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The Ideologies of Western Civilization Essay

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Updated: Sep 30th, 2021

Introduction

The paper discusses the chief ideas associated with the ideology of liberalism, nationalism, and early utopian socialism. The reasons as to why these ideologies were considered revolutionary by many people are also examined. The paper has also highlighted the differences between these ideologies.

Liberalism

Liberalism is a political belief and it fosters the thought that the liberty of individuals is the most important goal to be achieved. There are many sub ideologies in this and each is related to a specific sphere of life. Some of them are Political liberalism, Cultural liberalism, Economic liberalism, Social liberalism, Paleoliberalism, Ordoliberalism, Liberal feminism, Classical liberalism, and many more. The term originated in ancient Rome when the patricians and plebeians fought with each other over liberty and the right of an individual for free enterprise, freedom from persecution, and the right to practice their own religion. All along with the history of western civilizations, liberalism has come up in different ways and in Britain, it was the fight between the Catholics and Protestants, during the American Revolution and many other issues.

The ideology was considered revolutionary since it pitted the weak against the strong, the oppressor, and the oppressed, and depending on whose side one was, the fight was either a revolution or an uprising or rebellion. In modern times, this ideology has assumed different meanings and terms like liberalization of the economy and globalization have come up. In effect, the ideology believes that man, economy, culture, art, and all other disciplines should be open to the market forces and while the government may have some regulatory powers, undue interference should be avoided (Spielvogel, 2005).

Nationalism

Nationalism is an ideology that believes in creating and adhering to a nation and a national identity. The belief is that people should forget their regional differences and unite to take a part in building national pride. Individuals are not given prominence and it is the nation that comes first. The term gained importance as an s social movement during the French revolution and later on during the world wars. It should be noted that all along with history, people had always claimed allegiance to a king or a lord who ruled over a territory. However, nationalism transcended these small territories and engulfed them, giving all the people who may speak different languages, a single national identity.

The reason why Nationalism is considered revolutionary and even dangerous is because of the extremism it fosters among the dominant group in a nation. Dominant groups in Germany included the Nazi, Italy had the Fascists, Soviet Russia had the communists, and Vietnam had the Khmer Rouge and many other such malevolent groups. Such groups attempted to terrorize minority groups in a nation and under the guise of building the nation or national pride, unleashed mass killings of anyone who opposed their dogma. While the ideology has noble intents, the application is very negative and hence Nationalism and Nationalists are treated with distaste (Spielvogel, 2005).

Early Utopian Socialism

Early Utopian Socialism came much before the industrial revolution and was an ideology that was “yearning for an egalitarian society” but it was a mere wish and dream without any scientific basis or social evolution studies. After the industrial revolution and the work of Engel and Marx gave rise to modern-day socialism. Early Utopian Socialism was born in the medieval ages for the Anabaptists and other ‘heretic’ Christian sects who yearned for a better future for the poor peasants. The ideology was a mere vision and rouge clergy often used religious symbolism that evoked a carefree life for the peasants and where the Lord and the serf ate at the same table and the serf was not beaten to death.

The ideology was considered revolutionary because the dominant Lords and landowners and the Church regarded the movement as dangerous since peasants had started believing in this fantasy world where there were no class differences. It must be noted that the Church in those days was an instrument of the dominant rulers and the clergy often used beatings and severe religious punishments for any member of their flock who strayed from the path of the Lord. Anabaptists who promoted this ideology were also punished and it ultimately leads to the peasant revolt of 1640 that was brutally put down and all active members subjected to torture and death. But the seeds of socialism were sown and took roots in the industrial slums of England in the early 18th Century (Spielvogel, 2005).

Differences between the Ideologies

The previous sections had discussed the main themes and ideology of liberalism, nationalism, and early utopian socialism. There are certain main differences between them that are explained in this section. Liberalism believed that an individual is the most important element and encouraged the belief in liberty and this ideology was based on principles that spelled out how true liberty could be achieved. Liberalism also encouraged diversity and free enterprise in trade, culture, language, and other pursuits, and interference from the government was minimal. Nationalism, on the other hand, asked the individual to forego his diversity, believed in creating a unified national culture and believed in the oneness of the nation, and this was considered supreme. Unfortunately, as history has shown many extremist groups became dominant and subjugated the minority to severe purges. Early utopian socialism was somewhat similar to liberalism and it encouraged the serf to believe in a utopian world where all would be equal. But the ideology was a mere dream and not based on any study or had any principles to help people to achieve the goal.

Conclusion

The paper has discussed the chief ideas associated with the ideology of liberalism, nationalism, and early utopian socialism. The reasons as to why these ideologies were considered revolutionary by many people have been also given. The paper has also highlighted the differences between these ideologies.

References

Spielvogel Jackson J. 2005. Western Civilization, 7th edition. Wadsworth Publishing.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "The Ideologies of Western Civilization." September 30, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-ideologies-of-western-civilization/.

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