Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics

By Seymour Martin Lipset | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
The End of Ideology?1

A BASIC premise of this book is that democracy is not only or even primarily a means through which different groups can attain their ends or seek the good society; it is the good society itself in operation. Only the give-and-take of a free society's internal struggles offers some guarantee that the products of the society will not accumulate in the hands of a few power-holders, and that men may develop and bring up their children without fear of persecution. And, as we have seen, democracy requires institutions which support conflict and disagreement as well as those which sustain legitimacy and consensus. In recent years, however, democracy in the Western world has been undergoing some important changes as serious intellectual conflicts among groups representing different values have declined sharply.

____________________
1
I have taken the chapter heading from the title of Edward Shils' excellent report on a conference on "The Future of Freedom" held in Milan, Italy, in September 1955, under the auspices of the Congress for Cultural Freedom. See his "The End of Ideology?" Encounter, 5 ( November 1955), pp. 52-58; for perceptive analyses of the nature and sources of the decline of ideology see Herbert Tingsten, "Stability and Vitality in Swedish Democracy," The Political Quarterly, 2 ( 1955), pp. 140-51; and Otto Brunner, "Der Zeitalter der Ideologien," in Neue Wege der Sozialgeschichte ( Göttingen: Van den Hoeck and Ruprecht, 1956), pp. 194-219. For a prediction that the "age of ideology" is ending see Louis S. Feuer, "Beyond Ideology," Psychoanalysis and Ethics ( Springfield: Charles C. Thomas, 1955), pp. 126-30. Many of these topics are discussed in detail by Daniel Bell in The End of Ideology ( Glencoe: The Free Press, 1960) and by Ralf Dahrendorf in Class and Class Conflict ( Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1959).

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