Ideologies

 

Alexander Liss

 

07/07/04

 

 

Ideology and Reality. 2

Insanity of a Society. 2

Responsibility. 2

Safeguards. 3

Components of Ideologies. 3

Socialism.. 4

Ancient Idea. 4

Rider on Expansion. 4

Practical Consequences. 5

Terrorism.. 5

Thought Control 6

Dissection of Communism.. 6

Components. 7

Socialism.. 7

Terrorism.. 7

Thought Control 7

Suppression of Individuality. 7

Expansion. 8

Core Element 8

Pitfall 9

Logical Scaffolding. 9

Avoiding Traps of Infinity. 10

Steps into Future. 11

Steps into Divine. 11

Still Infinity. 11

Faults Induced by Infinity. 12

"This is all, it is to know" 12

"Larger than oneself" 12

Construction of an Ideology. 13

Practical Terms and Idealism.. 13

Logical Frame. 14

Gnosticism v. Agnosticism.. 14

Realism v. Nominalism.. 14

Effective Combinations. 14

Overcoming Constrains of Logic. 15

Separating Logic and Illogical 15

 

 

 

     An Ideology is a logical scaffolding used by a group of people to achieve particular goals in a particular social context. Many Ideologies claim universality and "authorization" by something above humanity, but experience shows limitations of Ideologies and adaptation of Ideologies to new reality.

     Ideologies compete each with other and only efficient Ideologies survive and guide large masses of population or groups of decision-makers. Hence, it makes sense to limit our analysis to efficient Ideologies - Ideologies, which are able to keep their followers for a long time.

      

 

Ideology and Reality

Insanity of a Society

 

In time, an Ideology as a logical schema runs into a conflict with Reality. Sometimes, it adjusts itself, but more often, it becomes more rigid and involved to retain its grip on its followers.

The Ideology, which became more rigid, contradicts reality even in a large degree.

Applying definition of insanity to society, the state of the social group following an Ideology, which contradicts reality, should be described as an insanity of this social group. History has many examples of such insanity of social groups and wars and other social disasters caused by such insanity.

Knowing how Ideologies are constructed and operate on societies helps early detection of a conflict between an Ideology and reality, helps detect insanity of a society.

 

Responsibility

 

     An Ideology is a social phenomenon. There is a tendency to see followers and even promoters of an insane Ideology as victims, caught by a force overwhelming their will and mental abilities.

Such approach is essentially immoral.

The real victims are ones, which do not accept such Ideology and are suppressed or even eliminated by followers of the Ideology.

All followers of an insane Ideology gain something from it. Often, the gain consists of elimination of a need to make own evaluations and own decisions and feel being a part of a crowd.

This is a moral transgression - an abdication of the social obligation to question, check, evaluate and protest, if needed, in area of one's responsibility. As it is immoral to go beyond the area of one's responsibility and force decisions in an area of responsibility of others, it is immoral to leave the area of one's responsibility unattended.   

     The purveyors of an insane Ideology usually internalize it, but this does not clear them from responsibility for what they are doing. They are usually members of an elite group, which has special benefits. The Ideology is internalized by this group, because it provides justification for their inhumane behavior, the justification needed for their feeling of internal comfort.

     While one's use of an Ideology is a necessity, at least to coordinate actions with others to achieve a common goal, one should always watch for limits of applicability of a chosen Ideology.

When an Ideology is internalized, it is difficult to recognize its insane nature. This still does not elevate one's responsibility to do so. Understanding roots, structure and beneficiaries of an Ideology helps in such recognition.

 

Safeguards

 

     A good Ideology has built-in safeguards, which do not allow it to reach a state destructive to humanity or to stay in conflict with reality for too long or to be twisted to create some insane derived Ideology.

 

 

Components of Ideologies

 

     We start with examples of "Ideological modules" often embedded in some efficient Ideologies. After, we proceed with dissection of a notorious Ideology of communism.

 

Socialism

 

     Socialism is an "Ideological rider" on an Ideology driving expansion of some kind of a social group. This rider deals exclusively with distribution of wealth, it does not deal with creation of wealth.

 

Ancient Idea

 

     The idea of socialism, or fair distribution of wealth, especially in face of many deprived of necessities of life, is ancient. In hard times, it frequently catches imagination of large masses of population and leaders emerge, which articulate and propagate it.

     The logical root of it is in a fact that wealth is created by a society as a whole, and a wealth distribution mechanism is relatively independent from a wealth creation mechanism. A system of taxation shows that this is true for a broad range of social structures.

However, there is a limit on how far an artificial wealth distribution mechanism could be imposed on a society. It is always an impediment to a wealth creation mechanism. An unmitigated socialism usually destroys a wealth creation mechanism.

Socialism became a stable Ideology only with emergence of Labor. Exchangeability of Laborers enforced by particular organization of economy, which emerged with capitalism, created a large group of "indistinguishable" individuals, which are ready to accept socialism as an explanation of their existence. Success of trade unions and socialistic policies in improving of Laborers' life reinforced this Ideology.

Rider on Expansion

 

Still, Socialism could exist only as an addition to an Ideology, which corresponds to some form of social expansion. It could be found as a rider on capitalist Ideology guiding economic expansion, or a rider on communist Ideology guiding expanding restructuring of society, or a rider on nationalist Ideology guiding another expending restructuring of society, etc. The moment underlying Ideology stops guiding expansion, the entire combination of the underlying Ideology and the rider of Socialism collapses. The collapse happens faster with the rider, then without it, because this rider imposes limits on the system, which make it less flexible.

Practical Consequences

 

Artificial distribution of wealth requires a mechanism. The only known mechanism of such distribution working for a large number of members of society is a bureaucratic mechanism.

Such mechanism involved in distribution of wealth inevitably becomes corrupt.

Being a bureaucratic mechanism, it allocates increasingly large portion of wealth for self-preservation and self-maintenance.

 

Terrorism

 

     In a society with a weak moral structure and social organization, there is a possibility to "carve out" some share of power through perpetual intimidation of society.

This is understood by some groups, which are actively engaged in creation of a stable social structure using means of intimidation, where they could have a comfortable place.

The Ideology deployed to this end is old and quite a few times intimidators succeeded. Barbarians terrorized Roman Empire into stable stream of payments, communists terrorized Russian Empire into submission, Mafia terrorizes some areas to yield to its control, etc.

     Various followers of this Ideology have different views.

Suppressed think that the society is unstable and there is price to pay in any case. If they do not fight intimidation, they are carriers of this Ideology.

"Soldiers-intimidators" think that they are a part of some honorable activity, which puts them above ordinary members of society. One could see this among members of Mafia and modern global terrorists.

Leaders see themselves not as a group of sociopath, but as a special "family" entitled to power. They maintain a special social structure, carry a special Ideology, etc.

The entire syndrome could be seen

·        in societies with deficiencies in social organization, where Mafia finds its place,

·        in societies-in-transition, where new Mafia-like groups find their place,

·        in a global society in transition from a rigid state of Cold War to a new more flexible state, where terrorists try to carve their own share of power.

Terrorism as an Ideology is a rider. It is too primitive to be an Ideology on its own. It was deployed in conjunction with various ideas of: French revolution, communism, radical Islam, etc.

 

Thought Control

 

At a first glance, Thought Control looks as an impossible task. However, it was successfully deployed numerous times.

On a small scale, this is done by separating a small group from the rest of society and brainwashing them.

On a large scale, this is done through censoring new information (news, teaching) and censoring everyday conversations.

Roman emperors deployed this to control empire through a cult of an emperor. In a former Soviet Union, this was developed to a high degree enforced by a secret police.

In modern Western societies, this is censoring of news, enforced via media outlets, censoring of teaching, enforced by culture of universities, and "politically correct" speech enforced by various "publishers" of information.

This activity is an Ideological rider: persons engaged in such information filtering think that they do a right thing and persons deprived of information through such filtering think that this is socially beneficial.

 

Dissection of Communism

 

Communism is an effective Ideology, which still has many followers.

While some say that distinction should be made between the Ideology and various deployments of it, it is prudent to see in variants of deployment of this Ideology the manifestation of roots of Ideology, which otherwise stay hidden.

Communism deploys all Ideological riders described above.

 

Components

Socialism

 

Socialism guides wealth distribution system in Communism. In the Soviet Union, it was so consistent, that engagement in any activity bypassing this distribution system was punishable with long prison terms.

Any private enterprise, where larger part of wealth generated by a group goes to one, who organized such wealth generation, was forbidden. It was forbidden to engage privately in buying goods in one place and selling in the other, where they are needed.

Terrorism

 

In the Soviet Union, a large number of people were convicted for crimes they did not commit and many were either executed or perished in concentration camps.

The system of law was designed in a way that practically any one broke the law at some point in one's life.

That created a state of fear and anxiety in an entire society.  

Thought Control

 

In the Soviet Union, only interpreted by especially dedicated entities information from abroad was available.

Teaching on all levels was carefully monitored and censored.

Large amount of time was allocated for mandatory meetings dedicated to brainwashing.

Secret police and enforced by law culture of reporting on subversive behavior of neighbors created a habitual self-censorship of all conversations.

 

Suppression of Individuality

 

In all implementations of communist Ideology, Individuality is forcefully suppressed. Some say that this is a result of mistakes in implementation of Ideology, but this result is always present, hence it is in nature of the Ideology.

The communist Ideology asserts primarily of collective over individual and conditions of life over individual's models of reality. This doctrine is a source of practice of suppression of individuality by communists.

It introduces only subtle bias into a system of concepts, which we use to describe humanity (Individual, Society, Mind, etc.) This subtle bias combined with other tools of the Ideology is sufficient to produce consistently various phenomena, for example to cause suppression of individuality or even to cause mass exterminations of members of society.  

 

Expansion

 

     The strength of the Ideology of communism is in guiding a particular kind of social expansion - expanding modification of society according to a particular mold.

First, its goal was modification of entire humanity, later only some part of it, but always it was an expansion. This expansion was conveniently linked with expanding industrialization of the Soviet Union, with its military build-up, with expending imperial hold on nations and countries, etc.

This expansion allowed the use of the described above Ideological riders and provided stability to the Ideology as a whole.

It is interesting, that the properties of the mold are irrelevant, as long the end-result is removed somewhere in the future.

Actually, the mold itself is quite deficient. A society built according to this mold is not stable on its own. Relatively minor events could completely destabilize it. Hence, such society should be extremely suppressive to maintain its structure, but as it was pointed above, this is irrelevant for the efficiency of the Ideology.

 

Core Element

 

     The Core Element of the Ideology of communism is dedication of a particular activity as a final arbiter of truth, without any attempt to critique it. This activity is an activity of a society as a whole. "The place, where society arrives, is where it should be".

     It looks as a self-serving logical loop, but it is not. It is a leap out of limits of logic. This makes the Ideology strong.

     Usually, a leap beyond limits of logic is a domain of Religion. The Ideology of communism incorporated it with all potential pitfalls, and it fell in one of such pitfalls.

 

Pitfall

 

     Communism asserts: "There are some intermediate stops in society's motion, but where it goes (to communism) is obvious, and one could see immediately limits of an intermediate stop (deviation from communism)."

This is a source of many of its problems.

     From one hand, communists subject their thinking to reality of developing society. From the other hand they know, in which direction it should go.

     If the society does not go in such "predicted" direction, then a sacrifice should be made, to correct the problem.

     This is exactly the way primitive religions operate. When things do not go right, a society binds a deity with a contract via a sacrifice.

To a degree a deity could be bound at all, it is not a deity, it is a mechanism, which could be described and controlled. However, this thought does not bother those, who want to expend their control be they practitioners of a primitive religion or practitioners of the communist Ideology.

     In the case of the Ideology of communism, a small bias introduced by other doctrines of communism makes individuality a first candidate for the sacrifice. Such sacrifice is always made by communism and communists found it useful.

     The trick is: such sacrifice has all trappings of self-fulfilling prophecy. A society with suppressed individuality is highly controllable and could be guided toward ideals of communism.

 

Logical Scaffolding

 

     A combination of a leap beyond limitation of logic in form of acceptance of actual development of society as a measure of truth and a logical statement that a society is inevitably moving toward communism carries internal logical contradiction. It is covered with all other tools of the Ideology of communism.

     As soon this combination is accepted, anything could be proven. It is a fact of logic: from a statement carrying logical contradiction, any statement could be logically derived.

     The Ideology of communism had chosen science to "prove" large quantity of statements, based on such hidden assumption. These "proven" statements do not contradict each other. The entire body of "knowledge" is carefully logically constructed. It contradicts reality, but the roots of such contradiction are hidden and any attempts to analyze these roots are forcefully prevented.

 

 

Avoiding Traps of Infinity

 

     Any Ideology has to deal with Infinity.

Complexity of handling this subject in a logical way was demonstrated by troubles in the process of development of mathematics, when mathematicians tried to cope with introduction of derivatives of functions. New concept was powerful, but different mathematicians computed different derivatives.

One should assume that mathematics handled it in the best possible way in boundaries of logic, because mathematics encapsulates achievements of humanity in area of logical constructs.

In mathematics, there are two ways of handling of Infinity.

One is relatively narrow - it flatly refuses to deal with it and large areas of mathematics are inaccessible in this way.

The other embraces only one type of Infinity, one which essence could be described with an infinite number of steps, one step after another. It does not reject other forms of Infinity; it operates with only this type of Infinity.

What is good for mathematics should be good for an Ideology.

 

Steps into Future

 

In many cases, we say that we do not know something today, but we will know this later, or we can't do something today, but we will do this later.

These two deferrals to Future are used in Ideologies. One says that there is an area of dark unknown, but in a finite number of steps of study, we will illuminate any given part of it. Another says that as individual or as a society one can't achieve a given goal now, but in finite number of steps, one will achieve this goal (with reasonable interpretation of it).

The number of steps or time frame is not defined by the Ideology. One could say that if it takes too long, then an achievement does not matter. However, this criticism misses the point. An Ideology does not bring practical solutions; it brings a logical construct, based on which appropriate for a situation practical methods are designed.

The language of steps brings into the Ideology the concept of Infinity of Steps.

 

Steps into Divine

 

An Ideology, which incorporates a religion, often explicitly defines as a valuable activity steps of one's getting closer to Divine. These could be steps of learning, steps of acting according to religious rules, etc.

The reward for such activity is irrelevant for the Ideology - this is the way to bring the Infinity of Steps into the Ideology.

 

Still Infinity

 

Having lived through a turmoil caused by Infinity, mathematicians are very cautious with the Infinity of Steps. There are strictly defined rules of what is allowed to do with it. The manipulations involving the Infinity are perpetually reexamined. The entire branches of mathematics are dedicated to areas, where the Infinity is not used, because there is a possibility, that the way it is used now is somehow inappropriate.

Our intuition in situations, where the Infinity is involved, often suggests conclusions, which are disproved with simple example.

The misuse of Infinity causes many problems in carefully guarded area of mathematics. Even more problems it causes in an Ideology.  

 

Faults Induced by Infinity

 

The Infinity brought into an Ideology either implicitly or explicitly opens the door to wrong conclusions. These wrong conclusions are made regularly. If they resonate with some our deficiencies, then they become a part of a particular Ideology. It takes perpetual efforts to keep these conclusions out.

Following are examples of such faults.

 

"This is all, it is to know"

 

It is tempting to think that what is defined in Infinity of Steps is all it is to know about Infinity, that the rest is not discovered but derived from this definition.

This is a form of belief, which goes far beyond Gnosticism; it declares Infinity being captured by logic. Being not supported, it should be a form of faith and a beginning of a primitive form of religion.

Some scientists stick to this religion and deprive themselves of benefits of developed forms of religion.

 

"Larger than oneself"

 

The false (implicit) conclusion that the Infinity is "large" or "more important" than an individual or a society, leads to buildup of a strange but widely spread value system.

Communism demands abandoning of personal interests and interests of "a society at a given moment" for benefits of mysterious bright Future.

Intellectual extremists demand abandoning of today interests to make a next step into Future knowledge.

Religious intellectual extremists demand abandoning of "mundane" interests to make a next step into knowledge of Divine.

Religious extremists demand abandoning of "mundane" interests to bring oneself and society one step closer to Divine.

One can't reject the idea of "something larger than oneself" in general; it is very useful on some steps of one's development; for example, it is successfully deployed by religious leaders and psychotherapists to kick one from a trap of illusions. It is also useful in hard times as a form of temporary escape from harsh reality.

This idea only becomes a problem, when it becomes a permanent feature embedded into an Ideology.

 

 

Construction of an Ideology

 

Currently, society is changing fast, because of rapid growth of population and rapid technological development. New circumstances require new guiding theories - new Ideologies. It is important to understand how efficient Ideologies are constructed to be able to deliver an appropriate Ideology, when one is needed.

 

Practical Terms and Idealism

 

An efficient Ideology has to be defined in Practical Terms describing not only goals but ways to reach these goals; otherwise it becomes a Utopian Ideology, which brings hopes, stimulates various actions, among which the majority of actions are inadequate, and consequent frustration and rejection of ideas advocated by the Ideology.

Situations vary and change in time; hence, the Ideology has to be perpetually adjusted. Efficient Ideologies are adaptable.

In the same time, an Ideology has to be stable. It serves as a guiding light, it provides comfort of knowing of what we doing and a basis for coordination of actions. This stability comes with an Idealistic layer of the Ideology.

The Idealistic layer is rooted in basic human values. It can be presented only in simple terms and goals formulated at this layer are inevitably idealistic and unreachable.

      

Logical Frame

Gnosticism v. Agnosticism

 

     Gnostics assert that the world is knowable. While one could have some lack of understanding of a given subjec that could be cleared. How long this acquiring of knowledge takes is not defined, but definitely this is could be accomplished in a finite period.

     Many scientists are Gnostics, also some religious movements adopted Gnostic point of view.

     Agnostics assert that there is a boundary to what we could know and, for sure, there is something beyond this boundary, but we can't know what it is.

     Many religions adapt Agnostic approach - they assert that there is a "controlling entity", which can't be known.

     Some scientists follow Agnostic approach, especially when they deal with quantum mechanics.

Realism v. Nominalism

  

     Realism as philosophical movement asserts that concepts are not figments of our imagination, which we could change, but real entities - manipulation of concepts changes the world. Psychotherapists and Ideologues find frequent support to this perception. Mystics are usually consistent realists.

     Nominalism declares concepts being names or tags of something real. Scientists find frequent support to this perception. Materialists are usually consistent nominalists.

Effective Combinations

 

Choosing Gnostic or Agnostic approach and choosing Realism or Nominalism is largely independent from our other choices.

     Emergence of such distinctive philosophical school of thought shows that there is no one logical system, which could encompass all these approaches. Building a consistent logical construction, one has to choose among these variants.

     Experience shows that a combination of Gnosticism and Realism creates an Ideology, which often leads its adepts to detachment from reality, inability to recognize that their actions are self-destructive. Possible cause of it - it creates an illusion that mental manipulation is all it is needed in life.

     A combination of Agnosticism and Nominalism creates an Ideology, which often makes its adepts extremely indecisive. Possible cause of it - it has three layers to begin with: Unknown, world of names, and world of objects.

     Combinations Gnosticism - Nominalism and Agnosticism - Realism could be efficient.

 

Overcoming Constrains of Logic

 

     The escape from the limitations of a logical schema comes with acceptance of limits of logic and recognition of the fact that it is impossible to describe reality in one logical system.

     For example, some forms of religion discuss Deity, which can't be known, but refuse to discuss the subject of Deity’s existence in boundaries of logic.

 

Separating Logic and Illogical

 

     Any logical construction sits on a set of assertions taken without a proof. There is always a tendency to explore these assertions and this is a healthy tendency. It allows discovery of limits acceptance of these assertions. When these assertions are a basis of an Ideology, it allows finding limits of applicability of this Ideology.

     Any time there is an attempt to justify these assertions from the area beyond limits of logic (Infinity, Deity, Reality, etc.) there is clear danger of bringing an internally logically contradicting assertion into the area of logical construction.

     This immediately destroys the logical construction - any statement could be logically derived from a logical contradiction.

     Internal logical contradiction is not dangerous on its own. We deal with it in our everyday life; we enjoy it in Poetry; we learn from it in religious books. It is a danger in a logical part of an Ideology, because an Ideology is under pressure to predict, to guide, to derive logically needed recommendations. Hence, any logical contradiction in the logical part of it will inevitably lead to "proven" fantasies.

     Because illogical has to be presented in any efficient Ideology, it is important to keep a barrier between logical and illogical. As experience of mathematicians with Infinity shows, this is not a simple task. The only known solution is through establishment of a system of perpetual reexamining of logical conclusions. This is how mathematics deals with it.