On Ideology And Ideologues
In response to a comment left by me on a post by Stacy McCain over at his site where I, in effect, say that all Ideology is based on what JeffS labels accurately ‘flawed premises’, someone named Shawn Smith replies:
I disagree. An ideology is simply a set of beliefs about the world and how it works. It is good or bad as it reflects accurately or inaccurately how the world and human nature works.
As there are already well over three hundred comments on Stacy’s post and seeing this as an opportunity to gather some of my thoughts on Ideology and Ideologues in one place, I make my reply here [this is based partially on past postings]…
To do evil, a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good.
An Ideology is a system of ideas.
Ideologues are committed to their system of ideas and, therefore, carry said ideas to their logical ends [logic is neutral; it is merely a process of thinking and it is neither Good nor Evil in and of itself]. Logic will often take you away from Reason. It always follows it’s own course and that road is often different from Reason’s.
Ideologues are slaves to abstract principles that were developed in the sterile laboratories of the mind, far away from Reality [another definition of ‘Ideology’]. Such creations are fragile — they can shatter at any moment — and must be protected from the messiness that is Real Life. Therefore, the Ideologue is compelled to follow the logic of his positions [and demand they be followed by everyone else] and that requires he delegitimize the views of those who disagree with them, because, if he doesn’t, the whole structure of his Ideology comes tumbling down. Such is the fate of anything created and developed in a vacuum.
The Ideologue demands perfection because of the fragile nature of all ideas created away from Real Life. The trouble is: nothing in Life is perfect. Perfection can only ever be an aspiration for Human Beings, and the seeking of it must always be tempered with the knowledge that it can never be attained in Life.
Ideologues make a fatal error when they enslave themselves to ideas rather than their own experience and, more importantly, the experience of those who have come before us.
For the Ideologue every aspect of life is, indeed, political — it has to be for any Ideologue. This is because an Ideologue sees everything as needing to conform to the system of ideas they have accepted as being necessary for Life to be good and worthy.
The Ideologue designs a blueprint for how Life must proceed and every material to be used in it is governed by the design. Any deviation and the structure risks becoming unstable. Like a building plan, an Ideology must be followed to the letter and, therefore, it has to dictate the specifications for everything needed to make a building efficient [electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc.]. Thus, an Ideology must encompass every facet of Life. It must pervade every nook and cranny.
We non-Ideologues reject such an approach to life because we know that a grand design is the purview of a perfect being and we understand that no man is perfect or perfectible in this Life.
The Ideologues insist on interfering with every aspect of Life and the Leftist ones have made great gains in controlling The Narrative is every aspect of Life in America, to the point where we all, to varying degrees, think their way. In the past few years, the Libertarian ones have been making great gains, as well.
Ideologues have an unlimited variety of weapons they can employ because they are not bound by any Morality, feel any debt to our ancestors and the struggles they waged, or believe that any restraints should be applied to the means they employ. The Ideologue believes that the ends they seek — call it Utopia, Heaven On Earth, Egalitarianism, or what you will — are so wonderful, so noble, so good that anything — absolutely anything — that helps bring about the end-goal is permissible [the term for this is ‘Gnosticism’.]. That this Paradise they seek requires all existing institutions [the products of learning from thousands of years of triumph and failure in the Real World] to be destroyed, the slate wiped clean, gives the Ideologue license to do whatever it takes to speed the way to Nirvana.
This license permits the Ideologue to ‘fight dirty’. One way you do this is to take advantage of your opponent’s sense of honor, respect for tradition, and belief in The Golden Rule.
This is what they do.
In their pursuit of perfection, the Ideologues reject Right Reason, Prudence, Morality, and Tradition and set themselves up for the inevitable dissatisfaction and disappointment and depression [often sparking a descent into Nihilism]. As long as those results are restricted to the individuals who believe in the Ideology, that is fine. It is when they impose their Will To Power on others that they cause misery and death.
Ideology — that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others’ eyes, so that he won’t hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors….
The greatest evil is not done now in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not even done in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clear, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
Dostoyevsky implied that it was precisely when the devil became a wit that the intellectual classes of the West succumbed to the most familiar form of diabolic temptation: the belief that men can transcend the limits of their condition and “be as gods”—demiurges with the power to heal the world’s pain and reshape it in accordance with a beautiful idea.
—Michael Knox Beran
Utopians, once they attempt to convert their visions into practical proposals, come up with the most malignant project ever devised: they want to institutionalize fraternity, which is the surest way to totalitarian despotism.
[Originally published on 13 August 2013]