Some early morning thoughts on ideology:

There are some extreme conservatives who complain about the feminisation of modern society and culture. They say that the masculine virtues of authority, aggression, independence, self-reliance, et al. have been undermined by the feminine vices of concensus, pacifism, interdependence, charity, et al. This could indeed be an accurate description of what Americans would call the liberal/conservative divide (“liberal” is what is called progressive or left-wing elsewhere in the world; most Americans aren’t aware of this).

These extreme conservatives, and their counterparts on the extreme left, are interesting and even amusing in the nakedness of their emotion – their philosophies and creeds are barely acceptable rationalisations for strong opinions held for purely emotional reasons. Thinking on this, it occurred to me that we could understand this phenomenon much more easily if we named it for what it is – childishness – and furthermore looked for its causes in childhood.

Here is my idea: just as people who fantasise about seeing gods or UFOs have not escaped from the child’s rule by its imagination, so too conservatives and liberals have not escaped the polarities of their parents’ roles in their upbringing. Conservatives cling to the Father: they love enforcing The Rules on other people, these Rules proceding on an arbitrary basis from the Father; they love strong punishments and strict disciplines; they think sentiment a weakness, and frankly delight in aggression and indeed cruelty. The Liberals OTOH adhere to the Mother: they are always tolerant of bad behaviour, simply because for the one with the duty of care such behaviour is inescapable; they view all conflict as counter to peace and productivity; they believe in sharing; they believe in caring.

Now, the elements of these opposing viewpoints are, neither of them, strictly wrong. Their applicability depends on circumstance. But the ideologue doesn’t care about circumstance, because they are childishly loyal to their parent’s values. Just like children, they believe there can be only one right answer, and all opposing views are not only wrong but Bad. And, just like children, they cannot concede of difference. They are the centre of the universe; all suggestion that an alternative view is acceptable, or even possible, is anathema and must be eradicated.

It is difficult to break a childish illusion, especially if it forms the basis of an adult ego. Certainly I would not expect any ideologue to take what I have said here seriously. I’m too familiar with the type to expect anything other than flat denial, condemnation and simple incomprehension. But I hope that some people who considered themselves independent or “non-aligned” will understand the phenomenon I am describing, and furthermore agree that every issue should (when time permits) be decided on the merits of available evidence, and not by recourse to the “naughty list” of the nursery.