We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Thirty years ago, a custody sergeant beneath Nottingham Magistrates Court told me (I was then a young solicitor and we were chatting as I waited for a client to be brought up from the cells) that there were many “honour killings” in the city but that his colleagues routinely accepted the families’ ludicrous explanations; e.g. that the girl had committed suicide by pouring paraffin on herself and setting herself alight. The detectives believed these deaths were murders, but feared their bosses would think them racists if they pursued the cases. So they let murderers walk free.

To my shame, I disbelieved him and called him a “racist”. He looked at me sadly and said “then you, young man, are part of the problem.” He was right. He was an honourable man who thought all lives of equal value. He was rightly disgusted at the true racism of holding these families to a lower standard of behaviour. I, fresh from my Marxist professors, had bought into political correctness. I was refusing to open my mind to a disturbing possibility that did not suit my world-view.

Twisting language and contorting truth to suit your political beliefs is not some game to amuse the semi-educated self-righteous. It has consequences; including those we now face in Rotherham and will probably face in other British towns. We need to face reality even when it doesn’t suit us and do the right thing regardless. Probably there will be some effort to do so now, but how long before the Guardian and its readers raise the cry of “racial harassment?”

– ‘Tom Paine‘ commenting on Samizdata.

48 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Darrell

    Celebrate Diversity. Or Else.

  • Dom

    Tom Paine should get back into blogging.

  • Rich Rostrom

    It’s not about twisting language, it’s about denying uncomfortable facts. Young “Tom Paine” and the Rotherham authorities couldn’t bear the idea that a non-Western non-white group were, as such a group, doing evil.

    Acknowledging that reality would mean a moral judgment where Western whites were superior to a non-Western non-white group. And that would be crimethink.

  • By accident, I learned the cure for this phenomenon quite young in a counter protest just prior to the gulf war. Call them racists first (or sexists, or cruel or whatever they feel is their moral superiority and strength but is just a politically correct illusion thereof). Mirror their attitude of shaming. Give them what they truly fear, being cast out as unworthy people and do not accept their protestations of their moral standing. They have none. This is how the left disburses internal discipline. Give them a dose of it, good and hard and never, ever let up until they are shamed out of their current moral depravity.

  • Paul Marks

    A very good post – and very brave of “Tom Paine” to be so open about his brain washing by the Marxist dominated education system, and his struggle to regain control of his own mind.

    Sadly “Tom Paine” is not alone – a whole generation (indeed several generations now) of hard working and intelligent students (ironically it is the intelligent and hardworking students who are most at risk) have been filled with Frankfurt School Marxist notions (I doubt that Karl Marx himself would have been happy with the direction modern Marxism has taken – but that is another matter), such as that any honesty about Islam is “racism” or “Islamophobia”.

    This leaves the West (including the United States) exposed – horribly exposed.

    The “enemy of my enemy is my friend” Marxists (and fellow travellers – the so called “liberals”, who are certainly not liberals by any definition that Gladstone or President Grover Cleveland would have used) have a lot to answer for. But the true horror of what they have done is yet to come.

    By supporting any enemy of the “Capitalist West” the people whose ideas dominate the education system and much of the media (including the entertainment media) have committed a terrible act of folly. This will be seen in the terrible times to come.

  • Barry Sheridan

    This is all about divide and rule. The politically powerful are symbiotically dependent on the produce of academia. The goal of this entity is power, and it must be said it has it. The control it exerts through control of taxation is allowing it to increase its remit, one way it is doing so is by suborning the corporate base via the public purse. The climate scam is an ideal vehicle for these overtures.

    None of this is new. Nor should it be seen as such. One of the most apt phrases coined over the years is that ‘power corrupts.’ It does so because human nature is easily influenced and twisted by the possibilities of personal ambition. Those unwilling to accede to such blandishments can be seduced in other ways, and if that does not work they can always be done away with.

    Hemingway said it this way:
    If people bring so much courage to this world , the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks everyone and afterwards many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and very gentle and the very brave impartially.

    Thus is the pathway of mankind.

  • Friday Night Smoke

    I did jury service a year or 2 ago; the first case I heard was the repeated rape of a black girl, from the age of 13 to 16, by her stepfather. A few of the other jurors were convinced that it was either all consentual on the basis of “that’s what they’re like”, or otherwise something that the British justice system shouldn’t concern itself with, that “they should sort it out amongst themselves“.
    Much like the idea that the ‘far left’ and ‘far right’ resemble each other so closely as to merge together, I think that the old-fashioned racism of some members of that jury merges into the self-described ‘anti-racism’ and strong promotion of multiculturalism that led to the situation in Rotherham. They’re two sides of the same coin.

  • Much like the idea that the ‘far left’ and ‘far right’ resemble each other so closely as to merge together, I think that the old-fashioned racism of some members of that jury merges into the self-described ‘anti-racism’ and strong promotion of multiculturalism that led to the situation in Rotherham. They’re two sides of the same coin.

    Never were truer words written. It is why I often describe the ‘anti-fascists’ and the ‘fascists’ as being in a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship. I am sure I have caused aneurysms that way, I am pleased to say.

  • NickM

    Not with me Perry. I think Paul is partially wrong. I have no idea what happens in the Faculty of Arts because I studied science and maths and other than occasional gripes about lack of funding for “essential research” there was no political content. Indeed Nottingham University was remarkably apolitical. It was known for it and the usual sorts bemoaned this. I didn’t. I almost joined the Conservative Party but didn’t. Everyone was there to get a degree, get laid and have a drink. OK, there were a few ranters from the Commie-wing in the Politricks department but us STEM students couldn’t take ’em seriously and seeing as I was there between ’92 and ’95 I guess the collapse of the Soviet Union had taken some of the wind out of them. Maybe it is different now. I hope not.

  • SC

    >He looked at me sadly and said “then you, young man, are part of the problem.” He was right.

    He was right, yes. But he was also a part of the problem as well.

  • Many thanks for the link, Ljh – superb.

  • Stuck-Record

    Never were truer words written. It is why I often describe the ‘anti-fascists’ and the ‘fascists’ as being in a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship. I am sure I have caused aneurysms that way, I am pleased to say.

    Part of the problem is language (as the Frankfurt school cynically knew).

    The left have all the modern words for shame and guilt. They have all the aces (racist, sexist etc), the argument stoppers, the “WITCH!” words.

    But most of all they have appropriated ‘fascist’ and ‘right-wing’ as the epithet of choice. their is even a determined campaign to add ‘libertarian’ to that list.

    Imagine a world where one type of people swaggered around, convinced of their own noble purity of thought and decency who were, in fact responsible for countless millions of deaths and untold misery and economic and social failure.

    What we need is a campaign to re-attatch the disgust, abhorrence and shame that should attach to the word ‘socialist’.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Speaking of language, i submit that we should write:
    “anti” racism instead of “anti-racism”;
    “anti” fascism instead of “anti-fascism”;
    “anti” nazi instead of “anti-nazi”.
    The message then would be obvious: an “anti” -ism is just a particular form of an -ism.
    We can still write anti-racism and anti-fascist w/o scare quotes when appropriate.

    I also usually write “left” and “right” instead of Left and Right.

    WRT “socialism” the usage of the word seems to me different in Britain compared to the Continent, and btw the usage of “greed” is quite different in Britain compared to the way i myself understand the word.

  • Tedd

    But most of all they have appropriated ‘fascist’ and ‘right-wing’ as the epithet of choice. their is even a determined campaign to add ‘libertarian’ to that list.

    Also the word ideology. I’m fascinated by the attack on that word. Why demonize an entirely neutral word? What I believe is happening is a movement to create a set of truths that can’t be questioned. If an ideology is accepted as axiomatic then it’s no longer an ideology, it’s the truth, and you no longer have to defend it. You become a crank or a fool for even questioning it.

    By the way, is jihadwatch.org experiencing a DoS attack? I can’t load any pages from that site.

  • It loads fine for me, Tedd.

    I have not noticed an attack on the word ‘ideology’. Examples of context?

  • Regional

    The BBC like the ABC are Fascist organisations i.e. supposedly independent yet government funded.

  • Tedd


    I get a “You are being redirected” message when I try to go to jihadwatch.org, and an endlessly spinning loading icon. Maybe the site is doing something my browser security settings don’t like.

    I’ve noticed criticism of “ideology” or of “being ideological” on the rise for the last year or so. I don’t have any specific web links I can post, but I do have numerous personal email exchanges in which someone is accused of being “ideological,” and the accusation is always made by someone who leans left. I use quotes around ideological here because often the person being accused hasn’t said anything ideological at all, they’re simply voicing an opinion that the other person doesn’t like. So the term “ideological” is being used purely as a pejorative. It’s the pejorative use of the term, entirely independent of any specific ideology, that I find interesting.

    On a related note, a while ago a friend sent me a PDF copy of Stuart Chase’s 1938 book “The Tyranny of Words,” in which he rails at some length against “ideology.” I had previously noticed that progressivist writers of that era complained about “ideology,” but I had always assumed it was shorthand for, and in reaction to, fascism. But I’m beginning to suspect now that it was part of an early Frankfurt-school project to make their ideas seem like unquestioned truth, and competing ideas merely ideologies. Paul Marks might have some insight into that.

  • And thanks for answering my question…Yes, that rings sort-of familiar, but you may be right in that it is relatively new as a phenomenon. I’m curious about Paul’s take on that as well.

    Now since we’ve veered into discussion of terminology, and since you mentioned the dreaded P word: can someone give a good definition or description of Progressivism?

  • Tedd


    The Wikipedia article on Progressivism is quite good, if you want more detail. But a simple definition would be that progressivism is the belief that social progress (i.e., better-quality lives for more people) is best achieved by applying the methods of science and reason to society itself. In other words, it’s a kind of social technology.

    That distinguishes it from Marxism, which treats social development as a science, and predicts specific outcomes from a quasi-evolutionary model of how societies develop. Progressivism is also distinct from Marxism/socialism/communism in that it’s a populist ideology, not an elitist one. Prior to Rawls, I’m not sure there were any progressive philosophers or theoreticians. The movement had nearly reached its peak of popularity before it had a theoretical foundation, which I think makes it unique among ideologies of the past few centuries. That’s probably why progressivism has been more popular in the U.S., where there has long been a suspicious attitude toward more intellectual or elitist schools of thought. Progressivism is a “let’s can all this fancy talk and just roll up our sleeves and get it done” kind of world view. Very American.

  • Stuck-Record


    Put ‘political’ into that category as well. All the lefties I know use it thus:

    “He’s really political” = Good left winger
    “He’s got very dodgy politics” = He’s not left wing.

  • Tedd


    I haven’t noticed that, but maybe it’s more common on your side of the pond. I’m over here in the colonies.

  • squawkbox

    Never were truer words written. It is why I often describe the ‘anti-fascists’ and the ‘fascists’ as being in a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship. I am sure I have caused aneurysms that way, I am pleased to say.

    Didn’t George Orwell say that when fascism came to Britain, it would probably be calling itself anti-fascism?

  • Midwesterner

    Tedd, Alisa,

    I’ve noticed a strong trend against “ideologues” which seems to mean “any articulate person who disagrees with me”. I take it as more evidence of the hollowness of leftism and ‘pragmatic’ Republicans in general.

    A sometimes useful response when you are called an ideologue is to say “so you don’t believe in anything?” But a real problem when they start listing what they believe in (the usual list of fuzzy bunnies, rainbows and unicorns) is that there really is no ideology behind their beliefs – it is all about desires and nothing about cause and effect, action and consequence. Unless they are in the STEM fields, they are unable to hold a complex thought larger than a clever sound bite.

  • Tedd, I like your summary. I am now (again) plowing through that Wiki entry with that in mind, to see whether it makes more sense now than it did the last time I read it…

    Mid: yes, but. I often use the term ‘ideologue’ to describe people who are bordering on dogmatism. But I may have to recalibrate my terminology, which I have been considering. It’s a process…

  • Trofim

    I can empathise with Tom Paine and his previous naivety.

    I spent most of my working life as a psychiatric nurse and vividly remember an incident which happened in the mid-90’s and had a dramatic effect on my worldview.

    Even in those days psychiatric beds were like gold dust and we were under strictest instructions to admit only genuine emergencies who could not be managed in the community. I was in charge of the ward one weekend when a CPN rushed into the ward.

    Although she knew the admission policy, she pleaded for the use of a bed just for a few hours even though the occupier was not “mentally ill”. The scenario was thus: she had been visiting a young Muslim girl re “anxiety-related” problems. In reality, the problem, until then unknown to family, was that the girl had a boyfriend. The family had now found out about it, and her life was in danger.

    In my naivety in those days this seemed a bit over-dramatic. I know better now. To get the girl out of the house, she had told the family that the girl was seriously mentally ill and needed urgent admission to hospital. She was in a car outside. Somewhat reluctantly I said the girl could use a bed for a few hours, though I was very dubious as to the urgency of the situation.

    The CPN brought the girl in, covered in a sheet, and for the next hour or two she sat covered in the sheet behind closed curtains round the bed. I never got to see her face. The other patients were, understandably, intrigued. Eventually the CPN managed to arrange a place in a women’s refuge somewhere in the Black Country. The CPN had other commitments, and could not transport her, so she was to be taken to a certain street by taxi to be met by a member of staff from the refuge.

    In those days of intense political correctness, it was a puzzle to me that the staff at the women’s refuge stipulated that the taxi driver should under no circumstances be a member of the Pakistani community. Only later did I realise that confidentiality is an incomprehensible concept to many non-western societies. When I watched the TV documentary Banaz a while back, it became even more clear that we had done the right thing.

  • Tedd

    Alisa and Mid:

    Dictionaries do seem to include an element of dogmatism or demagoguery in the definition of ideologue, whereas the term ideology is more neutral. Everybody should have an ideology, but nobody should be an ideologue. You have to have a conceptual framework from which to approach any political issue, otherwise you’re just bobbing about on the surface of political opinion like a cork on the ocean. Ideology is that conceptual framework. But, like any theory, an ideology has to be subject to modification when new information or new arguments become available.

  • I am having a bit of trouble following with our OT conversation here, after having read Trofim’s last comment…

  • Bill Reeves

    Ross Douthat has a good piece in the NYT pointing out that evil tends to come at us disguised as good, something we highly value like tolerance or diversity. Evil very rarely shows up in cartoon form with a big sign on it. Here’s the link:http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/opinion/sunday/ross-douthat-rape-and-rotherham.html?referrer=

  • Rich Rostrom

    “Progressivism” not elitist?

    There was certainly a populist/mass democracy element in Progressivism (primary elections, recall, initiatives).

    But there was also a very strong element of social and economic engineering by expert technocrats. It was supported by Ivy League professors and scions of East Coast wealth.

    Eugenics was very popular among Progressives. Teddy Roosevelt was a great admirer of the supposed efficiency of Big Business and German-style authoritarian government. Woodrow Wilson was a “progressive” Democrat, who seized on the emergency of World War I to enlarge state power enormously – the nearest the U.S. has ever come to a fascist regime. There was a substantial overlap between the Progressives and the Prohibitionists – the latter’s goal fitting neatly into the agenda of social reform by decree.

    I would say that on balance, Progressivism was more elitist than not.

  • Tedd, what bothers me about ideology is the focus on ideas. So personally, instead of saying ‘everybody should have an ideology’, I would say ‘everybody should have a moral code’, with moral code being a set of values and principles, rather than being built around an idea or a set thereof.

  • Tedd


    All my life I’ve felt the need for my moral code to have a rational foundation. So, for me, one’s ideology and one’s moral code are two sides of the same coin. I know you take the approach that a moral code doesn’t need to be based on anything but reciprocity. That’s certainly a rational approach. But if the reciprocating parties aren’t acting rationally then it won’t lead to rational morals.

    This is not unlike the question of market rationality. A free market is rational in the sense that it delivers what people want. That doesn’t stop people from wanting irrational things, though.

  • I know you take the approach that a moral code doesn’t need to be based on anything but reciprocity.

    No Tedd, that is far from being correct. Reciprocity is a necessary condition for one’s moral code to be working for an entire society: it would be no good for me to be the only person who abhors murder, for example – rather, this moral position should be shared by others in order to work for an entire community or society. But that said, that is far from being all a moral code is about. To me, a moral code is a set of values and principles (with values being the ‘what’, and the principles being the ‘how’). IOW, a person’s moral code tells you what they value most in life, and what they are prepared or not prepared to do to achieve or uphold those values, and under which set of circumstances.

    Conversely, ideology to me is about ideas (or worse, ideals). I may be taking the word too literally, but to me an idea is something arbitrary, or imaginary, or “artificial”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t think there are some very good ideas out (and in) there, it’s just when one is guided by a mere idea, one may too easily lose sight of basic values and principles (i.e. one’s moral code, if any). I know I am not explaining myself well – oh, well…

    In any case, to me this is not about rationality or lack of it, and I certainly am all for rationality in everything, when at all possible. I just don’t think it is the issue here. I could be wrong, of course.

  • Tedd


    My apologies, I thought you were more or less in complete agreement with Mid on this. I didn’t mean to mischaracterize your position. Thanks for the clarification.

    Why would you describe ideals as “worse” than ideas? I don’t understand that part.

  • I cannot speak for Mid, Tedd, but AFAIK he and I are in much agreement on this. I hope he can make it here to speak for himself 🙂

    Ideals…Again, taking words literally as is my natural tendency: an ideal is something that is, well, ideal, i.e. perfect. Perfectionism is useful in manufacturing (OA?) and other such things. In human affairs – not so much…

  • Oh, and no need to apologize – we spend so much time here talking all at once (and often past each other), it is very easy to miss a point or several (or to make the important point that maybe should not go without saying). Happens to me all the time.

  • Tedd

    Warning: This is seriously off topic.


    I think I understand what you mean about ideals and perfection, and not very long ago I would likely have agreed. But in the last couple of years I’ve been leaning toward a contrary position. It’s somewhat related to Popper’s insight that all observation is “theory-laden.” We don’t observe anything as what it is. Strictly speaking, we don’t actually observe anything outside our own body. We only observe the signals that come in through our nervous system, and we interpret those signals through an extremely complex set of theories about what they mean in the external world, which we have built up over the course of our life (mostly unconsciously). We call these signals that have been filtered through theory “observations.” When they seem to reliably predict other signals we call them “knowledge.”

    This ties in nicely with my experience in engineering analysis and design, in which the process goes the other way. You begin with theories, and then you figure out how to manifest those theories in actual physical devices that perform as predicted. So the philosophy that I’m leaning toward is that everthying begins with theory and works outward in an iterative process where the results are compared to an ideal that the theory describes or predicts. If you want the best outcome, you need to be aware of the theory and the process.

    You probably do have a set of theories and ideals about human affairs, you just might not think of them as such. In any interaction with another person you are continuously evaluating where the interaction is going in comparison to where you expect it to go (a theory), or where you think it should go (an ideal). This is probably unconscious most of the time, but you’re still doing it. Is this getting too personal? Hm, that’s the look she gets when I’ve said something she disagrees with but she doesn’t want to confront right now. That kind of thing. Those are all theories, and you navigate your way through them with a sense of how far the reality of each factor is from some ideal state.

  • Tedd, on engineering point, that was what I meant by mentioning manufacturing (I just could not come up with a better word at that moment. ‘Design’ may be a better one, too): that is exactly how it should work. But what we are discussing here is our view of society, because that is what is usually meant by ‘ideology’, no? That is also how, in my mind, what makes a moral code different from ideology: the former tells us what one thinks is the proper way to interact with society (based on one’s values); while the latter tells us how one want to shape society, or to design it, or to engineer it. Again, being a language person, I may well be too caught up in semantics here, but that’s how my brain works 🙂

    To address your last point, none of the above is to say that we don’t manipulate (or at least attempt to manipulate) the world around us, including the people with whom we come in contact. But to me, what matters here and what sets morals and ideology apart is the purpose of these manipulations: for the former the purpose tends to be small-scale, personal, temporary, narrowly local, etc. Not so for the latter (ideology), with extremes taking the shape of grand schemes on global scale spanning generations…you see where I’m going with this 🙂

  • (…the Language Person apologizes for poor syntax and blames lack of coffee…)

  • Midwesterner

    I have a busy day and miss the good stuff. I’ll go back and start at Alisa’s comment September 7, 2014 at 8:06 am and work forwards.

    On “ideology“, “ideologue” and “ideals“. This can be one of those words that has collected a lot of pejorative baggage courtesy of militant relativism. As I have always heard it used when it wasn’t being hurled as an epithet (like fascist, etc) it is the body of ideas that make up the conscious philosophical choices one makes. An ideologue is the counterpoint to a relativist, and an ideal is approximately interchangeable with a value, and ideology is a particular philosophical construct. In this usage, ideals/values x rational process equals ideology (which correlates to values x rational process equals moral code). Perhaps this clarifies my thoughts some and I can reconsider how I use the word as it seems to be falling under a relativist assault.

    Tedd, it is not a moral code that must be founded entirely on reciprocity, it is a society. There are only two alternatives, individualism (reciprocal respect of the borders between individuals) and collectivism (no personal space, the strongest rule the rest). In the absence of reciprocity, unilaterally adhering to an unconditional moral code (ie “thou shalt not kill” v. “thou shalt not kill except in self defense“) is unilateral suicide. Yes, an irrational moral code is a suicide pact, but with reciprocity it is at least a consensual one.

    If you want a more articulated review of my thoughts on reason and morality, I recommend the discussion that followed in Johnathan’s thread “The sleep of reason brings forth monsters” from about five years ago. I’m not sure if you were reading Samizdata at that time.

  • Tedd


    I understand what you mean about the scope and scale implied by the term “ideals,” and I agree that is more consistent with how the term is normally used. I’m only saying that understanding human and social relationships is not fundamentally different from understanding anything else, in the sense that we develop theories about it and observe the difference betwee what those theories predict and what actually happens. But the thing we’re theorizing about involves more unknowns because the “quanta” of society is individuals with autonomous free will (or so we mostly believe). So our theory must recognize that fact, and our attempts at manipulation need to be limited by that fact. Ideology has gotten a bad reputation because people have tried to manipulate society without taking that fact sufficiently into account. That is a valid critique of those ideologies, and of how they have been applied. But it doesn’t discredit the notion of ideology.

    The most cautious ideology in that sense is anarchy, where the ideology in effect says, “Don’t do anything to manipulate society, let the autonomous “quanta” do it all themselves.” That could well be as good as social theory can get. I would certainly advocate erring more in that direction than in the direction of the totalitarian ideologies, which are premised on a highly optimistic view of their own correctness.


    Thanks, I don’t specifically remember that thread, but I’ll go back and read it.

  • Mid, I have nothing against ideas as such, and I for one carry no pejorative baggage about any of these words or concepts. I just think that the word ‘idea’ understood very literally is different from value. Value (in the sense of basic values) is something that exists or at least existed in the past without us doing much about it – things like life, freedom, wealth, knowledge, love, order, predictability, control, etc. These are not ideas, not in the sense that they are something that humans came up with and created. Granted, ideas can serve as values – for example, democracy, equality, capitalism, socialism etc. But not the other way round.

    As I said, I am far from being against ideas – on the contrary, ideas are what drives human development and civilization, they are what makes life interesting even on the smallest scale (hey, I have an idea: let’s do this or that…). What I am wary of is putting ideas (as opposed to values and principles) at the center of one’s entire world view, or rather one’s views on society and human interactions within it. In that sense, I am indeed very wary of ideologies, even good ones. Mind you, wary does not mean opposing: like I said, there are definitely very good ideologies out there, and I strongly sympathize with some of them. It’s just that personally, I refuse to be guided by an ideology, even by one I like. I’d rather stick to my moral code, and occasionally draw ideas from ideologies I happen to like to support my application of my moral code.

  • Tedd, I hope that my reply to Mid addresses your points as well – otherwise please let me know.

  • Midwesterner


    What I said was “and an ideal is approximately interchangeable with a value“. Not an “idea“, an “ideal“.

    An idea is a concept or construct. Ideas can be either good or bad in the eye of the beholder. There are many assemblages of ideas into ideologies that I think are very bad but that does not stop them from being ideas and ideologies. An “ideal” is something optimal in the eye of the beholder. An “ideal” can be conflated with “value” with not a lot of loss of meaning IMO.

    A clear example of an idea being part of an ideology is “The Wisconsin Idea” which is a part of Progressive ideology.

    To summarize, an idea is a construct or concept or narrow principle that can be assembled with other ideas forming an “ideology” AKA “an overarching principle” AKA “a moral code/world view“. An ideal is a state of experience or being that one values as a goal and a good thing in itself.

    I see no conflict in using this lexicon for philosophical subjects and it was how it was used in the communities I grew up in. Ideology was not in the least pejorative and an ideologue was somebody who actually put thought into their ideology and was willing to defend it. An ideal was that person’s idea of an optimal state or outcome. Whether these usages are still accepted or common, I don’t know.

  • Mid, sorry for mixing ‘idea’ an ‘ideal’ when replying to your points. You are right of course, and while I was comparing morals to ideologies, instead of liking ideas to values, I should have been liking them to principles. Still, even when I fix that and read everything I wrote with ‘principles’ instead of ‘values’, it seems to me that my larger point still stands, or at least I don’t see how you refuted it. If we want to be very “fundamentalist” in our semantics, we can go to etymological sources and base our arguments on that. But I don’t think that this is necessary: fact is, there are all these separate words for things that are, for the most part, separate – even though they may in fact overlap under certain circumstances and in certain contexts. And its those certain contexts that I’m banging on about here. (IOW, there is no such thing as a a “perfect synonym”).

    It looks like you and I will continue to disagree on this, which is fine, of course, seeing as these are mostly personal definitions. But just to make sure we are on the same page so far, at least:

    Ideology was not in the least pejorative

    I hope that I already said this, but just in case: I do not think of the word as pejorative, I just don’t like the use of the word (not to mention of the thing it denotes) in certain contexts, as I explained above.

    ideologue was somebody who actually put thought into their ideology and was willing to defend it.

    I agree with that, to the extent that I find the use and application of ideology – even a good one – as a good thing (see above). Furthermore, I do understand your concern about the fact that the word has probably assumed far more negative meaning than it deserves – it may well be a case of people taking my kind of position on this, but then going too far and throwing the baby with the bath water, as it often happens. That is indeed regrettable, because as I have already conceded, ideas and ideologies can be very useful.

    As to ideals, I see your point, and yes, same thing: a more-or-less neutral, or even positive word, that has been loaded with too much negative baggage, most of it probably undeserved. Count me among the guilty as charged on that:-)

  • Julie near Chicago

    I need to swipe “stuck record’s” handle, since I so often am one myself.

    But on this board and many others, people constantly rail about the twisting of words and language to enforce PC and further the librul agenda.

    WHY do we not put our preaching into PRACTICE? I have never ONCE seen it called “Sharia MURDER,” which it most assuredly is — instead of the relatively mild “honour killing” — except by Yrs Trly, and once, once, by a commenter somewhere who picked up on the use of accurate terminology in an earlier comment of mine in the same discussion.

    If anyone claims to hate the practice if murdering family members (or others) in the name of so-(mis)called “honour,” he should jolly well use the right word. Murder is murder and there is NOTHING honorable about it.

    Otherwise all this complaining about leftie/Marxist/Frankfurt-School/Progressive/PC concept-destruction is just hot air and in-group self-pity.

    This is not a difficult practical action to take; it just requires remembering to do it when posting or leaving comments anywhere; and also, of course, in personal conversations and Letters to the Editor./

    Sorry to be so vehement, but the gentle, more courteous approach to making my point don’t seem to be getting anywhere.

    In this exhortation, no offense to anyone here is intended. :>)

  • Julie near Chicago

    This is a very interesting discussion amongst Alisa, Mid, and the others. I am in haste, so haven’t read it properly as yet. But I’m prompted to say something about the meaning of “ideology” myself. First my incorrect understanding (which I defend as being at least a plausible error), and then some definitions which I consider as authoritative as is possible in this world of unreality and phantasms. *g* I did try to get the transcription right, by the way. 🙁

    I’ve always understood the word to refer to a set of philosophical beliefs which:

    1. One has adopted without subjecting them to rigourous analysis for internal (logical) consistency, which are held as a working philosophy so to speak; and

    2. Are held to in the face of serious practical evidence that they are either wrong or incorrect or invalid, or else incomplete or not applicable in certain cases; thus, “If the theory fails to fit the facts, so much the worse for the facts.”

    Now, that’s how I’ve interpreted the word myself: as an ersatz substitute for real philosophy, which to be worthy of the name should always give way to evidence from and observations of the real world, as well as being as internally consistent as possible.

    (None of that, by the way, implies that a proper philosophy does not rest upon postulates. A philosophy has to be among other things a logical system, and a logical system always rests upon postulates, which are principles accepted without logical proof constructed from elements and their relationships within in the system itself; although a proper philosophy must base its postulates upon aspects of reality which the philosophy-holder sees as true and fundamental, though not logically, i.e. analytically, provable. One’s only evidence for them is in appeal to the real world — which, in my view, means appeal to one’s own perception of the real world, which includes one’s perceptions of the stated perceptions of someone whom one considers an authority on the matter at hand, just to be precise. “I refute it thus!” for example.)

    Now, in view of the very interesting discussion above, I thought I might check my understanding, which turns out not to be quite correct:

    From the Lexicographical Bible, a.k.a. the OED, 1933 Edition, printed in 1971 in a very heavy two-volume work called “The Compact Oxford English Dictionary,” the word “ideology” has three meanings (definitions).

    Note: Per OED, Spec. means “specifically” and is in italics in definitions.

    Note: I omit almost all examples and etymological discussion.

    Note: In the first definition below, both the remark about Condillac’s philosophy AND the following point marked “b.” are given as “b.” under definition one; but the first is incorporated in the main defining paragraph for Def. 1, while the second is listed as a sub-meaning proper and is indented under the first paragraph.

    1. The science of ideas; that department of philosophy or psychology which deals with the origin and nature of ideas. b. /*Spec.*/ Applied to the system of the French philosopher Condillac, according to which all ideas are derived from sensations.

    b. The study of the way ideas are expressed in language.

    2. Ideal or abstract speculation; in a depreciatory [sic] sense, unpractical [sic] or visionary theorizing or speculation.

    3. = Idealism, def. 1.

    “Ideologue” is defined as an “Ideologist, sense 2.”


    2. A person occupied with an idea or ideas, especially as such as are regarded as impractical; a speculator; an idealist, a visionary, a mere theorist.

    The first example given for the usage in Def. 2 of “Ideology” is from “J. Adams” (I assume our first President John Adams?) in 1813:

    Napoleon has lately invented a word, which perfectly expressed my opinion …. He call the project ideology.

    Also, in 1827 “Scott” (Sir Walter I assume), in his book (I assume) Napoleon, wrote:

    Ideology, by which name the French ruler [Bonaparte –OED]] used to distinguish every species of theory, which, resting in no respect on the basis of self-interest, could, he thought, prevail with none save hot-brained boys and crazed enthusiasts.

    And in 1881, Seeley (who he?) wrote,

    He [Napoleon –J.] … put aside the whole system of false and confused thinking which had reigned since 1792, and which he called ideology.

    The earliest example given for the usage in Def. 2 of “Ideologist” (= ideologue) is from Carlyle, in 1831.