GCSE politics and government
Topic 1 Liberalism
Q.1. Examine the liberal view of human nature.
Answer: The modern understanding of human nature first emerged with the birth of liberalism which was itself bound up with the emergence of capitalism. Classical liberalism places emphasis on the sovereignty of the individual and considers property rights an essential component of individual liberty (John Locke). Later in 19th-century political theoretical concept, this component of individual liberty would give rise to "laissez-faire" public policy which advocated the removal of heavily interfering in commerce or industry.
According to Most classical liberals, humans are calculating, egoistic creatures, motivated solely by pain and pleasure and aspire to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. Therefore, classical liberals believed that individuals should be free to pursue their self-interest without interference or restraint.
Classical liberalism believes in a free market world determined by pure competition. In the free market system of economy, labour and capital would, therefore, receive the greatest reward, while production would be organized to meet consumer demand. The overemphasis on individual liberty completely lies on the conception of human as fundamentally rational individuals.
The most important point about humans for liberals is the fact that they are individuals. They see the individual as primary, as more 'real' or fundamental than human society and its institutions and structures. They even attach a higher moral value to the individual than to society. A human being is rational and is the best judge of themselves. They are self-aware, know what they want and what to avoid. Therefore, each person ought to live as he or she sees fit without harming others. Each individual is fundamentally complete and they possess pre-given and fixed and not socially constructed needs and preferences. Moreover, the individual is also a radical egoist who interacts with other individuals simply in order to satisfy own preferences. The view of human nature that underpins the politics of the modern-day right, then, arose at a particular historical juncture. Modern and classical liberalism have an optimistic view of human nature. Liberal thinkers such as John Locke (classical) and Jeremy Bentham perceived humans as rational beings who act in their own self-interest and inherently seek pleasure and avoid pain. According to classical liberalism, humans are inherently rational and self-seeking. Therefore, a successful society can be founded on the basis of meritocracy without the need to control by an overbearing state. Jeremy Bentham was of the view that the state or the government should only intervene in the case of ‘other regarding actions’ in which an individual’s freedom is imposing upon another’s. Modern liberalist thinkers such as T.H Green argued that people have a natural desire to augment others’ welfare as well as their own. Hence, humans are both philanthropic and egotistical. In redefining, what it means to be free after viewing the negative outcomes of the Industrial Revolution, this philanthropic instinct suggested that the state should help those in need, enabling them to achieve the same fulfilment as others through the provision of state welfare. In the economic sphere, however, the state should remain firmly in the background.
Q.2. Discuss ways in which neo-sliberalism differs from the New Right.
Answer: Neoliberalism is a pro-capitalist economic theory which believes that the ‘free market’ is the best basis for organising society. Free market economies are based on the choices individuals make when spending their money. The general principle is that if you ‘leave everything to the market’, then businesses will provide what people demand – because businesses want to make a profit and they can’t make a profit if they don’t provide what people want. Neoliberalism is the economic, social, and political analysis that best describes the startlingly unequal distribution of wealth and power in the U.S. today. Neoliberalism, and the policies it undergirds results from the triumph of capitalism and is sometimes called “late-stage capitalism” or “super-capitalism.” The roots of neoliberalism lie not primarily in the years immediately after World War II, when a group of U.S. and European economists met to discuss how to prevent another Holocaust.
The New Right is a political philosophy associated with the Conservative Government (1979-1997 and 2010 to the present day). The New Right adopted and put into practice many of the ideas of Neoliberalism, but there are some differences. It has been pointed out that the political thought of the New Right actually consists of two separate elements:
- An economic liberal element which emphasises both the importance of individual freedom and responsibility and the superiority of the market mechanism as a means of resource allocation which in turn means that government intervention in economy and society should be limited and confined to the creation of the conditions in which the private sector of the economy can operate most efficiently;
- A neo-conservative element which "involves a traditionalist reaction against progressive liberal permissiveness." Thus, neo-Conservatives are likely to call for a reassertion of traditional values in relation to issues surrounding the nature of the family, the output of the mass media, the education system, religion, law and order, controls over the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs, defence of national sovereignty [for example in relation to the EU, the protection of the environment, calls for stricter immigration controls and opposition to the growth of multiculturalism in UK society.
Unlike the neo liberal concepts, the new right advocates the introduction of free market principles into many areas of life. For example, the Marketisation of Education. They also believe in spending by the State. The New Right, having given emphasis on individual freedom and responsibility, have cut welfare spending largely because they believe that welfare brings dependency.
Unlike the neo liberals, the New Right stresses the importance of traditional institutions and values. They also believe in maintaining traditions, as they see as the basis for social order and stability. Illustrating, they strongly support the concept of traditional nuclear family as the backbone of society and still support the idea of a National Curriculum, set by the government, which sets the agenda in education. The New Right ideology, therefore, represents a combination of neo liberal support for the free market combined with neo-conservative support for the strong, authoritarian state which is necessary to make free market economics effective. Thus, in order to increase the scope of the free market, a strong state is, therefore, necessary for reasons such as:
- to reject political pressure from welfare pressure groups demanding increased welfare spending;
- to force through policies such as privatisation and trade union reform designed to increase economic efficiency;
- to strengthen the police which will be necessary in order to deal with militant industrial disputes and urban disorder which may arise out of neo-liberal policies;
- to campaign in support of the return of traditional forms of social and political authority.
Topic 2. Socialism
Q.3. Examine the extent to which socialism can be described as revolutionary.
Answer: Revolution refers to a fundamental and irreversible change which is typically brought about by the exercise of force. Reform, on the other hand, refers to gradual, piecemeal improvements, brought about peacefully through the existing constitutional structure.
Socialists have advocated revolution rather than reform for a number of reasons. Before the advent of political democracy, the working masses did not have the opportunity to advance socialism through reformist and constitutional measures, leaving revolution as the only means of achieving socialism. Revolution has the advantage as it promises a root-and-branch transformation of capitalism, and therefore has sometimes been attractive to fundamentalist socialists, such as Marxists. For many revolutionary socialists, reformism is not feasible because it suggests that socialism can be brought about through a legal and political structure that is fundamentally biased in favour of capitalism and therefore against socialism.
In order to understand, we must know what revolution is. Revolution according to socialist ideology does not necessarily mean small bands of people training in the Wicklow mountains in the hope for Easter Rising nor does it means an armed struggle launched by a small minority. By revolution, it means a mass movement of hundreds of thousands of ordinary working people who are capable of developing the kind of campaign and mass movement that not only hold demonstrations but calls mass strikes, general strikes and workplace occupations in order to get rid of the existing power structure and take over the running of society.
Revolution is necessary because the real power in this society, whatever the Constitution or the political system may say, is not located in parliament but in the boardrooms of the banks and big corporations who control the bulk of wealth, finance and production. The ruling class as illustrated will not permit either their wealth or their power to be taken from them by any radical parliamentary government, No matter how large its democratic majority would be, the ruling class would do everything in their hands to resist and undermine such an elected government. They would stop investing, try to take their money out of the country, sabotage the banks and eventually they would try to strangle the economy. They would be powerful and strong because they are backed by the media, the judges, and the top civil servants all of whom are run by the same ruling class.
In the past and somewhat today, there are others who claimed to stand for Socialism and advocated an alternative method: by working, under capitalism, to pressurize the government to enact reform measures which are favourable to workers. They stood for reformist political action which they hoped would gradually transform capitalism into socialism without the need for class conscious workers' political action: this policy was called gradualism.
In Britain, the leading gradualist thinkers were in the Fabian Society formed in 1884. The Fabians held that by "permeating" the civil service and the working class and "middle class" organisations they could gradually change society. Their real aim was State capitalism in which they saw themselves as the most suitable top administrators. Gradualism, as expounded by the Fabians and adopted by the Labour Party, has always been the dominant reformist theory in Britain. Labour leaders have always rejected Marx and never claimed to be revolutionary. Under Tony Blair they claim to favour "radical reforms" but the Labour Party are merely one business party among many.
Q.4. ‘The Labour movement in the UK has never been truly socialist.’ Discuss.
Answer: In the UK, much like in Europe, the labour movement began during the industrial revolution, when agricultural work was on decline and employment moved to more industrial areas. Modern labour parties originated from an increase in organizing activities in Europe and European colonies during the 19th century, such as the Chartist movement in the United Kingdom during 1838–50.
In 1891, localised labour parties were formed, by trade union members in the British colonies of Australia. They later amalgamated to form the Australian Labour Party (ALP). In 1893, Members of Parliament in the Colony of Queensland briefly formed the world's first labour government.
As a result of a 1899 resolution by the Trade Union Congress, the British Labour Party was created as the Labour Representation Committee.
While archetypal labour parties are made of direct union representatives, in addition to members of geographical branches, some union federations or individual unions have chosen not to be represented within a labour party and/or have ended association with them.
The Labour party has historically been known as a socialist party. Before its rose emblem (a common symbol of socialism and social democracy across Europe following World War II) was introduced in the 1980s, the party’s symbol was a red flag – a standard associated with communism and socialism since the French Revolution. The party and its leaders still sing The Red Flag at the end of its annual autumn party conference. Plus, the party was born out of the trade union movement – heralded by the Manchester Guardian in 1918 as “the Birth of a Socialist Party” – the priorities of which often aligned with the tenets of socialism, regarding workers’ rights and redistribution of wealth. And many key trade union figures over the years have been supportive of the idea of an international workers’ movement.
The Labour party has also in the past implemented broadly socialist policies: the welfare state, National Health Service, nationalising key industries, progressive income tax policy, minimum wage, equality legislation. Before 1995, Clause IV of the Labour constitution entrenched its socialist values:
“To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.”
All those things suggest it has in the past been a party with socialist values. But it has never advocated or implemented an economy-wide move towards common ownership of the means of production. And it has always taken the parliamentary route to reform rather than a revolutionary route to socialism.
The Labour Party was transformed in the 1990s by a small but influential group. They were working under the banner ‘New Labour, New Party’. They believed that Labour's traditional values of nationalisation, Keynesian economics and an ever-closer relationship with the trade unions were the very values that stopped Labour coming into power in a modern age.
Having endured 18 years of Conservative government, Labour Party members voted through the changes - including the removal of Clause IV. So now, the Labour party is less socialist. “Social democrats” are usually how more centrist left-wing politicians in western democracies are described – and how most Labour MPs would identify. But Corbyn and his allies often use the description: “democratic socialist”.
Topic 3. Conservatism
Q.5. Consider the view that conservatism is opposed to equality.
Answer: Many conservatives adopt a pessimistic view of human nature which can be seen in several respects which are flawed, imperfect and corruptible. This overall view may be derived from a religious belief in original sin in some cases, and in others, from more secular beliefs in human defect or imperfection. Conservatives view that human beings may be driven by basic emotion, impulses and self-interest and not by reason. Their activities can be further argued by their individual human imperfection rather than in terms of the social disadvantages of poverty and inequality as seen by socialists.
Their pessimistic perspective on human nature makes them a supporter of economic inequality and opposed equality of outcome. They argue that individual basic inherent differences in talent and skills must inevitably result in some economic inequality of outcome. unless governments restrict the freedom of the more talented individuals to turn these talents to their own economic advantage. Economic equality of outcome, therefore, is inconsistent with individual freedom.
Conservatives are of the view that economic inequality of outcome is a necessary precondition to facilitate incentives in the form of monetary aid and assistance for individuals to further and higher education, to work hard and to invest their savings in productive business whereby, all of these activities will result in faster economic growth and raise average living standards of the people and that even the poorest will benefit indirectly from economic inequality.
Although conservatives are against economic equality of outcome, modern conservatives, on the other hand, are more likely to support equality of opportunity, also known as a meritocracy. Meritocracy entails that individuals can gain rewarding, high-status occupations only on the basis of their own merits and not on the basis of social class or nepotism. Meritocracy is, therefore, an essential consider to secure the economic efficiency which may be necessary to generate rising living standards for all.
Conservatives and the socialist differ in the areas of relationships between economic inequality and equality of opportunity. On one hand, conservatives argue that the government imposition of economic equality denies equality of opportunity to the talented. They also argue that equality of opportunity is possible in an economically unequal society. On the other hand, socialists argue that only proper intervention by the government to increase economic equality can secure equality of opportunity for the poorest of the society.
The conservatives also believe that people should have the right to acquire private property which in turn means that they support the capitalistic market notion. They support the notion that the private market mechanism can coordinate and appropriate resources more efficiently than state economic planning can. The conservatives argue that this state controlled economic planning results in direct incapability associated with an increase in state bureaucracies as illustrated in the economic inefficiency of UK nationalised industries and, in the economic disaster of former “Communist” countries such USSR. Conservative attitudes and ideas regarding economic equality of outcome give an influence on their attitudes to the direction of state activity.
Some Conservatives including Benjamin Disraeli (former Brit. PM, conservative party) have previously argued that laissez faire capitalism would result in excessive economic inequalities which would eventually divide the country into “Two Nations” of rich and poor and that it was, therefore, necessary to extend the scope of government activity to include legislation in terms of improving working conditions, housing and public health in order to create a more balanced “One Nation” society.
However, by the mid-20th Century, so-called Right Progressive Conservative party politicians such as Butler, Macleod, Macmillan and Hogg adopted the Disraeli tradition of ‘One Nation’ and accepted the expansion of state activity. The condition was ushered in by the Labour government programmes of 1945-51, involving selective nationalisation, expansion of the welfare state, Keynesian economic policies and tripartite decision-making.
Q.6. Assess ways in which conservatives view the role of the state.
Answer: Conservatism or conservatives is an ideological strand that believes in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty, traditional values and a strong national defence. They also believe that the role of government should be to provide people the freedom which may be necessary to pursue their own goals and interests. Conservative policies generally emphasize on empowerment of the individual in order to mitigate problems.
One of the most profound elements of conservatives is that they believe in the importance of social order. This belief is reflected in a respect for tradition, a stress on the importance of inequality or class or caste, and an emphasis on the importance of religion as the basis for an organized social relationship. The kind of welfare system and the concern they have is likely to impose restraints on welfare, with a particular emphasis on traditional values in work, the family, and the concept of nationhood. Welfare, though considered a secondary concern, does attract support where it is intended for public order. A British conservative commented on the Beveridge report, that "if you do not give the people social reform they are going to give you revolution”. But the conservatives as in the UK oppose long-term welfare. They emphasize that opportunities should be provided to make it possible for those in need to become self-reliant. It is far more compassionate and effective to encourage people to become self-reliant, rather than allowing them to remain dependent on the government for provisions.
Therefore, a strong state is a necessary precondition for fulfilling individual liberty. A strong state and liberty are mutually dependent and mutually sustaining. Conservatives throughout the political literature are aware that human beings are weak and imperfect creatures, both morally and intellectually, with an ardent tendency to cause conflict and marked with anti-social behaviour. The human need to be restrained by customary and established laws and institutions. It naturally follows that man is a social creature and the state, in effect, is a natural extension of man's social character. Conservatives believe that the state conferred benefits, including liberty, order and justice depend upon adherence to beliefs and values transferred and transmitted to succeeding generations through traditions and customs. They believe that the individual may well be hurt when these customs are eroded or discarded. Therefore, the state is not just some kind of superpower or security service. It is to be considered as a whole comprising of the parts made up by the people. The well-being of the whole or the state must be considered a priority if the parts, that is the individuals, are to prosper in terms of its freedom, stability and justice. The state may, therefore, be seen as a civil association which provides the rules and regulations within which we live our economic and social and political lives, and which commands respect and loyalty in order to achieve this task. Without them, social bonds will be weakened.
Therefore, in social welfare structure, conservatives believe that the government's role should be greatly reduced. In this regard, the conservatives feel that economic and political freedom is likely to be eroded and wrecked by excessive reliance on government. Moreover, they also question the government's ability to mitigate and tackle social and economic problems. They are of the view that faith and adherence to the government's ability to solve these problems are unreasonable. The government is most likely to propose reasonable information on its ability to perform. They argue that the government’s role should be severely limited based on the reluctance of the government bureaucracy, the problems in controlling huge government organizations, the issues of political considerations, and the political complications in telling whether government programs are successful or not.
On the other hand, some conservatives (the religious right or cultural or social conservatives) however, do support and call for various government interventions. While they oppose economic interventions, they seek for government interventions in order to address issues such as restriction of abortion, gay marriage, and certain religious and speech freedoms.
Therefore, it can be argued that conservative ideology favours four policy principles: selectivity, privatization, devolution, reciprocity or responsibility.
They support selective social welfare programs by focussing on providing public benefits to those with the fewer resources. Government aid should be available to the worst off in society. Thus, it means that the people have to qualify for tested programs, for example, income should be less than X amount, certain no of children, etc.). The new qualification should replace all universal ones (such as old age pension, or general medical insurance etc)
Conservatives attempt to reduce government intervention through privatization by placing the responsibility of public welfare in the hands of the non-governmental institutions, voluntary organizations or commercial profit-seeking institutions.
Devolution is also a conservative principle which is also known as decentralization. Devolution primarily means removing power and control from the central and transferring it in state and local hands.
Finally, conservatives believe in the principle of responsible reciprocity which argues that if we receive assistance, we should also give something back. Citizens are not merely entitled to state benefits.
New Right conservatives (Ronald Reagan in the USA and Mrs. Thatcher in the UK) accept liberal-based beliefs (laissez faire and the market mechanism) as well as a strong belief in the inevitability of economic inequality of outcome and the necessity of private property. This set of beliefs combined with criticisms of inefficient state bureaucracy and the evils of socialism have provided them with enough reasons to support economic measures which are designed to increase economic inequality of outcome as a means to increase financial incentives in order to secure higher rates of economic growth.
Mrs. Thatcher for example and her supporters believed that between 1945 and 1979, the taxation and social security system, had been an instrument of redistribution from the rich to the poor but the effects had been to weaken economic incentives for the rich which ultimately resulted in reduced living standards for the poor. The notion of egalitarian taxation and social security policies gradually resulted in increased equality.
Capitalistic notion combined with Thatcher’s taxation and social security policies significantly resulted in increases in inequality of outcome and in lead to relative poverty. Despite this, Mrs. Thatcher firmly believed her stand and claimed that there was no reason why such increase in poverty should result in reduced equality of opportunity.
Due to such firm believe, Mrs. Thatcher and her supporters have been ardently described as neo-liberals rather than as conservatives. However, it is also argued that Mrs. Thatcher’s version of New Right ideology involves a combination of neoliberal and neoconservative ideology. This version has been described as the ideology which accepts the importance of the market mechanism and believed that a strong state would be necessary to establish law and order to face significant industrial disputes such as the 1984-85 miners’ strike, to increase expenditure on defence in order to control the expansion of USSR threat and strengthen the role of central government in the provision of state education. Consequently, it can be argued that Mrs. Thatcher’s beliefs may be summarised as involving a belief in the free market economy and the strong state.
Topic 4 Fascism
Q.7. Why do fascists support totalitarianism?
Answer: Fascism was a form of authoritarian political movement which developed in Italy and few other European countries after the end of second world war as a reaction to the profound political and social changes and the spread of socialism and Communism. Its name was derived from the fasces, an ancient Roman symbol of authority. Italian fascism was founded in Milan on March 23, 1919, by Benito Mussolini, a former revolutionary socialist comrade. His followers, who mostly were war veterans, wore black shirts as uniform and were organized along paramilitary lines. The early Fascist program was a mixture of left and right-wing ideological stand that emphasized on a strong sense of nationalism, productivism, anti-socialism, elitism, and the necessity for a strong leader. Mussolini created the term ‘totalitario’ to describe the new fascist state of Italy. His famous line “All within the state, none outside the state, none against the state” appropriately describe the kind of state he aspired. By the beginning of Second World War, the term “totalitarian” had already become a synonym for absolute and oppressive single-party government. Therefore, the fascist movement of Italy was a result of the right situation of European political environment. Mussolini was a skilled orator when combined with the post-war economic crisis, widespread disorientation in the traditional political system, and a growing fear of socialism helped the Fascist party to grow to 300,000 registered members by 1921.
As a form of government, totalitarianism accepts state monopoly on all societal resources through the state use of terror, propaganda and technology in an effort to entirely control all aspects of public and private life. Thus, this is what the Italian fascist regime sought to attain. Fascism also rejects the existing society as they believe that it is corrupt, immoral, and beyond reform. They propose an alternative society in which these evils will be indefinitely removed, and seek to provide plans and programs to achieve this alternative regime. These ideologies when supported by propaganda campaigns necessarily control all aspects of public and private life demand total conformity on the part of the people. The fascist regime does not permit individual freedom in any form and seeks to subordinate all aspects of the individual’s life to the authority of the government. In the early 1920s, Italy was struggling economically and politically. Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Party fought with the Communists for political power and won. Mussolini promised to restore the power and glory of the Roman Empire. One way to do this was to expand Italy’s empire. In 1935, Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in East Africa. Italy continued to expand by invading Albania in 1939. These invasions elevated Mussolini’s popularity and control.
Totalitarian forms of organization enforce this demand for conformity. Totalitarian societies are hierarchies dominated by one political party and usually by a single leader. The party penetrates the entire country through regional, provincial, local and “primary” (party-cell) organization. Youth, professional, cultural, and sports groups supplement the party’s political control. Paramilitary secret police ensure compliance. Information and ideas are effectively organized through the control of television, radio, the press, and education at all levels.
Totalitarian regimes differ from older concepts of dictatorship or tyranny. Totalitarian regimes seek to establish complete political, social and cultural control, whereas dictatorships seek limited, typically political, control. Two types of totalitarianism can sometimes be distinguished: Nazism and Fascism which evolved from “right-wing” extremism, and Communism, which evolved from “left-wing” extremism. Traditionally, each is supported by different social classes. Right-wing totalitarian movements have generally drawn their popular support primarily from middle classes seeking to maintain the economic and social status quo. Left-wing totalitarianism has often developed from working class movements seeking, in theory, to eliminate, not preserve, class distinctions. Right-wing totalitarianism has typically supported and enforced the private ownership of industrial wealth. A distinguishing feature of Communism, by contrast, is the collective ownership of such capital.
Fascism can be described as a form of totalitarianism because it possesses qualities which are essentially totalitarian in nature. It possesses various characteristics. In a cultural aspect, fascism supported censorship of traditional and cultural modernism, indoctrination and secret moral policing of ideas and cultural traditions. In the case of the economy, fascist leaders emphasized on state regulated and complete control of the economic system by state corporations. They rejected every free market economic system, which according to them would lead to excessive competition. In political aspects, they support one-party rule by a charismatic leader who has a strong nationalistic affiliation.
Totalitarian regimes mobilize and utilize mass political participation, which is often led by charismatic figures. Examples of such figures in modern history are Mao Tse-Tung of China and Josef Stalin of USSR, who were leaders of left-wing fascist regimes, and Adolf Hitler of Germany and Benito Mussolini of Italy, who led right-wing fascist regimes.
Fascism is similar to totalitarianism where totalitarianism governments are a type of system where the government controls virtually all aspects of people’s lives and freedom. A fascist leader might lead a totalitarian government (or even a democratic in some instances), but those leaders demonstrate some characteristics that are different from totalitarianism. The fascist regime is, therefore, a totalitarian political regime based on organising and controlling the society, controlled by the power, including the use of coercive force and the complete submission of the individual rights and freedom to the state authority.
Q.8. ‘Anti-rationalism is the most important feature of fascism.’ Discuss.
Answer: Fascist thinkers are inspired by a broad range of theories and values, and the fascist regimes that emerged in the 1920s and 1930s Europe definitely developed new forms of political rule. Whereas liberalism, conservatism and socialism are 19th-century ideologies, fascism is a child of the 20th century, particularly a product of the period between the two world wars.
Fascism is essentially based on the idea of anti-rationalism. Fascism believes in repressing human rationality and intellectual life in general by relying more on the action. As against the belief of socialism and liberalism, which considered that the world can be explained and magnified by human thought and imagination, fascism places will and violence and followed the virtues of reality above everything else in the political doctrine. Fascism also significantly represents the expression of a political regime which is based on will and particularly addressed to the soul, emotions and instincts of the people.
Another key aspect of the fascism is the concept of elitism (condemning the idea of equality) which occupy a significant place in history. It emphasizes on the concept of natural selection, according to which it is imposed that certain individuals are preferably and naturally meant to be leaders and the others are bound to obey their command. Therefore, the principle and belief of the leader is the fundamental principle of the fascist state. The leader is the undeniable authority apart from holding unlimited constitutional powers. True democracy according to fascist leaders only meant an absolute dictatorship, which was a form of fusion between absolutism and people suzerainty in the form of the totalitarian democracy. It is deeply rooted in anti-rationalism understanding as they suggest to completely abandon and reject reason and objectivity. According to fascists, the truth is nothing but a subjective quality possessed by few personalities as "Feel, don't think" was their consistent demand.
Fascism was essentially anti rationalism as emerged as a reaction against modernity, the ideas, values and the political creeds of the Enlightenment thought. The Nazis in Germany, proclaimed ‘1789 is Abolished’. Also, in Fascist Italy, slogans such as ‘Believe, Obey, Fight’ and ‘Order, Authority, Justice’ replaced the fundamental liberal principles of the French Revolution, ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’. Although fascist movements were born out of the upheavals of First World War, they are based on ideas and theories that had been existing since the late 19th century. The most significant of these ideas were anti-rationalism and the increase in growth of counter-Enlightenment thinking. The Enlightenment thought, based upon the ideas of universal reason, natural goodness and inevitable progress, was acting as a champion of liberating humankind from the darkness of irrationalism and superstition. The thought and perspective were reflected in the French Revolution and was carefully crafted, in the ideological strand of liberalism and socialism. However, in the late 19th century, thinkers and leaders began to highlight the limits of human reason and drew attention to other, perhaps more powerful, drives and impulses.
The core concepts of fascism not only comprised of anti-rationalism but also consisted of racialism and elitism. In Nazi Germany, the Aryan race was considered racially superior. Hitler and Mussolini argued that people are different in their mental ability, physical strength and therefore can't contribute equally to state affairs which result in the ideas that since their contribution is uneven their reward should be unequal. The fascist idea of state drew heavily from totalitarianism and believed that state can make any sort of demand. They also believed in centralisation of power and absolute authoritative leadership.
Fascism is essentially anti rational in character due to the following assumptions:
- A reaction to enlightenment thinking.
- Belief in limitations of reason and more powerful drives and impulses for human beings.
- Will to power- Nietzsche
- political myths
Therefore, anti-rationalism in the context of fascist ideology does not necessarily feature a right-wing character but, in effect, it gave political expression to the most radical and extreme forms of Counter- Enlightenment thinking. Fascism advocated aspects of anti-intellectualism and despised abstract thinking and believed in action. Mussolini fervently argued that intellectual life was to be devalued as it is dry cold and lifeless and advocated the concept ‘action not talk’. Copyright © 2016 AQA and its licensors. All rights reserved
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