Every human society throughout history had to find its answer to the question of power, class, and institutional rule. Some of these answers were moderately more successful or remarkable than others, and have coalesced into political ideologies. Some of these ideologies are an example to follow, while some are a cautionary tale. They encompass most aspects of a nation’s structure: the economic policies, the citizens’ rights, and even the philosophical undercurrent of the community.
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Communism is a political doctrine that was born out of the strife of the working class in the XIX century. The core idea of communism is the liberation of the working class by abolishing private property and collectivizing all institutions so that every citizen can benefit, instead of just capitalist property owners (Engels and Marx 50). In practice, that means absolute state control over every aspect of life and economy and state-dictated collectivism.
The most notable example of communism in the Soviet Union, in which the government-owned every enterprise, and undesirable classes were purged. The problem with communism is a simple fact that it never works, and has led to millions of deaths due to state-enforced famine (Hickman 225). A similar policy rooted in absolute communist state rule persists to this day and risks the same consequences, which is a prevalent political issue in developing nations.
Liberalism is an ideology that upholds the sanctity of private property, the rule of law, and the individual responsibility of each person (Douglass et al. 362). Classical liberals want to limit the discretionary power of the state and create an environment for private citizens and businesses to flourish. It can be argued that most developed nations today are liberal, as they uphold individual rights of citizens, tend towards a market economy, and are limited by law. Consequently, most modern political issues should be viewed in a liberal framework.
Libertarianism is an ideology that puts the individual rights of any person above the state. It stems from the natural law devised by Locke, which says, “being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, liberty, or possessions” (Zwolinsky).
That law exists irrespective of the state and must be respected by both the individuals and the government. While not accepted wholesale by any state, these principles are influential and can be found in modern liberal societies. Perhaps the best-known political issue related to libertarianism is gun control in the United States, as the Second Amendment upholds the right for individuals to bear arms, and infringing upon individual rights goes against libertarian principles (Zick). Libertarian principles can be used to explain many individual rights granted by legislation.
Conservatism is an ideology that promotes the continuation of existing institutions, skepticism towards violent change, and the organic nature of society. It aims to uphold the natural development of the community and the state, without any violent upheavals, authoritarian dictatorships, or radical reforms (Quinton 286). Conservatism stems from tradition, national interests, and accumulated knowledge, rather than political theory. An example of conservatism is modern Russia, as most of its policies serve the continuation of the existing order and the status quo based on tradition while opposing liberal tendencies and collaborating with religious organizations.
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Fascism is an ideology of national or ethnic supremacy, an authoritarian dictatorship, and military conquest. Fascism emphasizes the obedience of the citizens, the exertion of military power against other nations, and total control from the government (Quinton 305). Fascism has no serious theoretical base and exists only as a pathology. The prime example of fascism is the Third Reich. The political issues related to it are mostly based on the fear of its resurfacing, as modern societies are very suspicious of the ethnic supremacist discourse.
The political identity of each nation is a product of a long history and philosophical deliberation. It is essential to know the core beliefs of these ideologies, as they have developed as an answer to problems that still exist. They shape the nation as a whole and can create remarkable differences in otherwise similar societies.
Engels, Frederick, and Karl Marx. “The Communist Manifesto.” 1848. Web.
Douglass, R. Bruce, et al. Liberalism and the Good. Routledge, 2019.
Hickman, John. “Major Famines as Geopolitical Strategies.” Comparative Strategy, vol. 38, no. 3, 2019, pp. 224–233.
Quinton, Anthony. “Conservatism.” A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2017, pp. 285–311.
Zick, Timothy. “Framing the Second Amendment: Gun Rights, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties”. 2019. Web.
Zwolinski, Matt. “Libertarianism”. 2007. Web.