George Walford: The Ideological Pyramid (58)

The major ideologies, outlined on the facing page, have developed through history. Each of them provides the conditions which permit the next one to emerge, and each of them has fewer people attached to it than the one before. The diagram below indicates the outcome, the ideological structure of contemporary society, but the model needs to be used with caution; it presents no more than a bare outline, showing none of the complex internal relationships. Also, a pyramid is notably static, the ideological system dynamic. Different parts of it change at different rates, and for most social purposes its overall form can be taken as stable, but no part of it is permanently fixed and neither is the whole.

This pyramid forms the tip of the greater one representing universal evolution; there, also, the outcome is the total system, not any one level. These ideologies, with the groups attached to them, form a hierarchy, but one of development, not of value, validity or influence; the anarchists, although at the top of the pyramid, neither exercise social domination nor seek to do so. Power is possessed and exercised mainly by the big numbers towards the foot. The bulk shown for each level indicates the relative influence exercised by that ideology.

The ideology of ideologies seems not to appear, but in fact it does; with each step upwards the concern with ideology strengthens, and in moving beyond repudiation it becomes total; the ideology of ideologies identifies not with any one level but with the whole system.

The pyramid below is not to scale; it seriously exaggerates the size and influence of the upper levels and understates those of the lower ones.


from Ideological Commentary 58, November 1992.