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ideologiesOne of the finest American teachers acquiesced a few years ago to be my mentor. I am a stranger to the good man, but he agreed to answer my questions because he is in possession of a proper understanding of the nature of a true teacher, a public figure whose work is ultimately for the benefit of the common good. I go to him every few months with my most pressing quandaries. A while back I asked him to teach me about the nature of ideology. He fired off a small collection of ideas asserting that all ideology is evil and he explained why. Surely ideologues would object and, while calling for sophistical distinctions, would be formulating a semantic bait-and-switch scheme that passes for “truth” in these dark and deceitful times.

What is ideology?

According to Merriam Webster ideology is “1: visionary theorizing 2a: a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture b: a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture c: the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program.” If we limit ourselves to the shallow dictionary definition, it may serve our purpose in drawing reasonably sound inferences about the nature of ideology.

But perhaps we can attempt to narrow the definition a little more so that we may end with a foundation of clarity upon which to build a coherent conclusion. George Marlen states that “ideology is an intellectual system of ideas or rigid abstract formulas mixed with scientific jargon and some empirical facts that claims knowledge about reaching perfection in the temporal order.” This doesn’t contradict Merriam Webster, but adds the vital final end of perfecting the temporal order.

Though it is wildly unpopular in the larger circles of academia, let us assume for the purposes of this discussion that things have final causes or real ends to which they portend. In the case of ideology let us stipulate that ideology’s telos is to reach perfection in the temporal order. In summation, ideologies are rigid schemes of ideas meant to organize individual lives, societies and cultures in a way that is intended to perfect the temporal order.

Surely it is a noble desire to try to create a heaven on earth, to make a paradise in this valley of tears, but that is an end that ultimately requires the denial of the reality of human existence. We are fallen, we are mortal, we are not meant to end in perfecting this created world that begins to decay at first touch.

Mr. Marlen correctly states that many of the ideas that comprise the various ideologies are empirical facts. There are in fact even many truths and truisms embedded in ideological schemes. But it is the nature of ideology to ill-weight truths and facts, to exaggerate some and minimize others in order to provide an apparently rational explanation for ideological structures and conclusions. I contend that artificially weighted facts and truths imposed on the human mind inherently harm a soul’s ability to see reality rightly.

Why are ideologies evil?

Eric Vogelin said that ideology is “to mold reality into a scheme consistent with a posited or assumed idea.” Ideology embodies the philosophical error of thinking that the world is in us, rather than that we are in the world, or that the box is in the shoe, rather than the shoe is in the box. The examples may sound silly, but a real look at the past will bear out the reality that ideologies are not only dangerous, but deadly in their attempts to forcibly reduce reality into a set of inflexible ideas wholly unsuited to their application.

The violence to truth and human souls is incalculable when rulers try to impose the unreality of ideology onto its populace. Think of fascist Germany or Stalinist Russia or Maoist China or the feminist movements all across the globe. The common denominator in all four references is that death is a necessary evil to carry out the ideologies. The ideological projects are treacherous attempts to distort reality; thus they are evil. The fruits of history tell this devastating tale in gruesome, repetitive scenarios.

truthC.S. Lewis wrote: “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth, only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” While perfectly characterizing the dilemma facing the ideologue, Lewis alludes to his further explanations of first and second things. He tells us that if we put first things first and second things second we will get both first and second things, but if we put second things first and first things second, we lose both first and second things. The distinction between first and second things is that first things are eternal and true and second things are temporary and end up being false if we give them an improper weight or mistake them for first things. Truth is permanent, comfort is temporary. Confucius echoed this wisdom when he said “a wise man seeks virtue, a fool seeks comfort.”

Perfecting the temporal order is the attempt to put second things first and for this reason, as can be abundantly evidenced by recent tragic events, this method is amply demonstrated to be evil. Ideologies have caused not only the loss of the well-ordered society, but also the loss of the eternal truths and first principles that lead to the good society. The well-ordered society results from a culture that seeks the first things for God’s sake and the good temporal order follows as fruit from a tree. It does not work the other way around.

My mentor further explained to me that “all ideologies are evil, because they are pseudo-religions; they reduce the human being to an item, a piece of a machine.” This shouldn’t be too difficult to see by way of the countless ideological groups expediting the decay of Western Civilization. Ideologues cling to their ideologies as fervently as addicts cling to their vice and they require an extraordinary amount blind faith to believe the false promises. It is human nature that we bind ourselves to something, either a set of ideas or a particular religion. It is the height of folly that some ideologues assert that they are liberated from religion when in reality they have only bound themselves to disbelief by the ideology of skepticism, the emptiest religion in human history.

Is there any alternative to Ideology?

By now you may well be asking “well if all ideologies are evil, what is the alternative?” My mentor gives voice to the only anti-dote to ideology, that of adapting human life to the eternal order instead of the temporal order. He truthfully explains that Christians “do not worship an idea. We worship a person—God. No idea can ever begin to comprehend the reality of personal being. All ideologies fall afoul of the wisdom of the Psalmist, who says, “Put not thy trust in princes,” with the added trouble that the ideologue puts his trust in a ruling idea and turns it into his prince” We have a free will choice to make in this world when we decide who or what is the arbiter of truth. If we pick ourselves, we have chosen poorly. If we choose an ideology we have chosen poorly as well. If we choose the Truth, not because we decide it to be true, but rather because we discover it to be true, then and only then do we have a chance to ascertain the proper order and ends of human existence. Pope John Paul II reminds us that “the Truth is not consensus, but the convergence of the mind and reality.”

Is Catholicism an Ideology?

One objection might be, “well what about a system of beliefs like Catholicism?” It makes a perspicacious query that deserves an answer. While Catholicism is certainly a set of precepts and principles taking a form similar to many ideologies, it demonstrates the proper use of ideas as a set of means to a proper end, an end grounded in the eternal ends of the human soul. In the case of Catholicism, ideas and words are used for the sole purpose of edifying the human soul through proper formation in order to ascend to its final end in the eternal order by way of first knowing Jesus Christ, then by loving Jesus Christ and finally by serving Jesus Christ who is the way the truth and the life. He is the very creator of the temporal order which will find its roots in the eternal.

The precepts, ideas, and principles in Catholicism were deduced from the revelation gifted to us by our Creator. The a priori assumption is that the Logos, the only begotten Son of God, God’s very own conception of Himself, has been made knowable and discoverable to the man earnestly seeking objective truth by the Incarnation. To the contrary, we find that ideologies are collections of ideas from the minds of men who reject revelation as a valid source of knowing. They hold as an a priori assumption that what is knowable can only be observed by our own five senses and reason.

catholic religiousEven though Catholicism and Ideology are apparently similar, they are epistemologically disparate. Catholicism is informed by revelation and confirmed and fleshed out by reason and the five senses in an epistemological hierarchy in reverse order from the ideologue. In ideology, there is not only no reference to revelation, but the active exclusion of that way of knowing leaving the primary way of knowing to be sense perception rationalized by reason untethered to its real roots in eternity.

Abandon Ideology, Embrace Truth!

Ideologies then, are intrinsically evil. They are arrogant and end in death and destruction partly because they portend to see all the angles and ends of the created order concerning the human person when this is impossible. Socrates said “all wisdom begins in wonder.” This is the recognition that no matter how wise a person or a society becomes, to see all the ends of reality is beyond the limits of human perception, intelligence, and knowledge. The appropriate wonder and awe that accompany the observation of the created order, which emanates from the eternal order, demands that we remain open to the gifts of revelation promised to men of good will who can be greatly aided by a developed character and a cultivated intellect.

Monsignor Ronald Knox well characterized the proper order of things when he said that “we are here to colonize heaven, not make things better on earth.” This deep wisdom concerning the proper end of Catholicism reveals the paradoxical truth that in colonizing heaven, things do get better on earth. Heaven is the eternal order out of which all first things come and to which all first things will return. The temporal order includes all second things that find their proximate causes and ends in the temporary. It is a fact that the converse of the good Monsignor’s statement is true: if we attempt to colonize the city of man and care not for the eternal order, we will lose both.

By the state adoption of ideologies in the last several hundred years, we have seen not only the steady decline of the moral and material quality of the created order, but massive numbers of human souls lost and countless people murdered. We ought to abandon the horrid ideologies that hold captive the current social order and instead turn our gaze towards the Truth, the Creator himself, fully revealed by the incarnation of Christ. By the worship of the personal being of Christ, instead of the worship of a set of ideas, we can begin to know ourselves as we were truly intended to be and to order our lives to our true ends in the eternal order. Then and only then may we possibly end in the peace and prosperity that comprise our deepest longings.

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.

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Published: Sep 29, 2014
Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg
Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg is a Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative. A convert to Catholicism, he is a catechist, a school teacher, and a writer and speaker on matters of faith, culture, and education. He holds a degree in History from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Steven is a member of the Teacher Advisory Board and writer of curriculum at the Sophia Institute for Teachers, a contributor to the Integrated Catholic Life, Crisis Magazine, The Civilized Reader, The Standard Bearers, Catholic Exchange, and a founding member of the Brinklings Literary Club.
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18 replies to this post
  1. Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg says, ‘While Catholicism is certainly a set of precepts and principles taking a form similar to many ideologies, it demonstrates the proper use of ideas as a set of means to a proper end, an end grounded in the eternal ends of the human soul.’

    Louis Althusser says, ‘Ideology, then, is for Marx an imaginary assemblage… a pure dream, empty and vain, constituted by the ‘day’s residues’ from the only full and positive reality, that of the concrete history of concrete material individuals materially producing their existence.’

    This is a bit of a tired argument. Everyone denies they follow an ideology, because ‘Ideologies are a construct, and I’m just tellin’ things as they are.’ That’s all well and good—we certainly SHOULD be trying to get to ‘things as they are’—but we seem to be wasting valuable time over who’s an ideologue and why.

    Just a thought.

    • I would be reluctant to trust Althusser on Marx (or any other topic); almost he everything wrote was to defend Marx, including his well-known affirmation of a “break” in the Marxian project. Ideology is real and dangerous, as Rummelsburg suggests.

      • Dr Cheek, I wouldn’t ask you to personally trust Althusser. Your comment, ‘Ideology is real and dangerous,’ could be spoken by followers of any political or religious school of thought. Everyone opposes ideology, and no one thinks THEIR belief system is an ideology. It more or less comes down to, ‘My belief system isn’t an ideology, because ideologies are perverse and erroneous and wrong, and my belief system is true and natural and good.’ Of course everyone thinks that. If Marxists believed there was a human soul and that God was made man in the Person of Jesus Christ, they wouldn’t be Marxists. But of course, from their materialist and atheistic worldview, any belief system incorporating God or spirit is a fiction.

        ‘But there IS a God and a spirit,’ you say, ‘Because (x), (y), and (z)! Therefore, Catholicism is true; and, therefore, Catholicism not an ideology.’ Great, fine; but only THERE have we reached a substantive topic. Forget the post-WWII hangup on ideology—it’s a fake term that perpetuates its own semantical debate. It will always and everywhere MEAN ‘falsehood and evil’ in men’s ears, so why not just say that? Why not debate the order of the universe, human nature, the existence of God (or lack thereof), etc. instead of buzzing around this semantical circle ad nauseam?

        Or do you think this, ‘You’re an ideologue!’ ‘No, you’re an ideologue!’ back-and-forth is more productive?

        • Mr. Davis, I wrote my reply to you before your reply to Dr. Cheeks was posted- that and what you write here make your mind on the issues you bring up much clearer- If you are right, I simply take my place along side all the other loony toons chained up at the bottom of the cave, and that is certainly a possibility- my contention is not that I would debate on equal terms with a Marxist, I wouldn’t- the difference between a Marxist and a Catholic in the deepest sense is that of the unborn child still in the womb and one growing in the world outside the womb- if you would like all things to be equal in this debate, I invite you to be my guest, but I believe the playing fields to be in great disparity.

          I do appreciate your comments, and your admission that you came to this article appropriately prejudiced (I say this in a good sense) because it holds out the hope and promise that perhaps someday you and I will find some common ground on which to banter. In conclusion, your further comments are endearing, so I thank you again for your contributions.

          • Dear Mr Rummelsburg,

            I’d hazard to say we agree on every point BUT semantics, at least in the ‘big picture’. And if there is something fruitful that should come from discussing ideology, I’d also hazard to guess I’d agree with your definition. So, I hope there have been no hard feelings, and that you’ve enjoyed this exchange as much as I have!

    • Mr. Davis- it seems just a thought not quite appropriate for a response to this article- if you didn’t understand what I was trying to get at, I will take partial credit for the misunderstanding, unless it turns out you didn’t actually read it, but your comment is a concrete example of what I was trying to convey by describing ideology as an evil thing- the “only full and positive reality, that of the concrete history of concrete material individuals producing their existence.” Surely this is about the most malevolent description of ideology I have seen in a while. It is the city of man counter part to the City of God ideas that comprise the principles and statutes of Catholicism which lie far afield of the definition of ideology I proffered here.

      Truly, the ideologues claiming their ideology is the true ideology is as tired as tired gets, but Truth is never tired, it never flags, and it doesn’t conform to ignorance or force of will. There is very little time necessary to determine who is and ideologue and who is not and it is worth the few seconds to inquire.

      I myself may be an ideologue, but I desire with my whole heart to be liberated from these prideful fetters as I apply for citizenship in the City of God- please pray for me.

      • Dear Mr Rummelsburg,

        I did read your article—though, in fairness, I read it expecting the content would be more or less what it is. And I don’t mean that as a slight against you—the point I’m trying to make is that every discussion of ideology returns to this same point.

        As a small correction, Althusser defines ideology as the RESIDUES from ‘the only full and positive reality, that of the concrete history of concrete material individuals materially producing their existence.’ You call this—and ideology—the City of Man, as Althusser basically calls Catholicism—and ideology—the City of God (which he thinks is etherial, irrational, and non-existent).

        So Rummelsburg calls Althusser an ideologue; Althusser calls Rummelsburg an ideologue. Where do we go from here? Rummelsburg says, ‘Catholicism is NOT an ideology because the precepts, ideas, and principles in Catholicism were deduced from the revelation gifted to us by our Creator.’ Althusser says, ‘Don’t be a fool, Mr Rummelsburg, there is no such thing as God.’ Rummelsburg replies, ‘Of course there is! Haven’t you read Anselm/Aquinas/Kant’s proofs of God?’ And THAT’S where the substantive argument begins.

        Do you see what I mean? Adherents of every school of thought (read: ideology) agree that ideology is wrong, and almost universally define it as some false, illusory reality imposed on the natural order. Of course THEY think THEY know what the true reality is (as Catholics with the City of God, and Marxists with dialectical materialism). But for a Marxist to be convinced that Marxism is an ideology, he has to be convinced that Marxism is an error. So doesn’t it make more sense to cut to the chase and argue that Marxism is an ERROR rather than an ideology—which we’re all convinced is just an ambiguous and drawn-out synonym for error?

  2. This is an excellent article on an all-too-neglected problem. Russell Kirk’s criticism of ideology needs to be revisited, especially as many so-called conservatives would like to implant an ideology of some sort, usually “evangelical” democratists, or hyper-Enlightenment natural right enthusiasts, which are all destructive in one regard or another. As an example from my own juvenilia, I would recommend:

  3. Very nice post!

    Consider this quote of a quote: ‘Monsignor Ronald Knox well characterized the proper order of things when he said that “we are here to colonize heaven, not make things better on earth.” This deep wisdom concerning the proper end of Catholicism reveals the paradoxical truth that in colonizing heaven, things do get better on earth. Heaven is the eternal order out of which all first things come and to which all first things will return. The temporal order includes all second things that find their proximate causes and ends in the temporary. It is a fact that the converse of the good Monsignor’s statement is true: if we attempt to colonize the city of man and care not for the eternal order, we will lose both.’

    How many of the thickets in the way forward does this analysis cut away! To colonize the city of man alone, means in practical terms that we will have a secular democracy in which the ideologies of many are represented to the degree they can be, watered down and subject to all the rest as religious liberty dictates (and I do mean dictates!). All are castrated. Oh wait, that’s what we have now!

    We must, along with those dreaded fundamentalist Muslims, insist on the religious state where we are in a majority, as all the encyclicals of tradition say, perhaps best summed up in Quas Primas. And to do that, to become the majority (again!) we would have to evangelize. We would have to finally begin to promote the fullness of Catholic teaching on sexual morality, economics (yes there too is one and yes it more than ever applies, as long as first principles are honored: the economy of medievalism that had no name until Belloc et al gave it the name distributism; that economy of broadly distributed ownership–not income, and it matters!–). We might have to form temporary and explicit coalitions with protestant groups, as Hungary just did to explicitly honor the Christian God, Father, Creator.

    We must stop going along with the Vatican II novel teaching of religious liberties, who deny the most fundamental truth of Catholicism, that the Church is the One, only Truth. From that lie, all else follows.

    By the way, as a complete aside, just to anyone who is a fan of Blessed Flannery (or so she is now styled), it is the characteristic of the Faithful to enjoy the fruits of their virtue even on Earth, as Monsignor Knox’s quote says, celebrated from the Psalms onward, and it is this characteristic that is denounced in Flannery O’Connor’s ‘Revelation,’ written at the end of her life and considered by critics to be among the five most philosophically revelatory of her works. Her heroine enjoys all the perks of real virtue, but is mocked in the story and ultimately reduced to the same level as the poor white trash she has (rightly) labeled all her life. Reduced to the same level as imbeciles, for that matter, in a parade to heaven right out of Teilhard de Chardin’s rabbit hole. Thus, under modernism, must the Church be similarly humiliated and take her place among all the rest, even the witch doctors and shamans.

  4. I do believe the author has nailed it. Ideology is the result of the Enlightenment’s “rights of man” gone awry, or carried to perverse ends as we witness these days. It’s what happens when God and His revelation are denied.

  5. As always, I enjoy Mr. Rummelsburg’s articles – this one is no exception. Regarding Mr. Davis’ points – naturally, you are right, sir, to make these remarks – but take into account one thing:

    If we constantly doubt the simple truths of common sense, like the ones Mr. Rummelsburg writes about, and fear that the simple truths of common sense might become “an ideology” – than we are committing a grave mistake: for the begining of ideology is not the attempt to construct a system of truth, it is the demand – made upon anyone who professes common sense simple truths to elevate the common sense of simple truths into a system of rigid truths.

    In other words: whenever we say – “well, this person may be an ideologue because they are professing the good, the true, and the beautiful without deeper investigation, without deeper grounding, without more accuracy” – then we are basicaly saying “well – this person must transform his common sense simple truths into an ideology – into a rigid, complex system of thought and science.”

    I firmly believe, with CS Lewis, that the simple truths of grandmothers are superior in all ways to the treatises of philosophers; and while intellectual exploration in the service of the Good is to be encouraged, and – I think – needs to be boundless and bold – this intellect, ultimately, serves a Good that it is incapable of explaining and should not try with too much vigour to explain: it has been explained for us quite sufficiently by the simple common sense of Grandmothers.

  6. I’m very afraid, my dear friend, that I must agree with Mr. Davis in this case. Which wont surprise you, given the topic. We’ve been around before. The exercise involved in demonstrating ideology to be inherently “rigid” or utopian should involve more than…calling ideology rigid or utopian. Certainly, you’ve presumed what you set out to prove here.

    You list all of the dictionary definitions youve found, each of which proves in the last analysis to be content-neutral, and thus potentially salutary: “1: visionary theorizing; 2a: a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture; b: a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture; c: the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program.”

    I accept any and all of these 4 definitions, Steve-o, all of which fail to furnish “reasonably sound inferences about the nature of ideology” which prove to be pernicious or utopian. This leaves intact the gnoseological proposition that ideology can indeed be scrutinized “on the merits.”

    What you call “narrowing the definition a little more so that we may end with a foundation of clarity” turns out to be nude question-begging. Narrowing is one thing, but ALL of the damning qualities you ascribe to ideology come to exist somewhere in between the concept’s defining and your freight-imposing construction.

    Or else, if theyre not petitio principios, perhaps theyre at least half-naked appeals to authority. (You havent told me WHY i ought trust George Marlen, Russell Kirk, or your mentor over what theyd aver to be my “lying eyes.” Or ostensibly, the lying dictionary. Or a lying etymology. Each of these affirm that it can be good OR bad.)

    Since when does making certain “speculative” claims which happen to be immutable qualify as any sort of “immanentizing the eschaton?” (Throw out all your volumes of that Peripatetic Philosopher, if this were the case!).

    My point is: Since when do teleological claims work AGAINST teleology? Answer: since ideology’s opponents decided to add such freight to the framework. Example: ideologies affirmative of small gov’t are imperfectly but indubitably teleological insofar as they make possible the exercise of human free will and redemption.

    In the end–we spoke on the phone about something not unlike this just today–you accept the authority of direct and indirect mentors who hate the concept…over ideology-defenders like me. Conversion is an act of the will, not the intellect, after all; but were it a creature of the latter, you’d see that the very evidence you’ve marshaled against ideology serves, apodictically i think, to vindicate it.

    • Dear Tim,

      Your comments are amazing, in fact for my mind, they are breathtaking- I appreciate you taking the time to elucidate as such and in deference to your efforts, I will spend much time trying to understand what it is you have taught me here- At a glance, I can’t dismiss anything you say and as you know there are intellectual acrobatics you are able to perform that lie outside my field of vision-

      I knew from a while back that “ideology” was an area of contention between us, but in the millions of things we have to talk about, that never got properly dealt with. And now, geography truncates the conversation. I knew from the outset of this essay that long face to face talks with you would have helped to shape my understanding, but what fool is going to remain silent when he has at least half an idea?

      Thanks so much for putting this out there, I will be in touch! Your brother, Steve

      • My brother: belief in metaphysics (an ousiology which is a theology, a etiology which is a teleology) is the ONE, true ideology. Christ makes these binaries conform to one another. And yes, we worship a Triune God, but he is a God who is himself Logos.

  7. Mr. Davis: the Marxist does not think he has ascertained reality in the sense that a Jew or a Muslim does, or really in any sense at all. The purpose of dialectical materialism, according to Marx, was “not to understand the world, but to change it.” In this sense, if we add to “understanding” the Platonic concept of ontological participation, Catholicism (the one, true faith) is Marxism’s contrary. But this is to aver that Catholicism is the one TRUE ideology (rather than some sort of mystical non-ideology, standing utterly undisclosed by the natural reason).

    Being is the first act of form; form is the first act of matter. But even Thomas does not assume that Catholicism–the only true “existentialism”–may function outside the structures of episteme. Which is to say ideology.

  8. Steve: it is BECAUSE “things have final causes or real ends to which they portend” that, by definition, there must be one correct ideology among false ideologies. It is precisely for this reason that Aristotle’s Metaphysics is, famously, “four things at once”: an ousiology, a teleology, an etiology, and a theology. That is, the opponent of “ideology” must posit that the unity of metaphysics in the Aristotelian tradition cannot be sought out.

  9. Mr. Davis, to the contrary, of course there have been no hard feelings at all, I truly enjoy your comments and I embrace the spirited debate and I had respect for you long before we ever had any dialogue, I write to assert an understanding and then to learn from good souls like you who give a perspective I don’t readily see. So really, I do thank you for your comments, and I honestly find them endearing. I hope you never hesitate to criticize what I write.

  10. I’m agnostic, but it’s nice to know I’m not completely alone on this topic.

    I’ve rejected ideologies since I was old enough to even perceive there was a political process. Never understood why the everyone’s objective should not simply be “Let’s find what works.” Public solution? Private? Mixture? Something new? Who cares? And even with that you have to avoid the “one size fits all” blinkers. What worked in Detroit might not work in Albuquerque. I don’t know… maybe it’s just how my brain is wired.

    Everyone is running around with their precious “liberal” or “conservative” or “anarcho-libertarian-progjective-whatsis-doodad” playbooks, and basically it’s just toddlers with hammers treating everything as nails. Once in a while they hit a nail. Often they just put holes in walls or break windows.

    You can argue over the definition of “ideology” all you want. That George Marlen quote works well enough for the current political climate. but the harm being done every day, and the lives (generations in some areas) being lost to nonsense are very real. The advancement of civilization itself can be seen to be stagnated if you can look past the technological gadgetry and trappings of modern life.

    And it’s really the ordinary people at fault. They cling to easy thought patterns, and the politicians (sociopaths for the most part, IMHO) just play to their respective audiences. What do they care? They have the money and means to bolt if it all goes to hell.

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