These are the basic political ideologies that are prevalent in contemporary times. Of course, these are largely simplified, and most people don’t 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 US 'liberalism' is an umbrella which encompasses everything between Socialism and Anarchism, whereas 'conservatism' is another umbrella covering everything from Tea Party Republicanism to Christian Zealots 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 19th–20th centuries, though many are still highly influential even in the 21st century.
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.
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', or even 'just are', 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' and so on. 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.
- The Enlightenment (16th-18th centuries), when they were first conceived.
- 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). Ostensibly, 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 purportedly 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, 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, etc.).
It is in the context of the Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment that the following political theories originated.
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 and teachers 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 x cannot really interfere with the actions of the representatives. Sure, you might try to vote him out 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. Likewise the notion of 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 Liberals) were against referendums and defended the principle of representative government.note
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 over the last two hundred years. 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, despite not being generally considered as a Liberal himself.
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. Liberals are also in favor of enforcing agrarian reform and land grants and likewise advocate for a strong centralized state (especially the Jacobins). Liberals want all people to be actually free, period, and when Liberals abolished slavery, either in Jacobin France or Radical Republican America, they denied compensation to slave owners, 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.
Social Democracy gained consensus among the mainstream Left while the American Democrat Party, historically a party with populist-classical-Liberal sentiments, turned towards Liberalism and social democracy. The result was the post-war consensus that remained in place until The '80s. But in brief, it is worth pointing out that even Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek 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).
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):
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 its 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. They feel that errors and mistakes can remedy themselves 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 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 among European elites, especially after World War II.
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 as they keep 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 dislike "Big Government" and want to preserve 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, 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 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 the Tea Party, 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.
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 at times and 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 traditions that have survived because, they believe, they have been useful. It sees the maintenance of order and the status quo as vital, and these are the key values underpinning conservatism in contrast to liberalism’s favoring of freedom and reform above all else.
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 more generally with Conservatism. Christian Democracy is a broad umbrella term with ideology derived from traditional Christian/Catholic political thought (thus, ultimately, from the Counter-Enlightenment), which nevertheless embraced many Enlightenment principles. Christian Democracy is predominantly a Catholic phenomenon, being mainly associated with Catholic regions in Europe like Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Bavaria, Austria, as well as South America. Protestantism's role in politics, particularly in the United States, doesn't generally fall under the label "Christian Democracy" (political Protestantism being generally right/far-right, while Christian Democracy is generally center-right, though Christian Democracy in South America tends to be center-left).
- Various, dependent upon region and country.
- Distributism: The (Catholic) must subdue and harness the Ungodly greed promoted by Capitalism to better God's creation
Historically, democracy and the Catholic Church have had, let's say, a difficult period of adjustment. The Catholic Church, as a generally conservative force, was a supporter of monarchy and tradition. This meant many early supporters of liberal Republicanism on continental Europe were not only pro-democracy, but almost by necessity were anti-Catholic. Many of these movements also promoted the idea that man should be the ultimate arbiter of his own conscience, and his primary loyalty must be to a centralized, nationalist state - two things which the Catholic Church found unacceptable. Now in the Church's defense, the Revolutionaries (while well-intentioned) did propose measures that were more than a little unkind to its flock. The French Revolution, especially in the early years, was ferociously anti-Catholic and attempted to de-Christianize France entirely. One particularly infamous incident involved the execution-by-drowning of several thousand Royalists, among them several hundred priests and nuns. Churches were looted, closed, or destroyed, and tens of thousands of priests were exiled or forced to flee. Those who remained were not allowed to wear their priestly vestments, were made to swear an oath of loyalty to the new regime, and many were forced to marry. These policies (among others) led to outright rebellion and the outbreak of a Civil War that was exceptionally bloody even within the context of the Reign of Terror. One of the rallying cries of the coalition during the Napoleonic Wars was that the French were "godless atheists" serving the anti-Christ (Napoleon). 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 the "red tide." At this time, most hospitals, schools, and charities were all run by the Church, and the Church still had 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 Napoléon Bonaparte and sign a Concordat which reversed the French Revolution's more anti-clerical policies, although the Church would never regain its previous influence, and eventually Napoleon got tired and tore up the agreement. 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 the US. 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 Liberal 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 Liberal/Libertarian 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 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 Libertarians.
The appeal of Christian Democratic parties of the centrist strain, with the exception of Germany, has waned. This has been accompanied in part by 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.
Associated Economic Theories:
- Laissez-faire Fair, Austrian
Libertarianism is essentially an offshoot of Classical Liberalism, meted by more conservative elements (such as the aforementioned Friedrich Hayek), but it didn't necessarily begin this way. Contrary to modern libertarianism, the movement was actually left-wing at first, with Libertarianism initially being synonymous with Anarchism. Even in its modern, right-wing form, Libertarianism shares some elements of Anarchism, such as skepticism of authority, preference for direct democracy, and opposition to state-based hierarchies. The two would gradually split apart in the latter half of the 19th century, as Libertarianism placed a greater emphasis on individual freedom and empowerment, while Anarchism focused more on the rights of the collective and had a much stronger devotion to the working class.
Libertarianism struggled to define itself from Anarchism until the early 20th century, when it began to move rightward on the political spectrum. As the old "Libertarian Socialist" movement waned, writers like Ayn Rand would go on to seed the ideas of modern Libertarianism in the general public. Politically, the massive opposition bloc that had been built to oppose the New Deal seized on Randian ideas of "Objectivism," merged them together with a fervent devotion to the free market and laissez-fair capitalism, and birthed modern Libertarianism. Murray Rothbard, a highly influential Austrian School economist, is often credited for being the "mastermind" behind Libertarianism's shift from the political left to the political right.note
Libertarians believe that a Democracy that upholds a free-market economy without arbitrary government regulations is the only ethical, if not practical form of society. The Invisible Hand ensures that the most successful business are always the ones run most efficiently, and that businesses that do not operate in an efficient way are phased out. The government’s job is primarily to protect private property and to not infringe on freedoms.
Modern Libertarianism is fiercely anti-socialist, and it regards social democracy and liberalism as setting a precedent for a tyrannical state, and sees programs such as the welfare state, high minimum wages, social security and other measures as unwarranted infringements on economic liberty. They believe that if a political party controlled 60% of all economic activity, it would be impossible to vote them out due to voters' fears of losing their jobs. To them, it would only be a matter of time before the political system would turn into a one-party system, and fear that the socialists would blame Democracy (where it is necessary to make compromise to get policy into law) and turn the government into a tyrannical dictatorship, all while every economic system run by the government would begin to flounder.
Libertarians believe that 'protective tariffs' hurt the local state economy more than anyone else, and therefore are opposed to it. This is in contrast to Populists/Conservatives which view tariffs as necessary to keep foreign countries from somehow ruining the country.
Beyond these ideological throughlines, there is a lot of diversity in Libertarian thought. While Libertarians are objectively right-wing in economic terms, they are more divided on social issues, with many Libertarians holding progressive social views (although many others are socially conservative, even to the detriment of their individualist views). In modern America, this leads to the Libertarian Party supporting left-wing views (legalization of marijuana and LGBTQ+ rights) concurrently with right-wing views (pro-firearm ownership, anti-welfare). As such, Libertarianism has provided a haven for voters thar are more broadly sympathetic to the views of the Conservatives, but still hold some Liberal values.
Libertarianism is a distinctly American ideology, although many modern "Classical Liberal" parties in Europe, such as the Liberal Democrats in the United Kingdom or the Free Democratic Party in Germany, are similar, although they are further left on social issues than American Libertarians. Libertarianism in the United States is identified with Conservatism, with opponents of Libertarians lampooning them as "Republicans who smoke weed." While there is an independent Libertarian Party that has gotten some of its candidates into office, most modern Libertarians run as Republicans to boost their electoral chances, as the First Past the Post voting system means that third parties are at an incredible disadvantage.
(See also: Socialism)
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 doesn’t start serving the upper classes again.
"Socialism" is a blanket term that covers a wide range of political beliefs. Anarchism, Marxism, and Social Democracy are all considered forms of Socialism, and are detailed more in their respective folders, but in brief:
- Marxism: The grandaddy of all Socialist theory, and suitably hard to define. "Marxism" quickly took on a life of its own beyond its creator, and now-a-days is more defined as an approach to analyzing history, economics, politicals, and society as a whole, rather than as a defined political ideology. There's no definitive definition of Marxism, but generally Marxists analyze the world through the lens of materialism and class consciousness.
- Anarchism: The state is merely an organ of bourgeois oppression and should be dismantled. People are fine to manage themselves with minimal/no-government oversight. Anarchism is fiercely against heirarchies of any kind (including corporations/private business). Anarchism believes that all institutions should be lateral, meaning that nobody in an institution occuppies a role of higher authority than any other. To summarize, Anarchists believe in mitigating or completing dismantling hierachies in any form, be they from the state, private business, or religious authorities. Sometimes referred to as "Libertarian Socialism," as the term Libertarian was coined by an Anarchist to describe himself, even if Libertarianism is decidedly right-wing today.
- Marxism-Leninism: Essentially the opposite of Anarchism. "Marxism-Leninism" was the state ideology of the Soviet Union, formulated by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s. Marxism-Leninism is also referred to as "authoritarian socialism," as it believes in a socialist state run by a "Vanguard Party" of intelligentsia, similar to a Technocracy, rather than via democratic institutions. The Bolsheviks believed this was necessary for Russia/the USSR as it was too backwards and underdeveloped, and that only the guiding hand of the Vanguard Party could bring about the conditions needed to create communism. As such, it differs from earlier Marxist and Anarchist theories that supported collective ownership of industries, instead believing in a planned economy where the state owns all businesses and directs them accordingly. The Soviets would dance around the fact that this goes directly against Marxist principles by claiming that the state is the people, and thus state ownership is the same as collective ownership. As the ideology would be defined by Stalin, it is often referred to as "Stalinism" in shorthand.note
- Social Democracy: Social Democracy is the compromise between Liberalism and Socialism. It rejects Socialism's revolutionary tendencies in favor of changing the system from within. Some Social Democrats seek to attain "Socialist outcomes" using Liberal systems, such as using state welfare to combat inequality, while other Social Democrats have sought to transform Liberal governments into Socialist ones, but using the mechanisms of Liberal governance to carry out reforms rather than non-state actions like strikes or uprisings. The former is far more common among Social Democratic parties today.
- Identity Socialism: There are many forms of Socialism linked to distinct regional, ethnic, or gender identities, such as Feminist Socialism, Arab Socialism, or African Socialism. These ideologies were born out of a need to reconfigure socialism to better meet the needs of these groups, and they differ wildly in terms of policy and beliefs.
Associated Economic Theories (if any):
- Democratic: Keynesian, Behavioral
- Dictatorial: Keynesian, Behavioral, Marxism
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 nationalized, 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 anarcho-commons 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 favor 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 anti-authoritarian 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 you’ll 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:
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 nationalizing 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 nationalized services). Essentially, it's democratic socialism within a capitalistic framework. As a result, some of the more radical and oxthodox socialist ideologies tend to be highly critical of social democracy, arguing that it at best only offers a temporary delay, not a solution to the corrosive effects capital has on society.
Associated Economic Theories (if any):
- Keynesian, Behavioural
Democracy and Meritocracy (Important and Yes/No, or Unimportant):
- Democracy: Important-Yes
- Meritocracy: Important-Yes
"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).
(See also: Marxism)
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: our ability to 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).
- 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):
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 landlordsnote , 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 by 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 of overthrowing the capitalist system and establishing 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, ending social ills, and promoting literacy, women's emancipation and secular education. The problem, as postmodernists 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 Bread 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 is 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, form the core ideas 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.
(See also: Anarchism)
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.
- 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 Liberals.
- 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
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 Versus 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, anarcho-commons 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 anarcho-commons 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 don’t 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 a tactical view, since followers were invariably 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. It’s like a Venn diagram, in that there are non-anarchist syndicalists and non-syndicalist anarchists who favor other tactics for achieving anarcho-commons 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-labor 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.
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 don’t) 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.
Associated Economic Theories (if any):
- Keynesian, Neoclassical, Corporatism, Herrenvolk Democracy
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 people’s 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 fascism’s 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 via associations which are called "corporations" in fascist parliance, which are essentially modernized versions of the medieval guild system and of which there is only one per economic sector. 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. Under said "corporations" there is also no competition among businesses, as they could exclude businesses from dealing in said sector.
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.
Works that promote or are heavily influenced by a particular ideology:
- 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)
- 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)
- The Globalization Paradox, by Dani Rodrik
- The Social Contract, Discourse on Inequality, and Émile, by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
- 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 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.
Anime and Manga:
- Elfen Lied is a fairly obvious indictment of racism and fascism. However it does not critique the political economy of fascism that much, putting it more in the realm of liberalism.
- Bill Maher (social)
- American History X
- Demolition Man
- Django Unchained
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers
- The Lives of Others
- The People vs. Larry Flynt
- Red Dawn (1984)
- We the Living
- Parks and Recreation gets to have it both ways about being a 'liberal' show: Leslie Knope is the main liberal character, Ron Swanson the kinda Libertarian. Though Ron is the more popular character, Leslie is shown clearly to be The Hero.
- Nine Inch Nails could be filed under 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.
- Nirvana: Kurt Cobain was openly feminist and wrote several songs about female oppression, most famously "Polly", as well as donating money to pro-choice charities.
- 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, Napoléon Bonaparte, and Benjamin Disraeli over more radical alternatives.
- Final Fantasy VI
- The UN Peacekeeping Forces of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, naturally. Strongly committed to peace, tolerance, democracy and humanitarian ideals. Opposed to police states and fundamentalist governments.
- CGP Grey's video essays have been noted to be influenced (to some extent) by the tenets of neoliberalism—generally arguing in favor of political systems built on representative democracy, and on economic systems built on maximum efficiency and equal opportunity.
- Andrew Rakich of Atun Shei Films is known for examining history (predominately American history) through a distinctly liberal lens, harshly criticizing theocracy and ethnonationalism while arguing strongly in favor of American democracy and the ideals of the Enlightenment.
- Steven Universe has a central theme of acceptance.
See also Wikipedia’s list of liberal theorists.
- Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford. Yes, really. Bradford writes about goings-on in Plymouth Colony over the course of three decades from a conservative and deeply Christian Puritan perspective.
- 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
- See, I Told You So and The Way Things Ought to Be by Rush Limbaugh
- Right Nation: Conservative Power in America, by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge
- Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays, by Michael Oakeshott
- An American Life by Ronald Reagan
- The Gulag Archipelago, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
- Intellectuals and Society, by Thomas Sowell
- The Decline of the West, by Oswald Spengler
- 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.
- 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.
- Holy Terror, also by Frank Miller.
- 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 œuvre of Jerry Pournelle (and, sometimes, Larry Niven)
- The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson depicts a clash of Western Victorianism and Chinese Confucianism, both being a society’s re-embrace of highly conservative culture of old.
- Ray Bradbury was known for his politically conservative leanings in his later life (although he supported the Democratic Party until the late 1960s). Accordingly, his works tend to feature strongly positive depictions of traditional American families and wistfully nostalgic depictions of small-town American life in the early 20th century, while also being harshly critical of the influence of new media.
- The collected works of Christian cartoonist Jack Chick certainly count, small comic pamphlets written with the intent of gaining converts to Evangelical Christianity. The tracts themselves often contain social and political commentary from an American Religious Right perspective, going into topics such as pro-life arguments, anti-homosexuality comments, discussion of the harm of recreational drug use, and, occasionally, discussing problems with Communist and far left ideology.
- 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 has the main character as a conservative father shown rather sympathetically in his struggles against liberal culture.
- Downton Abbey is pretty much British Conservatism: The Show. It has a nostalgic and favorable view of the aristocracy and monarchy. While it pays lip service to some progressive issues at the time, they aren't anything any modern conservative would be opposed to, and characters espousing leftism are either naive or assholes.
- Modern Country Music tends to skew towards conservative themes in its love of religion and traditional rural life.
- The Chicks (formerly The Dixie Chicks) are notable for being liberal, and protested George Bush, crashing their career for a time as a result.
- The Hardline offshoot of the Straight Edge movement, although some trend towards socially conservative and economically centrist/left-wing ideologies such as paternalistic conservatism and distributism.
- "Land of Hope and Glory", the official anthem of the British Conservative Party
- Toby Keith
- Ted Nugent
- Marty Robbins
- 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.
- The Autobiography and Other Writings by Benjamin Franklin
- Capitalism and Freedom, by Milton Friedman note
- Free to Choose, by Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman
- The Road To Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek
- On Liberty, by John Stuart Mill
- Common Sense by Thomas Paine, which is a pamphlet that was popularized in colonial America around the start of the American Revolution.
- For A New Liberty by Murray Rothbard note
- The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
- Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell
- Penn & Teller (Libertarian / Objectivist)
- 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 Liberalism, 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!
- Harry Potter has been noted by some as having views sympathetic to Libertarianism. Of note: it strongly condemns racism and authoritarianism while also being markedly sympathetic in its depiction of a private school system, generally skeptical of progressive grassroots political activism, and mostly supportive of success based on individual effort and aptitude.
- The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress along with other works by Robert A. Heinlein
- Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
- The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind
- John Stossel's news/talk shows generally examine current issues from a libertarian perspective.
- Rush was infamously inspired by Objectivism in their earlier albums, as seen most obviously in 2112, although their drummer would later come to regret those lyrics and change his political views.
- The BioShock games at various times portrays 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 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.
- 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.
- FreedomToons has videos criticizing the minimum wage and gun control, and videos decrying both the War on Drugs and the War on Terror, while also lampooning general politics.
- 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 by Yanis Varoufakis (Marxism)
- 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 Žižek (Marxism)
- The Boys In addition to criticizing the usual fallings of captitalism and corporatism, it also satirizes corporations tendency to adopt progressive causes, without practicing what they preach.
- The Helpful Fox Senko-san — Anti-corporation.
- 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 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 pretty much the same.
- 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
- 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 way 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 and Mako is a Working-Class Hero who for a single episode temporarily turned into a jerk after gaining wealth and power. Ryuko, The Hero ironically is draped in Red and Black colors.
- Knives Out has the working class Latina Marta shown in a favorable light against the upper-class and white dysfunctional Thrombey family. A reading of this movie is that class interests will always dominate as the film opens on a Red Herring with the more conservative Thrombey's portrayed in a negative light, but the more socially liberal ones, even avowed activists like Meg, are quick to turn on Marta and unite with their reactionary family once it's their privilege under attack.
- 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 (at least his later ones), but note that Lovecraft himself was pretty racist and (at least until The Great Depression) 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, made more challenging because the Lovecraft of the mid-1930s would have vehemently disagreed with the Lovecraft of the early 1920s: Lovecraft biographer S. T. Joshi has documented how Lovecraft's politics shifted leftward in the 1930s as a result of The Great Depression, as summarized in this blog post (although he did not fully shed his racism).
- 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. While Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm are the best known examples of how it can go wrong, socialism itself is never attacked, and is shown to be an ideal. It's just vulnerable to subversion by quasi-fascists draped in red, according to him.
- 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.
- Parasite (2019), as well as most films by its director, is a movie about how capitalism drives people to horrible actions, concerning a lower-class family manipulating a higher-class one out of desperation for money before everything goes to hell.
- The People Under the Stairs is described by Wikipedia as having been "analyzed for its satirical depiction of gentrification, class warfare, and capitalism" since it features the protagonists' landlords as the horror film's villains and it ends with their money being redistributed.
- The Platform is set in a vertical prison and has a 'platform' with food on it descend from the top to the bottom with those on upper levels taking more than those on lower levels and the director says the film's key message is that "humanity will have to move towards the fair distribution of wealth".
- Red Faction is about a revolt on Mars.
- 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.
- Snowpiercer is set on a train in perpetual motion and it is structured in a way much like the idea of the class system with the most disadvantaged people at the back of the train and progressively better off people are closer to the front of the train and the film follows the poorest among them fighting against their situation.
- Sorry to Bother You, given that it's by Boots Riley, a communist, and the plot of the movie is about organizing a union.
- 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.
- Lily Allen was a supporter of democratic socialist Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the UK Labour, though she also notably followed several anarcho-syndicalist Twitter accounts in 2015.
- Anti-Flag has supported many left-wing and anti-capitalist causes throughout their career and have included writings by Howard Zinn in album liner notes. In true punk-rock fashion they also overlap with anarchism.
- Jello Biafra, former lead singer of Dead Kennedys and a member of various other projects since, is usually identified as an anarchist but has said that he could also be considered a socialist because he is still in favour of the state redistributing wealth.
- Billy Bragg is an outspoken democratic socialist and supported Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the UK Labour Party. He performed countless benefits for striking miners during the 1980s, collaborated with Wilco on two albums' worth of Woody Guthrie songs (writing new music for lyrics left behind), named one of his albums Workers Playtime, and wrote new lyrics for the socialist anthem "The Internationale".
- The Clash were an unabashedly left-wing band and frontman Joe Strummer was a self-identified socialist. They made sure that their concert tickets and merchandise were reasonably priced, and insisted that their record company sell the respectively double and triple albums London Calling and Sandinista! (the latter of which was named after the socialist party running Nicaragua at the time) for the price of a single album.
- The Coup, a rap group of which outspoken revolutionary communist anbd labor activist Boots Riley is the only constant member. Boots also wrote and directed the film Sorry to Bother You, which centers around striking telemarketers and scathingly critiques capitalism, and has collaborated with Star Fucking Hipsters and with Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello in Street Sweeper Social Club.
- Dead Prez is a rap group composed of two left-wing activists and admire the Black Panthers heavily.
- Daniel Kahn and The Painted Bird have songs such as The Butcher's Share in which the Marxist concept of commodity fetishism is summed up with the video at certain points putting quotes from Marx's Capital on that topic and also March of The Jobless Corps in which the connection between the working-class and the unemployed is emphasised and how solidarity between the two is important since their interests are in reality the same.
- Die Krupps
- Dropkick Murphys don't make explicitly ideological music but are outspokenly pro-union (all of their merch is union-made), used Woody Guthrie lyrics for one of their more well-known songs "Shipping Up To Boston" and idolize The Clash. However, drummer Matt Kelly said he voted for Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson in 2016, and lead singer Al Barr has been a supporter of Bernie Sanders. Oddly enough, in 2020 they supported the senate primary challenge of Joe Kennedy III against the more left-wing incumbent, Ed Markey.
- 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.
- Woody Guthrie, the legendary American folk singer, aligned himself with communist causes throughout his career, writing a column for the communist newspaper People's World and supporting the non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. His most famous song, "This Land is Your Land", contains a seldom-sing verse that critiques the idea of private property. He also notably wrote a song accusing Fred Trump, father of future US President Donald Trump, of being a slumlord who stirred up racial hatred.
- Henry Cow
- Immortal Technique identifies as 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 are outspoken leftists, and their side projects The Nightwatchman, Street Sweeper Social Club, and One Day As A Lion espouse similar views.
- 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 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
- The Ten Years After song "I'd Love to Change the World" (which got Covered Up by Jetta and remixed up by Matstubs), contains lines such as "Tax the rich, feed the poor, 'til there are no rich no more" and "Who needs money? Monopoly."
- Eddie Vedder as well as Pearl Jam and Temple Of The Dog
- Lewis Black
- Frankie Boyle
- George Carlin (could also be placed under anarchism; he has elements of both)
- Ben Elton
- Bill Hicks (as with Carlin, he also has elements of anarchism)
- Eddie Izzard
- Lawrence O’Donnell, 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. (O’Donnell 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.)
- Cruelty Squad is an incredibly brutal cyberpunk satire of capitalism and the gig economy. The companies of the game are completely disconnected to humanity to the point of literally being composed of Eldritch Abominations, most water is toxic sludge, and corporations murder politicians for attempting minor reforms like raising taxes by 10%.
- The Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg mod gives the players a chance to explore Syndicalist socialism.
- Democratic Socialism Simulator, as the name suggests, involves a sort of government simulator according to democratic socialist principles with gameplay a bit like Video Game/Reigns.
- 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, especially when compared to the Neo Nazis.
- In Sid Meier's 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 Outer Worlds has clear anti-capitalist themes throughout and parodying capitalism with its exaggerated abuses of workers and examples in the game include people having to pay rent to have loved ones buried in graveyards and a worker's suicide is referred to as "vandalism of company property".
- Philosophy Tube: Abigail Thorn is a proud and unapologetic Marxist, and her video essays frequently critique the pitfalls of capitalism.
- Shaun's video essays frequently criticize both fascism and neoliberalism, generally portraying social democracy favorably.
- 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 People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn (Social Anarchist/Without Adjectives — Zinn wasn’t particularly committed to a specific brand of leftist anarchism)
- The Anarchist Handbook, by Michael Malice et al (Individualist, although the other authors have different leanings)
- One Piece
- The Culture series by Iain M. Banks
- Fall Revolution series by Ken MacLeod describes four different anarch-isms, i.e. polis-cities in place of the state (first book), anarcho-individualism (second book), anarcho-communism (third book) and green anarchism (fourth book).
- 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 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 editorialize 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. 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 isn’t as explicitly anarchist as the comic, but still has aspects of the original’s anarchism.
- Fight Club: Project Mayhem is portrayed as having something of an anarchist bent, working to bring down the capitalist financial system which enslaves people by debt, and infiltrating it by recruiting people disillusioned with the status quo. Tyler also says his vision of the future is of people having returned to a more pre-industrial hunter-gatherer/agrarian lifestyle, putting it closer into anarcho-primitivism.
- 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.
- The Last of Us (2023) for the same reasons as its source material down below.
- Against Me! They even have a song called "Baby, I'm an Anarchist."
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Silver Mt. Zion
- Jefferson Airplane, most clearly seen on their album Volunteers, on which several songs explicitly express an anarchist viewpoint
- 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").
- 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.
- 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-civilized 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.
- Nevermore: Lyrics frequently reference the evils of the government, although the economic views of the band aren't made clear.
- 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.
- Rage Against the Machine The band is (in)famous for their extremely left-wing politics (identifying most closely with anarcho-syndicalism) and the politically-charged lyrics in their songs, and the liner notes usually include contact information to various organizations the band supports.
- 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
- Behind the Bastards, the host of whom, Robert Evans, is openly a social anarchist, and several episodes focus on the the evils of capitalism and the Central Theme that bad people will always be able to gain significant influence as long as social hierarchies exist.
- 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.
- Fallout: New Vegas. While the developers haven't stated they’re anarchists, this is possibly the first computer game that allows the player to be an anarchist without being necessarily evil.
- The 3 other in-game factions roughly correspond to real-life political ideologies. The Legion is fascist, with a domineering, imperialist military ideology that views women as property, The NCR is neoliberal, being expansionist but not nearly as violent and cruel as the Legion, and generally egalitarian, and Mr.House is libertarian, essentially privately owning the Vegas Strip as his own abode. The game itself deconstructs this by pointing out that Mr.House is essentially a private dictator, which is a common criticism anarchists make towards right-wing libertarians.
- Though never explicitly pointed out, three of the factions in the Alien Crossfire expansion to Sid Meier's 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.
- The Last of Us due to its treatment of institutions in a post-apocalyptyc America.
- Dutch van der Linder from Red Dead Redemption (which is set in 1911-1914) and its Prequel Red Dead Redemption II (set in 1899) is an anarchist struggling to come to terms with the end of The Wild West. As the west gets settled , civilization and the government (both of whom he hates) come with it. He ultimately throws himself off a cliff because he can no longer stand to live in a world where he’s not free from the government. The events of the game line up with the real life timeline as it would have taken place right around the time Woodrow Wilson took office who arguably changed the American government into what it is today during the progressive era. It’s also only a few years shy of America entering World War 1 and about a decade and a half before the New Deal Era reforms.
- While most of CGP Grey's works are primarily liberal in their political outlook, his famous video essay "The Rules for Rulers" makes an implicit case for anarchism by demonstrating that all people with political authority are self-serving to a degree—as selfishness is built into the institution of rulership by its very nature, and political power can never truly be held and exercised purely for the good of the people.
- Following the series theme of political ideologies, Zaheer and the Red Lotus, the antagonists from The Legend of Korra's third season represent anarchism. They are a rogue faction that split from the White Lotus over disagreements with cooperating with world governments and serving the Avatar. They believe that the true nature of the world is chaos, and their main goal is to destroy the Avatar cycle to bring forth a new spiritual era. Although portrayed as the villains, the Red Lotus have several sympathetic traits: Zaheer is polite, respectful, and against hurting common folk. He is also the first Airbender antagonist in the franchise and an admirer of the Air Nomad philosophy of freedom. The four core members all represent different elemental nations and are sincere, loyal comrades. They also despise authoritarian regimes, specially the admittedly tyrannical Earth Queen, whom Zaheer kills onscreen. Their goals are portrayed as well intentioned, but ultimately too radical, specially after the vacuum left behind by the Earth Queen's death brings forth the rise of Kuvira and her fascistic Earth Empire. Zaheer is no thrilled at all by that development.
- 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
- The Fate of Empires by Sir John Glubb, though it can be argued that Glubb's work also has shades of British Imperialism.
- Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler
- Mine Were of Trouble by Peter Kemp, which is a memoir of a British volunteer who fought on the Nationalist side of the Spanish Civil War.
- Anything written by Sir Oswald Mosley.
- The Doctrine of Fascism, by Benito Mussolini and Giovanni Gentile. Mussolini's autobiography, My Rise and Fall is another one of the former's notable publications.
- Reflections on Violence by Georges Sorel
- Inside the Third Reich by Albert Speer, Hitler's architect, though he is critical of some of Hitler's leadership decisions here and there.
- White Identity by Jared Taylor
- Das Dritte Reich by Arthur Moeller van den Bruck
- 300 has been described as fascist propaganda given the xenophobic orientalism of a plot about militaristic Europeans defending their homeland against darker-skinned Hordes from the East—even though, as the article points out, "there is no consistent significant difference in skin color between Greek people and Iranian people," not to mention that a lot of The Achaemenid Empire's troops opposing Sparta at Thermopylae weren't even of Iranian extraction anyway (and some were even Greek themselves). Doesn't help that infanticide of disabled children is presented in a positive light (and a hunchback who escaped this fate is depicted as an Evil Cripple), nor that the macho Spartans are contrasted against both Athenian "boy-lovers" and the Sissy Villain Xerxes (ignoring that the historical Sparta had plenty of homosexuality, and that even the movie itself is pretty homoerotic in its depiction of scantily clad male warriors and their camaraderie with each other).
- Many have accused Dirty Harry of carrying a fascist, or at least authoritarian, undertone. After the controversy surrounding the first film, the sequels tried to balance out the ideology, having Harry's bad guys span the length of the political morality spectrum.
- Gabriel Over the White House
- Inglourious Basterds interestingly flips the usual representation of Those Wacky Nazis in modern culture. Here, the Affably Evil Nazis are diverse (with distinct regional accents), individualized, and Wicked Cultured, while the Jewish title characters are depicted as brutal monoethnic invaders against whom the Nazis feel they must defend their homes. Quentin Tarantino intended this as a meditation on how media frames "good guys" and "bad guys" (describing the Basterds as "not your normal hero types that are thrown into a big deal in the Second World War"), though many audience members misinterpreted the movie as framing the Basterds as uncomplicatedly heroic badasses, or conversely as arguing that maybe the Nazis weren't so bad after all.
- Jojo Rabbit satirizes Nazism from the point of view of a ten-year-old Hitler Youth member who finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home. He deprograms his indoctrination over the course of the movie, a process represented by him beginning to argue with his Imaginary Friend, namely his own childlike vision of Adolf Hitler. Writer-director Taika Waititi, himself Jewish, expressly decided not to do any research on Hitler before playing him, as he felt the guy didn't deserve that dignity.
- The Producers—written and directed by Mel Brooks, also Jewish—has another deliberately absurd example in the form of the Show Within a Show Springtime for Hitler, a Broadway musical that plays the Nazi imagery to the hilt. In-universe, an unrepentant Nazi wrote the script, but the two title characters choose to produce this of all plays as a Failure Gambit, so they can oversell shares and then Run for the Border with the rest of their investment once the show flops (which it doesn't).
- Triumph of the Will, and any number of other propaganda pieces by Those Wacky Nazis themselves.
- Conan the Barbarian
- The Leap, by Bill Hopkins
- Hunter (W. L. Pierce)
- Northwest Front
- The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
- 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.)
- The Turner Diaries, a most sympathetic portrayal.
- The Witches by Roald Dahl. Yes, really—he was growing more and more vocally antisemitic around the time he wrote this book, which depicts the eponymous (incidentally all-female) Mage Species as Space Jews whose conspiracy to wipe out children parallels antisemitic blood libel. Their identifying features include wigs (which some Orthodox Jewish women wear—though those real women do it to cover up their natural hair, while Dahl's witches do it to conceal their lack of natural hairnote ), toeless feet (possibly related to depictions of Jews with cloven hooves), and oversized nostrils (in keeping with the Sinister Schnoz as a staple of antisemitic caricatures). They also have unlimited financial power (courtesy of the Grand High Witch's money-printing machine). In the end, they get turned into mice by their own potion and massacred by hotel staff, an image uncomfortably similar to how antisemites (most infamously Those Wacky Nazis) love depicting Jews as vermin to be exterminated.
- Burzum, though Varg Vikernes's political views rarely make their way into his lyrics.
- Von Thronstahl
- Richard Wagner, although he died before Fascism as a political tendency had been fully developed, and his views rarely involved his music that much.
- Kanye West has been weirdly infatuated with Hitler and Nazism since the start of his career, even incorporating Nazi propaganda techniques into his own public image, though he only went fully public about these views in The New '20s (though a few months later he publicly disavowed antisemitism based on, of all things, his appreciation of Jewish actor Jonah Hill's performance in 21 Jump Street). Ironically he grew up in a left-wing family, reflected in his earlier career when he argued that "George Bush doesn't care about Black people" in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and expressed support for Barack Obama. Starting in The New '10s, though, he became better known for right-wing views such as support for Donald Trump.
- Anything labeled "White Power music," "National Socialist Black Metal," or "Nazi Punk" unsurprisingly tends to be this.
- Racial Holy War, produced by white supremacist cult leader Reverend Kenneth Molyneux, is infamous for being not just as rabidly racist as the title would suggest, but also unplayable without house rules.
- 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. In practice, it is so ridiculously vast that huge parts of the "Empire" resemble more a Feudal Future.