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HISTORY OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION:
1648 TO PRESENT
WHAT IS IDEOLOGY?
What is an Ideology?
An ideology is a systematic set of ideas and/or beliefs
1)used to explain how the world should be and
2)used to justify actions to make or keep it that way.
As Michael Freeden has argued,
Ideologies . . . map the political and social worlds for us. We simply cannot do
without them because we cannot act without making sense of the worlds we
inhabit. Making sense, let it be said, does not always mean making good or
right sense. But ideologies will often contain a lot of common sense. At any
rate, political facts never speak for themselves. Through our diverse
ideologies, we provide competing interpretations of what the facts might
mean. Every interpretation, each ideology, is one such instance of imposing a
pattern -- some form of structure or organization -- on how we read (and
misread) political facts, events, occurrences, actions, on how we see images
and hear voices. Ideological maps do not represent an objective, external
reality. The patterns we impose, or adopt from others, do not have to be
sophisticated, but without patter we remain clueless and uncomprehending,
on the receiving end of ostensibly random bits of information without rhyme or
reason. [Ideology: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
We might also add that because ideologies are human
fabrications in an attempt to impose order on the world, they
are also the product of historical change. Thus, they are not
stable or unchanging. To understand them, we have to
examine them in their historical context.
Likewise, there is a difference between an ideology that
guides thought and an ideology that acts as an infallible
Is Modern Science an Ideology?
• is it trying to shape the world to its system, or is it trying
to shape its system to the world?
THE “ISMS” OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
Congress of Vienna
and the “Balance of
Italy and Spain
War of Greek Independence
Decembrist Revolt in
July Revolution in
Reform Acts in
On the Origin of the
Descent of Man (1871) On the Interpretation
of Dreams (1900)
Italy (1870) and
Paris Commune (1871)
Congress of Berlin
Scramble for Africa
Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
“It is with infinite caution that any man
ought to venture upon pulling down an
edifice, which has answered in any
tolerable degree for the ages the common
purposes of society, or on building it up
again, without having models and patterns
of approved utility before his eyes.”
Klemens von Metternich
Political Confession of Faith (1820)
Let [the Governments] in these troublous times be
more than usually cautious in attempting real
Let them be just, but strong; beneficent, but strict.
Let them maintain religious principles in all their purity,
and not allow the faith to be attacked and morality
interpreted according to the social contract or the
visions of foolish sectarians.
In short, let the great monarchs strengthen their union,
and prove to the world that if it exists, it is beneficent,
and ensures the political peace of Europe …
1. Attack on revolutionary principles that led to the French
Revolution and the Terror
2. Attack on excessive reliance on abstract reason
3. Emphasis on tradition and practical experience in
4. Emphasized the importance of the community over the
• Freedom of speech/press/assembly
• Equality before law/freedom from arbitrary government
• Desire to see government represent the “people”
• rights of the individual
Olympe de Gouge, Declaration of the Rights of Women, 1791
Woman, wake up; the tocsin of reason is being heard throughout the whole
universe; discover your rights. The powerful empire of nature is no longer
surrounded by prejudice, fanaticism, superstition, and lies. The flame of truth
has dispersed all the clouds of folly and usurpation. Enslaved man has
multiplied his strength and needs recourse to yours to break his chains. Having
become free, he has become unjust to his companion. Oh, women, women!
When will you cease to be blind? What advantage have you received from the
Revolution? A more pronounced scorn, a more marked disdain. In the centuries
of corruption you ruled only over the weakness of men. The reclamation of your
patrimony, based on the wise decrees of nature-what have you to dread from
such a fine undertaking? . . . Do you fear that our French legislators, correctors
of that morality, long ensnared by political practices now out of date, will only
say again to you: women, what is there in common between you and us?
Everything, you will have to answer. If they persist in their weakness in putting
this non sequitur in contradiction to their principles, courageously oppose the
force of reason to the empty pretentions of superiority; unite yourselves
beneath the standards of philosophy; deploy all the energy of your character,
and you will soon see these haughty men, not groveling at your feet as servile
adorers, but proud to share with you the treasures of the Supreme Being.
Regardless of what barriers confront you, it is in your power to free yourselves;
you have only to want to....
• Government responsible to maintain laissez-faire economy
• Self interest of individual contributed to the public good