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What is Ideology?

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What is Ideology? Although seeming simple, this question is practically impossible to answer, for how do you define word which has no defined meaning. In the dictionary it means "a belief or a set of beliefs, especially the political beliefs on which people, parties, or countries base their actions." However, unfortunately it is not quite that easy. As Heywood said Ideology is made up of three steps. The first of which is the set of ideas itself, the second is a vision of what future society should be, and the final stage is a programme for change or reform. Although this seems like a fairly rational and correct definition, all three stages have been proved wrong on countless occasions by the ideologies themselves. Some ideologies only have one idea, like nationalism, and not a set. Some ideologies like Conservatism reject change and reform as being dangerous or counterproductive. ...read more.


Marx says that they are ideas that serve the ruling class to conceal the contradictions of class society. The way in which this occurs is by promoting false consciousness and political passivity to the working class, therefore preventing their (more important) view being heard. Marx, along with Engel wrote about their views in the book The German Ideology. In their view, a clear line could be drawn between science and ideology, and he said that his own work, which tried to shed light on the reality that there was class exploitation and oppression in all societies. Engles particularly said that the Bourgeoisie used ideology to protect themselves. Later Marxists such as Lenin and Gramschi, further blurred the answer to out question... Lenin thought that a new alternative to the Bourgeois view was needed, and this view would be the Proletariat ideology. ...read more.


Liberalism concerned itself with a fundamental commitment to giving individuals the freedom to express themselves. In the 1960's Daniel Bell proclaimed "The End of Ideology". This is the idea that both History and ideology have been reduced to insignificance because Western democratic politics and capitalism have, in his view triumphed. And at the time he was attacked by Left Wing critics who claimed that he had lost his grip on reality. Francis Fuguyama was heavily influenced by the work of Hegel, who says that it is ideological competition that drives society forward. However now due to the fall of communism, the last remining rival to liberalism, we are witnessing the end of History. He predicts that the marginalisation of the other ideologies will merely strengthen the position of liberalism. His last point is that much of out technological development was powered by ideological rivalries, and now without this rivalry, progression will be less effective. ...read more.

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