Should We Discard The Term ‘Ideology’?
This was the topic of a very interesting guest post written by sdferr and published over at Jeff Goldstein’s site, Protein Wisdom.
Please do take the time to read the full post and the comments section where the PW gang debates the issue with their usual gusto.
Here is the comment I left in the thread:
I don’t see the point in giving up the term ‘Ideology’ because it does apply to those who believe in a system of ideas that will ultimately lead to some form of Heaven On Earth [Immanentize The Eschaton]. They take a scientific approach and believe Human Life can be organized and governed by a set of ideas developed in the sterile laboratories of the mind, far away from Reality.
The term differentiates this approach from those who oppose and reject such an conceptualization to Life. A non-ideologue [ie: a conservative or Classical Liberal] believes in the art of the possible whereas the Ideologue believes in the art of the fantastical.
When applied to the thinking of someone, the term tells you immediately that arguing with said person is a waste of time because all ideologues have willingly enslaved themselves to a system of ideas and have, therefore, become dogmatics, fanatics. They cannot allow dissent to be legitimate because, to do so, is to allow the questioning of their system of ideas and any deviation in the formula they have concocted in their minds will cause the whole edifice to collapse.
Also, as Russell Kirk wrote in The Errors Of Ideology [note: the link takes you to a PDF]:
Ideology provides sham religion and sham philosophy, comforting in its way to those who have lost or never have known genuine religious faith, and to those not sufficiently intelligent to apprehend real philosophy. The fundamental reason why we must set our faces against ideology—so wrote the wise Swiss editor Hans Barth—is that ideology is opposed to truth: it denies the possibility of truth in politics or in anything else, substituting economic motive and class interest for abiding norms. Ideology even denies human consciousness and power of choice. In Barth’s words, “The disastrous effect of ideological thinking in its radical form is not only to cast doubt on the quality and structure of the mind that constitute man’s distinguishing characteristic but also to undermine the foundation of his social life.”
It’s a very useful word.
[Thanks to Jeff and the gang for welcoming me quite warmly over at PW.]