By Robert Leach (auth.)
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Extra info for British Political Ideologies
Ideology is not to be contrasted with science. Moreover, ideologies are not to be identified exclusively with either the preservation or the overthrow of the status quo. Ideologies may thus be conservative, reformist or revolutionary. They may be 'moderate' or 'extremist'. Further, although ideologies are often associated with conflict, a system of beliefs which commands general or even universal assent within society may still be characterised as an ideology. Thus the era of consensus politics did not involve the end of ideology, simply the widespread dominance of a single ideology, a situation which for some writers, such as Gramsci, might constitute the norm rather than the exception.
They will influence the kind of demands which are IDEOLOGY 33 made of government and how these are pursued. They will also quite fundamentally affect legislation and other outputs of government. Public policy not only reflects ideological assumptions, but in tum can influence people's ideological perceptions. The sale of council houses is an obvious illustrative example. The policy may be said to reflect Conservative convictions on the merits of private ownership, and free market values. But the opportunity which many council house tenants took to purchase their own houses, arguably had an impact on their political perceptions, and subsequently their political behaviour, including perhaps their voting behaviour.
The interpretation of history is often a critical ingredient in political ideologies, and the winners who have emerged from the struggles of the past have not surprisingly sought to rewrite that past to suit their own interests. Inevitably, then, our understanding of the past is influenced by our understanding of the present, and equally our modem political ideologies involve an interpretation of the past. This is more obvious in some other countries than in Britain. In France the interpretation 40 BRITISH POLITICAL IDEOLOGIES and reinterpretation of the last 200 years of French history have been an inseparable element of ideological conflict.
British Political Ideologies by Robert Leach (auth.)