Each of us has his own unique ideology, his system of identifications and assumptions, which is not the same as that of anybody else. Also, some of the particular assumptions within each unique set are peculiar to the person concerned. Each of us has, for example, assumptions concerning his own body which he shares with nobody else. But each unique, personal set contains, in addition to particular assumptions, also more general assumptions, and these are held in common with other people. People identified with the same assumptions are thereby constituted an ideological group.
Some ideological groups are small, some are large. Their size depends primarily upon the generality of the assumptions which form the basis for the group, and the larger groups tend to be the more enduring. Thus the assumption “England” is more general than the assumption of any one address in England, and the group of people identified with England is both larger and more enduring than the group identified with any one English address.
It is common for assumptions to be included one within the other, as in this example, and sometimes this relationship extends through a series, producing a “Chinese-box” pattern of assumptions and also of the groups identified with them.
I assume I have pennies, you assume you have pound notes, and he assumes he has five-pound notes; no two of us have the same particular assumption. But we are all identified with the same general assumption: we all assume we have some English money. This common identification constitutes us an ideological group, and also distinguishes that group from another, composed of those identified with the assumption that they have some French money. These two groups, (together with other “national-money” groups) form a larger group whose members are identified with the more general assumption that they have some European money. As the assumptions become more general, so the groups become larger and fewer.
As one moves from more particular assumptions toward more general ones (and, accordingly, from smaller toward larger ideological groups), there comes a stage at which the assumptions and identifications under consideration are sufficiently general that each set, forming the basis of an ideological group, embraces, or is capable of being related to, the whole of existence, to the totality of both the social and the non-social worlds. At this level of generality the number of sets of assumptions, and consequently the number of ideological groups into which the population is divided, is small, and it is mainly these groups which are significant for the understanding of political behaviour. We shall refer to these universal systems of assumptions and identifications as “the major ideologies.”
Continue reading An Outline Sketch of Systematic Ideology (1977):
The Walsby Society | Introduction | Ideology and the Left | The Field of Ideology | Assumption and Identification | Definition of an Ideology | Ideological Groups | The Major Ideologies | Ideological Development | Intellect | The Group Situation | The Cosmic Situation | Political Individualism and Collectivism | Economic Individualism and Collectivism | Personal Ideological Structure | Social Ideological Structure | Conclusion | Papers on Systematic Ideology