Ideas are generally defined as claims about the normative legality of some actions, causal relationships, and world descriptions. They play a critical role in human conception and usually drive actions and interpretations. Organized ideas about a topic are typically referred to as conceptual frameworks and visualize the relationship among various variables. At least three conceptual frameworks were covered in the course, which include liberalism, socialism, and conservatism. These conceptual frameworks describe the actions and beliefs of a group of people (Heywood, 2012). They shape how they are perceived in the public domain and what values are attributed to them. The public opinion of a conservative, liberal, or social democratic is often known on any matter regarding the running of a government or can be inferred from listening to other figures in the same category or referencing the concerned party’s known positions on such matters. In essence, liberalism, conservatism, and socialism as conceptual frameworks act as points of reference and can be used to predict actions and lines of thought on critical matters of the state.
The idea of right or wrong is an ethical dilemma that primarily depends on one’s philosophical decision-making model. Some people care about the values they consider the right values. Others worry about the outcome of action irrespective of whether the action precipitating the outcome was legal or not. Ideas such as liberalism, conservatism, and socialism as the drivers of action can be judged to be right or wrong either through the achieved outcome or the values they end up reinforcing. Thus, what is right is a matter of perspective that depends on the values of the person performing the act (Heywood, 2012). Human beings judge whether an action instigated by a liberal, conservative, or socialist is right, depending on their expected results. Actions that align with people’s expectations are considered right, while those that result in further distance between the action and the desired results are judged as wrong. With liberalism, conservatism, and socialism, people have preconceived thoughts of what is right and wrong depending on the prediction of people’s actions characterized as liberal, socialist, and conservative.
Symbolically constructed frameworks denote a system of beliefs, values, and norms that give bounded members a sense of identity. Liberalism, conservatism, and socialism give their members a sense of identity and belonging (Heywood, 2012). Members of these groups appear as distinct groups in the wider community despite no evidence that these groups coordinate their actions or response. They are symbolic because they cannot be found anywhere specific, but their existence is considered general knowledge. The notions of belonging to one of these categories or having ideologies that align with the three conceptual frameworks are well-known and understood by the knowledgeable public. Interesting, liberalism, conservative, and socialist idea do not converge, but more often than not, individuals with these views compromise to find an acceptable solution everyone can live with.
Being considered liberal, conservative, or socialist provides representational qualities and vantage points. The members of these schools of thought are characterized by their opinion on certain matters of public concern. Their views often define who they are and what they stand for. In politics, for instance, a clash of ideas among conservatives, liberals, and socialists is witnessed almost on a daily basis. These views artificially stratify the public, lead to a rise in political temperatures, and polarize political debate making it harder to agree on a certain issue. Yet, no party is wrong on any issues in the grand scheme of things. The only difference is how they identify and the values and opinions they perceive they need to hold on to so as to be considered true defenders of their school of thought. This is the tragedy of letting symbolic constructed frameworks guide people’s thoughts and actions. Instead of agreeing on a compromise, people hold on to their vantage points.
Liberalism, conservatism, and socialism’s comprehension of the world and the effect on people’s imagination is often based on the views of the majority at the time. In politics, these conceptual frameworks developed as democracy matured and were often used to describe people’s position on a particular issue. Researchers, scholars, and journalists then created a narrative for each conceptual framework outlining the members’ stand on critical matters. These models’ conception of what the world is primarily based on the views of key members of such groups who contributed to liberal, conservative, and socialist thought through their writing, politics, or journalism.
People’s world imaginations are shaped and fired up by these models purely because of their interaction with other people who share or oppose their beliefs and views. As sociologists have maintained over the years, human beliefs and actions are not in-borne but a repetition of thoughts and actions they have interacted with before. Thus, one could argue that a person is not unaware of these conceptual frameworks at birth and only knows them after interacting with people with a clear understanding of what they entail. When one is old enough, one chooses the thought that best resonates with their circumstances and shapes the next generation of followers in debates on crucial subjects in liberalism, conservatism, and socialism.
Unlike scientific, historiographic, and philosophical information, ideologies tend to be more persuasive, and thus they connect to some truths of one’s commitment to ultimate purpose and values. Ideologies are best described as manifestos for certain political belief systems (Heywood, 2012). Given the inherent need of human beings to believe and be part of something, ideologies rather than organized subjects make for a sound belief system. These belief systems guide human beings to their ultimate purpose and values. Much like the scriptures, belief systems tend to attract people who believe in something more than themselves. On the other hand, scientific, philosophical, and historiographic represent organized subjects whose subject matter varies as more information or data is known. Unpredictability and complex information are not attractive to people who want to believe in something. Further, ideologies give individuals a sense of community and belonging that cannot be experienced elsewhere.
Authoritarian personality and populism are conjoined twins. The coming into power of some of history’s most atrocious leaders, such as Hitler and others, preceded periods of populism built around nationalism. These authoritarian rulers promoted notions of their nations being the greatest on earth to whip nationalistic emotions that got them elected to power. Populism in itself is a complex term that has been defined as a social movement, ideology, and other phrases to try to capture its complexity. In a linguistic sense, it is a label that denotes a dominant political phenomenon that politicians use to propel themselves to power. It is characterized by radical nationalism, anti-politics, deep antagonism, polarization of politics, blurred understanding of the law and separation of powers, a large following, and the personification of political power.
Authoritarian leaders need populism for their political survival and also to carry out their plans unhindered. Given the power of the people in determining the popularity of some actions by their leaders, even in autocratic countries, authoritarian leaders need populism because they will not have to justify their actions to an unreceptive audience. Because much of politics is shaped by rhetoric, they will always have a rhetorical advantage because their followers take their words as gospel.
The authoritarian character is described as a character where the autocratic individual has deeply rooted low self-esteem, is unable to engage in a complex political environment, and thus results in non-conformity, destruction, and prejudice. For political leaders, the authoritarian type has a messianic complex, is charming when they need to be, and believes the nation would collapse under its own weight if they were not leaders. Thus, they do everything in their power to ensure their political survival and the survival of close allies. Nationalistic sentiments are the predictable go-to sentiments of these leaders because of the emotions and memories they evoke. These sentiments also have populistic tendencies. Leaders with autocratic personalities also result in intimidation of rivals they cannot face head-on. This is achieved through public threats or labeling, military posturing in international relations, and in the worst scenarios, the assassination of opponents (Heywood, 2012). Interestingly, the general public often condones the actions of their popular leader and considers them to be patriotic in maintaining law and order and protecting them from external aggressors. Thus, from the point of view of a leader with an autocratic personality, populism is a critical ingredient in their schemes to stay in power and dominate rivals.
Heywood, A. (2012). Fascism. Political Ideologies: An Introduction. (5th ed.). Palgrave Macmillan.