George Walford: Preface to Beyond Politics

In 1977 I published a pamphlet, An Outline Sketch of Systematic Ideology, and in 1979 a book entitled Ideologies and their Functions; a study in systematic ideology. Since then systematic ideology has developed, and the present work is intended to take the place of those earlier efforts.

I have made contributions to the theory, especially in connection with the history of society at large and social activities outside party politics, but it is the creation of Harold Walsby (1911-1973). He worked in a line of descent that runs back through F. S. Johnson (to whom his Domain of Ideologies was dedicated), Francis Sedlak, the English Hegelians and Karl Marx to Hegel, and beyond Hegel to Kant and all the philosopher-predecessors, back to the woman, man or community who first attempted to make sense of their experience. Even that, as we shall see when we come to consider the evolution of ideology, is not the beginning of the line, but it is perhaps far enough to go in a preface.

My thanks are due to all who, knowingly or not, have helped hammer this book into shape; many an evening of knock-down, drag-out argument in the Anarchist Forum has gone into it. Much help, perhaps not always intentional, has come from the Socialist Party of Great Britain; without their demonstration of the limitations of other political movements, the stimulation provided by their determined opposition to systematic ideology, and the facilities for discussion so generously provided at their meetings, the theory could hardly have developed as it has. I have tried to reciprocate by drawing attention to their work.

One substantial advance beyond the earlier book is due to Ike Benjamin, who brought me to recognise the primal ideology for what it is. I am indebted to John Rowan for his detailed criticism of a late draft. My daughter Richenda read the proofs; my wife scrutinised the text and designed the jacket. This is beginning to sound as though everything in the book is owed to somebody else, but at least I can claim its defects for myself.

As this goes to print the reforms linked with Gorbachev’s name are starting to produce their effects, including some to all appearance unexpected; the continued existence of the USSR, as my generation has known it, begins to look doubtful. When the lives of millions are being rapidly changed in ways closely connected with the theory to be presented there is a temptation to hold back and see what happens, but authors wanting their work to be taken seriously have to be willing to stick their necks out. For me this is easier than it might have been since recent events have moved in my favour, reducing an apparent discrepancy between social practice and the expectations deriving from systematic ideology.

Continue reading Beyond Politics by George Walford (1990):
Preface | Introduction | Politics as Ideology | The British Political Series | The World Political Series | From Politics to Ideology | Ideology Beyond Politics | The Beginnings | From Village to Empire | After The Empires | The Eidodynamic | The Origins of Ideologies | The Evolution of Ideology | Conclusion | Appendices | Notes & References | Select Bibliography | Index | Synopsis