Lec 2: Political theories and ideologies


Hello and welcome friends. Today, in the second lecture on the introduction,
we are going to discuss mainly, the relationship between political theory and political ideology. And in the second part, we are going to discuss
the key themes and also, the possible direction of research in political theory, in contemporary
times. If you remember in the last lecture, we have
discussed political theory, its key components, approaches, methods and also, why do we need
a political theory. This part that deals with, why do we need
a political theory will be a kind of under current theme in this lecture as well. We will discuss, how political theory is relevant,
and different from political ideology and why is it so? Why is it different from political ideology? To discuss these similarities or overlaps
between political theory and political ideology, let us start with the definition or understanding
of political theory which deals with the three aspects of politics or the political, that
is explanatory, normative and contemplative. Political theory, must explain something and
that explanation should be relevant to a particular or specific context and this explanation must
not be limited to that particular context or the historical time and space. It must also, transcend that context and have
a degree of generality, that means, which allow political theory to not just explain
politics in a particular society, but also, to provide resources and approaches to explain
politics in other societies. That is why; we can make a distinction when
we study Indian politics or American politics or European politics. The focus is on a particular society or a
country, or a community. And its scope is limited to that country only. And when we study political theory, there
we do engage with a particular, real and pragmatic contest, but also, we must transcend that
to have a degree of generality or obligation in explaining, analyzing or studying politics
in other societies. So, one of the features of political theory
is that it must be explanatory. The second is the normative part of political
theory, where the theory is supposed to be not just merely, explanatory or descriptive
in nature, but also, it has a normative concern to provide an alternative to provide a resource
or mechanism to transform the existing reality or existing practice in any society. Third and finally, it is a contemplative exercise. This is inherent in any political action,
political discourse or political argumentation. And especially in political theory, it must
be contemplative or reflective, while engaging with a practical, social and political problem. Thus, political theory deals with the explanatory,
normative and contemplative aspects of politics. These explanatory, normative or contemplative
exercises in political theory are grounded in reason or rational argumentation. The progression of theory is through logic,
reason and rationality, unlike political ideology which we will discuss in a moment. It provides a set of concepts, methods and
approaches to systematically study and analyze politics. It is the task of political theory to provide
concepts, methods and approaches to study politics systematically and scientifically. In doing so, it tries to engage with the real
and pragmatic questions which we have discussed in the previous class that there have been
criticisms to political theory as a discipline which deals with abstract concepts or normative
questions. And so, it has no significance in the real,
practical world. And how, political theory has evolved from
that kind of contemplative or nearly, speculative exercise to make it more relevant in terms
of engaging with practical and real life world, we have discussed it in the previous lecture. But most important thing, we need to remember
is that it tries to engage with real and pragmatic, but not limited to these only. That means, when it explains the real or the
practical world, it is not limited to that reality or practical issue alone. It must transcend that real or practical situation
to have a degree of generality, a general application in explaining or studying politics
in other societies too. That distinguishes political theory from say
Indian politics or western politics, or American politics etc. Due to its normative nature, it also, provides
the resources for not just making sense of or understanding politics, but also, transforming
it. So, it has a transformative potentiality as
well and it does so, in a very different way than political ideology does, where it actually,
tries to mobilize the masses, to guide them, convince them for a particular course of action,
to capture the state, and to transform the society etc. On the other hand, political theory, also,
provides the potential to not just make sense of the existing reality or existing politics
and society, but also, to transform it. But it does so, in a more discursive manner
to understand the complex or layered nature of the politics and the political situations. By knowing that, one can also then act upon
those understanding or study. So, that comes with the normative concerns
or nature of political theory. Now, if we compare political theory with political
ideology, we find that political ideology on the other hand has acquired a negative
connotation and seen as fixed or doctrinaire and closed world views with its emphasis on
political actions and by capturing state power. What defines political ideology is its focus
or emphasis on acquiring political power or mobilizing the masses, or leading a movement
which aims to capture the state power and through that it transforms the society and
polity in a country. Thus, political ideology is a world view;
it is a guide to action, to transform the society and politics on the other hand. In doing so, it has a very negative meaning
and we have often come across in our public and political discourse that politicians usually,
accuse their opponents in projecting them as ideologically driven, but they consider
themselves as driven by the public interests and without being guided by any kind of ideology. So, political ideology generally speaking
and we will discuss it in details in a moment, but political theory and in comparison to
political theory, political ideology is seen as fixed or a closed worldview which focuses
on a course of action and to capture the state for, to transform the state and society. This understanding of political ideology as
a closed worldview or a fixed doctrinaire system of beliefs is one aspect of political
ideology. There is another aspect of political ideology
also which is more positive. That is, no matter, how much we criticize
the ideology of others, in criticizing that ideology, we are also guided or shaped by
political ideology. So, in other words, there is no escape from
ideology. Whether we oppose someone or on the basis
of which we oppose someone is already and always ideologically driven. The positive side of ideology is then not
merely a kind of closed world view which is true to its some extent, but there is other
positive aspect of political ideology as well which allow us to criticize, to capture, and
to transform the social realities. The political ideology is something, which
is already and always there to shape our beliefs, opinions and political actions. So, our political beliefs, actions and outlooks
are always shaped by ideologies. Now, ideologies are not intrinsically rational
and that is, also, different from political theory. Here, political ideologues used reason, rationality
and logic as long as using of reason, logic and rationality, helps them to achieve certain
practical purposes or practical end results. So, their relationship with reason or rationality
is more strategic in comparison to political theory, where the argumentation must proceed
through logic and rationality. Political ideology uses reason or rationality,
but as long as, it helps it to achieve its practical ends or desired results. Now, political theory, deals with concepts
which are essentially contested that we have discussed. All the concepts that we discussed in political
theory, be it equality, liberty, justice, democracy, rights and so on are essentially
contested. That means, there is no one, singular, common,
consensual understanding or definition of these terms. Now, these essentially contested nature of
political theory is a result of these ideological interpretations. So, in the political discourses, there is
a multi or numerous presence of different ideologies that tend to interpret these terms
differently. It leads to this contested nature of political
theory and in that way, political theory is also deeply connected with political ideology. There cannot be a clear cut separation of
political theory from political ideology. So, within political theory different traditions,
like Marxist, liberal, socialist, and feminist traditions exist. Thus, political theory and political ideology,
in that sense also, overlap each other and they are deeply interconnected. If we discuss, what is political ideology,
let us begin with this Michael Freeden definition or a description of ideology, where he writes,
ideologies are usefully, comprehended not as defective philosophies, or as we have been
discussing it merely, as a negative connotation or negative understanding of political ideology. Ideologies are usefully, comprehended not
as defective philosophies, but rather, as ubiquitous and patterned forms of thinking
about politics. So, what characterizes political ideology? It is ubiquitous and patterned forms of thinking
about politics. They are clusters of ideas, beliefs, opinions,
values and attitudes, usually held by identifiable groups that provide directives, even plans
of action for public and policy-making endeavor to uphold, justify, change or criticize the
social and political arrangements of state or other political communities. The defining feature of political ideology
is its ubiquitous nature and patterned forms of thinking about politics and these ubiquitous
patterned forms of thinking, and the groups who carry this patterned forms of thinking
are identifiable. So, in the public, political discourse, we
can identify and associate the individual, groups with different forms of ideologies
and these clusters of ideas, beliefs, opinions, values and attitudes together constitute a
worldview to provide a direction, or even a plan of action to formulate policies in
an endeavor to do all these things, to uphold the existing status quo, to justify or change
it, or to criticize the existing social structure in any state and society. Thus, ideology plays a very significant role
in the political development of any society’s transformation. It is a set of beliefs and ideas which has
a pattern of thinking among the identifiable groups of people who tries to either justify
or change, or uphold the existing structure of politics in any state and society. That is the significant understanding of ideology. However, we need to remind ourselves that
when ideology was coined, it did not have the same connotation or understanding. So, we can trace the origin of political ideology
to the origin of state. The political actions or the ideas which propelled
political actions are as old as perhaps the state or any forms of collective thinking. One can trace the origin of political ideology
to the origin of a state. However, the term ideology was first coined
by Antoine Destutt de Tracy after the French revolution. His objective was to study political ideas
which will help, transform or emancipate, or empower society systematically or scientifically
without any prejudices and free itself from metaphysical and contemplative thinking. Thus the origin of ideology was to study the
political ideas systematically or scientifically. Therefore, ideology was supposed to be ‘a
science of ideas’ and not ideologically driven by different political groups or parties. Political ideology as terms suggests is about
studying any idea, or political ideas scientifically systematically. It is therefore, a science of ideas. However, the term ideology soon acquired a
negative and pejorative meaning. In the political arena, as I have discussed,
we may often come across political groups or leaders or followers, accusing the other
of ideologically driven and themselves as guided by public interests and not by any
political ideology. So, in popular perception, it is seen in a
negative sense, as a closed worldview, fixed doctrinal worldview which distorts or has
very little or no significance to the real, practical and political world. It is seen as a set of beliefs guided by ‘idealism’. So, idealism, we can also, see it as a kind
of utopia. All political movements or political ideology
has a particular end or a kind of utopia, or objectives to achieve by transforming the
existing social and political realities. So, it is political ideology, seen as set
of beliefs guided by idealism which has very little or no significance to reality, as it
exists. In fact, according to Marx, one of the political
scientists, it consist of the actual material interests of the bourgeoisie. Ideology, he defines, as ‘false consciousness’. It is more than an action or a kind of political
action for empowerment or emancipation. Ideology, actually, distorts or conceals the
real interests of the propertied groups or those who are better off. So, in Germany Ideology, he argued that political
ideology is false consciousness which conceals the actual oppressions or injustices of masses,
and also, it conceals the material interests of the bourgeoisie. However, Marxism itself, developed as an ideology
which aspired to create an egalitarian and a classless society. More on this, we will discuss later. Therefore, no matter, what the claims are,
all political actions and movements are guided by political ideology of one kind or the other. So, any political criticism or political action
or movement are always set or guided, or inspired by a particular ideology. Sometimes, there may be simultaneous presence
of many ideologies within an ideology; there are different varieties or interpretations
of that ideology, as we will see, when we will discuss liberalism. But all the political actions and movements
must be guided by a particular form of political ideology. Now, for us, to identify, if political ideology
is to look for a suffix like ‘ism’. We have all kinds of isms starting from liberalism
to conservatism, Marxism, socialism, feminism, post-structuralism, environmentalism or ecologism,
or Gandhism etc are all ideologies. These all have particular ways of looking
at the world. They want to reconstruct or restructure the
world in a particular way and assign the role or particular role to particular groups and
individuals, according to their description or expectation of that society or individual
and groups. Talking negatively, we usually, associate
ideology with dogmas, and authoritarian doctrinaire. Authoritarian and doctrinaire worldview, distorts
the reality and therefore, it is considered as a threat to free, tolerant and democratic
society. So, usually, over all understanding or interpretation
of ideology, despite its promises of the glorious future or to reconstruct, or transform the
society, and to bring about glory and empowerment, it is considered as dogma or authoritarian,
doctrinaire worldview which is a threat to the free, tolerant and democratic society. That is one negative connotation of political
ideology. Now, positively, if we look at the positive
aspect of ideology that political actions require certain inspiring values, norms or
set of beliefs, then, political ideology also, provide those beliefs, values and norms. In that sense, positively, all ideologies
cannot be equally true, no matter, how promising to common people is such as Fascism, Nazism
or Fundamentalism. These are also, the ideologies which promise
a better future and in promising that, instead of future, they require loyalty and followers. So, their actions are future oriented and
in the process of achieving that future or bringing about that future, they require loyalty
or followers. And this kind of utopian aspect of political
ideology is present in all the ideologies. But does that mean all the ideologies are
equally true or valid. And we should all have a neutral judgement
about all forms of ideologies that everything is correct and relative. So, no one particular ideology has a monopoly. On the one hand, if we think of ideology,
merely, as a dogma or an authoritarian, doctorial belief system, then it is a very negative
connotation and yet we cannot skip the influence of political ideology. On the other hand, if we take political ideology
as a positive thing, then all forms of political ideologies are correct. It is equally, problematic that we cannot
justify ideologies like fascism and Nazism, or fundamentalism of fundamentalist ideologies
of various kinds which are genuinely a threat to a number of communities within or outside
that society or state, as it has brought about in the case of Nazism, we have seen in the
20th century, lots of horror or catastrophe to the society. So, can we justify all forms of ideology because
of its having some or a positive aspect of it. Now, to understand this paradox, Karl Mannheim
wrote a book called Ideology and Utopia which is considered as a modern classic. He explored this question that can we discuss
ideology without being ideologically ourselves. Can we have a critic or any study of political
ideology is possible without ourselves being ideologically driven? Now, his answer is to look for a political
class or what he calls intellectuals, who can study these ideologies in somewhat objective
manner and his answers were based on locating the social position. So, any ideology and position to that ideology
has certain positions and therefore, to judge a particular ideology becomes problematic. Even when we criticize the other, our own
positions are also based on certain assumptions, ideology or certain perspectives. Now, how to overcome that and study political
ideology that Karl Mannheim produced and provided an answer. Here, he was looking for locating the social
positions of intellectuals, who could relatively distance themselves from the social classes,
to examine or study the merits or demerits of any ideology. To study the political ideology, we need distancing
from the social classes; various social classes and then perhaps, our understanding can be
more convincing and persuasive. However, it is not always true that intellectuals
who can relatively distance themselves from social classes, are supposed to study political
ideology objectively. However, it has not been the case always. We also, found intellectuals justifying the
horrors of Nazism and Fascism, and many other kinds of fundamentalism. Now, how, to tackle these paradoxes of the
negative and the positive sides of political ideology. Therefore, what is required is to study the
ideology in both its aspects that is negative and positive. On the one hand, it is problematic and distorting. On the other, it is inescapable. So, there is no escape from ideology. Although, there have been debate like end
of ideology or triumphant of capitalism or liberalism, yet we have seen the constant
elasticity, revival and reassertion of this ideology that makes the politics dynamic,
complex and conflictual arena. We need to study, political ideology in its
both negative and positive aspects as there is no escape from political ideology. Now, to have a more systematic, scientific
or rational understanding of ideology or a political movement, or a political action,
requires tools and approaches of political theory. Now, if we discuss, very briefly, some of
the major political ideologies of modern times are also present in the contemporary era too. First and the most dominant political ideology
is liberalism. We will also discuss the critics of liberalism. So, in modern politics and society, we feel,
study any institution of governance or politics or parliamentary form of democracy which is
rooted in the beliefs and values of liberalism. Therefore, it is the most dominant political
ideology of modern times or even in our contemporary times. However, it also, has many rivals or critics,
and Marxism is perhaps, one of the biggest critics of liberalism that we will discuss. So, let us first discuss this liberalism which
has many internal varieties. There is no one, singular conception or set
of beliefs about liberalism. It has evolved from its classical to the modern,
and to the more contemporary version of liberalism, to some other alternative political ideologies,
such as communitarianism, multiculturalism which are also, evolved from political liberalism. But these varieties, also criticize some of
the core beliefs and principles of liberalism. Liberalism has many internal varieties and
it is truly, an elastic political ideology. It tends to absorb its critics, to make it
relevant and more inclusive. So, liberalism has evolved over a period of
time, but absorbing the critic or critical aspects of many of its critics. From the exclusive emphasis on individual
to a more egalitarian or welfare oriented politics and political ideology, liberalism
has evolved and absorbed its critics within its fold, and that makes it a truly elastic
and also a dominant political ideology. There cannot be and there is not one singular
set of beliefs which we assign to liberalism. It had acquired many distinct and at times
often contradictory principles, norms and values. So, we can discuss it with this example of
John Rawls and his three books called Theory of Justice, Political Liberalism and Laws
of People. Now, these three books of John Rawls which
started with a kind of universalistic approach in liberalism that means, liberalism is not
confined to any particular history or particular social context. It has application in all kinds of society. We think about modern democracy, parliamentary
form of democracy or rule of law or constitution and its neutrality. And objectivity, gives it a kind of universal
application. John Rawls, started with developing a theory
of justice which will be universal in a sense, to arrive at a theory of justice which can
have universal application. And if, it is implemented correctly, then
expectation was that end result will be just. So, he started with the liberal premise of
arriving at a theory of justice which will be universal in nature. Now, with the critic, he developed in Political
Liberalism, a pluralistic or a more pluralistic approach to the theory of justice or different
conceptions of political theories or what he calls the primary goods and the idea of
primary goods. So, different ideologies and different groups
can still come together to have a kind of common consensus. Further, in the Laws of People, he went one
step ahead to include even those who are visibly contradictory to each other, respecting their
laws and still maintaining some kind of common, minimum obligation to each other and maintaining
harmony and peace in society. So, in Rawls, we have seen a progression from
a more classical liberal premise to a more contemporary premise, where he acknowledged
or took into account the different orientations, approaches to politics among different societies
within a large state in polity. However, liberalism basically, focuses on
individual as a rational agent who knows what is best for him or her, and therefore, it
desires that state and polity should give individuals maximum opportunity and freedom
to explore, what is good or best in his or her interest. So, it also, argued that the material worth
or the actual worth of the individual can be best or a thing can be best judge by a
free market economy. There should not be any regulation or control
over the economy or exchange of trade. Liberalism has the premise of individual as
a rational agent who knows what is best in his interest and he should have maximum freedom,
and opportunity to explore that. Secondly, the best judge of worth of an individual
or a thing is the free market. The role of state and society in this understanding
is then minimal, only to reconcile and regulate the individual interests through an objective
or neutral law and constitution. In liberal philosophy, liberal approach, constitution
and laws are expected to be neutral and objective. So, this is one of the most dominating philosophies
of political ideology in modern world. John Locke, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, Hayek,
Nozick, Milton Friedman and many others are proponent of this ideology. It has many inner varieties too. We will discuss it in a moment. However, liberalism has many critics from
within and without. So, within, there are communitarians or multiculturalists
like Taylor, Michael Sandel or Will Kymlicka and instead of liberalism, they focuses on
abstract isolated individual who is rational. These theorists, multiculturalists or communitarian
theorists are arguing about socially and culturally embedded individuals and group differentiated
rights. Thus, in liberalism, the individual is considered
as rational. Therefore, certain rights are fundamental
for this individual and these rights are given to the individual because of him or her being
the human being, the individual and not because he or she belongs to a particular caste, group,
or a particular community. In contrast, multiculturalism or communitarian
thinkers believed that individuals do not live or exist in an isolated society. He or she is part of a larger network of groups
and communities. Therefore, he or she is an embedded individual
and they should be given certain rights which are taken into account as the background of
that individual. The minorities in different liberal democracy
with its majoritarian tendency requires the state to recognize the background of individuals
and accordingly, it provide him or her rights which are different from the universal rights
as it is there in liberal philosophy. Within liberalism, we have philosophy or ideology
like multiculturalism or communitarianism which believes in the socially and culturally
embedded individual and group differentiated rights. Now, liberalism faces greatest challenge or
criticism from Marxism where instead of individual as like in liberalism, Marxism emphasis on
class as a basic unit for social and political philosophy. We will discuss the philosophy of Marxism
in a moment. We need to understand that liberalism continues
to be a very relevant political ideology in our contemporary times. However, it faces many challenges. It has also, provided condition for the emergence
of different ideologies. For instance, liberal feminism or social democratic,
or liberal democrats or liberal egalitarianism. Liberalism remains a kind of elastic political
ideology and it includes different variants of political thoughts and thinking within
its own domain. So, social democrats, feminists and environmental
activists are equally, critical of liberalism. However, liberalism remains a dominant political
ideology and it has proved to be elastic enough to absorb the critics within its fold as is
clear from the example of John Rawls that we have discussed earlier. It absorbs its critic to make itself more
accommodative, flexible and hence, more relevant. It continues to change or acquire new characteristics,
according to the changing nature of political discourse and political development. From the classical liberalism to modern, to
contemporary and then again, this New Right, we have seen the constant elasticity of political
ideology in liberalism. Marxism is one of the most contested political
ideologies in the modern world which is revered by half of the world and devoured by another
half. So, half of the world admire or appreciate
and take Marxism as a ray of hope from their existing oppressions and injustices. On the other hand, the other half of the world
sees Marxism as the biggest challenge and communism which is emerged out of Marxist
writings or worldviews is seen as the biggest threat to the existing social and political
world. It caused many revolutions such as Russian
revolution, Chinese revolution or in Vietnam or Cuba, there were many political movements
still in many parts of the world guided by or inspired by the ideology of Marxism. The political contestations in different societies
emerged from the Liberal strands or the Marxist strands of political thought. So, Marxism is one such contested political
ideologies and for a very long time, it had divided the world into two warring camps. If we remember, the history of cold war and
the division of world into two groups led by USA on the one hand or USSR on the other
hand, was guided by these opposite political ideologies of liberalism, capitalism or free
market, and communism and classless, stateless society or utopia. So, it claims to speak on behalf of the dispossessed
working class. One of the legitimacy for Marxism is on the
basis of its explanation of inequalities, especially, social and economic inequalities,
that is widely prevalent in a capitalist, liberal society. It considers liberalism and capitalism as
bourgeoisie ideology, whereas they regard themselves or their own theories as scientific
and inspire to emancipate the world from their present oppressive conditions of existence
by creating a classless and stateless society. That is how, it replaces, it claims to provide
alternative to the liberal ideology. So, the basis of this ideology was the writings
of Karl Marx, Engels, Lenin, Gramsci and others. Like liberalism, it has its own internal varieties
too. From the writings of Karl Marx and Engels
to Lenin and further on to Gramsci, we see an evolution in Marxist political ideology
as well, as it is there in liberalism. So, the New Left or Post-Marxist is the progression
of thought and set of beliefs in Marxism itself. It remains relevant in a new liberal era,
where every time there is a slowdown in economy, there is the resurgence in the interest of
Marxist, Marxism and Marxist writings. Socialism as an ideology emerged as a sharp
critic to Liberalism and Capitalism. It criticizes Capitalism for the socio-economic
inequalities which has led to alienation and it has reduced the working masses, merely,
as a labour force deprived of any suitable human condition. Socialism aims to emancipate human beings
from socio-economic inequalities by avoiding the extremes of both Marxism and Communism
on the one hand, and Liberalism and Capitalism on the other hand. It tries to reconcile or bridge the extremes
of both liberalism and Marxism, to provide a better alternative for the emancipation
of the masses. It criticized the institution of private property
and focuses on the collective ownership or community ownership of the resources. One of the early socialists like Pierre Joseph
Proudhon declared property as nothing, but theft. Charles Fourier was another early socialist
who criticized capitalism and drew attention to reorganize production and distribution
systems that prevailed under capitalism. The major proponents of these ideologies were
social democrats. In India, if we remember, in the post-independent
movement, socialism was very dynamic or appeared as a promising political ideology, immediately
after independence in the first and second decades. So, if we recall Jayaprakash Narayan, Acharya
Narendra Dev or Ram Manohar Lohia, they were all leaders of the socialist party and they
wanted to avoid the extremes of both the hollow promises of liberal ideology, on the one hand
which provided both political and legal equality. But it did nothing about the actual, social
and economic inequalities. And on the other hand, it avoided the extremes
towards left which tries to radically alter or rupture the existing status quo, to bring
about revolution, to bring about radical changes in the existing social reality. So, it tries to avoid the extremes for bringing
about emancipation or to remove the social and economic inequalities in society. Feminism is another political ideology which
emerged as a critic to liberal conception of individual and politics. So, in Liberalism, individual is a rational
agent and therefore, there is no gender sensitivity, in liberal philosophy because it claims of
neutrality and objectivity. That means, it is gender blind and the political
arena or state and its institutions are considered as open for both genders. But in the actual practice or in the actual
functioning of politics, we have seen, how women have to struggle for getting recognition
as an equal member of society with having equal rights and opportunities. For basic rights like right to vote, woman
had to fought a long and hard battle. Therefore, Feminism is very critical of the
liberal conception of individual and politics. They criticize the male oriented individualistic
conception of state and politics. So, the discourse or the language is dominated
by a male oriented approach to both politics and state. And it also, divides the life into a private,
personal life and it deals more with the public sphere. So, in the liberal philosophy, religion is
considered as the matter of private life and the state deals with matters related to public
life. Feminists are very critical of the gender
neutral public sphere and the state. They declared that the personal is also political
and like Liberalism or Marxism, Feminism is a very diverse body of thought. And we have many traditions of feminists like
Liberal feminism, Marxist feminism, Radical feminism, Black feminism, Asian feminism,
etc. They are united in terms of fighting for the
oppressed conditions or existence of half of the humanity, but they also, have a variety
of approaches and methods to interrogate, to interpret, and to participate in the public
and political life. Feminism and its attack, particularly on patriarchy
and its emphasis on gender discourse have radically altered the major premises of social
and political life in contemporary world. In comparison to Liberalism and Marxism, or
Socialism, Feminism is of recent origin in 1960’s. It started with the claim of personal is political
and in 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s, it has acquired more radical turn. And now, with the focus on patriarchy, we
see, how it alters the major assumptions in our social and political life and in our public
institutions. How it is making the public or political discourse
sensitive to the gender requirements of particular groups, be it women or men, or the LGBT community,
that is, lesbian, bisexual, gay or transgender etc. Thus, they recognize their rights, needs,
being sensitive to their requirements and constantly alter the major premises of our
political life. Nationalism is one such ideology which is
considered as an ideology, but it is very different from political ideologies like liberalism
and Marxism, or Socialism or Feminism. So, we can be a nationalist, but being nationalist,
we are also, open to be a Liberal or a Marxist or a Feminist etc. However, nationalism tends to provide emotionally
or psychologically, a group of people or a large mass and then bring them together, to
form a community and give them an identity which transcends other identities that is
based on ascriptive identities such as caste, gender, class etc. So, it emotionally and psychologically binds
a mass of people together and its members forms a community which claims to share a
common history, culture, tradition and language. And we have seen, how in 19th and 20th century,
there have been different waves of nationalism and how it altered the geography of the world
into different nation-states and how nationalism is powerful, psychological and political tool
for social and political movements in different countries. We are familiar with the anti-colonial struggle
in India, Asian and African countries and its latest third wave of nationalism. So, it had started in Europe and then, the
second wave was in Latin America. But the most recent and the third wave is
from the anti-colonial movements in Asia, Africa and there is a again, a positive and
negative side to it. It is also, seen as emancipatory or liberating
for many people. It is also, seen as divisive or exclusive,
where the loyalty of people or groups of people is confined to a geographical territory and
it does not extend to the large humanity. However, it is a very powerful political ideology
in modern times, which aspire to form a particular community, a nation of one’s own and to
which one is psychologically and emotionally connected. So, this term nation-state refers to a group
of people who claims to have a common past and they are willing to strive together for
a common future. Now, very briefly, this new ideology like
post-structuralism which has again, radically altered the major premises in political theory. However, it is often seen as a critic of meta-narratives. It is still being very less constructive in
terms of providing or suggesting an alternative to the alternative course of action, that
is its critics. However, the post-structuralists, such as
Foucault, Derrida and many others have also developed an alternative model of politics
and ethics. In this alternative model of politics and
ethics, they reject any foundational or a grand meta-narrative of a theory or ideology. So, it is a move away from the teleological
worldview that believes there is one starting or end point. And there are various stages in between. The time is linear time. The teleological or linearity in the political
ideology or the premises or assumptions of political ideologies are rejected by the post-structuralist
thinkers and theorists. And it claims to relativism or identifying
the structure of oppression and injustice rather than having a grand meta-narrative
or utopia about the future, as it is there in many other ideologies. It is a move away from the teleological worldviews
and grand theories which often result in immeasurable cruelties and oppressions that we have seen
in the case of Fascism, Nazism or many other fundamentalist ideologies in the world which
promises a better future with a grand narrative. But in the process, it unleashes violence;
it indulges in cruelties or oppressions which are rejected by the post-structuralist thinkers. And in contrast to that kind of grand meta-narratives,
it tries to examine and identify the structures of injustices and oppressions, to enable any
emancipatory politics as possible. So, it does not provide emancipatory politics
or blue print for emancipatory politics in a sense of grand narratives or grand theory. But it tries to explore the structures of
injustices and oppressions, and how to examine and identify them, to make any kind of emancipatory
politics possible. It cut across different ideological divides
of earlier times and tries to work in a very small mundane way, to create a more emancipatory
society. Now, finally, ecologism and environmentalism,
it is a contemporary ideology which started in 1960’s and it is also, a shift from the
excessive focus on the human to a non-human, to include environmental concerns or climate
change concerns in the domain of political theory. We have separate topic on the environmental
ethics which we will discuss. Ecologism is a contemporary ideology and it
focuses on the desires of the ecologists to protect the ecology, biosphere or nature as
a whole. Unlike the environmentalists, who are basically,
concerned about the environmental and its consequences on human beings and their lives,
ecology is not a typical human centric or anthropocentric approach like environmentalism
is. Rather, ecologism is eco-centric and it strongly
asserts that nature has an intrinsic value that human need to realize and preserve. So, Leopold and Naess pointed out that all
humans are dependent on ecology and biosphere. In this ideology, the shift is away from excessive
focus on human or anthropocentric approach to politics or society, to include the concerns
of ecology and ecology in its totality, and not in its relationship with human or vice-versa,
as it is there in environmentalism. This is also a kind of new and recent development
in political theory. Ecologists, further believe that industrialization
is the major factor for the degradation of ecology or nature, and it focuses on a sustainable
society by emphasizing on limited consumption of natural resources and we are all increasingly
the victims of these excessive consumption of natural resources for our industrial purposes
or developmental purposes. So, ecology, in contrast to that kind of consumptions
argues for a minimal consumption of natural resources. So, whereas, environmentalism and environmentalists
focuses on the uniqueness of human beings as living rational beings in the post-enlightenment
phase. It places human beings outside and above the
nature. The ecologism is in contrast to that kind
of approach which focuses on human or keeps human-being as rational individuals in the
centre of all its philosophy. The major themes that we are going to discuss
in this course is liberty, equality, rights, justice, power, state and sovereignty, democracy,
citizenship, politics and environmental ethics. So, these are some of the key themes that
we will discuss and there are multiple interpretations or conceptualization of these terms. Many of these terms are also interrelated
such as liberty, equality and rights, liberty, equality and justice that we will discuss,
when we will take up these issues in the next classes. Finally, this new development or directions
in political theory, if we see, that politics is an ever changing phenomenon, so is political
theory which tries to systematically, study and analyze it. So, in terms of methods, concepts and approaches,
political theory derives excessively from the western tradition of political thought
and philosophy. But there is a shift now to engage with the
non-western traditions of political thinking as well and to develop a dialogue with them
and to make political theory a global discipline. So, this is a new direction in political theory,
where it tries to engage with the non-western political thought and philosophy, to make
political theory a more global discipline. The concerns of political theory are also
accommodative of new changes and developments. Humans are no longer, the only exclusive concerns
for political theorists. They now have to increasingly, take into account
non-human factors such as animal rights, climate change, environment and so on. As we have discussed in the new political
ideologies like ecologism, there is a concern for the new concerns, for the political theories
and second, development in science and technology such as genetics can potentially alter the
major premises of equality in political theory. Similarly, there is no singular and definite
answer to questions of democracy, liberty and justice. It needs to be explained contextually, and
historically, which political theorists tries to do. It is true that the political theory overlaps
with political philosophy, ideology and thought. However, a degree of generality, normative
concerns, questions of state and the political power, individual and community remains some
of the major concerns of political theory. Unlike political ideology, it does not aspire
to capture the state power, but it does allow the resources and discursive terrain to not
only make sense of the political, but also to transform it. So, political theory is not helpful in making
sense or understanding of the political society, but also it provides the resources or judgements,
and discursive terrain to transform it. This ability is not just to explain or understand,
but also to transfer political theory which is a very fascinating discipline of study. I hope, when we will study and discuss different
concepts and terms, we will become more and more familiar with different layers of political
debates and discourses in any society, including, Indian society and also, to develop a judgment
which is very different from an opinion about any political and social issue which is contentious
by nature. Thus, political theory as a discipline enables
us to make sense of the complexities, the multi-layered conceptions or conflictual terrain
of politics. And to have one’s own judgment about it,
I hope, when we will conclude this course, we will develop some of those skills, methods
and approaches to do that. On this lecture, you can refer to some of
these books like Rajeev Bhargava and Ashok Acharya’s, Political Theory and An Introduction
and Andrew Dobson or Robyn Eckersley’s, Political Theory and the Ecological Challenge
and again, The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory is a very helpful book to understand
many concepts and some of the themes that we have discussed so far in these two lectures. These other books, you can refer to understand
some of the things that we have discussed. Thank you and let us know, what you think
about this lecture. We will be happy to respond to you within
twenty-four hours. Thanks for listening.

Maurice Vega

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