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Ideology in the United States. Foundations in the Natural Rights Argument. Major Themes of the Declaration of Independence. Self evident truths. We hold these truths to be self-evident. Human equality. All men are created equal.

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Ideology in the united states

Ideology in the United States


in the

Natural Rights Argument

Major themes of the declaration of independence
Major Themes of the Declaration of Independence

Self evident truths

We hold these truths to be self-evident

Human equality

All men are created equal

They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights

  • Among these rights:

    • Life

    • Liberty

    • Pursuit of happiness

Natural rights

Purpose of gov’t

To secure rights

Measure of Justice

Consent of the governed

Whenever any form of gov’t is destructive of the security of natural rights

Right of revolution

  • Prudence:

    • Long-established gov’ts shouldn’t be overthrown for “light and transient causes”

  • Experience:

    • Men are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves

Limits to the

right of revolution

Political culture v ideology
Political Culture v. Ideology

  • Political Culture

    • A set of general attitudes, ideas and beliefs

    • Broadly informs and shapes a region’s politics

  • Ideology

    • A set of specific attitudes, ideas and beliefs

    • Provides or advocates a coherent plan for social, political, or economic action

Examples of ideologies
Examples of ideologies

  • Economic ideologies

    • capitalism

    • communism

    • globalism

    • protectionism

    • Keynesianism

    • monetarism

    • Market fundamentalism

  • Political ideologies

    • Libertarianism

    • Liberalism

    • Conservatism

    • Anarchism

    • Socialism

    • Fascism

    • Communism

    • Communitarianism

    • Statism

  • Social ideologies

    • Tribalism

    • Ethnocentrism

    • Nationalism

    • Feminism

    • Multiculturalism

    • Supremacism

What ideology is
What ideology Is

  • A set of specific ideas, attitudes and beliefs

  • Provides or advocates a coherent plan for social, political, or economic action

  • Plan is consistent with, and is explained in terms of, the ideas, attitudes and beliefs held

What ideology is not
What ideology is not:

  • Ideology is not political culture

    • Traditionalists are not necessarily conservatives

    • Liberals are not necessarily moralists

  • Ideology is not partisanship

    • Democrats are not necessarily liberal

    • Republicans are not necessarily conservative

  • Ideology is not a policy position

    • E.g. Abortion

      • advocates are not necessarily libertarian or liberal

      • opponents are not necessarily conservative or libertarian

    • E.g. Immigration

      • “Open border” advocates are not necessarily libertarian globalists

      • “Closed border” advocates are not necessarily conservative ethnocentrists

Comparative ideology 1 left and right wings
Comparative Ideology 1: Left and Right Wings

Motto of the French Revolution:

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (liberty, equality, brotherhood)

Origins in the

French National Assembly

Advocates of

Liberté and Fraternité, sympathetic to the ancien régime, sat on the right side of the room

Revolutionary Advocates of Liberté and Egalité, opposing the ancien régime (the Old Order) sat on the left side of the room

This distinction grafted onto the American Congress in the early 19th Century

Left and right the political spectrum
Left and Right: The Political Spectrum

The most common comparative model of ideological preference in the US

Left Wing

Right Wing








Comparative ideology 2 the political compass
Comparative Ideology 2: The Political Compass


  • First suggested in Jerry Pournelle’s Doctoral dissertation in 1964

  • Appeared in Meltzer, Albert and Stuart Christie. The Floodgates of Anarchy. (London: Sphere Books, Ltd., 1970)

  • Seeks to address limitations of the Political Spectrum

  • Describes two independent dimensions:

    • Moral: Individualism to Collectivism

    • Economic: Capitalism to Collectivism

  • Clarified for American audiences in 1971 by David Nolan

    • Economic Freedom v. Economic Control

    • Personal Freedom v. Social Control

  • Favored by those whose ideologies do not fit well with the Political Spectrum, especially libertarians

  • Widely used by online political actors, pundits & campaigners

Limits of the political compass
Limits of the Political Compass

  • Equates policy positions with ideology in their tests (See the Nolan Quiz)

    • Identifies attitudes on “personal” and “economic” issues

    • Does not identify organizing principles or the general purpose of government

  • Ill-equipped to distinguish moderates from extremists

    • communists from welfare liberals

    • anarchists from libertarians

    • fascists from conservatives

  • Does not distinguish one kind of “centrist” or “moderate” from another

  • Fails to identify some known ideological positions

    • Communitarianism

    • Anarcho-communism

    • Anarcho-syndicalism

    • Nazism (with its fascist rhetoric and anarchist means)

  • Unable to account for real linkages within its framework

    • liberal-leaning conservatives

    • conservative-leaning liberals

  • Assumes liberals and conservatives are opposites

Comparative ideology 3 ideological space
Comparative Ideology 3: Ideological Space

  • Suggested by Steven Kautz in 1995: “enduring controversies regarding the nature of popular government give rise to three distinct strains:

    • liberals (who love liberty)

    • democrats (who love equality)

    • republicans (who love virtue)”

  • Problems with Kautz’ formulation

    • Order more fundamental than virtue

      • Political “virtue” depends on the political order it inhabits

    • Kautz’ vision clouded by the American partisan/ideological debate

      • “Liberal” has different meanings inside and outside the US

      • “liberal” is an ideology

      • “democrats” and “republicans” are coalition political parties in the US

  • Alternative principles of ideological preference

    • Liberty

    • Equality

    • Order

“Ideologies…map the political and social worlds for us. We simply cannot do without them because we cannot act without making sense of the worlds we inhabit.” Michael Freeden, Ideology: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford UP, 2003.

Liberty equality order
Liberty, Equality, Order

  • Widely held political principles

    • Regardless of expressed ideology

    • Held in different proportion by different ideological adherents

  • Ideologies can be identified by different proportional attachment to or rejection of these three principles

    • Suggests measurability

    • Attachment to: positive ideology

    • Rejection of: negative ideology

  • May be used to describe an ideological map with three axes

    • Liberty

    • Equality

    • Order

Leo space
LEO Space

Three axial principles (Dimensions)




Six levels

Describe distance from ideological center







Ideological regions in leo space
Ideological Regions in LEO Space

  • L+E+O+ (Standard Ideological Preference)

  • L-E+O+ (Anti-libertarian)

  • L+E-O+ (Anti-egalitarian)

  • L-E-O+ (Anti-libertarian and Anti-egalitarian)

  • L+E+O- (Anti-establishmentarian)

  • L+E-O- (Anti-communitarian)

  • L-E+O- (Anti-libertarian and Anti-establishmentarian)

  • L-E-O- (Universal Opposition)

  • Most ideological preferences found in only 1st region

  • Leo made simple
    LEO Made Simple


    Centrist Ideology

    Moderate Ideology

    Radical or Extreme Ideology

    Libertarian Centrist


    Left Libertarian

    Right Libertarian





    Liberal Centrist

    Liberal (US), Labour (UK)

    Liberal Egalitarian

    Liberal Communitarian

    Conservative Liberal




    Conservative Centrist


    Libertarian Conservative

    Conservative Communitarian

    Liberal Conservative




    Other ideologies in leo
    Other Ideologies in LEO

    • Communitarianism

      • Equal parts Equality and Order

      • Liberty subordinate

    • The Reagan Coalition

      • Equal Parts Liberty and Order

      • Equality subordinate

    • Thomas Hill Green’s Welfare Liberalism

      • Equal Parts Liberty and Equality

      • Order subordinate

    Critique of the leo model
    Critique of the LEO Model

    • Advantages

      • Identifies a wider range of ideologies than either Spectrum or Compass

      • Suggests linkages between ideologies

      • Renders ideological claims testable

      • Distinguishes mere negative opposition from true preference

      • Predicts accusations of extremism by opponents

      • Independent of policy position

      • Independent of partisan assumptions

    • Disadvantages

      • Complexity

      • Abstraction

      • Potentially awkward or unfamiliar ideological nomenclature

      • Posits potentially absurd ideological possibilities

      • Still unable to explain Nazism (fascist rhetoric, anarchist means)