George Walford: The Group Situation

The environment in which we live can be divided in many ways. For the ideologist one significant division is between the social group and the rest of the environment. The two main ideological classes, eidostatic and eidodynamic, each display a characteristic pair of identifications, one with the social group (Walsby terms this the group situation), and the converse identification with the environment external to the social group (Walsby terms this the cosmic situation). [1]

The eidodynamics (Socialists, Communists, Anarchists) regard the existing social structure as the main source of the ills from which we suffer. They do not ascribe war, poverty, insecurity and the rest to the will of God, or the natural aggressiveness of man, or to natural law, or to any other extra-social factor, but to “the contradictions of’ capitalism” or some other feature of our social organisation. They maintain that in order to improve human conditions we must reform, revolutionise or abolish existing society. They experience existing society as a hostile presence. They are opposed to it. They exhibit negative identification with it. As, in the Anarchist phase, this identification approaches complete negativity it tends to turn from concern into repudiation; Anarchists are not interested in the possibilities of reforming, or even of revolutionising, existing society. They would abolish it.

The eidostatics appearing in the political field as the Right exhibit the converse attitude toward the existing social structure. They are positively identified with it. We mentioned earlier that positive identification, when complete, does not appear as enthusiastic support. Active support implies recognition of a distinction between supporter and supported, and hence something short of a completely positive identification. Those most completely identified with their social group (in this connection usually the nation), are not the outspoken patriots but those who take their membership of the group, and their compliance with the implied conditions of membership, completely for granted, and it is those at the eidostatic end of the range, the protostatics, who tend to behave in this way.

Among the more moderate eidostatics, the Conservatives and Liberals, the identification is less exclusively positive; there is some tendency toward recognising the group as something distinct from the person and, consequently, for the decision to support it to become a conscious choice. But even in this phase the social structure is not seen as the decisive factor in the human condition. Rich and poor alike, the Right tend to regard poverty as a result of extra-social factors – natural law, luck, personal qualities or the will of God – and consequently as something which just has to be accepted. They do not see poverty as the Left do, as a result of specific social conditions which can be altered. As Dr. Johnson expressed it: “How small, of all that human hearts endure / The part that laws or kings can cause or cure.” This assumption is clearly distinct from the one with which the Left are identified, that laws, if not kings, can cause or cure a great deal.

In connection with the existing social structure, as elsewhere, negative identification tends to produce active concern, moving toward repudiation, and eventually detachment, as the identification becomes completely negative, and positive identification tends to appear as acceptance, becoming unquestioning as the identification approaches complete positivity.

[1] Domain of Ideologies pp. 212 et seq.

Continue reading An Outline Sketch of Systematic Ideology (1977):
The Walsby Society | Introduction | Ideology and the Left | The Field of Ideology | Assumption and Identification | Definition of an Ideology | Ideological Groups | The Major Ideologies | Ideological Development | Intellect | The Group Situation | The Cosmic Situation | Political Individualism and Collectivism | Economic Individualism and Collectivism | Personal Ideological Structure | Social Ideological Structure | Conclusion | Papers on Systematic Ideology