Let us assume the reader has found this outline sketch acceptable, that he has moved on to some of the studies which undertake to establish various parts of the theory and has found those also acceptable. Let us assume that he accepts, provisionally at least, the theory of systematic ideology. What effect will this have upon him personally? How will it influence his political views, his attitudes and expectations? It will produce a change more revolutionary than any he has previously experienced. He will not “change sides” as he may have done in the past. Instead, he will reject the conception of politics as a field in which one chooses a side, accepts this or that view and repudiates the others.
He will recognise that the field of ideology, and of social and political belief and action connected with ideology, is not a field which is dominated by arbitrary subjective choice. Neither is it a mere reflection or superstructure, governed by the events occurring in some other field; ideology is not merely an epiphenomenon of economic processes. Ideology is, like economics, psychology, biology and other such fields, a relatively independent area. It exhibits phenomena peculiar to itself, entities and events which are systematically related one to another, and processes which follow recognisable laws. All of these require, for their full comprehension, study of the internal relationships of the field itself, as well as study of the influence exercised by adjoining fields.
The study of ideology is still in a very early phase; the systematic ideologist is still able, for the most part, to speak only in general terms, and there are wide areas of activity which have not yet undergone even a preliminary ideological survey. But one conclusion which has been solidly established, receiving further confirmation from each study of particular areas, is the presence in our society of an ideological structure, exercising an influence which is not yet generally recognised.
I have tried to outline this structure, presenting, very briefly, each of the major ideologies, mentioning some of the more significant relationships between them and indicating that there is reason to regard each of them as a necessary functional constituent of modern industrial or post-industrial society. In the broadest terms, a society which is to endure must be supplied and maintained, and with these functions the eidostatics are concerned. If the society is to endure in the face of accelerating technological development then it must not only be supplied and maintained, it must also be constantly reformed and, on occasion, revolutionised, and with this the eidodynamics are concerned. If a modern society is to endure it needs eidostatics and eidodynamics, and when one enquires more closely then it is found that not only these two great ideological classes but also each one of the major ideologies is a necessary functional constituent of a modern society.
This is not generally recognised. Among all the different major political parties, movements, positions and theories there is not one which presents the others as being equally necessary with itself. Present systems of government vary, but they all have one thing in common. They all operate on the exclusive principle, they all assume that one ideology must prevail to the exclusion, more or less complete, of all others.
This assumption produces the greater part of the conflict, national and international, which not only deprives us of the benefits which modern society, with its productive systems, is capable of providing, but even puts our continued existence at risk. It does so because it ignores the ideological structure. The major ideologies, and the groups identified with them, being functionally necessary constituents of our society, cannot be eliminated. They can, for a time and to an extent, be suppressed, (at least in their overt political expression), but the effort involved produces stresses which become more unacceptable as our society becomes more integrated and the power of weapons increases.
The theory of systematic ideology indicates that we have to accept the range of major ideologies, and the groups identified with them, as enduring features of our society. This points to the conclusion that an adequate political structure would be one in accordance with the ideological structure, one which recognised that the major ideologies, and the major ideological groups, are complementary, rather than merely opposed, one to another. It is a conclusion which amounts to nothing more – and nothing less – than the recognition that if we are to survive we shall need to adapt our political system to the ideological realities.
In closing, let us recall what underlies the polysyllabic abstractions we have been using. “Ideological groups,” “negative identifications,” “economic individualism;” these, and similar terms, are only shorthand descriptions of ways in which people behave. It is people who form ideological groups, and it is people who form society and its ideological structure. When we speak of establishing a political system consonant with the ideological structure this is only to say that an adequate political system would be one that works with, and not against, the way in which people in our society behave.
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