June 23, 2010

shouting matches

It is no particularly great insight that ideological labels have become mere shouting terms in our discourse, used mainly to rally the fellows and offend the barbarians. However, generally those making the observation assume that there really can and should be coherent ideological labels and––if they existed––they would be a good and healthy thing for the nation.

A recent comment thread on The Ochlophobist got me considering this assumption, however. In theory, the majority (and to my knowledge, all) of the participants in that go around are Orthodox Christians, or at least highly sympathetic to Orthodox Christianity. As such, there should be much closeness on knowledge of moral ends and images of healthy culture, etc. if not actual identity with a common set of aspirations. As such, the ideologies of Marxism or Liberalism in particular should hardly enter into the discussions, even if arguments appropriated from either lineage did, but rather diagnoses, hopes or even policies (on which there can be disagreement without the scepter of our ideological labels).

However, the tone of the Ochlophobist's discourse is latched on by some commentators, while others seek to use it as an opportunity to express agreement with one ideology, or statements to rally those who oppose the ideology they are against. While I certainly agree that "No people on earth are fit to practice socialism", I don't think any people on earth are fit to practice much of anything in the way of totalizing political ideologies, even those which claim to be non-totalizing based on their love of freedom as an abstract. (It is an often problematic accident of language that we have no one word to distinguish between the liberty of the Libertarian, and the liberty of St. Paul.) In any case, order naturally arises, and the trick is to have the natural aristocracy both in their place and humble about the powers they wield. Quotes such as the above, though, simply serve to rally proponents of one ideology while annoying the proponents of the other. I certainly have done (and will almost certainly do again) this myself, but coming from the background I do, I've never been able to make myself wholly immune to partisan fervor, and won't pretend otherwise.

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