An ideology is a system of beliefs which work as a cognitive structure to frame your experiences.
An ideology is a way for you to structure your moral choices, your attitudes, and your feelings , and have them all pre-wired and pre-decided ahead of time.
Here's a made-up example of an ideology:
The Axioms of "Reaganism":
- The government destroys everything it touches. Any time the government gets involved, any activity becomes corrupted, over-priced, and useless after the government gets done with it.
- Private enterprise can always do a better job than the government can. The attempt to turn a profit always makes an activity more efficient and productive for everyone.
- Therefore, governments should be run by businesses because businesses can always do a better job than the government can.
When you adopt Reaganism as your ideology and become a Reaganologist, you look out onto the infinitely big, wide world that exists out there, and instead of seeing exactly what is there, you use the pre-wiring and the cognitive structures of Reaganism to interpret and categorize that infinity into simple bite-sized chunks.
Let’s say you are driving through a construction zone, through a government-run road project. To you, the Reaganologist, this project is filled with people who just stand around all day and never get any work done. Even though you are driving on a road - a road built by a government-run road project - you never notice that all the roads you have ever driven on were built by government-run road projects. You never notice that you have never had trouble on any roads at all. You’ve never been in want of any road anywhere, and you have always driven to even the most remote towns – towns which were very expensive to build roads to - and towns that no one could make a profit on by building a road there.
As a Reaganologist, you see none of that. You only sneer and become resentful at all this government waste, and all those lazy, do-nothing bums working on this road.
Your ideological structure has filtered out some things that do not conform to it, and accepted others that do conform to it, and given you attitudes and emotions to feel per its dictates.
As a Reaganologist, the titans of industry are all heroes to you, because they embody all the values that you adopted when you became a Reaganologist. You swell with pride every time you see a CEO of Goldman-Sachs on TV and you can't believe that any government bureaucrat at the Security and Exchange Commission would ever question his business practices. Government oversight is criminal in your mind, and suppressive to the real producers in society.
In this way, after becoming a Reaganologist, you see the world in the way that Reaganism dictates.
The advantage of an ideology is that it takes the infinite world around you and breaks it up into bite-size chunks, with all of it pre-understood ahead of time. It makes things simpler for you.
This is also the disadvantage of an ideology: You don't see the world as it is any more. You no longer see the parts of the world that do not fit into your cognitive structure. You see the world only as your ideology dictates that you see it.
This same example can be made for a "Rooseveltist". The same advantages and disadvantages would apply. Rooseveltology would make you just as blind, and just as stupid as Reaganism.
No ideology can match the infinity of life, or the infinity of you. The stronger you hold on to an ideology, the smaller, and more fixated you become. As more and more of the infinities of life hit you which do not fit into your ideological construct, the more tightly you cling to it. Until at last, you become fixed and pinheaded.
Not only does an ideology blind you to things that do not fit into it, an ideology also separates you from your own thinking. When you start “thinking with” an ideology, you become unaware of how you came to your own conclusions. In fact, they are not your conclusions - they are the ideologies’ conclusions, and you’ve just accepted them because they are consistent with, and support, your ideology.
Coming up with solutions that only support the ideology is the way the Church of Scientology got to be what it is today, and this has also made David Miscavige who he is today.
Adopting an ideology to do your thinking for you is the basic mistake that many humans have made throughout history, not just Scientologists.
But it is a mistake.
This is the most important thing I have learned from being an ideologue.
And the most important thing I have learned from George Orwell.