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According to Abromeit (146), Conservatism, Liberalism and Socialism have been understood as the main political ideologies of the current times. He notes that the roots of these political ideologies can be traced back to two periods in the history of men. These are the Enlightenment period and the Counter-Enlightenment period. The Enlightenment period was characterized by the belief that human’s rationality enabled them to comprehend their environment. This was a period of free will and therefore dominated by liberalism ideology as advanced by philosophers like John Locke.
On the other hand, Abromeit (147) notes that during the Counter-Enlightenment period, certain scholars criticized liberalism and instead accepted skepticism which is the belief that man can never attain a perfect knowledge as was argued by David Hume. Just like imperialism, rationalism was also greatly criticized with the new belief, especially influenced by Kant, that it was nature that determined the progress of man.
British conservatism, on the other hand, is seen as a product of the Counter-Enlightment period fronted by the group of skeptical British which led to socialism following the works of scholars like Hegel and Karl Marx. Abromeit (147) notes that this group of scholars sharply contradicted the rationality of man and instead emphasized on the need to examine the influence of the various external forces affecting human’s mind and the whole self. The two positions gave rise to the contemporary ideologies like Conservatism, Liberalism and Socialism as discussed below.
The concept has been described differently across the world because maintaining the status quo has different meanings based on the country and the specific time one is referring to. Conservatism is against the Descartes’s philosophy which argues that by making deductions that are logical, man can know all the truths and instead it supports Edmund Burke’s position. Cochran (38) notes that conservatism, according Edmund, emphasizes on the need to embrace what has been proved to be working and not what others think would yield best results but has not been tried.
Cochran (38) notes that the main objective behind liberalism has always been the need for human freedom which gives man an ability to use his life or property to do whatever he wills. The liberalists thus criticize any form of restrictions that the government may put on its citizens. Some liberalists believe in the natural law while others believe in utilitarianism. The former believes that man has certain rights that can never be limited by any government. This argument has been based on the philosophy of John Locke who had argued that allowing humans to belong to God and not to any one person or entity and must be allowed to do that which pleases them. On the other hand, the utilitarian liberalism became common during the 19th century with the main idea that people should only undertake to do things which would bring greatest happiness to the majority.
According to Cochran (40), socialism ideology stands against inequality and aims at improving condition of the working class. They are thus against capitalism which promotes privatization. They see capitalism as a means through which a few owners of capital exploit the laborers. They therefore propose that it is the state that should control all the services. However, socialists have remained divided over the extent to which the state should be involved in controlling the economy giving rise to the democratic socialists and the non-democratic socialists.
It is therefore clear that these three ideologies have remained to be of great influence of all the aspects of any nation. It thus remains to be seen whether there would be a common position of compromise that would bring the ideologies together to take advantage of their strengths.