An ancient Chinese curse says, “May you live in interesting times.” That is, may you live in times of social, political, and economic upheaval, of mass misery, and maybe even of death. Some times are more trying and dangerous than others. We should count ourselves fortunate for not living during a world war, or civil war, or some other variety of violent internecine conflict.
But we are living in an era of national and international economic crises, of global warming and environmental degradation, of international terror, of military coups and civil wars, of genocide in the Sudan and elsewhere, of hot wars fought with weapons and culture wars fought with competing ideas. And because our world keeps changing and hurling new challenges at human beings, people’s ideas—and especially those systems of ideas called “ideologies”—change accordingly in hopes of helping people cope with those crises.
In this, the ninth edition of Political Ideologies and the Democratic Ideal, we have tried to track and take account of changes in our world and in how people interpret those changes with the aid of one or another ideology. This is no easy task, and we sometimes fear that any account must fall short of the mark. Nevertheless, we have here done our best to offer a reasonably up-to-date and systematic account of the ideologies that have shaped and continue to reshape the world in which we live. As before, we have described in some detail the deeper historical background out of which these ideologies emerged and developed.