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The Dangers of Ideology

Everyone has felt passionate about a subject or an idea. Perhaps that passion has shaped many conversations, thoughts, and ideas over months and years. University is a hotbed for political and socio-cultural conversation, even, as I encountered, over a drunken conversation regarding election fraud in the USA. Mostly, these are harmless.

However, social media’s increasing hold on ‘Generation Z’ is altering this. Even if we don’t take into consideration the impact of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) having control over TikTok’s parent company ‘Byte-Dance,’ and then the subsequent allegations that the app promotes sexualised and mind-numbing content to the Western version of its app, it seems the West is already self-imploding in the clutches of ideology. 

Max Stirner, a German philosopher, labelled ideology, and religion, as a denial of individual conscience. They were both ‘spooks’ and ‘ghosts’ that prevented individual liberty by clouding the mind with a self-imposed fog that pertained to a pre-set of rigid beliefs. An individual, say you, the reader, may broadly agree with the principles of conservatism, or socialism, but to simply rubber-stamp the entire ideology as positive is naïve, as you cannot agree with the entirety.

A solution to this problem had been to identify sub-sections of ideologies, but this creates a fundamentalist versus modernist tension, as well as creating further division. In addition, the extremes are pushed further, with examples being communism and fascism both claiming to be new answers in their time periods. 

Ultimately, this group-think mentality cannot encapsulate everyone’s views, so the pre-set standard gets more extreme over time until it reaches a breaking point, such as the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and communism in Russia.

Ideology is mustered by the state, particularly whichever governing party holds power

Instead, an individual should be an individual of the world, approaching each issue with a fresh, unbiased mindset. However, with political parties, even this isn’t possible. For example, the issue of Brexit has permeated every party, so if you are against Brexit, you cannot support the Conservatives, and vice versa with the Liberal Democrats.

Jordan Peterson, a popular and controversial political commentator, philosopher, and clinical psychologist, said that ‘ideology is corrupt; it’s a parasite on religious structures’. Ideology is mustered by the state, particularly whichever governing party holds power, to attempt cultural shifts over time to ensure the next election cycle is as/more favourable to them. For example, the Conservative Party and their increasingly right-wing policies towards migration and the Channel crossings. 

Regardless, individuals will vehemently defend these beliefs, warp principles, and their way of thinking to protect their belief system

Arguably, detaching from external labels is freeing for the mind. Removing identity politics from an individual’s personality allows them to have personal political autonomy. Rather than dogmatically defending Thatcherism and the New Right, or Corbynism and Democratic Socialism, it would be wiser and more time-efficient to understand both sides have valuable points, but that the complexity of the policies that government deals with won’t give easy answers. Plus, most belief systems are rooted in history, and the world has changed inextricably since.

Karl Marx’s belief of a revolution and ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ never materialised, and even within that socialist ideology, I’m sure Marx would not see current Labour leader Kier Starmer as a true socialist. Regardless, individuals will vehemently defend these beliefs, warp principles, and their way of thinking to protect their belief system.

Ideology is so dangerous, as it can easily centre on one leader (Trump and Trumpism), and can define individuals in a way that they would likely not have necessarily chosen otherwise. Social media is fastening this outcome, through echo chambers, and by creating the ‘culture wars’ issues that amplify hyper-niche extremes, on both sides, to make it look like those individuals number millions.  Detach yourself before it’s too late. Think for yourself; it’s healthy.

Source: Thomas Martin for Impact

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