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An Exploration Of The Evolution Of Political Ideologies Politics Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Politics
Wordcount: 1307 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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To explore the evolution of the political ideologies of liberalism, conservatism and nationalism we must start at the beginning of the age of enlightenment. The age of enlightenment may be also known as the age of reason and is the time where the people of society around the world began to be ruled by “superior wisdom and ordinary people were to understand and conform to such knowledge as best they could [1] “. The age of enlightenment started with the thirty years war (1648) and ended with the start of the French revolution (1789). It was the means of establishing a new authoritative system of government, ethics and most importantly in Europe religion. “The three main terms in which the age of enlightenment are looked and researched upon by historians, political theorists and legal scholars are meaning, intention and understanding [2] “. During this time period people such as Galileo Galilei started to rebel against the “intellectual straightjacket” of the superior wisdom and started to believe in the scientific procedures to prove facts [3] . He believed that the world revolved around the sun and not the Earth. The development of these theories and the rebel against the “intellectual straightjacket [4] ” is the reason why we have democracy on earth and is the reason why we can have the freedoms that we have in today’s society.

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The development of the age of enlightenment brought upon the political ideology of Liberalism. Originally developed by John Locke (1632-1704) who is known as the father of Liberalism, Liberalism is the belief of individual power of choice and equal rights for all through the development of the state of nature and positive law. He believed that the state of nature was one of peace, goodwill, nature and civilization, mutual assistance and preservation. “Locke claimed that knowledge is a direct awareness of facts concerning the agreement or disagreement of mental objects or non-mental objects [5] “. The development of liberalism is clearly attributed to the works of John Locke because of his ideas supported constitutions, natural rights for all, free and fair elections and the welfare state. Locke tried to define a limited purpose for political power which he considered a right to making new laws all in the good of the public. The development of Liberalism from the age of enlightenment to the 19th century is crucial to the development of both France and the United Sates. It developed both the American (1776) and French (1789) constitutions during their respective revolutions and helped to make both a better place to live in society, it opened the countries to have individualist freedom. Liberalism up until the 19th century really developed the countries in Europe more than anything else. Countries such as Italy, France, and England all develop liberalist movements during this time period. People such as Adam Smith and John Stuart Mills helped develop and progress John Locke’s theories into a more popular and influential political ideology later on in the 19th century.

Nationalism “is primarily a political principle, which holds that the political and national unit should be congruent with each other [6] “. Nationalism became known around the time when the French revolution was happening and when the conception of the idea became known to more and more people. It is the concept that people should be ruled by other people. Developed by Jean Jacques Rousseau, he believed that “man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains [7] ” and that the state of nature is more animal than human. Nationalism grew to be a large part of society before the 19th century because people wanted more respect for their countries and wanted to show their national identity. Rousseau said that the social contract was not between people and government but between people and themselves. People had to deal with the problems themselves and make sure that they did not break the law or the social contract in this case. Nationalism grew to be a very large ordeal in some countries such as France and the United States where civic-national identities helped develop democracy. During the 19th century nationalism grew to be very popular in these two countries and helped to develop the theory of patriotism in the United States much later on.

Conservatism on the other hand takes a much difference stance on all policies than that of liberalism and nationalism because it is the complete opposite of liberalism. “It is the social and political outlook that embodies a desire to conserve existing things [8] “. There are three distinct and different parts of conservatism, they are; (1) The attitude to society (2) The idea of government (3) Political practice [9] . Each one describes a different part of conservatism that applies to the entire theory of the social and political outlook to hold onto things. The attitude of society refers to the unwillingness to make change to the way in which society works, the conservatives of the time were very suspicious of others who wanted to change the way in which society functions. The idea of government refers to how conservatives have a general opposition with big governments, and have favouritism with minority groups. Conservatives want to look out for the best interests of the entire group of citizens. Lastly political practice refers to… Conservatism is often attributed to the political philosopher Edmund Burke who believed that good government is one that respects peace and order. He outlined several basic principles of conservatism including forceful rejection of the goals of equality and individual rights having primary rights over the welfare and interests of the community. Burke believed that members of parliament should represent the best interests of all of the country’s voters rather than the narrow wishes of their own electorate: trustee vs. delegate.

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Through the rebel against the “intellectual straightjacket [10] ” of the age of enlightenment we can find that the political theories that have come from the political philosophers of the time have developed the world into what it is today. From the age of enlightenment to the 19th century the political ideologies evolved from baby ideas to the greatest political ideas of the modern world. This time period was the most influential for the survival of the great political thinkers of the time. Today conservatism, nationalism and imperialism all have developed into the biggest political theories of the time period.


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