Political Ideologies

An introduction, fifth edition

by Andrew Heywood

Key concepts

Anti-capitalism
The term ‘anti-capitalism’ has been associated since the late 1990s with the so-called anti-capitalist (or anti-globalization’, ‘anti-corporate’, ‘anti-neoliberal’, ‘alternative globalization’ or ‘global justice’) movement. ‘Anti-capitalism’ refers to an ideological stance that seeks to expose and contest the discourses and practices of neoliberal globalization, thereby giving a political voice to the disparate range of peoples and groups who have been marginalized or disenfranchised as a result of globalization. However, there is no systematic and coherent ‘anti-capitalist’ critique of neoliberal globalization, still less a unified vision of an ‘anti-capitalist’ future. While some in the movement adopt a Marxist-style critique of capitalism, many others seek merely to remove the ‘worst excesses’ of capitalism, and some simply strive to create ‘a better world’.

Anti-Semitism
By tradition, Semites are descendants of Shem, son of Noah, and include most of the peoples of the Middle East. Anti-Semitism refers specifically to prejudice against or hatred towards the Jews. In its earliest systematic form, anti-Semitism had a religious character, reflecting the hostility of Christians towards the Jews, based on their complicity in the murder of Jesus and their refusal to acknowledge him as the Son of God. Economic anti-Semitism developed from the Middle Ages onwards, expressing a distaste for the Jews as moneylenders and traders. The nineteenth century saw the birth of racial anti-Semitism in the works of Wagner and H. S. Chamberlain, who condemned the Jewish peoples as fundamentally evil and destructive. Such ideas provided the ideological basis for German Nazism and found their most grotesque expression in the Holocaust.

Authoritarianism
Authoritarianism is belief in or the practice of government ‘from above’, in which authority is exercised over a population with or without its consent. Authoritarianism thus differs from authority. The latter rests on legitimacy, and in that sense arises ‘from below’. Authoritarian thinkers typically base their views on either a belief in the wisdom of established leaders or the idea that social order can only be maintained by unquestioning obedience. However, authoritarianism is usually distinguished from totalitarianism (see p. 212). The practice of government ‘from above’, which is associated with monarchical absolutism, traditional dictatorships and most forms of military rule, is concerned with the repression of opposition and political liberty, rather than the more radical goal of obliterating the distinction between the state and civil society.

Collectivism
Collectivism is, broadly, the belief that collective human endeavour is of greater practical and moral value than individual self-striving. It thus reflects the idea that human nature has a social core, and implies that social groups, whether ‘classes’, ‘nations’, ‘races’ or whatever, are meaningful political entities. However, the term is used with little consistency. Bakunin (see p. 159) and other anarchists used collectivism to refer to self-governing associations of free individuals. Others have treated collectivism as strictly the opposite of individualism (see p. 28), holding that it implies that collective interests should prevail over individual ones. It is also sometimes linked to the state as the mechanism through which collective interests are upheld, suggesting that the growth of state responsibilities marks the advance of collectivism.

Communism
Communism, in its simplest sense, refers to the communal organization of social existence, especially through the collective ownership of property. For Marxists, communism is a theoretical ideal. In this sense, communism is characterized by classlessness (wealth is owned in common), rational economic organization (production-for-use replaces production-for-exchange) and statelessness (in the absence of class conflict, the state ‘withers away’). ‘Orthodox’ communism refers to the societies founded in the twentieth century supposedly on the basis of Marxist principles. In such societies: (1) Marxism-Leninism was used as an ‘official’ ideology; (2) the communist party had a monopoly of power, based on its ‘leading and guiding’ role in society; and (3) economic life was collectivized and organized through a system of central planning.

Communitarianism
Communitarianism is the belief that the self or person is constituted through the community, in the sense that individuals are shaped by the communities to which they belong and thus owe them a debt of respect and consideration – there are no ‘unencumbered selves’. Although clearly at odds with liberal individualism, communitarianism nevertheless has a variety of political forms. Left-wing communitarianism holds that community demands unrestricted freedom and social equality (for example, anarchism). Centrist communitarianism holds that community is grounded in an acknowledgement of reciprocal rights and responsibilities (for example, social democracy/Tory paternalism). Right-wing communitarianism holds that community requires respect for authority and established values (for example, neoconservatism).

Cosmopolitanism
Cosmopolitanism literally means a belief in a cosmopolis or ‘world state’. Moral cosmopolitanism is the belief that the world constitutes a single moral community, in that people have obligations (potentially) towards all other people in the world, regardless of nationality, religion, ethnicity and so forth. All forms of moral cosmopolitanism are based on a belief that every individual is of equal moral worth, most commonly linked to the doctrine of human rights (see p. 61). Political cosmopolitanism (sometimes called ‘legal’ or ‘institutional’ cosmopolitanism) is the belief that there should be global political institutions, and possibly a world government. However, most modern political cosmopolitans favour a system in which authority is divided between global, national and local levels.

Constitutionalism
Constitutionalism, in a narrow sense, is the practice of limited government brought about by the existence of a constitution. Constitutionalism in this sense can be said to exist when government institutions and political processes are effectively constrained by constitutional rules. More broadly, con­stitutionalism refers to a set of political values and aspirations that reflect the desire to protect liberty through the establishment of internal and external checks on government power. It is typically expressed in support for constitutional provisions that establish this goal; notably, a codified constitution, a bill of rights, separation of powers, bicameralism and federalism or decentralization. Constitutionalism is thus a species of political liberalism.

Corporatism
Corporatism, in its broadest sense, is a means of incorporating organized interests into the processes of government. There are two faces of corporatism. Authoritarian corporatism (closely associated with Fascist Italy) is an ideology and an economic form. As an ideology, it offers an alternative to capitalism and socialism based on holism and group integration. As an economic form, it is characterized by the extension of direct political control over industry and organized labour. Liberal corporatism (‘neo­corporatism’ or ‘societal’ corporatism) refers to a tendency found in mature liberal democracies for organized interests to be granted privileged and institutional access to policy formulation. In contrast to its authoritarian variant, liberal corporatism strengths groups rather than government.

Fundamentalism
Fundamentalism is a style of thought in which certain principles are recognized as essential ‘truths’ that have unchallengeable and overriding authority, regardless of their content. Substantive fundamentalisms therefore have little or nothing in common, except that their supporters tend to evince an earnestness or fervour born out of doctrinal certainty. Although it is usually associated with religion and the literal truth of sacred texts, fundamentalism can also be found in political creeds. Even liberal scepticism can be said to incorporate the fundamental belief that all theories should be doubted (apart from its own). Although the term is often used pejoratively to imply inflexibility, dogmatism and authoritarianism, fundamentalism may also give expression to selflessness and a devotion to principle.

Globalization
Globalization is the emergence of a web of interconnectedness that means that our lives are increasingly shaped by events that occur, and decisions that are made, at a great distance from us, thus giving rise to ‘supraterritorial’ connections between people. However, globalization is a complex process that has a range of manifestations. Economic globalization is the process through which national economies have, to a greater or lesser extent, been absorbed into a single global economy. Cultural globalization is the process whereby information, commodities and images produced in one part of the world have entered into a global flow that tends to ‘flatten out’ cultural differences worldwide. Political globalization is the process through which policy-making responsibilities have been passed from national governments to international organizations.

Human rights
Human rights are rights to which people are entitled by virtue of being human; they are a modern and secular version of ‘natural’ rights. Human rights are universal (in the sense that they belong to human beings everywhere, regardless of race, religion, gender and other differences), fundamental (in that a human being’s entitlement to them cannot be removed), indivisible (in that civic and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights are interrelated and co-equal in importance) and absolute (in that, as the basic grounds for living a genuinely human life, they cannot be qualified). ‘International’ human rights are set out in a collection of UN and other treaties and conventions.

Identity politics
Identity politics is an orientation towards social or political theorizing, rather than a coherent body of ideas with a settled political character. It seeks to challenge and overthrow oppression by reshaping a group’s identity through what amounts to a process of politico-cultural self-assertion. This reflects two core beliefs. (1) Group marginalization operates through stereotypes and values developed by dominant groups that structure how marginalized groups see themselves and are seen by others. These inculcate a sense of inferiority, even shame. (2) Subordination can be challenged by reshaping identity to give the group concerned a sense of pride and self-respect (e.g. ‘black is beautiful’ or ‘gay pride’). Embracing or proclaiming a positive social identity is thus an act of defiance or liberation.

Individualism
Individualism is the belief in the supreme importance of the individual over any social group or collective body. In the form of methodological individualism, this suggests that the individual is central to any political theory or social explanation – all statements about society should be made in terms of the individuals who compose it. Ethical individualism, on the other hand, implies that society should be constructed so as to benefit the individual, giving moral priority to individual rights, needs or interests. Classical liberals and the new right subscribe to egoistical individualism, which places emphasis on self-interestedness and self-reliance. Modern liberals, in contrast, have advanced a developmental form of individualism that prioritizes human flourishing over the quest for interest satisfaction.

Industrialism
The term ‘industrialism’, as used by environmental theorists, relates to a ‘super-ideology’ that encompasses capitalism and socialism, left-wing and right-wing thought. As an economic system, industrialism is characterized by large-scale production, the accumulation of capital and relentless growth. As a philosophy, it is dedicated to materialism, utilitarian values, absolute faith in science and a worship of technology. Many ecologists thus see industrialism as ‘the problem’. Ecosocialists, however, blame capitalism rather than industrialism (which ignores important issues such as the role of ownership, profit and the market), while ecofeminists argue that industrialism has its origins in patriarchy.

Internationalism
Internationalism is the theory or practice of politics based on transnational or global cooperation. It is rooted in universalist assumptions about human nature that put it at odds with political nationalism, the latter emphasizing the degree to which political identity is shaped by nationality. However, internationalism is compatible with nationalism in the sense that it calls for cooperation or solidarity between or among pre-existing nations, rather than for the removal or abandonment of national identities altogether. Internationalism thus differs from cosmopolitanism (see p. 196), the latter implying the displacement of national allegiances by global allegiances. ‘Weak’ forms of internationalism can be seen in doctrines such as feminism, racialism and religious fundamentalism, which hold that national ties are secondary to other political bonds. ‘Strong’ forms of internationalism have usually drawn on the universalist ideas of either liberalism or socialism.

Islamism
Islamism (also called ‘political Islam’, ‘radical Islam’ or ‘activist Islam’) is a politico-religious ideology, as opposed to a simple belief in Islam. Although Islamist ideology has no single creed or political manifestation, certain common beliefs can be identified. These include: (1) that society should be reconstructed in line with the religious principles and ideals of Islam; (2) that the modern secular state should be replaced by an ‘Islamic state’, in which religious principles and authority have primacy over political principles and authority; and (3) that the West and western values are corrupt and corrupting, justifying, for some, the notion of a jihad against them. However, distinctive Sunni and Shi’a versions of Islamism have developed, the former linked to Wahhabism, the latter to Iran’s ‘Islamic Revolution’.

Keynesianism
Keynesianism refers, narrowly, to the economic theories of J. M. Keynes (1883–1946) and, more broadly, to a range of economic policies that have been influenced by these theories. Keynesianism provides an alternative to neoclassical economics and, in particular, advances a critique of the ‘economic anarchy’ of laissez-faire capitalism. Keynes argued that growth and employment levels are largely determined by the level of ‘aggregate demand’ in the economy, and that government can regulate demand, primarily through adjustments to fiscal policy, so as to deliver full employment. Keynesianism came to be associated with a narrow obsession with ‘tax and spend’ policies, but this ignores the complexity and sophistication of Keynes’ economic writings. Influenced by economic globalization, a form of neo-Keynesianism has emerged that rejects ‘top-down’ economic management but still acknowledges that market are hampered by uncertainty, inequality and differential levels of knowledge.

Left/right divide
The terms 'left' and 'right' (which derive from the French Revolution and the seating arrangements adopted by different groups at the first meeting of the Estates-General in 1789) stand for broadly contrasting ideological positions. Although the terms are seldom used with analytical rigour, they draw attention to one of three key (if not always compatible) distinctions: (1) over values: left-wingers generally favour liberty, equality and fraternity, while right-wingers support order, authority and hierarchy; (2) over human nature: left-wingers tend to hold optimistic views and thus believe in the possibility of social progress, while right-wingers are more pessimistic and so are doubtful about the benefits of change; (3) over state intervention: left-wingers usually advocate regulation and economic management, while right-wingers champion deregulated capitalism and the free market.

Liberal democracy
A liberal democracy is a political regime in which a ‘liberal’ commitment to limited government is blended with a ‘demo­cratic’ belief in popular rule. Its key features are: (1) the right to rule is gained through success in regular and competitive elections based on universal adult suffrage; (2) constraints on government imposed by a constitution, institutional checks and balances, and protections for individual rights; and (3) a vigorous civil society including a private enterprise economy, independent trade unions and a free press. While liberals view liberal democracy as universally applicable, on the grounds that it allows for the expression of the widest possible range of views and beliefs, critics have regard it as the political expression of either western values or capitalist economic structures.

Libertarianism
Libertarianism refers to a range of theories that give strict priority to liberty (understood in negative terms) over other values, such as authority, tradition and equality. Libertarians thus seek to maximize the realm of individual freedom and minimize the scope of public authority, typically seeing the state as the principal threat to liberty. The two best-known libertarian traditions are rooted in the idea of individual rights (as with Robert Nozick, see p. 89) and in laissez-faire economic doctrines (as with Friedrich von Hayek, see p. 88), although socialists have also embraced libertarianism. Libertarianism is sometimes distinguished from liberalism on the ground that the latter, even in its classical form, refuses to give priority to liberty over order. However, it differs from anarchism in that libertarians generally recognize the need for a minimal state, sometimes styling themselves as ‘minarchists’.

Neoliberalism
Neoliberalism (sometimes called ‘neoclassical liberalism’) is an updated version of classical liberalism, particularly classical political economy. Its central theme is that the economy works best when left alone by government, reflecting a belief in free market economics and atomistic individualism. While unregulated market capitalism delivers efficiency, growth and widespread prosperity, the ‘dead hand’ of the state saps initiative and discourages enterprise. In short, the neoliberal philosophy is: ‘market: good; state: bad’. Key neoliberal policies include privatization, spending cuts (especially in social welfare), tax cuts (particularly corporate and direct taxes) and deregulation. Neoliberalism is often equated with a belief in market fundamentalism, – absolute faith in the capacity of the market mechanism to solve all economic and social problems.

Paternalism
Paternalism literally means to act in a fatherly fashion. As a political principle, it refers to power or authority being exercised over others with the intention of conferring benefit or preventing harm. Social welfare and laws such as the compulsory wearing of seat belts in cars are examples of paternalism. ‘Soft’ paternalism is characterized by broad consent on the part of those subject to paternalism. ‘Hard’ paternalism operates regardless of consent, and thus overlaps with authoritarianism. The basis for paternalism is that wisdom and experience are unequally distributed in society; those in authority ‘know best’. Opponents argue that authority is not to be trusted and that paternalism restricts liberty and contributes to the ‘infantalization’ of society.

Patriotism
Patriotism (from the Latin patria, meaning ‘fatherland’) is a sentiment, a psycho­logical attachment to one’s nation, literally a ‘love of one’s country’. The terms nationalism and patriotism are often confused. Nationalism has a doctrinal character and embodies the belief that the nation is in some way the central principle of political organization. Patriotism provides the affective basis for that belief, and thus underpins all forms of nationalism. It is difficult to conceive of a national group demanding, say, political independence without possessing at least a measure of patriotic loyalty or national consciousness. However, not all patriots are nationalists. Not all of those who identify with, or even love their nation, see it as a means through which political demands can be articulated.

Pluralism
Pluralism, in its broadest sense, is a belief in or commitment to diversity or multiplicity, the existence of many things. As a descriptive term, pluralism may denote the existence of party competition (political pluralism), a multiplicity of ethical values (moral or value pluralism), a variety of cultural beliefs (cultural pluralism) and so on. As a normative term it suggests that diversity is healthy and desirable, usually because it safeguards individual liberty and promotes debate, argument and understanding. More narrowly, pluralism is a theory of the distribution of political power. As such, it holds that power is widely and evenly dispersed in society, not concentrated in the hands of an elite or ruling class. In this form, pluralism is usually seen as a theory of ‘group politics’, implying that group access to government ensures broad democratic responsiveness.

Populism
Populism (from the Latin populus, meaning ‘the people’) has been used to describe both distinctive political movements and a particular tradition of political thought. Movements or parties described as populist have been characterized by their claim to support the common people in the face of ‘corrupt’ economic or political elites. As a political tradition, populism reflects the belief that the instincts and wishes of the people provide the principal legitimate guide to political action. Populist politicians therefore make a direct appeal to the people and claim to give expression to their deepest hopes and fears, all intermediary institutions being distrusted. Although populism may be linked to any cause or ideology, it is often seen as implicitly authoritarian, ‘populist’ democracy being the enemy of ‘pluralist’ democracy.

Postcolonialism
Postcolonialism originated as a trend in literary and cultural studies that sought to address the cultural conditions characteristic of newly-independent societies. Its purpose has primarily been to expose and overturn the cultural and psychological dimensions of colonial rule, recognizing that ‘inner’ subjugation can persist long after the political structures of colonialism have been removed. A major thrust of postcolonialism has thus been to establish the legitimacy of non-western, and sometimes anti-western, political ideas and traditions. Postcolonialism has thus sought to give the developing world a distinctive political voice separate from the universalist pretensions of liberalism and socialism. However, critics of postcolonialism have argued that, all too often, it has been used as a justification for traditional values and authority structures.

Postmaterialism
Postmaterialism is a theory that explains the nature of political concerns and values in terms of levels of economic development. It is loosely based on Abraham Maslow’s (1908–70) ‘hierarchy of needs’, which places self-esteem and self-actualization above material or economic needs. Postmaterialism assumes that conditions of material scarcity breed egoistical and acquisitive values, meaning that politics is dominated by economic issues (who gets what). However, in conditions of widespread prosperity, individuals tend to express more interest in ‘postmaterial’ or ‘quality of life’ issues. These are typically concerned with morality, political justice and personal fulfilment, and include gender equality, world peace, racial harmony, ecology and animal rights.

Postmodernism
Postmodernism is a controversial and confusing term that was first used to describe experimental movements in western arts, architecture and cultural development in general. As a tool of social and political analysis, postmodernism highlights the shift away from societies structured by industrialization and class solidarity to increasingly fragmented and pluralistic ‘information societies’, in which individuals are transformed from producers to consumers, and individualism replaces class, religious and ethnic loyalties. Postmodernists argue that there is no such thing as certainty; the idea of absolute and universal truth must be discarded as an arrogant pretence. Emphasis is placed instead on discourse, debate and democracy.

Pragmatism
Pragmatism, broadly defined, refers to behaviour that is shaped in accordance with practical circumstances and goals, rather than principles or ideological objectives. As a philosophical tradition, associated with ‘classical pragmatists’ such as William James (1842–1910) and John Dewey (1859–1952), pragmatism is a method for settling metaphysical disputes that seeks to clarify the meaning of concepts and hypotheses by identifying their practical consequences. The benefits of pragmatism in politics are that it allows policies and political assertions to be judged ‘on their merits’ (on the basis of ‘what works’), and that it prevents ideology from becoming divorced from reality and turning into mere wishful-thinking. Critics, however, equate pragmatism with a lack of principle or a tendency to follow public opinion rather than lead it.

Racialism
Racialism is, broadly, the belief that political or social conclusions can be drawn from the idea that humankind is divided into biologically distinct ‘races’. Racialist theories are thus based on two assumptions. The first is that there are fundamental genetic, or species-type, differences amongst the peoples of the world. The second is that these genetic divisions are reflected in cultural, intellectual and/or moral differences, making them politically or socially significant. Political racialism is manifest in calls for racial segregation (for instance, apartheid) and in doctrines of ‘blood’ superiority or inferiority (for example, Aryanism or anti-Semitism). ‘Racialism’ and ‘racism’ are often used interchangeably, but the latter is better used to refer to prejudice or hostility towards people because of their racial origin, whether or not this is linked to a developed racial theory.

Rationalism
Rationalism is the belief that the world has a rational structure, and that this can be disclosed through the exercise of human reason and critical enquiry. As a philosophical theory, rationalism is the belief that knowledge flows from reason rather than experience, and thus contrasts with empiricism. As a general principle, however, rationalism places a heavy emphasis on the capacity of human beings to understand and explain their world, and to find solutions to problems. While rationalism does not dictate the ends of human conduct, it certainly suggests how these ends should be pursued. It is associated with an emphasis on principle and reason-governed behaviour, as opposed to a reliance on custom or tradition, or on non-rational drives and impulses.

Social democracy
Social democracy is an ideological stance that supports a broad balance between market capitalism, on the one hand, and state intervention, on the other hand. Being based on a compromise between the market and the state, social democracy lacks a systematic underlying theory and is, arguably, inherently vague. It is nevertheless associated with the following views: (1) capitalism is the only reliable means of generating wealth, but it is a morally defective means of distributing wealth because of its tendency towards poverty and inequality; (2) the defects of the capitalist system can be rectified through economic and social intervention, the state being the custodian of the public interest; (3) social change can and should be brought about peacefully and constitutionally.

Sustainable development
Sustainable development refers to ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ (Brundtland Report, 1987). It therefore embodies two concepts: (1) the concept of need, particularly the essential needs of the world’s poor; and (2) the concept of limitations, especially related to the environment’s ability to meet future as well as present needs. So-called weak sustainability takes economic growth to be desirable but simply insists that growth must be limited to ensure that ecological costs do not threaten its long-term sustainability, allowing ‘human capital’ to be substituted for ‘natural capital’. Strong sustainability rejects the pro-growth implications of weak sustainability, and focuses just on the need to preserve and sustain ‘natural capital’.

Terrorism
Terrorism, in its broadest sense, refers to the use of terror for furthering political ends; it seeks to create a climate of fear and apprehension. The term, nevertheless, is highly controversial. First, the distinction between terrorism and other forms of violence or warfare is blurred by the fact that the latter may also aim to strike fear into the wider population. Second, as the term is highly pejorative, it tends to be used selectively and often subjectively (one person’s ‘terrorist’ is another person’s ‘freedom fighter’). Third, although terrorism is usually conceived of as an anti-government activity, governments can also use terror against their own or other populations, as in the case of ‘state terrorism’.

Toryism
‘Tory’ was used in eighteenth-century Britain to refer to a parliamentary faction that (as opposed to the Whigs) supported monarchical power and the Church of England, and represented the landed gentry; in the USA, it implied loyalty to the British crown. Although in the mid-nineteenth century the British Conservative Party emerged out of the Tories, and in the UK ‘Tory’ is still widely (but unhelpfully) used as a synonym for Conservative, Toryism is best understood as a distinctive ideological stance within broader conservatism. Its characteristic features are a belief in hierarchy, tradition, duty and organicism. While ‘high’ Toryism articulates a neo-feudal belief in a ruling class and a pre-democratic faith in established institutions, the Tory tradition is also hospitable to welfarist and reformist ideas, providing these serve the cause of social continuity.

Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is an all-encompassing system of political rule that is typically established by pervasive ideological manipulation and open terror and brutality. It differs from autocracy, authoritarianism and traditional dictatorship in that it seeks ‘total power’ through the politicization of every aspect of social and personal existence. Totalitarianism thus implies the outright abolition of civil society: the abolition of ‘the private’. Fascism and communism have sometimes been seen as left-and right-wing forms of totalitarianism, based on their rejection of toleration, pluralism and the open society. However, radical thinkers such as Marcuse (see p. 127) have claimed that liberal democracies also exhibit totalitarian features.

Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is a moral philosophy that was developed by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill. It equates ‘good’ with pleasure or happiness, and ‘evil’ with pain or unhappiness. Individuals are therefore assumed to act so as to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, these being calculated in terms of utility or use-value, usually seen as satisfaction derived from material consumption. The ‘greatest happiness’ principle can be used to evaluate laws, institutions and even political systems. Act utilitarianism judges an act to be right if it produces at least as much pleasure-over-pain as any other act. Rule utilitarianism judges an act to be right if it conforms to a rule which, if generally followed, produces good consequences.

Utopianism
A utopia (from the Greek outopia, meaning ‘nowhere’, or eutopia, meaning ‘good place’) is literally an ideal or perfect society. Although utopias of various kinds can be envisaged, most are characterized by the abolition of want, the absence of conflict and the avoidance of oppression and violence. Utopianism is a style of political theorizing that develops a critique of the existing order by constructing a model of an ideal or perfect alternative. Good examples are anarchism and Marxism. Utopian theories are usually based on assumptions about the unlimited possibilities of human self-development. However, utopianism is often used as a pejorative term to imply deluded or fanciful thinking, a belief in an unrealistic and unachievable goal.

Zionism
Zionism (Zion is Hebrew for the Kingdom of Heaven) is the movement for the establishment of a Jewish homeland, usually seen as located in Palestine. The idea was first advanced in 1897 by Theodore Herzl (1860–1904) at the World Zionist Congress in Basle, as the only means of protecting the Jewish people from persecution. Early Zionists had secularist and nationalistic aspirations, often associated with socialist sympathies. Since the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948, however, Zionism has come to be associated both with the continuing promise of Israel to provide a home for all Jews and with attempts to promote sympathy for Israel and defend it against its enemies. In the latter sense, it has been recruited to the cause of fundamentalism, and, according to Palestinians, it has acquired an expansionist, anti-Arab character.