Modern Political Ideologies

Modern Political Ideologies

Modern Political Ideologies

Modern Political Ideologies

Excerpt

Ours is an age of competing ideologies, an age which has been increasingly dominated by the sharp clash of differing political perspectives. Hardly a day passes in which we are not reminded of these ideological struggles: headlines, newscasts, popular and even scholarly literature keep these conflicts in the forefront of attention. So accustomed has our generation become to an apparently unending political crisis that a state of "cold war" has come to be accepted as normal. The college student of today is therefore prone to assume that this is the natural state of political affairs. It is little wonder, for he may well have been born in the decade of the 1930's -- that politically turbulent decade which marked the rise of National Socialism in Germany, the brutal consolidation of Stalinism in the Soviet Union, and the attempts of Fascist Italy and a militaristic Japan to embark upon the road of imperial power.

These and many other catastrophies sounded the death knell for that facile political optimism of an earlier generation whose hopes and expectations were most poignantly expressed in President Wilson's prediction that democracy is "about universally to prevail . . ." Far from prevailing in the second quarter of the twentieth century, the Western democracies have instead found themselves engaged in a desperate struggle for survival. Between 1933 and 1939, democratic regimes were destroyed in Germany, Austria, Spain, and Czechoslovakia, and, with the outbreak of the Second World War, Europe's remaining democracies, with the notable exception of Britain, were subverted or conquered by anti-democratic regimes.

The world-wide ideological struggle was by no means diminished by the temporary dominance of the forces of Germany, Italy, Japan, and the other conquerors. Military defeat led rather to a heightening of ideological considerations as Partisans struggled valiantly against the Axis forces to recover their national freedom. It was within these fierce and heroic -- yet often confused -- struggles that the stage was set for the ideological battles of the post-war period, the difficult period in which we now find ourselves.

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