- 27 Jan 2013 06:52
"Liberalism never stays in one place long enough to become an ideology.
Of course it is an ideology. You're just looking at the parts of the pattern which change, but you haven't noticed that there is a stable core which remains. I will explain.
"Ideology isn't just a dogmatic sort of instrument used politically. If you defined it that way, then it would become impossible to understand what's happening around us, everything would appear to be a flight of fancy, coupled with some kind of pure and disinterested philosophy. That's not happening."
Ideology and philosophy are not qualitatively different, they are only quantitatively different, and can be folded onto each other as being in fact the same thing. Ideology is how a particular class of people look at society ontologically, in the hopes that the categories they create are suited to solving their problems as a class. The philosophy - which is inherently wedded to the ideology - is what allows a particular class of people to look to their past and their future and get a sense of themselves as a group navigating through time, and it allows them to plan for the future and arrange compromises in the mid-term.
Liberalism, quite simply, seems hard to define to the casual observer, because it is very adaptable. But basically government of big business led by finance, is the common denominator in all iterations of liberalism, be it liberal-conservatism, liberal-progressivism, liberal-yo-momma-ism, or whatever else they've been doing with it.
I love your answer. You clearly know how to phrase your differences. I'll try to describe what I mean.
I see a major difference between ideology and philosophy. I don't think ideologies evolve. I don't see them as admtting new information. That's the sign of the ideologue. To me, that is qualitatively different. I think philosophy is more open ended. When it becomes closed and folds into itself it becomes idiology. It becomes uncompromising and appeals to itself as its own authority.
This statement; "Ideology is how a particular class of people look at society ontologically, in the hopes that the categories they create are suited to solving their problems as a class." is correct EXCEPT that I would replace the word "hopes" with the word certitude. Ideologies are dogmatic. Religions are ideologies. Some political movements are ideologies.
This statement: "Liberalism, quite simply, seems hard to define to the casual observer, because it is very adaptable." I find true. You'll find very often in forums like this one, that conservatives will be very quick to define the liberal. I think definition is very important to the conservative mind. It helps keep them grounded. My advice to the liberal is never make the mistake that conservatives make by defining them as they define liberals. They do it constantly. Liberals are this. Liberals are that, assuming that Liberals are monolithic and they all think the same. Never define them. They will simply deny your definition is accurate.
Each thing they use to define themselves rests on something else, which in turn needs definition. When one tries to explain the meaning of an expression, one uses out of necessity, other expressions which require definition, leading to more expressions requiring definition, leading to a vicious cycle of endless justification. I don't define them. I’m drawing from the conservatives own definitions. Their stated beliefs. They will have to justify their definitions which will require more definitions which will require more justification. It’s up to them to defend those positions, and bear in mind that the positions that they take on any issue are all based on the conservative ideology which cannot demonstrate itself as true. Truth should be your goal always, no matter how uncomfortable that might be at times. Conservatives claim to have principles and stand for something. They will claim that the liberal stands for nothing and sneer at their lack of values. Let them know that you do stand for something. You stand for truth. Everything else is bullshit, which includes the conservative position.
Anytime a person defines something; they set borders around what lies within the definition. They cannot be more or less than what they describe. They limit themselves to their own definition.
If there is an ideology to liberalism, I think that it is still true that the American liberal believes that society can and should be improved, and that the way to improve it is to apply human intelligence to social and economic problems. To me, it's hard to see that as an ideology since that is nothing more than saying that we should use our brain to solve problems. Well...that's what it's for. So it seems a self evident utilitarian purpose. It's what we do. We solve problems. Why there is an aversion to that, I don't know. I suspect it's because it often flys in the face of appeals to tradition.
The framework I come from permits a liberal to be characterized as one who is willing to entertain any position and holds all his positions, including his most fundamental standards, goals, and decisions, and his basic philosophical position itself, open to criticism; one who never cuts off an argument by resorting to faith, or irrational commitment to justify some belief that has been under severe critical fire; one who is committed, attached, addicted, to no position. It's not a matter of saying what I am, but rather saying what I'm not. That seems to charactorize the liberal position to me. If it doesn't to others, especially other liberals then it's clear evidence that there is no set ideology that is uniformly adopted. Finding truth isn't an additive process. It's subractive. You don't look for truth. You reveal it. To see its face, you must remove the mask. Ideologies mask the truth. And truth matters.
Ideology: A threat at home, a threat abroad