George Walford: Wrong and Right

We have recently had another nasty shock which must also be passed on to readers. It came with the realisation that in one important way we have been doing, and still are doing, what we blame the (A-)SPGB for doing. They use the word “socialism” in a sense used by almost nobody else and are engaged in a losing struggle to assert their meaning against the standard one; we are doing the same with “ideology.”

Nobody else uses this word in the sense in which it appears in s.i. Almost universally, an ideology is taken to be a system of ideas, more or less intentionally adopted to serve the interests (occasionally, to express the personality) of the person concerned. It is seen as an influence that distorts thinking, affecting some people while others escape its baneful influence.

This differs substantially from its use in s.i. Here ideology is an attribute of groups rather than persons, usually remains largely unrecognised by those concerned, plays a functional role in all purposeful thinking, and is exhibited by all thinking beings. There is, nonetheless, a difference between ourselves and the Party. They maintaining their usual exclusiveness, claim their use of “socialism” to be the only correct one. We, on the contrary, accept the standard use of “ideology” as valid, commenting only that it fails to derive maximum value from the concept, that only the s.i. approach gives “ideology” its full meaning.

from Ideological Commentary 25, January 1987.