66. What will be the dominant ideologies of the 21st Century?


The 20th Cen­tury revolved polit­i­cally around com­pet­ing inter­pre­ta­tions of Cap­i­tal­ism, Com­mu­nism, Social­ism and Fas­cism. These are all ways to orga­nize the lives of peo­ple on a large scale. Are real alter­na­tives or new inter­pre­ta­tions likely to emerge in the chal­leng­ing years ahead? What might they look like?


The notes to fol­low were pre­pared for a Bris­bane (Aus­tralia) mee­tup dis­cus­sion group. They in no way rep­re­sent sys­tem­atic research drawn from a com­pre­hen­sive selec­tion of resources, although a small, eclec­tic read­ing list has been added at the end. The notes are, how­ever, designed to stim­u­late dis­cus­sion for or against the propo­si­tions raised and may there­fore be of some value to a wider audi­ence.


Fine Words Are Not Equal To Fine Deeds

by Aesop (c. 620 564 BC)

Once a very good lion was king of all the ani­mals in the fields and the forests.
He was not angry or cruel or unfair, but only kind and gen­tle.
Dur­ing his reign he made a royal procla­ma­tion to all the ani­mals.
He laid out rules for a Uni­ver­sal League of ani­mals.
In this League, the wolf would not harm the lamb, nor would the pan­ther harm the kid.
The tiger would not hurt the deer, and the dog would not hurt the hare.
Every­one should live in per­fect peace and friend­ship.
When the hare saw this procla­ma­tion, she said, “Oh how I have waited for this day.
How won­der­ful it is that the weak will stand alongside the strong with­out fear.”
After she said this, the hare ran away for her life.


Notes by Thor

Why do ide­olo­gies exist?

My def­i­n­i­tion of a tat­too is that it is a prob­lem from the inside of somebody’s head pasted onto the out­side of their body forever. Ide­olo­gies can be a bit like that. And as with my tat­too pho­bia def­i­n­i­tion, ide­olo­gies can make you blood ene­mies forever with no cred­i­ble logic or advan­tage to any­body involved. Yet it is unde­ni­able that humans are a herd­ing species, mostly dis­in­clined to think through com­plex social issues in detail for them­selves, and much pre­fer­ring to pick a pop­u­lar brand off the super­mar­ket shelf. This goes for reli­gions, mar­riage cer­e­monies, ide­olo­gies, foot­ball teams or crowd­ing for a hol­i­day in Bali or Koh Samui.

Will the 21st Cen­tury do with­out ide­olo­gies?

No. Ide­olo­gies are going to be with us forever. The ques­tion is how seri­ously the herd takes them, and who become the high priests for inter­pret­ing them to the unwashed masses. The 20th Cen­tury gave us some pretty hor­ri­ble exam­ples of ide­olo­gies used as vehi­cles for mass extinc­tion while claim­ing to be vehi­cles for mass pro­gress. There is no par­tic­u­lar rea­son to expect that the 21st Cen­tury will be more enlight­ened in this regard amongst those peo­ple who always form the bulk of ide­o­log­i­cal foot sol­diers. It is true that there are more for­mally edu­cated peo­ple on the planet than ever before, and more avail­able tools for crit­i­cal think­ing, espe­cially in the online world. Yet it is also true that the tools for mass mobi­liza­tion are more pow­er­ful than they have ever been, while their con­trol passes with increas­ing rapid­ity to com­pro­mised gov­ern­ments, cor­po­ra­tions and secre­tive elites. This secrecy makes a con­sid­ered response to gen­uine threats espe­cially dif­fi­cult. For exam­ple, weapons of mass destruc­tion are now widely dis­trib­uted amongst unsta­ble actors, many of whom were orig­i­nally secretly financed and trained by major states (Al Qaeda is a prime instance of this). The utterly dis­pro­por­tion­ate and hys­ter­i­cal Amer­i­can response to some ter­ror­ist attacks has also shown that even actors suf­fer­ing from extremely asym­met­ri­cal mil­i­tary weak­ness can desta­bi­lize the legit­i­macy of a super­power and seri­ously weaken it eco­nom­i­cally.

Ide­ol­ogy to power

No mat­ter how benign the man­i­festos of an ide­ol­ogy may seem, it will not attain pop­u­lar potency until the mate­rial con­di­tions for its growth are present. For exam­ple, fas­cism is essen­tially the dic­tum that might is right, the weak shall serve the strong, and that hier­ar­chy main­tained by force is a moral imper­a­tive. This is a sen­ti­ment found in sec­tions of all soci­eties. Fas­cism in 20th Cen­tury Europe became vir­u­lent only when it was able to promise a kind of order where there was dis­or­der, humil­i­a­tion and eco­nomic hard­ship. The national social­ism, Nazi ide­ol­ogy, of Germany’s 3rd Reich was a social con­tract offer­ing a con­di­tional place to every ‘true Ger­man’ within the fas­cist struc­ture. That is, the Nazi brand of fas­cism promised cit­i­zens secu­rity and self-respect, though in the end it deliv­ered the polar oppo­site.

Fas­cism – a psy­cho­log­i­cal con­di­tion

It is worth dwelling a lit­tle on the fas­cist idea, since in spite of being a named ide­ol­ogy, the name cho­sen at any point in his­tory does not mat­ter very much. Fas­cism, seen as a psy­cho­log­i­cal con­di­tion, rather than an his­tor­i­cal ide­ol­ogy, is found in many forms in many soci­eties. We can expect to see much more of it in stressed regions of the world in the 21st Cen­tury. That evil twin of oppres­sion, dou­ble-speak, is of course the monopoly of no ide­ol­ogy or gov­ern­ment. In the West we politely call it spin.

An exam­ple – Chi­nese fasco-com­mu­nism

Ide­olo­gies, like reli­gions, are always syn­cretic. That is, they become an over­lay on local cul­tural prac­tices and ways of thought. Fas­cism in China is a good exam­ple of this syn­cretic process. I will com­ment on it here because I have spent a lot of time study­ing the cul­tures of China, but read­ers should be alert that fas­cist-type ide­o­log­i­cal influ­ence can be traced in innu­mer­able other coun­tries. China’s com­mu­nist regime, in spite of the com­mu­nist label, has always been struc­tured in real­ity largely on a kind of fas­cist prac­tice, as was the Kuom­intang before it, and most pre­ced­ing dynas­ties. (Indeed fas­cist-type belief has been a dom­i­nant sen­ti­ment his­tor­i­cally in Chi­nese soci­eties, ratio­nal­ized by neo-Con­fu­cian phi­los­o­phy. It is hard to think of a cul­ture less suited to the nos­trums of an imag­i­nary com­mu­nist utopia). Chi­nese fasco-com­mu­nism was nour­ished by promis­ing to bring order out of a blood soaked cen­tury which had cost tens of mil­lions of lives, faced ordi­nary Chi­nese with a life expectancy of around 46 years, and left the proud Chi­nese state on its knees, col­lect­ing crumbs from the tables of for­eign­ers.

Again, in Orwellian dou­ble-speak, the state­ments of Chi­nese com­mu­nist ide­ol­ogy often traded in the lan­guage of equal­ity and broth­er­hood, but this was over­whelm­ingly a tac­ti­cal device to enlist ini­tial sup­port from the dis­pos­sessed. The real­ity, to quote Orwell’s clas­sic “Ani­mal Farm” became that “some ani­mals are more equal than oth­ers” (and I can give man­i­fold exam­ples of this after five years of work­ing in China). Trans­lated, the first para­graph of the Chi­nese con­sti­tu­tion states that “China is a demo­c­ra­tic dic­ta­tor­ship” [sic]. In spite of all this, and notwith­stand­ing that Mao Zedong would prove utterly incom­pe­tent as the leader of a uni­fied state, and would bring tens of mil­lions more to unnat­u­ral deaths, in 1949 he was able to pro­claim that “China has stood up”. (Mao’s prime min­is­ter, Chou En Lai, was the engine behind what­ever sem­blance of real gov­ern­ment did emerge after 1949). More recent national lead­er­ship has shown greater com­pe­tence, and exhib­ited less naked vio­lence. How­ever the under­ly­ing premise of enforce­ment remains and the People’s Armed Police, 人民武装警察,( Zhōng­guó Rén­mín Wǔzhuāng Jǐngchá Bùduì) has a larger bud­get than the army, and puts down over 500 “mass inci­dents” per day, every day of the year. None of this is to deny that within the huge Chi­nese pop­u­la­tion there are not many peo­ple who are open minded, humane and gen­uinely pro­gres­sive.

Ide­ol­ogy as an orga­niz­ing prin­ci­ple

Reli­gions and ide­olo­gies are both sys­tems for orga­niz­ing large num­bers of peo­ple. How­ever reli­gions typ­i­cally promise their prin­ci­pal ben­e­fits after death. While peo­ple con­tinue to believe a here­after reli­gions are dif­fi­cult to dis­credit. The retreat of insti­tu­tional reli­gion in many recent soci­eties may be partly traced to a fad­ing belief in eter­nal life. The sur­vival of ide­olo­gies is much more con­tin­gent upon imme­di­ate ben­e­fits, or ben­e­fits soon to come. Com­mu­nism, the Marx­ist man­i­festo ver­sion, tried to set a longer time frame by describ­ing an his­tor­i­cal tran­si­tion before the arrival of utopia. This promise does not seem to have pre­served com­mu­nism as a social force.

Ide­ol­ogy in reli­gion

Reli­gions have lost polit­i­cal potency in many parts of the world, but retained influ­ence at least locally in some other places. In the polit­i­cal con­text, reli­gions are equiv­a­lent to ide­olo­gies, and often com­pete with them while retain­ing other, more per­sonal func­tions as well. Chris­tian­ity has been broadly in retreat since the Ref­orm­ation. Russia’s pres­i­dent Putin has shrewdly called it back into ser­vice as a uni­fy­ing force in white Russia’s heart­lands. In the United States Chris­tian­ity is often a vehi­cle, para­dox­i­cally (given the core Chris­tian mes­sage of com­pas­sion) for the least tol­er­ant, most con­ser­v­a­tive and some­times most vio­lent ele­ments of that soci­ety. In South Korea fiercely com­pet­ing sects of Chris­tian­ity have plas­tered every town with churches and neon crosses. They have cap­tured about 30% of the pop­u­la­tion, and that coun­try has the sec­ond largest num­ber of mis­sion­ar­ies world­wide after Amer­ica. After seven years of liv­ing in South Korea I can report that its dom­i­nant val­ues, regard­less of pro­fessed reli­gions, are still neo-Con­fu­cian, hier­ar­chi­cal, class obsessed, and not notably com­pas­sion­ate. I inter­pret the Chris­tian attach­ment there as a sign of deep psy­cho­log­i­cal inse­cu­rity.

Islamic ide­ol­ogy

In recent decades the most vir­u­lent reli­gious attach­ment to polit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy has come from fac­tions of Islam. There are a vari­ety of rea­sons for this, too com­plex to go into here in detail. My own sense is that this fever is likely to sub­side in com­ing decades. The Irani theo­cratic attach­ment to polit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy seems to have already passed its peak. The Salafist infil­tra­tion of oth­er­wise more or less peace­ful Mus­lim pop­u­la­tions world­wide has been dri­ven by Saudi Ara­bian dol­lars. The Saudi engine itself seems to be an unholy alliance of a deeply cor­rupted Saudi rul­ing elite in a warped con­tract with Wahabi reli­gious fun­da­men­tal­ists, the whole under­writ­ten by an Amer­i­can oil com­pany invest­ment in energy extrac­tion. It is an unsta­ble mix, par­tic­u­larly given the rest­less­ness of increas­ingly edu­cated Arab pop­u­la­tions them­selves, but at least in the medium term may con­tinue to cause untold mis­chief in coun­tries under stress.

The rein­car­na­tion of ide­olo­gies

There was a World War I bar­rack room song that went “old sol­diers never die, they sim­ply fade away..” It is tempt­ing to think of ide­olo­gies in the same way, but it might be more accu­rate to say that they rein­car­nate, some­times with a dif­fer­ent name, or if keep­ing the same label, like a virus they adapt and become the meme of the age for yet another gen­er­a­tion of enthu­si­asts. For this rea­son, it is unlikely that we have left all the old pas­sions of the 20th Cen­tury behind us. In a way, it is pre­dic­tive to review some of the main ones:


Social­ism offers a social con­tract with imme­di­ate ben­e­fits for the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion by con­trol­ling the dis­tri­b­u­tion of profit in the most equi­table man­ner (usu­ally via tax­a­tion). Social­ism has usu­ally been less artic­u­late about the most effi­cient means of pro­duc­tion, and being prone to bureau­cra­ti­za­tion has often put a brake on tra­di­tional eco­nomic pro­duc­tiv­ity. For exam­ple, uncom­pet­i­tive indus­tries might be over­pro­tected, or accu­mu­lat­ing reg­u­la­tions might sti­fle ini­tia­tive. In prac­tice, by de-empha­siz­ing the con­tri­bu­tions needed to pre­serve the sys­tem, var­i­ous brands of social­ism have some­times fos­tered a debil­i­tat­ing psy­chol­ogy of enti­tle­ment and depen­dence by ben­e­fi­cia­ries (both indi­vid­u­als and indus­tries), together with increas­ingly com­plex and arbi­trary mech­a­nisms from gov­ern­ments to pre­serve social and eco­nomic com­pli­ance.

Cap­i­tal­ism (a) – the mar­ket

Cap­i­tal­ism, as an ide­o­log­i­cal move­ment, has proved to have cham­pi­ons quite as doc­tri­naire as any other ide­ol­ogy, and has his­tor­i­cally demon­strated a bru­tal dis­re­gard for the wel­fare of indi­vid­u­als. The claim from the high priests of cap­i­tal­ism is that the invis­i­ble hand of the mar­ket reg­u­lates the effi­cient dis­tri­b­u­tion of resources to the ulti­mate ben­e­fit of every­body. In fact, there has never been any­thing dis­in­ter­ested about the “invis­i­ble hand” of the mar­ket. Every mar­ket is gamed con­stantly by who­ever has priv­i­leged access to infor­ma­tion, power and money. This dis­tor­tion of mar­kets rapidly becomes so extreme that gov­ern­ments every­where inter­vene in the mar­ket by reg­u­la­tion and/or force to fore­stall major social unrest or even rev­o­lu­tion. The real issue then becomes the extent, nature and effi­ciency of this gov­ern­men­tal inter­ven­tion. That is, so-called “mixed economies” are uni­ver­sal wherever mar­kets oper­ate with any con­tin­u­ing effi­ciency.

Cap­i­tal­ism (b) – sta­bil­ity and cor­po­rate cap­i­tal­ism

Of all the eco­nomic ide­olo­gies, cap­i­tal­ism may be the least sta­ble. In fact there is a cred­i­ble claim that this very insta­bil­ity gen­er­ates inno­va­tion, renewal and growth. How­ever (as with all ide­olo­gies) cap­i­tal­ism has split into sects. The dom­i­nant sect in West­ern economies has become a form of cor­po­rate cap­i­tal­ism, where power has devolved to mas­sive (often transna­tional) cor­po­ra­tions which effec­tively con­trol the state while exploit­ing the weak­nesses of indi­vid­u­als and smaller busi­nesses. It is becom­ing clear that this kind of unbal­anced cor­po­rate cap­i­tal­ism is ulti­mately lethal to nations states (taxes are min­i­mized and prof­its sequestered over­seas), while “demo­c­ra­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tives” are bought and the bur­den of sup­port­ing com­mu­ni­ties is evaded wherever pos­si­ble. Thus cor­po­rate cap­i­tal­ism can become a social sick­ness as debil­i­tat­ing as fasco-com­mu­nism. The cur­rent cri­sis in this form of ide­ol­ogy is most evi­dent in the United States of Amer­ica, where con­gres­sional rep­re­sen­ta­tives are now held in con­tempt by the over­whelm­ing major­ity of the pop­u­la­tion (5% approval in Octo­ber 2013), the exec­u­tive arm of gov­ern­ment is in thrall to lob­by­ists and mon­eyed inter­est groups, while the fail­ure to dis­trib­ute resources effi­ciently for the ben­e­fit of the coun­try has become an endur­ing scan­dal.

Do non-profit behav­iours amount to an ide­ol­ogy?

It is notable in the Amer­i­can con­text that a form of ide­ol­ogy broadly embrac­ing vol­un­teerism, char­ity, phil­ant­hropic trusts and NGOs is wide­spread, and much patron­ized by the very rich. There are var­i­ous ways to inter­pret this. It could be seen as a vote for human­i­tar­i­an­ism and reli­gious char­ity, or a sop for the more bru­tal face of cap­i­tal­ist pre­da­tion. Else­where, his­tor­i­cally this kind of pri­vate ame­lio­ra­tion of suf­fer­ing was over­taken by Otto von Bismark’s state social wel­fare con­tract in 19th Cen­tury Ger­many (for purely prac­ti­cal rea­sons of gov­er­nance: he tried to out­law “social­ist” polit­i­cal move­ments), and then the grad­ual spread of social­ist-type safety nets in other parts of the West­ern world.

Ide­ol­ogy as a pub­lic decep­tion for pri­vate profit

There is a good argu­ment that all known polit­i­cal ide­olo­gies have never been more than a pub­lic cloak to hide the cap­ture of wealth by rul­ing elites (or even by elites who can’t be both­ered with the cha­rade of rul­ing pop­u­la­tions). In these terms, “ide­ol­ogy” falls into the same bracket as the Roman Empire’s device of “bread and cir­cuses” to keep the pop­u­la­tion quiet, orga­nized religion’s his­tor­i­cal manip­u­la­tion by states as a tool of social con­trol, and per­haps mod­ern spec­ta­tor sports, mass enter­tain­ment and media with the same func­tion. Ide­ol­ogy and reli­gion have the added ben­e­fit of engag­ing the energies of “the chat­ter­ing classes”, would-be intel­lec­tu­als, while only occa­sion­ally yield­ing a threat or real chal­lenge. Of course, con­spir­acy the­o­ries are easy to come by. How­ever if we fol­low the money trail, the final impo­tence of ide­olo­gies seems pretty clear. The real deal: the amount of US$ in cir­cu­la­tion is roughly US$1.2 tril­lion. The off­shore wealth (mostly secretly) held by indi­vid­u­als and com­pa­nies is esti­mated at US$21–32 tril­lion (Tax Jus­tice Net­work 2013). For every $1 of aid sent to Africa, 80 cents recir­cu­lates back off­shore. From the $1 bil­lion or so that Google sucked out of Aus­tralia last year, $74,000 tax was paid .. and so on. Most world lead­ers are in on this scam, and they all stay in the same five star hotels. The crit­i­cal point is that this vast accu­mu­la­tion of hid­den wealth has come from coun­tries all over the world, sport­ing every known brand of polit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy. In fact the most effec­tive secret thieves of pub­lic wealth are very fre­quently the most earnest pub­lic advo­cates of this ide­ol­ogy or that.

Cri­sis as the gen­e­sis of ide­olo­gies – the 21st Cen­tury

If cri­sis breeds and legit­imizes ide­olo­gies as a kind of social sur­vival mech­a­nism, one way of pre­dict­ing the emer­gence of ide­olo­gies is to antic­i­pate the kinds of crises which will arise in the 21st Cen­tury. Per­haps prime amongst these crises will be the eco­log­i­cal sur­vival of the planet itself. Within the human frame, mul­ti­ple cat­a­stro­phes can be pre­dicted in a gen­eral way. Many of the most ancient human cat­a­stro­phes, such as war, show every sign of stay­ing with us. The pan­demics which dec­i­mated pop­u­la­tions in ear­lier times, such as bubonic plague, may be dri­ven into retreat by med­ical sci­ence, yet that tri­umph itself has helped humans to breed as an ani­mal species to plague lev­els which are arguably beyond the resources to the planet to sus­tain. Per­haps related, it is prob­a­bly no acci­dent that euthanasia as a accept­able solu­tion to aging pop­u­la­tions has just been broached in the Chi­nese media. The ide­o­log­i­cal potency of this kind of propo­si­tion is obvi­ous (as, in a darker frame, were the argu­ments for eugen­ics in Hitler’s 3rd Reich).

Crises of pop­u­la­tion and migra­tion – new sources of ide­ol­ogy?

Human beings have always migrated, for oppor­tu­nity, through war and forced exile, or sim­ply because they could. Appar­ently the total human pop­u­la­tion 70,000 years ago was only a few thou­sand, pos­si­bly reduced by nat­u­ral calamity (such as dis­ease or the Toba super vol­cano). We have been restock­ing and mov­ing every since. How­ever the 21st Cen­tury human world divides itself into nations with move­ment only per­mit­ted through bureau­cratic pass­ports and visas. That is the the­ory. In prac­tice, there are hun­dreds of mil­lions of migrants and refugees on the move, with or with­out doc­u­men­ta­tion. In many set­tled pop­u­la­tions (includ­ing Aus­tralia) transna­tional human move­ment fre­quently becomes a major polit­i­cal issue. Wherever there are major polit­i­cal issues old ide­olo­gies and new ide­olo­gies are amongst the weapons brought into play. I sense that in the com­ing cen­tury ques­tions of human move­ment will become acute as pop­u­la­tions increase, the knowl­edge of regional dis­par­i­ties in wealth become far more uni­ver­sal, uni­ver­sal instant com­mu­ni­ca­tion world­wide enlists sym­pa­thies and inflames fears, and any part of the world can be trav­elled to in a few hours. It is already appar­ent that in the mat­ter migra­tion there are priv­i­leged classes of peo­ple. Those with needed skills and/or money are wel­come every­where, and there may even be inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion for their res­i­dence. Then there are vast masses of peo­ple, many with great abil­ity and energy but with­out the priv­i­lege of money or needed skills. In des­per­a­tion and hope they also move. We have already seen that old ide­olo­gies, like viruses, know no bor­ders. It is there­fore rea­son­able to expect new ide­olo­gies which try to deal with the moral dilem­mas of human migra­tion, may grow more flesh in com­ing decades on the bones of the UN con­ven­tion on refugees, and the UN dec­la­ra­tion of human rights. Equally, there will be forces to oppose the imple­men­ta­tion of any such gen­er­al­ized human­i­tar­ian prin­ci­ples.

The return of Nature to human con­scious­ness – ide­o­log­i­cal con­se­quences

The mod­ern urban­iza­tion of pop­u­la­tions has, for over a cen­tury, given most edu­cated peo­ple a men­tal hol­i­day from the implaca­ble imper­a­tives of Nature which gov­erned the lives of farm­ing and hunt­ing com­mu­ni­ties for mil­len­nia, and shaped what­ever ide­olo­gies they had. Now Nature is back with a vengeance. The eco­log­i­cal bal­ance of life and atmos­phere on the planet has always evolved and fluc­tu­ated. How­ever there are pow­er­ful sci­en­tific pre­dic­tions that human activ­ity has tipped a bal­ance in this process towards cat­a­strophic cli­mate change (a pre­dic­tion derided by Australia’s cur­rent prime min­is­ter). The rise of so-called green par­ties and envi­ron­men­tal ide­ol­ogy has now become a strong fea­ture not only in west­ern democ­ra­cies, but amongst edu­cated pop­u­la­tions every­where (for exam­ple, in China). Nev­er­the­less, as with other threats (e.g. the like­li­hood of nuclear anni­hi­la­tion, which is still very real) polit­i­cal oppor­tunism and the rush for profit will almost cer­tainly over­whelm pub­lic ide­ol­ogy in any sit­u­a­tion short of imme­di­ate cat­a­stro­phe.

The elec­tronic fron­tier – a new source of ide­olo­gies?

Mass lit­er­acy and the print­ing press were lib­er­at­ing enough to allow sci­en­tific think­ing to gain trac­tion, and set us on the path to indus­tri­al­iza­tion, with all the con­se­quences for wealth cre­ation, ide­ol­ogy and gov­ern­ment which fol­lowed. Less than a gen­er­a­tion ago an even more pow­er­ful rev­o­lu­tion in the tools at our dis­posal emerged. When Alan Tur­ing solved the math­e­mat­i­cal prob­lem of pro­gram­ma­ble machine com­pu­ta­tion in 1936, and John von Neu­mann fol­lowed with a math­e­mat­i­cal analy­sis of the struc­ture of self-repli­ca­tion, they set a math­e­mat­i­cal foun­da­tion for both mod­ern biol­ogy and for the age of com­put­ers, and now the age of the Inter­net. No human soci­ety has pre­vi­ously seen any­thing like this, and we have barely begun to grasp the con­se­quences. At once we are lib­er­ated and endan­gered. We can com­mu­ni­cate world­wide with any­one almost instantly, yet our pri­vacy and inde­pen­dence of action has poten­tially been shred­ded. Every­thing we eat, wear, and use has been facil­i­tated by com­put­ing, yet the vul­ner­a­bil­ity to dis­rup­tion is acute. The gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers now in polit­i­cal con­trol world­wide are mostly barely aware of these conun­drums. For them com­put­ing is a lit­tle under­stood con­ve­nience. For fol­low­ing gen­er­a­tions if there are fol­low­ing gen­er­a­tions, com­put­ing will forcibly reshape the pos­si­bil­i­ties of what­ever ide­olo­gies arise.

Deal­ing with ide­ol­ogy at a per­sonal level

At a per­sonal level, over a life­time we either reject or sub­mit to vary­ing ide­olo­gies in the prac­tice of daily life. For most peo­ple, most of the time, this is a fairly uncon­scious process, although they may react with a degree of out­rage when some­thing they con­sider ‘nor­mal’ is chal­lenged. There are ide­olo­gies attached to work­place cul­ture, com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion, edu­ca­tion, health­care, media, sport, reli­gion, and a mul­ti­tude of other foci of inter­est. Indi­vid­u­als are not nec­es­sar­ily con­sis­tent when wear­ing their many hats. Very few take a dis­tanced or philo­soph­i­cal view of the whole ide­o­log­i­cal process.

Thor’s state­ment of ide­o­log­i­cal dis­tance

Although analysing every­thing to death has done noth­ing at all for my pop­u­lar­ity or life chances, and may be a per­son­al­ity flaw, I have indeed looked at ide­ol­ogy (and many other things) from some philo­soph­i­cal dis­tance. In 1991 I for­mu­lated my rela­tion­ship to the gen­eral ide­o­log­i­cal process, which is given here for what it is worth (per­haps it is too com­pressed for some tastes). It is on the front page of my home web­site, The Pas­sion­ate Skep­tic (http://thormay.net):

I don’t care what you believe in, so long as you don’t believe in it too strongly. A belief is a weapon in the armoury of your heart, and its razor edge will mur­der the inno­cent. The ice, the fire of your pas­sion will seduce mun­dane men and women. Your clar­ity will excite respect. And the first dem­a­gogue who comes along with a key to your heart’s armoury will wrest the weapon from your moral grasp. The first cause which wears the colours of your belief will enlist you as a sol­dier in rav­aging cru­sades. Peace friend. Keep your pas­sion to doubt with. Our civ­i­liza­tion is a sim­ple mat­ter of live and let live, of giv­ing dreams a go, but step­ping back with a wry smile when we get it wrong. Let the fun­da­men­tal­ists per­ish in their own pil­lars of fire. Spare a dol­lar for the liv­ing, and have a nice day, Doubt well, do what you can, then let it be. Pres­i­dents, priests, wage slaves, hus­tlers, men and women, kids, we all live by the grace of those we love to despise… Lei­den­schaft ist, was Lei­den schafft (pas­sion is what makes you suf­fer – Ger­man Proverb). 
– Thor @1 Novem­ber 1991



Arm­strong, Karen (25 Sep­tem­ber 2014) “The myth of reli­gious vio­lence – The pop­u­lar belief that reli­gion is the cause of the world’s blood­i­est con­flicts is cen­tral to our mod­ern con­vic­tion that faith and pol­i­tics should never mix. But the messy his­tory of their sep­a­ra­tion sug­gests it was never so sim­ple”. The Guardian online @ http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/25/-sp-karen-armstrong-religious-violence-myth-secular

Bir­rell, Ian (6 Jan­u­ary 2014) “Bill Gates preaches the aid gospel, but is he just a hyp­ocrite? – The world’s rich­est man is seen as a sec­u­lar saint. But he should ques­tion the exam­ple that Microsoft is set­ting by avoid­ing tax”. The Guardian, online @ http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/06/bill-gates-preaches-fighting-poverty-hypocrite-microsoft-tax

Caryl, Chris­tian (Jan­u­ary 4, 2014) “Super rich becom­ing the dic­ta­tors of 21st cen­tury”. Bris­bane Times, online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/super-rich-becoming-the-dictators-of-21st-century-20140103-309jg.html#ixzz2pOKgabj8

Gan­del­man, Joe (24 Decem­ber 2012) “Your 21st Cen­tury Ide­o­log­i­cal Pol­i­tics at Work: Thou­sands Sign Peti­tion to Get CNN s Piers Mor­gan Deported Due to His Anti Gun Views”. The Cen­trist blog, online @ http://themoderatevoice.com/171596/your-21st-century-ideological-politics-at-work-thousand-sign-petition-to-get-cnns-piers-morgan-deported-due-to-his-anti-gun-views/#4dps6E2jXJKzzWPB.99

Git­tins, Ross (Decem­ber 28, 2013) “Dar­winian model of eco­nom­ics flawed for firms”. Bris­bane Times, online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/business/darwinian-model-of-economics-flawed-for-firms-20131227-2zzns.html

Golden Dawn (2013) “Golden Dawn – Inter­na­tional News­room”. [Neo-fas­cist web­site], online @ http://golden-dawn-international-newsroom.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/the-ideological-war-of-21st-century.html

Grin­stein, Gidi (04/15/2014) “The Essen­tial Archi­tec­ture of Small-Scale Net­works”. Huff­in­g­ton Post online @ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gidi-grinstein/jewish-adaptability_b_5154302.html?utm_hp_ref=world

Haag, Pamela (11 Novem­ber 2013) “I m Sick of Ide­ol­ogy Even My Own”. Harpy’s Review blog online @ http://bigthink.com/harpys-review/im-sick-of-ideology-even-my-own

Hontz, Eric (12 Novem­ber 2009) “The 21st Cen­tury Ide­o­log­i­cal Bat­tle”. CIPE Devel­op­ment Blog, online @ http://www.cipe.org/blog/2009/11/12/the-21st-century-ideological-battle/#.Uq_A3E429ws

Hutchens, Gareth (Jan­u­ary 21, 2014) “Rich­est 85 boast same wealth as half the world”. Bris­bane Times, online @ http://www.smh.com.au/business/richest-85-boast-same-wealth-as-half-the-world-20140120-314vk.html#ixzz2qz4yCDk5

Kar­lin, Ana­toly (24 April 2011) “The Rad­i­cal Ide­olo­gies of the 21st Cen­tury”. Per­sonal blog, online @ http://akarlin.com/2011/04/radical-ideologies-of-21st-century/

Kemp, John (Decem­ber 18, 2013) “Coal ‘prime cul­prit’ behind cli­mate change but can we live with­out it?”. Bris­bane Times, online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/coal-prime-culprit-behind-climate-change-but-can-we-live-without-it-20131218-2zju9.html [rel­e­vance: the divi­sive pol­i­tics of energy & cli­mate change]

Koenig, Shu­lamith (n.d.) “The Birth of a Polit­i­cal Ide­ol­ogy for the Twenty-first Cen­tury”. PDHRE web­site [Human Rights web­site], online @ http://www.pdhre.org/dialogue/ideology.html

Kuzniki, Mark (8 Jan­u­ary, 2007) “Search for a 21st Cen­tury Ide­ol­ogy”. Remark! blog, online @ http://remarkk.com/2007/01/08/search-for-a-21st-century-ideology/

Loomis, Erik (18 Sep­tem­ber 2010) “Activism in Amer­ica: We need a new ide­ol­ogy”. Global Com­ment blog, online @ http://globalcomment.com/activism-in-america-we-need-a-new-ideology/

Luke, Jim (April, 2004) “Isms, Rhetoric, and the Brand­ing of Ide­ol­ogy in the 21st Cen­tury”. Econ­Proph blog, online @ http://econproph.com/2011/04/04/isms-and-branding-of-ideology-iand-the-21st-century/

Naughton, John (30 Decem­ber 2013) “Here’s how data thieves have cap­tured our lives on the inter­net”. [TM com­ment: the right to pri­vacy is not addressed directly by any exist­ing ide­ol­ogy. How­ever its accep­tance or denial under­pins ide­olo­gies of all kinds. Since pri­vacy is so per­va­sivly vio­lated now, I pre­dict that the right to pri­vacy will become a major ide­o­log­i­cal issue in the 21st Cen­try]. The Guardian, online @ http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/29/internet-corporate-surveillance

Orwell, George (1949) 1984. Free down­load­able copy of this clas­sic novel of dystopia, online @ http://www.planetebook.com/1984.asp

Provost, Claire (30 Decem­ber 2013) “Susan George on the secret cap­i­tal­ist cabal behind Euro­pean aus­ter­ity”. The Guardian, online @

RMIT (2013) Global Cities Research Insti­tute, annual reports. [Mis­sion: “Is there a coher­ent ide­o­log­i­cal plat­form behind  Jus­tice Glob­al­ism  the social move­ment for global jus­tice emerg­ing through the World Social Forum?…”] . Royal Mel­bourne Insti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy; web­site online @ http://global-cities.info/publications

Roos, Jerome (May 11, 2012) “The mean­ing and neces­sity of rev­o­lu­tion in the 21st cen­tury”. Roarmag.org [web­site pro­mot­ing ‘global rev­o­lu­tion’], online @ http://roarmag.org/2012/05/jerome-roos-ovni-2012-revolution-21st-century/

Satin, Mark (17 April 2010; last revised 5 July 2011) “Fifty Con­tem­po­rary Polit­i­cal Ide­olo­gies”. Rad­i­cal Mid­dle Newslet­ter*, online @ http://www.radicalmiddle.com/ideologies.htm [* note: this site is espe­cially com­pre­hen­sive, with many addi­tional links]

Schall, Lars (18 Decem­ber 2013) “Secret infor­ma­tion: The cur­rency of power”. Asia Times, online @ http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/GECON-02–231213.html [ This is a very long inter­view with Thomas Drake, a NSA whistle­blower who pre­ceded Edward Snow­den. It ram­bles a bit, but the take-away is that Amer­i­can “secu­rity” ser­vices a) have pre­cise, trans­ac­tion level access to bank accounts every­where along with the tech­nol­ogy to manip­u­late them, and b) have inti­mate ties to Wall Street (which of course owns the United States admin­is­tra­tion). In other words, a crypto-gov­ern­ment is already func­tional, ren­der­ing irrel­e­vant pub­lic notions of ide­ol­ogy.]

Schiff­man, Richard (Decem­ber 30, 2013) “Multi­na­tion­als carv­ing up Africa for food”. Bris­bane Times, online @ http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/world/multinationals-carving-up-africa-for-food-20131229-301jk.html

Smith, R.C. (10 May, 2012) “The Age of Ide­ol­ogy: Con­tem­po­rary Pol­i­tics and the Mean­ing of Protest in the 21st Cen­tury”. Heath­wood Press, online @ http://www.heathwoodpress.com/the-age-of-ideology-and-the-meaning-of-protest/

Tan, Paige John­son (18 Octo­ber 2011) “Ide­olo­gies: ‘Isms and Pol­i­tics”. Uni­ver­sity of North Car­olina, course­work page, online @ http://people.uncw.edu/tanp/Ideologies.html

TJN (2013) “Esti­mat­ing the Price of Off­shore – Head­line report” [TM com­ment: Ide­ol­ogy may often be a pan­tomime for the masses. The real deal: the amount of US$ in cir­cu­la­tion is rouglhy US$1.2 tril­lion. The off­shore wealth (mostly secretly) held by indi­vid­u­als and com­pa­nies is esti­mated at US$21–32 tril­lion. For every $1 of aid sent to Africa, 80 cents recir­cu­lates back off­shore. From the $1 bil­lion or so that Google sucked out of Aus­tralia last year, $74,000 tax was paid .. and so on. Most world lead­ers are in on this scam]. Tax Jus­tice Net­work, online @ http://www.taxjustice.net/cms/front_content.php?idcat=148

Tod­hunter, Colin (27 March, 2013) “Social Con­trol In The 21st Cen­tury: Eugen­ics, The GM Sec­tor And The Ide­ol­ogy Of The Rich”. Coun­ter­Cur­rents blog, online @ http://www.countercurrents.org/todhunter270313.htm

Upchurch, Tom (23 August 2012) “The Great Ide­o­log­i­cal Strug­gle of the 21st Cen­tury – an inter­view with Chan­dran Nair about his book, Con­sump­tio­nom­ics”. The Econ­o­mist, online @ http://www.economistinsights.com/sustainability-resources/opinion/great-ideological-struggle-21st-century ; web­site for the book: http://www.consumptionomics.com/the-book/

Wikipedia (2013) “Ide­ol­ogy”. online @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideology

Wikipedia (2013) “Tech­no­log­i­cal Sin­gu­lar­ity”. online @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity

Wikipedia (2013) “List of Com­mu­nist Ide­olo­gies”. online @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_communist_ideologies

Wu Yixue (2013–12-27) “Shock ‘tigers’ and awe ‘flies’” [the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party’s offi­cial plan to make the prac­tice of their ide­ol­ogy viable by “putting power in a cage”] China Daily online @


What will be the dom­i­nant ide­olo­gies of the 21st Cen­tury? © Thor May 2013

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