Cross-posted with The Huffington Post
I watched the fireworks after watching monster trucks and motocross racing in Pomona, surrounded by many people who think differently than I do. In this time, I had occasion to think about ideology. While it is easy to disdain blind nationalism and patriotism, I think it’s important to remember a few things about ideology.
Ideology is overly broad. It simplifies arguments, obscuring inconsistency of thought and differences between individuals. It provides security and community at the expense of this simplification.
It is possible to minimize the role of ideology in thinking, approaching each problem fresh, but a change in thinking is a threat to our feeling of integrity. Our past decisions place the weight of consistency on our identity. As Emerson said, “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” When a person is free of the need for consistency, they are free to make better decisions.
I will try to hold ideology in lower regard. Similarly, I will try to see opposing ideologies not as impenetrable forces or specters of disaster, but as political phenomena co-existing with other, more fine-grained political phenomena. Because it is in between these imagined entities of ideology that most political action actually takes place.