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Political Ideologies and Styles

Major Political Ideologies

What Is an Ideology?

Major Political Ideologies, page 2

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Over the millennia, political philosophers have expounded on a variety of political ideologies, or ways governments and societies can be organized. Today, scholars generally talk about five major political ideologies:

  1. Anarchism
  2. Absolutism
  3. Liberalism
  4. Conservatism
  5. Socialism

These political ideologies are, for the most part, mutually exclusive. So, a liberal government does not usually practice socialism, nor does an absolute ruler follow liberalism. The five major political ideologies have played a key role in history by shaping governments and political movements.


The belief that the best government is absolutely no government is known as anarchism. This ideology argues that everything about governments is repressive and therefore must be abolished entirely. A related ideology known as nihilism emphasizes that everything—both government and society—must be periodically destroyed in order to start anew. Nihilists often categorically reject traditional concepts of morality in favor of violence and terror. Anarchism and nihilism were once associated with socialism because many anarchists and nihilists supported the socialists’ call for revolution and the complete overhaul of government and society in the early to mid-twentieth century.

Example: Although neither violent nor strictly anarchist, members of the American Libertarian Party believe that government should be so small that it hardly ever interferes in citizens’ lives, thereby best preserving individual liberty.

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