These are the basic political ideologies that are prevalent in contemporary times. Of course, these are largely simplified, and most people dont adhere purely to one ideology, but adopt concepts from multiple ideologies. Still, most political works can be broadly defined as falling into one of the following categories.
Please note, the following categories are ideological. Several groups running in Real Life elections often use these terms, but to refer to their political bloc rather than as an indicator of their actual ideological leanings. For instance, in the contemporary USA 'liberalism' is an umbrella which encompasses everything between Socialism and Third-Way Neoliberalism, whereas 'conservativism' is another umbrella covering everything from Neoconservative-Neoliberalism to Hardline-Conservatism. In other places "liberalism" has quasi-fused with "conservatism" and runs against an ideology named after some founding figure ("Guy X-ism") - this is particularly common in Latin America, which loves to name political styles and ideologies after people, both living and dead both connected and unrelated to said ideology.
A Note on ContextA political ideology does not arise in a vacuum. A political ideology is usually the product of a series of beliefs about how human beings are, how they acquire knowledge, how they should interact with each other, and how they should be governed (if at all). For instance, one who believes Hobbes Was Right will come to very different political conclusions to one who believes Rousseau Was Right. While their theorists are almost exclusively European, the ideologies themselves are near-universally applicable and are known worldwide. None of these ideas is more than 300 years old, and their heyday seems to have been the 19th20th centuries (when they began to displace religion as something people found meaning and worth in). With the Great Politics Mess Up in the late 20th century, some people have argued that "all big political narratives are over" and some parties have indeed tried to sell themselves as non-ideological, with neoliberalism marketing itself as being mere economic "expert opinion" and political parties of all colors running away from both "socialism" (e.g. "progressive") and "fascism" (e.g. "alt-right") as labels. However, given the even more recent trend to increasing political polarization, this may after all prove to have been a blip on the radar and not the "end of history" as some hoped/feared.
Ideological thinking is inevitable because the human mind is structured to think in terms of Tropes. Memories of personal experiences, Real Life events, and fictional events are all processed and remembered in the same way (activating the same areas of the brain during MRI scans). This is why TV Tropes is so absorbing, and why we had to purge the Troper Tales and "This Troper" sections in the "Real Life" folders of every page — some already had more personal tales than all the fictional ones put together, and almost every article would eventually have ended up that way.
When we browse this page, we inevitably come across at least one ideology that doesn't sound like an ideology at all. To us, it doesn't sound like a belief system: it sounds like common sense, like the way things 'should be', like the way that everyone should think about the world and act. This is because we are, all of us, ideologues. The ideologies that we accept are barely noticeable or totally invisible to us because their precepts and our personal beliefs are largely or wholly identical, so there are few or no noticeable differences. Moreover, few ideologies can be fully explained by their adherents: typically they are reflected in vague feelings and opinions of what 'human nature' or 'the natural order of things' is. Every ideology has (had) proponents who have proclaimed it as being non-ideological or post-ideological, and few have explicitly pushed their ideologies by calling them that: 'Ideology' itself is almost always used as a slur against one's ideological enemies, not one's own ideology.
Nationalism, Liberalism, Socialism, and Conservatism arose from one long period in human history with three stages:
- The Enlightenment (16th-C18th centuries), when they were first conceived.
- The The American Revolution and The French Revolution (1770s-1810s), when the new anti-status-quo ideologies were implemented.
- The Counter-Enlightenment (1790s-), when Conservatism was re-articulated as a response to ideology (the trope Romanticism Versus Enlightenment is basically Counter-Enlightenment versus Enlightenment).
During the Enlightenment, the prevailing beliefs amongst philosophers were that human beings were rational beings that could understand the environment around them, and thus learn to manipulate it to their benefit. In short, the Enlightenment was a period where most people were confident in human ability, human progress and self-determination of the individual (or free will).
Enlightenment philosophers can be divided into two camps; the British or Empirical enlightenment, and the Continental or Rationalist enlightenment. These camps had different theories about how reason worked; the empiricists believed it worked on the basis of human experience. The rationalists believed it worked by making logical deductions from intuitively-known first principles.
Regardless of this difference, both camps agreed on the broad points stated above: humans were rational beings with free will capable of progress and advancing their condition. As such, the dominant ideology of the time was Liberalism (see below). Both Empiricists (e.g., John Locke, John Stuart Mill) and Rationalists (like Kant, Spinoza, Descartes) generally agreed with liberalism (albeit for different reasons, see the section on liberalism for more).
When the Counter-Enlightenment rolled around in the wake of The French Revolution, things changed. On the British side, Empiricism had been pushed so far that many began to embrace Skepticism (in the philosophical sense the belief we cannot reach knowledge). Arguably, they were following on in the wake of David Hume (arguably, they were going much further than he did). On the Continental side, Rationalism had been pushed to extremes that argued reason has a nature which shapes its user. This is arguably derivative from Kant, but many additions were made by Kant's intellectual successors (known as the German Idealists). For instance, Fichte argued that one's nationality shapes one's consciousness. Hegel took this even further, arguably diminishing the role of human beings as free agents in favor of making them voices of larger forces.
The skeptical British Counter-Enlightenment eventually produced British Conservatism (see below). The Continental (German Idealist) Counter-Enlightenment gave us Hegel (who was a great influence on Karl Marx (see Socialism, below), although Marx was inspired by The Enlightenment as well as the Counter-Enlightenment) and Fichte (who has been called the father of German Nationalism and was arguably a great influence on Fascism).
The Counter-Enlightenment overall constituted a rejection of the Enlightenment view of humanity as rational beings capable of understanding the world and possessing free will. The British Counter-Enlightenment cast doubt on the efficacy of our reason. The Continental Counter-Enlightenment did so as well, by asking how much of our minds and selves were conditioned by external forces (Zeitgeists, Nationalities, Economic conditions, et cetera).
It is in the context of the Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment that the following political theories originated.
Nations and the nation-state are and should be the bedrock of the political order! But more importantly for you and me, doesn't it feel awesome to share in the greatness of such a uniquely exceptional and great nation as ours?
- Primordialism: nations have always existed as semi-mystical, semi-spiritual entities with eternal moral/mental essences.note
- Modernism: nations are modern constructions created to inspire pride in modern states. Nationality is not a meaningful form of identity.note
- Ethnosymbolism: nations have a long pedigree, but mass-belief in nations is a modern invention. Nationality is as meaningful to us we feel it is.note
Associated Economic Theories (if any)
Democracy and Meritocracy (Important and Yes/No, or Unimportant)
- Democracy: Unimportant
- Meritocracy: Unimportant
Social Classes (Pro-/Anti-, or Ambivalent)
- N/A (context-dependent)
The idea of the nation was originally a radical and bold one. It was fashioned during The French Revolution. The Revolutionaries were set on building a Republic that could govern a large area of land, and be representative of the same, nullifying and usurping the claims of the kingdom and The Church in the minds of the people. To make it clear, while a country used to depend on the personal territory of a King, nationalism implied that a country was unified by its people. In the context of Empires, Nationalism means that a submitted people wants a government that comes from itself, not from a foreign people, democratically or not, and as such rises of Nationalism often meant the death of Empires. Nations insisted that people are citizens, equally important in creating the whole state by means of certain commonalities, which they claimed had existed but had been invisible, hidden and suppressed in the past. Nationalism sought to make this visible by means of symbols and institutions and thus was born during the French Revolution, both by deliberate design and spontaneous improvisation, such things as National Flags, National Anthems, National Museums, National Schools, National Banks and a bunch of official propaganda saluting patriots and heroes of the Nation. This idea persisted even when they converted into an Empire, when Emperor Bonaparte introduced further ideas namely the award for the highest citizen, the Legion d'Honneur (subsequently copied by other nations, such as the US Presidential Medal of Freedom) which he awarded to both military and civilian professionals.
The Nation is and always has been an abstract concept. And so, nationalism is more or less governed by ideas, images and symbols, rather than empirical and rationally consistent ideas. The ideas, images and symbols which are chosen (either from above or from below, and often by both) are intend to represent the nation to its citizens and also be representative of the citizens themselves. Before nationalism, citizens were product of their environments, their families, their religions and social classes. After nationalism, citizens are products of all that and the nation which is inculcated to them by education, by professional service and by the given Popcultural Osmosis of the national entity. In the life-cycle of nation states, first the citizens form the nation (either by revolution or general consent) but then the Nation starts forming its citizens, starts defining, categorizing and labeling them and by the second or third generation, what was originally abstract, improvised and theoretical comes to seem authentic, traditional and material.
Nationalism is so unquestioned and all-pervasive today that it is more a belief than an ideology and that proves its success as an ideology in replacing its older stuctures. As it has nothing to say about individual people and their well-being, it has no set opinion on the political economy and its social structures. Hence its paradox of being both particular and to a degree universal. Nationalism has two basic tenets: First, everyone on earth belongs to a 'nation', an imagined community which exists because people who identify with it believe it does. The second tenet of nationalism is that every 'nation' on earth should have a state that governs an amount of territory, and that all the people of that 'nation' should live within that territory. Given the power of this abstract concept and its vital importance, it became quite important to people of different interests to be, selective of what represents the nation and what is considered to be representative of its citizens. It could be common language and common religion, common culture, but languages can be learnt and what if people share the same religion and different language, and vice versa and what about outsiders (who share neither language nor religion, or one of both) who develop a Foreign Culture Fetish? Obviously, people needed to be more specific and eventually other filters had to be added, and eventually race and ethnicity was decided in the course of the 19th and early 20th Century. Thus was born ethno-nationalism a strain of nationalism that is remarkable for its global reach, spreading from Central and Eastern Europe to the Middle East to the Indian Subcontinent, to Africa and beyond. Other strains include nativism, a concept which insists that particular citizens, a herrenvolk, have aristocratic claims and entitlements to the nation, its rights and its services, over other groups of citizens, even if the latter are officially citizens, residents and speakers of the same language as the former, and over time via ethnic succession, the concept of natives can change, the herrenvolk expands to former marginal groups so as to better combat more newcomers.
You can see how these beliefs are trouble especially when taken to their extreme conclusions. By valuing nations above people, virtually any sacrifice of a nation's people (short of sacrificing absolutely everyone of that nation) in the name of that nation is acceptable...let alone the sacrifice of people of a different nation. A true, pure nationalist, free from the influence of all other political ideologies, would regard the genocide of absolutely everybody on earth save 10,000 people of ones own nationnote as the only acceptable solution to the problem of the existence of other nations. As we said at the outset, though, nationalism doesnt exist in a vacuum. Most nation-states save the Democratic People's Republic of Korea would be severely criticized for making such a trade-off as the one just outlined. While most nationalists value their own nation and members of it more than they do foreign nations and foreign people, they probably wouldn't believe that their nation is such an important cause that all those people should die in its name.
In many respects this attitude is a return to the nineteenth century, back when the word 'nation' was redefined from a vague word denoting 'group of peoples who spoke the same language'note to a unified 'racial'note group that should have its own state and must dominate the earth or surely go extinct, for only one nation can ultimately survive. While nationalism in this sense remains a strong force in the world today, there can be no doubt that it is far weaker than it was in the 20th century due to the events of the World Wars as well as the power of liberalism, which opposes nationalism on the grounds that real individual people are not worth sacrificing for any kind of 'imagined' community, no matter how strongly people may feel about it. On the other hand, the myriad forms of nationalism and resurging influence in more recent times mean that the devil really is in the details.
Nationalism is often distinguished from patriotism, a personal affinity or loyalty to one's country without a specific feeling that it is better than others. George Orwell preferred to define Patriotism as a love for one's homeland that has no intention of imposing upon others. Samuel Johnson on the other hand saw patriotism as "the last resort of scoundrels" while Ambrose Bierce differed from Dr. Johnson by insisting that it's the first. Regardless, nationalism and patriotism can be in line with liberalism, and left-wing socialism and even internationalist communism. But more jingoistic fervor, when combined with anti-liberal politics, social darwinism (where only the fittest nations can survive and dominate) race-based ideas, and militarism, the result tends to become Fascism or National Socialism.
- Classical: A branch of liberalism which advocates civil liberties under the rule of law with an emphasis on economic freedom.
- Social(-Democratic): Government sets people free by preventing poverty and ill-fortune from being barriers to acquiring wealth. Elites and The People are both relatively free.
Associated Economic Theories (if any)
- Classical Liberal - Capitalist/Classical
- Social Liberal - Keynesian, Behavioural
Democracy and Meritocracy (Important and Yes/No, or Unimportant)
- Democracy: Unimportant for Classical Important-Yes for Social
- Meritocracy: Important-Yes for Social, Unimportant for Classical
Social Classes (Pro-/Anti-, or Ambivalent)
- Upper: Pro- for Classical, Anti- for Social
- Middle: Anti- or Ambivalent for Classical, Ambivalent for Social
- Lower: Anti- for Classical, Pro- for Social
The chief objective for liberalism is human freedom within reasonable limits. Freedom means the ability to do what one wills with one's own life and property, and build and live in a society where the state and church do not interfere and regulate. Liberals differ from Anarchists in that they believe that people need to be 'oppressed' by governments in order to be free in other respects though they value government only for the freedom it brings, and don't consider it something valuable or desirable in itself. More importantly liberals of multiple types believe in representative government. They believe that governing is a profession like a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer (and some lawyers do end up governing), and that it can only be handled by experts. These experts need to have a constituency, and need to be balanced by other experts, but once empowered in office, your representatives govern and you, citizen, while free to criticize, voice displeasure, protest and so on, cannot really interfere with the actions of the representatives. Sure you might try to vote him and get another representative to reverse said edict, which is of course time consuming and tedious but fundamentally the agency of the citizen in directing and regulating laws, stops at the ballot, after which it's entirely up to the representatives. Anarchists and Anarcho-Syndicalists believe in "direct democracy" i.e. where laws and other bills are put to vote and discussed by the public. They point out that said direct democracy existed in Ancient Athens and was supported by the likes of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and others. Critics point out that Ancient Athens was hardly a shining example of "direct democracy"note and that a modern democracy governed a huge tract of land rather than a city-state, and even Rousseau was skeptical about a Republic governing a large area of land. Likewise the notion whether laws and measures put up to a wide referendum, based on a one-time measure among a populace not fully cognizant of the technical details of the entanglements of domestic and foreign policy, can be truly representative of the people's best interests is up in the air. Even the radical-for-their-time Jacobins (the origins of today's Social Liberals) were against referendums and defended the principle of representative government.note
Because of this, Liberals of various types, are vulnerable to attacks of cultivating elitism and aristocracy in society. Aristocracy in the original Athenian sense i.e. the power (kratos) of those with the highest virtues (aretes).note These attacks can come from their Left and from the reactionary and conservative Right, from the revolutionary Left, and from populists on the extreme right and extreme left. Liberals see themselves as working for reforms within institutions and believe that institutions safeguard liberties and allow ordinary people to live as they please. In practice, critics argue, this leads liberals to be devoted to maintaining the existing power structures of society, and working with the interests of power holders rather than the powerless. Historically there were a number of splits in liberalism, especially as it came to evolve between American, British and French political traditions over the last two hundred years. Within England and America there is the split between Natural-Law liberalism and Utilitarian liberalism. Natural-law liberalism holds that humans, due to divine or natural law, have certain rights that no government should infringe upon. These rights are due to self-ownership, meaning that you own yourself, and no other human does (though you may belong to God, according to early liberals, you do not belong to any other person). John Locke was a major proponent for this view, which was also influential in The American Revolution. Utilitarian liberalism grew in popularity in the 19th century, and it holds that the best course of action is to pursue what would bring the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people. Since only the individual knows what would bring the greatest happiness to himself or herself, then governments should pursue a policy of personal autonomy, letting everybody pursue their own happiness. The most influential advocate for utilitarian liberalism was John Stuart Mill, who was also a major influence on what is now called social liberalism, despite not being generally considered as a social liberal himself.
This brings us to the other great split in liberalism: the one between classical liberalism and social liberalism. This split originated itself during The French Revolution and the debates it sparked in France and abroad about some of the measures and actions and policies of the events. This split is mainly due to differences in opinion on what "liberty" means: classical liberals believe that being free means not being stopped from doing something as long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of other people. Social liberals believe that being free means having the power to perform a certain something. Isaiah Berlin referred to the former as "negative liberty" and the latter as "positive liberty." Classical liberalism argues that economic activities should be treated the same way that all other liberties are (or, further, that a meaningful distinction between economic and non-economic liberties cannot be made). Thus, economically speaking, any activity that does not involve force, fraud, or threats thereof (i.e. coercion) is just as much a right as free speech. Classical liberals generally use this philosophical argument to oppose measures which defend Labour from Capital (non-lethal working conditions, survivable wages, etc). This stance is also known as laissez-faire free-market economics. Some call this "Capitalism", though that term has other definitions depending on who you ask.
Social liberalism argues that positive liberty is absolutely necessary for universal human freedom, particularly that of the poor. For instance, a family which struggles to earn enough to feed itself will obviously be unable to provide medical care or education for its members without state intervention. As such, the state should intervene in economic affairs on behalf of the least privileged. Social Liberals are also in favour of enforcing agrarian reform and land grants and likewise advocate for a strong centralized state (especially the Jacobins). Classical Liberals go berserk (in general) at any encroachments on property rights and are against centralization, favouring a federal arrangement. Classical liberals want the rich to be free, and are legally and philosophically indifferent to the poor, until such time they become rich and important enough to count. For instance, William Gladstone, the great Liberal MP made his political debut by insisting that slaveowners be compensated for their loss of property alongside the 1833 Abolition of Slavery. Now Gladstone's father was a major slaveowner in the Caribbean but fundamentally Gladstone could call himself liberal on the basis of upholding property rights. Namely if the state wants to do something nice and moral, that's fine, but they have to compensate the people who profited of that immorality because their liberties to own property are being impinged upon (and of course the slaves don't count at all). Social liberals want all people to be actually free, period and social liberals when they abolished slavery, either in Jacobin France or Radical Republican America, denied compensation to slaveowners, albeit any attempts to extend support and investment to newly freed slaves provoked such a backlash and reversal, that they eventually stopped from fully committing to their program.
For classical liberals, liberty does not at all correspond to freedom, nor does it lead to democracy. Classical Liberals in general were slow and skeptical about extending the franchise. They saw calls for enfranchisement as susceptible to populist takeover of governments and institutions, causing anarchy and eroding norms; which in some cases, (Andrew Jackson's original democrat party that called for extending the vote to a wider number of white men, alongside promises to grab land and break earlier treaties with native tribes, Louis Napoleon's winning the French Presidency during the first election for President by universal male suffrage in Europenote ) is not without reason. Others such as Alexis de Tocqueville believed that an aristocracy was absolutely necessarily for cultivating culture and art in society and that too much democracy can be "boring".note Classical Liberals in their belief in aristocracy, economic liberty and free trade, also enabled and supported colonialism and imperialism on the grounds of defending the property rights of "White European/American" traders over tariffs and restrictions by foreign kingdoms, on the grounds that liberty and commerce made them more developed than backward "oriental despotism" and that any acts of exploitation, impoverishment and destruction of foreign institutions and foreign norms was justified since they brought modernization and civilization to these savages, and the military action against them was fine so long as it safeguarded English/French/American lives and property.
The likes of J. S. Mill, Tocqueville and other classical liberals encouraged, supported, and condoned colonialism and imperialism on these grounds, while a minority of social liberals, belatedly, expressed regret over these actions, although others agreed and supported imperialism for the same reasons as classical liberalism did. Karl Marx when describing the British Empire and its liberal project was fond of describing it as a policy that was "conservative at home and revolutionary abroad", in that it fiercely maintained and defended institutions at home and delayed or postponed reforms at home for being too radical and utopian while freely and happily destroying the foundations of foreign lands and radically transforming their lives and justifying that on grounds of giving the natives a better and more utopian world. An echo of this can be seen in Milton Friedman, the Neoclassical economist and political philosopher, training "Chicago Boys" who worked for Augusto Pinochet's government that toppled the democratically elected Salvador Allende. Friedman's ideas were incorporated in Chile and the author of Capitalism and Freedom justified this by citing that Pinochet's free-market reforms would create conditions for democracy in a way that Allende, the first (and as it turned out, only) socialist elected democratically in South America until the Cold War was over, somehow wouldn't be able to do.
The non-interventionist nature of classical liberalism receives condemnation from the likes of Amartya Sen and others in the way the British Empire handled multiple famines that broke out across its colonies, as well as in their condoning of poor workplace conditions. The famines whether the Irish Potato Famine or the multiple famines that broke out in India during British rule, happened as a result of natural disaster or catastrophe but the classical liberal idea of non-intervention and defending property rights, means that when these famines occurred, there was no state intervention to provide food and other reliefs to the afflicted, with such measures left to private organizations and groups who despite considerable heroism and generosity on their part did not have the resources and means to properly deal with theses crises. Such actions were it to happen in another era and for another government and another ideology, would be condemned by most modern standards and Franklin D. Roosevelt, in conversation in private and with Winston Churchill denounced such policies that caused so much food shortages that locals marked months in a calendar as "a season of famine". His New Deal government passed considerable policies to aid the afflicted during the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression which also caused drought, food shortage, and migration of poor farmers west towards refugee camps.
Liberalism in Continental Europe and in Britain in the classical strain was more or less finished during the time of The Great Depression, and the Fascist and Stalinist eras. J. M. Keynes who called himself a member of the liberal party, transformed the economic theory of laissez-faire capitalism by arguing that the idea of the free market during the 19th Century was exceptional and not true in a macro-economic sense for a globalized international economy of the 20th Century. He advocated for free trade to persist only with regulation by the government and called for taxes on the rich. Old Liberals who opposed this became conservatives or they became irrelevant. Social Democracy gained consensus among the mainstream Left while the American Democrat Party, historically a party with populist-classical-social liberal sentiments, turned towards social liberalism and social democracy. The result was the post-war consensus that remained in place until The '80s, when Neoliberalism came into existence. For that, see more below. But in brief, it worth pointing out that while classical liberals are often painted by neoliberals as having been opposed to government measures to increase economic efficiency, this is a self-serving myth. Adam Smith supported government subsidies to the unemployed and fledgling businesses (although he was uneasy about the latter due to his fears that businesses would lobby against being removed from the subsidy rolls), and progressive taxation. Even Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek (who are Neoclassicists) conceded some ground to Socialism in their proposals to replace contemporary welfare programs and minimum wages with 'negative income taxes' that would provide living wages to all citizens (and Hayek actually went even further in unambiguously endorsing universal healthcare and other safety nets to care for those subject to misfortunes beyond their control). Friedman and Hayek stopped short of measures to limit upper-bound wages on the grounds of promoting societal order. Other Neoliberals have decried their concessions to Socialism/Social Liberalism for conceding valuable ground to Collectivist principles, and have resolved to take more principled stands against backsliding away from the progression towards Utopia.
Let others have fanciful dreams of perfect political economies! We stand for a political order that works in practice, even if it isn't perfect!
- Reformist: Status Quo Is God, but if refusal to compromise means armed conflict then Know When to Fold 'Em.
- Hardline/Reactionary: Status Quo Ante, and if refusal to compromise means armed conflict then Violence Is the Only Option.
Associated Economic Theories (if any)
Democracy and Meritocracy (Important and Yes/No, or Unimportant)
- Democracy: Unimportant
- Meritocracy: Unimportant
Social Classes (Pro-/Anti-, or Ambivalent)
- N/A (context-dependent)
Conservatism is understood as an approach to politics based on compromise and the maintenance of institutions, and good governance using tried-and-tested methods. Defining conservatism as an ideology or characterizing it as such runs into problems because many conservatives in the present, and historically, see it as inherently anti-ideological. Nevertheless, seen historically, a number of features exist which can define conservatism.
The core of both types of conservatism is "conserving" (preserving, defending and promoting) the established state of society, politics, economics, and institutions of high regard. Where change is a good idea, necessary to avoid conflict, or inevitable, Reformist conservatism seeks to steer change down the safest course so as to better preserve old traditions within the new framework. On the other hand Hardline Conservatives are unwilling to compromise the existing political order, and are willing to fight to maintain it or restore a previous one.
Modern Conservatism traces itself to the politician and philosopher Edmund Burke, who authored the pamphlet Reflections on the Revolution in France in response to The French Revolution. Burke's pamphlet was shocking in its time because he was Classical Liberal, who in the past had been a Whig, a supporter of the American Revolution, Irish reforms, and had criticized the governance of the East India Company. Many had taken his support for the French Revolution and endorsement of similar reforms in England, as a given. Burke strongly corrected that view with his fiercely partisan denunciation of the Revolution, his condemnation for its rationalist foundations and its program of transforming a feudal and Catholic nation into a republican and secular nation. It's important to emphasize given the influence of this pamphlet not only in politics but among historians and other groups, that Burke was severely misinformed about the events in France. The conservative historian Alfred Cobban noted that Burke had done serious research on conditions in America, Ireland and India, but based his views on France on interviews with emigre priests and nobility and a half-remembered visit. Cobban insists that, "As literature, as political theory, as anything but history, his Reflections is magnificent". So we are concerned here solely with Burke's argument and philosophical theory rather than his judgment on the events.
Burke argued against the strong rationalism underpinning the French Revolution (i.e. the belief that all truth can be worked out by making logical deductions from first principles) and it's promise of radical transformation when France had no pre-existing institutions and experiences to serve as a starting point. Burke instead defended what he called "prejudice", the experience of people of all classes in traditions that had existed to them at birth and a way of life that was familiar to them. This leads to skepticism to new ideas, a seeming focus on practical matters and 'what has worked before' rather than what would necessarily be the 'best' thing to do. Conservatism is suspicious of ideologies, and the parties and groups behind the same. Feeling that errors and mistakes can remedy itself without need for reform or revolution, and they often see the latter as susceptible to being hijacked by demagogues and radicals who have little practical experience and knowledge, and lack the competence to embody their programs. Conservatives see politics as the arena and province of those who are schooled in the laws and institutions of government, and insist on the power and judgment of representatives. At leas that's how Burke saw it. He was very concerned with maintaining stability; traditions and social institutions should not be summarily cast aside, according to Burke, as they prevent society from descending into chaos.
As a Whig, Burke supported those revolutions — The 1688 Glorious Revolution of England and the American Revolution — that, in his view, were led by representative elites and derived from pre-existing institutions. Burke was a staunch supporter of British liberties because, in his view, they were ancient national traditions, and represented an "ordered liberty" which promoted reforms without rocking the boat. This tentative openness to reform has allowed British Conservatism to be more flexible than other strains. Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli for instance, promoted "one-nation conservatism" which allowed Tories to support forms of social liberalism and expand suffrage; stopping short of full equality but allowing them to steal the thunder of liberal and socialist advocates.note An important 20th Century British theorist of conservatism is Michael Oakeshott, who is arguably the Trope Codifier for Anglosphere conservatism: anti-rationalist, staunchly empiricist to the point of outright skepticism, and as a result argued that our traditions were the only things we had in order to guide our social organizations.
Conservatism outside England tends to be vastly different. Where British Conservatives support reforms, and some revolutions, conservatives in the Continent, and other parts of the world, take an entirely different view. Their views oppose change on general principle, and reforms are often judged as Slippery Slope Fallacy leading to more changes. At the extreme view, they seek to oppose not only incoming changes but those parts of society that they deem to have set a precedent for these changes. They wish to reverse society altogether to how it was in the past. They are more accurately called reactionary. The father of Continental Conservatism is Joseph de Maistre. Originally a cautious supporter of the French Revolution, Maistre grew to despise it, and after the revolutionary French army invaded his native Savoy, he began to advocate a strictly counterrevolutionary doctrine of hierarchic order, religion (specifically, Catholicism), and monarchism. Backing himself with Biblical references, Maistre reasoned that traditional order is not just 'good because it works' but it is good in itself instead of 'if it isn't broken, don't fix it,' he went for 'if it was meant to be broken, God would have done it by now.' His stance on monarchy was that any attempt to derive the right to rule on rational ground leads to discussions over the legitimacy of government, and to question the government is to call for chaos.
This underpinned the agenda of the Congress of Vienna, whose representatives saw the Revolution and Napoleon as an existential threat and sought a Balance of Power to halt revolution. In practice however, the changes unleashed by the Revolution could not be reversed. Napoleon forced European elites to modernize themselves to match up to him and that meant a merit-based bureaucracy and class leveling came to be accepted in the Continent, albeit these new measures were now used to repress and police and curtail active movements and in the case of Metternich, amounted to constructing a virtual Police State in Austria. In the end, successive revolutions continued to break out and convulse Europe in the 19th Century and along the way conservatives started to change tactics and accept some forms of liberalism. Adolphe Thiers the conservative advocate for the July Monarchy and the Second Empire brutally repressed the 1871 Paris Commune and yet he provided support for the French Third Republic when monarchical candidates for restoring the Throne proved inconclusive. He would declare, "We will have a Republic, but it will be conservative or it will be nothing." In Germany, Otto von Bismarck unified and invented the modern German state as a "Revolution from Above" that provided welfare for the old and adopted "one man, one vote" as well as multi-party representations in the Reichstag.note Reactionary Conservatism influenced Fascism and militant nationalism, while an Anglosphere style pragmatic conservatism started to gain consensus especially after World War II, among European elites.
It is when we look at American conservatism that things get confusing. "Conservative" as used in the U.S. is a very vague ideology. It's a coalition of many different ideological groups some of which are directly contradictory, mixing say classical liberal attitudes about laissez-faire economics, with socially conservative attitudes towards family and religion, with reactionary factions who wish to overturn laws, traditions, and rules, that have been in place for a long time. American religious or social conservatism is closest to Maistre's branch but without the latter's support of Divine Right of Kings. They argue that specific traditions are vital for social stability, and deserve state protection, keeps society together, and, unlike Anglosphere-style conservatives, are not skeptical about knowledge. They either argue that faith is a means to perfect knowledge which is more or less a pre-Enlightenment attitude, while at other times taking the hostility towards knowledge towards Anti-Intellectualism as a whole.note
American conservatives generally latch on to fears of "Big Government" and are particular about preserving the Federal nature of America at the time of its Founding. Fears of "Big Government" in the political lexicon arguably originated with Thomas Jefferson, who doesn't fit the modern conservative profile in that he was an intellectual who dismissed Christianity as a source of moral guidance, and as a deist remains the only non-Christian head of state in American history, while also supporting the French Revolution, and advocating for expanding suffrage. Yet Jefferson's views of Big Government rested on the idea that the ideal citizen was the yeoman farmer, and the independent settler, and in course of the evolution and expansion of America, conservatism appealed to the ideals of the land and rural institutions, and preservation of the same, as the bedrock of American values which is self-reliance, and independence. "Big Government" measures are generally regarded as either unnecessary for Americans schooled in traditions, or among extreme conservatives as a step towards the nanny state or outright socialism. A recent phenomenon is neoconservatism, which began when non-conservatives, particularly those on the left moved to the conservative camp after becoming disillusioned with their own. It advocates political liberty and free markets but with a revolutionary advocacy that leads them to approve some measures of big government to advocate old conservative goals. In the economy, they support capitalism and government support of big businesses, but they oppose government intervention and leave it to the states to intervene or not. American conservatism historically included isolationist tendencies, those who argued that America should not engage in European or global politics, and the ones who opposed expansionism by Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk. Modern neoconservatism however, buoyed by the Victory by Endurance of America in the Cold War believes that the United States has an active duty to export and propagate its ideals and forms of government around the world and intervene as and when necessary to uphold order. This has earned much criticism, where these tendencies resulted in doctrine of belligerency, a disdain for diplomacy, and aggressive promotion of capitalist democracy.
Conservatism, because of its anti-ideological nature, has paradoxically been "a forward movement of restless and relentless change" as Corey Robin argues. Where socialist and liberal views have some groundings and roots over the years in the promotion of suffrage, equality and civil liberties, conservatism has had to update what it is conserving or reacting against while co-opting and absorbing whatever it can in the face of liberal and socialist tides. It can be elitist and skeptical of knowledge, it can be enlightened and dismissive of vulgar populism and it can be anti-intellectual and populist at other times, open to traditional elites and upstarts, and flexible in co-opting former outsiders into its party. Outwardly, conservatives have a reverence for tradition but in practice they update to non-traditional means to defend those tradition that have survived because, they believe, it has been useful. It sees the maintenance of order and the status quo as vital, and these are the key values underpinning Anglosphere-style conservatism in contrast to liberalisms favouring of freedom and reform above all else.
- Various, dependent upon region and country like Americans for majority Protestant with some Catholic or Non-denominational in recent years, Italians for Catholic or Russians for Eastern Orthodox
- Distributism: The (Catholic) Godly must subdue and harness the Ungodly greed promoted by Capitalism to better God's creation
Associated Economic Theories (if any)
- Keynesian, Behavioural
Democracy and Meritocracy (Important and Yes/No, or Unimportant)
- Democracy: Important-Yes for Christians; Unimportant-No for Non-Christians
- Meritocracy: Important-Yes for Christians; Unimportant-No for Non-Christians
Social Classes (Pro-/Anti-, or Ambivalent)
- Upper: Anti-
- Middle: Anti- or Ambivalent
- Lower: Pro-
Christian Democracy was popular in much of continental Europe and South America, originating in the early 19th Century before becoming mainstream after World War II. It tends to be seen as a 'centrist' ideology with many unique characteristics incorporating elements and influences from (Social) Liberalism, Socialism, and Conservatism. Although in the 19th century it came about alongside Socialism and Social-Liberalism as a response to Classical Liberalism/Capitalism (among Protestant sects mainly), Post-WWII changes in religious observance and social freedoms aligned it with Conservatism as well. Christian Democracy is a broad umbrella of doctrines derived from traditional Christian/Catholic political thought (thus, ultimately, from the Counter-Enlightenment), which embraces many Enlightenment principles.
Historically democracy and the Catholic Church have had, let's say, a difficult period of adjustment. The French Revolution and various movements of liberation and unification in the 19th Century put Revolutionaries in continental Europe, with their drive to divide church land and put it for sale, as well as create a new radical ideology for social cohesion (Nationalism), into conflict with the Church. Now in the Church's defense, the Revolutionaries (while well-intentioned) did propose measures that were more than a little unkind to its flock. During the French Revolution, the nationalization and seizure of Church land, the insistence on a Civil Constitution of the Clergy and loyalty oaths, which worked well in the North-East and South of France, backfired in the Vendee, where the actions led to the closure of charities that poor peasants depended upon. This action, coupled with calls for conscription, accompanied by radical policies of Dechristianization, and much anti-clerical violence, led to the outbreak of a Civil War that was exceptionally bloody even when placed inside the Reign of Terror. The "bourgeois revolutions" which spread from France across Europe in the 19th Century, saw the Church in a role that was de facto counter-revolutionary, opposed to the Unification of Italy and "red tide" but the Church still counted much popular support among poor peasants whose needs were not catered to by the new order, or at least not yet.
Pope Pius VII (1800-1823) was Cardinal Chariamonti when the armies of the French Revolution invaded Naples during the Italian Campaign, establishing many client republics there. At the time, the Cardinal said (apparently under duress): "Christian virtue makes men good democrats.... Equality is not an idea of philosophers but of Christ...and do not believe that the Catholic religion is against democracy." While the Pope would never quite say or support anything of the same order again, some of his later actions do reflect the sentiments of this utterance (considered by R. R. Palmer to be one of the few positive references to democracy at the end of the 18th Century). At the time he accepted surrender and occupation, eventually he would deal with Napoleon Bonaparte and sign a Concordat which reversed the French Revolution's more anti-clerical policies, although eventually Napoleon got tired of that association. He is considered to be the first Pope to express support for democracy. During his time as Pope, he condemned the slave trade, urging Portugal, Spain and France (who during the Napoleonic and Restoration era restored slavery after the National Convention had briefly abolished it) to end the practice. He also expressed support for America, and sponsored many dioceses to spread there, increasing the number of Catholics in America. His successors would reverse some of his policies especially when the Revolutionary tide would not fade away, and would be accompanied by a more problematic variant of nationalism. In Imperial Germany, Otto von Bismarck's Prussia-centric ethno-vision of Germany led him to promote a Kulturkampf that discriminated against German Catholics and their civil rights. In response to this, German Catholics and Bishops formed the Catholic Center Party in the Reichstag, and eventually Bismarck would ease off and recruit them to persecute their common enemy, the socialists. This was the first major Christian-Centrist political party in Europe.
Modern Christian Democracy originates from The '40s. They rose to prominence in Western (Continental) Europe, and many of them received funding, backing and support from the USA during the Cold War as part of its anti-communist ideology. The founders of the European Union: Robert Schumann, Konrad Adenauer, Alcide de Gaspari were Christian Democrats and they played a major role in uniting the Coal and Steel Industries and building its basic institutions. In Germany, Christian Democracy remains the party in power, led by Angela Merkel. Christian Democracy has fragmented in Italy on the other hand, while in France it never became a major party (owning no doubt to its strictly secular political culture). It's considerably more popular in South America, where it even had radical variants: for example 'Liberation Theology' which in South America often means advocating revolutionary support for the oppressed and disadvantaged and criticizing the policies of US Imperialism, with many outright accepting Marxism in a Christian form. The latter was not at all sympathetic to the Vatican, especially under the anti-communist Pope John Paul II, who during the Cold War years tended to look away from American imperialism.note At the time, however, his native Poland was under Soviet occupation, and the anti-religious policies of communists were greatly concerning.
Christian Democracy, in its Catholic strain, emphasizes compassion: caring for the poor and disadvantaged in society (this being where it overlaps with Socialism) and the family as a God-given bastion of social order and building-block of society (where it overlaps with conservatism). As a result they agree upon a number of policies which strengthen these such as universal education and healthcare, orphanages, marriage counseling, etc and have generally, albeit not consistently, opposed the Neoliberal agenda. The 'Prosperity Theology' of some US 'churches', generally Protestant, draws their special ire as a corruption of Christian teachings, since it uses Christian teachings to justify the materialistic Neoliberal pursuit of greed (by claiming that wealth directly reflects God's love). Yet differences of interpretation mean that a number of their policy priorities are at odds with one another. Things that some oppose depending upon their specific religious denomination and cultural and national traditions include 'frivolous' marriages (most), the use of contraceptives (Catholics), same-sex marriage (Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians), 'frivolous' abortions (...we don't have all day). There're also fierce debates about whether the treatment of criminals should be relatively harsh (to deter crimes against the innocent) or lenient (to help repentant sinners change their ways, as Christ taught). Catholics in particular often toe the official line of asserting 'human dignity from conception to natural death'. This is generally understood to mean opposition to contraception, abortion, suicide (including assisted suicide) and euthanasia.
Christian Democrats' exact policy positions are highly dependent upon local context and political alliances. They usually consider the cultural Christian heritage of their country important and acknowledge a need for 'solidarity' with many social causes, but often find themselves at odds with Communism and Anarchism because of their atheist leanings and in league with Socialists and Social Liberals because of their views on democracy and social mobility and religious freedom. Historically, in the 1880s-1970s most Christian Democrats were in fact in league with Socialists. This is because the origins of Christian Democracy lie in Christians' responses to workers' misery in the late 19th century, wherein caring for the needy took priority over ensuring the Christian heterodoxy of society. Their proclaimed social/egalitarian values generally drove them to criticize wealth inequalities and push for state intervention to flatten out the 'boom and bust' cycle, thereby distinguishing them from the less interventionist classical liberals. Neoliberalism's lionization of wealth as virtue, coupled with indifference for the poor makes their position irreconcilable with that of Christian Democrats, though again there is the infamous exception of the USA's Prosperity Gospel 'churches'. Their other famous stopped-clock moment of (qualified) partnership with Neoliberals has been their support for the European Union, which as they keep reminding everyone was something that they had a major part in founding.
The appeals of Christian Democratic parties of the centrist strain, with the exception of Germany, has waned. Accompanied in part because of declining religious attendance, and further heightened by scandals of child sex abuse cases which the Church has covered up, which has led a backlash even from the formerly strong Catholic bastion of Ireland which has legalized same-sex marriage and abortion. In the other major Catholic stronghold, Poland, the populist Law and Justice Party has appealed strongly to religious nationalism, albeit in a very American-inspired strain, in seeking to erase women's access to abortion and social services and asking schools to teach children Creationism, which puts them very much on the right of the Catholic Church (which has prided itself for being open to Darwin since the very beginning, while later affirming that evolution is definitely true, unlike some more fundamentalist Protestants).
(See also: Socialism)
- Democratic: The People can only check the power of Elites using the power of democratic institutions, because Dictatorship would only replace economic elites with political ones.
- Dictatorial: The People can only check the power of Elites using the power of the totalitarian state, because Democracy would be corrupted and subverted by the residual economic power of elites.
Associated Economic Theories (if any)
- Democratic: Keynesian, Behavioural
- Dictatorial: Keynesian, Behavioural, Marxism
Democracy and Meritocracy (Important and Yes/No, or Unimportant)
- Democracy: Important-Yes for Democratic, Important-No for Dictatorial
- Meritocracy: Important-Yes for Democratic and Dictatorial
Social Classes (Pro-/Anti-, or Ambivalent)
- Upper: Anti-
- Middle: Anti- or Ambivalent
- Lower: Pro-
The chief objective of socialism is for everyone to have the same rights and opportunities to do what they want in life. Socialism holds that a society which only values freedom inevitably results in some being much, much freer than others. Therefore, society must value justice and equality as well. Socialism seeks to replace rule by the upper class and organised crime with the rule of law, with society instead being run by a just, efficient, and charitable government that governs in the best interests of all its people instead of just the rich and powerful. The nature of this government is where classic/dictatorial and modern/democratic socialism diverge Classic Socialism sees nothing wrong with this government being a dictatorship as this means it will be able to take decisive action to get things done, whereas Modern Socialism thinks this is a spectacularly bad idea because the transparency and accountability of democracy is required to make sure that the government doesnt start serving the upper classes again.
The common threads running through all socialist ideologies are the overarching goals of improving outcomes for the poor and bringing about equality of opportunity for everyone. To that end, socialism is broadly against the capitalist system, in which industry is operated and services provided by private entities (corporations, etc.) to enrich their owners. Socialists argue that this arrangement is inherently exploitative, as the few owners of those entities (the upper class) can use their control over essential services to make themselves ever richer at the expense of the people who depend on said services with no other recourse (the working class). Instead, socialism is in favor of a system in which production of goods, providing of services etc. are in public hands instead of private hands. One of the main causes of ideological division within socialism is exactly in what capacity these things are put into public hands.
State socialism, the most commonly-known variation of socialism, takes the approach that industry, services etc. should be nationalised, i.e. owned and operated by the government. State socialism is internally divided into different schools of thought regarding the method of government administration: a planned economy is one where every aspect of production what to produce, how much, how to distribute, what price to set is planned ahead of time and implemented by a government agency; a state-directed economy is a lesser version of the same, where general goals are set by the government but most actual managing is done by workers within the industries themselves; a self-managed economy is one where the management of industries is entirely autonomous.
Market socialism is different in that it involves publicly-owned enterprises operating with a for-profit objective. As a rule, proponents of market socialism are against central economic planning and promote a self-managed economy.
Other forms of socialism such as libertarian socialism are against state ownership of industry, and instead promote a system wherein each industry is structured as a cooperative with every worker having equal part-ownership of the workplace and an equal say in management decisions and so on (this type of management is referred to as "workplace democracy"). These ideologies tend to be anarchist in nature (see the below section on Anarchism).
Additionally, socialism as a whole is also divided regarding the structure of government in which such a system is implemented and how it should come about. Democratic socialism (also known as Fabian socialism) holds that a socialist state must have a democratic system of government, and is generally in favour of implementing socialism through peaceful reform. Socialist ideologies which have their root in Marxism-Leninism (e.g. Stalinism, Trotskyism, Maoism, et cetera; not necessarily Marxism in general) focus on a single vanguard party bringing about socialism through revolution and destroying the existing capitalist state. They differ on what kind of parties they advocate in order to achieve change: the former focus upon a broad left spectrum which is inclusive of the left as a whole (the classic example being the pre-World War I German Social Democratic Party, which contained reformists like Bernstein and revolutionaries like Luxemburg), whereas the latter advocate a party only for revolutionaries, without a reformist wing (the classic example being Lenin's Bolshevik party). Proponents of the latter tend to criticize the former for being ineffective in practice, and for attempting to work within a system it ought to hold as illegitimate, morally bankrupt and only worth being overthrown; proponents of the former in turn criticize the latter for inherently not representing 'the will of the people' if it doesn't enjoy democratic support, and of being hypocritical in effectively creating its own new 'elite class' of party heads who control everything without being democratically accountable and thus nullifying any beneficial effect their revolution may have had. Reformists also argue against the sectarianism of vanguard parties. It should be noted that there's plenty of fracturing among the proponents of revolution (thus the splintering into Stalinism and Trotskyism, and, later, Maoism, Hoxhaism, et cetera).
Similarly, the ideology of socialism is mainly focused on economics and can vary wildly when it comes to civil rights and social freedoms. In Western culture, socialism is generally associated with being socially liberal and antiauthoritarian on such matters; on the other hand, many nations which have implemented some form of socialist system (e.g. Stalinist Russia) have been very socially conservative and authoritarian. Economic social-democratic Communist successor parties in Eastern Europe are also far more socially conservative than their counterparts in the West even today.
It's worth noting that the different ways of dividing socialism (by democratic versus nondemocratic, by degree of state control over planning, et cetera) all cross-cut each other. Although certain countries have obviously implemented particular combinations, they don't inherently go together and youll find proponents of every possible combination somewhere out there. And likely as not, they all hate each other.
Below are two subsections on notable variants or subsets of socialism:
Associated Economic Theories (if any)
- Keynesian, Behavioural
Democracy and Meritocracy (Important and Yes/No, or Unimportant)
- Democracy: Important-Yes
- Meritocracy: Important-Yes
Social Classes (Pro-/Anti-, or Ambivalent)
- Upper: Anti-
- Middle: Ambivalent
- Lower: Pro-
Social democracy is basically a kind of compromise between capitalism and democratic socialism. While socialism proposes that all industries come under state or cooperative ownership and control, social democracy instead proposes the nationalising of only certain essential services while still allowing private enterprise for the rest. The rationale is that certain services do not operate in the interests of the public good in a for-profit environment and inevitably result in inequality, but free enterprise is still necessary for innovation and competition (and indeed, social-democratic systems can and do involve private enterprises acting in direct competition with the nationalised services). Essentially, it's democratic socialism within a capitalistic framework.
"Essential services" can refer to education, public transport, health insurance, welfare, water, electricity, and so on. In fact, the truth is that most government systems that self-identify as capitalist are also social-democratic in some way or another, with most services above nationalized: even the USA, which is infamously wary of socialism as a nation, has such programs as Medicare (nationalized health insurance for citizens over 65) and so on.
Most developed countries are social democracies to some extent and have an official social democratic party. Spain currently has the longest record of its form of the party, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party/ Partido Socialista Obrero Español, being in power. It's been in power for 21 of the 40 years Spain has been a democracy. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, Social Democracies were limited to Western/Northern Europe and anglophile countries but the practice has spread to the Asian Tiger economies of South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. It's even gaining hold in the world's most populous democracy,India, as its middle class and economy continue to grow and develop. Its boldest push towards a social democracy is a universal healthcare program for the country's poorest half that was implemented in 2018 with a goal of true universal healthcare by 2030.
In terms of influence outside general Marxism, Social Democracy tends to draw heavily from the Enlightenment. Social Democratic parties tend to push the platform of secularism, progress and a technocratic/democratic approach to governing more so than other political parties in nations they are found in (thus making it Enlightenment liberalism turned Up to Eleven).
Elites have a culture of self-serving greed which keeps them from feeling that with their power Comes Great Responsibility. We must take their power to help the needy!
- Several, including, but not limited to: Marxism-Leninism, Structural Marxism, the Budapest School (Lukács), Luxemburgism, Frankfurt School and Praxis School.
Associated Economic Theories (if any)
Democracy and Meritocracy (Important and Yes/No, or Unimportant)
- Democracy: Important-Depends (some subtypes agree with democracy, others see it as a bourgeoise tool; Marx himself did however express belief that the working class could achieve power through democratic elections, but that working people had the right to revolt if they were denied political expression)
- Meritocracy: Important-No
Social Classes (Pro-/Anti-, or Ambivalent)
- Upper: Anti-
- Middle: Anti-
- Lower: Pro-
Marxism is a subset of socialist ideology based upon the ideas of the nineteenth-century thinkers, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It has had many different variations, but is most commonly associated with Red October and the state socialism of Soviet Russia. Marx was influenced by several different schools of thought: these were fundamentally German philosophy (particularly that of Hegel), English political economy (most importantly Adam Smith and David Ricardo) and French socialism (thinkers such as Henri de Saint-Simon). There are essentially three fundamental building blocks to Marxist ideology: the theory of historical materialism, the critique of political economy (Marxist economics) and the belief in a socialist revolution. Marx's theory of historical materialism is a derivation of Hegel's ideas about the development of history over time. Hegel argued that history is moving towards increased human freedom through the development of the realm of ideas. He used the dialectical method in order to show the development of these ideas. Dialectics essentially argued that there is a contradiction in reality between two different poles of thought; this contradiction becomes resolved into a higher level, which maintained essential features of the earlier levels while transcending them. Marx adapted this method and applied it to the history of the material rather than the ideal. Marx argues that man is essentially a tool-making animal and that this relationship between man and nature is what makes us human: the fact that we can conceive of a plan and put it into reality. Marx essentially argues that the development of the forces and relations of production and the class struggle drive history. The forces of production are the technological capacities of a particular society, and the relations of production are factors such as who owns the forces of production. The forces of production can develop to an extent that causes the relations of production to be thrown into crisis (see below).
The idea of class struggle is inherently associated with Marxism; as he famously stated in The Communist Manifesto "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle." Marx argued that societies were divided into classes and the class divisions are defining of particular societies. The feudal age can be defined by the division into peasants and landlords, the capitalist age by the division between the bourgeoisie (the owners of capital) and the proletariat (the working class). These two classes are in conflict due to them having fundamentally divergent interests: the bourgeoisie acts as the "personification of capital" and acts to ensure the accumulation of capital, whereas the proletariat's interests are in overthrowing the system and creating a communist society. This is because the proletarian's existence is unstable (as they are not guaranteed to get work from the capitalist) and their work is dull and alienating, and thus they are unable to develop their full capacities as human beings. The Marxist concept of history is harder to grapple for the Anglosphere owing to the diverging historical development. In Continental Europe where Marx spent and wrote about the most, aristocratic interests and elite did not properly devolve to the "natural" growth of liberalism as it had come to be seen in England and America in the same timeframe. On account of constant revolutions, people in living memory saw the aristocracy toppled by the bourgeosienote only for the bourgeosie to rapidly build a new world where a new kind of inequality took to root. As such Marxism became a mainstream political philosophy in nations like Italy, Germany, Russia (and only belatedly in France, where people connected it, incorrectly, with Jacobinism), and later in China, where Marx's idea of development and class conflict had direct real examples and practical application. Outside these places, Marxism was absorbed or co-existed with earlier anti-imperialist strains, such as Vietnam which saw itself in nationalist terms and Cuba where Castro did not turn Marxist-Leninist until after taking power, and he originated as a revolutionary in the old anti-imperialist mold.
The Marxist critique of political economy is complicated, so it is impossible to give anything but the basics of the theory here. Marx believed that the capitalist system was based upon the aforementioned division between classes. He also believed that capitalism was a system based around commodity production, i.e. production for a market rather than production for personal need. Former systems such as feudalism contained elements of commodity production, but it was not the main form of production unlike under capitalism. Marx argued, like the other economists of his day, that value is based upon the labor used to produce a commodity; this is known as the labor theory of value. Marx argued that the mechanism by which capitalists make a profit is based upon a hidden form of exploitation. Workers sell their labor power to capitalists who pay them a wage for their labor power, and then employ that labor to create more value than the wage it is paid. This is called the Marxist theory of surplus value. Capitalists are fundamentally in competition with each other for market share. Because of this competition, each capitalist has an incentive to produce as many commodities as possible. Thus capitalists have a clear incentive to introduce more technology into the production process in order to produce more commodities with less labor time. However, this constant need to introduce technology undermines capitalism. This is because only labor creates value, technology does not; the addition of technology reduces the amount of value in the commodity and the price the commodity would fetch upon a market. This leads in the long run to the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, which is a cause of crisis within the capitalist system. Mountains of ink could be spilled on the complexities of the contradictions of capitalism in Marxist theory. For a good introduction see here.
Marx believed in the necessity to overthrow the capitalist system, and the necessity to establish a communist society. Marx did not describe the idea of communism in great detail, but the impressions from his work are that people would not be restricted to one trade. The productive forces of capitalism would lay the basis for socialism by greatly increasing the productivity of labor. As the means of production would be held in common they would be used to meet the needs of the community rather than capitalists. People would have more freedom for self-realisation within the community.
Different forms of Marxism (bear in mind that Marxists would dispute which forms of these are actually Marxist!):
- Leninism: The key elements of Leninism are the Leninist view on the state, the theory of imperialism, and the vanguard party. Lenin believed that the bourgeois state could not be reformed from within by a socialist party winning elections; it had to be smashed by the proletariat, who had to create their own instruments of rule. These were workers' councils, or in the Russian, soviets. The workers would create their own armed groups to resist counterrevolution. Lenin saw imperialism as the monopoly stage of capitalism, that is, a very few companies and countries had most of the economic power. The Leninist theory of the vanguard party is very controversial. Most critics of Leninism (from liberals to anarchists and even some Marxists) see the vanguard party as primarily an instrument of tyranny and domination which rules over the working class in the name of socialism. Leninists would defend it as a democratic institution that ensures the victory of the revolution. The fundamental point to emphasize is that the vanguard party is explicitly a party of revolutionaries, and revolutionaries only. Unlike other parties of the time, such as the German Social Democratic Party, which contained both reformists and revolutionaries, the Bolshevik party contained only revolutionary socialists. It is run on the principles of "democratic centralism," which Lenin described as "freedom of discussion, unity in action."
- Trotskyism: A form of Leninism that accepts Lenin's rule of Russia and Lenin's ideas but rejects Stalin's. Other influential ideas of Trotsky are his theory of fascism and the idea of permanent revolution. Trotsky argued that fascism (see below) was the consciousness of the petty bourgeoisie, who in a time of capitalist crisis could be rallied to the far right. Trotskyists' depiction of Stalinism portrays it as the counterrevolution to the Bolshevik revolution, although there are many different Trotskyist views of the USSR from the view of it as a "degenerated workers' state" to the idea that it was "bureaucratic state capitalism."
- Orthodox Marxism: A collection of Marxist movements dating from the Second International (roughly the turn of the twentieth century) that opted for a strictly "by-the-book" approach to communism. Nowadays, it's mostly used in contrast with Leninism, which reinterpreted large swatches of Marxism to suit Russian economic conditions. Aside from rejecting vanguardist putschs in favor of "bottom-up" organization, as mentioned above, they criticized Lenin for attempting communism in an under-developed and largely rural nation, claiming it did not have the industrial foundation or ideological mindset among the masses required to sustain socialism, and thus went against the spirit of historical materialism. In turn, they were criticized by reformists for their refusal to democratically change capitalism from within the system, which even Marx advocated wherever possible. With the rise of fascist oppression and the consolidation of Russia as the center of communism, Marxist Orthodoxy faded away in favor of Muscovite Orthodoxy.
- Stalinism: The ideology promoted by Josef Stalin including the doctrine of "socialism in one country" rather than spreading the revolution. Generally it has four features: Institutional, Ideological, Political, and Economic. Institutionally it included a state bureaucracy with top-down instructions being given to lower levels of society (enterprises, trade unions, et cetera). Ideologically it promoted "socialism in one country," productivism, and the personality cult of the leadership. Politically, rule was carried out by the Party, although Stalin had the fundamental power, and used it to promote terror and purge his rivals from the party. Economically, it was focused around five-year plans, rapid industrialization, and the collectivization of agriculture.
- Revisionism: The criticism of Stalinism by later leaders who ruled the USSR, most notably Khrushchev. Most famously voiced in the so-called "Secret Speech" of 1956, in which the excesses of the Stalinist personality cult and the purges were critiqued.
- Titoism: Opposed to Stalinism. This version of socialism is more focused upon socialist self-management than Stalinism, and Tito formed state enterprises in Yugoslavia managed by their workers.
- Maoism: Upholds a rural peasantry, rather than an urban working class, as the force capable of transitioning from capitalism to socialism. Promotes decentralised control of the means of production so that it can be directly controlled by the mobilised masses, and the elimination of undesirable persons and culture through popular mobilisation.
- Frankfurt School: A trend within Marxism that is much more skeptical of the Enlightenment elements of Marxism than other forms. Whereas most other Marxist ideologies like to crank Enlightenment ideas to extremes, this view generally saw the rationalism and technocratic approach of the Enlightenment as a form of domination over man in itself, so that man's ideas become completely subordinated to the technocratic machine. They also criticized the culture industry as part of a system that helped create false consciousness within the masses and as a lowest-common-denominator kind of entertainment. They were critics of both the Soviet state and Western capitalism, and also often drew on the ideas of Sigmund Freud, with their pet project being to synthesize Marx and Freud's critique of bourgeois society. Important thinkers in this tradition are Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, and Herbert Marcuse, and they also influenced the philosopher Jurgen Habermas. Their major influence was on The '60s New Left, although Adorno despised them for being Bourgeois Bohemian. Marcuse, always a little more chill than his pal, more or less became a godfather to the hippies, providing intellectual support to the sexual revolution and inspiring Angela Davies of the Black Panthers (she was one of his students).
- Marxist Humanism: Arose in the 1960s as a response to the Soviet bureaucracy. The main idea it took from Marxist theory was the idea of alienation. It's generally related to the Frankfurt School. Since Marxist humanism and the Frankfurt school largely rejected many aspects of Orthodox Marxist theory such as materialism and technological determinism while lacking a focus on economics, many Orthodox and pro-Soviet Marxists like to consider these variants as 'false' and 'not true' flavors of Marxism.
- Autonomism: An anti-Leninist Marxism that rejects the notion of the vanguard party. In many ways it overlaps with social anarchism (see below). This is distinguished from other forms of Marxism by its focus not on the economic laws of society, but on the crises and reformulation of capital being down to capital needing to respond to the creativity and activity of the working class. On this view, for example, the restructuring of production in the 1970s and 1980s by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan was a response to strikes and other forms of resistance from workers. This theory generally arose in Italy around the late 1960s and early 1970s. Thinkers in this tradition include Michael Hardt, Harry Cleaver, Antonio Negri, and Nick Dyer-Witheford.
In general, practical applications of Marxism have taken root exclusively in underdeveloped and developing nations rather than developed nations as Marx stated. As noted by Post-Cold War historians, Marxism in underdeveloped nations became a theory of modernism. Communists in Russia, China, Cuba, Vietnam and in the parts of Democratic India where they entered office for a brief time, sought to build Socialism by more or less remaking Britain's Industrial Revolution under their stewardship and also developing urban communities, literacy, ending social ills, women's emancipation and secular education. The problem, as post-modernists pointed out, is that the idea of modernity represented by Marxism became Zeerust by The '70s, resulting in time in environmental degradation and industrial wastelands, while their social modernist programs created an educated professional class whose demands could only be fulfilled by mass Breads And Circuses and bribery (as in Post-Deng China and Post-Doi Moi Vietnam). Eric Hobsbawm, a British Marxist historian, noted the irony that Marxism as great powers depended greatly on taking over the domains of former great empires like Tsarist Russia and China while depending on their intellectual justification for the support of revolutionaries in poorer nations who by and large (with the exception of Cuba and Vietnam) did not turn communist or last in such form for a great deal of time.
Adherents of Marxism, Marxism-Leninism and its derivatives are commonly known as "communists." As all modern nations under "communist" control have had political systems which are state socialist in nature, state socialism and communism have often become conflated in the popular consciousness. In fact, Marxism regards state socialism as merely a necessary intermediate stage and communism as the final ideal system for society. It should also be stated that while Juche, the predominant ideology of North Korea originally was based on and paid lip service to Marxism, it has since the end of the Cold War gradually dropped all references to either "communism" or socialism as its rulers put more emphasis on extreme nationalism and general authoritarianism. Although now as before, the influence of Stalinism remains evident in all but name.
A note for comparative purposes: the Marxist approach to knowledge is very much the opposite of the British Conservative approach. British Conservatism is a highly skeptical philosophy with some leanings to empiricism. Marxism is the opposite; it is highly rationalistic (in the same Cartesian sense that the French Revolution was). The difference being that the rationalistic ideas of the French Revolution (universal suffrage, anti-racism, separation of church and state, secular education, abolitionism) have attained, as Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci theorized, consensus within civil society and at the end of the 20th Century, forms the core idea and values of liberal bourgeois democracy. Gramsci in his Prison Notebooks (written when he was imprisoned in Fascist Italy under poor conditions) theorized that one of the reasons why Marxism did not succeed in bourgeois democracies was its failure to build or encourage consent in civil society so that people could see the Marxist view as a lens to see society.
Associated Economic Theories (if any)
- Keynesian, Neoclassical, Corporatism, Herrenvolk Democracy
Democracy and Meritocracy (Important and Yes/No, or Unimportant)
- Democracy: Important-No
- Meritocracy: Important-Yes
Social Classes (Pro-/Anti-, or Ambivalent)
- N/A (dependent upon context)
The chief objective of Fascism is strengthening the nation and increasing its prestige through warfare i.e. Type 2 Patriotic Fervor taken to its extreme. Fascism shares Nationalism's belief that only 'nations' matter (and individual/actual people dont) but completely rejects Liberalism and so hates individuality and all other non-national senses of identity. Fascism opposes equality between nations as it wants its own to either be the only one in existence or merely (the most) powerful, but has no set opinion on equality within its nation (let alone other nations). Fascism has no opinion on capitalism or economics and loves war because Fascism is about passion and national honor, not numbers and planning. Fascism may overlap with 'race' and 'racial theory' insofar as it defines who belongs to the nation, but not necessarily.
Philosophically, it arises from a Continental Counter-Enlightenment philosophical context, influenced by such thinkers as J.G. Fichte, Martin Heidegger, and Georg Hegel. It originated as a response and reaction to the October Revolution and the gains of the socialist movement after the first world-war. Benito Mussolini (the proverbial father of fascism politically) was a member of the Italian Socialist Party but was kicked out for supporting Italian intervention in the war on national irredentist grounds, arguing that socialism was inadequate to the real national interests of the Italian people and seeking a nationalism that united all classes and ended class conflict altogether. Historically, its roots can be searched for in the ethos of stormtrooper formations of late World War I; many ex-soldiers carried on this spirit of aggression and elitism as they went on to dabble in extreme politics, among them Mussolini himself. They were organized to stop radical workers in the wake of the war during the "two red years" of 1919-20. Whereas Marx replaced Hegel's "Zeitgeist" (or "spirit of the age") with the prevailing economic system, fascists replace the zeitgeist with the spirit of the nation. Fascism argues for an organic conception of a nation with the State seen as the embodiment of the national spirit: as such, fascist regimes feature strong central governments which are authoritarian in nature. Individuals are seen, fundamentally, as products of the nation (similar to how Marxian "methodological collectivism" views individuals as products of their economic class) hence, fascism requires a strong identification with nationality and national identity on the part of the people, rejecting all individualism or identification with economic class. Fascism often claims to represent the entire nation, subservient to the State and unified behind the Leader, undivided e.g. by class struggles; in the eyes of a fascist, a popular autocrat is a better representation of the peoples interests and desires than an elected parliament, which is viewed contemptuously as a den of immorality and ineffectual bickering. Given this stance, fascism is inherently undemocratic and autocratic.
Strong national identification involves a veneration of not just the nation in abstract, but of practices seen as fundamental to national identity: this results in a reverence for tradition. Traditions are seen as important rituals that connect people to the national spirit. Furthermore, fascism tends to support social policy positions which are regarded as conservative or right-wing. However, these policy positions are conservative in the Oakeshottean sense of the term: they are considered the right policies because they are consistent with national traditions, rather than because of any preexisting moral commitments. Indeed, to a fascist, a moral commitment that 'preexists' inside an individual's mind independently of said individual's nationality is a ridiculous notion, as they believe individuals are 'socially constructed' by their nationality as was stated before. Many argue that ethical relativism (i.e. what is good for Nation X may not be good for Nation Y) is thus an integral part of fascism and a logical consequence of fascisms belief in 'national spirits.' It should also be kept in mind, however, that while fascists do use reverence for tradition and national identity, those in themselves are not fascist. That does not mean that fascism doesn't have a system of ethics and values, however instead, that system of ethics is rooted in concepts of struggle, power, and obedience. Typically this is expressed in the form of an extreme cultural militarism, with the military being an expression of the power and might of the State, and the mentality of eagerness and action for action's sake.
The most infamous element of fascism is its support for Social Darwinism of various sorts. In Mussolini's and Hitler's regimes, a level of internal "creative tension" within the components of the nation was seen as beneficial in directing competitive desires towards the service of the State. Furthermore, Hitler's version of fascism (National Socialism, a.k.a. Nazism) combined this Social Darwinist ethos with an institutional belief in white supremacy to posit an evolutionary struggle between various races. We all know where this led, so further elaboration is not necessary. Things get more complicated when outlining fascist economics. Since fascism is used as an epithet and it is popularly believed that if Fascists did it, then it is bad, a long intellectual battle has been waged over how to characterize the economics of Fascism.
Typically, the term "corporatism" is used to describe fascist economics. It describes a situation wherein all the large privately-owned economic institutions (corporations, industry cartels and the like) are brought into collusion with the government and become part of the apparatus of the State's economic planning. Additionally, private ownership and ability to do business become contingent on service to the State. Thus, while ownership of the means of production (the stuff used to produce other stuff) remains in private hands and continues to be operated with a for-profit objective, ultimate control is exercised by the State. Fascist governments also exercise further control over the economy via methods such as price-fixing. The fascist economic system is in keeping with the ideology's totalitarian nature, where no other institution can be allowed to rival the State in power and influence. This quality also leads to a hostility toward labor unions and other organised worker groups, with such institutions typically being repressed and dissolved. Mussolini's Italy did in fact see the creation of new trade unions following the dissolution of the old ones: these new unions were owned and operated by the State, with very little advocacy on workers' behalf. Ultimately economics in fascism is usually a secondary concern; they claim the "Third Position" on the issue between capitalist and communist.
This system invites comparisons, among conservative and liberal critics, with many forms of state socialism, as both ideologies involve a centrally-planned economy with the State in control of the means of production. Although ownership remains private in the fascist system, many classical-liberal critiques of fascism have argued that "ownership without control" is a senseless, inherently illogical notion, and that fascism is economically indistinguishable from state socialism and therefore is a variant of state socialism. Some observers do note the presence of state subsidies and intervention and provisions for citizens in fascism, but they see this not as socialism but an example of herrenvolk democracy, a system where a form of equality among an in-group exists with the acceptance of inequality of all other groups in relation to itself. The word herrenvolk is German for Master Race. Members of the master race are equal among their ethno-national identity and as such worthy of benefits and state support, but only if they accept that those who are not members of the Master Race are second-class citizens at best, or subhuman at worst (untermenschen). Socialism in this context is an aristocratic privilege for the chosen few and not any universal right for all people.
Marxist critiques of fascism, conversely, argue that fascism is a form of capitalism, in the sense of Marx's initial definition of the term (see the "Marxism" subsection above). Despite being highly regimented and controlled by the State, fascist economies still have private ownership of industries by an upper class who make profit from the labor of workers; as profit still exists, the economy is still exploitative and thus a form of capitalism. Fascism is on the whole strongly anti-Marxist and anti-socialist, and the two ideologies were historical rivals in attempts to take power during crises like economic depressions Marxism thus considers fascism to be at best a power play coming out of the petit bourgeois, and at worst little more than a group of counter-revolutionary violent thugs controlled by the capitalist class brought in as enforcers to defend the old order against the threat of the Red Scare. Consumerist capitalism are visible aspects of fascist civic society, as in liberal and social democratic states, and Frankfurt School Critical Theory Marxists (Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse) insist that consumerism, advertising and mass media are essential vehicles for the spread of fascism in its use of Anti-Intellectualism and attacks on modernism and high culture in favor of popular culture (ironically, some modern American conservatives believe that Marxists use these same mechanisms to further their agenda of remaking Western society).
Furthermore, the representative fascist societies, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany came into power in developed industrialized economies where liberal institutions and traditions preexisted the rise to fascism, whereas the historical communist nations and Marxist states came to power in backwards, feudal, agrarian and/or semi-industrialized states. Fascist groups succeeded by the use of fantastic lies to deceive the public, including conspiracy theories, Scare Campaign, and propaganda, which were so numerous and all-encompassing in its media presence as to subvert the liberal norms in Italy and Germany. Contemporary fascist groups have likewise resorted to similar means. They benefit from the prevalence of legitimate schools such as Postmodernism and historical revisionism to try and downplay fascism by equivocation, emphasizing and exaggerating similarities between fascism and liberal and radical groups by means of half-truth and distortion, and by claiming a manufactured "third way" or a fantasized "victim" identity by painting the enforcers of liberal and social norms as agents of "political correctness". Most often, the latter comes down to conspiracies blaming, via dog-whistling, some sinister cabal of ceding their nation's sovereignty to the UN by destroying national identity through immigration and cultural degeneracy, which is incredibly poor logic at its finest, but in essence indistinguishable from the original fascism which also depended on heterodox and discredited ideas such as phrenology, eugenics, Social Darwinism and Conspiracy Theories.
(See also: Anarchism)
- Anarcho-Capitalism: the wealth-concentration dynamic of Capitalism can be managed if political power is used to prevent the accumulation of economic power sufficient to create de facto rulership. Markets, private capital, and corporations can be instruments for good. Adherents consider this the logical conclusion of the idealistic and optimistic views of socioeconomic activity that they share with Neoliberals.
- Anarcho-Communism: The concentration of wealth is Inherent in the System of Capitalism, which will always generate de facto rulership. Capitalism is unusable by definition. The government, wage labor, and private capital (while still respecting private/'personal' property, which is different) are all abolished. A system of direct democracy is formed, and common ownership of the means of production is around.
- Anarcho-Syndicalism: distinct subset of Anarcho-Communism with a more specific policy program. Abolishing the wage system, which is wage slavery by definition, workers work under Direct action (action undertaken without the intervention of third parties such as politicians and corporations) and manage themselves.
- Eco-Anarchism/Veganarchism: Anarchism with more of a focus on Environmentalism, believing governments inherently damage the environment, doing too little to fix it. Veganarchism in particular believes government harms all animals, not just humans, and Humanity should know its place in nature.
Associated Economic Theories (if any)
- Anarcho-Capitalist - Austrian
- Anarcho-Communist- Marxism
- Eco-Anarchism - none
Democracy and Meritocracy (Important and Yes/No, or Unimportant)
- Democracy: Important-Yes for Communist, Unimportant for Capitalist- and Eco-
- Meritocracy: Important-Yes for Capitalist and Communist, Unimportant for Eco-
Social Classes (Pro-/Anti-, or Ambivalent)
- Upper: Anti-
- Middle: Ambivalent
- Lower: Pro-
The definition of anarchism to most people means 'belief the state is bad and shouldn't exist.' However, while all anarchists are anti-statists, it is not the only or in most cases even the most fundamental part of their ideology.
Anarchism is the belief that rulership as a whole (not just the state) should not existnote and that people should instead organize their social relations and institutions through voluntary cooperation without hierarchies of power. Politically, most forms of anarchism support replacing the nation-state and representative democracy with a free federation of self-governing communities and direct democracy mainly organised through local networks of participatory, face-to-face, neighborhood assemblies.
Economically, anarchists oppose capitalism (with the exception of anarcho-capitalists, whose status as anarchists tends to be disputed by most other anarchists) and instead advocate replacing private corporations and wage-labor as the primary forms of enterprise with self-employment, worker-run cooperatives, commons-based peer production, and other economic institutions organised on a horizontal, rather than hierarchical, basis. However, they are divided on what specific form a post-capitalist, post-statist economy should take, as well as the best means for achieving it with some calling for the armed overthrow of the state and corporations, and others calling for a nonviolent 'dual power' strategy in which federations of democratic cooperatives, popular assemblies, affinity groups, and other institutions work together to replace hierarchical society gradually by opting out of it.
Anarchism falls all over the place on the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism. Idealistic anarchists tend to see the abolishment of the hierarchical system, the bestowing of absolute freedom, and the promotion of solidarity as the only way to truly unlock people's potential. More cynical anarchists are conversely aware of the effect the hierarchical system has on people and want to abolish it for that reason, as if you can't trust people to even manage themselves properly, how on earth can you possibly trust people to forcibly take control of other people's lives? Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, after all.
Anarchists tend to reject the traditional dichotomy of individualism vs. collectivism as a false one. Instead, they promote what political theorist Alan Ritter calls "communal individuality": the view that the free flourishing of the individual and self-realization are only truly possibly in a liberated society of equals, where the autonomy of one is the precondition for the autonomy of all. As such, they see the fight for individual freedom and social justice as one and the same.
The issue of capitalism might seem from the outside to be a divisive one for anarchists, although this is only due to terminology. Most anarchist literature, and most anarchists, define "capitalism" in the same way Marxists do (the system of wage-labor, which according to Marxism is exploitative). However, the term "capitalism" is also commonly defined by non-anarchists (and by most self-proclaimed capitalists as well) as "free-market economics" (i.e. when all economic activity must take place outside the realm of the state). Most anarchists consider the two meanings to be separate concepts, with "capitalism being used in the Marxist sense and "free market" being used to refer to the second definition.
For the remainder of this article, "capitalism" and "free market" will be used with these definitions. Therefore, a person can be both anti-capitalist and pro-market (i.e. arguing for a society of self-employed people interacting and exchanging on a purely voluntary basis; the mutualists and individualist anarchists share this position). This was in common with classical liberalism. On the other hand, someone can be pro-capitalist and anti-market by such definitions (arguably, Mussolini-style corporatism fits this). Hence, the anarchists from Proudhon on were opposed completely to what they called capitalism (i.e. the existence of wage labor) with only the so-called "anarcho-capitalists" supporting it. They find commonality, however, in opposing the coercive mechanisms of the state, though often for different reasons.
Philosophical OriginsAnarchistic ideas and notions have arguably existed throughout most of human history, with traditions such as Taoism, Buddhism, and Ancient Greek Cynicism containing many notions with anarchist characteristics. Many tribal societies from pre-history to the present, such as the Nigerian Nuer or Iroquois Confederacy, also had or have methods of non-hierarchical organisation which mirror the anarchist ideal of a society without rulership or centralized political authority. However, while philosophical anarchism can be identified in many places and in almost every time period, political anarchism did not emerge as a self-aware school of thought until the 19th century in Europe. According to German anarchist Rudolf Rocker, anarchism could be seen as the confluence of two earlier social and political philosophies: liberalism and socialism, or more accurately, classical liberalism and democratic socialism. Thus, the alternative term for anarchism, libertarian socialism.
The words 'anarchy' and 'anarchism' arose in the mid-1600s during the English Civil War as an insult hurled at fringe radical groups. While this epithet for the most part had no basis in fact, two groups which were active at the time the Diggers and the Ranters had ideas and practices which were quite close to anarchism. Some view the English radical William Godwin as the first modern philosophical anarchist, from his work Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Modern Morals and Manners (1793) in which he espoused proto-anarchist views about the state and the then-emerging economic system of capitalism in England.
French writer and politician Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was the first thinker to call himself an anarchist however, with the 1840 book What Is Property? from which came the famous slogan: "property is theft." It's important to note that Proudhon did not mean all forms of what we could call "property" by it, only those not defined by personal possession. In other words, he supported personal property (defined by use and occupancy) but opposed "private" property (when defined by absentee ownership), which he felt was based on theft of others' personal property.
While Proudhon and a few other thinkers called themselves anarchists in the 1840s and 1850s, anarchism didn't really get organised as a cohesive movement until the mid-1860s within the famous socialist group the IWMA (International Working Men's Association), also called the "First International," as it's had at least three successors. Although the First International is most well-known today because Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were members, for a time it actually contained more anarchists than Marxists that is, until they were expelled in the early 1870s by Marx himself.
Having developed out of the same European socialist movement that spawned Karl Marx's writing, anarchism's relationship to Marxism has always been ambivalent. While many anarchists accepted Marx's critique of capitalism and (with nuance) the Marxian school of economics, they strenuously rejected Marx's politics, in particular the tactic of taking state power as a way to bring about socialism. For anarchists like Mikhail Bakunin (Marx's rival in the First International) the state was inherently an institution of class rule, and could never be used to bring about a classless society as it would just corrupt whatever group laid their hands on it. They also tended to reject the Marxist conception of history historical materialism which claims that economic and technological factors are the fundamental driving force of human development. Anarchists saw this perspective as reductionist and ignoring important social factors that weren't directly related to economics. Also, while Marxists see the proletariat (the urban industrial working class) as the fundamental agents of revolution, anarchists also saw revolutionary potential in the rural peasantry and social outcasts (the lumpen-proletariat) which Marxists tend to dismiss as 'backward.' In light of how Marxist played out during the 20th century, a majority feel this criticism has been vindicated by history (however, anarchists faced some of the same problems when putting their idea into practice, most notably during the Spanish Revolution).
Views on economics among anarchists could be divided into four different but overlapping schools of thought, each of which developed at different times in response to different economic and social circumstances.
- Mutualism: Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who started writing in 1840, argued that property, except when based in personal possession (i.e. occupancy and use) was theft. He espoused his rationale exhaustively in What Is Property?, with most if not all anarchists accepting it. Opposition to "private property" (anything besides actual possession) in addition to the state is near-universal to anarchism, though some have used the term in a positive way to support property that is the product of one's own labor. Along with this most opposed sexism, racism, homophobia, classism and social hierarchy generally. Proudhon did not in fact oppose the concept of a free market, supporting workers associations (cooperatives) and mutual banks (similar to modern credit unions) to compete away industrial capitalism. His school of thought is termed mutualism. While it fell out favour for a long time, it has recently been revived by the economic theorist Kevin Carson, who has integrated it with elements borrowed from the thought of other left-wing, pro-market writers.
- Collectivism: Mikhail Bakunin, a Russian noble-turned-radical writer who was imprisoned for his politics, escaping into exile, followed Proudhon and broke with him on many issues, supporting collective work without markets and workers' self-management. Bakunin also linked opposition to religion, especially organized, hierarchical forms, to his view of anarchism, seeing God as the ultimate authority. He turned a saying of Voltaire's on its head: "If God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish him." He was a strong rival of Marx in the First International, and the two fought a long war of words over control of the organization until Marx's followers expelled Bakunin's. Bakunin's school of thought is called anarcho-collectivism, and could be considered a sort of middle way between mutualism (markets but with cooperatives instead of corporations) and communism (in which markets and even money would be abolished). It's important to note that the term collectivism here is purely an economic term, not a social one. It refers only to the collectivisation of industry, not giving priority to the collective interest over that of the individual. Participatory Economics (Parecon) and Inclusive Democracy (ID) could be considered contemporary forms of collectivist anarchism.
- Communism: Peter Kropotkin, a Russian prince who, like Bakunin, gave it all up for radicalism, advocated full libertarian communism on the principle "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs," favoring abolition of money in favor of free access to communally-owned goods although with voluntary, direct democratic participation: anarcho-communism. Many on first impression may find the idea of communist anarchism odd given the modern day associations of the word 'Communism' with the statist, centrally planned economies of the former Soviet Union. In the 19th century, though, the word 'communist' simply referred to any economic system that lacked both a state and money, where goods were distributed according to need. It is this original sense of the word that anarchists refer to when talking about communism.
- Individualism: Meanwhile, in the United States, a very different brand of anarchism emerged. American writers such as Benjamin Tucker, Lysander Spooner, William Green and others set out an ideal very close to Proudhon's, with even more emphasis upon an 'anti-capitalist free market' in which self-employed craftsmen, artisans or farmers were paid their 'full wage' and land title was possession-based only. In short, individualist anarchism argued for a society where every individual was a 'capitalist' (in the Marxist sense, i.e. an owner of capital). Essentially, they held to the Labor Theory of Value along with support of free markets "cost is the limit of price" was among their key slogans. Their ideal was a stateless economy comprising mostly self-employed artisans and shopkeepers. This school of thought began slowly dying out in the late 19th century as social anarchism (collectivist or communist) took over, with immigrants from Europe such as Emma Goldman bringing it to the forefront of U.S. anarchism.
- Social and Market Anarchism: As they stand today, the four main economic schools mentioned above could be grouped into two categories:
- Market anarchism (containing mutualist anarchism and individualist anarchism) which seeks a non-capitalist free market made up of self-employed professionals and worker-run cooperatives, and
- Social anarchism (collectivist anarchism and communist anarchism) which seeks to replace the market with decentralised, directly-democratic planning of the economy, either by community assemblies or worker councils, or some combination of the two.
While differences in terms of desired outcomes do exist between these two tendencies, most anarchists dont have a problem with each self-governing free community in an anarchist confederation deciding for itself what particular economic system they want to have. Ericco Malatesta, although himself a social anarchist, conceived of various different municipalities practicing collectivism, communism, mutualism, and individualism all existing side-by-side.
At around the same time Proudhon was penning his socialist attacks on property and the state, another writer, Max Stirner, wrote a similar attack on these and other authoritarian institutions from a more individualist perspective in The Ego and Its Own (1845).
Stirner did not label himself an anarchist, but his rejection of the state, capitalism, and, well, all institutions basically, means he has been counted with them. He believed that rights, property, the state, conventional morality and God were all 'spooks' holding back the individual from themselves, since all these are placed above them. It's worth noting Stirner, while believing the individual's right to act was unlimited, advised that it would be best if they respected each other as individuals, to let each flourish, even saying people could not have their full self-expression absent communion with others, so they could join together voluntarily in a way he called the "Union of Egoists." Here is a classic text by the Situationist International, advancing a collectivist form of egoism. Stirner denounced authoritarian communism of his time, but a kind that respected individuals and lent them full expression of themselves is viewed to be compatible with his ideas.
In the late 19th century Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy (who, like Bakunin and Kropotkin, was a Russian noble who renounced his title) embraced a form of Christian, pacifist anarchism though like Stirner and Godwin before him, he didn't use the label anarchist himself. Unique among anarchist trends for its total rejection of violence, even in defence of oneself or others, Tolstoy advocated essentially the same ideas as Bakunin or Kropotkin, his countrymen and more famous anarchists, but with complete pacifism. His work deeply influenced Mohandas K. "Mahatma" Gandhi (who knew Indian anarchists in London early in his activism, while disagreeing with them over the issue of using violence) in addition to Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau. Critics argued his ideas were fit only for saints (though many think Gandhi was such).
The turn of the 20th century saw another trend, which advocated for revolutionary unions to overthrow capitalism and the state using militant industrial organizing, sabotage, general strikes and overall working-class solidarity. This is called anarcho-syndicalism from the French for labor union "chambre syndical." It was less a separate school of thought than tactical view, since followers were invariable social anarchists in the collectivist or communist mold. The Spanish Revolution, often pointed to as their greatest (albeit doomed) triumph by social anarchists, utilized this in the CNT (Confederación Nacional Del Trabajo National Confederation of Labor), which organized a workers' revolt in 1936 following the military coup led by Francisco Franco against the elected Spanish Popular Front government. The CNT and FAI (Federación Anarquisto Ibérica Iberian Anarchist Federation) ran much of northeast Spain, centered in Catalonia, along anarchist lines with no small success for the next three years until a combination of Stalinists and Francoist forces crushed the revolution.
It is important to note, however, that while syndicalism is typically associated with anarchism, this does not mean that all syndicalists are anarchists; some of them are actually very authoritarian. Mussolini in fact called his economic model National Syndicalism, as did Franco, though this meant something completely different, as fascist 'syndicates' were government-created trade associations which ran industry. Its like a Venn diagram, in that there are non-anarchist syndicalists and non-syndicalist anarchists who favor other tactics for achieving libertarian socialism.
The school of "anarcho-capitalism emerged in 1950s'60s America with the writer, economics professor and Libertarian Party activist Murray Rothbard, expanded upon by later thinkers like David D. Friedman (son of Milton, although going much further in his advocacy of free-market economics) and Rothbard's student Walter Block. Rothbard agreed with the classical anarchists that government is oppressive and illegitimate, but disagreed with them by concluding that private property and free markets were always good. Though admiring the individualist anarchists, he followed the Austrian School of Economics, which rejects the Labor Theory of Economic Value (in favor of the Subjective Theory of Economic Value) most strenuously and, as a consequence, rejects the view that wage-labour is exploitative (which the mutualist and individualist anarchists accepted). Along with this, Rothbard was far more devoted to classical liberalism and natural-rights theory than the individualist anarchists, who followed aspects of it (while Benjamin Tucker eventually gave it up for Egoism as well). This view on ethics differed even more from the social anarchists, who tended towards consequentialist and virtue ethics rather than Rothbard's particular form of deontology. Rothbard accepted voluntary collectivism and communism, even advocating that businesses funded by the state be expropriated or 'homesteaded' as they used stolen capital, i.e. taxed income. However, he certainly accepted property more than for 'occupancy and use' provided this had been homesteaded or received peacefully. He felt that provision of government services, such as police, militaries, courts, roads, et cetera, could be far better under the auspices of common law by private institutions.note
Agorism is to anarcho-capitalism essentially what anarcho-syndicalism is to social anarchism, namely a tactic advocating using the black and grey markets to live 'off the grid' and bring down the system from within through 'counter-economics' in competition with the system. Mutualism called for similar methods, and is now being somewhat revived by Kevin A. Carson, who attempts a fusion of the Subjective and Labor Theory of Economic Value in his work, Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, available free here.
Since the late 1960s new trends in anarchism emerged which added an environmental focus to its antiauthoritarian ideas, eventually leading to a new tendency called eco-anarchism or green anarchism.
These started partly with the philosophy of Social Ecology coined by Murray Bookchin, whose book Our Synthetic Environment was released six months before the better known Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, the book widely credited with kickstarting the modern environmentalist movement. Social Ecology takes the anarchist perspective of seeing social problems as stemming from hierarchy and domination and applies it to humanity's relation to nature: seeing the negative way humans treat the environment such as pollution, landscape spoiling, and animal cruelty as being rooted in the negative ways humans treat each other. As a solution, Social Ecologists seek to utilize technology for ecological rather than profit-driven ends and to decentralize institutions into small-scale eco-communities operating through direct-democracy. Other green anarchist movements such as Deep Ecology and anarcho-primitivism came later and see ecological problems lying not in the authoritarian ways humans treat each other, but in humanity itself as a species. Deep Ecologists believe that all life forms have a right to existence apart from or even in opposition to human needs, and society must be radically reformed to accommodate this. Primitivists move even further, believing the human population must be significantly reduced, with the few humans that remain going back to a hunter-gatherer way of life, leaving behind all technology more sophisticated than those found in the Neolithic era. As you might expect, these groups do not like each other.
"Post-left" and "lifestyle" anarchism has become widespread in modern times, something Bookchin disapproved of. These are marked by a tendency to reject classical social anarchism's left-wing, working-class organizing and goals or at least complement them with ecological or animal rights issues. Veganism and Dumpster diving (combined as "freeganism" eating only food that is reclaimed after being discarded) have become common for such lifestyle anarchism, in addition to using the system (especially where it has an ecological impact) to the lowest degree possible. The group Crimethinc are the most prominent exponents of this brand of post-left/lifestyle anarchism.
In addition to this, there are other different anarchist movements that don't focus on the organization of an actual anarchist society, but rather on the means to bring it.
- Propaganda of the deed: Not a school of thought, rather the tactic prominent in the last decades of the 19th century of killing powerful figures in society, both to avenge their perceived abuses but also to inspire revolt through such "attentats" (acts that would draw attention). Needless to say, this backfired spectacularly, allowing the anarchist movement to be painted as mindless terrorists (from which we get the cliche of the Bomb Throwing Anarchist). A few made this even worse by targeting random people. Heads of state assassinated included the President of France, the Empress of Austria, the King of Italy, and the President of the United States in 1901, around the time propaganda of the deed ended. Few anarchists today actually advocate this, so it could be considered something of a Discredited Trope in philosophy.
- Illegalism: Similar to the above, it advocated illegal acts for their own sakes, to bring down legal authority. Illegalist targets were usually things such as banks they could justify stealing from since they were a part of the capitalist order. Most other anarchists denounced this as giving them a bad name, or simply being an excuse for illegalists to gain money, which they pointed out also came from working people, not just capitalists, in places like banks.
- Christian anarchism: Related to philosophical anarchism, this is the view that the teachings of Christ are compatible with, or even require, a non-hierarchical stateless society. They also argue that early Christian communes were anarcho-communist in nature (Acts 2:44-45). Often connected with anarcho-pacifism, as in the work of Leo Tolstoy.
- Anarcha-feminism: Movement for women (especially led by anarcho-communist Emma Goldman) popular in the early twentieth century, which claims that society is inherently male-dominated and that anarchist societies should be egalitarian in nature. The individualist anarchist Voltairine de Cleyre was also a significant voice in this tendency. Usually a subset of anarcho-collectivism/communism.
- Queer anarchism: Same as above, but replace 'women' with 'sexual minorities' and 'male' with 'heterosexuals'.
- Post-left anarchism: A movement within anarchism that rejects left-right political distinctions. Often associated with ecological and 'lifestyle' trends.
- Agorism, as mentioned above, is more of a tactic of revolution than an ideological system.
- Anarchism without Adjectives, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
(See also: Feminism)
Associated Economic Theories (if any)
Democracy and Meritocracy (Important and Yes/No, or Unimportant)
- Democracy: Unimportant
- Meritocracy: Unimportant
Social Classes (Pro-/Anti-, or Ambivalent)
The chief objective of Feminism is the relative equality of women with men and liberation from stereotypes about gender and sexuality. All stereotypes about gender and sexuality. Feminism is actually not so much a single ideology as an umbrella-term for several different gender-focused philosophies; some of which could be seen as complementary, but also others which want nothing to do with each other due to fundamental disagreements. Though all its different tendencies would agree on a few baseline issues.
Classic Feminism was very much a movement focused on securing the legal equality of women (who had lesser rights under the law) to men and reducing the incidence of the rape and abuse of women. This kind of feminism is still alive and kicking in the three fifths of the world that isn't the Global North and China, where Feminism taken a new form. Contemporary feminism seems to be in the process of recognizing that men's issues, chiefly mental health and a general attitude that men are more expendable than women, have been neglected, and is seeking to correct this. Feminism is also associated with sexual freedom and a general attitude that who one loves and has sex with are nobody else's business (especially not that of the government).
In the history of the movement it is generally divided into different 'waves':
First-wave feminism in the early twentieth century focused on votes for women. Second-wave feminism from 1960 onward focused on challenging accepted gender roles and sexual/reproductive freedom. Third-wave feminism started in the early 1990s and tends to focus on achieving greater equality for women in political and economic institutions as well as challenging more hidden forms of sexism in the media and culture.
While many would argue that we are still in the third wave of feminism, some have claimed that since the early 2010s we have entered a 'fourth wave' which carries forward the aims of the previous three while also trying to take into account the experiences of women who had been historically neglected by mainstream feminist theory, such as LGBT women, nonwhite women, and women in the Global South. The fourth wave is also far more political than the third wave (and somewhat closer to the second in spirit), being linked primarily to left-wing social movements like anarchism and socialism.
In addition to the three waves, which are divided by time periods, feminism is also divided internally over which issues are of most importance and what is really at the root of gender inequality.
- Radical feminism: Probably the most militant form of feminism and the source of many of the negative stereotypes mostly from conflating it with feminism as a whole. It sees all of society's ills the result of favoring men over women and desire to wishes to radically alter society in any way to stop this. Most radical feminists oppose pornography, which they see as inherently oppressive towards women, and other forms of sex work such as prostitution, with most radical feminists today supporting the 'Scandinavian model' of criminalizing the buyer of sex but not the seller. While once very popular, it has suffered a growing backlash, mostly for being 'anti-sex', ignoring issues of racial and class discrimination, and promoting the idea of 'gender essentialism', with some radical feminists having expressed opinions regarded as transphobic (anti-Transgender), even misandric (anti-male).
- Marxist feminism: Sees the source of womens oppression not being due to the concept of patriarchy as such, but due to the unequal structure of a capitalist economy. For this reason it sees struggles for gender justice and economic justice as inseparable. They hold that only by getting rid of capitalism can gender equality be achieved.
- Socialist feminism: A fusion of radical feminism with Marxist feminism. It sees capitalism and patriarchy as mutually reinforcing systems with one making possible the other.
- Liberal feminism: Agrees with Marxist feminism that the source of women's oppression is economic, but isn't anti-capitalist. Instead it focuses on breaking through what they call the 'glass ceiling' in economic institutions that concentrates men at the top of corporate and political professions while keeping women in subordinate positions in companies. This is probably the most popular and mainstream form of feminism in the present day, though radical feminism still tends to dominate in academic and activist contexts.
- Black feminism: Shifts attention towards the experiences of women and girls of African descent. Argues that feminists need to take account of racial problems in addition to gender problems. The writer bell hooks is a prominent voice in this tendency.
- Lesbian feminism: Shifts attention towards LGBT women and incorporates elements of queer theory into feminist discourse. It's also tends to be heavily inspired by postmodernist philosophy and tries to deconstruct ideas of what it means to be a woman. Judith Butler's 1990 book Gender Trouble is a pretty good summation of lesbian feminist ideas and queer theory as a whole, although the high levels of academic jargon have made it notoriously difficult to read. There's also a minority of lesbian feminists who despise queer theory and focus on "political lesbianism"; that is, separating themselves from males for political reasons. This section has more overlap with radical feminism than queer politics.
- Ecofeminism: Emphasizes the woman's relationship to nature and champions the supposedly feminine values of ecology while attacking the androcentric worldview that allegedly treats the earth as something to be used and dominated in the same way patriarchal men treat women. Other environmental philosophies especially Social Ecology have criticized ecofeminism for claiming that women have an essentially deeper connection to nature than men, given that many of the 'feminine' traits of nature are merely coded as such rather than innately gendered. Plus the fact that many ecofeminists are close to New Age thinking, with many even worshiping a Mother Earth Goddess.
- Anarcha-feminism: Sees the domination of women as one form of power-based social hierarchy among many along with racism, homophobia, transphobia, capitalism, and statism. It opposes all of the above and argues that a fight against any one of them is incomplete without seeing them as part of a mutually reinforcing network of different oppressions. This idea is called intersectionality and also has applications outside of gender issues. The Russian-American writer Emma Goldman is considered the grandmother of this school of thought.
There's also a big split going back to the so-called 'feminist sex wars' of the 1980s over attitudes towards sex and sexuality. Some feminists see things like pornography, prostitution, BDSM, and other issues related to sexuality as fundamentally against women: these are known (mainly by their opponents, it should be added) as 'sex-negative' feminists. Others view the above not as exploitative in and of themselves but only in the context of women's lack of autonomy within them, and that forms of sexual expression could be potentially empowering and liberating for women if only there was equality of power between the men and women engaged in them. These are called 'sex-positive' feminists.
While few dispute the notion that relative equality of the sexes is a good thing, there is some debate today about whether feminism is still relevant, at least in the affluent parts of the world, with many anti-feminists claiming that the issues feminists seek to address in Western Europe and North America are either non-issues or had already been resolved. Others have complaints about feminism that range from somewhat legitimate at least to certain forms of it to being based on a misunderstanding of what feminism actually is. The most frequent complaint of the latter category originating from the (false) notion that feminism is about female supremacy over men.
Others point out that the notion that because some of the goals have been achieved, one should lose sight of the goal of full equality, is not something demanded off other Political Ideologies or seen as discrediting in and of itself. Susan Faludi points out that the goals of the feminist movement faced a major reactionary backlash in The '80s, similar to the kind faced by other political movements seeking equality in the past. The central goal of the women's movement, female suffrage, is very much Newer Than They Think in many parts of the world. The ACLU Civil Rights lawyer Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw coined the phrase "intersectionality" to describe the ways many social goals by different rights seeker end up in a Gambit Pileup, seeing the divide between white women and women of color as a major case in point.
Associated Economic Theories (if any)
Democracy and Meritocracy (Important and Yes/No, or Unimportant)
- Democracy: Unimportant
- Meritocracy: Unimportant
Social Classes (Pro-/Anti-, or Ambivalent)
Environmentalism is an ideology and social movement that is centered on the defense of the natural environment against pollution, deforestation, biodiversity decline and other threats, to foster better health and well-being for everyone. Today, it mainly involves fighting global warming, opposing nuclear power, refusing GMOs, pushing for renewable energies such as wind, water and solar power, and other issues considered as being of importance within the movement.
While some ideas associated with the movement are Older Than They Think, its ultimate origins are debatable. While there are parallels between Environmentalism and ideas found in Romanticism, many ideas found in early socialist and classical liberal authors from the Enlightenment period to the mid-19th century, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Henry David Thoreau in particular, could be considered proto-environmentalist. Some socialist authors' (including Marx's, arguably) reactions to the Industrial Revolution also spawned the same kind of early environmentalist ideas. William Morris in particular presented an ecological form of socialism in his utopian novel News from Nowhere.
Regardless of its origins, environmentalism truly emerged as a distinct ideology, and gained momentum in the Western world, during the 1960s and 1970s, as part of the larger counterculture of the time, and thanks to concerns related to DDT and other chemicals; in particular, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson is said to be very influential, as well as the founding of Greenpeace.
There is also a large connection between environmentalism and peace movements (and pacifist/nonviolent ideals more generally). In particular the push for disarmament and the worldwide banning of dangerous weapons are mainstream proposals within the environmental movement. Lately, environmentalism has also developed a close relationship with indigenous peoples' movements, especially in Latin America and Asia, as many of their ancestral homes and means of subsistence are being ravaged by state and corporate desire for the natural resources on or underneath their land.
That said, environmentalism consists of various factions and groups covering other ideologies along the political spectrum. The relationship of the movement with actual science is ambiguous and often decried as selective by its opponents and even other environmentalists. While they tend to be the most active political current when it comes to push the fight against global warming, their positions about GMOs and nuclear power tend to be less rigorous in science. On the fringes, there are various New Age-y outshoots with more or less weird beliefs as well as so-called "Hard Green" cliques who believe that the likes of Greenpeace don't go far enough; there are even those further in the fringe who see humanity as a plague that needs to be purged to save the planet. There are also disagreements over the issue of technology, with so-called Deep Ecologists having a mostly negative view of it as inherently degrading and exploitative towards nature, while Social Ecologists view technology as potentially liberating for both humanity and the environment if only it were used for ends that promoted ecological stewardship rather than treating the natural world in a dominative and extractivist manner. Others still, like the Ecomodernists, view technology as not just beneficial, but can potentially let mankind decouple itself from the enviroment, allowing for nature to take its course without sacrificing economic growth, industrial development or human nature.
Some environmentalists also tend to be critical of modern Western societies and the values associated with them, especially the "Growth Imperative" that associates progress with increased GDP and the increased size of industrial output, which may explain why such groups tend to be very socially liberal and economically left-leaning in many countries. Eco-socialists and Social Ecologists go even further in seeing capitalism itself as innately anti-ecological, and hold that only by dismantling it can we have any hope of curing the ills of the planet.
- Neoliberal(/"Libertarian"): a ('guided'/'managed') democracy with an unregulated 'free market' is "the end of history", the only good and practical form of society. The Invisible Hand ensures that the Objectively worthy become Elites with freedom, and the less/un-worthy don't. The government's job is to promote individualism and competition, and eliminate collectivistism.
- Neoconservative: Liberal democracy is "the end of history" and must be enforced through global capitalist democratic hegemony backed up by military force. The term, "Pax Americana" refers to neoconservatism as a means of protecting the global order through U.S. interventionism by toppling unstable dictators and forcing isolationist states to embrace global trade through gunboat diplomacy. This backed up by traditional religious values, adoration of police, military and intelligence services, skepticism towards government intervention in the economy and an unwavering view of the value of liberal democracy.
- Third-Way: a democracy with an unregulated 'free market' is "the end of history". However, Government is best able to protect elites' power form the majority by making some temporary concessions to existing colllectivist and altruistic sentiments, while ultimately trying to eliminate them in favour of individualism and competition.
Associated Economic Theories (if any)
- Neoliberal - Neoclassical
- Neoconservative - Neoclassical, Austrian
- Third Way - Neoclassical (Keynesian)
Libertarianism, Neoliberalism, Third-Way Liberalism are often paired together. The great irony, or tragedy as some would call it, is that these radical policiesnote were put into effect under conservative heads of state: Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Their variant of Neoliberalism is called "Neoconservatism". Confused yet? Well glad to have you on board. Both Reagan and Thatcher were revolutionaries in that they toppled and changed the pre-existing Keynesian consensus and put forth the current doxa that pushed the right to the centre, the centre to the left, and push formerly moderate and social democratic policies to the extreme Left, while pushing truly radical and revolutionary politics off the table completely. As such Neoliberalism refers to a "consensus" as much as an ideology. The consensus of Neoliberalism is more or less the Political Spectrum that exists from The '80s to the present-day. Within that consensus, there is a lot of variances and differences. For instance, Neoliberalism in Europe is not quite the same as Neoliberalism in America.
The origins of Neoliberalism can be traced to The '30s, although that word would not be used then. The original exponents and ideologues of liberalism would call themselves "classical liberals" and "neoclassicists" but as explained above their reading of Liberalism was selective. Neoliberalism is unique in that it can be seen as a reactionary form of liberalism and by its reactionary nature, it has aspects that are antithetical to classical liberalism. Classical liberals advocated strong institutions and maintaining them whereas Neoliberalism has a de-institutional agenda. Classical liberalism wished to cultivate elites and aristocrats, neoliberals wishes to elevate businessmen and politicians on populist ideas of success, wealth, and achievement, and its leaders and advocates are usually called "technocrats" i.e. they are specialists in the field who come from below having learned and schooled, promoted on the basis of specific mastery of political and economic language, even if said knowledge is outside the peer-review of many Economic Theories. It is characterized by think-tanks, economic forums, new schools as well as a heavy emphasis on mass-media image politics and sloganeering, and as such a neoliberal civic society is heavily dominated by advertising and public relations.
Neoliberalism was and is fiercely anti-communist, and it regarded social democracy and social liberalism as setting a precedent for communism and sees programs such as the welfare state, the New Deal, social security and other measures as unwarranted concessions (whereas those anti-communist Left ideologies see inherited wealth and inequality as causative factors for the outbreak of communism and revolution, and so grounds for being and remaining social democratic). As such it has continued to persist even after it has achieved its main goal, i.e. the downfall of communism and its discrediting among the Left. Libertarianism and Neoliberalism responded to the Communist vision of a classless collectivist Utopia of friendship and love by positing its own Utopian vision in which Capital is completely protected from labour i.e. no taxes on Capital, no restrictions upon rent-seeking activity, no Labour rights etc. In this Utopian society, The Invisible Hand of The Free Market would see to it that the objectively Fittest (most intelligent and individualistic) would proliferate and the Unfit (least intelligent and most altruistic) would become extinct.
The era of Neoliberalism is associated with union busting in America and Britain. In France, Neoliberalism originated on the watch of the first left-wing President in France since World War II, François Mitterrand. Mitterrand was elected with the support of a left coalition including the French Communist Party and in his early years he put many social democrat policies in place but the capital flight, the decline of the USSR and its unpopular interventions in Poland and Afghanistan, and the waning of the Left on the Atlantic forced him to become, to put it crudely, a Sell-Out, at least in the eyes of his left-wing well-wishers, who were dismayed as he started to backslide on his policies and even introduced austerity measures. Mitterand's actions can be defended, if one takes a long view, however, and see the continuing strength of French unions and worker movements relative to America and the UK. Unions continue to be active in Germany and Italy, likewise, compared to the Anglophone where they are no longer a significant political force. And Mitterand set a precedent for "Third-Way" centrism, which would be typified by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. Still across the Western world, union membership has sharply declined, the ability of workers to legally invoke strikes to attack businesses was restricted, and the failure of former union-agitation tactics in the PATCO strike had a chilling effect in The '80s and beyond, encouraging manufacturers to ignore union demands and complaints, while discouraging new workers to unionize. President Reagan was the former head of an union himself, the Screen Actor's Guild which he took to a anti-communist stance, and he undoubtedly used his inside view of union politics to cunningly subvert its power.
The most fundamental difference between Classical Liberalism and Neoliberalism is the explicit rejection of democracy in favour of Freedom (in the abstract) — of Freiheit Statt Demokratie, Freedom instead of Democracy, on the grounds that democracy is a slippery slope to Communism since both place the needs of the many above that of the individual. The second irreconcilable difference between Classical Liberalism and Neoliberalism is the latter's redefinition of tyranny to exclude that exercised by private individuals. Classical Liberalism would consider any slave-society ruled by hereditary elites to be a Tyrannical one; Neoliberalism would consider it Tyranny too if the slaves were de jure enslaved to a government, but uphold it as the very definition of a society based upon absolute Freedom if the slaves were de facto free (to choose between service or death). The Neoliberal revolution stemmed from the revolt against social democracy, and had two outlets. The 'Austrian' School of 'economic' thought gained notoriety for an argument known today as the Economic Calculation Problem which began in 1920 with Ludwig von Mises' publication of "Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth." In this article, Mises argued that State Socialism (an economy wherein the government controlled all capital) rendered economic efficiency impossible because there was no way to tell what was truly scarce in relative terms if people couldn't bid to set the prices. Note that even at this early stage, the Neoliberal movement made full use of neutral-sounding but ideologically loaded terms such as "free market", "rationality", and "efficiency". In any case, the Socialist economist Oskar Lange argued that Mises had identified a genuine problem (a lack of economic accounting), which he argued could be fixed by replicating market prices. Lange's solution was disputed by Friedrich von Hayek in his article "The Use of Knowledge in Society." Hayek argued that the preference data from which market prices are ultimately generated rests within individual human minds, and that this data only gets expressed via 'voluntary trades' in a 'free market'. Assuming a lack of Assimilation Plot, there is no way to access this data and as such any attempt to replicate 'market prices' would fail.
In Neoliberal circles, Hayek and von Mises' arguments are regarded as Vindicated by History (non-Neoliberals dispute that). Hayek's philosophy of knowledge and spontaneous, undesigned order have had an influence in fields ranging from sociology to research on artificial intelligence. Hayek is the father of Neoclassical and Austrian 'economics', and the Neoliberal movement in general. In terms of the utilitarian-natural law liberalism split, the Austrian School generally made its case in utilitarian terms, but is embraced by ideologues on both sides. For instance, the prominent anarcho-capitalist Austrian schooler Murray Rothbard was a natural law libertarian in his personal political philosophy, yet the strain of anarcho-capitalism that he inspired (a fusion of the Austrian school with Lockean Individualist Anarchism) is natural-law-oriented.
The second outlet of the Neoliberal revolution was literature. The intellectual milieu of the mid-twentieth century was generally altruistic, proclaiming The Needs of the Many and the role of the state in saving the lives of the poor, etc. Novelists such as Robert A. Heinlein and (most infamously) Ayn Rand produced novels explicitly rejecting altruism and championing individualism, in Rand's case on economic grounds rooted in the Austrian school. Rand's work propagated her belief system of Objectivism, which is an inescapable element of the Neoliberal movement in the USA. Rand's novels and general ideas did have a major impact in the right-wing. Anti-welfare terminology such as "welfare queen", "handout", "entitlement" which is used by Neoliberals and Neoconservatives to describe social welfare policies and those who depend on them, can be traced to Rand's own division of society into individuals and "looters". The idea that wealthy corporations are "job creators" (which is shared even by the non-Randian reformist Third Way Liberal faction) is also rooted via Pop-Cultural Osmosis in Rand's attempts to lend entrepreneurial capitalism an intellectual dimension and her attempts to elevate the acquisition of wealth into a civic virtue in-and-of-itself. Of course, Rands rejection of altruism was too explicit for the comfort of many co-philosophers and opponents. In particular, her ambivalence towards love of family and explicit atheism, because of its nature as a collective identity and the notion of God limiting human individuality, led to her rejection by ideological fellow travelers on the grounds that it would make them unelectable. Likewise, the fact that she herself subsisted on social welfare benefits, I'm sorry, handouts. Likewise, in her teenage years in the Soviet Union, she benefited from free university education open to girls, and she was critical of some of America's aggressive foreign policy (she did oppose the Vietnam War).
The Social Liberal response to Neoliberalism has been to double down in its support of democracy and opposition to 'private tyranny', leading to a semi-fusion with Social Democracy in practical terms. Neoliberals assert that Social Liberalism was never truly a Liberal ideology because of its concession of a rule for altruism in society, which is a slippery slope to democracy and then communism. In practice, as a compromise between Individualism/Freedom and Collectivism/Equality Social Liberalism is a very broad policy umbrella and it does not have pre-set end-goals for what the political economy should look like in an 'ideal' society. As the ideal Neoliberal society is based entirely upon Individualism/Freedom its policy aims are crystal clear.
In academia social liberalism is still distinct from social democracy. The work that most firmly established it as such was A Theory of Justice, by John Rawls. In this work, Rawls criticized utilitarian liberals (and all classical liberals, utilitarian or not) believing that, under the principles of justice, people would be entitled to a minimum standard of living even if it doesn't result in the most 'efficient' outcome. Rawls came to these principles of justice by a thought experiment he called the veil of ignorance, in which he asks the reader to select the distribution of resources and rights of an ideal society by acting as if they didn't know their class position, status, abilities, race or any other quality aside from their own rationality. The most well-known answer to Rawls came from Neoliberal philosopher Robert Nozick. Influenced both by Rawls's work and Murray Rothbard's school of anarcho-capitalism, he wrote his book Anarchy, State and Utopia as a response to both. In his book, Nozick attacked anarcho-capitalists by saying that the state is an unavoidable institution, and that it would evolve naturally from a non-state social arrangement without violating anyone's rights, and he attacked Rawls (and other "patterned theories of justice") by saying that breaching property rights for redistribution purposes was inconsistent with Rawls's own critique of utilitarianism and conception of human beings as ends rather than means. Rawls and Nozick are quite important in modern English-language political philosophy relating to liberalism. Some consider A Theory of Justice the most influential work in English-language political philosophy of the twentieth century. Anarchy, State and Utopia, while not as influential, is credited with leading libertarianism (the aforementioned Reconstruction of classical liberalism) to be respected as a theory by the American philosophical mainstream. As of today, both have become arguably the most representative ideological works of social and neoliberalism respectively.
Third-Way represent the "left" in the new consensus. They support the enlargement of the middle-class, the professional class, and the technocrats over that of the workers. They support social and cultural egalitarianism, and in the case of the United States, defend scientific freedom and inquiry. The end of the Cold War led formerly mixed economies such as India to open itself to free markets, followed in turn by other nations, and this coupled with free trade and new markets means the development of a globalized middle-class, which in turn allows "Third-Way" to spread itself geographically. This leads many "Third-Way" to agree with Neoliberals and Neconservatives to support trade deals such as NAFTA and planned deals with the European Union and the Pacific Rim nations, and the outsourcing of manufacturing to sweatshops in China, Bangladesh, India and other third-world nations at the price of developing a strong secondary and tertiary sector in the economy on which to build a base. In practice, this aligns Third-Way Liberals with the protection and extension of earlier radical gains albeit after considerable hesitancy and reluctance (cf, the fairly recent and stumbling manner in which they embraced the LGBT movement after much recalcritance "Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell"). However, it also allows third-way liberals to put forth and allow policies of gentrification and hold an upper hand in a left-coalition as the moderate center over reformists and leftists.
The new development of technology in The '90s to The New '10s (the Internet, Social Media etcetera) served this ideology well but the consensus fragmented during the Great Recession, bringing to light high student loans that enserf debtors to banks; urban cities with high cost of living leading to greater homelessness; and Neo-Victorian squalor in rural areas, coupled with the loss of manufacturing industries to continuing automation. Despite this, neoliberalism did weather the storm of the Great Recession more or less intact. In Europe, austerity policies remain in place, albeit creating greater tension in the EU between wealthy nations like Germany and debtor nations like Greece, while in the USA, third-way policies led to a healthcare program instituted in America heavily based on private insurance companies rather than the social democrat health care policies instituted under Clement Atlee among others. The main source of organized opposition to Neoliberalism so far is what can be called Populism, a term if must be said was coined by Neoliberals to describe their opponents.
- Guided/Demagogic: 'Foreign' elites are oppressing us, but we can trust 'our' elites to defend us from the foreigners and rule in our best interests!
- Genuine/Democratic: Elites are oppressing us, and replacing them with different elites can't change anything. We need more democracy!
Associated Economic Theories (if any)
- Democratic: Keynesian, Behavioural
- Demagogic: Neoclassical, Austrian
Democracy and Meritocracy (Important and Yes/No, or Unimportant)
- Democracy: Important-Yes for Democratic, Unimportant for Demagogic
- Meritocracy: Important-Yes for Democratic and Demagogic
Social Classes (Pro-/Anti-, or Ambivalent)
- Upper: Anti- for Democratic, Pro- for Demagogic
- Middle: Anti- or Ambivalent for Democratic and Demagogic
- Lower: Pro- for Democratic, Anti- for Demagogic
Populism holds that society should be run for the benefit of the majority of its citizens. Its primary ideological opponent is so-called Neoliberalism, the Reagan-Thatcher-era rebranding of Classical Liberalism. Neoliberalism not only promised that promoting wealth inequality would enrich the majority, but claimed that wealth inequality would not affect politics. Neither was the case: elites used their growing wealth to buy political influence, which they used to grow their wealth even further by legalising the extraction of wealth from the majority - through "privatising" essential services such as healthcare, utilities, communications, transportation, etc. Populists fear that this feedback loop will end social mobility and democracy, and produce a de facto return to aristocratic/feudal dictatorship.
Populism became part of the global political lexicon in The New '10s to characterize views and policies that don't quite fit in the above folders and are not really seen as part of it. The word "populist" has negative connotations dating back to the Enlightenment, as an insult used by feudal/aristocratic Conservatives deriding (Classical) Liberals' and Nationalists' beliefs that peasants should be involved in politics. For the purposes of this page, the ambit is limited to the ideology of today's populist parties.
Populism in the modern sense is applied to movements that came into being after the end of the Cold War. It is characterized by strong use of mass media (TV, advertising, social media) and unlike other political systems, it is geographicaly diverse. Populism exists in Europe (Italy's Movimento 5 Stelle - The Five-Star Movement, Netherlands Party for Freedom, England's UKIP, France's National Front, Germany's AfD, Poland's Law and Justice) but also in Asia (India's AAP, Philippines' PDP-Laban) and in the United States (Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders). Most populists present themselves a third option and they propose policies that combine aspects of the extreme right and the extreme left, they waver between dictatorial strongman such as Rodrigo Duterte to a more organized party like M5S. Some populist movements are nativist and anti-immigrant while others are anti-racist, some are pro-capitalist while others advocate herrenvolk socialism (i.e. welfare for the few privileged citizens, either by race or class).
The populist parties of the 21st Century are united in their opposition to Neoliberalism. European populist movements are Eurosceptic and want to leave the European Union, with UKIP playing a major part in the Brexit campaign which was heralded by other populists as an inspiration to Follow the Leader. Italy's M5S is more immigrant friendly and more on the left than Marie Le Pen's National Front, but they have a common disenchantment with the European Union.
The word in practice is used to describe politicians and platforms whose appeals are not exactly consistently ideological beyond strong emotional appeals and stylish presentations. Their platforms at times combines bits and pieces from both the Left and the Right, from Liberals and Conservatives, from Fascists and Socialists. It is characterized by charismatic leadership, by powerful use of symbols and rhetoric, and by an advocacy for "the people" against "the system". Critics argue that populists are often demagogues whose arguments against government problems regardless of its factual merit, are undermined by the extreme and incompetent solutions and approaches they propose, their lack of intellectual merit and poor planning and implementation. Supporters argue that populists speak in the non-ideological and non-partisan voice that exists outside organized political parties, and that its a valid response against representatives who grow decadent because of institutional and societal inertia. Among the Left, both social-democratic and communist, the accusations are that populists are disorganized, possess weak ideology and force consensus by pretending that conflicts and problems can go away if everyone simply agreed. Perry Anderson, the Marxist writer of New Labour, also noted that in general right-wing populism has had a bigger effect than left-wing ones.
Works that promote or are heavily influenced by a particular ideology:
Note that most of these authors are generally considered Classical Liberals and Neoliberals rather than Social Liberals. Despite superficial similarities there is a great deal of difference between the classical liberalism of Adam Smith (who reserved rather strong barbs for the upper class and, as mentioned above, supported government policies which favoured the lower classes) versus the Neoliberalism of Ayn Rand, who virtually worshipped the supposed perfection of the 'Invisible Hand of the Free Market' and its perfect ability to ensure that the upper and lower classes were solely composed of people who deserved to be within their ranks (and was much more controversial in her proposal of a moral system based upon materialistic selfishness). We might note here that the phrase 'Invisible Hand of the Free Market', despite being commonly attributed to Adam Smith, actually does not appear anywhere in his writings. In fact, he only used the phrase "invisible hand" three times in his surviving writings, and only once, in The Wealth of Nations, was there an economic context; however, he was using it as a metaphor for why consumers and business owners might prefer domestic goods to foreign ones (specifically, language and culture differences).
Among the writers of nonfiction on this list, Isaiah Berlin, (sometimes) John Stuart Mill, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Maynard Keynes, Karl Popper, Paul Krugman, John Rawls, Joseph Stiglitz (probably the only person on this list who could be considered a social democrat, although Rousseau is arguable), and to a lesser extent Benjamin Constant are generally the exceptions; they are usually considered social liberals. Amongst the fiction authors, Heinlein is an interesting case because he actually drifted from social liberalism (For Us, the Living: A Comedy of Customs and Beyond This Horizon, for example, although these actually border on socialism, advocating an economy called Social Credit which is effectively a mixture of socialism and capitalism) to classical liberalism (much of his later writing with the arguable exception of Stranger in a Strange Land, which generally doesnt discuss economics) throughout his writing career; The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress could actually be considered to advocate a form of individualist anarchism.
- The Law and Economic Sophisms, by Frédéric Bastiat (Classical/Economic/Austrian School)
- Two Concepts of Liberty, by Isaiah Berlin (Social)
- Political Writings, by Benjamin Constant (Tienio)
- Rights From Wrongs: A Secular Theory of the Origins of Rights, by Alan Dershowitz (social)
- Morals by Agreement, by David Gauthier (Classical)
- The Use of Knowledge in Society, The Road to Serfdom and The Constitution of Liberty, by Frederich von Hayek (Austrian School/Classical/economic/Neoliberalism/arguably conservative) note
- Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt (Austrian School/Utilitarian/libertarian)
- The Declaration of Independence, by Thomas Jefferson (Classical)
- The General Theory of Money, Interest, and Employment, by John Maynard Keynes (Keynesian/Macroeconomics/economic)
- The Conscience of a Liberal, by Paul Krugman (Social/Keynesian/New Keynesian)
- Second Treatise on Civil Government, by John Locke (Classical)
- On Liberty, by John Stuart Mill (Classical/Utilitarian/Libertarian)
- The Libertarian Idea, by Jan Narveson (Libertarian/economic, overlaps with anarcho-capitalism)
- Eat the Rich, by P.J. O'Rourke (Libertarian/economic)
- The Globalization Paradox, by Dani Rodrik
- The Social Contract, Discourse on Inequality, and Émile, by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Classical)
- Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, by Joseph Schumpeter (Macroeconomics/economic)
- The Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith (Classical/Economic)
- Globalization and Its Discontents, by Joseph Stiglitz (New Keynesian)
- Charles Dickens was regarded by Orwell as a liberal, albeit one who favored social reform and intervention especially with regards to child welfare. His novels generally feature characters who devote considerable personal and social importance to the acquisition of property and financial independence. Politically Dickens was an Empire loyalist and until late in his life, considerably racist to outsiders and Jews.
- His satire of the Micawber family in David Copperfield has generally lent itself to Applicability in his own time and afterwards, with some seeing the Micawbers as a hapless "welfare queen" tormenting his friends for handouts until finally finding success and happiness after being deported to Australia (essentially the butt of Victorian jokes for debt-dodgers). Others however, see Micawber as a highly sympathetic family man who tries to provide for his family in a system that offers no support.
- Dickens frequently depicted the worst of Victorian society and was highly critical of snobbery, including his own in Great Expectations. As such his fiction was routinely popular across political divisions in different parts of the world.
- The Great Idea, or, as it was originally titled, Time Will Run Back, by Henry Hazlitt
- The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (classical)
- The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith
- In Russian Fiction, Ivan Turgenev, inspired by Alexander Herzen, was politically liberal. He advocated reform and modernization in Russia along Western European lines and was criticized by both Slavophiles (Dostoevsky) and extreme leftists (Tolstoy and others) who felt Russia needed even more radical change rather than the too-little-too-late approach Turgenev was advocating or the Europeanized elite that Turgenev wanted to install in Russia.
- Gore Vidal is ideologically quite porous and is known to compile aspects from various political ideologies (Liberal, Conservative, Social, Anarchist, Socialist). His Historical Fiction (Burr, Lincoln) usually takes the perspective of somewhat enlightened outsiders who are skeptical of central governments, large militaries and populist demagogues. Vidal generally advocates education of history and the world, is critical of American Exceptionalism, promotes knowledge of America's traditions. He wants to maintain institutions but accepts the need of radical reform. He generally feels that American Society Is to Blame (Chiefly its religious and sexual mores) rather than the system for the corruption of its institutions.
- Superman (although it is worth pointing out that the creators were socialists and intended the character to symbolise their political philosophy, modern interpretations of the character have tended to veer closer to social liberalism, while Zack Snyder's interpretation is outright Objectivist)
- Demolition Man
- Django Unchained
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers
- The Lives of Others
- The People vs. Larry Flynt
- Red Dawn (1984)
- Star Wars
- We the Living
- Firefly carries a strong anti-authoritarian message. Naturally, the same can be said about The Movie that concluded its storyline, Serenity. That said, the politics of both the show and the film are heavily debated, with both major sides of the American political spectrum declaring that the Alliance is intended to represent their political opponents (and libertarian capitalists claiming the show is intended to support their viewpoint as well). Generally the only thing everyone can agree on about the show's political message is that it is anti-authoritarian, but whether it trends more towards the capitalist or socialist side of libertarianism is heavily debated. For what it's worth, the show's creator Joss Whedon has been known to support the American Democratic Party (as in this humorous video) and has identified as a liberal (which, in American parlance, means social liberal). However, he is also known to be a supporter of Death of the Author (and in fact is quoted on the quotes page for that trope), which means that he would likely be amenable to other interpretations of his work.
- Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld on Fox News Channelunlike the socially conservative fare that composes the rest of Fox's lineupis pretty libertarian. Greg, the host, once noted "Hanging out with leftists made me become conservative. Hanging out with conservatives made me become libertarian."
- Parks and Recreation gets to have it both ways about being a 'liberal' show: Leslie Knope is the main social liberal character, Ron Swanson the principal classical liberal. Though Ron is the more popular character, Leslie is shown clearly to be The Hero.
- John Stossel's news/talk shows generally examine current issues from a libertarian perspective.
- Loudness (classical liberalism, especially during the Masaki Yamada era, though social liberalism seems to be the hat of Minoru Niihara)
- Nine Inch Nails could be filed under social liberalism, socialism, or perhaps anarchism with the anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian themes of works like "Head Like a Hole" and, later on, pretty much the entire Year Zero album.
- Rush (classical early on, somewhere in between classical and social liberalism now)
- Frank Zappa (somewhere in between classical and social liberalism, but leaning more towards classical)
- Assassin's Creed on the whole can be considered Liberal-Anarchist. Its heroes fight against extremists, are generally small-a anarchists rather than the bomb throwing kind, and the Assassins ally with benevolent reformists like Lorenzo de'Medici, Prince Suleiman, George Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Benjamin Disraeli over more radical alternatives.
- Final Fantasy VI
- Pokémon Black and White. Yes, you read that right. The core message of the game is to accept different ideas, which is a cornerstone of political liberalism.
- The UN Peacekeeping Forces of Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri, naturally. Strongly committed to peace, tolerance, democracy and humanitarian ideals. Opposed to police states and fundamentalist governments.
- South Park is the best known example, as Trey Parker and Matt Stone are libertarians, and the show often carries an anti-authoritarian message, and often makes Take Thats against both social conservatives and fiscal left-wingers.
- Steven Universe has a central theme of acceptance.
See also Wikipedias list of liberal theorists.
- Reflections on the Revolution in France, by Edmund Burke
- The writings of William F. Buckley, Jr., founder of National Review magazine
- The Conscience of a Conservative, by Barry Goldwaternote
- Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes
- The Conservative Mind, by Russell Kirk
- Right Nation: Conservative Power in America, by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge
- Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays, by Michael Oakeshott
- The Gulag Archipelago, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
- Intellectuals and Society, by Thomas Sowell
- The Decline of the West, by Oswald Spengler
- Attack on Titan involves a monarchist society and shows some of its flaws.
- The Clouds, by Aristophanes
- Honoré de Balzac saw himself as a royalist in the Restoration and the July Monarchy. His novels were highly critical of the rise of the middle class and the beginning of capitalism in France, and generally critical of the aristocracy for not setting an example and engaging with reforms so as to maintain their hegemony in post-Revolutionary France. He was critical of the Revolution, which he felt didn't bring Liberty, Equality, Fraternity so much as declare open season for all kinds of Social Climber who have to be corrupt and cold-hearted merely to make a comfortable living. His novel Le Père Goriot touches on the basic system of French society.
- 1985 by Anthony Burgess
- The Man Who Was Thursday: G.K. Chesterton was an outspoken conservative (to a certain extent, though many modern conservatives would find little common ground with him) and Christian apologist. Widely considered the first work in the genre of modern conspiracy thrillers.
- Code Geass also has an authoritarian aristocratic monarchy. It shows many of the flaws of conservative societies.
- Joseph Conrad was a Polish exile in England who adopted English as his language despite it being his third language. As such his novels advocate a classical liberal position and was skeptical of revolutionaries and was basically pessimistic about society, human endeavour and life. His novel Nostromo offers a highly sympathetic portrayal of a Working-Class Hero exploited by both the system and budding revolutionaries, his fiction about The British Empire, Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness generally sees imperialism and spreading Western Ideas to the Natives as a Mighty Whitey fantasy doomed to disappoint both the natives and the adventurers.
- A Tale of Two Cities. Most of Dickens' novels fall within liberal (or even socialist) sentiments, but this book about the Revolution largely draws from the English counter-revolutionary historiography of Thomas Carlyle and Edmund Burke.
- Fyodor Dostoevsky began his life as a liberal but gradually became a Slavophile conservative who advocated reforms while calling for the preservation of the Tsar and the Orthodox Church. He was hostile to Western ideas in general and was a professed antisemite. His fiction Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov and many others portrayed young men tempted and succumbing by radical ideologies and revolutionary leaders, who eventually turn out to be corrupt, violent and self-destructive. Dostoevsky is considered to be complex and his books have a lot of Applicability which meant that ironically, his fiction (rather than his non-fiction for which he was more widely known in Russia) has had a greater influence in influencing Western left-wing and radical thinkers in the West than more liberal Russian writers.
- Arguably Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, though like BioShock below, it's mainly by default. The novel can be seen as highly critical of many concepts, including socialistic utopianism, social liberal/individualist hedonism, hierarchical eugenicism, Fordian productivism, psychological conditioning and authoritarianism. The focus on sexuality means the book may be seen as Christian Democratic, though it was written before the emergence of modern Christian Democracy (and the author himself definitely wasn't a Christian Democrat nor a conservative).
- Judge Dredd: Not always sympathetically. Overlaps with Fascism and to a certain extent Socialism.
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller, although it does veer into anti-conservative territory at times despite the creator's views as the President representing Ronald Reagan is an antagonist while Green Arrow is still a far leftist and an ally of Batman. Miller also expresses anti-corporate views in this work. His later work would veer further away from these heterodoxies and adhere further to modern conservatism.
- Holy Terror, also by Frank Miller.
- Logan's Run by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson
- Lone Wolf and Cub: The hero is portrayed as being more of a "true" Samurai than the real deal, even though he's an outlaw on the run. He is also steadfastly refusing to compromise his beliefs. However, the manga also makes it clear that many of the practices of feudal Japan were horrific, and highlights the contradiction of Itto reinforcing the values of a society that only pays lip service to them.
- Prince of Sparta and pretty much the whole CoDominium/Empire of Man/Warworld uvre of Jerry Pournelle (and, sometimes, Larry Niven)
- The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson depicts a clash of Western neo-Victorianism and Chinese neo-Confucianism, both being a societys re-embrace of highly conservative culture of old.
- The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, although The Dark Knight subverts it and Rises plays it straight.
- Dirty Harry
- High Noon
- Firing Line, hosted by William F. Buckley and broadcast on PBS, was many modern conservatives' first exposure to conservative philosophy. They generally involved Buckley interviewing a guest, sometimes agreeing, sometimes disagreeing with them.
- JAG (spinoff NCIS is a bit more towards the middle)
- Lastman Standing
- Modern Country Music tends to skew towards conservative themes.
- The Hardline offshoot of the Straight Edge movement
- "Land of Hope and Glory", the official anthem of the British Conservative Party
- Ted Nugent
- Assassin's Creed: Unity paints a very right-wing and one-dimensional interpretation of the French Revolution, drawing greatly from Edmund Burke's critique, as well as counter-revolutionary narratives like The Scarlet Pimpernel and A Tale of Two Cities.
- Spectres of Marx, by Jacques Derrida (Democratic Socialism)
- Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich (Democratic/Feminist Socialism — very pro-Union)
- The History of Madness and Discipline and Punish, by Michel Foucault (Marxism/Queer Socialism)
- The works of Stephen Jay Gould
- The Prison Notebooks, by Antonio Gramsci (Marxism/Communism)
- The writings and speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. (Christian/Democratic Socialism)
- No Logo and The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein (Democratic/Green/Feminist Socialism)
- On the Economic Theory of Socialism, by Oskar Lange (Market Socialism)
- State and Revolution, by Vladimir Lenin (Leninism)
- The Accumulation of Capital, by Rosa Luxemburg (Luxemburgism)
- From Class Society to Communism: An Introduction to Marxism, by Ernest Mandel (Marxism/Trotskyism)
- The Communist Manifesto, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (Marxism/Communism)
- The German Ideology and Capital, by Karl Marx (Marxism/Communism though Capital leans more towards Democratic Socialism)
- Homage to Catalonia and many other works by George Orwellnote (Democratic Socialism/Anarchist Socialism)
- The various works of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir (Existentialist Socialism/Marxism/Marxist Feminism)
- Christianity and the Social Order, by William Temple (Democratic/Christian Socialism)
- Anything by Leon Trotsky (Trotskyism)
- And the Weak Suffer What They Must?: Europe's Crisis and America's Economic Future (Marxism with elements of classical liberalism)
- After Liberalism and various other works by Immanuel Wallerstein (Socialism)
- The Supreme Object of Ideology and Welcome to the Desert of the Real, by Slavoj iek (Marxism)
Fiction: Note that in fiction, the anarchist, democratic and libertarian viewpoints of socialism are what is usually being portrayed. Marxism suffered a heavy blow of popularity in the west due to controversies with Marxist-Leninist regimes and Lenin's earlier split with other Communists. Then again, Trotskyism and Orthodox Marxism (depending on when the writers consider the cut off point for "good Marxism" to be before Red October or Stalin's reign) may get some love.
- AKIRA. Anti-corporatist and anti human engineering.
- Attack on Titan seems to have some socialist overtones, though they aren't always obvious. The best example is its portrayal of the aristocratic monarchy and human disunity.
- The second season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex introduces the socialist revolutionary Hideo Kuze, whose philosophy is mostly derived from Marx. He is pitted against the Neoliberal military intelligence officer Kazundo Gohda.
- Max Barry's Jennifer Government, a biting deconstruction of libertarian capitalism, which points out that devolving power from the government to corporations would result in a different, but still extremely dystopian, kind of tyranny. A central theme of the novel is that abuse of power by government and abuse of power by corporations are Not So Different.
- Warren Beatty's Reds is, of course, all about communism. The movie more-or-less supports communist ideology, but it's also rather critical of how said ideology was pursued by the Bolsheviks. It's exact position on the Bolsheviks is a bit hard to divine, actually. At times, it hints at the Bolshevik Revolution being a Full-Circle Revolution which betrayed the communist dream. At best, it sees the Bolsheviks as Unscrupulous Heroes who, for all their ruthlessness and brutality, were still better than the monarchists and capitalists they were fighting against.
- Looking Backward and Equality by Edward Bellamy (written in the 1880s and '90s, depicting a socialist utopia a century in the year 2000)
- Burning Valley by Phillip Bonosky
- The Threepenny Opera and other works by Bertolt Brecht
- The films of Luis Buñuel
- The films of Charlie Chaplin usually fit here, with their strong sympathy for the impoverished. (They also have some sympathy with anarchism, see below.)
- Deadman Wonderland
- A lot of Philip K. Dick's work fits here. It also comes close to qualifying as anarchist, though Dick wasn't quite an anarchist in real life (almost certainly a libertarian socialist, though).
- Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser (again, most of his work qualifies)
- The Battleship Potemkin and the other works of Sergei Eisenstein will qualify.
- American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis is a deconstruction of Reagan-era capitalist values, explicitly comparing corporate mergers to murder. It is also a deconstruction of the misogyny of the time period.
- 1632, while in no ways openly Marxist, shows a lot of the political biases of principal author Eric Flint, who was a union organizer and is a Marxist. If you know about Marxist political theory, you can't help but find a lot of Marx's predictions coming true in the context of the story.
- Anything by William Gibson
- Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls is set during the Spanish Civil War and extremely sympathetic to the Republican (i.e., socialist/anarchist/communist) side.
- Kill la Kill. "Fascism is bad" is a central premise.
- The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson (which also has strong feminist themes)
- The Iron Heel, White Fang and The Sea Wolf by Jack London
- The works of H. P. Lovecraft, but note that Lovecraft himself was pretty racist and reactionary for even his time, creating a mass disconnect between himself and his works. Some of his works can nonetheless be read as socialist allegories, however. At the Mountains of Madness, for example; the Shoggoths' revolt against the Elder Things can be regarded as an allegory against capitalism, and while both the Elder Things and the Shoggoths are extraordinarily dangerous to humanity, the Shoggoths generally come across more sympathetically to modern audiences. On the other hand, some critics have speculated that Lovecraft may have intended for the Elder Things to be more sympathetic. Death of the Author no doubt applies.
- The Kurt Wallander novels by Henning Mankell
- The Bas-Lag Cycle by China Miéville along with much of his other work (though a lot of his work has its political themes as background issues rather than the central focus of the work; Iron Council is the main exception here)
- Most of Michael Moore's films fit in here, though his most commercially successful endeavor, Fahrenheit 9/11, treads more into being modern liberal, as does Bowling for Columbine with its advocating gun control, a position more common among (American) liberals than socialists. Outside the US the opinion on gun control does not really correlate with any political ideology, though some hunters and shooting club members tend conservative in e.g. Germany.
- Again, anything by George Orwell is an endorsement of socialism. But Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm are the best known examples
- Our Daily Bread, a 1934 film in which desperate, hungry Americans in the middle of The Great Depression wind up founding a Soviet-style collective farm.
- Red Faction
- Red Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson (there is some overlap with Green Anarchism here as well; Robinson is not explicitly anarchist but definitely a libertarian socialist. Many of his other works qualify as well)
- Robocop. Anti-corporation.
- The Satanic Verses and various other works by Salman Rushdie
- The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (pretty much all of his other work qualifies as well)
- The Story of Crime (a.k.a. the Martin Beck novels) by Mäj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö
- Star Trek: The Next Generation and probably most of the other Star Trek series
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbecknote
- Daemon by Daniel Suareznote
- They Live. The capitalist class in this work are all aliens that try to control us.
- Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo. Many of his films, such as Spartacus, also qualify
- Jailbird, Breakfast of Champions, and to a lesser extent many other works by Kurt Vonnegut (again, there is overlap with anarchism here)
- The Time Machine and other works by H. G. Wells
- Sorry to Bother You, given that it's by Boots Riley, a communist, and the plot of the movie is about organizing a union.
- Lily Allen given that she supports the UK Labour Party which is democratic socialist. She also has several songs that tend toward this direction like "LDN" and "Fuck You".
- Anti-Flag and Justin Sane's solo work probably counts too.
- Jello Biafra. In his earlier career (with Dead Kennedys and in his earlier collaborations with other bands) he overlaps with anarchism, but isn't an anarchist these days; however, he still falls under libertarian socialism.
- The Clash. Again, there is overlap with anarchism.
- The Coup
- dead prez
- Die Krupps
- Dropkick Murphys: Started out singing the joys of being drunk/from Boston/Irish or any combination of the three, but have recently moved towards a strongly pro-union/anti-corporatist direction.
- Many folk singers, especially Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs, Billy Bragg, Pete Seeger, Ralph Mctell and The Nightwatchman.
- The Grateful Dead, while not usually an overtly political group, have a strong pro-working class tilt to their lyrics, to the extent that one of their albums is actually entitled Workingman's Dead. Many of their songs, particularly from this period, address the problems faced by the working class from a worker's perspective. Some of their late-'80s works get more explicitly political, particularly songs with lyrics by John Perry Barlow, which often border on anarchism (Barlow tended to be a civil libertarian, and he later founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for an open Internet), and for that matter, the group itself was deliberately structured to emphasise the importance of every member's contributions, reflecting a philosophically socialist or anarchist view.
- Henry Cow
- Immortal Technique, given that he's a Marxist.
- KMFDM - Overlaps with Anarchism
- Arguably Loudness here too, especially in the Minoru Niihara eras.
- Manic Street Preachers
- Marilyn Manson
- MC5 who identify as Marxists and have the the songs and activism to match.
- Tim Minchin
- The default political opinion of Oi bands. Particularly the Anti-Fascist Skinheads. Some might overlap with Anarchism.
- Pink Floyd in the Roger Waters era, especially Animals, The Final Cut, and The Wallnote
- Most of the original Post-Punk groups (particularly Gang of Four, The Pop Group and This Heat)
- Rage Against the Machine and their side projects The Nightwatchman, Street Sweeper Social Club, and One Day As A Lion. There is an overlap with anarchism.
- Rammstein despite playing with a fascist-like aesthetic, they are very outspokenly left wing and have said so in several of their songs, most notably "Links 2 3 4"; "links" being the German word for "left". "Amerika" is also seen as a critique of American consumerism and the spread of its culture. The members of Rammstein are also all from Communist East Germany, and despite some of them having had clashes with the former far left regime, many of them allegedly have nostalgic and sympathetic views of their Communist past, a phenomena called "Ostalgie" in Germany.
- Run The Jewels
- Todd Rundgren probably fits either here, under social liberalism, or under anarchism. His work, especially since The '90s, has been extremely critical of established social institutions and especially of economic power. It also has strong feminist themes in many cases; he is a strong critic of traditional gender roles.
- Skinny Puppy
- Sun Rise Above
- Eddie Vedder as well as Pearl Jam and Temple Of The Dog
- Lewis Black
- George Carlin (could also be placed under anarchism; he has elements of both)
- Bill Hicks (as with Carlin, he also has elements of anarchism)
- Eddie Izzard
- Lawrence ODonnell, host of The Last Word on MSNBC, is probably the only unapologetic socialist to have a TV show on a major news network in the United States. (ODonnell also served as a producer on The West Wing and wrote or cowrote dozens of episodes, though the show as a whole tends to fall under middlebrow American liberalism and is listed here under Neoliberalism.)
- Any video game with the Soviet Union as a playable faction like in Hearts of Iron, Red Alert or World in Conflict will likely count as the player advances the interests of the USSR, even if it may be a non canon campaign.
- Final Fantasy VII can be read as having socialist or anti-capitalist themes as well as environmentalist ones,note although it kind of loses focus on them as the plot progresses.
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker has you ally with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and Big Boss is constantly compared to Che Guevara.
- The Red Line from Metro 2033 count, fighting against the Rangers and the Reich (yes, a Nazi faction made up of the race it wanted to destroy and got destroyed by). They are villains more often than not, but tend to be shown in a sympathetic light at times.
- In Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri:
- The Free Drones, a socialist nation without class segregation and where every citizen voluntarily contributes their work for the greater good, although this comes with a penalty to scientific research as the Drones are reluctant to "waste" money on "blue sky" research when it could be going to improving the lot of the people.
- The Human Hive are a far more sinister interpretation, as a society taking influences from Maoism, communism, Buddhism and Confucianism, and the philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche. The Human Hive is a society where individualism is outlawed and every individual is expected to subsume themselves into the greater whole. They embrace this to such an extreme degree that their citizens are recycled on death.
- The Tau from Warhammer 40k come close with a collectivist greater good mentality, but are still divided into a strict caste system. The Imperium on the other hand, when they're not being A Nazi by Any Other Name or Church Militant, are influenced by Soviet bureaucracy.
- The Death of the West and Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War by Pat Buchanan
- To My Legionaries, by Corneliu Zelea "Capitanul" Codreanu, the leader of Romanian clerical Fascist organisation, the Legion of Archangel Michael aka Iron Guard.
- ¡Adios, America! by Ann Coulter; though she insists the book advocates for race-based populism, critics claim it goes much further than that
- Manifesto of the Fasci of Combat, by Alceste De Ambris and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti
- Revolt Against the Modern World and Men Among the Ruins by Julius Evola
- Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler
- The Doctrine of Fascism, by Benito Mussolini and Giovanni Gentile
- White Identity by Jared Taylor
- Das Dritte Reich by Arthur Moeller van den Bruck
- The Birth of a Nation
- Code Geass: Britannia seems to be a monarchist version of Fascism. Not a very flattering portrayal.
- Conan the Barbarian
- Dirty Harry
- Elfen Lied is a very disturbing deconstruction of the racism inherent in Fascism. The eugenics program that the Diclonius are enrolled in, is even called "Lebensborn", exactly as the Nazi dito was called in real life.
- Equilibrium with, again, its less than flattering portrayal of Fascism
- Gears of War
- Gabriel Over the White House
- The Leap, by Bill Hopkins
- Kill la Kill, yet another unflattering portrayal
- Northwest Front
- Nineteen Eighty-Four tends to be either here or under Socialism, given that Orwell based the book's dystopia on Nazi Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union. Orwell himself was a lifelong democratic socialist, but detested Soviet-style communism, and 1984 is an explicit condemnation of all forms of totalitarianism, be they fascist or communist.
- The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
- The Saga of White Will
- Starship Troopers: It's controversial to say the least, but the consensus seems to be that Starship Troopers is not a fascist work but more like militarist propaganda, as it goes against what most fascists advocated in accepting racial minorities and women as equal citizens, although it's close in other ways. (Note that the film, very intentionally, has a completely different message than the book; indeed, it could be considered a Take That! to its source material.)
- Triumph of the Will
- The Turner Diaries, a most sympathetic portrayal.
- Warhammer 40,000. As discussed in the Analysis page, the Imperium of Man which rules over the vast majority of humanity fits the 14 characteristics of fascism perfectly. However, in a rare example of fiction, not only is the application of such oppressive and brutal policies justified, it is in fact absolutely required for the mere continued survival of humanity. Although the Imperium of Man also draws from other brutal human regimes like Stalin's Russia and Cyberpunk fiction.
- The MachineGames Wolfenstein games, probably the most unflattering depictions of Nazism
- David Bowie's Station to Station, which is his only album that qualifies as such and later became an Old Shame for him on these grounds, though he still liked the music later on (on the rare other occasions he expressed a political outlook in his music, it tended to be anti-authoritarian and/or anti-racist, and thus closer to anarchism, socialism, or liberalism).note
- Burzum, though his political views rarely make their way into his lyrics
- Martial Industrial Bands often use fascist imagery in subversive ways. Most of them are anti-nazi and do it for satire.
- National Socialist Black Metal, obviously
- Nazi Punk also kinda speaks for itself
- Prussian Blue, though they eventually renounced their views in favor of more liberal ones.
- Many Rock Against Communism bands tend towards this direction
- Von Thronstahl
- Anything labeled "White Power music" tends to be this
- Parecon: Participatory Economics, by Michael Albert (Collectivist)
- God and the State and Statism and Anarchy by Mikhail Bakunin (Collectivist)
- Post-Scarcity Anarchism and The Ecology of Freedom, by Murray Bookchin (Social ecologist)
- Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, by Kevin A. Carson (Mutualist)
- Chomsky on Anarchism and literally dozens of other works by Noam Chomsky (Syndicalist)
- The Anarchist Collectives, by Sam Dolgoff (Syndicalist)
- Towards an Inclusive Democracy, by Takis Fotopoulos (Collectivist)
- The Machinery of Freedom, by David Friedman (Capitalist)
- The Democracy Project and Debt by David Graeber (Communist)
- Political Justice, by William Godwin (Philosophicalnote )
- Red Emma Speaks, My Disillusionment in Russia, My Further Disillusionment in Russia, and Living My Life, by Emma Goldman (Communist/Feminist)
- Economic Justice and Democracy and "Of the People, By the People'', by Robin Hahnel (Collectivist)
- The Problem of Political Authority, by Michael Huemer (Capitalist/Philosophical)
- The Conquest of Bread and Mutual Aid, by Pyotr Kropotkin (Communist)
- Tao Te Ching by Laozi (Philosophical; another possible Ur-Example)
- Collectives in the Spanish Revolution, by Gaston Leval (Syndicalist)
- The works of Errico Malatesta (Socialist/Communist)
- The Production of Security by Gustave de Molinari (Individualist/Capitalist)
- Homage to Catalonia and Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (the former describes the Spanish Civil War and the latter describes his experiences with poverty; like Tolstoy and Godwin, Orwell didn't consider himself an anarchist, preferring the term "democratic socialist", but tends to be accepted by anarchists as at least a kindred spirit, and Homage to Catalonia is considered one of the definitive accounts of a functional example of anarchy)
- What Is Property? and The General Idea of the Revolution, by Pierre Joseph Proudhon (Mutualist)
- Anarcho-Syndicalism and The Great French Revolution, by Rudolf Rocker (Syndicalist)
- Man, Economy and State, For a New Liberty and The Ethics of Liberty, by Murray N. Rothbard (Capitalist)
- No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority by Lysander Spooner (Individualist)
- The Ego and Its Own by Max Stirner (Egoist)
- Walden and Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau (Green and Philosophical, respectively)
- The Kingdom of God Is Within You, by Leo Tolstoy (Christian/Philosophical)note
- Instead of a Book by a Man Too Busy to Write One, by Benjamin Tucker (Individualist)
- The Soul of Man under Socialism, by Oscar Wilde (Communist; interesting in that Wilde gives an Individualist argument for it)
- A Peoples History of the United States, by Howard Zinn (Social Anarchist/Without Adjectives Zinn wasnt particularly committed to a specific brand of leftist anarchism)
- The Culture series by Iain M. Banks
- The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake (like many of the other authors listed in the fiction section, a lot of his other work probably qualifies as well)
- Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow
- The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin describes a working anarchist society along with its problems. Other works by Le Guin, such as The Left Hand of Darkness, also bear influence from anarchism; Le Guin herself was an anarchist, so this may not be surprising.
- Amerika, The Trial, The Castle and "The Judgement" by Franz Kafka. Crosses over with socialism.
- Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
- The Elric Saga by Michael Moorcock (as well as a lot of his other work)
- V for Vendetta and From Hell by Alan Moore (a lot of his other work qualifies too)
- The Invisibles by Grant Morrison
- Against The Day by Thomas Pynchon
- The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson
- The Iron Dream by Norman Spinradnote
- Alongside Night by J. Neil Schulman, in which a totalitarian U.S. Government is toppled by heroes using agorist insurrection
- Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, a humorous take on anarcho-capitalism
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, as well as probably a good chunk of Tolstoy's other work (the lesser-known Resurrection is actually his fiction work which addresses anarchist themes most explicitly; it also advocates Georgism)
- The output of B. Traven, of which The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, adapted into a classic 1948 film by John Huston, is undoubtedly the most famous
- Germinal by Émile Zola
- While both films are subject to widely varying interpretations, Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 arguably fit here by default, given the strong anticapitalist themes in the latter and their ultimate depiction of all existing institutions as corrupt. They are based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which per Philip K. Dick's Word of God was explicitly written as a deconstruction of Nazi Germany with applicability to all forms of oppression. This particularly seems to be Denis Villeneuve's intention with 2049, which can be read as a lamentation for all sentient beings oppressed in its society (replicants, women, the poor, and so on); Villeneuve indicated that the reason so many women were depicted as oppressed in its setting was that it was created as a reflection of our own world, in which so many women are oppressed. 2049 is also sometimes regarded as a parable about reproductive rights, as Jared Leto's villain can be read as being obsessed with the fact that women can get pregnant, and he is certainly attempting to formulate an artificial workaround. As a result the films can also be read as having feminist themes, though both films' portrayal of women has been controversial, and Blade Runner is also now subject to Values Dissonance as Deckard's kiss of Rachael now reads to modern audiences as a forceful one. The films also certainly have strong environmentalist themes, given their depiction of Earth as a trash-ridden wasteland with little surviving life outside its cities and significant parts of the planet being uninhabitable due to radiation. Like Androids, both films are heavily subject to applicability and open to multiple interpretations - which itself is a central component of much anarchist fiction - and thus are pretty much the exact opposite of Author Tracts.
- The Great Dictator by Charlie Chaplin closes with a Character Filibuster that could be considered an appeal for anarchism, or at least libertarian socialism, in addition to the film's obvious anti-fascist and -Nazi themes
- The films of Alejandro Jodorowsky
- Moonlight arguably fits either here or under Socialism due to its heavily unsympathetic treatment of existing social institutions (education, the prison system, etc.) and its heavily sympathetic (if flawed) portrayals of criminals and the poor. It's also heavily pro-LGBT (naturally, given its subject matter) and can be read as having feminist themes given its ambivalent portrayal of violence and its deconstruction of various social attitudes about masculinity. As with Blade Runner, however, the film does not actually editorialise about any of its subjects, completely inverting Author Tract, and thus different viewers may come away with wildly differing interpretations.
- Pan's Labyrinth, a depiction of the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War which is heavily sympathetic to the surviving anarchists and brutally critical of the Francoists. His earlier film The Devil's Backbone, set during the war and considered the first part of a loose trilogy with Pan's Labyrinth and an as-yet-unproduced third film, may also be considered to fit here.
- V for Vendetta isnt as explicitly anarchist as the comic, but still has aspects of the originals anarchism
- Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency has elements of this. The characters known as the Rowdy Three are implied to be anarchists and are fairly sympathetic antiheroes (or antivillains at worst). They are responsible for plenty of vandalism but tend to stop at causing serious harm to people unless they are seriously threatening others. They also protect people who are debilitated by illness or other problems. By contrast, while there are sympathetic figures of authority in the show (particularly Zimmerfield and Estevez), the government as a whole tends to be portrayed as incredibly corrupt, willing to stoop as low as murder to cover up its activities.
- It's debatable how sympathetic the show is to anarchism, but the creators of Lost have cited two works by anarchist writers as the primary influences on the show, namely Watchmen and The Illuminatus! Trilogy. The show overall can be read as having an anti-authoritarian message; however, revolutionaries don't necessarily come off as much better, given the slaughter of the Dharma Initiative and the presence of a character named after anarchist theorist Mikhail Bakunin who is not presented particularly sympathetically. On the other hand, the show also encourages viewers to question their own perception of reality, as every single presentation of reality until the last few episodes is eventually revealed to be an oversimplification that omits crucial details; this is a theme central to many interpretations of anarchism. The creators' influence by Discordianism, a sort of parody religion heavily associated with anarchism, is certainly difficult to deny; the series is structured similarly to Illuminatus! (one of the seminal works associated with Discordianism) and employs the common Discordian technique of "Operation Mindfuck". Overall, a mixed bag, but anarchism's influence on it is difficult to dispute.
- Against Me!
- The genre of anarcho-punk (Crass being probably the most famous example besides the Dead Kennedys) and the related genre of D-beat (Discharge, Varukers, Crucifix...)
- Ash Borer (presumably, considering they used the tagline "Godless, Masterless, Hopeless" on several of their websites, but they haven't actually released any lyrics and have given few interviews)
- Blut aus Nord (while they haven't explicitly identified as anarchist, band leader Vindsval has expressed explicit opposition to nationalism and named Wolves in the Throne Room as an example of a band with a similar ideology; the only album he's released lyrics for is a Concept Album about vengeance for an act of attempted genocide)
- John Cage
- Can (they frequently explained their name as a backronym for "Communism, Anarchism, Nihilism", implicitly identifying as anarcho-communists)
- Crass, as mentioned above
- Cult of Luna (they haven't explicitly stated a political stance, but the "No gods, no masters" in "Vicarious Redemption" and samples of Noam Chomsky on The Beyond are a pretty solid indication that if they're not actually anarchists, they're at least close)
- Dead Kennedys (before the resurrected group [minus Jello Biafra)
- Death Grips
- Dir en grey (see, for instance, the lyrics to the original version of "Hydra")
- Dynamite Tommy (again, before Money, Dear Boy, but he still does seem to show some anarcho-socialist leanings but not to the point of actually putting them into practice, unfortunately for anyone signed to his labels)
- Emceee Lynx
- Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Silver Mt. Zion
- The KLF
- John Lennon could arguably be placed either here or under socialism, considering that he himself admitted that "Imagine" is "basically The Communist Manifesto" set to music, though he also specified that he didn't particularly consider himself a Communist or a member of any movement. The lyrics arguably track closer with anarcho-communism than with Marxism. Several of his other songs have clear libertarian leftist sentiments as well, although some of his earlier works also contain misogynistic sentiments for which he later expressed regret (or outright loathing, in the case of "Run for Your Life").
- Misery Index
- Motörhead. It doesn't pop into their music that often, but "Orgasmatron" and 1916 are some examples where it does.
- Muse since Matthew Bellamy is a left-wing libertarian and they have quite a few protest songs.
- Napalm Death
- Joanna Newsom, believe it or not, can be read as having anarchist themes underneath the Fractured Fairy Tales she tells in her music, even though she's usually considered an apolitical artist. Her lyrics often use the ocean as a metaphor for the anarchic, pre-civilised state of humanity (it's also used as a metaphor for women's sexuality), and when the narrator of "Colleen" returns to the ocean, we're clearly intended to consider this a good thing, not least because she's clearly a selkie and was, almost literally, a Fish out of Water in human civilisation. The song ends with the narrator explicitly inviting the listener to join her in the ocean, where "never in your life have you felt so free." Her page here goes into further details about other political themes in her work.
- Nile, possibly, depending upon how one reads the song "Godless". This may be a case of Early Installment Weirdness, as it doesn't make its way into many of their lyrics; most are Horrible History Metal, with some Filk Songs thrown in, mostly based on H. P. Lovecraft's works.
- Utah Phillips
- Rage Against the Machine
- Red and Anarchist BlackMetal
- Slayer, though this is very much a Depending on the Writer example as some of their lyrics fit more with conservatism
- System of a Down (again, while they haven't explicitly identified as anarchists, their politics certainly trend that way, and their music has multiple Shout Outs to anarchist writers)
- Taiji Sawada. Most noticeable in his autobiography, his D.T.R. solo works, and his work with The Killing Red Addiction.
- Throbbing Gristle
- Wolves in the Throne Room
- X Japan (198792) due to the presence of hide and Taiji Sawada, both of whom had strong punk sensibilities. None of their songs had outright anarchist themes, but the general thrust of the bands ideals seemed to be very much toward the break stuff and create chaos for its own sake variant of anarchism. They would lose this over time.
- Eclipse Phase. All forms of anarchism are present in the game, and the game literature tends to paint a rather favorable picture of anarchism and an extremely unfavorable view of the hypercorps and the conservative/fascist Jovian Republic.
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is highly sympathetic and admiring of the Pirate Republic's proto-egalitarian defiance of the slaveowning colonialist empires.
- Fallout: New Vegas. While the developers haven't stated theyre anarchists, this is possibly the first computer game that allows the player to be an anarchist without being necessarily evil.
- Though never explicitly pointed out, three of the factions in the Alien Crossfire expansion to Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri have some distinct anarchist trappings in their philosophy.
- The Data Angels they value independence and free thought and oppose anyone who holds a position of authority over others.
- The Free Drones are made up of disaffected workers from the other factions broadly following an anarcho-communist ideology, and like the Data Angels, they place a great deal of value on independence and equality to the point that even Foreman Domai puts in his shifts in the factories like anyone else and lives in modest accommodations.
- The Nautilus Pirates are extremely heavily based on classical high seas pirates to the point of having a similarly proto-anarchist form of governance to many of said high seas pirates.
- Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall's central location is the so-called "Flux State" in a futuristic Berlin, which operates under this system: there's no official ruler, most of the residents have a punk ethos, and there's nary a corporation for miles. Many characters in-game comment upon it, with both praise and criticism.
- The Freedom faction of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is a brilliant depiction of an anarchist organisation. There's no real designated leader or hierarchy within Freedom, and members casually refer to each other as "bro" and generally just operate however they want. They are united by a wish to preserve the Zone as a scientific marvel which can be freely accessed by the public, which puts them at odds with Duty and the Ukrainian government. Freedom may be partially inspired by the "Free Territory", an attempt by anarchist militias to form a free stateless society during the Ukrainian Revolution of the early 20th century.
- The final enemies faced in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War are A World With No Boundaries, which has the very much anarchist goal of eliminating all borders (resulting largely from its membership consisting primarily of Shell Shocked Veterans of the eponymous Belkan War, which started as a border dispute). Unfortunately, their methods would make J. Posadas proud.
- This is the ultimate stance of the Marathon Eternal Game Mod, whose story is explicitly modelled on the War on Terror. The game's depiction of the W'rkncacnter is largely based on al-Qaeda, and the game's depiction of the Jjaro government is largely based on the actions of the Bush 43 administration. The Jjaro respond to the W'rkncacnter's violence with their own, along with extensive checks on civil liberties that turn them into an authoritarian society. The game's final level explicitly states that the Jjaro's response to the W'rkncacnter makes them morally indistinguishable, and that both approaches are borderline suicidal; moreover, despite being a first-person shooter, the game concludes that imposing one's will upon others through force is indefensible, making its political stance ultimately anarchist. (This is confirmed by Word of God as intentional.) The game mod Marathon Rubicon can also be read as having either an anarchist or a socialist political stance, and while its stance may not be entirely pacifist, its tagline is "Truth Is the First Casualty of War", which is a perfect one-sentence encapsulation of its themes.
- One of The Legend of Korra's antangonistic groups are the Red Lotus and their important ideology are is taken down all Human governments and killing Avatar to achive peace and harmony in post-Harmonic Convergence world.
An Anarchist FAQ will prove to be an invaluable resource to those interested in the social anarchist perspective. A more general FAQ (the author is anarcho-capitalist, but does a reasonably good job presenting leftist anarchist perspectives as well; unfortunately, many of the links presented are now out of date) is this one.
Today Nationalism and Neoliberalism are the dominant ideologies of the Anglosphere. In synch with the nature of its ideology, Neoliberalism is often made invisible or at least rarely identified openly. Culturally, Neoliberalism is present more in fragments and by implication than it is in large or direct doses à la Atlas Shrugged. Even that work's author, Ayn Rand, proclaimed her views as being "classical liberal". In general, culture in The '80s, The '90s until The Oughties can be seen as a time of turning inwards, analogous to Germany in the Post-Napoleonic Biedermeier era where the doxa encouraged a turn away from politics to private life, so even works without a political theme can be subject to being read as neoliberal. Neoliberal views are often represented in works that assert that Fascism and Communism are identical or near-identical in aims or outcomes, admire the fellow-traveler movement of Anarcho-Capitalism for what it 'gets right' economically while pointing out its flaws, indulges in Postmodernism and its sentiments while omitting its critique of bourgeois society, and general sense of uncertainty and disorder associated with those viewpoints.
The usual attitude and defensive posture is Heroic Self-Deprecation, a blurring or obscuring of class issues (except when it's Played for Laughs) and indulging in Both Sides Have a Point that claims to be advocating a morally gray view but depending on the nature of depiction and portrayal can come across as Clueless Aesop or Broken Aesop by some of the audience. Common tropes and concerns in Neoliberal works are — Bourgeois Bohemian, The Horseshoe Effect, Soapbox Sadie, Political Correctness Gone Mad, and others, which generally represents politics and social movements in caricatures, or paints events in terms of extremes regardless of context. Works presented here include films which present views associated with neoliberalism as well as works which criticize neoliberal values and neoliberal civic society. Of particular note is that this is an era where movies representing businessmen, corporate workers, stock market brokers and others came into prominence.
- Capitalism and Freedom, by Milton Friedman (Neo-liberalism/economic)note
- Free to Choose, by Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman (Neo-liberalism/economic)
- The Use of Knowledge in Society, The Road to Serfdom and The Constitution of Liberty, by Frederich von Hayek (Austrian School/Classical/economic/Neoliberalism/arguably conservative, though Hayek himself would have disputed the latter descriptor as he actually wrote an essay titled "Why I Am Not a Conservative")note
- Anarchy, State and Utopia by Robert Nozick (Libertarian/Classical)note
- The End of History and the Last Man by Francis Fukuyama.
- Penn & Teller (Libertarian / Objectivist)
- Bill Maher (Libertarian / Neoliberal - often veering into socialist in his economic stances in the 2010s)
- Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009 is a Deconstructive Parody of 21st Century England which has characters from an earlier era noting that it's Victorian, filled with malaise and thinly contained despair, and the fact that characters from this era's fictions tend to have youth who are spoiled narcissists without any sense of political and social awareness.
- Bulworth by Warren Beatty was an angry satire of the American Democratic Party's 90's neoliberalism, where they more or less left little room for agency in the new political spectrum to the poor and marginalized, with politicians courting minority votes despite not doing anything to ameliorate their problems, by blackmailing them by noting they have no other real alternatives:
Angry black woman: Are you sayin' the Democratic Party don't care about the African-American community?
Bulworth: Isn't that obvious? You got half your kids are out of work and the other half are in jail. Do you see any Democrat doing anything about it? Certainly not me! So what're you gonna do, vote Republican? Come on! Come on, you're not gonna vote Republican! Let's call a spade a spade!
- Forrest Gump by Robert Zemeckis can be seen as having a neoliberal historical view, depoliticizing the characters, caricaturing the civil-rights era and the protest movement (with Jenny, the embodiment of that era presented as a "cautionary tale") while associating The '80s with prosperity and stability (since that's where the main character becomes rich after investing in Apple).
- They Live by John Carpenter uses the mode of a B-Movie science-fiction genre to tell a complex satire of how the American class system is utterly polarized and fragmented by Reaganomics and its deregulatory policies. Aliens from a far away land see Earth the same way First World nations see third world markets, with the middle and upper classes becoming a willing Sell-Out to the alien force since in their opinion and view, there's no other alternative. Just to drive it home, the rebels are labeled communists for opposing this.
- Wall Street by Oliver Stone is considered a representative portrayal of Reagan-era neoliberalism, famous for the character Gordon Gekko stating, "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good". Fittingly, the film is about the son of a union worker becoming a stock broker, which reflects a shift in America's class society. While Stone is a man of the left, albeit someone with views that are heterodox (for lack of a better word) and is critical of neoliberalism, his film became popular among businessmen.
- The Wolf of Wall Street by Martin Scorsese made in 2015 is a scathing satire of the real-life Jordan Belfort who became the head of a corrupt firm in The '90s. The character gives a speech that enunciates how individuals of the middle-class felt in the Nineties, and Belfort periodically reminds his critics that he is a job creator:
Jordan Belfort: Let me tell you something. There is no nobility in poverty. I have been a rich man and I have been a poor man. And I choose rich every fucking time. Because at least as a rich man, when I have to face my problems, I show up in the back of a limo, wearing a $2,000 suit and a $40,000 gold fucking watch!
- American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and many of his other novels are all satires and scathing criticisms of the general shallowness and self-absorption nurtured by neo-liberalism.
- The Hunt for Red October is an incredibly neoconservative work.
- My Work Is Not Yet Done by Thomas Ligotti is a "tale of corporate horror" that elevates the financial sector's mentality to the level of Lovecraftian horror:
"This market strategy would then go on until one day, among the world-wide ruins of derelict factories and warehouses and office buildings, there stood only a single, shining, windowless structure with no entrance and no exit. Inside would be — will be — only a dense network of computers calculating profits. Outside will be tribes of savage vagrants with no comprehension of the nature or purpose of the shining, windowless structure. Perhaps they will worship it as a god. Perhaps they will try to destroy it...the smooth and impervious walls of the structure, upon which not even a scratch can be inflicted."
- Friends was a popular TV sitcom in The '90s but came under renewed focus in many Web Video in The New '10s (especially on Cracked) for its internalization of the casual homophobia typical among liberal yuppies of the era, for its denial of issues of gentrification, its Monochrome Casting in a very diverse, multicultural city, as well for the way the characters seem to reside in a bubble unconnected with changes in the decades.
- Mad Men is noted, as in the case of Forrest Gump for depicting The '60s in a manner that acknowledges the political tumult of that era but at the same depoliticizing the characters and their relation to society.
- Aaron Sorkin is a forthrightly liberal viewer often writing shows and characters that reflect his views and politics.
- The West Wing is noted for its support of bipartisanship, albeit through its very sanitized view of actual Washington politics and generally having a critical and dismissive view of those on the margins of its own party. Sorkin left after the fourth season and there is a noticeable shift in tone after this point, though it still tended to take a mainstream American liberal view of issues. Democratic presidential candidate and ultimate victor of the election Matthew Santos was explicitly modeled on Barack Obama, and several critics have written about the parallels between The West Wing's fictional 2006 election and the actual 2008 election, whether intentional or not.note See also Lawrence O'Donnell, listed above under socialism, who may have had some influence on the show's direction in later seasons (though it should not be overstated; he was one of several producers and writers for the show).
- The Newsroom got into a controversy for its attempts to take a middle view on the issue of rape, favoring constitutional and liberal defense of laws and rights over social and cultural sentiments.
- Robert Altman's famous mockumentary Tanner '88 and the 2004 sequel Tanner on Tanner was a critical view of the rise of mass media image politics, and like Bulworth is critical of the narrowing of the political spectrum, and the way liberal parties are forced to tilt to the center or otherwise support center candidates just to survive.
- The BioShock games at various times ventriloquize a series of political views and ideas, in general advocating moderation and castigating extremes or taking things too far. Curious is that unlike other critiques of Ayn Rand, the first game argues that it's main flaw is that it's utopian and that human error will betray it (which can be seen to imply that Rand has a serious ideology to begin with, which most critics do not believe she does). The second game shows an equally flawed collectivist society, featuring a state-run cult. The third game BioShock Infinite then skewered both fascism (filtered through American Neoconservatism) and left-wing anti-racist agitation, having its protagonist arguing against revolutions, and having characters say that a violent slave owner and a violent abolitionist revolutionary are equivalent, which was so highly criticized that a Retcon appeared in the game's DLC.