Today we are increasingly immersed in ideology… namely the one that insists that ideologies are obsolete! Is it true that ideology is an incorrect, incomplete and subjective way to think about politics? Is it true that ideologies are dead? The answer to both questions is an emphatic “no”. A genealogical critique – in which conceptual considerations interact with historical, political and economic analyses – suggests that ideologies are necessary for expressing political thought, especially in difficult times: ideologies are both responses to crises and vectors of crisis. At times they are used as a legitimation tool, an intellectual construct, a general framework for politics. Today ideologies persist, even though they have changed: they continue to be manifestations of confrontation and identity, but on the one hand they involve small groups and specific issues, and on the other they have become havens of discontent (fuelled by nationalist and populist outlooks). Moreover, the war in Ukraine seems to revitalize a very superficial ideological clash between democracies and autocracies.
Carlo Galli formerly taught History of Political Doctrines at the University of Bologna.