Are ideologies dead?

Are ideologies dead?

From time to time the debate is reborn. It was like that in the fifties, just like in the nineties of the last century, and the subject returns in these times. Ideologies are considered to be instruments of outdated, harmful thoughts and ideas that have done immense damage to the development of societies and the progress of the world. Too much blood has been shed because of ideologies, because of them many people suffer. The example par excellence would be communism, a totalitarian ideology with a strong utopian content, with its trail of misfortune on humanity; also fascism and extremist nationalism, like anarchism, would constitute strong ideologies with the ballast of misery on the peoples who have suffered it. Of course, all of this is true, which does not mean that they have necessarily disappeared, but rather that they have been transfigured under other forms and with different contents.

Ideology is a concept that has been filled with different meanings, and has found various theoretical approaches to understand and interpret it, from the very time it began to be used, modernly speaking, when Napoleon pejoratively identified Destutt de Tracy and his followers as “ideologues”. followers. We will be content here to use a weak meaning of ideology, which the political scientist Carl Friedrich defines as a system of ideas connected with action, comprising a program and a strategy for their action, aimed at changing or defending the existing political order, and embodied in a party or group engaged in political struggle. Thus defined, ideologies can be extremist or moderate. The former propose a radical transformation of society (in this sense, they are revolutionary ideologies), while the latter accept reality as something changing and complex to which they seek to adapt, either to preserve it or to reform it. The conclusion is very clear for the strength of democratic systems. Extremist ideologies tend to destroy it (unique thought), while moderate ideologies strengthen it thanks to the practice and respect of a cardinal principle of democracy in our times: political pluralism, which I join with the idea of ​​acceptance of the Other in the deliberative construction (in the sense of Habermas) of its procedures and objectives.

Extremist ideologies continue to exist today, since neither communism, nor fascism, nor extremist nationalism have been definitively defeated, and they have not been thrown as we would like, into the dustbin of history, to which is added the emergence or resurgence of other extremist ideologies, such as fundamentalism with religious support (whether Islamic, Christian or Jewish), which undoubtedly conspire against the stability of democracies, together with the well-known moderate ideologies, such as conservatism, liberalism in its various versions, social democracy and social Christianity.

The difficulty of clarifying and making sense of the current ideological map lies in the emergence of what I would call the segmented penetration of this map of new ideological “contributions”, as is the case, each with its peculiarities and more or less rigid accent. or even dogmatic, either as a theory, or rather as a practice, of feminism, environmentalism or populism.

As a consequence of the situation briefly described, the left-right dyad, and its correlate, right-wing ideologies and left-wing ideologies, has been disrupted, but not destroyed. I end with the authoritative words of a leftist liberal thinker, Norberto Bobbio, which I make my own and leave open for debate. “Today’s left is no longer yesterday’s. But as long as there are men whose political commitment is moved by a deep sense of dissatisfaction and suffering in the face of the iniquities of contemporary societies, today perhaps in a way that is not as combative compared to past times, but much more visible, the ideals that have marked all the left in history for more than a century”.


The entrance Are ideologies dead? was first published in THE NATIONAL.

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