George Hay: Letter to the Editor
It does seem to me that the “old” series of terms for the major ideologies – “protostatic,” “parastatic” and so on – has one big advantage: just because they are so outlandish they force people to stop and think. This is something I noticed also in the context of what Ron Hubbard’s critics used to call his “jargon.” The term “reactive mind” may or may not be a synonym for “the unconscious” but in order to reach a decision on this the reader or listener must at least consider the issue.
I think the new terms are good, because common, and very hard to misconstrue. There is the difficulty that it might be hard to find nouns to describe the typical member of one of these ideological groups. “The Revolutionist” – that’s fair enough. And no doubt, “The Reformist.” But “The Precisionist”? “The Dominator”? “The Repudiator”? As for “expedience” – I can’t find the noun at all! For such descriptions I think one will have to go about things some other way.
After all this time, I still feel that some key barrier in the way of a more general acceptance of s.i. is being ignored. I really do not think it can be the case that, in the main, the theory is being denied. I think it is simpler than that, and that one has to face a general public disinterest (in Britain, anyway) in rational explanations for politics or, indeed, for anything. Now, if a man has it fixed in his head that he does not like sweets, it is no good your saying, “Oh, I should not have offered him humbugs, I should have chosen winegums.” If you can get over his false identifications about sweets in general, then he will accept sweets of any kind. I think this is where we are going wrong, and my belief is strengthened by the observation – correct, I think – that such listeners and readers as you have are mainly rationalists and humanists, almost – not quite! – the only class left that at least pretends to hold by the use of reason. This means, it seems to me, that a break-out to a wider audience, if it is to be made, can only be achieved by a quite different approach (not, of course, invalidating the current one but being supplementary to it, just as precision, say, goes along with reform or revolution as being successive approaches to an overall situation). I believe such an approach could be worked out: I have in mind teaching approaches that have produced in very little time rapid improvements in allegedly ‘unteachable’ students. This is something I would like to see tried, if possible under the aegis of the English Language Society. But if it is to be tried – and this assumes you agree that the possibility should be explored – it will have to be cost-effective: a consultant would have to be called in and paid for as such, whether the results proved out or not. And the English Language Society would need to cover costs and, ideally, even show a slight profit. We are not talking about vast sums here, but money would have to change hands, one way or another. Would any of your readers be interested in going into this further?
We have not read everything Darwin ever wrote, but have been told that he did not use the phrase “survival of the fittest”. Whether he did or not, and whether the idea applies in biological evolution or not, it’s a useful solution for problems of terminology. We have no intention of trying to ban the use of either set of terms for the major ideologies, and no way of making a ban effective were we to try one. Our own feeling at present is that both have value, the “expedience” set for the more everyday uses, the “protostatic” for the heavier theorising. But let them fight it out between themselves – and may the victor win!
We take the point, that it is difficult to derive nouns for individuals from the ‘expedience’ series of terms for the major ideologies, but question whether this is a bad thing. The theory only applies with any strictness to large groups; the individual members of any group beyond the expedient are affected in their behaviour by suppressed identification with the one or more ideologies they have as it were passed through on their way to it, and all of us are greatly affected in our personal behaviour by non-ideological influences – psychological, physiological, physical, chemical and so on and so on. Only very loosely can terms intended for ideological groups be applied to individual members of those groups, and to have terms for the groups that discourage such adaptation seems quite useful.
Yes, provided the terms be taken in their broader senses, the readers of IC are mainly, perhaps entirely, rationalists and humanists. (Although the difficulty mentioned above applies to these terms also). But this does not mean that only these groups accept s.i., for there are other ways of demonstrating agreement with a theory than reading and writing about it – or even thinking about it. Not many of the planets have read Copernicus or many of the electrons Heisenberg, and the great body of those who support s.i. demonstrate their support by acting in accordance with it. When George speaks of “general public disinterest… in rational explanations for politics, or indeed for anything” he is describing features of behaviour no more foreign to s.i. than the colours of a baboon’s backside are foreign to the theory of natural selection; the theory explicitly recognises that the general body of the people have little or no interest in theorising, about politics or anything else. Indeed, what would call its validity in question would be a great increase in the numbers taking an actively intellectual interest in it. Fortunately there is no sign of that happening.
It may well be that the dividing line, between thinkers and doers, can best be established by experimental enquiry such as George is proposing. Expressions of interest in or support for the undertaking should be sent directly to: George Hay, [address].
– – –
In IC30 we invited suggestions for a non-sexist alternative to homo sapiens. John Rowan sends this, from the SOLAR AGE PATHFINDER newsletter No. 3, undated, c. 1982-3:
While John White and others use the term Homo noeticus, we prefer Homo / Mulier noeticus (or noetica), Mulier being the Latin for Woman. This is because of the vital need for each and every one of us to root out patriarchal thinking and values from our thought processes … And, while talking of the names of species, since the current orthodox scientific term for Neanderthal man and woman is Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, and Homo sapiens sapiens for the existing humanoid species, then perhaps it would be best to use the name Homo / Mulier sapiens noeticus for the new humanity.
IT HAS been suggested that exhaustion of the forests in Elizabethan times led to the use of coal, sparking off the industrial revolution and all that came of it. Keith Thomas’s account makes this seem doubtful. He reports that the demands of the iron industry did lead to much woodland being destroyed but eventually had a conserving effect, coppices being cultivated for charcoal.
He also points out, for conservationists inclined to go overboard on avoidance of hubris, that ‘Man’s ascendancy over the animal and vegetable world has, after all, been a basic precondition of human history.’ (Keith Thomas, Man and the Natural World, Changing Attitudes in England 1500-1800, London, Allan Lane, 1983, pp. 193, 16)
IN 1807, when two criminals were hanged together, twenty-seven spectators died in the crush. (Patricia Beer, TLS 11-17 Dec 87)
THE MOVEMENT for healthy living advances rapidly. Already the High Street grocers sell little beside health foods, alcohol and cigarettes.
from Ideological Commentary 32, March 1988.
- PSI Circular Number Two (February 1979)
- PSI Circular Number One (January 1979)
- Joshua Feldman: Reconceptualising (systematic) Ideology in the Wake of Political Psychology
- George Walford and Ike Benjamin: The Sad Case of the SPGB
- Linda Sloane: Systematic Ideology and Identity / The Triangle of Society, Ideology and the Individual
- Their “Operation Utopia”
- George Orwell Letters to George Walford
- George Walford: The New Magic
- George Walford: Exploring Ideology
- George Walford: Sciences