A venerable old official sleeps at a meeting. The Dictator orders him killed.
It is interesting to think that the Dictator was originally part of a plan for the salvation of all mankind- a plan for an equal and just society.
Let us go back a few years. At a meeting to felicitate Stalin, as the leader made his appearance, the entire audience stood up- and started clapping. It went on – and on. No one wanted to be the first one to stop the process. Ten minutes of increasingly deafening din. Blistered palms. Mounting anxiety- until a middle-aged successful industrialist stopped- and sat down. The relieved audience took the cue. The Industrialist was send to the infamous Siberian death camp for ten years. No one survives that long, there.
How does one kill six million Jews, one and a half million gypsies who originated in the Indian subcontinent and millions of others that included homosexuals, communists, the weak, the infirm, and the not-fit-to-live, according to him? Hitler found it easy. An entire state apparatus and most of the people either complied- or watched. The banality of evil.
The striking thing in all this instances is not the evil men themselves, but the huge mass of followers, who are neither evil, nor particularly remarkable, who made these macabre dramas of human history possible. What evilled them into submission?
Having certain ideals and following them at a personal level is not Ideology. Ideology is a plan. A formula. For salvation of the human race. It has a world-view. It has a pseudo science. It has a sacred history. It has a plan, if taken to its conclusion, will save the human race and let us live in Utopia forever.
Take the Christian ideology for instance. There is a sacred history. There is the science of theology. There is a right way to live. There is a right belief. Only that is correct. If you follow this you shall have eternal life and paradise. Otherwise, you will rot in hell. Or there can be variations in the theme- only one book- and a creator. The creator has given all the rules and has specified how to live. Everyone has to be converted to this view, or eliminated. Then we will have paradise, full with everything we desire, however carnal or crass.
How about this one- we have a unique and wonderful culture that dates back ten thousand years. We had airplanes and nuclear weapons five thousand years ago. The invaders destroyed everything. ‘Going back’ is the plan, ‘regaining lost glory’ is the salvation.
There are others. In the beginning, there was blessed egalitarianism of the tribes. Then history follows through feudalism and capitalism. Then all the workers unite, follows a holy book to guide them that a messiah has penned to lead them to revolution. A permanent egalitarian society is formed, with a perfectly moral one party dictatorship at the helm.
Hitler believed that he will usher in a perfect reign of the perfect Aryan race, that will last a thousand years- ‘the thousand years Reich’.
What have you got against “ideology”? There are many reasons not to align with any:
It is a myth:
There are no magic formulas. Utopia doesn’t exist. One man’s paradise is another’s purgatory. They are stories that can mislead good people.
Infinite good justifies large costs:
The final outcome in any Ideology is infinite good. How much can you pay for an infinite amount of permanent good? How many can you kill? How many humans can you torture to death? A whole lot, apparently.
There are villains, and one may have to kill them:
There are Christians; or Muslims. Or infidels. Counter-revolutionaries and the Bourgeoisie. Satan cavorts around with witches. One may have to kill them all to reach the Destiny.
It can turn ordinary people into killers:
Specific studies have shown that suicide terrorists and religious mass murderers are not sociopaths. Most are not disadvantaged or poor. The majority are mentally healthy, men and women with ordinary consciences. The formula for infinite good has corrupted their thinking.
It can turn sensible causes into irrational muck:
Perfectly sensible causes can slowly turn ideological. Ordinary market economics, environmentalism, feminism, liberal humanism, and even atheism can slowly turn into Ideologies that can twist or reject prosaic facts and good science. The market is not a magic Capitalist formula that will ensure infinite good. GM crops are not the Satan’s invention that can destroy the world. Humans are not angels, if we leave them without any governance. Governments are not all evil.
Good Ideals are nice to have. All Ideologies are Bullshit.
Then what should one do? What to believe in? Where is salvation?
I don’t know. I don’t know anyone who knows. Do you?