Government by a single person (or group) whose discretion in using the powers and resources of the state is unrestrained by any fixed legal or constitutional rules and who is (are) in no effective way held responsible to the general population or their elected representatives.
A system of government in which supreme political power to direct all the activities of the state is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control (except perhaps for the implicit threat of coup d’etat or mass insurrection).
A class of political ideologies (and historical political regimes) that takes its name from the movement led by Benito Mussolini that took power in Italy in 1922. Mussolini’s ideas and practices directly and indirectly influenced political movements in Germany (especially the Nazi Party), Spain (Franco’s Falange Party), France, Argentina, and many other European and non-European countries right up to the present day.
The different “fascist” movements and regimes have varied considerably in their specific goals and practices, but they are usually said to be characterized by several common features:
1. Militant nationalism, proclaiming the racial and cultural superiority of the dominant ethnic group and asserting that group’s inherent right to a special dominant position over other peoples in both the domestic and the international order
2. The adulation of a single charismatic national leader said to possess near superhuman abilities and to be the truest representation of the ideals of the national culture, whose will should therefore literally be law
3. Emphasis on the absolute necessity of complete national unity, which is said to require a very powerful and disciplined state organization (especially an extensive secret police and censorship apparatus), unlimited by constitutional restrictions or legal requirements and under the absolute domination of the leader and his political movement or party
4. Militant anti-Communism coupled with the belief in an extreme and imminent threat to national security from powerful and determined Communist forces both inside and outside the country
5. Contempt for democratic socialism, democratic capitalism, liberalism, and all forms of individualism as weak, degenerate, divisive and ineffective ideologies leading only to mediocrity or national suicide
6. Glorification of physical strength, fanatical personal loyalty to the leader, and general combat-readiness as the ultimate personal virtues
7. A sophisticated apparatus for systematically propagandizing the population into accepting these values and ideas through skilled manipulation of the mass media, which are totally monopolized by the regime once the movement comes to power
8. A propensity toward pursuing a militaristic and aggressive foreign policy
9. Strict regulation and control of the economy by the regime through some form of corporatist economic planning in which the legal forms of private ownership of industry are nominally preserved but in which both workers and capitalists are obliged to submit their plans and objectives to the most detailed state regulation and extensive wage and price controls, which are designed to insure the priority of the political leadership’s objectives over the private economic interests of the citizenry. Therefore under fascism most of the more important markets are allowed to operate only in a non-competitive, cartelized, and governmentally “rigged” fashion.
Domination by a single, like-minded governing elite of all (or virtually all) organized political, economic, social and cultural activities in a country by means of a single-party monopoly of power, police repression not only of all forms of dissent and opposition but also of all forms of independent private organizations as such, rigorous censorship of the mass media, centralized state planning and administration of the economy, and pervasive propaganda to inculcate the principles of the obligatory official ideology. Totalitarian states differ from traditional dictatorships or despotisms primarily with respect to the broader (“total”) scope of human behavior that the authorities seek to regulate in detail and with respect to their much more effective control mechanisms made possible by exploiting twentieth century breakthroughs in rapid communication and transportation, scientific psychology, pervasive mass media, surveillance technology, electronic information retrieval, and so on. The term is commonly applied both to fascist regimes and communist regimes, and occasionally by extension to other exotic cults, movements or regimes with ambitions for total control such as those led by various sorts of religious fanatics like the Rev. Jim Jones or the Ayatollah Khomeini.
1. Any ideology based on the communal ownership of all property and a classless social structure, with economic production and distribution to be directed and regulated by means of an authoritative economic plan that supposedly embodies the interests of the community as a whole. Karl Marx is today the most famous early theoretician of communism, but he did not invent the term or the basic social ideals, which he mostly borrowed and adapted from the less systematic theories of earlier French utopian socialists — grafting these onto a philosophical framework Marx derived from the German philosophers Hegel and Feuerbach, while adding in a number of economic theories derived from his reinterpretation of the writings of such early political economists such as Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, and David Ricardo. In most versions of the communist utopia, everyone would be expected to co-operate enthusiastically in the process of production, but the individual citizen’s equal rights of access to consumer goods would be completely unaffected by his/her own individual contribution to production — hence Karl Marx’s famous slogan “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.” The Marxian and other 19th century communist utopias also were expected to dispense with such “relics of the past” as trading, money, prices, wages, profits, interest, land-rent, calculations of profit and loss, contracts, banking, insurance, lawsuits, etc. It was expected that such a radical reordering of the economic sphere of life would also more or less rapidly lead to the elimination of all other major social problems such as class conflict, political oppression, racial discrimination, the inequality of the sexes, religious bigotry, and cultural backwardness — as well as put an end to such more “psychological” forms of suffering as alienation, anomie, and feelings of powerlessness.
2. The specifically Marxist-Leninist variant of socialism which emphasizes that a truly communist society can be achieved only through the violent overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of a “dictatorship of the proletariat” that is to prepare the way for the future idealized society of communism under the authoritarian guidance of a hierarchical and disciplined Communist Party.
3. A world-wide revolutionary political movement inspired by the October Revolution (Red Oktober) in Russia in 1917 and advocating the establishment everywhere of political, economic, and social institutions and policies modeled on those of the Soviet Union (or, in some later versions, China or Albania) as a means for eventually attaining a communist society.
A class of ideologies favoring an economic system in which all or most productive resources are the property of the government, in which the production and distribution of goods and services are administered primarily by the government rather than by private enterprise, and in which any remaining private production and distribution (socialists differ on how much of this is tolerable) is heavily regulated by the government rather than by market processes. Both democratic and non-democratic socialists insist that the government they envision as running the economy must in principle be one that truly reflects the will of the masses of the population (or at least their “true” best interests), but of course they differ considerably in their ideas about what sorts of political institutions and practices are required to ensure this will be so. In practice, socialist economic principles may be combined with an extremely wide range of attitudes toward personal freedom, civil liberties, mass political participation, bureaucracy and political competition, ranging from Western European democratic socialism to the more authoritarian socialisms of many third world regimes to the totalitarian excesses of Soviet-style socialism or communism.
A state whose government devotes a very large proportion of its activities and expenditures to the direct provision of personal benefits to be consumed by qualifying individuals or families (as contrasted with such more traditional and less individually divisible government activities as national defense, law enforcement, controlling the money supply, economic regulation, maintaining transportation and communications nets, administering the public lands, etc.). Welfare benefits to individuals may be in the form either of bureaucratically supplied professional services of government employees or in the form of government-issued stipends or allowances or subsidies (transfer payments) to help qualifying households pay for general subsistence or for specific categories of state-favored expenses (merit goods). Examples of such social welfare programs would include old age and disability pensions, unemployment benefits, aid to families with dependent children, income supplements for the poor, public housing and housing vouchers, health care provided in state hospitals or clinics and reimbursement for the costs of privately-provided health care, government-funded drug abuse rehabilitation programs, food stamps, public education and child care, etc. Advocacy of extensive “welfare state” programs was at first associated mainly with socialist movements, but in most Western industrial societies today many welfare state programs are endorsed as well by non-socialist parties that nevertheless still continue to reject the socialists’ traditional demands for much more extensive state ownership, state planning, and state administration of industry and commerce.
A comprehensive and coherent set of basic beliefs about political, economic, social and cultural affairs that is held in common by a sizable group of people within a society. Such interrelated ideas and teachings purport both to explain how political, economic, social and cultural institutions really do work and also to prescribe how such institutions ought ideally to operate. Conservative ideologies seek to demonstrate a close correspondence between “the way things are” and “the way things ought to be,” thus legitimizing the existing order in the eyes of those who can be convinced to believe in the ideology. Radical and revolutionary ideologies, on the other hand, set unconventional, higher, or even utopian standards with regard to what would constitute a legitimate and supportable social-economic-political system and then demonstrate in detail that the existing order does not even come close to meeting these standards, thereby de-legitimizing the existing system and helping mobilize believers in the ideology for concerted action to reform or overthrow the existing order. (In addition to their descriptive and prescriptive functions about existing and ideal social orders, ideologies may also include more specialized doctrines regarding the most suitable political strategies and tactics to be pursued by believers in their efforts to shore up or undermine the existing order.)
One useful way of categorizing ideologies from a political point of view focusses on differences in the ideologies’ prescriptions for how much the government ought to be involved in directing or regulating economic, social and cultural affairs and how much individuals or voluntary organizations ought to be left alone to make their own (widely varied) decisions in these spheres of life. In this course, for example, we frequently employ a two-dimensional classification of ideologies proposed by Maddox and Lilie that is based on assessing people’s preferences for government regulation versus non-regulation in:
1. Economic decisions
2. Non-economic or life-style decisions.
It should be noted that the term “ideology” often has a somewhat derogatory flavor, especially in Anglo-American societies, because it often carries the implication that “ideological” thought is unduly biased, dogmatic and distorted, an obstacle rather than an aid in perceiving how the world “really” works. (“You, sir, are an ideologue. I, on the other hand, am a pragmatic man of reason who sees things the way they really are.”)
The ideologies of any of a number of political movements that demand the redistribution of political power, economic dominance and/or cultural leadership away from what are seen as corrupt, greedy, over-centralized, urban-based oligarchies in favor of empowering “the common people,” particularly those who live in rural or small-town areas, since such people are typically idealized by populists as embodying a simpler, more virtuous way of life based on traditional values and customs. Populists generally believe in the elitist theory of politics as the best description of how policy-making works, and they find it completely illegitimate. Populists characteristically favor strong but fairly selective government intervention in the economy to counteract market forces undermining the viability of favored traditional occupations such as small farming and small-scale commercial activities. Populists typically also favor strong government action to stop the spread of non-traditional religious and cultural values and to punish and repress minorities pursuing unconventional or “foreign” life-styles. Sociologically-oriented historians usually interpret the growth of populist protest movements as a backward-looking reaction against the stresses of rapid economic and technological change and the painful disruptions of traditional values and customs that accompany such changes; however the policy measures pushed through by successful populist movements in order to protect traditional ways of life have themselves often produced unintended but nevertheless radical changes in politics, the economy and society.