After Francis Fukuyama decreed the end of ideologies in his book The End of History and the Last Man (1992) and after a large number of intellectuals, thinkers and activists raised dissonant voices [1], the intellectual world has had to rethink the scope and limitations of any ideology.

By Nahuel Tejada

In 2013 Alexandr Dugin wrote about the need for a new political theory, the philosopher in his book “The Fourth Political Theory” explains the triumph of liberalism (capitalism and all its variants) in the 20th century, the triumph of liberalism over fascism, communism or socialism. The Russian author suggests the need to search for a new type of political theory that can overcome the previous ones and confront the triumphant liberalism. He guides us through the qualities that such a new paradigm should have.

In this article we will not go into Duguin’s work in depth, but it is cited because his controversial and influential ideas serve to exemplify and expose a point of view regarding the limitations and scope of ideologies.

Tomas Hirchs, a Chilean humanist author, in his book El Fin de la Prehistoria, un Camino hacia la Libertad (2007), with a foreword by the then president of Bolivia, Evo Morales [2], tells us that in his travels through different Latin American countries in the first decade of the 21st century he encountered a certain feeling of frustration and failure among various groups of political and social militants, despite the triumphs of progressivism in the Latin American region. The feeling was based on the fact that the ideals of a given era could not be fully realised in the revolutions that seemed to have triumphed. Capitalism ended up making its way into the different governments in one form or another.

Thus, Álvaro García Linera, a Marxist intellectual and former vice-president of Bolivia, during the mandate of Evo Morales, spoke in his participation during the “First International Forum of Critical Thought” (2018) held in Argentina (organised by CLASCO), about Andean capitalism, because in his country the conditions for real socialism were not in place.

One could continue to cite various cases throughout history to illustrate the failure, it seems that any ideology that seeks revolution in favour of the marginalised, poor or excluded majorities will always end up failing, while others that seek the triumph of the sadistic and powerful will always end up triumphing.

So, faced with this pessimistic look, the militants choose to give up the struggle or continue, but imbued with an undercurrent of stoicism, which, despite their failures, serves as a consolation for them to continue the struggle.

On the other hand, another point of view on the same problem says that there are differences in the meanings given to the word revolution. For example, Thomas Kuhn, in History of Scientific Revolutions (1962), deals with the history of science and its revolutions, in the sense of paradigm shifts and new scientific discoveries. In the history of science, the word revolution is used to designate an abrupt change of qualities in this or that scientific ambit. The same is true in the history of art, technology, sport, etc.

The word revolution in history represents a change, a transformation of certain aspects; this word is useful to understand the evolution of some historical moment that one wishes to study.

On the other hand, in the field of ideologies, the word revolution is not found in the past, but is a goal to be achieved, the revolution is found in the future. Revolutionary ideologists first establish a diagnosis of the situation of the moment in which they happen to live by using different tools or methods of analysis. First of all, they question the situation in which the object of study (society, politics, the system, etc.) finds itself, then they will be proposing different revolutionary steps or methods that the masses or the sectors concerned should follow in order to bring about the revolution. Such ideologies are lived among the passionate and committed militants in the different positions of struggle, from the most humble to the highest echelons of the hierarchy. Such ideologies are lived as the promise of an ideal world or utopia within the reach of the revolution.

Once the masses or interested sectors appropriate such ideologies and seize power by different means (democratic or by force), she says that the revolution has triumphed. It happens then that with the triumph of the revolution new issues, ideas and needs begin to emerge and those revolutionary ideologies that inspired the masses cannot give effective responses to the new complexities. Then the former militant feels frustrated, the world or the dreamed reality to which he or she aspired to reach with his or her militant actions, despite the revolutionary triumph, is far from being fulfilled.

It happens that as the masses or interested sectors organise themselves and spread this or that ideology, as these movements grow stronger and occupy more and more spaces of power, they transform the social, political and cultural reality in which they move. For this reason, when the moment of revolutionary triumph arrives, the world has changed and the ideologies that gave rise to the revolution can no longer be maintained. New complexities arise, new ideas, new responses, new intellectualities, ideologies are transformed.

From this point of view, revolutionary ideas are similar to artistic avant-gardes, those avant-gardes that fail when they succeed, because they cease to be original and become archetypes accepted by the majority. Something similar happens with ideologies. They will have to be updated if they are to provide responses to militant practices and mobilise the masses for the construction of a better world.

The function of revolutionary ideals, then, is to inspire transformative actions. For Silo “the human being is the historical being whose mode of social action transforms his own nature[3]”, so that he himself is always thrown into the future, in every act of his life.

In this sense, any set of ideas originating in the search for revolution must reconcile the transcendent essential with the ephemeral fluidity of conjunctural change in the political, social and cultural life of populations. An essential and transcendental value is for example that of social justice, carried forward by every person with a humanist sensibility, this sensibility is expressed beyond cultures and historical moments. This sensitivity arises when a person recognises the humanity of other people, regardless of religion, social background, gender, race, etc.

Thus, people with sensitivity, recognising injustices, will try to change them, rebelling against what is given, when this legacy generates pain and suffering in populations. It is the struggle against “the system”.

Humanist sensitivity transcends ideologies. It is, in essence, the foundation of all revolutionary arming in favour of the oppressed. Activists of all ages build or join the ideologies that best express this sensibility, according to each activist’s feelings, reasoning, history and commitment to action.

But where does this sensitivity come from, if it transcends all science, religion, politics and culture?

Some speak of the essence of being – Heidegger’s being there – others speak of the spirit, or the essence of what is human, or the gods are also related to as the inspirers of humanising rebellion. Beyond any hasty personal response, I believe that the best and most profound response is obtained when activists take a few minutes of reflection, starting from a certain mental silence. Perhaps that is where the responses will appear, beyond any ideology…

How is it that our ancestors rebelled if they did not know the world as we know it now… How is it that those who do not know my ideas still rebel against the unjust and oppressive… How is it that new generations continue to blaze trails while they themselves deny or modify the foundations of my ideals of revolution, just as I myself have accepted the best but also denied or modified what I believed to be old and worthless in those ideologies?

I believe that reflections or meditations on such questions can provide responses to any activist interested in understanding the origin of what drives us in this construction. The responses in this sense can be recognised as a powerful sensation, of internal force and enthusiasm to do.

It is necessary to say that humanising is the opposite of dehumanising. When someone considers other people as tools to achieve an end, as objects of pleasure, of exploitation, as inferior beings because of their race, beliefs or ideas, when they do not understand that behind each person there is a story, a future, with joys and sufferings, successes and mistakes, it is because they are dehumanising. This is the origin of dehumanising or anti-humanist feelings and ideologies.[4] On the other hand, if we look for relationships between people, we can find a way to make them feel that they are not human.

On the other hand, if we look for more objective relationships as a basis, we would refer to demographic mobility in populations, to the interaction between different cultures, to the advances and setbacks in science and technology, to the appearance or disappearance and modification of religions, to the wars of weapons, of the media and financial media. All this vast mobility that century after century is transforming, all this incredible complex structure of interacting elements that are conceived within the concept of humanity with its diversity of peoples and civilisations. From this perspective, then, it is disproportionate and anachronistic to fervently believe that a single particular type of ideology, conceived at a given historical moment, can provide responses to all of humanity’s problems.


[1] “…It is because it is not the end of history, not the end of ideas, not the end of man, and not the final triumph of evil and manipulation that we can always try to change things and change ourselves.

This is the attempt worth living for it is the continuation of the best aspirations of the good people who have gone before us. It is the attempt that is worth living because it is the forerunner of future generations that will transform the world.” Silo 2004.

[2] Evo Morales was the first native president of Latin America, 2006-2019.

[3] Silo, Collected Works, Volume I. ed. Plaza y Valdés. Gran Palace Theatre. Santiago, Chile, 1991.

[4] “Let us study the second question, that is: the very register of humanity in others.

As long as he registers his ‘natural’ presence in the other, the other will not go beyond being an object, or particularly an animal presence. As long as it is anaesthetised to perceive the temporal horizon of the other, the other will only make sense as a for-me. The nature of the other will be a for-me. But in constructing the other as a for-me, I constitute and alienate myself in my own for-itself. I want to say: “I am for-me” and with this I close my horizon of transformation. Whoever reifies reifies himself, and thereby closes his horizon.

As long as I do not experience the other outside the for-me, my vital activity will not humanise the world. The other should be to my inner register, a warm sensation of an open future that does not even end in the reifying meaninglessness of death.” Silo, About the Human, in Silo, Collected Works, Volume I. ed. Plaza y Valdés, 1983.

The original article can be found here