Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ideology as Idolatry

"Ideology is modernity's golden calf. Ideology is our substitute for religious faith. Ideology, wrote Russell Kirk, is "a dogmatic political theory which is an endeavor to substitute secular goals and doctrines for religious goals and doctrines.

The term has come to mean a set of cohesive beliefs about man, society, and the world that gives meaning and purpose to men's lives, directing their actions in the public realm. "Ideology is a guiding vision of future social action," said scholar Michael Novak, for whom the vision was of the worldwide triumph of "democratic capitalism."

Ideologies are created by men of words to explain the world to come, in which their vision will guide society and they will carry the lamps, lead the way, and enjoy the prestige and power of the priestly class to be displaced. For deracinated intellectuals, ideology holds and irresistible attraction, for it both offers a coherent and compelling explanation of how the world works—and satisfies the lust for power. As Raymond Aron wrote in "Opium of the Intellectuals," "When the intellectual feels no longer attached either to the community or the religion of his forbears, he looks to progressive ideology to fill the vacuum."

Dr. Kirk spent his career as a man of letters fighting "the curse of ideological infatuation." In "The Drug of Ideology," he defined what ideology was, and what it was not:

"Ideology" does not mean political theory or principle, even though many journalists and some professors commonly employ the term in that sense. Ideology really means political fanaticism—and, more precisely, the belief that this world of ours can be converted into a Terrestrial Paradise through the operation of positive law and positive planning." Patrick Buchanan, Day or Reckoning pages 55-56

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