Friday, October 19, 2018

Unmask Ideology

You should no more take an ideology at face value than you would an individual person. What applies to the individual, does, in this instance, apply to the group. A person lacking self-awareness constructs a character structure, persona or mask, and presents this as the real person. Underlying this construction lies someone altogther different, and they are they not conscious of this fact. The ideology of a political party or tendency, is much the same and is probably just as much lacking in awareness , though conscious manipulation can also be a factor. Thus, we have self-styled conservatives who have few aspects in common with conservatism, self-styled classical liberals who would give Adam Smith apoplexy, self- styled liberrtarians who are the rankest authoritarians, self-styled social democrats who are really neoliberals, self-styled marxists who are really mechanical materialists and so forth.

The left often fails miserably, fighting the masks rather than the persons underneath them. One sad example dates all the way back to the beginning of neoliberalism in the 1980s. Everyone nattered on and on about how the right was forcing us into "free markets" and was "anti-government". Other than Noam Chomsky, who saw behind the mask, few pointed out that the corporation was the greatest enemy of any "free market" and that the "free market" requires the iron fist of the state. And as we know so well today, the right's "anti-statism" consisted of shifting social wealth away from helping people and towards war and corporate welfare. For the left, it should have been like shooting fish in a barrel, but they continued to attack the mask instead. Any talk of "free markets" and "getting the state of our backs", should have been greeted with hoots of derision and raucous laughter at the hypocrisy of it all, not cries of horror. Even today, people still talk about the "free market" right and their supposed "anti-statism."

We need more materialism and less moralism, more dialectics and less dogma. Contradiction is the fire in the boiler of change. Everything has its limitations, its contradictions. Our job as "social changers" is to discover those contradictions and exacerbate them to the enth degree. (I am referring to dealing with our opponents, of course. Contradictions "among the people" are not to be exacerbated, but resolved to build a greater unity.)

By taking ideologies at face value, we are actually aiding what we seek to criticize. Critics must get beneath the surface and see what is really going on. We must endlessly and ruthlessly torment our opponents with their hypocrisies, ignorance of their own alleged positions, their irrationality, their denial, their foolishness. Rather than positional warfare, guerrilla warfare! Nor should it always be done with a long face. We need to revive some of the Yippie and Situationist spirit. Endless ridicule and scandal! And hit them where they are weakest. On the ideological front, one of their greatest weaknesses is their lack of understanding of the very beliefs they claim to uphold.

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