Studying Political Ideologies

One of the great things about studying political ideologies is that you develop the ability to discuss ideas in a calm, logical and open-minded way rather than to simply react with “Oh that is so silly!” One of the bad things about studying political ideologies is that there are exams. Although, they are easier to revise for than English or History as there are set things you know you have to learn.

One of these things are quotes and examples to back up the theory you discuss so I am going to embed some quotes into my brain by telling you wonderful people about them. Perhaps it may encourage you to read up more on political ideologies? A lot of it is similar to philosophy since each ideology is based on their respective view on human nature.

I’m going to start off with Anarchism because well, it is the most exciting one right? Actually, Anarchism has been tainted with a bad reputation when it actually has some interesting ideas. Whilst it calls for the complete abolishment of power, it does not desire uncontrolled mayhem as the word anarchy suggests.

Many are ruthless and most live in fear

Paul Goodman

Now this is quite an interesting idea. It suggests that in today’s world, there are those who hold power over others who fear them. However, it also implies that those who are ruthless are also living in fear. This can be seen in the way governments may be ruthless to their people, yet they are also fearful of attack from another or a challenge to their power and so this structural fear exists in society.

If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal

Emma Goldman

This quote is an example of Anarchism’s mistrust of democracy. They believe that true freedom cannot be brought about by it simply because there will always be an institution which has power over the people. Emma Goldman’s other quotes are also quite interesting so I would suggest searching her up.

War is the health of the state

Randolph Bourne

Perhaps many people would agree with this statement even if they do not agree with anarchism completely. The idea is that those in charge use war as a tool to consolidate and maintain their power. Through war, they can create support for themselves and they can distract their people from their own failings.

Man was born free yet everywhere he is in chains

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

When I first read this quote, I smiled. Not because I am a sadistic person who likes the idea of chains but because this quote is remarkably accurate. We are told as teenagers that we can become anything and do anything but when we look around, we see so many barriers and restrictions that society has placed upon us.

To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. 

Pierre Joseph Proudhon

Now whilst I certainly will not be writing out this lengthy quote in my exam, I had to include it simply because it is so cool! Yes, perhaps it does have a rather arrogant and boastful tone but Proudhon is not talking about himself here, he is merely saying this is what government means for the general people. The quote continues so if you want, type his name into Google. 

The mutual-aid tendency in man has so remote an origin, and is so deeply interwoven with all the past evolution of the human race, that is has been maintained by mankind up to the present time, notwithstanding all vicissitudes of history

Peter Kropotkin

This quote discusses the idea of mutual-aid. Collectivist Anarchists believe that humans have the capacity and desire within themselves to help others. Kropotkin believed that this desire is rooted in human nature which is why he promoted mutualism. Despite the corruption of individualism that people have gone through, he believed that humankind could embrace this side of themselves and live in a system where mutualism is an everyday feature of society.



So that is a taste of Anarchism. Of course, I did not cover the entire ideology and its key themes but that was not my intention. If you find this interesting then there are numerous books that can read which will provide more information.

Now, onwards to Socialism!

A Worried Student

14 thoughts on “Studying Political Ideologies

  1. In regards to the quote involving a chain comparison – now this is one question where personal opinion may or may not sink in – do you believe that it’s realistic to be told that we can go out and do anything? Is the fault in the phrase itself, or in society. Because that’s something which is…so….staple. Limits are limits. Shame, though, I agree.


      • Economic, as in standards are set for those academic to pursue careers solely for the sake of earning masses, even if their occupation wasn’t initially what they truly wanted? Economic as in low income? Minimum wage?
        (I’m particularly interested in this section of your post, because today at school, a friend and I were discussing this, when we talked about degrees and all that stuff. And it was a very interesting conversation.) 🙂


      • Well economic as in right from the beginning, children face barriers. So if a child wants to become an actor, his parents can’t afford to send him to an academy. A teenager wants to become a doctor but his parents can’t afford his fees or he can’t afford to pay those fees himself.
        That’s one type, then there is as you mention, the value society attaches to careers. So a potential artist is discouraged because the field is not certain to bring great wealth.
        All these economic limits are entwined with what people have come to value. We are not content with merely earning, we want to earn a lot more and so people’s true dreams are crumpled in this pursuit of status and money.


      • I can’t fault what you’ve said; it’s true.
        Education is a right – the different levels could be privileges, I guess you could phrase it like that.
        I can understand the value attached especially, as being at private, I’m not complaining, but I’ve observed how some certainly are willing to sacrifice their happiness for a high income. The pressure of having to do well and and all that. Then there’s having enough to live in a stable environment; which no doubt is a target. But the flip side is that you don’t want to end up doing something everyday whereby you get up each morning, dreading the choices you’ve made.
        It’s tough, that one. It toys with my mind, at times.
        Status and money…ah where to draw the line.


      • I guess you need to decide what you want in the future and take into consideration any help that you are going to get. That would help plan your life in terms of finance and then if you want to pursue something that is uncertain in terms of money, you can do it knowing you have a support system behind you. However, if you don’t then you have to be a bit harsh on yourself and plan accordingly which may mean delaying your ambitions for a while.


  2. This is a good post. I’m glad you were able to talk a little bit about Anarchism in a thoughtful and rational way. I’m curious to what books you have read. Spooner? Proudhon? Rothbard?


  3. I loved political theories/philosophy. Especially Marx. I always found it frustrating though. Backing up what you believe or disbelieve about the works of Rousseau, Locke et al, seemed to rely mainly on incessant quoting of other writers. Thus, too often my own voice/opinion was somehow discouraged or viewed as less relevant. I questioned that inconsistency all the time; politics is after all opinion. Anyway, I was often marked down for determinedly including my own thoughts in essays!! It didn’t deter me though, never will!


    • Haha yes I have felt the same way myself at times. Why is it that we have to back up what we say in the words of others? Surely as we are studying politics, we have the authority and status to critique the thoughts of those considered as great theorists!


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