Understanding Dogmas and Dreams: A Text


Nancy S. Love

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    To my teachers and my students

    About the Author

    Nancy S. Love is associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Pennsylvania State University, where she received the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1991. She has also taught at Swarthmore College and Cornell University. She received an AB degree from Kenyon College and a PhD from Cornell University. She is the author of Marx, Nietzsche, and Modernity (1986, reissued 1996) and editor of Dogmas and Dreams: A Reader in Modern Political Ideologies (CQ Press, 3rd ed., 2006), a companion reader to this text. Her work appears in anthologies on critical theory and in the following journals: differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies; Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy; New German Critique; Polity; Studies in Soviet Thought; Theory and Event; Theory, Culture, and Society; and Women and Politics. Love's next book, Musical Democracy, is in production with SUNY Press.


    Political ideologies are the value-laden, conflict-ridden, philosophical substance of modern politics. They have been variously described as “decontested meanings,” “social levers,” “ethical impulses,” “metaphysical illusions,” “accepted values,” and the “social imaginary.” Behind these different definitions lies general agreement that ideologies perform an important political function: they bridge the gap between theory and practice. Their role as the translators of ideas into action is what prompts my continued interest in studying them.

    Today that role is changing rapidly in conjunction with the decline of nation-states, the original sites of political ideologies. Although the traditional ideologies of the left/right political spectrum remain important in contemporary politics, they are increasingly modified by a series of prefixes—neos and posts—and accompanied by a variety of new ideological formations, including ecologism, feminism, fundamentalism, ethnonationalism, globalism, and terrorism. Ironically, the “end of ideology” widely proclaimed after the fall of Soviet Communism in 1989 has now yielded to a proliferation of new perspectives that are reshaping the contours of ideology. Changes in political ideologies parallel the dual tendencies toward fragmentation and globalization that characterize politics following the decline of nation-states. In contrast to the comprehensive nature of traditional belief systems, more recent worldviews involve both micro-formations and cosmopolitan discourses. Although ideologies continue to translate ideas into action, they now do so as the nodes and networks of an emerging local/global politics. Therefore, I not only discuss throughout this new edition how traditional ideologies are adapting to changing political realities, I also include a new chapter on nationalism and globalization that focuses on the role of ideologies post-9/11, especially fundamentalism and terrorism.

    In keeping with my interest in how ideologies shape politics, I wrote this book not only for students of political theory but also for those who study other sub-fields of political science—American government, comparative politics, and international relations. Wherever possible, I illustrate the effects of theoretical ideas with examples from practical politics. These examples include discussions of Lani Guinier on proportional representation, Charles Murray on affirmative action, Václav Havel on post-totalitarian politics, Murray Bookchin on sustainable communities, Audre Lorde on multicultural feminism, Vandana Shiva on monocultures, Kenichi Ohmae on region states, Edward Said on terrorism, and many more.

    I also wrote this text to complement the selections from primary sources published in Dogmas and Dreams: A Reader in Modern Political Ideologies. To maintain continuity, some material from the introductions to those readings reappears here. However, these analyses offer students a much broader and deeper understanding of the subject matter. This text thus serves as a companion to the reader and as a comprehensive study of political ideologies.

    My interest in the complex connections between historical contexts, political movements, and normative theories began when I was a graduate student at Cornell University. I want to thank Isaac Kramnick, in particular, for introducing me to the study of political ideologies. I hope that Benjamin Ginsberg, Peter Katzenstein, Theodore Lowi, and Sidney Tarrow also see their influence here.

    Continuing conversations with colleagues (too numerous to name) in philosophy, political science, and women's studies at Penn State have further developed my understanding of ideologies. So have my students, by sharing their convictions and their questions during class discussions. For the first edition, the Department of Political Science at Penn State also provided me with invaluable research assistants, Margaret Farrar and Jamie Warner. My thanks as well to Carmen Heider of Speech Communication and Krystopher DeVyver and Eric Georgette of Political Science, who proofread much of the text. I'd also like to extend special thanks to Kevin D. Egan, who compiled the new glossary for the second edition, and to Joey Steinberger, for suggesting the cyberspace image.

    At Chatham House, the original publishers, my thanks to Nancy Benson, Chris Kelaher, and especially Katharine Miller, who saw the project to completion after the untimely death of Edward Artinian. I remain grateful to him for conceiving of the project and supporting it throughout.

    More recent thanks to CQ Press, especially to Brenda Carter, whose support made this second edition possible. Also at CQ, Charisse Kiino found excellent reviewers and provided helpful feedback for revisions; Colleen Ganey assisted with the editorial process and answered numerous questions; Katharine Miller copyedited the revised manuscript; and Joan Gossett supervised the production process. Together they helped to make this a better book. Any errors that remain are my own.

  • Glossary

    • The number of the chapter in which the term appears is provided at the end of each definition.
    • aesthetic politics (p. 144) A conception of the political that appeals to the senses and is guided by a notion of what is beautiful (6)
    • affinity groups (p. 201) Small groups of individuals united by a common cause or belief, who mobilize to act on a very local level, although they may be associated with larger social movements (8)
    • alienation (p. 90) An individual's sense of detachment and loss of meaning in life; it literally means that something seems foreign to an individual (4)
    • anarchism (p. 107) A natural and peaceful social order achieved without government or coercive authority (5)
    • anarcho-syndicalism (p. 119) A form of trade union struggle that involves direct action, including general strikes and sabotage, to take control of industry (5)
    • anti-Semitism (p. 142) The hatred of peoples of Jewish and Arabic heritage (6)
    • aristocrats (p. 58) Members of the aristocracy, which is an elite class of rulers (3)
    • Aryan race (p. 141) A collective identity of peoples of Indo-European descent that has been constructed by white supremacists to differentiate themselves from other, “inferior” races (6)
    • aura (p. 140) An intangible field of feelings and qualities that surrounds an individual or object (6)
    • authoritarianism (p. 112) A form of government in which all power and authority are centralized in a single leader whose actions are not held accountable to the people (5)
    • Bolshevik Revolution (p. 79) The Russian Revolution of 1917, inspired by the ideas of V. I. Lenin, which established Soviet Communism (4)
    • borders (p. 216) Boundaries separating different geopolitical units (states, countries, etc.) that are imposed artificially by governments (9)
    • bourgeoisie (p. 87) The owners of the means of production in a capitalist economic system (4)
    • bureaucracy (p. 126) A vast governmental structure that is organized in a hierarchy and performs administrative duties through a set of standard operating procedures (5)
    • capitalism (p. 23) An economic system based on the ownership of private property and featuring a free market structured by open competition (2)
    • coalitions (p. 173) Collections of various actors temporarily organized to pursue common interests or goals (7)
    • collectivization (p. 123) The process of combining the productivity of various forms of labor and property for the common benefit of everyone (5)
    • commodity (p. 88) A good that has value as a natural resource, article of trade, or mass-produced item (4)
    • communism (p. 79) A social and economic theory that refers to the formation of a classless society in which government has dissolved, the means of production are no longer privately owned, and individuals voluntarily contribute what they can for the good of society (4)
    • communitarians (p. 41) In response, in many ways, to the individualism espoused by liberalism and capitalism, communitarians focus on the role that community plays in shaping the individual and the responsibilities individuals have to each other (2)
    • consensus (p. 120) A general agreement on an issue (5)
    • conservatism (p. 52) A strain of political thought that values tradition and is resistant to rapid change (3)
    • corporatism (p. 148) A state-run economic system in which privately owned corporations still exist, but what they manufacture (and in what quantity) is controlled by the state (6)
    • cosmopolitanism (p. 230) A conception of international politics that embraces the coexistence of multiple nationalities within the context of a global social order (9)
    • democracy (p. 21) A form of government in which leaders are chosen by popular election and citizens have a direct or indirect (through representatives) say in the creation of laws and in the overall manner in which they are governed (2)
    • demagoguery (p. 64) The use of emotional appeals by political leaders to manipulate the people and gain their support (3)
    • dialectics (p. 84) A philosophical approach that holds that the development and subsequent resolution of contradictions accounts for progress (4)
    • dictatorship of the proletariat (p. 92) According to Marx's theory of revolution, a necessary transitional stage between capitalism and socialism in which the proletarians seize control of the means of production, abolish the class system, and redistribute wealth throughout society (4)
    • direct action (p. 119) Individual, everyday acts of resistance that do not merely attempt to legalize prohibited activities, since this would only reinforce the power of the state to determine what is legal and illegal (5)
    • division of labor (p. 29) The manner in which labor is organized according to specialization, which is often characterized by a distinction between mental and manual labor (2)
    • dogmatism (p. 10) Subscribing to beliefs that are held to be unquestionable, absolute truths (1)
    • ecocentrism (p. 199) A relationship with the environment in which humankind is understood as a part of nature, rather than superior to it or separate from it (8)
    • ecologism (p. 196) A holistic approach to environmental politics, which calls for a radical rethinking of humanity's relationship with nature and views environmental concerns as global and not just national (8)
    • economy (p. 136) The system of producing and exchanging material goods, services, and money (6)
    • egocentrism (p. 197) A relationship with the environment in which humankind is understood as superior to and separate from nature, and thus nature is viewed as existing for humankind's use; as opposed to ecocentrism (8)
    • environmentalism (p. 196) A system of thought and action that prioritizes environmental concerns and attempts to place human beings in a more harmonious and responsible relationship with the environment (8)
    • essentialism (p. 182) The belief that all things (including groupings of people based on race, class, gender, etc.) can be understood by certain fundamental characteristics they exhibit; such groupings can supposedly be reduced to particular elemental traits (7)
    • ethnic (p. 216) Pertaining to the racial, cultural, and/or religious aspects that constitute an individual's identity (9)
    • European Union (p. 159) An emerging supranational governing organization comprised of European states; its primary responsibilities are to coordinate economic activities, including the standardization of a European currency (6)
    • extremism (p. 154) A set of radical beliefs, often held as unquestionable, that are derived from a larger, more moderate belief system (6)
    • fascism (p. 140) A form of government, like totalitarianism, in which the power of the state dominates and oppresses every facet of its citizens’ daily lives (6)
    • feminism (p. 167) A diverse body of thought concerned with issues of gender—some of which include promoting gender equality, challenging patriarchal beliefs and assumptions, and creating new conceptualizations of sexual categories (7)
    • fetishism (p. 90) The act of irrationally attributing special powers or importance to an object (4)
    • feudalism (p. 23) A specific economic and political system that dominated medieval Europe; often viewed as a pre-industrial economic system based on agriculture, which eventually gave way to capitalism (2)
    • fiscal policy (p. 67) An economic actor's financial planning, which determines how money is distributed to programs and agencies and how debt is managed (3)
    • free market (p. 29) A metaphor used for the open exchange of goods in a capitalist economy (2)
    • free-market economics (p. 30) An approach in which the government allows the “invisible hand” of the free market to determine the course of economic affairs (2)
    • fundamentalism (p. 226) Absolute beliefs, often religious, that stand in contrast to modern, progressive beliefs (9)
    • gender (p. 173) The set of culturally constructed characteristics that are attributed to a specific sex (7)
    • globalism (p. 222) The spread of capitalism internationally through neoliberal practices and institutions (9)
    • globality (p. 224) The awareness that all beings on earth are interconnected and depend on one another for their survival and the survival of the planet (9)
    • globalization (p. 216) Processes of expanded international trade, the spread of information and communication technologies, and increasing cultural interaction (9)
    • green parties (p. 201) Political parties whose primary platforms deal with environmental concerns (8)
    • hierarchy (p. 126) A system of ordering in which those individuals or items placed at the top of the order have greater influence and importance (5)
    • holism (p. 199) A worldview that is sensitive to the interconnectedness of things and holds that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts (8)
    • homocentrism (p. 197) A relationship with the environment in which mankind is understood as part of nature yet in a position of superiority, so that nature is still viewed as existing for humankind's use; as opposed to ecocentrism (8)
    • human rights (p. 224) Basic rights, protected by international law, that are afforded to people purely on the basis of their being human (9)
    • ideology (p. 2) Although subjected to various philosophical interpretations, it is commonly understood as a set of ideal or abstract beliefs; an unpractical visionary theory (1)
    • industrialism (p. 198) The development of mechanized production processes that, historically, would come to supplement, and eventually replace, labor-intensive forms of production; the earliest forms were driven by the invention of steam power (8)
    • intersex (p. 174) The simultaneous presence of both female and male sex traits, including, but not limited to, the presence of both male and female genitalia (7)
    • Islam (p. 225) A monotheistic religion focused on one deity (Allah) and based on the teachings of its prophet Muhammad, which are presented in its primary text, the Koran (Qur'an) (9)
    • Jihad (p. 228) The Islamic term for the holy war waged against infidels (9)
    • labor (p. 26) Collectively, individuals who perform physical or manual work (2)
    • labor-power (p. 89) A Marxist term that refers specifically to human beings’ capacity to create increased value through their labor (4)
    • law of nature (p. 26) A fictive device posited by social contract theorists to depict an immutable rule by which humans must abide in the state of nature; often a law of nature deals with the fundamental belief that individuals must seek self-preservation, as dictated by reason (2)
    • liberality (p. 23) A tendency to give freely, or the quality of generosity (2)
    • Marxian/Marxist (p. 81) Descriptive terms used in reference to economic, political, and social thought that originated with Marx's works or can be traced directly to them (4)
    • Marxism (p. 85) A historical lineage of economic, social, and political thought and action inspired by the work of Karl Marx; although Marx's work influenced its development, Marxism uses Marx to justify many claims that were not theorized or intended by Marx himself (such as the development of communism in the former Soviet Union) (4)
    • means of production (p. 87) The material conditions under which commodities are produced, including, especially, equipment (such as machinery) used in the production process (4)
    • mercantilism (p. 30) A precapitalist economic system characterized by trade among merchants specializing in the production and exchange of various goods (2)
    • meritocracy (p. 61) A hierarchical social order that is determined by the merits, or natural abilities, of its constituents (3)
    • monarchy (p. 54) A system of government in which the head of state is a king or queen, a position that is passed on by birthright (3)
    • monism (p. 199) The quality of unity associated with becoming one or whole (8)
    • multiculturalism (p. 40) A belief system that promotes the acceptance of and respect for various, and sometimes competing, cultural norms, values, and traditions (2)
    • “the multitude” (p. 130) A heterogeneous and fragmented populace, as distinct from “the people,” which implies a homogeneous and unified populace (5)
    • Muslim (p. 226) A follower of the Islamic religion (9)
    • mutualism (p. 115) An association that is beneficial to all of its members (5)
    • nation (p. 136) A group of individuals who share a similar ethnic and cultural background but may or may not be geographically concentrated (6)
    • nationalism (p. 136, 220) An intense feeling of collective loyalty that a group of people, often organized as a state, feels to its ethnic and cultural background (6, 9)
    • national socialism (Nazism) (p. 155) A political and economic system organized around a highly centralized governmental authority, which directs nearly every aspect of its citizens’ lives, including the coordination of economic activities and the mitigation of class conflicts (6)
    • nation-state (p. 136) A geopolitically defined territory whose citizens share a similar ethnic and cultural background (6)
    • naturalism (p. 206) A belief system based on the idea that there exists a fundamental, and knowable, natural order to the world (8)
    • nature (p. 195) The material environment, including human beings and other forms of life (8)
    • negative liberty (p. 112) Freedom from external constraints—the kind of liberty attributed to modern liberal democracies in which citizens are relatively free in their daily lives from interference by the state (5)
    • neoconservativism (p. 66) Combines classical liberal economic policy with conservative social policy; neoconservatives stress that while classical liberalism works well in the marketplace, it does not provide a sound basis for morality or politics (3)
    • neoliberalism (p. 150) Rejects the laissez-faire attitude of classical liberalism regarding the participation of government in economic policies; instead, neoliberals advocate political involvement in economic activities in the hopes of achieving both economic growth and social justice (6)
    • New Left (p. 82) A coalition of antiwar, civil rights, environmental, and socialist activists that emerged in the 1960s; in the late sixties and early seventies, the New Left formed the “counterculture” (4)
    • New Right (p. 55) The conservative coalition of classical liberals, religious fundamentalists, and social conservatives that first formed during the Reagan presidency (3)
    • Old Right (p. 55) The political leaders and their constituents associated with the Republican Party from the McCarthy era of the 1950s to the Reagan presidency and beyond (3)
    • party vanguard (p. 95) An elite group of intellectuals and professional revolutionaries who assume control of the government and act on behalf of the interests of the people to usher in communism (4)
    • paternalism (p. 32) The belief that the government should act as the parent or guardian of its citizenry because the people are incapable of determining what is good for them (2)
    • patriarchy (p. 174) A social system in which males dominate over females, and conceptualizations of what is masculine are valued over the feminine (7)
    • patriotism (pp. 74, 137) The feelings of loyalty and pride, often outwardly displayed, that an individual or group of individuals feel for their country (3, 6)
    • philosophy (p. 9) A collection of various approaches to the pursuit of knowledge that share a love of wisdom (1)
    • pluralism (p. 41) A political system that embraces the legitimacy of multiple, and often competing, groups with various social, economic, and cultural identities (2)
    • political theory (p. 10) A field of thought that deals with questions concerning the nature of power and government (1)
    • politics (p. 1) The realm of authority that deals with the governance of people (1)
    • popular front (p. 122) A social movement comprised of left-leaning groups with similar political objectives (5)
    • popular sovereignty (p. 35) A situation in which the legal jurisdiction a state has over its territory and population is derived from the consent of the governed; in essence, the people legitimize the overarching authority of the state (2)
    • positive liberty (p. 37) Freedom from one's own desires or appetites; it is often characterized as a “freedom to,” as in a freedom to suppress one's more basic drives and realize a higher form of social and political existence (2)
    • postcolonial (p. 173) Descriptive term for the period following twentieth-century national liberation struggles in former American and European colonies, which continues to influence contemporary responses to globalization (7)
    • postfeminism (p. 172) Building on (or, by some accounts, reacting to) feminist struggles for equality in the 1960s and 1970s, postfeminism values difference and emphasizes the deconstruction of categories of sexual identity rather than the fight for equal pay in the workplace or more inclusive political representation (7)
    • postmodern (p. 129) Descriptive term for an attitude that rejects many of the beliefs attributed to modernity, especially modern claims to reason and progress (5)
    • postmodernism (p. 183) Although postmodernism takes on a variety of forms of thought, it can generally be understood as a theoretical tradition that rejects so-called “meta-narratives,” or large and cohesive theoretical stories that describe/explain some aspects of reality (7)
    • progressivism (p. 53) A politics that embraces change (3)
    • proletariat (p. 87) The working class who sell their labor to the bourgeoisie for wages in a capitalist society (4)
    • propaganda (p. 138) A message meant to bolster feelings of patriotism that can be delivered through various forms of media (the written or spoken word, images, music, etc.) (6)
    • racism (p. 149) The hatred of a group of people because of their racial identity (6)
    • representation (p. 129) The act of standing for something (or someone) else; thus representative politics is a system based on elected officials standing for and acting on the interests of the people (5)
    • revolution (p. 91) Social and political upheaval aimed at overturning the current order (4)
    • revolutionary communism (p. 96) A system of thought that, unlike social democracy, holds that a truly classless society can only be achieved through a violent overthrow of the current economic, social, and political order (4)
    • romanticism (p. 196) A late-eighteenth-century artistic and literary movement in Europe that valued individual expression of subjective feelings (8)
    • sectarianism (p. 116) A system comprised of competing private groups (sects) that are organized around some sort of common interest or principle (5)
    • secular (p. 216) Relating to the private sphere of citizens’ lives and the belief that religion should be kept separate from government (9)
    • separation of powers (p. 58) The device by which a government is organized in such a manner that no one individual, agency, or branch has sole possession of supreme authority; in other words, rule is divided among many different governmental organizations (3)
    • sex (p. 173) Those physical traits—characterized most apparently by the presence of either male or female reproductive organs—that are determined by biological differences (7)
    • sexism (p. 186) The hatred of a group of people because of their sex (7)
    • social democracy (p. 93) The belief that, unlike revolutionary communism, socialism can evolve from liberal capitalism through democratic means (4)
    • socialism (p. 81) An economic, political, and social theory that advocates the formation of a classless society in which the state assumes control of all economic activities and redistributes wealth to the public according to need (4)
    • sovereignty (p. 129) The legal jurisdiction of a state government over its territory and population (5)
    • state (p. 136) A geopolitically defined entity that delineates a realm in which authority can be legitimately exercised over a population of citizens (6)
    • Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) (p. 97) A radical student group in the 1960s (4)
    • suffrage (p. 45) The right to vote (2)
    • superpatriotism (p. 137) A form of nationalism in which individuals value the nation above all other commitments and unquestioningly follow the leaders of the nation (6)
    • superstructure (p. 86) According to Marx, the realm of politics (the state and political ideology) that rests upon an economic base (the means of production) (4)
    • surplus value (p. 88) Profit, generated by the labor that is applied to raw materials to make commodities (4)
    • terrorism (p. 215) Acts of organized violence that are intended to strike fear in the targeted population (9)
    • totalitarianism (p. 150) A form of government in which absolute authority and power is vested in the state; as such, the state permeates every facet of its citizens’ daily lives and defines their interests, values, and beliefs, often in the name of achieving some grand objective (such as the Nazis’ attempt to create an Aryan race) (6)
    • trade unions (p. 119) Organizations that represent and act on the interests of particular groups of workers (5)
    • transcendentalism (p. 196) A way of thinking and being in the world that connects the spirit and the mind with nature, emphasizing self-sufficiency and a responsibility to one's self and to nature; perhaps most famously associated with Ralph Waldo Emerson (8)
    • transgender (p. 174) A notion of identity in which the individual assumes an indefinite gender, as opposed to a “single” gender associated with his or her sex traits (7)
    • transsexuality (p. 174) The condition of an individual who is physically recognizable as of one sex, but who psychologically identifies with the opposite sex, thereby blurring the dichotomous categorization of sex as being strictly either female or male (7)
    • universalism (p. 216) The belief that certain general ethical principles are applicable to all people regardless of culture, race, class, gender, etc. (9)
    • utilitarianism (p. 33) A theory of political liberalism that is distinguished from rights-based theories by its support for that which provides the greatest amount of good for thegreatest number of people; this dictum is also known as “the greatest happiness principle” (2)
    • utopianism (p. 3) The belief in an ideal society of perfect harmony and social order (1)
    • welfare state (p. 38) A political system of institutions and programs that provides for and attempts to ensure the well-being of the public (2)
    • white supremacy (p. 156) A belief system contending that peoples of European descent are superior to other races and ethnicities (6)
    • World Trade Organization (WTO) (p. 129) An international governmental organization that helps to coordinate and facilitate trade among states (5)
    Glossary prepared by Kevin D. Egan


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