyre and Richard Titnus. It has been alleged that the notion ‘End of Ideology’ itself is an ideology and are an attempt to mark subtle closure to other mode of politics.
It has also been alleged that it was aimed at marking triumph of liberalism over revolutionary politics of Marxism. Most lucid statement comes from Macintyre, who observes that ‘End of Ideology’ theorists failed to entertain one crucial alternative possibility; namely, that the end of ideology far from making the end of ideology was itself a key expression of the ideology of the time and place where it arose.
End of History: From End of Ideology’ debate we have come at a new end. In recent times, Francis Fukayama in his work “The End of History and the last man” (1992) announced the triumph of liberal democratic state. He was a deputy director of the state department’s policy planning staff and former analyst at the RAND Corporation, USA.
Theoretical Basis: Fukayama proceeds on Kojeve’s interpretation of Hegel’s philosophy of History. For Hegel, history progresses with the contest of ideas reaching its termination in the establishment of nation state symbolized as the “march of god on earth”.
In his opinion, the demise of communist Russia and liberal market economy in China has led to the universalisation of western liberal democracy as the final epoch of human government. It provides best epoch to human nature’s inbuilt struggle for individual recognition.
Critical Evaluation: He meted resistance from Piore Hassner, Gertrude Himmefard, and Irving Krispol. J. Mac Carney in his “Shaping Ends: Reflections on Fukayama” serious doubts his case.