Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ideology Is Not The Cause

In the current climate of fear, anxiety, and what appears to be intercultural conflict, it is especially important to remember that any and all structures of human thought are easily exploited to create massive death and havoc. It’s certainly fashionable in this country to single out Islam—while forgetting that, mutatis mutandis, every religious and secular structure of ideas has at one time or another (conditions “cooperating”) been twisted all out of shape and used as the authority to justify killing “the other.”

All widespread human ideologies have developed, over time, to achieve the universal good—however flawed these structures might be in detail. The sequence of events is not as depicted in the usual bashing approaches. We’re led to believe that ideology comes first and/or is peculiarly suited to sanction violence. The actual sequence is that vast social pressures arise, almost all grounded in economics and the abuse of power. These are experienced as injustice. Those reacting to the pressure then look around to justify what they want to do—which is to hit back. To hit back is the motive, not the Qur’an in this case. And whatever the ideology that prevails in those places where the pressure is most felt—it will be that ideology that gets deformed to give authority for doing what should not be done.

The now prevailing terrorism—suicide bombings and the like—arises because of general underdevelopment superintended by wealthy and exploitive regimes so common in Islamic countries. Those rulers are thought to be conspiring and in alignment with the much more powerful West. The West, therefore, becomes the target. Secularism is not immune from this sort of thing either, and modern quasi-scientific ideas have also been twisted into justifications.

Indeed it is always best to ignore the ideological justifications of low-level conflicts and simply look at what is actually happening to the populations that breed the anarchists, terrorists, you name it.


  1. I agree.
    Even though in our debates and discussions we are able to isolate ideology from action in time, space, and importance, in actuality everything is happening at once in a great buzz of human activity.

    And its always changing.

    Furthermore, terror and terrible acts are often the only things that get our attention. That poor street vendor that immolated himself in Tunisia, thereby starting the revolution, was just too much like my memory of Buddhist monks in Vietnam....
    It took me a few minutes to figure out the news was talking about a young Muslim right now and in Tunisia.

    Otherwise, we would not have paid any attention.

  2. I agree too, and I found this a very strong, clearly stated and concise explanation.