Sunday, December 23, 2007

Jump Starting Ideology

Dear George,

Oppression rests on a bedrock of ideology. Without a dynamic ideology, the best a leader could hope for is a tepid authoritarianism that becomes an object of bawdy humor and a target for lowlife satirists. A war driven by ideology takes on a nasty brutishness not found in wars fought for political or economic reasons. Slaughter rocks when driven by ideology.

The question is how do you spin an ideology out of the raw material of life? What switch to you throw, what screw do you tighten in order to build a jackbooted ideology that will crush the proles?

You can take your clue from the early days of sociology. The discipline arose in nineteenth-century Europe with thinkers like Weber, Comte and Durkheim. These early thinkers were literate and well read and in many cases their writing approached poetry.

One of the tools these early thinkers used to understand the workings of society was the “ideal type”. This was an abstract construct that represented a social phenomenon in its pure form. Examples of ideal types are democracy, capitalism, freedom and socialism.

It was understood by these thinkers that the ideal type was not reality. It was simply a tool with which one could analyze reality. Human beings are too contradictory, difficult, disorganized and undisciplined to ever achieve an ideal type—unless they are forced to.

Here now, we have the key to creating an ideology: Treat an ideal type as if it is real. Place this new reality on a mountain top, and drive the people up the slope with whips and cudgels. Lenin did this with socialism and the end result was Communism, which was simple a mutant form of state-run capitalism.

A potential hotbed of ideology is the United States where every word is literalized and every ideal type is treated as a reality to be achieved. St Milton of Friedman is our patron saint of ideology. He took an “ideal type”, free enterprise, and attempted to turn it into a reality. The result has been a cauldron of poverty, misery, oppression and disenfranchisement. Just as Lenin gave us Communism, St. Milton has given us the “Washington Consensus.”

The Washington Consensus was rather wimpy as ideologies go. True, it caused its share of misery, but it simply couldn’t achieve the same body count as earlier ideologies.

That is, until you came along and decided to bring free enterprise and democracy to the Middle East. With that decision, the Washington Consensus started earning its chops as a grim reaper. We have a way to go before we catch up with the twentieth century ideologies, but this is America and we excel at all we do. This is why your invasion of Iran is so crucial. We simply cannot allow this carcass gap to continue. We must show the Europeans that when it comes to body counts, we are number one.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

1 comment:

Rent Party said...

So, you are going to publish these letters as a book, correct? You really should, they will delight and instruct many people.