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ID No: 2007D2TS861

IDLE-OGY? : A study of the importance of evolving ideologies in society INTRODUCTION Ever since man has acquired the ability to think, ideologies have been an integral part of his/her identity. Ideology is defined in the dictionary as the body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class, or culture. Where there are ideas, there are different ways of expression and practice. Such an ability to interpret resulted in the birth of several ideologies according to our surroundings, needs and utility. Ideology also refers to the way in which people perceive the world around them and also their ideal concept of how to live in that world. Ideologies can’t be restricted within boundaries. Their classification can vary according to their context.

Over the years, an alarming trend is making its way into the social framework. The ideologies now often dictate an individual to unquestioningly follow the guidelines put forward by the particular set of ideas. Such a trend has far reaching consequences. A close minded attitude towards other ideologies leads to the inability to evolve. With time, as new social problems and challenges arise, the ideologies refuse to critically examine the sets of ideas and beliefs that they stand for. The inability to evolve has resulted in ever rising conflicts between ideologies. Ideologies are supposed to give rise to revolutions which change the world for the better.

OBSERVATON A classic example of the phenomenon of ideological stagnation can be seen by studying the two strongest political ideologies – Democracy and Communism. Democracy has its roots in ancient Athens. Aristotle defined it as “rule of many� where the citizens take part in choosing government and later making policies for the government. Communism is relatively a very new ideology. It advocates a classless society on which private ownership has been abolished and the means of production and profit belong to the community as a whole. The differences apart, one thing in common between them are their origin. Their origin is credited to the belief that a set of ideals can

stabilize the society and hence fight the problems faced by the society during the concerned time. In contemporary times, when globalization has changed the map of the world, neither of the above ideologies has been able to rise up to the challenge and have refused to evolve. Over several decades, poverty, corruption, terrorism have been the toughest of social evils and yet the existing ideologies have not been able to tackle them. Such a stagnation and refusal to evolve can be observed in religious ideologies too. Religion has lost its power of uniting the masses. It has turned into a vehicle of discrimination. Different religious ideologies clash with each other and threaten the existence of each. In the following pages, an attempt will be made to study the relationship between ideology and social change and see how ideological stagnation can affect the change. The paper will look back at some defining moments in world history where this pattern can be observed.

CLASSIFICATION The concept of an ideology is complex and there are a wide range of factors influencing ideological behavior. People all around the world have different beliefs and therefore distinct norms and values. A sociological point of view gives us a clearer

picture to study. Broadly, Social ideologies can be defined by the following classification: 1)Political 2)Religious 3)Liberal Each of the above mentioned ideological types have many ideologies which come under the specified category. There are different beliefs and therefore different norms and values all across the world.

1)Political Ideologies: Political ideologies have the responsibility of deciding how to allocate and then decide how to utilize the power. Political ideologies crucial in appreciating the role of political thought within social, temporal and spatial contexts. Most political ideologies are defined by the classification as: a)Right Wing: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. b)Left Wing: Authority, Hierarchy, Property.

In the next section some reasons behind formulation of powerful ideologies will be looked into. The ideologies highlighted are: a)Aristocracy: The privilege of social class which possess disproportionately huge parts of society’s wealth, and political power. The concept has its roots in Athens, Greece where a council of prominent citizens made the crucial social decisions. b)Autocracy: Supreme political power in the hands of one person whose decisions are to be followed unquestioningly. Dictatorship has similar concepts defining it. c)Capitalism: Its considered a right wing political system where the principle means of production and distribution are in private hands. d)Communism: Considered to be extremely left wing ideology based on the teachings of Karl Marx. Collective ownership and a planned economy are the major aspects of this ideology. e)Democracy: Currently the most popular and accepted political ideology. Government chosen by the people, usually through elected representatives. f)Anarchism: Society without government, laws, police or other authority. It’s a system of self control.

2)Religious Ideologies: Religion as an ideology was considered as the uniting force, and was considered the ultimate truth and was considered pure. With time, the ideology has given birth to several contesting members. The ideological conflict happens not only between two religions but also within a religion between sects. There is a fine line between Religion and a Religious Ideology. For example in Christianity, several religious ideologies exist like Catholics, Orthodox, Lutheran, Baptist etc. These are spread around the world according to local beliefs, and tradition. 3) Liberal Ideologies: Liberalism defines itself around individual freedom. Liberal ideology states that individuals hold worth, self-respect, ethical standards, and dignity. Liberalism also recognizes individuals’ abilities to make good, rational, and intelligent decisions and won’t harm others. Such decisions still allow the individual to efficiently pursue his/her self-interests.

HYPOTHESIS & CLARIFICATION As discussed earlier, there are several ideologies around the world which have established themselves over several centuries. The classification is so complex.

Looking back in history, there are several examples where an ideology has been proved outdated and the formation of a new ideology proved necessary. The birth of Democracy is credited to stagnation of a particular ideology. Aristocracy was followed throughout Greece for several centuries. When people began to notice the exploitation and the overemphasized authority of the aristocrats, the need for democracy arose. The ideology changed the map of the world because now people had the power to chose who governs them and hence dictate their demands and needs for a better society. Similarly, Communism was born in the cradle of Capitalism. The need for a classless, stateless society was the concept behind its formation. Karl Marx wrote The Communist Manifesto. The shortcomings are not in the Ideologies, but with their out datedness. When an ideology is tested with time and changing social contexts its existence comes under scrutiny. The scrutiny leads to the birth of an ideology which has results for those social problems and concerns. The stagnation of ideologies is harmful if not tackled. In the recent times the ideological stagnation has not been met with corresponding actions to evolve. US President Barack Obama stated recently that “The idea that businesses and individuals should be free to selfishly make decisions for their own benefit is an outdated ideology,� Though many call it a criticism of Capitalism, there’s much more

to it. When organizations exploit men and resources under the cover of capitalism, the society pays a price. A study of the most famous revolutions in history puts the relation between stagnation and upheaval into context. a) The Mexican War of Independence (1810–1821) was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico and the Spanish colonial authorities which started on 16 September 1810. It started as an idealistic peasants' rebellion against their colonial masters, but ended as an unlikely alliance between Mexican ex-royalists and Mexican guerrilla insurgents. b) The Revolutions of 1989 ( Fall of Communism, the Collapse of Communism) are the revolutions which had overthrown Soviet-style communist states in European countries. c) The French Revolution was a revolt against Monarchy. The principle ideology was “ the right to work”. d) The Radical War, also known as the Scottish Insurrection of 1820, was a week of strikes and unrest, a culmination of Radical demands for reform in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland which had become prominent in the early years of the French Revolution, but had then been repressed during the long Napoleonic Wars. e) Renaissance: A cultural movement that spanned three centuries from 14th to 16th century.. It saw revolutions in intellectual pursuits and social and political upheaval.

f) Pre and Post World War: After World War I, a socialist and often explicitly Communist revolutionary wave occurred in many other European countries from 1917 onwards, notably in Germany and Hungary. Time around the World Wars saw the rise of political propaganda. Nazi Germany is a classic example of the mentioned case. All journalists, writers, and film makers were under the Ministry’s rule as Hitler as their Fuhrer. The ideologies of Adolf Hitler were spread using such propaganda. In India, the aftermath of the First World War brought with it unseen financial devastation. The financial burdens and ever rising prices of the most basic of necessities led to famine. The then imperialist- capitalist didn’t take any steps to meet the needs of the common masses. This led to the rise of the Leftist movement. Marx and Lenin’s teachings clicked with the intellectuals and leaders came up with a new ideology with socio-economic content. But in the present, the close mindedness and arrogance of the left leaders has confused even their most loyal supporters. Their lack of integrity as they form selfish alliances with governments, compromising over their ideology and such actions has led to the decline of communism in India. During 1940s, The Independence movement saw one of the most inspiration ideological revolutions ever recorded in the history of the world. Mahatma Gandhi led a decade-long nonviolent struggle against British rule in India, which

eventually helped India win its independence in 1947. Martin Luther King's adoption of Gandhi's nonviolent methods in the struggle to win civil rights for African Americans, and César Chávez's campaigns of nonviolence in the 1960s to protest the treatment of farm workers in California. Today, India’s democracy is facing its own threats. Recent Indian Corruption Study by Transparency International India shows that the monetary value of bribes paid in one year is more than Rs 4000 Crores. The shocking numbers show a system failure. Terrorism is an issue which is in collision coarse with almost all societies across the globe. Still, Governments across the world are unable to stand up to it. Naxalism, the demand for a separate Kashmir state, poverty, religious intolerance are issues which need urgent resolve. For this the current sociological ideologies are proving useless. Nandan Nilekani, the visionary entrepenaur says in his book Imagining India: “The shadow boxing between the Left and the Right, each of who comes from a different world view, is causing a gridlock in India’s policy-making - on the one hand are those who hanker for the village republic and on the other are those preaching globalization. The left also wants a rights-based approach (right to information, right to food, right to work, right to education, etc). While a ‘Rights’ approach can help put the onus on the state, there is more to social change than passing laws.

However there is no fundamental difference on both sides in the desire to eliminate poverty, provide more equity, provide basic public services like health and education, and so on. It is largely a matter of approach, and resolving this gridlock is imperative to making intelligent policy decisions.� All peaceful ideologies have one thing in common and that is to see a developed society. The definitions are different and this divide is causing the stagnation of ideologies. The most recent example of an ideology sweeping the mindsets of people for the better is Nitish Kumar’s overwhelming victory in the recent polls. It was not a sudden resurgence. In the last five years, he built roads, crushed crime and put the house in order. Nitish Kumar won the support of the people of the state due to his perseverance of two aspects—image and identity. He tried to change the way the people identify themselves and ushered in a new ideology of Biharipan or Bihari identity. He took the idea of being a bihari from contempt to respect.

PREDICTION: Throughout history, man has relied upon towards ideologies to govern his life. A directionless society is a nightmare for anyone. Ideologies have the responsibility to drive the society on a prosperous and peaceful path. History has several examples of revolutions, wars, upheavals, cultural revolutions etc where a certain ideology has either

evolved or has given birth to new alternative ideologies which according to the times. The world today is a fast moving world. The world can achieve a peaceful state only if the problems are tackled with. Sticking with old ideologies, getting too close minded and protective about our thinking and refusal to evolve will result in further destruction of the fabric of society. The words of the great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises put everything in context as he once said, “To defeat the aggressors is not enough to make peace durable. The main thing is to discard ideologies that promote war.”


“Imagining India” By Nandan Nilekani “The Sublime Object of Ideology” By Slavoj Zizek

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A study of stagnation and evolution of Ideologies  

A term paper on how ideologies evolve and get stuck

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