Mark L. Hulliung, Roy C. Macridis. Contemporary Political Ideologies: Movements and Regimes. New York: HarperCollins, 1996. xiv + 335 pp. $39.76 (paper), ISBN 978-0-673-52458-4.
Reviewed by Joseph Manzione (University of Maine at Presque Isle)
Published on H-Pol (April, 1998)
For the sixth edition of Contemporary Political Ideologies: Movements and Regimes, Mark L. Hulliung has revised two chapters, excised several, and added five new chapters to Roy C. Macridis' basic survey. The new material covers fascism, Marxism, anarchism, nationalism, multiculturalism and the backlash against universalism, and student movements of the 1960s.
As a textbook, Contemporary Political Ideologies can still serve to introduce students to the complicated taxonomy of political ideas proliferating since Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations. It can still introduce students to the fundamental ethical, economic, organizational, and historical issues involved in liberal capitalism, for example, or British conservatism, or Leninism or liberation theology. The strength of this survey lies in its presentation: generally written in an extended outline form, it is relatively easy for the reader to distinguish between the iterations of political doctrine, and to identify a specific doctrine with a particular set of historical events.
A considerable weakness also lies in the presentation. The continuity of ideas and ideologies over time or a range of cultures, the historical or cultural context, or the effect of an idea on another are difficult to emphasize in an extended outline form, with its discrete, taxonomic divisions. Contemporary Political Ideologies fails to overcome this limitation, and as a result, the reader does not get a good sense of evolution, revolution, nor cause and effect. The problem is considerably exacerbated by discontinuities in the two authors' approaches and methods: Professor Macridis used the taxonomic, extended outline form, whereas Professor Hulliung's recent revisions and additions consist of broader, more contextual essays. The result is thematic and presentation discord, lacking even the structural logic of a "conflicting viewpoints," issues-oriented textbook. Beyond presentation problems, the survey suffers from some odd lapses, editorial strategies, and choices of subjects. Feminism, for example, is mentioned very briefly in this edition, and only in the context of a large chapter comparing student protests in the United States and France in 1968. In his introduction, Professor Hulliung doubts that "women's issues" constitute a "full-fledged ideology." That judgement may be debatable, but it is certainly difficult to argue that components of feminist ideologies have not had appreciable influence on political ideas over the last several decades. The final chapter of the book, "Whither Liberal Democracy?" ought to recognize this circumstance, at least. Likewise, in three chapters on communism, Maoism merits a single page, mostly taken up by a brief time line of important events in CCP history.
To ignore the synergies between peasant culture and the organizational dynamics of communism in Asia or Latin America is to consign communism to the Eurocentric perspective of a sterile Soviet bureaucracy--and indeed, Stalinism gets more attention than Leninism in this book. On the other hand, the chapter on "The Intellectual Roots of Fascism" is detailed, convincing, and fascinating to follow, although it does, occasionally, fall into the habit of a number of similar essays and defines what fascism isn't, rather than what it is. (In this case, it isn't Marxism, it isn't pragmatism, it isn't syndicalism, and it isn't historicism, and it isn't entirely a rejection of modernity or the tenets of liberal democracy, either.)
In his introduction, Professor Hulliung observes that he is not "in full agreement" with Professor Macridis' views, and will not hesitate "in future editions to write new chapters setting forth my own interpretations." He also states that he will treat feminism and other emerging paradigms in more detail. Good. In the sixth edition, Contemporary Political Ideologies is manifestly an unfinished work in the process of evolving. Hopefully, the quality of the seventh edition will be more even.
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