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date: 27 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that the famous ‘Mannheim paradox’ regarding the ideological understanding of ideology in Ideology and Utopia merely serves as a preparation for a far more complex and persistent paradox that poses a recurrent problem for any political science seeking to understand the relation of political ideologies to political reality: namely, when we try to understand contending political ideologies at any one historical moment and test them for their ‘congruence’ with historical and sociological ‘reality’, our construction of this context is itself informed by these ideologies or our partisan understanding of them. To deal with this paradox Mannheim suggests a new political science based on Marx and Weber. This political science seeks to construct fields of competing ideologies—such as conservatism, liberalism, and socialism—and play off the insight and blindness of each to create a momentary ‘synthesis’ of the relation between political ideas and a dynamic political reality.

Keywords: ideology, utopia, Mannheim, ‘Mannheim paradox’, political science, Marx, Weber, conservatism, liberalism, socialism, synthesis, dynamic political reality

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