Donald Clark Hodges

"The End of 'The End of Ideology'"

Full citation here.

What is the evidence for the increasingly fashionable thesis of the gradual extinction in the West? Is the evidence actually as strong as it appears? Intellectual spokesmen for the thesis of an end of ideology in this country point to the convergence of a regenerate capitalism and a liberalized, affluent socialism leading to a new social order that will take us one step beyond the Welfare State. A rosier picture was never painted. And, perhaps, neither a more misleading one. That ideological controversy is in the process of disappearing is one thing; that this statement entails a decline of ideology is something quite different.

How does this post-bourgeois panacea compare with evidence for the counterthesis that ideology is now waxing stronger than ever? In answer to this question let us examine the arguments for an end of ideology from Mannheim and Aron through Feuer, Molnar, Kerr, Bell, and Lipset. Let us, then, assess the evidence in the light of data which their arguments either neglect altogether or otherwise fail to analyze.

Marxism, according to Aron, is the last great ideology prior to the end of the ideological age. What people increasingly agree upon is the need for a system that increases the volume of collective resources, the GNP, and reduces the disparity of status between groups with a minimum of delay and friction. Consensus instead of conflict is the goal of modern advanced societies. By comparison with the bitter ideological struggles of the 20s and 30s, the disputes of the 50s are more like fencing matches.

Go to the American 1950s home page.
Go to Al Filreis's home page.

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Last modified: Monday, 02-Aug-2004 09:28:46 EDT