Ideology – Reason and Progress get Cancer

“All ideologies become tyrannies”.

(John Ralston Saul: The Doubters Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense)


Ideology: A system of beliefs, values, logics and practices. Ideology often emerges from attempts to apply reason and resolve issues – both healthy practices. Thus ideology starts with a need for control, to explain and have solutions to complex issues; personal, social, economic, natural phenomena and of course power and political. Ideology offers solutions. Ideology quickly becomes rigid along with the need to: document it, reproduce it, to defend it and to have the appearance of consistency. Soon it is promoted as truth. Memes are developed and reproduced. These memes (ideas, stories, symbols etc.) find receptive minds to help out. There are those whose minds will become consumed by the ideology. (While there are some psychological explanations for this it is not the topic here.)

New information, issues and situations not covered by the ideology need to be interpreted so as to fit into the existing framework. This doesn’t work very well and so ‘bad (stupid)’ decisions and actions are taken with real material and existential consequences.  Dissent and disillusionment emerges and needs to be suppressed – often violently. Once in practice ideology is always at risk of becoming dangerous to those who have developed it, promoted it and agree with it (e.g. don’t use a condom in a high risk HIV community) and is much more dangerous to those whom it is meant control – see Stalin, Mao, McCarthy, any fundamentalist religion, bullying, tyranny, revolution and injustice.

Business and economic frameworks and theories have become ideologies in many quarters and are still applied widely by seemingly rational people in power. See: Zombie Economics.


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