Tuesday 12 January 2016

The age of ideology has finished (Get over it!)

When the age of faith began, rather obviously, to come to an end in the 19th century; there emerged an age of ideology - of 'secular religions', and initially the secular ideologies shared some of the strength of conviction, and capability of generating motivation, that is characteristic of religion.

The hallmark of motivation is self-sacrifice. 

This led to the idea that ideology was, and could remain, a substitute for religion. 

The earliest of these powerful ideologies was nationalism - which was strong enough to create regime changes all over Europe and Scandinavia, then later in places like India and Africa, due to the intense and sustained motivation of its adherents.

But in all cases nationalism faded after about a generation - and there have not been any powerful nationalist movements in recent generations.

Communism came along next; and the earliest communists were dedicated and motivated - it seemed as if communism had the same kind of power to evoke self-sacrifice as did religion.

But, as with nationalism, the motivational power of communism (and other types of socialism) faded after a generation - and modern Leftism is feeble, corrupt and pampered.

(Old-time communists accepted jail, violence and death for their faith; but a modern Leftist is regarded as an 'activist' if he attends a 'demonstration', or takes a make-work job as an 'organizer'.)

Since communism there have been no secular ideologies with the power to evoke self-sacrifice - the age of ideology is long-since over.

Nowadays, if you are not religious you are not motivated. If you are not religious you will not be capable of significant self-sacrifice for your beliefs. 

We now know that there is no secular substitute for religion,

The future lies with one religion or another. It is a matter of choice between religions - ideology is not a valid choice.


The Crow said...

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

And there's another country, I've heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.

Anonymous said...

I fear Materialism is alive & thriving! Isn't this an ideology -- the belief that possessions will make you happy?

Anonymous said...

Nowadays, if you are not religious you are not motivated. If you are not religious you will not be capable of significant self-sacrifice for your beliefs.

This is an interesting statement. Some forms of self-sacrifice are detrimental and wrong, while others are to be lauded. The suicide bomber sacrifices himself - though sacrificing others is his real intention. A soldier may throw himself upon a grenade to safe his fellows, but that is not something that is done for ideology or religion, but rather to save his mates. So self-sacrifice for friends and loved ones is still possible without religion, and you (Bruce) have implied as much with the sacrifice for your beliefs part of your statement. That said: I do know of secular people who have engaged in self-sacrifice as an expression of their belief in the necessity of helping the suffering. I can point to people who have gone to hellholes with Médecins Sans Frontières and died there, and their motivation was not religious. For some it was, but others were and are capable of self-sacrifice without a religious impetus - rather a secular one - lying behind it.

There are also the non-theistic religions, such as some forms of Buddhism in which belief in a deity is not a factor, though a religious values system most definitely is. These fall in the borderlands between ideology and religion, in my opinion.

I do not, however, agree that an ideology that is not immersed in religious trappings is inherently unable to motivate a person to self-sacrifice. I have seen examples to counter your point, even amongst a few people whom I know personally.

Observing said...

I think I understand what you mean and feel saddened by it. Not due to the loss of the ideologues, but the quest for utopia. And the people, the types of people, were often seeming to go in a direction of evolution of some kind.

As for ideology, is PC then a kind of intermediate? It looks like an ideology under several different names. Yet it's notable how there is little interest in any self-sacrifice, just moral grandstanding and interpersonal intimidation.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Anon (Please use a pseudonym - I seldom publish anonymous comments). Suicide bombers are religious: Soldiers are soldiers. What is the (non-religious) mass movement that inspires significant self-sacrifice? - at the level of early nationalism or communism? There isn't one, and hasn't been for decades. That is my point. The age of ideology was brief - parasitic upon residual religion; and has finished. Stand alone, or choose your religion.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Observing - As I have tried to show in my books Thought Prison and Addicted to Distraction; PC is not a positive ideology (not aiming at any specific utopia or other ideal state) but a negative ideology which subverts, destroys and inverts one thing after another (including its own former ideals).

New Leftism (= Political Correctness) is a very pure form of evil (although not completely pure, because at any moment-in-time it is one or more good aspects of PC that make it effective) - and I believe it to be (literally) demonic in origin and strategy.

Its human servants and dupes are motivated by short-termist tactical expediency (feeling good, avoiding guilt and suffering, here and now) - because that is the only thing which *can* motivate within the strategically-destructive framework of PC.