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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ideology And Tribalism

I am a socialist. But when I tell my friends, both conservatives and non-conservatives, that, I try to explain what I mean. I believe in the workplace and political structures promoted by the kinds of Socialism that emphasize democratic rule rather than elite-centered rule. I favor those kinds of workplace and political structures because they provide a degree of protection against the centralization of power. I do not spend my time talking much about socialist ideology though. Why? It is because I want to avoid the kind of tribalism that comes with relying to heavily on ideology. For what comes with being too much of an ideologue is the act of excluding people who hold to different ideologies or belong to different groups from decision making processes simply because they belong to different groups.

Now some fellow Socialists may not consider me to be a Socialist. For just as Rosa Luxemburg claimed that Lenin was operating a bourgeoisie dictatorship rather than a socialist state because he depended too much on the central committee to rule Russia. She might classify my beliefs as supporting a bourgeoisie democracy because I don't want to exclude the bourgeoisie from participating in making decisions.

But that doesn't deter me. I very much believe in elevating the status and power of workers and thus I also believe in leveling the playing field in making decision between those who own businesses and their workers. But I don't believe in elevating the position of workers so that the voices of the owners are silenced. Here I believe that we should have two bases for ownership: ownership by wealth and ownership by labor. And that both groups should share equal power in making decisions.

Having said that, I am emphasizing a structure rather than an ideology or logical model of thought or rules by which reality is predefined. If I was an ideologue, I would be more concerned with the models of thought being used to determine what people should be experiencing than the facts on the ground and testimonies of people.  That is one of the problems with being an ideologue. The more of an ideologue I am, the more I use deduction to determine what is real than I use observation and listening to others. In fact, I might build a hostility to observations and facts on the ground because they could possibly challenge what my model of thought says should happen. This is perhaps why Ted Koppel challenged Sean Hannity the way he did. First Koppel flattered Hannity by saying how good he was at doing his job. But then he told Hannity that a result of his effectiveness was that his followers think that 'ideology is more important than facts (click here).'

It matters not whether the ideology is political or spiritual--theology can be called a spiritual ideology. It also doesn't matter how conservative or non-conservative a given ideology is. The more one depends on a given ideology, the more one approaches reality by deducing what it is than asking people what they are experiencing. This is as true for the ideology of trickle-down economics as it is for ideologies used by Lenin, Mao, and Castro.

In addition, the more one adheres to an ideology, the more loyal one is to that ideology's model of thought and to others who share that thinking. So here, we are talking about group loyalty. And the more one is loyal to an ideological group, the more tribal one becomes. Why?  It is because tribalism occurs when there is a high degree of loyalty to a group. And what that high degree of loyalty does is to take away one's objectivity when looking at the real world.  In addition, the more group loyalty there exists in a group, the more insular the members of the group become. And with that comes a group authoritarianism so that there is a growing hostility to those outsiders who challenge one's group.

Group authoritarianism is simply a natural result of being an ideologue. This authoritarianism feeds an us vs. them mentality. And we see much of that in the world today both in the past, with communists vs capitalists, and in the present, with liberals vs conservatives. Conservative, liberal, and leftist ideologues see the members of the other groups as threats because their ideologues challenge one's own ideology. And such challenges prompt authoritarian-like, anti-social responses.

Now, it isn't that ideologies are unimportant. They provide a way of organizing our thinking which help us understand the world around us. So the existence of ideologies are not the problem per se. Rather, the problem is our dependence on these ideologies to define more and more of the real world. There comes a time when our dependence on a given ideology grows so great that it causes us to predetermine reality instead of relying on observation. And that dependence yields loyalty and that loyalty, when it reaches a certain threshold becomes ideological tribalism.

All of that is why I limit my adherence to any kind of Socialism as an ideology. I like the workplace and political structures of Socialism because they provide a hedge against the consolidation of power. But that hedge is not invincible. And limiting the consolidation of power doesn't always produce the best decisions. But when socialist workplace and political structures are maintained, they do more to limit the centralization of power than limiting government does. Why? Because those with government authority do not have a monopoly on political power.

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