Define conservative ideology
One of the finest American teachers acquiesced a few years ago to be my mentor. I am a stranger to the good man, but he agreed to answer my questions because he is in possession of a proper understanding of the nature of a true teacher, a public figure whose work is ultimately for the benefit of the common good. I go to him every few months with my most pressing quandaries. A while back I asked him to teach me about the nature of ideology. He fired off a small collection of ideas asserting that all ideology is evil and he explained why. Surely ideologues would object and, while calling for sophistical distinctions, would be formulating a semantic bait-and-switch scheme that passes for “truth” in these dark and deceitful times.
What is ideology?
According to Merriam Webster ideology is “1: visionary theorizing 2a: a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture b: a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture : the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program.” If we limit ourselves to the shallow dictionary definition, it may serve our purpose in drawing reasonably sound inferences about the nature of ideology.
But perhaps we can attempt to narrow the definition a little more so that we may end with a foundation of clarity upon which to build a coherent conclusion. George Marlen states that “ideology is an intellectual system of ideas or rigid abstract formulas mixed with scientific jargon and some empirical facts that claims knowledge about reaching perfection in the temporal order.” This doesn’t contradict Merriam Webster, but adds the vital final end of perfecting the temporal order.
Though it is wildly unpopular in the larger circles of academia, let us assume for the purposes of this discussion that things have final causes or real ends to which they portend. In the case of ideology let us stipulate that ideology’s telos is to reach perfection in the temporal order. In summation, ideologies are rigid schemes of ideas meant to organize individual lives, societies and cultures in a way that is intended to perfect the temporal order.
Surely it is a noble desire to try to create a heaven on earth, to make a paradise in this valley of tears, but that is an end that ultimately requires the denial of the reality of human existence. We are fallen, we are mortal, we are not meant to end in perfecting this created world that begins to decay at first touch.
Mr. Marlen correctly states that many of the ideas that comprise the various ideologies are empirical facts. There are in fact even many truths and truisms embedded in ideological schemes. But it is the nature of ideology to ill-weight truths and facts, to exaggerate some and minimize others in order to provide an apparently rational explanation for ideological structures and conclusions. I contend that artificially weighted facts and truths imposed on the human mind inherently harm a soul’s ability to see reality rightly.