Politics can’t do without ideology (Sorry Marx)
Ideology has had a difficult history, and there’s still plenty of debate over its positive and negative connotations.
Freeden’s purpose in writing this book was to reclaim ideology for politics, after the concept has been loosely interpreted by multiple disciplines. It is the mainly the purview the political scientists, who’ve controlled the pace of development of the study of ideology.
These scholars have assigned ideology an important role in politics, and it’s undoubtedly true. The study of ideology makes the most sense in a political paradigm.
“In effect, the study of ideology is most profitably recognized as the study of actual political thought — the concrete thinking of political communities and within political communities.”
Studying ideology is not an optional extra for political scholars, but absolutely necessary.
But that introduces the problem of the ideologies negative connotations, and the problem with the idea that all thought and action is ideological. That would certainly muddy the waters of its study. Rather, Freeden suggests we think of all thoughts and actions as having merely a dimension of ideology.
Liberalism, while certainly not the declared winner of the ideologies, is more individualized, as the rest of society is becoming, making the liberal ideology more suited to modern times.
It encourages originality, and can thus hold disparate groups together more firmly.
However, this analysis does not include liberal-capitalists, which allows for consumer choice, “but controls it carefully through marketing and leadership, which leads not to diversity, but new types of uniformity.”
But we need ideological disagreement, and it always exists, even in a hegemony.
Why is ideology so important to politics? Four reasons:
Ideologies are the typical forms through which political thought is expressed.
Ideologies are influential kinds of political thought. (offer decision-making frameworks.)
Ideologies are instances of imaginative creativity and provide the resources and opportunities from which political systems draw. Ideologies are a blend of intellectual judgment, emotional satisfaction, and aesthetic appeal.
Ideologies need to be communicable, easily embraced by the masses, non-specific, and contribute to political debate.
“Older theories of ideological dogmatism and stasis are giving way to newer ones of ideological malleability.”