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Are we Living in a 'Post - Ideological Society'?

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Are We Living in a Post - Ideological Society? Jessica Cohen 200 - 046 - 447 Are we Living in a 'Post - Ideological Society'? Ideology sprang out of the upheavals - economic, social and political - through which the modern world took shape, and has been intimately involved in the continuing process of social transformation and political development1. In general, they aim to provide and defend a particular social order. Traditionally ideologies have been categorised in terms of a 'political spectrum'. Ideologies range from left wing to right wing - an idea that hails from seating arrangements in parliament during the French revolution. They range from communism on the extreme left, to liberalism in the centre and fascism at the far right. However, this linear spectrum has come under attack from those who say it portrays politics as one-dimensional and oversimplifies the complexity and fluidity of ideologies. Many other representations have been attempted, for example the horseshoe or two-dimensional ideas; nevertheless the traditional linear spectrum remains the most widely used model. The idea of the 'end of ideology' first appeared in the late 1950's, during what is now known as the post war consensus. Daniel Bell said in 1960 'Few serious minds believe any longer that one can set down 'blueprints' and through 'social engineering' bring about a new utopia of social harmony. At the same time, the older 'counter beliefs' have lost their intellectual force as well... In the western world, therefore, there is today a rough consensus among intellectuals on political issues.... ...read more.


Far from Fukuyama's prediction of the 'end of history' we are now witnessing the beginning of a global contest between jihad (the Islamic holy war) and the western world. Recent tragedies such as the September 11th disaster and issues such as the war in Iraq have forced people to take a renewed interest in politics and possibly question their ideological stance on particular issues. In contrast to the 'end of ideology' we could in fact be entering a time when ideological debate is more relevant than ever. In contrast, some believe that we are now living in a time where people are less interested in politics than ever before. Politics is now set on a world stage, with organisations such as the European Union causing individual nations to lose sovereignty and identity. Decisions are made by a small group of people on behalf of millions, who often live thousands of miles away. The ability of an individual to impact on world politics has greatly diminished in the past century. There are no longer the revolutions of previous centuries or great social changes like those that came out of the 1960's. People are more or less happy with their lives and have smaller and generally more materialistic qualms than in the past. Ideologies are still analysed and critiqued, however there seems to be little belief that the system we live in now will be changing in the near future. People no longer believe that there is a worldwide ideal and do not strive for mass revolution on the scale of Marxism or communism, simply point out smaller flaws in the present political structure. ...read more.


Advocators such as William James and John Dewey stressed that beliefs should be judged by their practical consequences and preferred evolutionary change to revolution. However each of these ideas could be seen in themselves ideological. They provide a framework for politics; give solutions to present problems and in some way aim to change the system that we live in. They do not herald the end of ideology, merely prove that the ideological debate is alive and well and that ideology is a continuing and unrelenting process. In addition, ideologies do not just serve one purpose. They do not disappear simply because their ideas are not being implemented or have come under scrutiny. Ideologies provide an ideal; something to work towards and perfect. Marxism, conservatism and other traditional ideologies may be dated, but analysing faults and past mistakes can sometimes be the only way to realise the right course of action for the present. As long as the world is complicated and there are conflicts and differences, ideologies will be called upon to explain why social conditions are how they are and provide a picture of how the world should be. Ideologies are needed to give guidance, purpose and meaning to the democratic ideal and substance to the concept of freedom. As long as ideologies have these ends to serve there will be no end of ideology8 and no possibility of a 'post - ideological' society. 1 Political Ideologies ; an introduction, p319 2 the end of ideology? P257 3 the end of ideology? P258 4 political ideologies, p 16 5 post ideological society, p265 6 'The Post-modern Condition' (1984) 7 political ideologies and introduction p324 8 the future of ideology, p259 4 ...read more.

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