George Walford: The Power of Ideology
Ideology is a social force
Ideology is a social force. A hostile force. It divides and destroys us. It sets us against each other; people, movements, nations.
Ideology is here to stay. It affects us all, and we cannot escape it. But we can control it.
We can control this social force as we control natural forces. By accepting and understanding it, Science has enabled us to control natural forces, and when we accept and understand ideology we shall be able to control this force also. We shall be able to use the power of ideology, use it to build a society that meets our needs.
Ideology causes hostility
We all find it hard to understand people of an ideology different from our own. We cannot see why they behave as they do, and because we do not understand them we oppose them.
They do unreasonable things, and persist in doing them even after we have explained the sensible way to behave. They go on supporting capitalism after we have explained that it means wage-slavery. Or they go on supporting socialism after we have explained why it cannot work.
It sometimes seems impossible to get a person or a group, of an ideology different from our own, to understand what we are talking about. And it is equally hard for us to understand them.
Things we do not understand appear threatening. We oppose them, we try to destroy them.
The effects of ideology
Ideological differences cause misunderstandings, and from these the chain of disaster leads on, through frustration and hatred to violence, to terrorism and to war. These are the effects of ideology.
Ideological differences go too deep to be resolved by good intentions. They are not to be overcome by patience, diplomacy, or personal contact. They require study. They require the development of the specialised, systematic study of ideology.
We need all ideologies
Systematic ideology was founded by the late Harold Walsby with his book The Domain of Ideologies, and The Walsby Society continues the work. Much has been learnt, but for practical purposes the outstanding conclusion is that we need all the major ideologies.
Every political movement tries to impose its own ideology upon us all. Some would do this by force, others by reason, but they all try to do it. Not one of them proclaims the ideologies of the others to be equally necessary with its own.
Those who study systematic ideology reject these attempts to impose uniformity. They reject them because they know them to be futile. The first principle of systematic ideology, the conclusion most firmly established, is that no major ideology can be eliminated. Each one is a working part of modern society.
Ideology and politics
We usually think of each political movement as having its own ideology, and this is roughly true. But the political movements do not express the ideologies fully and exactly. They distort them. They exaggerate difference and conflict, they obscure the way in which the ideologis complement each other.
We have to look behind the political movements to the ideologies themselves. Then we find that every major ideology has its part to play. They all contribute to our wellbeing. Those that support authority and those that support freedom. Those that support private enterprise and those that support public control. We need them all.
For most of us today the power of ideology is something which frustrates us. It is something foreign, something strange and threatening. It appears to us as natural forces appeared to primitive man before he understood them. We try to oppose ideology, to do away with it, but we can no more do this than we can do away with wind or lightning.
If we are to protect ourselves against ideology we must accept it, study it, come to understand it. In this way we shall become able to control it. We shall become able to use the power of ideology.
Systematic ideology today
The people working at systematic ideology have already made progress. They know now many major ideologies there are. They know how they affect the behaviour of those who accept them. They know what can and – sometimes more important – what can not be done with the ideologies. They do not yet know all these things in full detail, but they do have the general principles. They know the main conditions we must meet if we are to control ideology. They are advancing toward the point where we shall be able to use the power of ideology.
Your help is needed
They need your help. They need you to take part in the work and they need you to make it known. They need your encouragement.
Ask yourself: Are you content with the human condition today? Are you content with the rate of progress? Or are you becoming convinced that in all the plans for improvement, for reform, and even for revolution, there has been something overlooked, some factor, not taken into account, that frustrates your best efforts?
If you are coming to think like this, and if you suspect that the factor overlooked, the social force that frustrates you, may be the power of ideology, then contact The Walsby Society.
Find our more about ideology
Please tell me more about systematic ideology and The Walsby Society.
Tell me when The Domain of Ideologies, by Harold Walsby, has been reprinted.
I enclose / do not enclose 40p for one copy, £1 for three copies, of An Outline Sketch of Systematic Ideology.
I enclose / do not enclose 10p for five copies, £1 for 60 copies, of The Power of Ideology.
To: The Bookshop [address]
(This leaflet is an independent contribution to the work of The Walsby Society.)
- 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