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Beyond Left or Right
June 6, 2010 6:31 AM   Subscribe

Fifty Contemporary Political Ideologies and Fifty Political Manifestos and Platforms of Our Time
posted by anotherpanacea (20 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Totally read 'filthy' instead of fifty. Most ideologies for centralised political systems are an obfuscated twist on fascism, so probably not too much a misreading...
posted by kaibutsu at 6:44 AM on June 6, 2010


"That was wonderful. I love being reduced to a cultural stereotype." -- Annie Hall
posted by Pants McCracky at 6:47 AM on June 6, 2010


But yeah, looks like a very good collection. I'll be reading at least a few of these, I think.
posted by kaibutsu at 7:17 AM on June 6, 2010


and Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:29 AM on June 6, 2010


This looks fantastic. Thanks anotherpanacea!
posted by honest knave at 7:33 AM on June 6, 2010


A while ago, I read Chalmers Johnson's Revolutionary Change, something that he wrote while trying to make sense of the Berkley Free Speech Movement in 1960's. His definition of ideology made me stop and think a great deal.

Johnson starts out by noting that most definitions of ideology overlapped a great deal with the sociological notion of a value structure. He notes that this doesn't do much for the purpose of discussing revolutionary situations, so he offers a more precise definition:

"...an alternative value structure, which becomes salient only under disequilibriated conditions and which is addressed to these disequilibriated conditions. An ideology, in this sense, may evolve into a value structure if it is instrumental in resynchronizing the system; but as an "ideology," it is always a challenger, an alternative paradigm of values."

Johnson was taking a systems approach to his topic. This was original and pretty avant garde for 1966, when he was writing. I suspect that the use of "The System" in 1960s and later political discussion grew from Johnson's and others' work in this vein. Nowadays we are more likely to use "Elites" and "the Establishment" in the same way.

The interesting point that Johnson is making about ideology is that it only becomes important in a political system in turmoil. The Establishment does not have an ideology, though it may have a value structure (most often expressed in legal or religious terms, depending on the culture.)

This bodes ill for societies where there is a great deal of ideological froth in politics -- it's a sign of disequalibrium and often dysfunction. Johnson makes this point strongly in the interview i've linked to his name. This might help to put the Tea Party in perspective - it's a symptom of disorder - which is why it is so chaotic, contradictory and senseless.

So one way to look at these fifty ideologies is not as functional political systems, but rather as reactions to the disequalibriated political systems from which they arose.
posted by warbaby at 7:49 AM on June 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


An interesting idea, warbaby. But I think that I would say that there certainly is an ideology attached to the dominant order, but that it is invisible to those who live under it, just as the air is invisible to us, or the water to a fish. And perhaps that ideology isn't so invisible to those in power; there are constant struggles within government over policies that are the corpus of the dominant ideology. In a modern democracy, where power shifts regularly, there is a common thread shared by the main parties, but the actual ideology shifts and becomes a mish-mash of the components added over time by these different elements.

Notice, also, that certain of the ideologies presented on that page are actually quite mainstream, or have made it into power in the US at one time or another. Specifically, there's some Christian ideology, Clinton-style neo-liberalism, and bush-style neo-conservatism represented in the list. I doubt anyone would say that Karl Rove or Rumsfeld ceased to be ideologues simply because they came into power.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:28 AM on June 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


The 51st Contemporary Political Ideology: Pragmatic Eco-Libertarianism.

(I'll be publishing my Manifesto shortly...)
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:43 AM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's a distinction worth drawing: ideology vs value structure.

In a society in homeostatic equilibrium, like the US during the era of good feelings, ideology is hard to discern but the dominant order's value structure is very apparent. Compare that with the period 1960 - 1966, when Johnson is forming these ideas. Ideologies (particularly the "radical right" and the "new left") become very noticeable and society's value structures are called into question.

The neo-cons who provided cover for Bush were very ideological in their politics. As I read Johnson, that's why they were not able to become the dominant order in a homeostatic sense. Instead, like many explicitly ideological regimes, they did a lot of damage and lost power. For a really extreme example of ideological regimes, look at the (mostly) now-defunct 20th century totalist states -- all gone. Dead as Franco.

The tensions Bush and the neo-cons used to gain power are still there, but no longer subordinate to the Republican establishment: hence the Tea Party.

And the Tea Party is - at heart - the heirs of the John Birch Society activists who created the Goldwater campaign in 1964 and brought the radical right into the Republican party.

We're still all tangled up in the backlash from the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The passage of that law threw the South into the political control of the radical right and killed the New Deal political consensus by turning the Dixiecrats into Repubicans. Hence Nixon and everything that has followed. We're still having the same political fight now as then and we're still relying on what Johnson calls military Keynesian economics.

This is why I find Revolutionary Change such an interesting book. The ideas in it were being formed at the same time that the American Empire went over the tipping point of self-destruction. Chalmers Johnson's ideas have evolved a lot from that time; the second edition is notably different from the first.

Here's another couple of quotes from the same section [remember this was written in 1964-66]:

"Examples of this grouping of protesters are common. The union of retired military officers, physicians (particularly surgeons), frustrated politicians, functionless women, religious fundamentalists, taxpayers groups, racists, and some businessmen into the so-called 'radical right' is one."

"The dynamic element which overcomes the effects of multiple role playing and which leads to the development of lines of cleavage is ideology. Without ideology, deviant subcultural groups, such as delinquent gangs, religious sects, and deviant patriotic associations, will not form alliances; and the tensions of the system, which led particular groups to form these associations, will be dissipated without directly influencing the social structure. Once persons whose latent interests have become manifest have an ideology, however, the society will tend to polarize into two groups: one group with an interest in maintaining the status quo and another with an interst in and an ideology for altering the status quo."
posted by warbaby at 9:18 AM on June 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


I wonder if the Republican leadership head's would asplode if somebody told them they share a kindred spirit with United Russia. (Or the same with Glen Beck and the BJP).
posted by Avenger at 9:19 AM on June 6, 2010


I hate the use of "ideology" to specifically denote radical ideologies. It serves no particularly useful purpose in actual political discussion and discourse; the function of this limited denotation is to delegitimize out-of-the-mainstream ideologies by pretending that they are somehow qualitatively different from the dominant ideologies. This then leads to inanities such as people being criticized for having ideologies, as if having your beliefs be more or less coherent and consistent and thought out were some kind of extreme thing.

It kind of reminds me of race/gender/etc privilege; not only do we demand that out-of-the-mainstream ideologies justify themselves to a level that we do not demand from mainstream ideologies, we take this as the proper state, as if the dominant ideologies were not ideologies at all but simply common sense; this further delegitimizes out-of-the-mainstream ideologies by making them deviations from the default, "normal" set of acceptable political views. In this way the dominant ideologies are permitted to avoid giving any justification of themselves beyond broad platitudes, while the proponent of an out-of-the-mainstream ideology is expected to be a psychic genius who can accurately predict every outcome of their ideology being implemented. That the proponents of the dominant ideology, before their ideology was mainstream, could not have performed this task themselves is irrelevant; as everybody knows, the mainstream ideologies are not obligated to justify themselves.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:10 AM on June 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I wonder if the Republican leadership head's would asplode if somebody told them they share a kindred spirit with United Russia. (Or the same with Glen Beck and the BJP).

No, completely different. See, the Republicans are the good guys, so what they do is justified. Duh!
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 10:11 AM on June 6, 2010


(somehow that turned into a manifesto)
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:11 AM on June 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pope Guilty, the first essay is by Zizek, and the full gamut of ordinary factions in both Republican and Democratic parties are represented. The only person demonizing ideologies as some sort of Other is warbaby.

The neo-cons who provided cover for Bush were very ideological in their politics.

But Bill Clinton was ideology-free? This seems to miss the point.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:45 AM on June 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


not demonizing: identifying as agents of change, as opposed to value structures of stasis.

Think of it as normalized deviance.

heh.
posted by warbaby at 11:15 AM on June 6, 2010


Totally read 'filthy' instead of fifty.

I read it as FTFY, so I was expecting a dull snarky humor piece.
posted by ctmf at 11:43 AM on June 6, 2010


Pope Guilty: &;ldquo;I hate the use of "ideology" to specifically denote radical ideologies. It serves no particularly useful purpose in actual political discussion and discourse; the function of this limited denotation is to delegitimize out-of-the-mainstream ideologies by pretending that they are somehow qualitatively different from the dominant ideologies. This then leads to inanities such as people being criticized for having ideologies, as if having your beliefs be more or less coherent and consistent and thought out were some kind of extreme thing.”

anotherpanacea: “Pope Guilty, the first essay is by Zizek, and the full gamut of ordinary factions in both Republican and Democratic parties are represented. The only person demonizing ideologies as some sort of Other is warbaby.”

It's worth noting, I think, that the shift away from the use of the term "ideology" as a pejorative is a relatively modern development, and that moreover the call to broaden the term can be traced to the work of one man: Karl Mannheim, who in his Ideology and Utopia (specifically in the second chapter of part two, "The concept Ideology in historical perspective," which is worth reading even on its own) argued that dismissing particular frameworks as "ideological" led to a relativistic state in which no ideas really mean anything or have actual pragmatic contact with the spere of reality beyond one's own.

He therein traced out the history of the term, from its genesis during the French Revolution and its almost immediate adoption (via Napoleon) as a term of mockery and dismissal to its technical adoption by Karl Marx to indicate a more thoroughgoing notion. To Karl Marx, "ideology" meant all ideas which are determined by social and class distinctions and dictated by position within the class struggle rather than by reason. The implication, of course, is that all ideas besides Marxian ideas are not rational, but rather just customary, logically nonsensical traditions and superstitions. This notion of course became quite influential, even beyond the significantly influential scope of Marxism.

So, in fact, Pope Guilty, when you argue this:

“... not only do we demand that out-of-the-mainstream ideologies justify themselves to a level that we do not demand from mainstream ideologies, we take this as the proper state, as if the dominant ideologies were not ideologies at all but simply common sense; this further delegitimizes out-of-the-mainstream ideologies by making them deviations from the default, "normal" set of acceptable political views. In this way the dominant ideologies are permitted to avoid giving any justification of themselves beyond broad platitudes, while the proponent of an out-of-the-mainstream ideology is expected to be a psychic genius who can accurately predict every outcome of their ideology being implemented. That the proponents of the dominant ideology, before their ideology was mainstream, could not have performed this task themselves is irrelevant; as everybody knows, the mainstream ideologies are not obligated to justify themselves.”

... you are in fact (I think) arguing against Marx's unfortunate pretention to encompassing knowledge which by fiat surpassed the thought of other people.
posted by koeselitz at 4:41 PM on June 6, 2010


Foucault had a lot to say about the hegemonic order's ideology and how we fail to notice it.

And Gramsci had a lot to say about hegemony and contested 'value structures'.
posted by knapah at 5:19 PM on June 6, 2010


The implication, of course, is that all ideas besides Marxian ideas are not rational, but rather just customary, logically nonsensical traditions and superstitions. This notion of course became quite influential, even beyond the significantly influential scope of Marxism.

I'm not sure that Marx drew the implication you're imputing to him. The generalized critique of ideology you're describing seems to have come later, and is strongly associated with the phrase "false consciousness," for instance in György Lukács.

If we're arguing for a particular definition of ideology, I quite like Arendt's claim that ideology is a self-contained set of propositions that admit of no disproof: any apparent contradiction is just further evidence for the ideological system, generally because of some kind of conspiracy theory and some form of providential destiny: History or Nature has ordained that a particular set of events come to pass, and nothing can prevent it. (Arendt's examples of ideologies are thus much more limited that the ones in the FPP.)

This, I think, is pretty close to Marx's account. Perhaps it's better to say that Marx was troubled in The German Ideology by totalizing views of history that claimed to demonstrate the the German state's particular brand of capitalist development was the final realization of history. It's hard not to look at Marx's interlocutors and realize that they were all in the thrall of Hegel and Hegelianism in a way that really did blind them to the contingency of their circumstances.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:46 PM on June 6, 2010


eponysterical
Now to spend the next age trolling this resource, many thanks.
posted by KingoftheWhales at 10:01 PM on June 6, 2010


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