It is an election year in the U.S. and unlike any other election year in recent memory. The rise of Donald Trump in the Republican race and the rise of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic race have been nothing short of a huge surprise. Bernie Sanders, in particular, deserves attention because he describes himself as a democratic socialist, and socialism has quite a negative image among a significant proportion of Americans. Some even confuse socialism with communism, and while the two political ideologies do share certain similarities, there are also differences. Thus, this is a good excuse to learn more about different political ideologies including communism and socialism. Many people who follow national and global politics often come across news related to one or more of the seven political ideologies which are anarchism, communism, conservatism, environmentalism, feminism, liberalism, and socialism.
Anarchism strives for an absolute elimination of any form of formal government structure. Anarchists see government as detrimental to the overall wellbeing of the society, and believe the people are better off without one . The actions of the Nevada’s Bundy family could be understood through the lens of anarchism.

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Communism is usually seen as the polar opposite of capitalism. The communists believe the government should own all factors of production including land and factories, and provide jobs and other basic necessities to the members of the society. In other words, the communists see a capitalist system as manipulative as well as damaging to the society . A modern example of a communist society would be Russia, North Korea, and Cuba.

Conservatism aims for preservation of historical government structures and institutions. Conservatives believe the traditions, institutions, and modes of government that have worked in the past, will work well in present and future as well. Conservatives tend to favor gradual change rather than dramatic changes in the society . A modern example of a conservative society would be Saudi Arabia and Vatican City.

Environmentalism’s concern is protecting and improving the natural environment. The environmentalists are concerned our current lifestyles are unsustainable, and they call for greater regulation of mankind’s interaction with the environment . The climate change activists are an example of environmentalists.

Feminism is a belief that the existing social and political system is patriarchal. The goal of the feminists is to improve the political, economic, and social status of the women in the society . Some of the issues being pursued by the feminists include equal wages for women and greater representation for women in Corporate America’s board rooms.

Liberalism strives for protection of individual rights and high standards of personal freedom. The liberals believe the government has a responsibility to safeguard civil liberties and freedoms of all of its citizens irrespective of their social, economic, and ethnic status . The liberals are often seen as the opposite of the conservatives because liberals are more likely to disregard traditions and historical institutions in the pursuit of greater individual freedoms. The examples of liberals include same-sex marriage supporters. Modern examples of the liberal countries include Netherland, Sweden, France, and Denmark.

Socialism strives for improved quality of life for all members of the society. The socialists believe the government has an important role to play in political and economic affairs to reduce income and wealth inequality in a free-market economy . An example of socialist countries may be France and Denmark since the government plays in important role in provision of essential services to all citizens such as the healthcare.

It is important to note many countries tend to employ multiple political ideologies. For example, conservatism, liberalism, feminism, environmentalism, and socialism, all enjoy a fair number of followers in the U.S.

  • Knight, Julian and Michael Pattison. Quick Definitions of Political Ideologies: the -isms. 29 February 2016 .