2 September 2010


Communism is an ideal of a world without states, property, money or social classes in which people come together voluntarily to carry out projects in response to the needs of the human community. In the wake of the Marxist-Leninist (q.v.) tyranny in the Soviet Union and similar regimes elsewhere, the term came to describe totalitarian (q.v.) regimes in which all of human activity is subject to the unlimited coercive power of a self-selected elite.

Conservatism is a belief that customs and institutions shaped by time embody a profound collective wisdom and therefore rejects attempts to remodel society according to theoretical blueprints. Thus, properly speaking, it is an anti-ideology – but see Neo-Conservatism (q.v.).

Corporati(vi)sm is a late 19th century Roman Catholic doctrine proposing a "Third Way" between Socialism (q.v.) and Liberalism (q.v.), implemented through a legislative body in which labour, management and capital are represented by syndicates known as Corporations.  It is the organizing principle of the European Union.

Fabianism was the contemporary British equivalent of Progressivism (q.v.), highly influential in the development of the Labour Party and the founding philosophy of the London School of Economics.

Fascism is a totalitarian (q.v.) ideology associated with Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) that elevates the nation over all other loyalties. It calls for the creation of a "new man" purged of individualism and materialism. It celebrates masculinity, youth and the regenerative power of violence. It seeks to unify the nation under the leadership of a supreme leader in struggle against internal and external enemies.

Liberalism in the classical definition stands for limited government by consent, individual autonomy, economic freedom and religious toleration – thus strongly associated with anti-clericalism in mainland Europe. In the USA the term has become a term of abuse directed at those espousing policies roughly corresponding to European Social Democracy (q.v.).

Marxism-Leninism is a totalitarian (q.v.) ideology developed by Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) on the premise that the industrial working class (proletariat) can only achieve the revolutionary consciousness believed by Karl Marx (1818-1883) to be historically inevitable through the efforts of a "revolutionary vanguard" such as Lenin’s Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Nazism (National Socialism) is a totalitarian (q.v.) ideology associated with Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), based on the premise that a nation is the highest creation of a race, and great nations an expression of militarily powerful races possessed of good genes. It shares with Fascism (q.v.) a belief in violence, the "leader principle" and hostility towards Liberalism (q.v.), Socialism (q.v.) and globalization.

Neo-Conservatism is an ideology associated with disenchanted US "liberals" (q.v.) who became influential within the Republican Party during the latter part of the twentieth century, based on faith in the power of markets and prices to order human affairs, irrespective of culture, politics and institutions. Unlike true Conservatism, it favours the selective use of big government in the pursuit of a messianic foreign policy and a re-moralizing domestic agenda.

Oligarchy means rule by the few, which being a description of all governments requires further qualification. Historically, oligarchies were based on military prowess, thence to birth, wealth, ability or more usually a combination of all three. In bureaucratic oligarchies, professional civil servants set the agenda to which their democratically elected masters generally conform.

Progressivism was a US movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to increase the power of the state and to professionalize government, associated with a belief that a self-selecting elite should weed out the less favoured through eugenics and bestow enlightenment on the remainder. Term later appropriated by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to describe itself and like-minded political movements. Now the preferred alternative title used by British Social Democrats (q.v.) – but see Fabianism (q.v.).

Socialism in the absolute is an intermediate stage preparing the way for the withering away of the state in Communism (q.v.). The widespread association of the term with anti-democratic movements and totalitarian regimes led reformist socialist parties to rename themselves Social Democrats. Common to all is a commitment to socio-economic outcomes predetermined by an elite that believes itself, alone, correct-thinking, and a commitment to bureaucracy-intensive redistributionist policies.

Totalitarianism is any philosophy that claims to have the answers to all the questions of existence and which seeks to impose that philosophy through indoctrination as well as coercion. It is distinguished from authoritarianism by its determination to control people’s thoughts as well as their actions.

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