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Types of Ideologies Along The Political Spectrum

Types of Ideologies Along The Political Spectrum
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  • 1:12 Radicalism
  • 2:33 Liberalism
  • 3:46 Moderatism
  • 4:57 Conservatism
  • 5:53 Reactionism
  • 7:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ashley Dugger

Ashley is an attorney. She has taught and written various introductory law courses.

There are several different ideologies represented along the political spectrum. Political ideologies range from the extreme left-wing to the extreme right-wing. This lesson explains five political ideologies.

Political Ideologies

How would you describe your political point of view? Are you liberal? Are you conservative? Something in-between? Your political point of view determines your political ideology. A political ideology is a belief system that provides a perspective on various political issues, such as the proper role of elected officials and the types of public policies that should be prioritized.

Almost everyone has a definitive political ideology. You probably have one. However, you might not know which ideology you possess. It's helpful to know the main types of political ideologies. It's also helpful to note that political ideologies fall along a spectrum, ranging from far left-wing perspectives to far right-wing perspectives. We'll explore the five main types of political ideologies, in that order. We're going to remember them by using a fun mnemonic device: Really Love My Crispy Rice.

Radicalism

Starting at the far left of the spectrum, with R, you'll find radicalism. Radicalism is described as a far left-wing political perspective characterized by the belief that society needs to be changed and that changes can only be accomplished through revolutionary means.

Radicalism is largely focused on altering social structures. Radicals support rapid change in order to improve the welfare of citizens. They believe the government should play a large role in citizens' lives in order to promote fairness and provide extensive social services. These societies value law and order and the even treatment of citizens.

For example, communism is a form of radicalism used in a handful of countries, such as Cuba and North Korea. Communism supports all property being publicly owned and people working and being paid in accordance with their abilities and needs. However, communism is heavily criticized for stifling citizens' rights and endorsing an over-regulated society.

Liberalism

Moving toward the middle on the spectrum, with L, you'll find liberalism. Liberalism is a left-wing political perspective characterized by the belief that individuals take priority over society. Unlike radicals, liberals believe individuals should have the right to make their own choices as long as those choices don't infringe on the rights of others. Like radicals, liberals support change through government involvement; however, they support gradual, gentle change.

Liberals favor high taxes in order to provide a high level of government services, especially social services. They also value freedoms, such as free speech and freedom of religion. For example, in the U.S., many liberals identify with the Democratic Party, which is our oldest political party. Often known as 'the People's Party,' Democrats believe the federal government should take a more active role in people's lives, particularly those who are in need. Our Democratic presidents have included John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.

Moderatism

Now we're in the middle of the spectrum at the M. This is where you'll find moderatism. It's a political perspective that avoids extremes and partisanship by promoting a restrained, middle stance. Moderates are often viewed as conciliatory and pragmatic.

In recent years, many politicians have described themselves as 'moderate Democrats' or 'moderate Republicans' in an effort to appeal to members of the opposite political party. This may be a smart move, since most Americans view themselves as politically moderate, or as only 'slightly-liberal' or 'slightly-conservative.' In fact, one fairly recent Gallup poll showed that American voters identified themselves as moderate almost 40% of the time over the last 20 years. Republican president Dwight Eisenhower is famous for his moderatism, mainly due to the popularity and success of his bipartisan legislation.

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