George Walford: A New Departure

At Friends House, on October 3, 10, 17, George Walford delivered a series of three public lectures on systematic ideology. This was a new departure for the WS, whose meetings devoted to systematic ideology had previously been (semi-) private.

The speaker did not use the protostatic-paradynamic series of terms for the major ideologies, but referred to them by the colours of the movements with which they are respectively associated in current party politics. The protostatics became the brown, the epistatic the blue, the parastatic the yellow, the protodynamic the pink, the epidynamic the red and the paradynamic the black. He redefined one standard concept, and introduced several new ones, of which three in particular may prove fruitful.

The redefinition was that the relationship formerly defined as “the inverse ratio between quality and quantity” became “the inverse ration between the degree of development of an ideology and the size of the group identified with it.” This is, admittedly, less neat than the original, but it avoids the suggestion, carried by the use of “quality,” that some ideologies are “better” than others, with the inescapable corollary that we ought to try to eliminate the “worse” ones.

Of the new concepts the three main ones were, firstly: that each ideological group beyond the brown has not just one, but two or more ideologies. One of these, the one which appears in the type of behaviour the group itself values, is its dominant ideology. The others are those which stand to the brown side of the group in question. They appear in behaviour which is exhibited by the group but which it disvalues and may even repudiate (while continuing to exhibit it). These are its repressed ideologies. Thus the brown ideology is repressed in the blue, the brown and the blue repressed in the yellow, and so on.

Secondly, that the brown, blue and yellow ideologies each appear in a type of behaviour which can be distinguished in general social life as well as in the political field. The brown appears in expedient behaviour, the blue in principled behaviour and the yellow in precise behaviour (the other ideologies were not treated form this viewpoint). Expedient behaviour appears in informal social life and in all the many actions into which principle does not enter. Principled behaviour appears most prominently in law and the established religions; precise behaviour in ethics, formal logic and science, particularly the physical sciences.

Thirdly that discrepancies, between social and political practice on the one hand and what systematic ideology would lead us to expect on the other, nearly always follow the same pattern. Nearly always the problem is that a group acts in a manner closer to the brown end of the range than theory would lead us to expect. The problem is, for example, that Communists sometimes act like Fascist, not vice versa. This the speaker ascribed to the fact that the big numbers, and with them the effective power, lie toward the brown end, so that each group beyond the brown is under constant temptation to modify its statements and actions to suit those to the brown side of it. In this way it hopes to obtain their support, and with it the power to establish its own dominant ideology in social practice. This tendency the speaker named ideological drag.

The lectures were well attended and the general tone, in the questions and discussion, was sympathetic and constructive. Coloured charts were used and, in the first lecture, taped quotations. These innovations helped to add life and directness to a subject which tends to appear abstract and remote. For six hours the attention of an audience was focussed upon systematic ideology. This is a new achievement for the Walsby Society, and it is hoped that the breakthrough will be followed up. The chairmen for the three meetings were, respectively, Stan Chisman, Peter Hunot and Nat Nesbit.

from Ideological Commentary 2, November 1979.