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Sunday, September 10, 2006

On Ideology

by R.M. Haija

The Raging Liberal

Seemingly each society considers those who hold staunchly to the popular (yet seldom followed) ideologies of their respective culture, as the virtuous ones. Though, the more unjust events in this polarized world emerge, the more one begins to question this philosophy.

Obviously there is a narrowness of thinking when one adopts a specific ideology, but in our new world, this type of narrowness is in fact becoming more and more alarming. In this hostile age of polarization, positions are radically becoming unchangeable, and this is ever more dangerous because societies cannot progress when they act along a continuum.

Religious, social, and political ideologies partition groups into “areas” and these demarcated areas become isolated and unconnected. Within these areas develops the social phenomena of “groupthink”. There are those who believe that they straddle these various areas, the so-called centrists, independents, Third-way economists, etc. What these people fail to understand is that these areas create an area in themselves. By grouping oneself into a category, there is just as great a propensity to become as infected with the “groupthink” virus as the polarized areas which one sought to avoid.

It is clear that many people choose not, or maybe even cannot, think for themselves. They align themselves with a particular ideology and then blindly follow its sometimes fatal course. These followers are known as the “base” of any ideology, and exist within each and every social, political, and religious arena. Historically, these people have always existed, and essentially are the most dangerous. They are the ones who perpetuate hate, intolerance, violence, and thus, are the brokers of injustice. In tragic irony, most of these people go about their lives doing this unknowingly, for they are merely the lemmings. Their leaders will arm them, lie to them, and sacrifice them for a cause in which they often stand little or nothing to gain.

As we have seen in our own country with repeated violations of the constitution, blatant lies to send our nation to war, but yet a solid 30% “base” still remains for this current Administration. Regardless of which laws this Administration violates, and the exponentially growing list of falsehoods manufactured and dealt to the American people, this 30% “base” remains. This is because it may be more spiritually devastating for this “base” to admit that all that has been sacrificed or taken from the disenfranchised peoples of the world, all the bloodshed, all the treasure wasted, has been for nothing but a lie - for the amalgamation of capital and power - that they have, at best, been duped -- this is a more dangerous idea to them personally, than it is to continue blind support for their leadership and hope like hell that it all turns out okay. This “base” will follow their leader to utter ruin rather than admit they were wrong.

Though all of this should point to why immovable alignment with a particular ideology is so dangerous and misguided, a majority will still argue this essay’s thesis and tell me that “peril lies when one does NOT take a stand.” This I agree, but taking a stand does not necessarily mean that we must always stand together. With freedom of thought still afforded to us, we must exercise this right. The growing polarization of our society must be placated. If we can slowly ingrain the concept that the most important aspect in seeking truth is criticality, then it may become evident to subsequent generations that just as the future does not run along a continuum, neither does truth. Then maybe, just maybe, a global society of true civility and true equality can begin to emerge.

R.M. Haija writes for The Raging Liberal on social theory and issues related to policy and government