Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ideology, good or bad?

I've just read a rather interesting piece in Total Politics where Douglas Murray, from the Centre for Social Cohesion, and Sunny Hundal from Liberal Conspiracy, debating whether ideology is good or bad. Murray does the good and Sunny does the bad.

Murray's argument is certainly compelling because it points out that the being "non-ideological" is in itself an ideological standpoint. This is certainly correct I think, and it is a paradox that I've often wondered about myself. The person who claims to be non-ideological is often quite dogmatic about it.

One bit that leapt out at me though was when I read Sunny's argument that ideology was bad. He says,
But in reality neither ideology: left-wing government interventionism nor right-wing laissez-faire, works when taken to its extreme. In financial markets we need government intervention to ensure shareholders, consumers and employees get treated fairly, while having a hands-off approach that ensures the government doesn't run private business or tell them how to do their job.
I've highlighted two words there because as I read it all I could think was "fairness is an ideological standpoint". Essentially Sunny is arguing that ideology is bad whilst simultaneously pushing a set of values that he believes ought to be adhered too.

What is interesting about the article as a whole is that Douglas Murray's point about those who favour "non-ideology" is actually proved when you read Sunny's argument. Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying that Sunny is wrong to want "fairness" per se, just that by noting that it ought to be that way he is actually contradicting his argument against ideology.


Anonymous said...

It's quite typical of those on the left, I find. They don't consider their view to be ideological, or, for example, a media outlet putting forward their view to be biased. It's quite interesting.

DavidNcl said...

People who say "Oh! I'm not ideological" are too ignorant to realise they're "lying". It's not actually possible to act without mental models of reality—which is what an ideology is—not even to get a cup of tea, let alone design fiscal policy. People who make such statements show themselves to be ignorant and foolish.

Such fools do have an ideology but are unaware of it—they have some received hegemonic group think and have no idea how they acquired it, not what it's basis is nor it's logical conclusions. They are in fact tools of other actors; I think the Marxists call them useful idiots

Anonymous said...

Well in slight response to David I am on the left and recognise that there is ideology to my politics. I would say the same disease exists on the right only in reverse; rightists tend to think their politics is all 'pragmatism' except slightly more honest ones.

Neither view is entirely right as most politics is a mix of both....

Ben Gray said...

What's annoying is this belief that there's a simple choice between two abstract and absolute ideologies. All Sunny argued against there was a lack of nuance.

He has just articulated his own ideology, but what's worrying is that he fails to realise that's what he's done. That just means that we fail to be open about the limits of our own thinking and comprehension. If "we hold these truths to be self-evident", then we cannot ultimately defend that "truth" against a challenge.

Matthew Parris had something on it earlier this year:

Dominic Allkins said...

But surely "treated fairly" could mean something completely different to different people. The assessment of "fair" is purely subjective and also potentially discriminatory.

One persons fair may well be another persons unfair. Who is to make the judgement and on what grounds? Ideological?


Anonymous said...

The loans even when free are no great help really -- because it makes them even poorer than they already are.

The high interest will help to put them off impoverishing themselves even further, and that is probably the very idea behind it.

Also, a lot of people are applying for one when they don't need one, since it's more 'free' money in their eyes and a nice lump sum.

Because those funds are size limited in a specific time it means that when the fund is empty before the end of the fiscal year, the rest of the emergencies can whistle for it, and so, making it free to apply and take out will keep the very people who actually need to use the emergency fun.

Now, you wonder why is the fund capped? Bonus points for the answer to that one!