Why Ideologues & Ideologies Suck Too!

I suspect the Realms will be showing up again many times as this series progresses, but first a note about ideology, a certain type of extremism. The intention right now is to write short pieces which hang, like a single garment, on a single hook, with minimal elaboration, basically offering up a single insight with enough commentary to encourage the reader to consider any wider ramifications on his or her own. With that as preamble:

The essential problem with ideologues and ideologies is that they involve worshipping at the shrine of Idea. Yes, ideas make the world go around, and indeed some might argue that our entire universe is a self-mothering Idea, profoundly brilliant and ever creative. However, being an idea is not the same as worshipping one because any object of worship is regarded as separate from oneself which in turn perpetuates a world where self and other can never be one engendering permanent spiritual bipolarity, if you will.

Furthermore, the act of worshipping involves placing that something outside as higher or greater than oneself. Of course, this can have many benefits, not least of which is putting ego in a rightfully humble place, however the benefits don’t outweigh the harms because at some point one ends up projecting no end of extreme qualities onto the object of worship which in short order becomes a fetish which in turn leads into one becoming what others may rightly call a ‘fanatic.’

‘So what?’ you might say. Well, here’s the rub: by bowing down to the altar of any Big Idea – such as the notion of changing the world by establishing a political or religious Utopia, something which many have and will strive for throughout human history, or finding a perfect mate, making a perfect marriage, a perfect life, a perfect country and so on – even if at first that Big Idea kindles the cockles of the heart, yet it always remains no more than an abstract concept rattling around our internal verbal chatterbox mind space. As the old Chinese saying goes: “words do not cook rice.” Indeed, and nor do Ideas engender true love, true heart, true human feeling.

This is why Ideologues and Ideologies are so dangerous: people at first put their hearts into them and then later find they have lost touch with their hearts in so doing. And when you combine passion and dedication with heartlessness, you are only a step or two away from going off the deep end. And if you add group dynamics* to the mix, well that way lies great social upheaval, which usually involves suffering and indeed even the deaths of millions of ordinary folk.

The hero in V for Vendetta was right that although you might be able to kill the man you cannot kill his great idea but also: no matter how much you believe in it with no matter how much fervor and dedication, you cannot give an idea a living, beating heart. The heart is that aspect of our nature wherein we feel, directly, our essence as a living being. Ideas say they are all about such essence, but in fact they are no more than empty, lifeless abstractions.

This is like a child mistaking a doll for a living friend whose limbs she can easily – and indeed joyfully – tear off should fancy strike. In the larger world, history is replete with examples of how such childishness can lead into truly insane, living horror realms such as the French and Russian revolutions and no end of wars and conquests throughout human history, nearly all of them driven by the cruelty and greed which can rule once we allow our minds and spirits to be taken in by powerful, albeit always only abstract, Big Ideas rather than staying true to our softly beating hearts.

I do not mean to suggest that all forms of war or fighting are necessarily driven by Big Ideas and therefore are always wrong. No, there is a place for self defense on both the individual, the family or the national level. But, generally speaking, most of what we see is not justified and indeed has been driven by various expert propagandists – usually working for our own governments – who are skilled in offering up attractive Big Ideas, first getting us to buy into them and then leading us all down the garden path into no end of unfortunately dismal and deadly realms.

And so it goes!

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