A Primer On Ideology

Ideology and Discourse

Ideology and Discourse Analysis, a paper by Teun A. van Dijk, a professor at the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, begins by introducing us to the theory of ideology, and then uses van Dijk’s specialty, discourse analysis, to identify the way ideology informs discourse. He identifies a number of assumptions and principles of the theory of ideology so this will serve as a primer on the subject.

1. Ideologies are belief structures, cognitive structures based on ideas. They are not the same thing as the practices and actions that evidence them.

2. Ideologies are publicly shared by members of a group of social actors. They form a common belief structure and are put into action by the group, verbally, and in social relations with people within the group though not necessarily in interactions with people outside the group. As an example, think about racism as an ideology. Among themselves, racists use certain language, share certain beliefs, and act is specific ways when racial matters are at stake. They do not always do so when interacting with anti-racists or non-racists, and they do not always do so when interacting with members of the despised group, Feminists may behave similarly: among themselves or with sympathizers, they use certain language and share certain beliefs, but among non-feminists, they may choose to act somewhat differently, and to use other language.

3. Ideologies are not just some random group of ideas: “They control and organize other socially shared beliefs.” If you know someone is a racist or a feminist you can predict other beliefs and ideas, and you can predict the kinds of language the person will use and the way they will interpret events and theories.

4. Ideologies are gradually acquired, often unconsciously, and in the same way, they are only gradually changed, even with conscious effort.

According to van Dijk, ideologies serve a number of social and cognitive functions. They are the basis for the discourse and other social practices of the community of believers, and enable the group to act cohesively. And importantly, they act as the “cognitive interface” between members of the group and the social conditions in which the group lives. I understand that to mean that the group sees the facts and causation creating the facts identically.

Thus far, the discussion makes the hypotheses I laid out in this post seem reasonable. Van Dijk goes on to identify a number of gaps in the theory. Most important, he says is the question of exactly what constitutes the content and structure of an ideology. As he puts it, “If socialism, feminism and neoliberalism are ideologies, what exactly do they look like?” He puts forward, somewhat equivocally, several criteria for identifying these, including self-identification, aims, actions, norms, values, affiliations with other groups, and resources.

As to the ideas underlying an ideology, he suggests that the important point is that they are organized, not random lists. That doesn’t mean they are internally consistent quite the contrary. It isn’t obvious exactly which ideas constitute an ideology. One theory is that only the axioms matter, and that the ramifications are not crucial to the ideology. The other is that only the entire complex should be identified as the ideology. Van Dijk favors the former, and I think that’s best. There are all sorts of reasons people might disagree with some of the possible conclusions of an ideology without rejecting its foundation. Related to this point, not all followers of an ideology are fully versed in it. The degree of knowledge, attitudes, and habits of thinking can vary widely.

Then there is the question of what kind of collectivity shares an ideology. For now, it seems to me that the crucial point here is that we can identify a group based solely on a shared ideology without looking at other aspects of their lives. For example, feminists share an ideology, but that ideology is shared across many boundaries, race, class, wealth/income, work, geographic location and so on. I focus on neoliberalism as an ideology, and the group that shares that ideology crosses all those boundaries. Van Dijk describes these boundary crossing ideologies as communities of action and communities of practice.

Van Dijk says that sometimes ideologies become so widely held that “… they become part of generally accepted attitudes of an entire community.” For example, the idea that women should be politically equal to men began as part of the suffragist ideology, but now is so widely accepted that only a tiny number of people disagree. When that happens,ideas lose their status as part of an ideology and become background for everyone, not salient enough to cause disagreements.

In these terms, neoliberalism is an ideology. There are a large number of people who look at political and economic issues solely through the lens of neoliberalism, and most participants in the political and economic sphere either accept it, or use its premises as the starting point for analysis. Thus, even Democrats who deny that they are neoliberals justify a policy by saying that it’s great for the environment and it creates jobs and economic growth. Even for people with only a limited grasp of the entire ideology, the premises leak into economic discussion. I am paid what I’m worth, a worker might say, because that’s just how markets work. Or, they might vote for politicians who promise to cut taxes on the rich because taxes drain money that would otherwise be used for investments and job creation. Evidence plays no role in such decisions.

The most difficult problem is deciphering the specific ideas that define neoliberalism. Philip Mirowski says that this is by design: “… it was self-consciously constituted as an entity dedicated to the development, promulgation, and popularization of doctrines intended to mutate over time. It was a moveable feast, and not a catechism fixed at the Council of Trent.” He describes Thirteen Commandments he has deduced. We must struggle through a fog of simple-minded aphorisms like government bad, markets good. Or, anyone can succeed in capitalism if they work hard and play by the rules. Or maybe that last one is clap louder or win the lucky sperm lottery. The best we can do is judge by actions and rhetoric, in other words, by using discourse analysis, which van Dijk takes up next in this paper, and which I’ll look at next.

65 replies
    • Richard Turnock says:

      Re: the POWER of MARKET FUNDAMENTALISM, Karl Polanyi’s Critique, byFred Block Margaret R. Somers

      Neoliberalism = Liberalism + Free Market

      Free Market is a myth.  There has always been regulation.

  1. Rapier says:

    I hope the goal here is to reject ideology.

    Ideology is a flawed habit or method of thought. Always, in every case.
    Ideology when it becomes consciously embraced always leads to idolatry.
    Ideology is the enemy of the moral and spiritual.

    Any project concerning ideology should be aimed at defeating it or why bother? To have an ideology is to limit ones self.

    • Hops says:

      Isn’t defeat of ideology itself an ideology?

      The only escape I see is mindfulness and an attempt to see things as they are without judgement.

      • roberts robot double says:

        attempt to see things as they are without judgement

        But we are moral creatures and to be moral requires judgement, which is the reason we are endowed with our thinking mind in addition to our sense of right and wrong. As an example, not only do we all know that punching everyone you meet is immoral, but we know that someone who denies that reality is immoral. This is part of the fabric of our human beingness and is the primary trait that differentiates us from the animals.

        As moral creatures who can self-evolve by learning and deliberately adapting, it is incumbent upon us all to perfect our morality within our lifetimes. This is required is order that we become perfect cogs in the wheels of the societies we live within. We must first begin this process personally and then strive to evolve our societies into morally just institutions that promote freedom and happiness for all while ensuring that the weak are not dominated by the strong and immoral.

        The lack of judgement is the precise reason that our world governments and corporations are so oppressive towards its peoples and the Earth’s environment itself. The essense of morality is the predominance of compassion for *ALL* our fellow human beings in one’s worldview, including our future generations. When seen from this perspective, the abjectly evil policies of our current regime (e.g. the child separation policy) can be shown as what they are: the result of persons without compassion, their having elevated competition and “winning” for their group above any and all humanitarian concerns for those outside their group.

        One can see how they are behaving merely as talented mammals, as we all enter this world with mammalian tendencies towards pack mentality and alpha-dominance games. Trump is the poster boy for a life lived in such animalistic pursuits, albeit with all the human abilities of scheming and communication to effect his desires, and a hefty bankroll to facilitate them.

        It is also the direct failing of our populace to be able to accurately judge our leaders’ corrupt natures that allows these monsters to gain and keep power by manipulating us with their lies and backroom dealings. All this is made possible by the general populace’s own lack of spiritual self-evolution, which is required to fully develop one’s own accurate sense of judgement as one must first go within and look at oneself honestly before one can accurately judge others. The aspects of our culture that debase us are myriad but the essense of the understanding is that our culture is a culture of self.

        Isn’t defeat of ideology itself an ideology?

        You have tangentially hit upon the nature of us all: we are *ALL* operating within an ideology, i.e. a belief system. The religion of atheists is atheism, that of libertarians is that of unfettered capitalism at the callous disregard of the poor. Unfortunately, most so-called religious people only extend compassion for their own tribe and thus feel free to treat everyone else however deplorably they see fit; but that is not religion, that is the compassionless ideology of the ego and the super-ego of the group cloaked in religious posturing. A truly religious person, irrespective of form of religion, is first self-evolving themself towards universal, simple and actively service-oriented compassion towards every single human being on the planet. Along the way they will hone their judgement of right and wrong because universal compassion requires that we lift the yoke of oppression from the necks of all who are being subjugated, without respect to whether they are the same ethnicity, form of religion (including none at all), sexual identity or preference.

        We must all remember that while we are each endowed with the sense of morality, our free will is truly freely given and we may choose over the course of our lives to not only ignore our moral sensibilities, but to actively suppress our compassion and replace it with our potential to brutally dominate others for selfish pleasure and gain.

        It is also our choice to merely ignore and deny the reality of our moral imperative as human beings, beings who must live in societies that ultimately reflect our collective attitudes and desires, or at least those of the powerful few we allow to dictate our policies.

        So in a sense you have hit upon the truth: we are each manifesting an ideology every day of our lives. That most people choose ignorance is obvious from whom we allow to have the power to run our governments and corporations. That some people willfully choose the darker path of selfish power-seeking in callous disregard for the welfare of their fellow human beings is only obvious for those of us who have begun the spiritual journey of self-evolution into becoming consumed with compassion for all human beings; it is only we that can truly understand how a person can become evil, and what traits they will manifest. Such accurate judgement is only available to us because we acknowledge and wrestle with the reality of our moral nature every day in the hope that we can become, first, a perfect cog, and then second, a wheel in a perfect machine, where justice and compassion are spread without consideration for which human being is involved.

        As Rumi said, “The Way goes in.” The Way leads to true humanity for humanity requires compassion and the lack of it is the source of *ALL* our problems here in 2019, my friend. And without that highest ideal of compassion as our target, our judgement is severely lacking. And while the perfection of the ego is a hard slog for sure, Machiavelli stated correctly that to hit the bullseye one must aim above the target. Right now, our society has no target at all save for what we let the wealthy determine for us. The problem is that those people are no good. At all.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I may be the pot calling the kettle black, but I think your comments are more accessible if you break them into smaller bites.

          I would say that perfection is unattainable.  Being human is to be imperfect.  Attempting to be perfect courts dissonance and causes harm, Michaelangelo and Vince Lombardi notwithstanding.

          • roberts robot double says:

            I may be the pot calling the kettle black, but I think your comments are more accessible if you break them into smaller bites.

            Thanks for the constructive criticism but the Meaning of Human Life won’t fit into a tweet ;-)

            I will certainly try, however.

            I would say that perfection is unattainable.  Being human is to be imperfect.

            The reality is that we are *ALL* born imperfect, i.e. we each have vices in our hearts that need to be transmuted into their corresponding virtue.

            That we are incapable of moral perfection, however, is another lie by the same deceiver that tells Christians that they will be forgiven by uttering some words on the Judgement Day, tells Muslims that saying the Shahaddat on Judgement Day gives them the same pass, that tells reincarnationists that they’ll get another try and tells atheists that a universe of two trillion galaxies doesn’t have a Creator. The purpose of all these lies? To get people to not actually walk the path that will lead to our being insusceptible to that deceiver’s hateful lies that cause misery in those around us.

            In other words, we experience negative internal effects within us that seek to divide us from each other (by race, form of religion, sexual identity or preference, gang affiliation, political party, …) and, more importantly, from the truth that we have the responsibility to exercise our free will in a certain way to become happy (by selflessly making others happy). Within a given form of religion, that negative force says, e.g., that you can covet your neighbor’s wife so long as you accept their Prophet, but that’s just another lie to tempt us away from the morality we are responsible to manifest here.

            This is why the “Religious Right” is self-righteous, brutally oppressive, and hypocritial to the teachings of Christ. (Most Muslims, too, for sure, but in their own manifestations of ignorance and oppression.) Of course, the atheists look at them and decry their obvious hypocrisy yet they, themselves, are refusing to self-evolve so they end up in no way better, even if they are pro-choice or whatever.

            The reason that people deny the spiritual path is because that inner negative impulse does not want us to take the medicine that will cure us of its influence.

            I will demonstrate its power within your being right here by asking you to do a simple thing that I will in no way physically benefit from and can in no way cause you any harm. I want you to notice your thoughts and feelings as you evaluate my suggestion in the following sentence:

            Close your eyes and beg our Creator with all your heart to take your Spirit (conscience) back into Itself while you live so that you can cleanse and purify your heart (soul) while you life in order for you to become consumed by love for all human beings and the Earth itself.

            You will experience all manner of thoughts and feelings against your doing this. It will call me crazy, it will say you’ve already committed yourself to this ideal, it will say it’s bs, it will say it will harm you, it will say that you can say the words without feeling them, blah blah blah.

            I have made this wish and it has made all the difference, i.e. I am speaking from experience.

            We must unite across all forms of religion to strip the destructive, callous oppressors of this Earth and its peoples of their power to harm others. In order to accomplish this we must first begin the process of perfecting our morality, lest we become just another brutal oppressor in their place.

            Peace be with you, my friend. The big jihad is in our own hearts against our own failings, of which we are all born with. Only with hearts consumed by compassion can we forge a just, tolerant society of equals. The lack of compassion is the source of every single one of our problems.

            In loving truth, I present this Sufi Message of Love.

            • Rayne says:

              Rule of thumb in writing for the internet: content of 100-300 words in length will have optimum pickup and retention.

              Think more but smaller bites rather than one massive bite for digestibility.

              • Alan says:

                yes, first 2-3 sentences have to make a compelling point and tell me why I should read the rest.

                Not just the internet–that applies everywhere. Time is precious.

                I read very few of the multi paragraph comments at EW.

              • roberts robot double says:

                I understand and appreciate both your constructive criticism and the work y’all do on this fantastic site. It can’t be easy in 2019 to keep the trolls at bay.

                From another perspective, however, Einstein (IIRC) said that we must make things as simple as they can be made, but no simpler.

                Human life and its meaning vis a vis morality and societal justice are non-trivial but I will take your suggestion to heart and try harder.

                • Rayne says:

                  Please keep in mind this medium is viewed on many different kinds of displays — mobile devices make up a large portion of our readership. Long, unbroken text is difficult to read on smaller displays, discouraging readers.

                  Staying on topic also helps encourage readers. Let’s focus on the nature of ideology and its relationship to Left Theory.

              • roberts robot double says:

                Sorry, I’m gonna need a more detailed question ;-)

                Vis a vis the topic at hand, ideology, here’s my best, most terse summary:

                A moral and just society requires moral and just members. Most people don’t accept that moral perfection is either possible or that it requires our reaching out within to our Creator to accomplish.

                People that don’t accept that the spiritual path of moral perfection exists are able to be duped by those that choose to deliberately enhance their selfish, amoral potential. This is because one’s ability to understand human nature requires us to first learn about and then explore our own nature with the help of our Creator.

                This is how the deliberately amoral, such as Trump, are supported by ignorant, incidentally amoral supporters. And this is also why no one has yet been able to create a replacement ideology that can manifest “On Earth as it is in Heaven”.

                Until a group of people makes their platform the transformation of this system from competition to cooperation can there ever be success. That will require moral members who, themselves, eschew selfish gain from their position of leadership and instead live their lives as true ‘public servants’ whose entire goal is to spread compassion, true justice and prosperity to all human beings.

                As with all things human, our heart is the measure of the person, and how we treat the least of our fellow human beings is the judgement.

                I apologize. These are difficult concepts to convey concisely.

                Thank you for all your hard work on this valuable means to convey the truth of our leaders’ corruptions.

                • bmaz says:

                  Most people could convey that in a couple of sentences. You seem to want to make a run on our precious electrons in service of hearing yourself talk.

                • Alan says:

                  and (b) many people do not believe morality requires the existence of a creator or the belief in a creator–and in my experience, they tend to be more moral.

                  If saving the world requires everyone to adopt your religious views, you will fail.

                  • Trip says:

                    Completely agree. And facing life as finite, what needs to be done, how you treat people is much more important in the here and now when there are no second chances in clouds.

                  • roberts robot double says:

                    and (b) many people do not believe morality requires the existence of a creator or the belief in a creator–and in my experience, they tend to be more moral.

                    That is solely due to the fact that people with religiosity tend to be the least moral, but I explained that elsewhere vis a vis our mammalian physical heritage.

                    If saving the world requires everyone to adopt your religious views, you will fail.

                    All I’m speaking to is establishing an inner connection with our Creator. The specific path of religion is relevant only to yourself.

                    It is unity among the various forms of religion (including none at all) that is required to strip the deliberately evil oppressors of their power to harm others and this planet.

                    And success or failure is between each of us and our Creator. As to our communal success, that relies as much upon your free will as mine, my friend.

                • Rayne says:

                  Dude. You’re really pushing a religious ideology and not focusing on the nature of ideology.

                  This bit: “Most people don’t accept that moral perfection is either possible or that it requires our reaching out within to our Creator to accomplish.” Nope. No one has to believe in a higher/lower/alien/outside/inside power to choose a universal human value.

                  Seriously, think more deeply about your own words before spewing them here. Right now you’re engaging in a denial-of-service-by-verbosity.

                  • roberts robot double says:

                    You’re really pushing a religious ideology and not focusing on the nature of ideology.

                    But without understanding the human beings who are discussing the nature of ideology how can we discuss their abilities and inabilities to understand the nuances of such a subtle conversation?

                    Put another way, what use is a discussion of ideology without a discussion of morality?

                    No one has to believe in a higher/lower/alien/outside/inside power to choose a universal human value.

                    Well, that is perhaps why I didn’t say that. Of course, those of us not yet on the path must make good choices to get onto the path. And, of course, there are non-religious people that make selfless choices all the time. I am specifically speaking to the perfection of morality and the society we live in. That requires more subtle thinking and study as well as the activation of our intuition via actual spiritual development.

                    Thank you for your patience with and tolerance of these difficult concepts.

                    • Rayne says:

                      Ideologies don’t require faith systems.

                      Feminism, for example, since Ed referenced it in this post: feminism is a belief/moral/ethic/value advocating equal human rights for all regardless of gender. It’s framed as feminism, focusing on fem-identifying humans (women, female) because this half of human society has traditionally been denied its rights on a nearly universal basis.

                      No faith in a higher/lower/alien/outside/inside power/being/entity necessary — only an acknowledgment that all humans have equal rights.

                      Morality — a system by which right and wrong are differentiated — doesn’t require a faith system, either.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I would disagree with the idea that we are moral or have a “thinking mind” for a purpose.  Animals develop feathers or a carapace because it enhances thermoregulation, say, or sexual advantage or balance.  Those with that trait survive and prosper differentially.  That that trait over time can be used to fly is not a purpose, simply an outcome.

          Many would argue whether we are moral.  They would cite the ubiquity of war and that we are driven to extraction without thought of consequence.  Aesop’s ant and grasshopper tale resonates for a reason.

          I would argue that morality is what we call acting to preserve others as well as and sometimes at the cost of ourselves.  Parents do it every day.  Those that do not stand out.  They are sometimes successful because their behavior is so outside the norm as to be unbelievable; we shoehorn, rationalize, it into what we can believe.  Exhibit One is Donald Trump.

          Regardless, it is what we do that counts.  Why is more debatable and less useful.

          • roberts robot double says:

            Ah, but, you see, our morality is our Creator’s nudge to get us to survive as cooperating human beings instead of the competing mammals our bodies inherit their physical structures from. We are made unhappy by the karmic result of our treatment of others and vice versa. This is why none — I mean, absolutely NONE — of Trump’s crew *ever* has a happy expression on their face. (Pleasure and happiness are two vastly different things.) This internal feedback loop is to push us towards peaceful coexistence and its entire foundation is morality.

            The fact is that only human beings have abstract thought, complex planning, the ability to communicate abstract concepts, and complex tool building. (I love crows, but they don’t make complex tools.) Furthermore, only human beings can possess “humanity” whereby we turn the other cheek or, better still, love our enemies, as the Greatest American of All-Time, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. not only taught us and lived, but gave his life for.

            Humanity requires seeing how we can rise above our instincts to pack warfare (thou shall not kill) and alpha-dominance games (thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife). Only human beings possess the ability to manifest compassion in the face of the belligerent, for that is the greatest form of teaching (ibid).

            Besides, we are the only creatures capable of divining (strange word, no?) that there are two trillion galaxies full of matter and energy and that it all interrelates on micro and macro scales in mathematically precise ways that betray the fact that it all came from a point-source whose primordial nature is inaccessible to the same models that prove its existence. (Yeah, I know there are physicists that deny the Big Bang, but whatever, the Cosmic Microwave Background is *there*.)

            In the face of this mysterious, magical, enormous universe whose Creator is obviously Unfathomable (we are creatures of time so can simply not comprehend the Creator of time), we still have the choice to deny Its existence, but, then again, we have some 30% of our population that denies that Trump is an amoral, corrupt, lying, demented narcisist of the most dangerous sort.

            And that you KNOW that Trump is amoral kind of proves my point, no? I mean, you don’t have to think about it, you literally just *know* the absolute truth of his nature. And that speaks to more subtle faculties in our being than merely axioms and logical reasoning, my friend.

            But to deny this reality — our reality — is your choice, just as Trump’s people are free to make their choices and MBS is free to murder and cut up journalists.

            Dr. King made a wholly different set of choices and to deny his Source is to deny his Greatness.

            Peace be with you, my friend. Make that prayer. It will change your life. Life is too precious for me to bs anyone. We’ve got to take this society to another level and that requires each of us to be connected within for it bestows clarity and courage and, LORD, does this world need those qualities in 2019.

            • Trip says:

              I think that you are completely ignoring (and disparaging in a sense) the intelligence, capacity for empathy, and variety of personality in animals, or I should say other animals, aside from humans.

              • roberts robot double says:

                My friend, is it not more likely that you are erroneously attributing to animals your own characteristics?

                I am not disparaging anything by calling it what it is, e.g. Trump is an amoral, hypocritical, lying, corrupt, demented, hedonous threat to civilization. That’s not disparaging at all. Thems just the cold, hard facts ;-)

                That we spend so much of our limited resources on pets while so many people wallow in poverty is a shame, no matter what people see as acceptible. That we do it in the face of ever-worsening global warming is foolish.

                • Trip says:

                  I wasn’t specifically talking about pets.

                  Global warming is killing species of all kinds. They have a right to the planet in addition to human animals. They weren’t the ones who created the mess.

                  To think that somehow we are better than they are, more worthy is a complete disregard for the cycle of life, ALL of the important inhabitants of the earth.

                  And your comment about my applying Anthropomorphism to animals is bunk. There are plenty of long range studies about elephants, primates and so on. Aside from that fact, observation from a casual but serious observer, over time, is quite valid.

                  But I’m not going to go any further off topic and be disrespectful to Ed.

                  • roberts robot double says:

                    To think that somehow we are better than they are, more worthy is a complete disregard for the cycle of life, ALL of the important inhabitants of the earth.

                    Only by recognizing our unique place on this planet and the need for compassion for not only our fellow human beings but for all life forms on this planet can we create an IDEOLOGY that stops harming the planet and its peoples.

                    We alone have the ability to devastate the Earth through technology and, therefore, we alone possess the ability to right the ship and undo the damage we’ve done.

                    Every living thing is precious on Earth, my friend, but that doesn’t make them equal to us. We are the shepherds and we’ve been collectively failing our role as protectors.

  2. Eureka says:

    Thanks, Ed- I remain thrilled and excited that you are doing this. Maybe I’ll add more substantive comments later.

  3. clyde says:

    “I think the motivating principle of neoliberalism is that the rich should be in charge of everything, not just the economy. In current political discourse, people, including me, say that many Democratic politicians, including Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, are neoliberals. It’s important to understand the reason I think this way. I don’t think Democratic politicians believe that the rich should run everything. They do, however, privilege what they call “market solutions” and tweaks to the current system over the massive change that is obviously needed. They may not be neoliberal in principle, but they are neoliberal in action.”

    This is from your previous post and I’m still trying to unpack this.

    First, your definition of neoliberalism is the definition of plutocracy. Is it the same or different, and if different, how?

    Then you say that some Democratic politicians are neoliberals, but later say they aren’t, but their actions are. So, they hold principles different from neoliberals, but their actions, based on their principles, appear to support neoliberal policies. What are their principles and ideology?

    • Ed Walker says:

      Perhaps I was unclear. It’s quite possible to operate on the principles of an ideology without adopting all its ramifications or its driving principle. Thus, lots of us read the teachings of the Bible and use them as guides for our actions without accepting all of them, or more importantly, without believeing that they are divinely inspired and point to the one and only Almighty. In my view, partial believers are Christians in practice.

      • clyde says:

        Yes, I get that, but you didn’t answer either of my questions: 1) Is neoliberalism the same or different than plutocracy? And 2) If some Democratic politicians don’t hold the ideology of neoliberalism but act that way, what ideology do they hold?

      • clyde says:

        Worth a read: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/8xab5b/everyone-hates-neoliberals-so-we-talked-to-some

    • roberts robot double says:

      What are their principles and ideology?

      After a day of reflecting on the entire issue presented in this topic, it seems that there is a fundamental two-layered problem with this the usefulness of this analysis.

      The apparent problem is that most people are both incapable of constructing a consistent internal ideological mental model and, even in the face of a consistent mental model, incabable of consistently carrying it out.

      The deeper layer to this problem, which is primary, deals with the fact that most people are inherently selfish, meaning that their group affiliations are most likely strictly related to the personal gain they calculate they will receive for membership in that group, i.e. they are not joining the group for purely ideological reasons (unless one counts selfishness as an ideology :-). If one is analyzing the nature of people seeking political power then that problem is multiplied a thousandfold as that appears to be all those creatures do with the notable and fantastic exception of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, whose policies seem to be borne of a truly selfless desire to help others.

      Really, the same problem can be found in every human group where considerable power is at stake. For instance, most people join a religion and even go through the motions for the sole purpose of having membership in the “one” group that won’t go to hell and/or will be the dominant religion in their geographical area. The obvious case-in-point is the so-called Religious Right here in America whose despicable behaviors and attitudes bely every actual teaching of Jesus. Here we see that they really have no actual ideology with respect to religion; they are merely pledging allegience to their pack and seeking ultimate power for their group by any means necessary. Sure, that’s an ideology, but it has nothing to do with the New Testament.

      In the same vein, what we see in people who identify as neoliberals are really just people attempting to seek power within the group that contains people who claim to believe in that ideology; part of such personal power-seeking is to seek for the group to attain more power so there will be more power for them to partake in. So, while all this analysis of the neoliberal conceptual framework is perfectly valid and poignant, in practice it all fails to hit the mark because the group itself and nearly all the individuals in it are merely machiavellian monsters who are really just trying to find their most expeditious path to personal power.

      This is the story of human history, from religions to politics to militaries. In theory, they have ideologies; in practice, those theories are usually just lip service used as the means to the selfish ends of their selves and their group. And remember that no one broadcasts their selfish, destructive purposes to the whole for that will put an end to their ability to further their climb up the ladder. As such, it is best for such people to cover their actual power-seeking within grandiose theories that sound erudite and positive.

      I would say that the end analysis is that people’s true principles usually have little to do with their purported ideologies. In the realms of politics and religion, there are few exceptions and the consequences have been and are nothing less than disasterous.

  4. milton wiltmellow says:

    It seems to me a bit dangerous, a bit desperate and a bit arrogant to analyze the content of other people’s thoughts as if there’s an objective reality inside anyone’s skull.  Other than the actual grey matter, that is.

    Instead academics are quick to throw people into their cognitive bins (the academics’ bins, I mean) as a way of slicing and dicing thoughts as if those thoughts combine like bits of dna or molecules of ideas.  Defining groups according to their shared beliefs seems like a good way to turn stereotypes into confirmation bias and stereotypes.

    Shared concepts, shared explanations, shared jargon and idioms, shared and shared preferences are more commonly called “culture” or “social groups” (among many other academic things.)

    Academics want tenure.

    Politicians and hedge funders, however want results.

    If you want to divine the thoughts of people, do what Cambridge Analytica did with their data mining programs.

    Here’s actual “data mining” in the real world.

    For starters, we will just get sentiment from textBlob for tweets containing keywords like “Trump”, “Carson”, “Cruz”, “Bern”, Bernie”, “guns”, “immigration”, “immigrants”, etc.

    Twitteranalysis.py also finds the Twitteruser IDsamongst the tweet sample it collects in order to “retrieve all the user’s recent tweets and favorites.”  https://medium.com/tow-center/cambridge-analytica-the-geotargeting-and-emotional-data-mining-scripts-bcc3c428d77f

    The only thing CA lacked was the ability to hack into various states’ voters rolls to identify individual voters for Facebook messaging.


    • Grandma with a Memory says:

      First off, politicians make their own reality.  A Bush Jr. staffer made it official by a statement to a New York Times Magazine writer, but it’s been going on for probably all of my almost 80 years and before.  When I was thirteen, I used to come home from school and watch the Army-McCarthy hearings on TV, live.

      Wall Street, which includes Hedge Fund Managers, has always been in its own private Idaho.  I was a researcher for a Securities Analyst for seven years.

  5. Tom says:

    What about the role that emotions play in our thinking and decision making? Emotions may allow us to entertain ideas that are inconsistent with what we believe are our ideologies. For example, on a general principle I may think of myself as a left-of-centre person who is against capital punishment. But if one of my family members is murdered, I want the perpetrator dead. I may think that gun laws that allow for concealed carry weapons are insane, but if I hear of a person preventing a robbery or a kidnapping or some other crime because they were able to draw a pistol on the bad guy, I can’t help but want to cheer. I don’t think we should underestimate the role that emotions and self-interest play in simultaneously supporting and undermining our personal ideologies, or in allowing us to rationalize that the standards and expectations of our ideologies apply to other people but not necessarily to us (e.g., Certainly we have to do something about global warning, but in the meantime I sure enjoy tooling around in my shiny new SUV). Or maybe I’m missing the point of the argument. P.S. Actually, I drive a 14-year old Vibe.

    • roberts robot double says:

      As human beings we have three interrelated aspects that influence our motivations: our mental frameworks, our emotional tendencies and our physical desires. They all work together but the physical aspect is the most concrete, the emotional less so and the mental the most ethereal. We each have our own personal tendencies across these dimensions and then we are influenced by the cultures we are raised within which tweak them.

      Per your example, the nature of revenge is certainly emotional and the fact is that we can mentally entertain the idea that revenge should be abhorred and left to an impartial justice system, yet when it actually happens to someone near and dear to us, the emotions become inflamed and affect our mental state. In a similar way, a person who is more horny is more likely to engage in certain thoughts and emotions than at other times — this is how our physical nature affects our more subtle aspects.

      At the root of all of this, however, is that we are moral creatures who have the responsibility to perfect that morality within our lives, across all three aspects, thus perfectly fitting into society by never causing harm or unhappiness to others of any ilk. This requires the desire to self-evolve oneself, in concert with our Creator, away from our selfish, mammalian desires (such as pack competition and alpha-dominance games) and into selfless, human cooperation with *ALL* our fellow human beings who aren’t harming others. (Those that deliberately harm others must be treated differently because the happiness of our fellow human beings is at stake.) This requires that we subjugate our selfish desires out of compassion for others and is based upon learning the mental framework for the best behavior and attitudes and then forcibly trickling it down into our emotions and physical body’s instincts.

      Once a person begs our Creator to make us become consumed with love for *ALL* our fellow human beings, we then begin the process of fully developing our ability to judge our own desires and tailor our actions accordingly; as well, we then can more accurately and justly judge others (“know thyself” being primary). This is the spiritual path and can be attained within any form of religion (with the understanding that Scientology is not a religion but the ideology of an evil charlatan; religions are inspired by our Creator). The reality, however, is that most people use religion as a shallow front for their pack-centric oppression of others. You can recognize a person who really has religion because they do not differentiate whom they bestow their compassion upon. We are one human race, under one Creator, with one religion of love that comes in many forms. We are also each free to be as evil as we choose and there are certainly those who choose to cut out their morality in favor of the brutality we are each capable of.

      Note that we are free to ignore this reality and live in denial of our moral imperative to perfectly self-evolve ourselves and our societies. We all begin life that way, confused and susceptible to the vices that are a part of our very being, as per our own predilection and that of the societies we grow up within. Once we go within and make that connection to our Creator, then — and only then — do we gain a clearer perspective and greater control of ourselves. After many, many years of effort we can, indeed, reach the perfection we are capable of.

      The important thing to understand is that we are each born with tendencies to virtue and tendencies to vice across the 19 virtue/vice pairs in the human heart, but that, e.g., where someone is prone to jealousy another may be prone to rage and that they have other virtues that counterbalance that initial configuration. We all, however, start out with an equal total amount of tendency to vice and virtue across the board, thus no one is born more holy than any other. Your virtue of being gentle with our Earth by not allowing your ego to want a shiny new car is an example of the goodness that is intrinsic in all our hearts at birth; it is good that you have not let our vapid culture of self-aggrandizement influence you away from your virtuous perspective on consumerism. That said, you have other areas of your life that need work so, in the words of Han Solo, “Don’t get cocky.” ;-) As someone progresses on the spiritual path, humility is a natural by-product because we must first acknowledge our own weaknesses before we can defeat them. If we don’t let the vice of pride conquer us after our initial gains, we can then continue on the journey (i.e. there are many traps on The Way). This is not what you see in the vast majority of religious figures because they are not really on the spiritual path of self-evolution; once again, they are just mammals using religion to justify their pack’s brutality towards others.

      Once embarking upon the spiritual journey we literally begin transmuting our vices into virtues on our path to perfection. Once again, the opposite journey is possible and is evidenced in those such as Trump, Hitler and Cosby. Most people, however, deny the reality of our moral nature and its imperative and are forever trapped in the mammalian confusion we are born within. That is why so much of our populace is fooled by the corrupt criminals that have been running our country for a very long time. The key takeaway here is that a societal awakening requires that its individuals awaken first. Only then can justice and compassion rule our societies for only then will we understand the kinds of leaders that we need to select and the nature of a truly just government.

      (I have perhaps said this better up above in my first reply in this discussion HERE).

      Peace be with you, my friend. As Rumi said, “The Way goes in.”

      I am at your service. Please ask me to clarify if needed; this is difficult to put into words, my friend, and my brain is already fried.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The vicar who delivers a fifteen-minute sermon each Sunday speaks to a full house.  The one who discourses for an hour has trouble filling the collection box.

        As an aside on revenge, the lord says it is hers, it is not a task for men and women.  We leave “revenge” to the justice system because, at its best, that system is impartial and fair.  It converts unbounded pain into proportionate consequence.  The cycle of revenge is interrupted and becomes a meting out justice.

        • roberts robot double says:

          The vicar who delivers a fifteen-minute sermon each Sunday speaks to a full house.  The one who discourses for an hour has trouble filling the collection box.

          I thought you said I should keep my posts short ;-)

          As an aside on revenge, the lord says it is hers, it is not a task for men and women.

          True, because revenge is personal whereas justice is for the society. What the Lord says is that we should not personally take revenge. We must leave it to an impartial, moral and just institution (of honest, moral human beings) to enact justice that will fairly evaluate the evidence and come to an honest conclusion for the benefit of the society irrespective of the station of the accused or accuser. In other words, justice is not revenge but that doesn’t mean that the murderer gets to live. I apologize for not differentiating revenge from justice in my original post. Thanks for the clarification. And, yes, honest, moral human beings are thin on the ground here in 2019.

          Side note: Our Creator, the Creator of all that has ever existed and all that ever will, is most certainly way, way beyond gender (and way beyond comprehension, really). That’s why I tend towards “It”, but we can certainly see prototypically masculine and feminine aspects in Its creation. I mean, any anthropomorphization of It displays a lack of understanding.

      • Tom says:

        @ Roberts robot double above at 11:06 am – Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply, though I have to admit I had to Google “Rumi” to find out who he was–another exemplar of Persian/Islamic thought and culture.    With all his hostility towards Muslims, I wonder if it has ever occurred to Donald Trump that he calculates his wealth using Arabic numerals.    You give me too much credit for driving an older vehicle; it’s actually a matter of inverse pride to me to have the oldest beater-of-a-car in the neighbourhood.   But seriously, thank you for your kind response and Peace be with you as well.

        • roberts robot double says:

          The Coleman Barks translations of Rumi’s poetry are fantastic and really get the gist of Rumi’s love affair with our Creator because the literal translations lose their fire and subversiveness.

          Prof. Barks was an emeritus professor of writing and poetry at UGA for many years and University of CA TV hosted him for a recitation (accompanied by music) of both his and Rumi’s poetry that is available here.

          Of particular note in that event is Prof. Barks’ suggestion regarding the second Gulf War that we instead first send artisans and students to spend a year (or more?) in Iraq living in hostels of our own building to create bonds of friendship and commonality (it would definitely be cheaper and more constructive than a war). That is the Sufi spirit of oneness and demonstrates the kinship between Prof. Barks and Rumi across all the centuries and cultures in between them.

          We must unite within our hearts with all our fellow human beings if we hope to strip the oppressors of their ability to harm others. Only by being open to this love can we truly discern the bad apples among us. Perhaps we can even convince of few of them to turn their hearts towards the compassion of cooperation and away from the callous cruelty of competition.

          And thank you for your kind words, as well. This is the best of what the internet can be.

  6. Jim_46 says:

    These questions relating to ideology, from J. M. Balkin at Yale, might be helpful to you:

    1. What kinds of things (objects, entities, mechanisms, or structures) are we investigating? This is the problem of the proper object of study.

    2. Do we define ideology in terms of its content (for example, distortion or mystification), the functions it serves (for example, furthering the interests of the ruling class), its causes (for example, cognitive bias, re­duction of cognitive dissonance), or its effects (for example, creating or sustaining unjust relations of social power)? This is the problem of the proper mode of explanation.

    3. What is our attitude toward ideology — pejorative, positive, or neutral? This is the problem of interpretative stance.

    4. How does our theory handle the inevitable difficulty that the analysis of ideology may itself be ideological? This is the problem of self-reference.

    For me, and perhaps for many of you, my interest in understanding the what, how, and why of ideology arises from unease about divisive political conflict. So, for example: the smiling Catholic teen in the red MAGA hat and the Native American senior citizen with the drum. How can both of these things be true: (1) my neighbor and I look at the exact same photo, and (2) my neighbor and I see utterly different realities or truths. And so to answer one of Balkin’s questions, I tend to notice the problematic effects of ideology and then get curious about its functions and causes, because if we’re going to have an argument, my neighbor and I, it’d be helpful first to inhabit the same mental universe, if that’s even possible — and what if it isn’t? Put differently, if a crude metaphor for ideology is a filter shared by a group of people, how do we help each other to detect the existence of our filters, to recognize the way our filters both help and harm us, and maybe even to learn how to try out a different filter, if only to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” and profit from that experience?

    • roberts robot double says:

      How can both of these things be true: (1) my neighbor and I look at the exact same photo, and (2) my neighbor and I see utterly different realities or truths.

      Everything we see, hear and contemplate in this world is shaded by our worldview which is, itself, the sum total of our previous experiences vis a vis our mental models, attitudes and the choices we have made towards others. Yes, there’s “still time to change the road you’re on”, but most people are not intellectually courageous enough to self-evaluate themself and reconsider that their attitudes may need course correction.

      it’d be helpful first to inhabit the same mental universe, if that’s even possible — and what if it isn’t?

      It is only possible to the extent that each side is open-minded enough to really listen to what the other person is trying to communicate. Most people are simply slaves to their stubborn identification with their culture’s indoctrinations to honestly and deeply entertain other worldviews. That is the primary reason why this world is so divided.

      Most people think they are right and their ego defends their thinking (no matter how their flaws are openly demonstrated); few people know they are correct (because they are, in fact, correct) because few people are correct.

      The key to success in all such interactions — like the key to life itself — is to embrace compassion as a way of life. When compassion is involved winning is defined only by imparting good feelings upon those you deal with, no matter how lacking their thinking. Remember that compassion always requires humility because we have all needed to self-evolve out of our own negative attitudes in our previous days (and probably still do). We must offer what wisdom we have gained and then avoid any negativity that may be returned for our trying to share it.

      how do we help each other to detect the existence of our filters, to recognize the way our filters both help and harm us, and maybe even to learn how to try out a different filter, if only to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” and profit from that experience?

      We can only “lead the horse to water” as gently and persuasively as we can. It is always up to the other person to open their mind enough to allow their perspective to expand by another’s knowledge or perhaps wisdom.

      In terms of our own filters, we also can only begin to accomplish that within ourself via the spiritual path in concert with our Creator. The perfection of morality is, by defnition, a spiritual pursuit and must be accomplished by going within and seeking wisdom at the Source. Such seeking is guaranteed to take the seeker to a teacher who can impart the wisdom necessary to cleanse and purify our perceptual abilities by the transformation of our actual being’s vices into their corresponding virtues (e.g. hatred into love). This design is built into the structure of the human being and the spiritual path of self-evolution is a responsibility for us all.

      That said, we each — whether or not upon the spiritual path — are capable of entertaining new ideas and then upgrading our mental models, attitudes and behaviors. It is, in fact, that process that directly leads a person to embark upon the spiritual path. Sometimes a person will reject the notion of the spiritual path at one point in their life only to accept it later because the water under the bridge has brought them new experiences and revelations that have expanded their openness to such previously apparently counterintuitive ideas.

      Once a person traverses the spiritual path long enough, however, it is possible to directly understand when a person is stubbornly refusing to abandon their untenable positions. In such instances, we must let them carry on their merry way so long as they are not deliberately harming others. I have stubborn Trump supporters in my direct family and peace dictates that we not broach political topics in the understanding that they are simply not ready for such truths about their leader. What is far more important than demonstrating Trump’s vile nature is my demonstrating that we love them and care deeply for them.

  7. jaango says:

    For those among us and whom are “indigenous” in view, given our comprehensive history, the Papal Bull, starting 1493, is the starting point for our ever-present conversation and relative to economics, politics, religion and the news media in today’s America, and taking this view a step further, the pre-history of Catholicism becomes and continues to be relevant in this Indigenous Hemisphere.

    Of course the intellectuals, continue to dismember the Papal Bulls, when self-interest is parlayed, via either authoritarianism or neoliberalism.

    And given my substantive foresight, I can easily envision that within the next 20 to 30 years, Congress have to contend with a vote to either “reject”  or “rescind” these Papal Bulls?  If so, the rhetorical flourish of “white privilege” and “minority privilege” will no longer perpetuate the rancor among our generic population.

  8. Grandma with a Memory says:

    Thank you, once again, for bringing us ideas and approaches that can be tools for us to understand the world we live in now.  And, being familiar with academic prose, I especially appreciate your straightforward writing.  I look forward to future installments.

  9. AitchD says:

    Is the idea of sovereignty (i.e., the acknowledgement that a nation-state or a state is in most respects an autonomous legitimate entity) an ideology? What about monotheism? And science? (While evolution is a scientific fact, would Darwinism, however the term is used and abused, be an ideology?)

    • Ed Walker says:

      Good questions. The nation state is so widely accepted that it can’t be an ideology. Monotheism itself is a single idea, not part of a broader set of ideas like Catholicism or Islam.

      Science is a harder problem. I’d say it’s an ideology, in a narrow way, and here I think I would be following van Dijk. Each field of academia and each profession has an ideology that governs the members. We saw that when we read Kuhn several years ago. There is an accepted model, and there are accepted methods. Kuhn argues that we can’t think clearly without both. I looked at this here:https://www.emptywheel.net/2015/06/17/paradigm-change-in-science-and-economics/

  10. jaango says:

    Perhaps, my  above comment may have killed this thread, and if so, I apologize, since this was not my purpose.  However, consider the following:

    As an advocate for new ideas in today’s politics, I am favor for establishing the Saturday Morning Blogger’s Conference.

    When I look askance at the Big List of Potential Presidential Nominees for the Democrats, I am gently reminded that of the dozen Senators being considered, these former or current Senators never made any effort to establish a Progressive Caucus or for the attendant Senate Progressive Foundation that would be utilized as either a fundraising vehicle or as a platform for establishing a comprehensive Progressive Agenda via Public Law.  Thus, these lacking-in sustence Senators are challenging my Mama Sanita’s Common Sense.

    To wit, this Conference, under a Democratic president, would consist of a cycle in which each of the 13 cabinet secretaries and their upper echelon staff would deliver their particular expertise for a minimal amount and to be followed with the bloggers in attendance, and subsequently, would begin their participation by asking or demanding that their myriad questions would be answered and for containing considerable detail.  In doing so, my ‘concerns’ and which are wide-ranging in the arena of today’s Nat/Sec, and as applied to this Indigenous Hemisphere, would go a long way in acquiring my vote in 2020.

    And in keeping with this thread on Ideology, would this Ideology for Authoritarianism and Neoliberalism be scrapped in favor of “decency personified”?

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This is the kind of person Donald Trump and his federal lockout pisses on:  a furloughed federal worker laments that she has “gone from being a self-sustaining person,” taking care of her family, to “living on the kindness of strangers.”

    Neoliberals seem to long for that outcome.  Everyone else should be sharpening their figurative pitchforks.

    • Cathy says:

      I didn’t pay close enough attention to Trump’s campaign to catch nuances; I heard promises

      (1) to make whole the forgotten people and

      (2) to tear down the state (drain the swamp) because it is the villain who forgot the people.

      It sounded to me like a violation of the project management aphorism, “Quick, Cheap, Good: Pick Two,” where the Quick represents the assumption these promises would be delivered within a single 4-year term (our attention span as an electorate?).

      So…Agreed: In that neoliberalism advocates an economic process operating without constraints, it isn’t a system or an engine; it’s just chaos. Trump has very quickly gone cheap, with no good to be seen on the horizon.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I agree that Trump is Mr. Quick and Cheap. He is likely to regret it, but not until his whole outfit is orange and he’s wearing a crewcut.

        “Draining the swamp” was not about shrinking government.  It was about reducing the role of corrupt overpaid lobbyists and those who feed at their contribution aggregating troughs.

        The implication was that the wrong people were in government.  They were using it to enrich themselves, while depriving everyone else of a chance at a decent job, home, health, and an education for their children to allow them the same.

        Trump promised to give back to those forgotten people their promising futures.  True to form, Mr. Trump is making the problem worse rather than fixing it.  And he cares for those forgotten people less than he cares for Nancy Pelosi or Bob Mueller.

        • Cathy says:

          Agreed that the promise was to remove corrupt influences (and revamp system that foster them?). In the absence of a viable replacement structure, that promise devolved into a GOP talking point that government itself is a stifle to creativity and innovative problem solving.

          Seems like the most cogent attempts at follow-through amounted to advocacy for public-private partnerships – transferring structure to the private sector where the Free Markets could “get it done.” But even that replacement Trump’s Admin doesn’t appear to have the means to execute; draining the swamp may have devolved even further…into tax cuts.

          Ideology as a harness of thought and belief is powerful. We carry it with us as we adapt to change. If we don’t tend it with respect, it can deform and buckle as we change, that power lashing out in ways we’re not prepared for.

  12. Callender says:

    I really do learn a lot from this site, and check in daily.

    I have a question – technically on topic because it’s on ideology.  I am on the road with sketchy connectivity, and was reading a white paper on the right wing’s long progression through history in post WWII America, a piece I believe I linked to from the NYT – and the term the duo of authors used to describe this movement was the “new long right.”

    I lost this link before I could download and now can’t find it using multiple search techniques.

    This paper discussed at length – and I only got a third of the way through – how the right wing has historically used controversy, grievance, racial animosity, etc to advance its goals, and that its goals evolved over time, crystallizing over time away from small government, tax relief, etc, to simply winning for power’s sake.
    It was most edifying and I wanted to finish it!
    Can someone help me find this?  Anyone know it?
    The literacy quotient here makes me think I can find help.

  13. Savage Librarian says:

    Sapiens, A Bent Beast

    All primy are the half stave truths

    That tell of how be dones,

    And stuggedly they roop their wares

    To poople peepy ones.

    Alas, they sit in rocking chairs

    And wipe away the time,

    Poople peepy ones just care,

    To earn another dime.

    And so the time gut turns its turn,

    With purpose as its mask,

    While the poople peepy ones

    Always never ask.

  14. roberts robot double says:

    Mr. Walker,

    After reading your “Attacking The Neoliberal Ideology”, all I can say is that you have hit all the nails directly on their heads. I especially liked this line:

    It means that any Democrat is a better choice than any Republican, but that it’s possible to be better.

    As you may have seen in my above posts, I have a certain perspective on personal self-evolution but please do not let the directness of my views think that I in any way disagree with the perfect and profound points you make about the nature of our current system of capitalism and its descent into its neoliberal worship at what I call the “Altar of the MBA”, where compassion is anathema.

    I hope that, for all the details I have given above, that you all understand that compassion must be the foundation of whatever economic/governance system/ideology we propose to replace our currently corrupted, brutally callous system.

    Please also know that I deeply respect the work you are all doing to help make this world a better place, one truth and idea at a time.

    Thank you for the difficult work all of you do on this wonderful site and your gracious tolerance of my presence here. And thank you for helping me be better.

  15. Richard Turnock says:

    Rewritten by Richard Turnock

    When rooted in feelings, political opinion gains stability due to preponderance of argument against that opinion. If believers of a political opinion accepted the result of argument, attempting to refute the argument might cause instability in their conviction.  When rooted in feelings, and the political opinion fares worse in argument, believers continue to persuade themselves that their feelings must have some deeper grounding that the arguments will never reach.  While their political opinion remains rooted in feelings, they continue to build entrenchments to repair any breach in their political opinion.

    The Subjection of Women
    By John Stuart Mills
    Chapter 1 2nd paragraph

  16. PSWebster says:

    This thread is modulating a bit; allow me:
    (I promise not to go off on an all religions fault line.)

    Vollman’s Carbon Ideologies captures the meaning of ideologies pretty well even though he includes nuclear energy because it competes with carbon in destroying our shared eco-systems.

    Among the other lines stated far above: I don’t think you can exclude Kahneman’s Thinking: Fast and Slow. For millions of years we were swinging through trees on the look out for a waiting leopard, some food or some sex living the good life. It took until only about 10k years ago we got our slow thinking really organized and created synthetic elements with dangerous radioactive half-lives from milliseconds to billions of years.

    The interesting thing for me on Kahneman is his late statements about how he doesn’t really know who the other guy inside him is (wiki). We are all at minimum bipolar, you see? Does this offend? I think it simplifies.

    OK…basta. The legal analysis at EM is really great. Bring on Manafort manana.

  17. Savage Librarian says:

    The Human Itch
    Chapter 1 – Conduit

    ​“Tell me about when you were born,” she stated matter-of-factly.

    ​It caught me by surprise. I hadn’t anticipated this. To avoid being disrespectful, I launched into the best adaptation of memory I could muster.

    Looking back on it now, though, I imagine the real intent of the one-sided conversation was to reveal feelings that had crept into the crawlspace of my mind.

    The truth was I couldn’t possibly remember the events of my genesis. I could only sort through the glimmer of memories of memories of what others recalled.

    This wasn’t a reciprocal process, I knew. It was an interview of sorts.

    After a number of subsequent monologues, one day I stammered, “I am not a single, but a several self.”
    In my mind’s eye was an image of someone in my book club saying, ”When I look in the mirror I don’t see myself.”

    The other members of the book club gazed at her without responding. So, she said it again.
    “When I look in the mirror I don’t see myself.”

    Some of us nodded, but that was it. The conversation flitted off to other
    topics. I was left wondering what she meant.

    Did she mean that her physical self and her mental self were out of sync? I wondered. Or did she mean she did not like the way she looked?

    Or did she mean she was starting to get dementia? Was her mind
    refusing to accept the limitations of her body? All of it was disturbing. Nobody felt inclined to talk about it.
    Pulling myself back into the present moment I said again to the social scientist currently facing me, “I am not a single, but a several self.”

    “Would you like to elaborate on that?” she inquired.

    “It’s like that stanza from a Walt Whitman poem,” I replied, “the one where he says, ‘Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.’ “

    ​“Uh-huh, I see,” she said, nodding.

    This was my cue to go on, to be more specific, to provide examples.

    ​“I am not a single, but a several self. I am the self inside my own narrative and the self inside yours. I am the present self, the past self, and the future self.

    Just like in any partnership, there are the individual entities separately, and there is the relationship among them, an entity unto itself.

    Also, let’s not forget the sleeping self, the one that may not be a self at all. And, of course, I am the self outside, looking in, trying to make sense of it all.”

    ​“And do you succeed? Do you make sense of it?”

    ​“It is grand,” I conceded, “and I’m glad I was invited to the party. I hope someone is keeping the light on and saving me a seat at the next one,” I chuckled.

    But the only sense I can make of it, I daydreamed silently, is that we each have a convoluted, rippled hunk of gunk in our heads, infused with electrochemical conduits.

    Through our senses, somehow it assimilates patterns and synthesizes them into feelings. Then it turns these feelings into code that we impose onto everything around us. We call these our beliefs.

    Changing them is as difficult as pulling teeth. It often involves a painful and messy process.

    Yes, we are gizmos puzzling over patterns, our own and all the others we come across. Infinitely varied, but linked, united. Multidimensional.

    Constantly moving on a restless, relentless quest to seek meaning. Anchored to change. We demand order and centeredness from chaos. Who says children are the only ones who need structure?

    As the ancient maxim says, truth has many faces. I was on a roll. So I decided to go all in.

    ​“In fact, I wrote this to express my sentiments,” I said, uncharacteristically, as I exuberantly launched into song.

    Life is bigger than it seems.
    Inching past our cryptic memes, Vast beyond our mortal schemes,
    Energies unite in teams.
    Senses reach out in beams.
    Tending mysteries in reams,
    Images escape from dreams.
    Life is bigger than it seems.
    Life is bigger than it seems.

    We segued into small talk, made plans for our next meeting, and said our goodbyes. As I left I could see her typing into her laptop.

    I stepped out of the office and jotted a few notes into my cellphone. Only a few blocks away, I headed back to the house where I live with several roommates.

    (from a work in progress, under construction or deconstruction, as the case may be…)

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