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The Meaning of Ideology

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The Meaning of Ideology Works Cited Not Included This essay is aimed to discuss the meaning of ideology and it
different uses and abuses to which it may be put in a politics. The
term ideology has to do with legitimating the power of dominant social
group or class. A dominant power which legitimate itself by promoting
beliefs and values congenial to it naturalizing and universalising.
This belief are to render them self evident and apparently inevitable
(T. Eagleton 1991 p5). Ideology is the name given to any comprehensive
and mutually consistent set of ideas by which a social group makes
sense of the world. (Iain Mclean 1996 p233). When ideology is employed
in the use of government it affect not only those who already conform
to the ideology but those citizens who do not.

Ideology is a body of ideas that reflect the beliefs of nation
political system and which is called political ideology. Marx defined
ideology as major instruments in the hands of ruling class, used to
deceive subordinate classes about true nature of capitalism and to
perpetuate its own dominion. (Godwin 1992 p20). An ideology may be
seen not simply as social interest but as rationalising them. This
means when try to defend something indefensible and cloaking some
disreputable motive in high-sounding ethical terms( T. Eagleton1991
p51). In other words, ideology would be seem to make reference not
only to belief systems, but to question of power, for example, the
main opposition party in Britain, (Conservatives) pointed out some
lapses by the ruling party (Labour) on health in which they let the
public believed that some immigrant with tourism visa came here for
there medical reason, they promise to put a stop to that practice by
implementing new idea to health-screened immigrant before allowing
them to enter Britain.

Political ideology is a consistent sentiment of beliefs about one’s
political environment. We usually think of ideology in terms of the
liberal-conservative practice but political ideology may be
multidimensional concept. Ideology is any system of interrelated ideas
offering a comprehensive world-view and able to mobilise large numbers
of people for or against political change. Ideologies contain
interpretations of how societies have come to be as they are,
prescriptions of goals to strive for in the future, and
recommendations of strategies and policies by which these goals can be
achieved, (Coxall and Robbins 1994 p66). The ideas that constitute
ideology are illusory, but they are also regarded as ideas, which
express the interests of the dominant class. (J.B Thompson p55).

Each ideology would provide a differing perspective on social
inequality and each would employ a separate of dealing with the
problem. I will attempt to outline the differing views and compare and
contrast them against each other.

Liberalism is the aimed of politics to preserve individual rights and
to maximise freedom of choice. (Iain Mclean 1996:286). Liberalism has
come to be the dominant ideology of the industrial West; its main
themes are the individual, freedom, reason, justice and toleration.
For liberal the belief of the primacy of individual is the
characteristic theme and has had important implication for liberal
thought. Conservatism aspires for the preservation of the best
establishes society, and opposes radical change; a desire to maintain
established customs and institutions. Its other central beliefs are
human imperfection, Organic society, Authority and Property. (A.
Heywood, 1992 pp27+69).

Socialism is a political and economic theory or system of social
organisation, based on collective or state ownership of the means of
production, distribution and exchange similar to capitalism, it takes
many diverse forms, and it is a continually developing concept. (Iain
Mclean 1996 p459). Socialism draw on power of the community rather
than the individual effort and this is its central theme, other theme
Co-operation, Equality, The satisfaction need and the common
ownership.

Social inequality objectively speaking refers to the imbalance of
economic assets within society, each of the ideologies provide a
different perspectives of equality. Liberals believe that people are
borne equal and they believe in equal opportunity, but the idea of
social equality is subject to freedom and though the penalising of
talent. The idea of the conservatives have traditionally viewed
society as natural hierarchical and have thus dismissed equality as
unachievable goal, however the new idea has look into more
individualist belief in equality of opportunity but are still emphasis
the economics benefits of material inequality. (A. Heywood, 1992
pp27+69).

Traditional Liberalism under social Darwinism outlines it attitude to
poverty and social inequality, the traditional belief is that
individuals make what they want and what they make out of their own
life’s, those with the ability and willingness to work will prosper
while the incompetent and the lazy will not. This idea is well
illustrated by maxim,’ Heaven helps those who helps themselves’. Thus
inequalities of wealth, social position and political power are
natural and cannot be helped, they are inevitable and government
should not intervene.

This perspective of social Darwinian liberalism is in effect as a
contrast to the idea of a welfare state and any attempt by the state
to provide free pension, benefit of free education and healthcare
results in the individual becoming lazy the individual is deprived of
self- respect. Alternatively if the individual is encouraged to ‘stand
on his own feet’ then he enjoys dignity and become a productive member
of society. The Thatcher and Major government subscribed to this view
and they attacked the dependency culture, which has developed through
the welfare state, thus they advocated ‘Roll back the state’. (A.
Heywood, 1992 pp54-55).

Modern Liberalism on the other hand outline the modern basis of equal
opportunity and defend the case for welfares, if particular individual
are socially disadvantaged, then the state possesses a social
responsibility to reduce or remove this disadvantages. Ideologies
provide a preferred picture of the world. (Rush 1992 p183). This idea
reflected on the development of welfare state. Such as the right to
work and the to decent housing. So the distinction between the
traditional and modern liberal ideology is that Traditional liberals
believe that the only rights to which the citizen is entitled is
‘Negative’ rights whereas the Modern liberals believe that the citizen
are entitled to positive rights. (A. Heywood, 1992 pp58-59).

Conservatism idea can also be broken down into two traditions, which
address the issue of social inequality namely: Paternalistic
conservatism and libertarian conservatism. The Paternalistic
conservative tradition can be related to the UK Prime Minister
Benjamin Disraili who emphasised the traditional conservative belief
that society is held together by an acceptance of duty and
obligations. He believes that society is socially unequal and shoulder
the burden of docile responsibility, These ideas came to be known as
‘one nation conservatism’ and when the welfare state was introduced in
Britain it was accepted in the name paternalism, because the welfare
state did not attempt to abolish hierarchy and authority but to
establish the role of social obligation and duty.

Libertarian conservatives have adopted liberal ideas, and those from
this perspective are commonly referred to as 'New Right’ the ideas in
this perspectives seem to correspond with those of traditional
liberalism. Theorists of the New Right such as C.Murray have argued
that the welfare state creates a ‘Culture of dependency’ baring
independence and self-help. Murray went further to add that the
welfare state is a major causes of family breakdown as it stops women
from being dependant on men to earn their living, thus leading to the
creation of underclass of single women and fatherless children. (C.
Murray 1997 p15). Therefore it can be seen that the New Right believe
that the idea of social inequality should be treated by individual and
the state should limit its help or as Thatcher put it ‘Roll Back The
State’. Again we can notice that there is a complete contrast in the
belief of the Paternalistic Conservative tradition that believes in
social duty and obligation and the New Right that on the other hand
stresses self- help to the state.

Equality plays a very important role in the ideology of socialist
thinkers, socialists demand social equality as an essential guarantee
that all individuals not just those who privileged are able to develop
themselves to the fullest potential. Marxists believe that the only
way that social equality is possible through the establishment of
classes’ society and this can only be done through the abolition of
private property and when all owns productive wealth. (A Heywood
pp109-111). Therefore private property should be distributed more
equally in society rather than being abolished. The difference
ideology of the Marxist in social democrats is that the Marxists
believe in absolute equality, whereas the social democrats believe in
greater distributive equality.

The general reason of the welfare state is to provide its citizen
quality of life. However, this remarkable ideology of a ‘’cradle to
the grave’’ system is becoming ever more jeopardised by various
factors encompassed within the relationship between an ever-increasing
population and distinct lack of funds.

However the traditional view of the welfare state was being drowned in
an increase of benefits abusers attracted by the comfortable value of
benefit. This led to the government introducing new idea by pumping
million into a system that was not persuading people to return to
work. The ending of post-war consensus in 1979 under Margaret
Thatcher’s reign saw the hugely inflated institution undergo changes
that saw the welfare state fall out of the state hands. The economy
determined how much GDP was pumped into the system. Subsequently the
welfare state had to undergo financial cutbacks.

Thatcher broke the elusive link between earning and the state pension
in order to control public spending. Breaking this link and thereby
taking it out of safe hands could be costly to this current generation
who have little idea of future pension entitlement, occupational and
stakeholder scheme.

Tantamount to this, poverty has not been higher since 1979 thanks to
conservative’s ignorance of the issue during this era. Considering,
the welfare state’s ideology was to provide for its citizens. This was
the first obvious signal that pragmatics were now ahead of ideology.
Public spending as a % of GDP indicated that public services swallowed
45.4% pre 1979 and was cut to just 39.4% when labour took office in
1997.

Due to labour ideology background any change in welfare state is
arguable the welfare state in unsafe hand. This was underlined when
Blair appointed Frank Field to ‘’think the unthinkable’’ for example,
the abolishment of the welfare state or an alternative system such as
Means Testing. Welfare reform has been highlighted by Blair is correct
in gauging that a 1945 deal is not pragmatic for the 2000 era. Other
ideas introduced by labour to safeguard the welfare state are: - NHS
trusts where the health service has been transformed from a
bureaucratic system to a value based system, and various proposal
regarding benefits to end the dependency culture of the 1980’ssuch as
means testing, and redirecting money to those who need it most (Child
Tax Credits).

Finally, if we look at each perspective response to the inequality we
can see that a traditional Liberalism, libertarian conservatism and
Marxists, all believed in restricted role of the state. Whereas modern
liberalism, paternalistic conservatism and social democrats all seek
expansion of the welfare state exists, even though they all claim to
be from different ideologies and claim to have rationale for their
belief

Conclusion, in my view as long as ideology exists there can never be a
consensus among all as how people should live and view the world.
Liberalism, Conservatism and Socialism are notable example of major
ideologies in this world that employed by those who posses power. Due
to the way the political process works, ideology can affect many areas
of life, social equality is one of such area, which falls victim of
changing perspectives and ideologies of those who posses power.

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