The End of Ideology

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First edition (publ. Free Press)

The End of Ideology: On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties is a collection of essays published in 1960 by Daniel Bell, who described himself as a "socialist in economics, a liberal in politics, and a conservative in culture". He suggests that the older, grand-humanistic ideologies derived from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had been exhausted, and that new, more parochial ideologies would soon arise. He argues that political ideology has become irrelevant among "sensible" people, and that the polity of the future would be driven by piecemeal technological adjustments of the extant system.


A variety of theories have emerged, even before Daniel Bell's work. Karl Marx, influenced by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, stated that once a state progressed from capitalism, a classless society would emerge, rendering ideology irrelevant (cite?). Daniel Bell, in the 1950s, is often seen as the standard-bearer for the theory. James Burnham, a philosopher and political theorist as well as senior editor of National Review, proffered a similar thesis that foresaw the advent of a state of technocrats, all capable of finding the best answers to political and social problems, making ideology extinct.

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