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From Ideologies to Public Philosophies



From Ideologies to Public Philosophies

Paul Schumaker

ISBN: 978-1-405-16835-9 January 2008 Wiley-Blackwell 504 Pages

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From Ideologies to Public Philosophies: An Introduction to Political Theory provides a comprehensive and systematic account of the major ideologies of the 19th and 20th centuries—along with contemporary and emerging outlooks—to address the essential questions of political theory.

  • Explores the major ideologies of the 19th and 20th centuries while making clear distinctions for the reader between often-confused interpretations of ideologies
  • Engaging 'reader friendly' style will appeal to students and facilitate sophisticated discussions
  • Develops and defends pluralism as a broad public policy that is accepted by diverse political groups
  • Supported by a glossary of terms, suggestions for further reading, and other helpful student and instructor resources at

1. Constructing Our Public Philosophies.

Public Philosophies and Political Ideologies.

Political Theory.

Searching for an Underlying Consensus Within Pluralism.

Ideas Beyond the Underlying Consensus of Pluralism.


Part I: Participants in our Political Conversations.

2. Voices from the Major Ideologies of the Nineteenth Century.

Classical Liberalism: Building Democratic Capitalism.

Traditional Conservatism: Defending the Old Social Order.

Anarchism: Rebelling Against Authority.

Marxism: Pursuing a Classless Society.


3. Prominent Totalitarian and Pluralist Voices of the Twentieth Century.

Communism: Fighting Imperialism in Developing Societies.

Fascism and Nazism: Totalitarian Control to Strengthen the Collective.

Contemporary Liberalism: Reforming Capitalism and Democracy.

Contemporary Conservatism: Opposing Liberal and Socialist Programs.


4. Radical and Extremist Voices in Contemporary Politics.

The Radical Left: Seeking More Egalitarian and Communal Societies.

The Radical Right: Seeking More Economic Freedom or Moral Consensus.

The Extreme Right: Returning to More Homogeneous Societies.

The Extreme Left: Deconstructing Global Neoliberalism.


Part II: Philosophical Assumptions: Their Importance as Foundations for Political Principles.

5. Questions of Ontology.

Traditional Conservatives: Emphasizing “The Great Chain of Being”.

Classical Liberals: Deism, Naturalism and Materialism.

Anarchists: Natural Interconnections, Ideas, and Conflicts.

Marxists: Economic Determinism.

Communists: Revising Dialectical Materialism.

Fascists and Nazis: Heroic Will and Racial Struggle.

Contemporary Liberals: Deemphasizing Ontology and Embracing Contingency.

Contemporary Conservatives: Accepting the World As It Is.

The Radical Right: Refuting Charges of Economic and Divine Determination.

The Extreme Right: Expecting a Divine Apocalypse.

The Radical Left: Tempering Material Forces with Socialist Ideals.

The Extreme Left: Releasing Human Imagination, Constrained by Ecological Limits.


6. Questions of Human Nature.

Classical Liberals: Humans as Equal and Rational Pursuers of Happiness.

Traditional Conservatives: Defining Humans by their Places in Society.

Anarchists: Seeing Human Altruism as Hindered by Conventional Institutions.

Marxists: Conceiving Humans as Creative Laborers.

Communists: Creating a “New Man”.

Fascists and Nazis: Energizing the Will of “the Herd”.

Contemporary Liberals: Fostering Autonomy, Reason, and Moral Development.

The Radical Left: Stressing our Common Humanity and Individual Differences.

Contemporary Conservatives: Accepting Human Imperfection.

The Radical Right: Embedding Humans in Free Markets and/or Moral Communities.

The Extreme Right: Regarding Humans as either Good or Evil.

The Extreme Left: Rejecting an Essential Human Nature.


7. Questions of Society.

Classical Liberals: Individuals Seeking Mutual Benefits Through a Social Contract.

Traditional Conservatives: Organic Societies that Come Before Individuals.

Anarchists: Natural Societies Built on Friendship.

Marxists: Transforming Class-Based Societies into Classless Ones.

Communists: Non-Proletarian Contributions to a Classless Society.

Fascists and Nazis: Defining Societies in Nationalist and Racist Terms.

Contemporary Liberals: Promoting Social Pluralism.

Contemporary Conservatives: Seeing Society as a Delicate Watch.

The Radical Right: Holding either Libertarian or Communitarian Visions of Society.

The Radical Left: Searching for More Communal and Egalitarian Societies.

The Extreme Right: Seeking Homogeneous Societies.

The Extreme Left: Longing for Societies of “Singularities Pursuing the Common”.


8. Questions of Epistemology.

Classical Liberals: Moving from Natural Rights to Utilitarianism.

Traditional Conservatives: Doubting Reason, Stressing Conventional Wisdom.

Anarchists: Depending on a Vision of Human and Social Possibility.

Marxists: A Science Showing the Inevitability, not the Goodness, of Communism.

Communists: Generating Truths from Authoritative Readings of Marx.

Fascists and Nazis: Finding Absolute Truth in the Intuitions of a Political Leader.

Contemporary Liberals: Emphasizing Pragmatism.

Contemporary Conservatives: Using a Social Science of Political Failure.

The Radical Right: Finding Meaning in Tradition and Truth through Science.

The Radical Left: Emphasizing Political Rationality.

The Extreme Right: Finding Truth in Authoritative Texts and Leaders.

The Extreme Left: Contesting and Deconstructing all Truths.


Part III: The Great Issues of Politics: Consensual and Contested Principles.

9. Questions of Community.

Classical Liberals: Presupposing the Primacy Of Nations.

Traditional Conservatives: Patriots Lacking Nationalist Fervor.

Anarchists: Rejecting Conventional Communities While Seeking Natural Ones.

Marxists: Identifying with the Working Class and Eventually Humanity.

Communists: Fighting Imperialism Through Nationalist Appeals.

Fascists and Nazis: Embracing a Unified Nation and an Aryan State.

Contemporary Liberals: Nations Built on Individual and Group Differences.

Contemporary Conservatives: Seeking Moral, but not Communitarian, Countries.

The Radical Right: Competing Global, National, and Sub-National Loyalties.

The Radical Left: Pursuing Solidarity among Diverse People in Many Polities.

The Extreme Right: Rejecting Multiple Community Identities.

The Extreme Left: Deconstructing Current Identities.


10. Questions of Citizenship.

Classical Liberals: Curbing Citizenship, Providing Limited Rights and Obligations.

Traditional Conservatives: Stressing Loyalty and Obedience to Authorities.

Anarchists: Comrades Without Political Obligations.

Marxists: Transforming Alienated Workers into Public-Spirited Comrades.

Communists: Transforming Oppressed People into Obedient Revolutionaries.

Fascists and Nazis: Mobilizing Dutiful Citizens for Purposes of State.

Contemporary Liberals: Pursuing Inclusion and Expanding Rights.

Contemporary Conservatives: Developing More Responsible Citizens.

The Radical Right: Privileging Property Rights and Instilling Virtue.

The Radical Left: Embracing Multiple and Deep Citizenships.

The Extreme Right: Restricting Citizenship.

The Extreme Left: Changing Passive Citizens into Contentious Ones.


11. Questions of Structure.

Classical Liberals: Designing Free Markets and Representative Democracies.

Traditional Conservatives: Emphasizing Civil Society and Cultural Norms.

Anarchists: Rejecting All Conventional Structures.

Marxists: Stressing the Oppression of Capitalism.

Communists: Emphasizing Party Organizations.

Fascists and Nazis: Empowering Totalitarian States.

Contemporary Liberals: Balancing and Integrating Government and Capitalism.

Contemporary Conservatives: Reining in Strong States.

The Radical Right: More Freedom in the Marketplace and Less Cultural Freedom.

The Radical Left: Pursuing Market Socialism and Democratic Cultures.

The Extreme Right: Seeking Theocracies.

The Extreme Left: Fighting Globalization and Other New Forms of Domination.


12. Questions of Rulers.

Classical Liberals: Empowering Representatives While Holding Them Accountable.

Traditional Conservatives: Finding a Place for Elitism Within Democracy.

Anarchists: Rejecting All Rulers.

Marxists: The Need for a Temporary Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

Communists: The Need for a Vanguard of the Proletariat.

Fascists and Nazis: Concentrating Power in the Hands of a Single Leader.

Contemporary Liberals: More Representative and Responsive Democracies.

The Radical Left: More Inclusive and Participatory Democracies.

Contemporary Conservatives: More Formal Representative Democracy.

The Radical Right: Democracy as Freedom.

The Extreme Right: Imagining Conspiracies.

The Extreme Left: Seeing Formidable Obstacles to Global and Radical Democracy.


13. Questions of Authority.

Classical Liberals: Authorizing Limited Governments that Secure (Property) Rights.

Traditional Conservatives: Orchestrating Social Harmony.

Anarchists: Rejecting all Governmental Authority.

Marxists: Authority as Oppressive, then Necessary, and Finally Eliminated.

Communists: Justifying Massive Authority as a Means to Abolish the State.

Fascists and Nazis: Embracing Totalitarian State Authority.

Contemporary Liberals: From Limited Government to a Strong State.

Contemporary Conservatives: Limiting the Activity of Governments.

The Radical Right: Starving Government While Imposing Social Regulations.

The Radical Left: Enhancing the Public Sphere.

The Extreme Right: Resisting Authority that Disregards Sacred Texts.

The Extreme Left: Contesting Governmental Authority.


14. Questions of Justice.

Classical Liberals: Equal Dignity but Unequal Rewards.

Traditional Conservatives: Unequal Rights but Commensurate Responsibilities.

Anarchists: Right Conduct in the Absence of Just Institutions.

Marxists: Transcending the Circumstances of Justice.

Communists: Using Social Control to Build a Society in which All Needs are Met.

Fascists and Nazis: National or Racial Dominance as More Important than Justice.

Contemporary Liberals: Compensating for Undeserved Disadvantages.

The Radical Left: Pursuing a More Egalitarian Society.

Contemporary Conservatives: Criticizing Social Justice, Emphasizing Compassion.

The Radical Right: Focusing on Fair Procedures and the Pursuit of the Common Good.

The Extreme Right: Regarding Moral Goodness as the Basis of Just Outcomes.

The Extreme Left: Decrying Global Injustice while Striving to Share “the Common”.


15. Questions of Change.

Classical Liberals: Seeking Economic, Intellectual, and Moral Progress.

Traditional Conservatives: Slowing the Winds of Change.

Marxists: Predicting Revolution From Below.

Anarchists: Calling for Rebellion rather than Revolution.

Communists: Generating Revolutions While Deviating From Marxist Orthodoxy.

Fascists and Nazis: Revolutionary Change Toward Certain Conservative Values.

Contemporary Liberals: Achieving Fundamental Change Incrementally.

Contemporary Conservatives: Pursuing Reforms – of “Failed” Liberal Programs.

The Radical Right: Seeking Major Changes, even if they Enhance Inequalities.

The Extreme Right: Returning to a Past of Greater Moral Certainty.

The Radical Left: Evolutionary Change Toward More Democratic Equality.

The Extreme Left: Wholesale and Ongoing Change – Without Revolutions.





"The strengths of this work are many. Schumaker's schematic analysis of political ideas is thorough but never pedantic, and he illustrates his analysis with frequent and compelling examples. The result is a thoughtfully written text which will invite students into an interconnected dialogue about their most basic political beliefs. Students whose first exposure to political ideologies and philosophies comes through Schumaker's book will appreciate better not only their own opinions, but will have a better grasp of the advantages and limitations of a pluralistic system like our own, which allows other people's opinions to flourish as well."
Russell Arben Fox, Friends University
About the author
Click to access biographical material in file "About the Author" and "author photo"
About the Author
Author photo
The disciplines of political philosophy, political theory, and political science contain concepts and terms having distinct and precise meanings that often depart from ordinary language. Public philosophies draw upon these concepts and terms, but attempt to convey meanings in a way that is accessible to non-specialists. In From Ideologies to Public Philosophies, these concepts and terms are often italicized (though other terms are italicized for mere emphasis). While the meaning of these concepts should be fairly evident from the text itself, click Glossary for short definitions that can serve as references for how these terms are used throughout this text.
Major contributors to various perspectives and their main writings
From Ideologies to Public Philosophies identifies pluralism, eight ideologies and 20 quasi-ideologies as perspectives that provide various answers to the perennial questions of politics covered in Chapters 5 to 15. Click Primary Sources for a document that lists some of the main contributors to these perspectives. Short biographies and the major writings of about 150 such contributors are provided. Some of these contributors "Locke, Burke, Marx, etc." are canonical figures in the history of political thought and intellectual history. Other contributors are mere semi-canonical figures, as their writings are less well known but still regarded as important, especially by adherents to particular perspectives. The writings of such canonical and semi-canonical figures have usually been edited, retranslated, and reissued by many publishers in recent years; in such cases, only the original date of publication is provided.
Recommended Reading
(Updated January 2010) Libraries are filled with books and articles often called "secondary sources" - providing overviews, extensions, commentaries, and analyzes on the themes discussed in From Ideologies to Public Philosophies. Click Secondary Sources for a document providing some of the better and more recent of these works - arranged first according to the chapters of our text and then according to various concerns within these chapters. These references do not include the major works by those contributors to the ideologies and quasi-ideologies introduced in Chapters 2,3 and 4. For references to these works, see "Primary Sources."
Study Hints
Discussion Questions
Preface to Korean Edition
Preface to Korean edition – ‘Obama - Liberal or pluralist?’

  • Provides a comprehensive and systematic treatment of the perennial issues of political thought
  • Explores the major ideologies of the 19th and 20th centuries while making clear distinctions for the reader between often-confused interpretations of ideologies
  • Engaging 'reader friendly' style will appeal to students and facilitate sophisticated discussions
  • Develops and defends pluralism as a broad public policy that is accepted by diverse political groups
  • Supported by a glossary of terms, suggestions for further reading, and other helpful student and instructor resources at