While occasionally confused by the users, the two terms of political ideology and political theory are distinct, yet interrelated (Sidanius et al. 479). Mostly, the confusion stems from the fact that though related, political ideology and political theory are distinct as used in academic and research contexts. The study of political ideology examines issues such as the role, significance and nature of certain thoughts, with a reflection of the concerns as the set of political arguments and ideas that should be classified as ideologies (Hoffman & Graham 18). Such is the scenario where an ideology is examined based on whether it is oppressive or liberating, whether it is true or false among others. On the other hand, political theory entails categorization of social thoughts by individuals or groups of individuals, or beliefs/persuasions that orient to geo-political mass (Carney et al. NP). In majority of cases, political theories result from criticisms towards certain political, social and economic conditions that exists in the theorist’s time. As will be discussed in a short while, political theory may be viewed as a critical tradition of discourse, a discourse which offers a reflection on the collective lives of people. It similarly entails the tradition of discourse to uses of collective power and communal resources. As opposed to political ideology, the emphasis of political theory is dynamic, and shifts with time (Davis & Silver 35).
Specific political ideologies communicate and crystallize the shared beliefs, values and opinions in distinct categories, society or classes (Hoffman & Graham 23). Political ideologies attempt to interpret or describe the current state of world as it is, using assumptions and assertions regarding the human nature, the realities, historical events and future possibilities (Hoffman & Graham 31). In order to envision the world as mankind expects, political ideologies specify the acceptable approaches to attaining economic, political and social ideals.
There are two key approaches to political theory; the normative and the empirical theories. The empirical theory relies on the observation that of the empirical results that are supported by some proven hypothesis. Such empirical laws must be provable or verifiable via experiments of observation. The normative theory on the other hand draws conclusions from what is believed to be desirable or undesirable, right or wrong, or what is believed to be just or unjust. The normative approach to the political theory prescribe how the situation ought to be as opposed to prescribing the situation as it is (Griffin 15).
It is important to factor in the role of political ideology when discussing political theory due to the unresolved and complex relationship that these two share. In a more common and evidently witnessed manner, either of the concepts dominates in the political discourse, usually unconsciously pre-supposing understanding of the other concept. Of the conceptual duo, political ideology appears more promiscuous. However, the relationship between political ideology and political theory has never been delineated in any systematic manner (Griffin 14). In other instances, the two concepts are used synonymously, any other instances, they complement each other, still in other instances, the two concepts subsist as conceptual adversaries.
By examining the internal morphology of the two concepts, the ideological cores are often refined by the peripheral and adjacent ideas that have complex relationship with the political practices from which the theories draw. Consequently, it may be assumed that political ideologies intersect the logic, the culture and morphological regularity patterns that the logic and culture display, which are closely associated with political theories.
Three political theories are discussed in this paper to determine their significance and contributions to the society. These are liberalism, conservatism and fascism. Liberalism as a political theory/philosophy draws from the ideas of liberty and equity. Liberals profess the wide view of civil rights, free and fair elections, privacy to individual property, freedom of trade, freedom of religion and freedom of expression. Although attributable to the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th century, liberalism has significant influence in society today. The contemporary society throughout the world has liberal roots. Liberalism has expanded constitutional authorities and governments, empowered parliaments and popularized economic individualism. Liberalism replaced the traditional royalist and absolutist rule with effective decision making systems that are encoded as forms of written law. The liberals are guided by constitutional order that specifies freedom through the independent jury, embracing of public trials, freedom of association and speech, and abolition of aristocratic subjections.
The modern tradition in the political landscape in most country contexts has been marked by the significant changes in political authority as initiated by the liberalism ideas. Such liberal achievements have been seen in the development and expansion of free market economies in most regions of the world. Such developments had to proceed old economic structures that had been initiated by the royalists. The waves of contemporary liberal thoughts that were witnessed in the 1960s through to late 1970s strongly influenced the civil rights, spurring the empowerment of women. Apart from support the gender equality, liberalism instigated racial equality campaigned as a way of promoting civil rights. Other major contributions of liberalism in society includes the rise liberal internationalism, which to the historians, resulted in the formation of most global organizations such as the United Nations. Other researchers have hailed liberalism for having initiated globalization. The fact that most of the world’s richest economies practice democratic liberalities has influenced the rest of the nations in doing the same.
The other political theory, conservatism requires the reservation of the old social institutions within the context civilization and culture. Most conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, and oppose modernism. The conservatives are the exact opposite of the liberalists. They tend to hold to the status quo, impeding the development and growth process in a country. On the relationship between conservatism and racism, Sidanius et al (481) reported that educated conservatives tend to discriminate against other races they consider inferior. Conservatism is therefore a less popular idea in most parts of the world today.
Fascism refers radical authoritarian nationalism which to became popular in the 20th century in Europe (Woodley 70). Recently, sharp focus has been drawn on the relationship of fascism to modernity, gender, organized religion, economics, art, culture, male chauvinism, totalitarianism, aesthetics, modernism, technology, and political religion. Roger Griffin’s fascism ideology in the ‘Nature of Fascism” has significantly featured in examination of the role of fascism. Roger Griffin is a renowned professor at Oxford Brookes University who lectures Modern History principally focusing on the values and ideologies aimed at defining the modern world. He propounded the ideology of palingenesis, fascism’s direction towards an ethnic or a national rebirth. The fascist ideology of Palingenetic core lays emphasis on the Cultural Revolution and a revolution in ethos. This revolution aims at influencing all facets of social life. Recent research conducted by Roger Griffin, ‘The Nature of Fascism’ explores fascism as a way through which people react against disenchanting and secularizing the influence of modernity.
It is important to point out that the heuristic power of the fascism, as a significant tenet in the totalitarian regimes’ comparative study within Marxist histography has been lost. This subject formed the basis for the Oxford Marxist historian, Tim Mason’s question on “what happened to fascism” during a conference held in Philadelphia on Third Reich. Tim Mason emphasized the need to focus on the wider area of generic phenomena in order to locate Nazism. The consensus on the definition of fascism propounded by Griffin has received approval from historians who based their approach on the Marxist tradition. These historians have acknowledged Griffin’s fascist definition that is based on the regenerative dimension. From Griffin fascist thoughts, it became clear that fascism is the lower-middle class’s militant mass movement which seeks to do away with an institutional trade off in the organized labor and capitalist class, and restoring their declined authority and status of their autonomous strata that is intermediate.
The new fascism consensus “has a ‘futural modernist, resurrectional, regenerationist, and dynamic and has acquired consensus from major historians except for a few “mavericks” who are still stuck on their conventional neglected definitions (Griffin 5). From the new consensus, there is the general argument that fascism is nationalism in the form of revolution with unique political, ideological, cultural and organizational image based on the national context or nature of the circumstances where it is initiated. Griffin (17) recommends that totalitarianism, biopolitics, and political religion should be used as international discourse in palingenetic guide to scientific attack on contemporary terrorism, decadence as the implementation of religious utopias that are aimed at achieving socio-political goals and bring in new conception in the situation that is confronted by anomie.
Delving further into the political ideologies and theories, it is important understand how each of the ideologies relate with each other, and how such relationships influence the national contexts. With regards to liberalism and fascism, () opines that liberalism is less antithetical to fascism. While in the same political environments, the fascists often accuse the liberalists for creating despiritualization of the mankind, and for transforming the mankind to be materialistic, with money making being the highest ideal. The fascists view opposes the liberalist view that has been responsible for creating individualistic, materialist and rationalist society. The contention between the fascists and the liberalists is that the freedom created by the liberal emphasis results in the national divisiveness, while the liberalists believe that the fascists perpetuate denial of individual civil rights. The only point in which the fascists are in accord with the liberalists is the support of market economy, and the support to ownership of private property.
As opposed to the conservatives, liberalists believe that entities that are motivated by self-interests behaves in a manner that is likely to harm the society, which can only be averted if the government is prepared to avert such a situation. The advantage of liberalism, at least according to the liberalists is the belief that regulation should be necessitated when corporations, industries and individuals are willing to pursue financial gains at intolerable costs. The liberals largely remain wary of social ills in the government such corruption, oppression of political minorities and historical abuses that take place in conservative contexts. Opposed to the liberals, political conservatives are of the idea that commercial regulations unnecessarily usurp political freedoms, therefore stifles the transformative innovations, resulting in further regulatory interferences.
Against fascists, conservatives hold to the mutual positions of national pride and anti-communism. Both the conservatives and the fascists reject the liberal and the Marxists focus on the linear evolution in the history. Fascists emphasize on the need for hierarchy, martial virtues, disciplines, order and preservation of private property, a perspective that appeals to the conservatives. The fascists and conservatives against and conservatives promote uncontaminated traditions such as chivalric culture and the glorification of a country’s historical golden ages. Different from the conservatism, fascism and liberalism appear as a modern ideologies that seek to help in dissociating from the political and moral constraints in the society.
There is however conflicts amongst the three ideologies; the liberalism, the conservatism and the fascism. In the film ‘Shouting Fire: Stories from the Edge of Free Speech’, both the liberalists and the conservatives appear to be in contradiction, yet they all try to limit the liberties of the Americans. The movie shows a scenario such that; if the Right seeks to amend some law, the left seeks to abolish another. It is surprising that quite a good number of Americans in the film are happy to abolish the freedom that they currently enjoy, although the reasons are largely pet, such as to save the nation from terrorism, and save the future.
In conclusion, different political ideologies and theories play significant roles in bundling of the values, attitudes and beliefs of the society. It is however important to respect the roles of different ideologies within a political society. With regards to the issues emanating, policy makers should merge the ideas to produce the best approach for managing of the issues arising.