This section includes book reviews of 600-900 words, as well as some book notes of 100-200 words, on books of particular interest to the members of our group. If members either have a review that they consider of interest to the SG, or a recentbook of their own, which they would like to see reviewed in the newsletter, please contact Cas Mudde at:email@example.com. •
Terence Ball and Richard Dagger, Political Ideologies and the Democratic Ideal. New York, etc.: Longman, 3rd edition, 1999, 300 pp., GBP 25.99, ISBN 0-321-00541-4 (pbk).
Reviewed by Despina Papadimitriou (Panteion University, Athens) Although Political Ideologies and the Democratic Ideal is one of several books on political ideologies, it is recommended for anyone who is interested in the subject, but especially to students of political theory and political ideologies. Moreover, the third edition is revised and updated, including a new section on native people’s liberation movements in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, which are treated as an expression of identity politics within the chapter on "Liberation Ideologies". The authors use a functional definition of political ideologies in order to distinguish them from some other "isms" that are not considered ideologies, such as terrorism, anarchism and nationalism. They distinguish political ideologies from democracy which is praised by liberals, conservatives and socialists, except for fascists and Nazis. Its "astonishing popularity" (p.19) and its varying content, lead the authors to the assertion that democracy is an ideal rather than an ideology, "it is something toward which people aim or aspire" (p.39). This thesis is, however, vulnerable to some criticism. First, in analysing ideologies, the functional approach cannot provide their ideational profiles. This becomes obvious in the conclusion that follows the chapter on liberalism, in which the authors discuss how liberalism performs the four functions that every ideology performs. Here, the omnipresence of the liberal core concept, in Michael Freeden’s terminology, is evident even if the focus is on the explanation, evaluation, orientation and program of this ideology. Second, it is argued that it is better not to treat nationalism as an ideology because it is entwined with so many different ideologies. However, ideologies are traced in their mutual relations and in the articulation of concepts that are present in various ideological discourses. Categories such as nation or democracy make sense as long as they are considered in the context of a particular discourse. On the other hand, the fact that nationalism is an ideology with a minimum theoretical corpus, compared to other ideologies, never diminished its extensive appeal for the masses. Pierre-André Taguieff, author ofL’effacement de l’avenir (2000), argues that within nationalism, as a political ideology, the richness of passion seems proportionate to its conceptual poverty. Thirdly, characterising democracy as an ideal raises the question of whether the dividing line between ideologies and ideals is clear or blurred. In other words, ideals are indistinguishable from ideologies as long as they are part of them. We could be, however, in a position to choose an ideal – for instance, democracy perceived as a social or a political structure – which could give us a rationale for a critical operation of ideologies. Besides, every concept that is in common use has a disputed meaning. To put it differently, the more widely a concept is accepted, the more contestable it is, as Reinhart Koselleck has observed. In spite of these remarks, the book is worthy of praise because it offers, in accurate and clear terms, summaries of complex philosophical interpretations and examines political theory in connection with the historical background and the conditions of the historical formation and development of ideologies as doctrines. Hence, the authors draw on the political experience of Great Britain, the USA, France, Germany, Italy, ancient Athens, Russia and the Soviet Union and China. For all these reasons, Political