The concept of ideology

The term ideology refers to the Greek, as it consists of two syllables: idea, meaning an idea, and logos, which means science or study, meaning it is the science of ideas. The concept developed later as a result of the development of political thought, and ideology became a manifestation Political organization.

And ideology “Idéologie” was used as a concept in the French language, after the term appeared in the book: Project Principles of Ideology “Projet d’éléments d’idéologie” by the French Destutt de Tracy, whose project is an extension of the works of the English philosopher “John Locke”, And the French philosopher Etienne de Condillac, and the goal was to create a science of ideas based on studying the validity or error of ideas that people believe in, in order for them to be a philosophical pillar of science, and a guide to the foundations of sound thinking, and to rid the individual and society of ideas that may prevent the truth from showing in its correct form. This is what a number of Enlightenment philosophers in France worked on in the late eighteenth century, and were known at the time as ideologists.

The term ideology described in particular the attitudes of politicians and thinkers, as it affects their political behavior and defines the framework of their political relations with different social groups. A political ideology can be defined as “a set of ideas, beliefs, values ​​and opinions, which show a recurring pattern, intentionally or unintentionally in Presenting action plans for making public policies, or an attempt to justify or explain the social and political arrangements and processes of the political community.

The French military leader, “Napoleon Bonaparte,” used the term ideology to attack the defenders of Enlightenment and democratic ideas. The term has negative connotations, rather it contains a degree of irony, to mean the entirety of the republican or revolutionary ideas opposing Bonaparte’s policies.

Ideology and Religion Problem:

Ideologies are sometimes seen in the same logic as religions, for the two are concerned with matters of truth and behavior, and both require a commitment to belief, but they differ more than they are similar. Religions view reality from a divine perspective, and their ideas do not develop like an ideology, just as religion provides a vision for a just society, and the advancement of ideology A political program, religion is based on faith and worship, and its goal is the purity of the human soul, and its source is often divine revelation, while ideology always believes that its basis is the mind alone.

There is a problem with the relationship of religion and ideology, some see religion as an ideology like other ideologies, while others see that ideology is a religious phenomenon, or religions within the limits of reason, and the Italian city of Florence witnessed giving Christianity an ideological dimension, as the Italian politician, Girolamo Savonarola (1452- 1498), the building of a puritanical utopia with qualities recognized as a modern ideology.

Savonarola dealt with the vision of the Christian community as a model that humans should strive to achieve at the present time, and his way of doing that was to control the state by appealing to the masses, then using state powers to control both the economy and the private life of citizens. 

Given a fighting spirit, Savonarola presented those ideas as a struggle against papal corruption, Renaissance humanism, and as a struggle within himself against worldly aspirations and carnal desires.

Ideological development politically:

Nicola Machiavelli (1469-1527):

The Italian philosopher and politician “Niccol Machiavelli” criticized Savonarola, but he was like the contemporary ideologues, who spoke about Savonarola only as his vision is immoral, while Machiavelli saw that he had ideals, so his dream was to see modern Italy a republic like the one that was in Rome Old, and Machiavelli considered that his vision could only be realized through a revolution that had the willpower to liquidate its enemies. 

George Friedrich Heigl (1770-1831):

The German philosopher George Hegel, who belongs to the ideal school, considered that people are tools of history, and that they are not directed by any transcendent power, but that history is made by people, or at least they participate in it; Their full activity is the historical process.

Karl Marx (1818-1883):

Karl Marx used the term ideology in the book “The German Ideology” he wrote with “Friedrich Engels”, where he saw ideology as the dominant ideas of the ruling class, that is, it is the class that possesses the material power that governs society, as well as the intellectual power. This class possesses the means Physical production, and it controls the minds of its intellectually subject.

Marx criticized the philosophy of the Enlightenment (renaissance) in the eighteenth century, which started from the criticism of the teachings of the Church, and Marx wanted to prove his vision by criticizing his contemporary philosophers, who saw that they had inherited the illusions of the eighteenth century, wondering about a justification for asserting that the ideas of the Enlightenment reflect the absolute truth, And that others have illusions of love of domination, tradition and corrupt education, as the French Revolution revealed contradictions, and the philosophers of the Enlightenment and their followers cancel real history, and by abolishing history they fill their minds with illusions, and they offer knowledge of reality. Thus their thought is not scientific.

According to Marx, the strengthening of the principle of individualism, which was adopted by the philosophers of the Enlightenment, entrenched capitalism, and the opinions of philosophers were justification as an attempt to preserve the interests of the bourgeois class, and therefore ideology is a class mask used to justify the exploitation of the working class. 

In the twentieth century, Marxists were content to talk about Marxism as an ideology, and in some communist countries, “ideological institutes” were established, and party philosophers usually spoke about the ideology of Marxist parties.

Karl Mannheim (1893-1947):

Try to “Karl Mannheim”, build a model of ideology is the model Marxist, but agreed with Marx that ideas form of social conditions, but he saw in his book “ideology and utopia,” the ideological Konsaq intellectual defends a particular social system, and reflect the interests of the dominant ruling group, and that Through two levels:

The first: the evaluative level, which deals with ideology on the basis that it includes judgments related to the reality of ideas, the building of consciousness, and Mannheim warned against ideological distortion and false consciousness.

The second: the dynamic level, and it deals with ideology through its dynamic character, on the basis that these judgments are always measured by reality.

Mannheim considered utopia, a kind of thinking centered around the future and evoking it in a continuous manner, as for ideology as thinking that aims to perpetuate the present and negate the seeds of change in it.

Mannheim distinguished between two types of ideology :

Private ideology : that relates to the perception of individuals, and their justifications for situations that threaten their private interests.

Total ideology: It is related to the prevailing thinking within the class or historical period, as is the case for the prevailing thinking style of the bourgeoisie or the working class.

 In light of these ideas, Mannheim defined ideology as “a set of fundamental values ​​and models of knowledge and perception that are linked together and establish links between them and social and economic forces.” 

He also divided the ideology on the basis of governance , into:

The ideology of ruling groups: those that want to impose their perceptions and ideas on the rest of society, justify and defend the current situation.

The ideology of subordinate groups : trying to change these conditions in their favor and bring about changes in the existing building of power, including achieving social justice and equitable distribution of income.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900):

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche considered ideology to be illusions and tricks by which man contradicts the law of life, so ideology is seen as a general phenomenon that separates the realm of inanimate objects from the world of the living. This is because the mind is incapable of creating any value if it is not linked to life, so whoever is hostile to life resorts to imaginary values.

Nietzsche believes that all knowledge and facts produced by man are illusions that he has forgotten that they are. Because it is not produced by the misuse of the mind; Rather, it is the result of an unconscious desire to preserve survival, as the delusions themselves are often presented as facts.

Nietzsche conceived in his book “Genealogy of Morals” that delusions arise when:

– The impotence of the mind if it is not linked to life, and the mind is not used to discover the truth as much as it is employed to conceal, especially when there is a danger threatening human life in revealing the truth. Therefore, the mind resorts to illusion and envelops them with a logical template that conceals the basic function at the level of social conflict, which requires that the weak group produce a series of knowledge that distorts the delusions.

– Searching for the derivation of the words used in the moral dictionary, you will discover that the good means in the principles of languages ​​the strong and the noble, and that the corrupt means the weak, so awareness of the external world and of the self is expressed through discourse, and the discourse is not identical to reality since language is a metaphor for thought, and it is not Means of detection; Rather, it is only a means used by the underprivileged of people to express the false values ​​and beliefs that they protect from the aggression of the powerful.

Therefore, Nietzsche dealt with the concept of ideology, in contrast to what Marxism argued, and he argued that material life defines consciousness and not the other way around. In his view, ideology reverses reality and does not present a true picture of it, and socialism, in Nietzsche’s view, is nothing but another form of the weak.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

The founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, believes that the civilized or conscious history of man is very short, and the production of the mind to justify the justifications of civilized man’s creation is based on man’s animal nature, and the psychological motives for pent-up desire behind awareness at the level of individuals and societies.

The past plays an essential role in psychoanalysis. Not because it just creates the present; Rather, because it is a source of the contents of consciousness and feeling, and everything that seems small and trivial to us, may have a great role in building the structure of the subconscious and the subconscious. Rather, it may have an effective role in psychotherapy, and everyone who participates in multiple groups (gender, class, religion, work, etc.) is affected by it, as well as greatly influenced by the crowd to which it belongs.

 When the individual is in a crowd, he himself is the scene of two processes :

The first: identification with others. Because everyone is equally anxious, and identification produces a feeling of strength.

The second: the diagnosis of the ego-higher in the leader, and this process results in voluntary submission, abandonment of the restrictions of the mind, and the elimination of the burdens of responsibility.

Ideology and International Relations:

There is a role for ideology in international relations, as previous centuries have witnessed national wars aimed at strengthening national security or expansion or to enhance mutual advantages and public peace, and in the twentieth century, many ideologies that represented the main prevailing trends in the countries of the world, and even the world witnessed Conflicts as a result of different ideologies, and there are wars that were held for purely ideological goals, as well as alliances were concluded, and treaties were signed for ideological considerations. Therefore, the ideological perspective is of great importance when considering matters of war and peace.

The link between international wars and ideology can be expressed in the past or recently, and if the wars differed in ideological degree, then previously there were religious wars, such as the Christian Crusades against the Turks, and the wars between Catholics and Protestants in modern Europe.

More recently, the First World War (1914-1918) was ideologically justified, and this matter became more evident after the Russian Revolution of 1917, when the Bolsheviks accepted terms of a harsh German peace for reasons that were not only practical, but only ideological, namely the preservation of communism.

 US President Woodrow Wilson saw that standing by the United States with the allies is an ideological vision, to ensure lasting peace through the League of Nations, and to establish democratic governments in all the countries that have been invaded. The rise of communism was a corresponding increase in the role of ideology in international relations, The outbreak helped speed up the process. 

The Second World War (1939-1945) was considered a continuation of the war of 1914, but Britain and the United States agreed in their hostility to Nazism more than they agreed to promote an alternative ideology.

The so-called “Cold War”, which began after the Second World War and continued until the early 1990s, was a clear ideological confrontation between the West and the Soviet Union, despite the views in the West that the West’s ideology, in order to remain coherent, needs an opposition ideology.

Ideology and rationality: 

Some theorists see an attempt to understand politics in terms of abstract ideas and not in terms of living experience. Some theorists disagree with them, justifying that because the belief in knowledge of politics by reading many books is uncertain. There are many books that cannot have any mastery in political life. You can learn it with practice, and such people are not sympathetic to political theories, but they claim that its value lies in facts drawn from experience. 

The British philosopher, Michael Oakshot, described John Locke’s theory of political freedom as a “contempt” for the traditional English man’s understanding of freedom, and suggested that as soon as such a concept is eradicated from the tradition that gave him meaning it becomes a rational belief, as such freedoms contained in the Declaration of Human Rights , Which came after the French Revolution, is rarely actually enjoyed by anyone in France or anywhere else.

Ideology and terrorism:

Ideological terrorism can be considered as that violence resulting from worldly established norms and theories, and historical examples are many, as the communist ideology produced ideological violence, and this is due to its revolutionary idea based on the idea of ​​the sole domination of all other ideas and systems.

There is also terrorism with a nationalist ideology, which may be left-wing, right-wing, or religious, and in those cases the method of killing and destroying human morals is the common link between them, and many ideological terrorist movements have appeared in the past years.

Violence and terrorism that comes from an ideological base and principles is the most dangerous violence that threatens societies, because this situation is no longer a usual criminal act, but rather has turned into an ideology based on the principle of terrorism, and the use of violence as a means aimed at obtaining political, social, religious and even intellectual and cultural gains.

Sources and references:

Encyclopedia Britannica, “Ideology”, last view: 2/1/2021

M.Freeden, International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, Elsevier Ltd, 2001

Merriam Webster, :”Ideology”, last view: 1/1/2021 

Andrew Heyd, Translated by: Muhammad Saffar, An Introduction to Political Ideology, National Center for Translation, First Edition 2012.

Jalal Salami, Between Religious and Ideological Terrorism, Last Review: 5/1/2021.

Zuhair Al-Khuwailidi, The Making of the Ideology and the Criticism of Society, Last Review: 1/4/2021.

Abdullah Al-Larwi, The Concept of Ideology, Arab Cultural Center, Eighth Edition, 2012.

Ezzedine Borka, The ideology’s struggle between truth and illusion, last presentation: 4/1/2021.

Fadl Abbas Faraj Allah, Terrorism (Ideology and Power), Last Show: 5/1/2021.

Bahrain Institute for Political Development, Ideology … Meaning and Uses, Last Presentation: 1/1/2021.

Believers Without Borders for Studies and Research, Ideology, Last Presentation: 1/1/2021.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

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