The nature of ideology is this: it is when you forget that an idea about the world is just an idea about the world; and you think it actually is you. Or them.

Some people identify with an idea so strongly, they are prepared to kill for it – and be killed. Fascism and communism being the classic examples.

Eh??? It is just an idea, fellas. What’s the fuss?

And while not everyone is as extreme as this, by any means, a great many people take their ideas very deeply to heart.

Essentially, what they are saying is: “I have this idea about the world that I think is the world. And anyone who suggests otherwise is wrong.”

No matter that when they first picked up the idea – as it was passed down to them, most probably, from generation to generation – they were too young to actually question the validity of it.

No, if daddy, and granddaddy, and great granddaddy says it’s true, it must be true.

Really? Instead of taking note of what they say, take note of what they do. And ask yourself this question: if you were not related to them in any way, how would their behaviour strike you?

As a man who speaks the truth? Or a man who is completely clueless about life?


Take, perhaps, the two most popular ideas in our society:

“I am conservative”

“I am liberal”

And a third one, which characterises any ideologue:

“I believe in this idea so strongly I will never, ever waver from it.”

And so, instead of dealing with each situation with flexibility and freedom, you are trapped by the label that you have given yourself; dismissing everything that doesn’t fit that label. I don’t know if that really works.

Maybe, just possibly, there are times when being liberal is not the appropriate choice. Like arguing, for example, that you should be free to eat as much as you want, even though you are morbidly obese. Because you should be free to choose; free to do what you want.

Be my guest. Well, as the late Bill Hicks would have put it, as you are taken to hospital with heart disease, “If you die, it’s no tragedy. It’s just one less moron.” Maybe a bit of self-discipline is in order here.

And, maybe, just possibly, there are times when being conservative is just plain daft. For example, if you campaign with great passion and fervour to restore values that never were from a time that never was.

In the early 1990s, the British Prime Minister John Major told the nation that it was time to go ‘Back to Basics’, to restore moral values to the nation. As all the while he was enjoying an extra-marital affair with another member of his cabinet. As his entire government was falling apart due to sleaze, funnily enough – and it was very, very funny!

Perhaps, if he had said, “Hey, when I talked about going ‘back to basics’, I meant that we should go back to being cavemen”, he would have earned more respect, when posterity records it.

Have a certain view of the world, by all means. And detach yourself from all the emotion and commotion surrounding it.

It is just an idea, fellas ...

© Phillip A. Klein March 2008

Published in: on March 16, 2008 at 10:23 pm  Leave a Comment