Your Political Ideology is a Religion

I was contemplating a more trolling headline like “socialism is religion” or  “liberalism is religion,” but realized it was too click-baity and I couldn’t be bothered to make two copies of the post with each headline to really reel in those sweet sweet clicks.  Just imagine it says something really offensive to you.

Long ago, I wrote about how religion was the science of 2000 years ago.  It’s a bunch of rules based on the contemporary understanding of the world.  Most of the rules have logical explanations (eating pork was bad because pigs are similar to humans and therefore it is easier to contract a disease from Miss Piggy than from the Milka Cow), but today we understand the problems better and can come up with better solutions (pump Babe with enough antibiotics to make him glow and make sure to cook your bacon).

Most of the modern political ideologies are old.  Democracy is from around 2500 years ago.  Socialism is from the early 1800s and liberalism/capitalism (in the sense we use the words today) form the late 1700s.

Democracy in ancient Greece was only for rich elderly men.  It did not include women, slaves, foreigners, or people with debt.  In other words, there’s a chance that since it was based on ideas from a period when drinking from and shitting in the same body of water seemed like a great idea, they did not get everything right on the first attempt.  Later, democracy has been extended to include a much larger group, and few would consider an original Greek city state a democracy.

The same holds true for “modern” political ideologies, though to a lesser degree.  The two currently competing main ideologies, socialism and capitalism, are both 200-250 years old.  They are based on an understanding of the world that’s contemporary to “if leeches won’t cure your cold, thank God for mercury” and “burning women to death for sorcery is a perfectly sane and humane thing to do.”

Your political ideology is based on an old understanding of the world.  It is not as wrong as most of the Abrahamic religions, simply because they’re younger, but if you one-sided claims your ideology is 100% right about everything, you do sort-of come off as crazy as an anti-vaxxer.

Liberalism and capitalism quite fundamentally build on the efficient market hypothesis, which basically says that supply and demand will balance each other out and the appropriate price will be found by the market.  This assumption is simply wrong.  The market does not behave like that, because people are not rational.  This has been demonstrated false by studies showing that the same stock can trade at two different prices at the same time depending on packaging.

Socialism builds on the assumption that nobody (or only few) will abuse a system built on trust.  This has been proven wrong most prominently in USSR.

A single flaw does not necessarily prove that an ideology is all wrong.  It just proves it is not flawless, and that means that no matter whether your prophet is named Smith, Milton, Rand or Paul, or Marx, Lenin, Guevara or Sanders, you are not allowed to point to the ancient scripture and use that as argumentation.  Because if you do that, you come off as the crazy christian condemning gay marriage “because the bible says so” but ignoring the immediately preceding part about sex during menstruation or the part about stoning disobedient children.

Instead you have to argue your point.  Without the help of appealing to authority.  Because Rand wrote something does not make it right.  She was largely a failed author who wrote excessively long and boring books and sold them as philosophy instead, as she couldn’t write a love story to save her life.  Lenin had an unhealthy fascination with fascism, both in his writing and actions, and should probably not be cited as an all-knowing oracle.  If they were wrong on one thing, they might be wrong on another, and you have to argue why you pick some things while leaving others.  You can definitely not point to one cherry-picked saying as an absolute truth, while silently avoiding inconvenient passages.  This also goes the other way around; just because Hitler loved dogs doesn’t mean you should automatically kick dogs.  A person can be wrong about one thing without being wrong about everything.  You should kick dogs because cats are obviously superior and naturally one thing can’t be good without another being bad and hence necessitating being kicked.

It is amusing that people find it so easy to see flaws in others ideologies while failing to see the errors of their own.  It is probably a case of the illusory superiority cognitive bias, where one overestimates positives and underestimates negatives.  People simply in their minds only emphasize the parts of their ideology they agree with and ignore other parts.  That is perfectly fine, but others will probably not have the same focus.

People should evaluate their ideologies based on actual merits.  Just because all ideologies are flawed, doesn’t mean we cannot learn from them: Christianity teaches a positive message about getting along with ones peers.  Socialism about helping those unable to support themselves.  Capitalism about personal freedom.

Some of these are incompatible, at times even internally (your freedom to kill everybody infringes on my freedom not to be killed unless I want to).  That’s okay too if we move on to discuss about ideas instead of ideologies.  Ideologies are fine for summarizing ideas, but we have to be aware that ideologies are not perfect and that they evolve over time.  If not, there’s a real risk that we stop listening to people we disagree with and just project our own flawed understanding of what they mean onto what they are saying.  Just like religion.

4 thoughts on “Your Political Ideology is a Religion

  1. Er folk nu så sort/hvide, som du fremstiller dem? Jeg oplever yderst sjældent at folk argumentere politik ud fra hvad de gamle har sagt. Omvendt hælder folk til en retning af én af de store ideologier, men de er sjældent rendyrkede og ser ideologien som en religiøs tekst.
    Jeg oplever (substantielle) politiske diskutioner som forskelle i f.eks. hvad der er statens opgave og hvad der ikke er, men ikke baseret på Rand eller Lenin.

    1. Det er ikke så meget om at se på de oprindelige kilder, men som at se ideologien dogmatisk og lukke af for den anden side. Hvornår var sidste gang, du blev overbevist af en fra ØSFSRÅ om, at du havde taget fejl og at de faktiske havde en god pointe?

      Jeg ser alt for mange argumenter fra LA’ere, som referer beregninger baseret på cherry-picked økonomiske teorier. Mest af alt en blind tro på at markedet klarer alt. Folk der argumenterer for guldstandard baseret på Friedman of Rand.

      Jeg ser også Ø’ere argumentere som om kapitalister er djævlen selv. Som om det ikke bare er tilfældet at de prøver at maksimere profit i stedet for at have et andet syn på hvad er bedst, men direkte forsøger at udbytte “fattige.”

      Jeg ser 3 forskellige partier i Danmark indenfor kort tid true med at vælte regeringen og hver gang gør de 2 andre grin af det og lader som om de ikke alle er lige latterlige.

    2. Jeg er ikke enig. Jeg ser flere sager, hvor LA og Ø er enige, f.eks. Social hjælp og fri hash. Det er primært på den økonomiske politik, at fløjene adskiller sig samt på enkelte symbolsager (R mener f.eks. vindmøller = godhed, DF ønsker alle andre ude, osv.)

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