Ideology—a Lens with Blinders



crisis and leviathanEvery ideology has its Great Satan and a supporting cast of demons. These serve as all-purpose targets of blame and of the hatred that animates the ideology’s adherents. Ideology is not simply the distorted belief system of one’s political enemies. In accordance with the “inclusive” conception that I have employed in my writing for more than thirty years, everyone who is not completely apathetic about politics and the state has an ideology. Having one is not necessarily a bad thing—individualist, private-property anarchism, for example, is in my estimation a noble and respectful (of people’s natural rights) set of beliefs and commitments—yet every ideology puts blinders on its adherents, narrowing their vision and keeping certain aspects of social reality out of sight. We would therefore be wise never to forget that we are all the prisoners, as it were, of our overarching belief system about social relations. This remembrance also helps us to humanize ideological opponents whom we might otherwise cast, if only rhetorically, into outer darkness.

(My most detailed and extensive discussion of ideology as an analytical concept in political economy appears in chapter 3 of my book Crisis and Leviathan.)

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