Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Heffer plays the "Dictionary Definition" game

Great news everyone, with a slight deviation last week, normal service has been resumed by Simon Heffer. In today's Telegraph he's back to his anti-Cameron best, only this time he's doing it by playing the "Dictionary Definition" game that anyone that's discussed politics on Usenet will have seen many times before.

Today's Heffer rant is about the terms "ideology" and "ideologues". Heffer points out that "ideology, as the dictionary tells us, is simply the study of ideas: and an ideologue is one who studies them" thus those that reject ideology are "rejecting and condemning ideas". Isn't he clever? Of course, he's deliberately ignored the other defintions in the dictionary that ruin his argument, such is the way when you play the Dictionary Definition game.

As it happens though, Heffer is wrong to say that those that are pragmatic reject ideas. On the contrary, they embrace ideas, the difference is that they are not bound by the doctrinal nature of what Heffer later referred to as an "ideological system".

Being non-ideological does not mean rejecting ideas, it means, for example, rejecting marxism and socialism because it compartmentalises human action into the grand theory of dialectical materialism. On the political flip-side it also means rejecting the world which fails to acknowledge the complexity of human action. Human action cannot be assessed though behaviourism that relies on bedrock assumptions that we will always act in economically rational ways.

Being non-ideological means, quite simply, acknowledging that politics is the art of the possible. Sadly that's something Simon Heffer doesn't appear to "get".


Ralph Lucas said...

It's an interesting situation for the Conservatives to be in - no home newspaper. Telegraph in the hands of the ghastly brothers, Times and Sun Murdoched, Mail minting it on making us frightened, Express daft, Independent one long gloomy whinge.

Perhaps Dizzy's our only hope?

dizzy said...

Better watch it m'lord, if my ego get's any bigger I could be dangerous.

Anonymous said...

I usually enjoy reading your excellent posts, and maybe it's because I haven't quite woken up this morning, but could you run this past me once again?
"dialectical materialism" etc etc... it sounds like you swallowed a political theory textbook. How about some consideration and speaking English for us simple folk out here?(just teasing!!)

dizzy said...

A fair point. So witout a hint of irony, here is what the Dictionary says it is is

James Hellyer said...

Being non-ideological means, quite simply, acknowledging that politics is the art of the possible.

As RAB Butler was so fond of saying...

The problem, of course, is that the "art of the possible" limits people to what they believe is achievable, which will by definition tend towards the lower end of the scale, as was illustrated by the post-war Butskellite consensus.

You can't make things change if you won't try and change them.

dizzy said...

*yawn*... it doesn;t mean you don't change things. It means you take a approach which is not stupidly radical to change. Change = risk and risk must be mitigated.