Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ideology of the Left and the Right

On page 4 of his book The Politics of Prudence, Russell Kirk says, "Ideology, in short, is a political formula that promises mankind an earthly paradise; but in cruel fact what ideology has created is a series of terrestrial hells."

Dr. Kirk was the author of some thirty-two books and hundreds of periodical essays.

In The Politics of Prudence, Kirk outlines some of the "vices" of ideology...
  1. Ideology is inverted religion, denying the Christian doctrine of salvation through grace in death, and substituting collective salvation here on earth through violent revolution. Ideology inherits the fanaticism that sometimes has afflicted religious faith, and applies that intolerant belief to concerns secular.

  2. Ideology makes political compromise impossible: the ideologue will accept no deviation from the Absolute Truth of his secular revelation. This narrow vision brings about civil war, extirpation of “reactionaries”, and the destruction of beneficial functioning social institutions.

  3. Ideologues vie one with another in fancied fidelity to their Absolute Truth; and they are quick to denounce deviationists or defectors from their party orthodoxy. Thus fierce factions are raised up among the ideologues themselves, and they war mercilessly and endlessly upon one another, as did Trotskyites and Stalinists.
Ideology has generally been closely associated with the politics and politicians of the Left. But as Kirk himself stated, "there exists some danger that conservatives themselves might slip into a narrow ideology or quasi-ideology." Kirk wrote these words in 1993. It seems like many on the Right failed to heed his warning.

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