2016 June 18 Saturday
What To Do About Ideologies?

Toni Airaksinenis recovering from a plunge into feminist ideology.

For example, feminist ideology taught me that any opinions that were conservative, or just didn’t align with the party line were violence. It also taught me that the best way to fight opposition is to try to silence it. Don’t like what someone says? Protest them. Shut their event down.

In retrospect, the fact that I openly embraced an ideology that claimed that holding a conservative viewpoint is the same as life-threatening violence, isn’t just absurd, it’s embarrassing. How was I so deluded?

The advent of conservative speakers being de-platformed or harassed by screaming social justice warriors is a logical consequence of an ideology that equates conservative opinions with physical violence.

What's surprising is that she's been able to start pulling herself out of this mindset. What fraction of people who are taught to think like this ever go thru withdrawal?

I pretty much do not want to be around people who've embraced an ideological faith. Probably one should visit with secular believers to keep up with what various secular faiths are up to. But I'd prefer they and I live in different political jurisdictions, preferably all the way up to the national level. Better to live with people who are more practical, rational, and interested in evidence.

What causes ideologies to flourish in the modern era? I think turning away from beliefs in supernatural religions leaves an unfulfilled need in a lot of people for an overarching explanation of how society works, what is the meaning of life, and, especially, who is good and who is evil. Some people have a strong need to point to an out-group against which their in-group is defined. I think it best these in and out groups are defined across national borders.

You might think one could fulfill one's need to understand life by, say, understanding math and science. But its beyond the mental ability of most people to understand even lower division calculus classes, let alone the more complex stuff. People have a hard time grasping evolution because the numbers of involved in making low probability events into high probability events are hard to get one's mind around. Complex systems are hard to model in one's mind.

Really really smart people who embrace crazy ideas like Marxism has other explanations too. For example, the extent to which people are bothered by inequality varies across the political spectrum and is probably inherited. People who are hardwired strongly against hierarchy or strongly against inequality (and these are separate attributes I think) are going to be in rebellion against a market society even if its poor people are way better off than a those in a communist society. They can't help it. Their instincts are just too strongly driving them to be upset.

I suspect brain genetics research is eventually going to lead to the discovery of genetic variants that make even very smart people more prone to embrace assorted forms of secular faith. Then I'd love to see a group surreptitiously get DNA samples from assorted intellectual crazies, test their DNA, and then float the test results on the web in a way that avoids the ability to trace back to who did this.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2016 June 18 06:40 PM 

Jim said at June 18, 2016 8:56 PM:

Yes, the enormous influence of crazy ideologies in the last hundred years or so is astonishing. Things like Marxism in the Soviet Union, Nazism, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, Pol Pot's slaughter of half the population of Cambodia, and the latest insanity - Venezuela, which should be one of the richest countries on Earth, filled now with starving people eating starving dogs. To be sure it is true that back in the days of religion there were catastrophes like the Thirty Years War in which roughly 50% of the population of Germany perished. So perhaps modern people are not much crazier than people in the past.

Brett Bellmore said at June 19, 2016 4:51 AM:

"I think turning away from beliefs in supernatural religions leaves an unfulfilled need in a lot of people"

Pretty much: Religion and humanity co-evolved, we've more or less got a space in our brain that's going to be occupied by SOMETHING religion-like. The only question is what it's going to be. The modern substitute religions can actually be worse for society than some of the supernatural ones, not yet having been selected for compatibility with a viable society. Like purging your gut bacteria because you're outraged at the idea of having bacteria inside your body, and ending up with a horrible infection in their place.

Look around you at how people actually behave, whether societies with a majority of a particular belief system are viable, and pleasant places, and chose wisely before something random fills that hole while deceiving you into thinking it's still empty. That's my advice.

bob sykes said at June 19, 2016 6:21 AM:

Chesterton commented on this phenomena a hundred years ago, so did Eric Hoffer. "The True Believer" is well worth reading today.

Dan said at June 19, 2016 7:17 AM:

There is a saying, "if you don't believe in anything you'll fall for everything."

Most atheists I know are not cool detached rationalists or fonts of truth and wisdom. Instead they are some of the most ridiculous leftists you will find. They attach themselves to leftwing extremism and climate alarmism, Marxism both cultural and economic and all manner of other foolishness. Many, many are social justice warriors of the worst variety.

I find far more practical, trustworthy and sensible people at our local swimming pool, which for reasons of random chance happens to be populated with a clique of traditionalist Catholic families. They are intelligent and hard realists and family oriented. I am not Catholic but I like that crowd.

Dan said at June 19, 2016 7:42 AM:

"They are intelligent and hard realists and family oriented."

Or at least intelligent, practical and family oriented. Maybe not 'hard realists' in an alt-right sense, but they certainly don't buy into any of the weird sexual drivel being sold today.

jb said at June 20, 2016 9:08 AM:

The advent of conservative speakers being de-platformed or harassed by screaming social justice warriors is a logical consequence of an ideology that equates conservative opinions with physical violence.

Or it could just be a consequence of the university system and the law encouraging them by doing nothing. How passionate would they be if shouting down a guest at a university led to a suspension or expulsion? They're tools of the system. Every time you read something like this you should ask why does it only flow one way? Surely there are people on the other side of any given question who are just as passionate and irrational. Those people don't fit the agenda of someone with power.

They are bullies, and when the object of bullies doesn't fight back it just means they're going to get bullied even more. The Republican/Conservative elite are crooks just in it for the money, actual conflict degrades the business atmosphere that deals can be made in, and they don't care about rights or anything else. The last time I checked the Republicans completely controlled the governments of 23 states, have they ever done anything to cleanse their public universities of these America-hating, democracy-hating, freedom-hating, white-hating racists?

Check it out said at June 21, 2016 5:14 PM:

"I think turning away from beliefs in supernatural religions leaves an unfulfilled need in a lot of people"

No. Not really, just look at the percentages of atheists not only in Scandinavian countries, but most Western Europe countries (a majority now, by the way), they seem more fulfilled than religious people.

On the contrary: religion and the belief in the supernatural is a psychosis shared by so many people in the past, they have prevented the world from being a much better place to live. The less religious a society is the better way of life they will have. Hope it spreads a lot faster than it is now spreading. The future of a healthy society is either Atheism or Agnosticism.

Check it out said at June 23, 2016 4:49 PM:

Chesterton? I read Chesterton and he's garbage. You might as well read Saint Agustin or Thomas Aquinas or Thomas Kempis... Crap everywhere you look at it.

Try Bertrand Russell and Witgenstein instead. They're much better for your brain.

There's also Stephen Hawking, Noam Chomsky and Richard Dawkins; Rousseau, Macciavelli and Voltaire; Hermann Hesse, José Saramago, Erich Fromm and Gabriel García Márquez. That's some real nourishment to keep you busy for a while.

albatross said at June 28, 2016 12:07 PM:

If you want to test jb's thesis, the way to do it is to see whether the school administration tolerates shouting down/disrupting speech they agree with. The tricky bit is to separate out "stuff the administrators don't agree with" from "stuff that's unpopular with students." I suspect the BDS movement is one place you might find a split there, but I'm not sure.

It's the same thing with police responses to harrassment--if the cops won't respond to calls for help from (say) blacks being beaten up by whites, but will respond to calls for help from whites being beaten up by blacks, it's pretty clear there's an agenda there. On the other hand, if the cops simply can't or won't respond to anyone's calls for help, probably that's just honest weakness or ineptitude.

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