Years ago I bought a yellow VW bug. I had never owned one before and hardly noticed them on the road. Once I bought one, however, I started seeing them everywhere, putt-putt-putting around town with their quirky shape and ladybug roofs (see Missing the Forest for the Threes). I don’t think there has been a make or model as wildly popular as the bug except, maybe, for the Ford F-Series or Toyota Corolla.
But this isn’t a post about cars, at least not directly. It’s about ideology, which, like the bug, has been popping up everywhere. By ideology, I mean a kind of thinking—to continue the metaphor—in reverse. For instance, people beguiled by ideology process data, events, and even relationships in ways that reinforce their existing view of the world. Ideologues are not open to anything other than what they already know or think they know. Imagine your favorite know-it-all with an axe to grind.
The real problem is that, like the VW bug, ideological thinking has infiltrated our society under cover, which is exactly how ideologies operate, putt-putt-putting along with hardly anyone noticing. This occurs on the Left and Right, both of which claim to have arrived at the truth and are engaged in a mission to convert or conquer anyone who opposes them.
The Left skillfully combines street violence (e.g., Antifa) with religious imagery and language (e.g. climate change doubters are “heretics”) to achieve its goals. This should come as no surprise, since its underlying political philosophy is Marxism, which seeks the complete destruction of Western culture. To them there can be no compromise.
Meanwhile, Conservatives muddle through seemingly defenseless unless they have shows on AM talk radio, in which case they try to outdo the charlatans in mainstream media. We all know who the latter are. “Fredo” is just the latest manifestation. In a recent discussion with friends on the Left, they accused the Right of fanaticism, bias, media manipulation, and cult-like devotion to their leader. When I pointed out that my friends on the Right say the same thing about them, they couldn’t respond. Once revealed, psychological projection turns out to be a nasty business for everyone, especially on a mass level.
It would be tempting to attribute the rise of ideological thinking and delusion to a lack of knowledge of history. This makes sense to me given my experience of students’ often surprising ignorance of history, but the problem runs deeper than that, since not knowing history can be cured with something as simple as devoted study. But ideology doesn’t just affect what you study but who you are and what you read.
As an example, I know a man caught up in a legal battle with his ex-wife. He has fused a biased view of his ex-wife’s family with his newly discovered understanding of the legal system to come up with an excuse for not paying child support and threatening the ex with a restraining order. Listening to him, it is clear that he believes he is right and that the logic of his actions ought to be evident. When challenged, he offers the same response as those on the Left for whom the logic of their beliefs is just as evident.
To quote a brutally famous ideologue, “What is to be done?” If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you might expect me to turn to Aristotle. This time, however, Socrates is the relief pitcher I signal for. And what is it about Socrates that warrants a call from the mound? His method of critical inquiry based on skepticism. I don’t mean the skepticism that leads like a peeled onion to no beliefs at all. I mean a relentless search for the truth that can admit flaws and dig out stupidities. If you are wrong, you’re wrong. As they used to say, get over yourself.
This skepticism is based on reason, which makes it unpalatable for some, but these are the people who need to be reminded that they have no monopoly on either truth or virtue. They tend to be quite rigid in their views (e.g., there can be no tolerance of intolerance à la Herbert Marcuse). Theirs is a bumper sticker logic, which brings us right back to the VW bug. Lately, they’re showing up everywhere.
Feature image by Raban Haaijk on Unsplash. VW image by Conner Eastwood from Pexels. Protest image by Vincent MA Jansen from Pexels. For more, go to Robert Brancatelli. The Brancatelli Blog is a member of The Free Media Alliance, which promotes “alternatives to software, culture, and hardware monopolies.”
Post whole Digger…Victory… Hardware Store..m
To your insights of of squepticks and rheteroric I am just a humble minor leaguer.. I have visioned the table..often as you allude to in the form of the. Greek Scholars and I concieve neither heads nor tails.. Galileo was a scholar, scientist, reformer,and politician. despite and viewed established thought that revolutionalized ” reality” ad finadum..
” Primitive conceptualizations viewed saucers in the sky as a whole another ball of wax. Lucidity absence and enlightenment…with a stop watch in the middle.. It inspired our cultural individualism respectively as ethnic nation states and I dont have.to tell you about theological progressives. The ” limited awareness of. controlled verification by proof and support by their cohorts” led to music, art, and poetry. Eg.. From an acomplished French Philosopher David Frye once proclaimed.. Remember the Moon.. Remember the Starz ..Remembet. The Night we smoked Cigars.. Which reflected. digested and led to post industrial buggery.
“The bug” What did their formulaters entende? Alas…A Rose is but a Rose”.. You sey Potato I say Tomato.. Repetitive…Ah…Mass Production….Modern Times…
And we dont even talk about Historical Anal ysis…The tracks have been used.. And we havent covered the element of curiosity? ?
Can it be covered with data and probabilities..? Can you sey the world is. flat.. the sky is…luminated with tables or heavenly bodies. Speaking o whitch.. David.. Whats so special.. ponder! Im left dumfounded.I knew him well
You’re not ideological, Bernie. You’re poetic and intuitive…!
Robert, I did post an ending to my post-but not posted. Anyway- These days, I need to see what is happening in those issues I care most about. Afterward, “ I saw and experienced (this) in the desert crossing near Tucson. It’s not ok with me because () and I’m going to do (this) about it.
I understand the problem, Susan. I have gotten to the point where I don’t trust any news source anymore, especially those that claim to be objective, disinterested, insightful, or hip…I can do without the glib smugness of most commentators, too. Then there are those people who get their news from Facebook. Last but not least is family…I feel as if I am living The Manchurian Candidate…It’s good that you had a Tucson experience.
Robert, thank you for your response. The example I offered was where I am in terms of responding to the sense of powerlessness and fatigue I feel when partaking of the media, especially regarding those issues I care about most. The community, No Mas Muertos in Tucson places and maintains water stations throughout the desert up to the crossing near Tucson. It was reported that persons were going through these water stations, emptying the water to make a statement against illegal U.S. entry. I wanted to see if and how often this occurred. I went, I reported my experience and what I would do with the information. Small steps, but my remedy for media fatigue and general disbelief:) Thanks for allowing me to share.
You are brave to do that, Susan. Lately, I have come to believe that the actions we take, especially when done out of principled conviction, can only succeed if they are done in faith. Faith dispels fear and places us squarely within justice. And with God, you know, all things are possible.
Yes, Robert, I agree. Recently, I let go of a television network that I have long watched to obtain analysis and discussion of public issues. I enjoyed the programs, primarily, because I appreciated the clear and well-prepared discussions by guests with experience and knowledge of the topics and the locations covered. I stopped watching because of the fairly frequent “framing” of the issues. Although I thought the programs attempted to provide other views, these other views seemed an extreme version of all possible views, rather than a spectrum. The other drawback was the extremely limited source of issues covered. Typically, there would be 3 issues covered over and over throughout all the programs. (Continued in next post.)