View Poll Results: What defines and ideology for all practical purposes?

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  • An ideology is largely defined by the philosophy of its founding intellectuals.

    3 30.00%
  • An ideology is largely defined by the beliefs and policies of the majority of its current adherents.

    7 70.00%
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Thread: What defines an ideology for all practical purposes?

  1. #11
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    Re: What defines an ideology for all practical purposes?

    I am not saying that liberalism and conservatism today are not based in concrete beliefs. What I am arguing is that the concrete beliefs they are based in today are not all the same concrete beliefs the ideologies were based in 30 years ago, or 70 years ago.

    For example, there are those that make the claim that if a "true conservative" were to run, that it would awaken the masses and they would all vote for them. (Liberals said the same thing when they were out of power)

    In my opinion the problem with that argument is that politicians largely reflect the beliefs of their base they are trying to appeal to. Thus, if the base "modern conservative adherents" really wanted a "true conservative" in the same vein as Barry Goldwater, then Ron Paul would have had the Republican Nomination. So for all practical purposes, conservatism today is different than what it was in 1964.
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  2. #12
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    Re: What defines an ideology for all practical purposes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Redress View Post
    I disagree. Labels don't always mean the same thing they used to. The democratic party was founded in 1792, the modern democratic party is 1828. I don't think that the label "democrat" means much like it did at either of those dates. The world changes, and ideologies have to change with the world.
    same party yes, but their ideologies have changed drastically. Arguably, the party structure and name was kept for mere convenience.

    Does this mean that the ideology of Jefferson, jackson, breckinridge, etc. no longer exists? No. It means modern democrats (mostly) adhere to completely different ideologies, not the same one that has changed over time.
    Last edited by other; 09-09-09 at 06:29 PM.

  3. #13
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    Re: What defines an ideology for all practical purposes?

    Quote Originally Posted by other View Post
    same party yes, but their ideologies have changed drastically. Arguably, the party structure and name was kept for mere convenience.

    Does this mean that the ideology of Jefferson, jackson, breckinridge, etc. no longer exists?
    In so far that very few people still adhere to their ideologies, yes, Jefferson's classical liberalism is largely a purely academic ideology today. Today both liberals and conservatives quote him, but that's about it.
    "You're the only person that decides how far you'll go and what you're capable of." - Ben Saunders (Explorer and Endurance Athlete)

  4. #14
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    Re: What defines an ideology for all practical purposes?

    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernDemocrat View Post
    I am not saying that liberalism and conservatism today are not based in concrete beliefs. What I am arguing is that the concrete beliefs they are based in today are not all the same concrete beliefs the ideologies were based in 30 years ago, or 70 years ago.

    For example, there are those that make the claim that if a "true conservative" were to run, that it would awaken the masses and they would all vote for them. (Liberals said the same thing when they were out of power)

    In my opinion the problem with that argument is that politicians largely reflect the beliefs of their base they are trying to appeal to. Thus, if the base "modern conservative adherents" really wanted a "true conservative" in the same vein as Barry Goldwater, then Ron Paul would have had the Republican Nomination. So for all practical purposes, conservatism today is different than what it was in 1964.
    I do not believe the politicians reflect popular sentiment quite so much. The US is a 2 party system and for all intensive purposes many vote based on who they disagree with the least, not someone who is in total or even near-agreement with themselves.

    That's why candidates always pretend to be more moderate than they actually are, and why, for example, in the decade prior to the civil war the democratic party tended to nominate northern democrats for president.

    I see the overall trend you point to, however, but I believe that this just shows the that peoples' beliefs are dynamic while ideologies are static, but people still cling to the same labels. Many "conservative" politicians today do not adhere to a conservative ideology at all--they're just "not-liberal," but this doesn't mean there will be no more "truly" conservative politicians. The actual ideology has not changed. That's why that sort of language is used (truly, psuedo, etc)-- to distinguish between the original ideology and new ideologies that have arisen (they are not the same, although the new ideology may try to ply the name for political purposes). Conservatives are trying to bring the republican party back into their ideology, and away from other ideologies that have crept into the party under the guise of conservatism--in reality they are new (sometimes similar, sometimes radically different) ideologies.

    Also, take the word "liberal" for a prime example. Modern liberals are not the same as classical ones, the label has just been taken to make their agenda more palatable--the actual ideologies are drastically different, but the original, now deemed "classical" still exists unchanged.
    Last edited by other; 09-09-09 at 06:59 PM.

  5. #15
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    Re: What defines an ideology for all practical purposes?

    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernDemocrat View Post
    For all practical purposes, is an ideology defined by its historical intellectual principles (otherwise its largely stagnant), or by the beliefs of the majority of people that claim to be its adherents (otherwise its largely dynamic).

    For example, you constantly hear conservative ideologues (and to a slightly lesser extent liberal ideologues) claim that the policies advocated and enacted by current Republicans and conservative media pundits do not represent "true conservatism" or in the case of liberalism "true liberalism". In my opinion, conservatism for all practical purposes is what the majority of its current adherents believe it is, just like liberalism for all practical purposes is what the majority of its current adherents believe it is and thus both ideologies are fairly dynamic.

    For example, when a conservative tells a liberal that Obama is a hard core liberal, that liberal might respond with "Obama is not a liberal, Franklin D. Roosevelt was a liberal, Obama is not nearly as liberal as he is." The problem with that argument is that it assumes that liberalism is a static philosophy that never changes. However, for all practical purposes even though Obama is not nearly as liberal in terms of an activist government as FDR was, Obama represents the left of center in American political discourse, thus Obama is a liberal.

    Similarly, when a liberal tells a conservative that Bush was a solid right winger, the conservative might respond with "Bush is not a conservative, Barry Goldwater was a conservative, and Bush is nothing like him (or go into some Russell Kirk diatribe). The problem with that argument is that once again it assumes that conservatism is a static philosophy that never changes. Goldwater would not be a conservative today, he would be a right-libertarian. For all practical purposes, Bush represented the right of center in American political discourse, thus Bush is a conservative.

    What do others think?
    Surely it is a bit of both. Conservatism is built around figures like Edmund Burke and Benjamin Disraeli but it takes on slightly different hues at different times and places. Also one has to remember the difference between the political and pre-political level of ideology. Ideology must be adapted to circumstance by politicians.

    You don't really score many points by making the bastardised version of an ideology out to be the pure one because one can still differentiate between them and usually there is still that affinity for the original ideology. One must differentiate between genuine, necessary adaptions and degeneration. Obviously there is some vagueness and subjectivity in this but it is usually discernible enough.
    Last edited by Wessexman; 09-10-09 at 10:04 PM.
    "It is written in the eternal constitution that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters." - Edmund Burke

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