Linda Sloane: Systematic Ideology and Identity / The Triangle of Society, Ideology and the Individual

Winner, 2015 George Walford International Essay Prize.

The first time I heard about Systematic Ideology, I could make sense off the term ideology yet the term systematic was not clear to me at all. The systematic in Systematic Ideology, however, is the most crucial part about the theory and the one differentiating it from other ideas and thoughts on ideology.

With this essay, I would like to explain Systematic Ideology and analyse it throughout a multidisciplinary viewpoint, in order to investigate the connection between ideology, society and the individual. The question, of how this interrelation functions regarding the individual citizen and their identity, will be crucial to this essay and serve as a guideline to my analysis.

First, I will give an explanation of Systematic Ideology, while pointing out its significant elements for the following investigation. Second I will present these elements in connection to the broader question of the essay, namely the analysis of the relationship between ideology, society and the individual. By doing so, I will point out different theoretical approaches towards that relationship and a similar issue, that is the connection of morality, society and the individual (and ideology); and use the conversation with an US marine soldier as an example. In the third part of the essay, I will present my own theoretical and philosophical thoughts, based on the analysis of Systematic Ideology, leading to concluding remarks.

PART ONE: Introducing Systematic Ideology
This part is a short summary of Systematic Ideology and emphasise the elements of this theory that are crucial for my further analysis. In order to understand Systematic Ideology, one needs to define both terms, systematic and ideology. In general, ideology can be understood as a concept of human minds, individual or collective, which provides one, i.e. the collective and/or the individual, with a frame of reference for societal life. Eriksen, a well-known anthropologist, gives a distinct overall definition of ideology:

Ideology is that aspect of culture which concerns how society ought to be organised; in other words, it concerns politics, rules and the distinction between right and wrong. Ideology is a normative kind of knowledge; it may be implicit or explicit, and it may be challenged. [1]

He suggests an overall moral dimension of ideology (right/wrong), but sees its normative potential in the political dimension in particular. Walsby was already concerned with political ideologies, in the 1930s and 40s. He analysed the intellectual capacity of the individual as connected to ideology, in order to establish the political development of society. In order to do so, he explains why masses, ideologically speaking, move in the direction they do. [2] By doing so, Walsby differentiates between intellect, which is influenced by environmental circumstances and intelligence, which is mostly “inborn”. [3] His book was published in 1947 (post World War II), therefore he mostly distinguishes between right-wing (conservatism and economic individualism) and left-wing (liberalism and economic collectivism). In that respect, Walsby wants to understand the the masses and how they function, leading him to an analysis of mass emotion which, strictly speaking, he opposes to intellectual reasoning. However, he also recognises that ideology transcends its political dimension, for

ideology may now be defined as the complete system of cognitive assumptions and affective identifications which manifest themselves in, or underlie, the thought, speech aims, interests, ideals ethical standards, actions – in short, in the behaviour – of an individual human being. [4]

All in all, ideology can thus be defined as one’s conception of how something is ought to be and this conception is altering one’s behaviour in political as well as everyday life. [5]

When it comes to the term systematic, Walsby sees the “ideological forms as systematically and fundamentally related” [6], but it is George Walford, who takes the theory further and emphases the systematic function of ideologies. In several books and his journal Ideological Commentary, he dedicated himself to the study of ideology and the system behind it. Instead of examining what ideologies are, Walford scrutinizes how they actually work. [7] Generally speaking, he classifies his system of ideologies as follows:

Systematic ideology explains the major or main sequence ideologies as stages in the universal system of evolution and the minor ideologies, the more localised and transient ones, as specialised versions of one or another of these. [8]

Walford thus differentiates between major and minor ideologies, the latter emerging from the former. They are similar in their construction, for that both types are based on assumptions (see figure 1 attached). These assumptions, however, are either general or specific. General assumptions form the basis for major ideologies, whereas the minor ideologies emerge from particular assumptions. [9] For the sake of argument of this essay, it is important to keep in mind that “[all] ideologies are composed of assumptions.” [10] This is of interest especially with regard of the connection between ideology and society and/or the individual. Where do these assumptions derive from? Are they social or psychological occurrences? These questions are ought to be investigated in part two of this essay.

Though ideologies as well as assumptions vary in their degree of change within society and major ideologies and general assumption seem rather stable (see figure 2 attached), it is important to Walford to establish that the “evolutionary system” [11] of major ideologies is not static, but rather dynamic. What we take from this for further understanding of my analysis later on, is Walford’s distinction between major and minor ideologies, respectively their interrelation. In other words: it is not distinction itself, but the fact that the minor ideologies are “specialised versions” [12] of broader thoughts, i.e. major ideologies, which is of interest for part two of this essay, because it shows the different of levels of ideologies that may occur in society or within the individual.

Regarding the major ideologies, Walford mentions an “universal system of evolution” [13] of these. This evolution consists of different stages of ideologies. Walford identifies six levels of major ideologies; protostatic, epistatic, parastatic, protodynamic, epidynamic and paradynamic. [14] An additional stage; metadynamic; owns a somewhat separate position to the other stages, as the first six ideologies can be sub-divided into two categories, eidostatic and eidodynamic. The terms “static” and “dynamic” refer to the ideologies’ openness towards change within society, which is gradually modified from stage to stage. In his book Ideologies And Their Functions, Walford describes the eidostatic and -dynamic as further subdivided into proto-, epi-, parastatic, respectively -dynamics. [15] Furthermore, he investigates these along practical examples out of the politics at his time. This essay, however, is primarily theoretical and more concerned with (a) the broader frame of society and (b) the particular interpretation of the individual. Even though the political dimension (of that time, i.e. post-war) will not be investigated more thoroughly I will explore the parts which are essential for understanding Systematic Ideology.

Evidently, the progress of ideologies begins with the eidostatic, namely with the protostatic. [16] Within this stage, it is generally assumed that there is only one reality and its function is the foundation of society. National Socialism and racism are distinctive examples for this stage of ideology, but also, for instance, military, since it is established for defence of society. The next stage is the epistatic, the point when it is recognised that there is also a reality outside one’s own group. Hence, reality is dualistic. This leads to the function of the epistatic, the maintenance of society, the status quo, if you will. Like the protostatic, the epistatic is a very static ideology, but can be associated with conservatism rather than National Socialism. Next is the last stage of the eidostatic, the parastatic, the most dynamic one of the statics. It takes the multiplicity of reality into account and its function is the improvement of society. Physical science is an example for this stage, because it stands for analysis of multiple realities, it has got a factual perception of truths. Politically speaking, it is liberalism that accepts this multiplicity: the success as well as suffering is part of society. This, however, needs to be improved. The will of improvement shows a positive attitude towards change, but it is within the following stage, the first eidodynamic one, that change of society becomes an actual element of ideology. The protodynamic functions as reformer, realising that reality is not only multiple, but also internally related. Change must be introduced gradually and continuously, like it is suggested within labour socialism. It is the mildest movement of the left-wing/eidodynamic movement. The subsequent stage, the epidynamic, is more extreme: it claims that society is too determined to be changed and a revolution is needed, like in the ideology of Communism. This is the function of the epidynamic. In order to grasp this stage more precisely, we have to look at the stages’ conception of reality again. Roughly said, the protostatic starts with the assumption that there is only one reality, only one society; followed by the epistatic which states that there are two realities, “mine” or “our” society’s and the one of “the others” or “the other society”; then the recognition of the parastatic that reality is multiple; the protodynamic then again realises that reality is not only multiple but also divers. Walford points this out by stating that “classes are different” [17], which is crucial for the understanding of the next stage, the epidynamic, for here classes are not only different, but opposed to each other. Due to the system’s routine, this becomes more distinct within the following and last stage, the paradynamic. At this point, reality is conceived as being divided, each individual as an actual independently thinking unit. The only function of the paradynamic is “being against” [18], that is repudiation and can be found in anarchism. [19]

Later on Walford gives a more condensed overview. [20] However, for this essay his book Ideologies And Their Functions served as food for thought, since the connection between ideology and society, i.e. ideologies’ functions, are investigated. Though I will not examine each function more closely, it is important to keep in mind, that ideologies’ have got different functions, They thus serve for different interests, which then again is could be interesting when regarding its connection to the individuals.

Hitherto the evolutionary character of Systematic Ideology has been presented. Each stage being a precondition of the next one. However, Walford suggests that all ideologies co-exist within one society, but the number its followers differ. [21] The largest group, according to Walford, is the non-political. From here on the ideological groups gradually decrease, the protostatic being the largest and the paradynamic being the smallest group (see figure 3 attached). [22]

However, why this evolution takes place is yet to be explained. Walford states that each stage has got its limitations, and that the function of the following ideology is, broadly speaking, to overcome these restrictions. The difference of this function between the eidostatic and the eidodynamic is that the former sees the “limitations imposed by the cosmos” [23], i.e. outside one’s own group, whereas the latter recognises the limitations within the own society. What is most important at this point, is the fact that both types of major ideologies, eidostatic and -dynamics, are set out to “overcome” certain limitations. [24] That comes with a general improvement of the actual condition, which is the last element for my own analysis. It is important because it needs to be examines in relation to society and the individual: does the individual need to overcome limitations or the society; are limitations imposed by society and/or the individual?

In order to complete the presentation of Systematic Ideology, I will now explain the metadynamic ideology which stands apart from the others, because it is a matter of theory only. It is concerned with the study of ideologies and assigned for informing the other ideological groups about their own ideologies [25]. This is probably why Walford redefines this stage later on as the “ideology of ideology.” [26] Within the same article, he presents a more concentrated summary of Systematic Ideology, changing the statics into (a) expediency (formerly protostatic), (b) domination (epistatic) and (c ) precision (parastatic). [27] Nonetheless, the general structure of Systematic Ideology remains the same.

Interestingly Walford notes in this very article that

[t]hese brief comments describe attitudes and activities displayed by purposeful social groups; in the behaviour of individual people psychological influences often predominate over ideological ones. [28]

He therefore recognises a certain connection between the individual, society and ideology, but does not further investigate this issue. This is, therefore, purpose of this essay and I hope to add another thoughts on Systematic Ideology, in the line of thought of Walford himself:

new sciences appear, new religions and new mysticisms, new theories, new professions, new trades, new psychologies and new entertainments, each of them an ideological development. More than ever before, our world is a boiling, bounding, bubbling ferment of ideological novelty, and the rate of change is accelerating. If the ideological system has reached completion it is only the sense that a newborn child is complete. [29]

If you will, you might want to call my own academic background, which is anthropology, as “new science” for it is this discipline that has changed over the last decades. Within nowadays fashion of this discipline, I am not concerned with the far away “other”, but the individual within my own society. This, then again, shows how deeply I am connected with the ideology of anthropological discipline myself.

PART TWO: Analysing Systematic Ideology
The following section is organized according the elements of Systematic Ideology which I filtered out in the first part of this essay: major and minor ideologies, sets of assumptions (the basis of any ideology) and the overcoming of limitations of ideologies. These elements are to be investigated more closely by means of ideas from various scholars out of different disciplines, such as Walzer, who is a philosopher, Van Dijk, who takes an multidisciplinary approach and the anthropologist Rasanayagam. By doing so, I will also make remarks on the triangle of society, the individual and ideology, which will lead to the last and concluding part of this essay.

A. Major and minor ideologies: The connection to society
Like I briefly mentioned above, Walford distinguishes between major and minor ideologies, though he sees the latter as a particular version of the former. [30] Only four years later, Michael Walzer, discusses morality in a similar manner: “there are the makings of a thin and universalist morality inside every thick and particularist morality.” [31]

Though there is a difference between morality, which refers to what is just and good, and ideology, concerned with what is ought to be (better), these approaches are similar to each other. They both differentiate between specific and broader values, be it ideological or moral. Though they realise a connection, since the specific emerge from the broader values as a somewhat concentrated version. Walzer as well as Walford then suggest again that there are at least two ideologies/moralities: the major/thin and the minor/thick ones. This means, that there is a broader level of ideology or morality, a social or cultural one, and a particular level, which is the application of morality/ideology by the individual. Indeed, Walzer states that “the self also divides itself among its ideals, principles, and values; it speaks with more than one moral voice.” [32] Walford also recognises that “some of us are identified with two or more of these ideologies” [33], but does not further examine this multiplicity of ideologies within the individual. However, they both emphasis the broader level of ideology/morality, yet recognise the importance of individual application.

An interesting example of how the individual can cope with the application of major ideologies is provided by Van Doorn in his article on ideology and military. [34] Within military ideology, he identifies three types: political, corporate and operational. Political ideology refers to the broader ideological values. Van Doorn states, like Walford, that conservatism is likely to be similar to military ethics. [35] The corporate ideology is not only theoretical (or political), but also practical. It combines ideas and actions and presents the military’s way as the most preferable way for society to act. The last one, the operational ideology, is of greatest interest for this argument, because of its personal dimension. It is the ideology which comes forward in the very moment of violence, the ideology of the combat or front-line soldier. [36]

What kind of ideology that is, remains unclear. It may be a minor as well as a major one. According to Walford, the ideology of the military is inherently protostatic, for that its general function is the defence of society. [37] Is their country in danger, the soldiers “assumptions are similar to those of most soldiers of any country at any time” [38], namely the fulfilment of duty, while the cause is not questioned. This finding is similar to Van Doorn’s, who sees the soldiers as a “cog in the organizational machine” [39], trained by discipline and drill.

How deeply the major military ideology is rooted within the individual combat soldier is difficult to tell, and there was unfortunately minimal literature on how the individual applies these broader ideologies – most of the academic literature on armed forces regards them as a collective. However, I happened to have had a chat with a North-American marine soldier about his ideological motivations regarding his mission (that was, as he said, protect me, i.e. Europe, from Somalian pirates) in Marseilles, South-France, in spring 2014. The soldier, John (name changed), explained to me that he was, indeed, sent in order to fight for democracy or, in Walford’s terms, for the “foundation of society”. [40] John was sent there, he declared, so that I could have the freedom to tell him in that very moment that I am not particularly fond of the military. He seemed to be very much in line with the major ideology of military. As soon as it comes to combat though, John told me, he did not think about democracy any more. In the moment of fight, while “facing the enemy” as Van Doorn describes it [41], he was only concerned with bringing his fellow soldiers, his “buddies”, back home safely. This statement could be used as an example of of a specific application, i.e. a minor ideology, of a major ideology: from protecting democracy, to the protection of John’s comrades, his social group, his direct environment. Major and minor ideology are thus crucial to understand the connection between them, society and the individual. There are broader values, societal ideologies if you will, that are individually interpreted. It has not been said if society prescribes these major ideologies, but they are fundamentally social. This, however, is discussed more closely in the following part.

B. Sets of assumptions: The connection to the individual
Now, it is interesting to ask why John behaves in the way he does. At what point is a major ideology altered towards a minor, specific one? Simply said, it is because his context changes, and therefore his set of assumptions. As said before, any kind of ideology is build on assumptions. [42] Before combat, John recognises his duty to protect democracy, Europe, or the USA. He assumes to defend the foundation of his society. During the fight, John is also not questioning the duty he is fighting for, though he is not fighting for the duty. Rather, his assumption changes. If he does not fight, he and his fellow soldiers are likely to get killed. He thus needs to protect his social group, i.e. his armed unit.

Ideologies are therefore also inherently individual. Walford, however, provides an analysis of a broader system of ideology, listing assumptions that come with each of these ideologies. Regarding the army, for instance, he finds the following assumptions of the protostatic, to which military ideology belongs:

  • positive group identification (supporting own group only)
  • negative cosmic identification (versus all other groups)
  • economic individualism (individual property)
  • political collectivism (again, versus all other groups, which need to be destroyed for that
    only one reality, the one of the own group, is valid)
  • negative intellectuality (lack of autonomous thinking and reasoning; no questioning of duty
    and cause)
  • undifferentiated reality (reality lies within own group only; no empathy for other realities)

Walford does not explore how these assumptions may work within the individual, but the fact that he reckons the set of assumptions as the composer of ideologies [44], points out that he realises the connection between individual, society and ideology and their assumptions. These are per definition social, because they are made in reference to society, and individual at the same time, for they are formulated within the individuals’ mind.

Another scholar, who gives a distinct analysis on the relation between ideology, society and the individual, is Van Dijk. He does not only recognise the interrelation, but chooses this as his starting point for ideological analysis, claiming that a multidisciplinary approach needs to be adopted when it comes to ideology. [45] According to Van Dijk, ideology has got a mental, as well as a social dimension. It is shaped by society, but conducted by the individual given his/her cognition which then again is informed by society. Moreover, ideology is reproduced through discourse and language, which are also by definition social as well individual means of human reproduction. [46]

The extent to which Walford and Van Dijk statements are similar to each other, is remarkable. Let me present you two of them briefly. For instance, both Walford and Van Dijk identify a broader and a particular level of ideologies, though Van Dijk calls it the macro and the micro level of ideology. Macro is concerned with the broader social dimension, that is the ideology of f.i. institutions and social groups. Micro refers to the cognitive dimension, which comes into visible being, i.e. outside the individuals’ mind, throughout social practices. Here, the link between society, ideology and the individual comes forward. [47]

The other similarity is the thought of ideology being based on a certain set of ideas. Walford calls these ideas assumptions, Van Dijk uses the term beliefs. Ideas, he says, contain a new and original thought, but “ideologies are sets of specific ideas” [48] or beliefs that are inherently subjective and therefore opposed to knowledge. This is similar to assumptions. Though everything is belief, knowledge is “true belief” [49] and can be proven wrong, which Walford states as well. That Walford and Van Dijk mean the same by using the terms assumptions and beliefs becomes even more evident if we look at one assumption/belief more closely. Walford attributes positive group identification to military ideology. [50] Van Dijk does that in a similar manner: “ideologies also may have […] structural characteristics, such as those of group polarization (Us versus Them).” [51]

Van Dijk was apparently not aware of Systematic Ideology at the time he wrote his book. The theory is not mentioned with one word, though Van Dijk wrote his article in 1998, when this theory as well as the journal Ideological Commentary had been published already. This is unfortunate, for that Van Dijk would probably have been more precise about the limitations of ideologies, when he would have known about Systematic Ideology. However, a minimal attempt towards limitation, which is crucial for Walford’s thought on ideology, is being made, but in a different respect: “[the] basic level [of beliefs] which is usually limited to personal experiences and direct observation in specific contexts”. [52]

However, this limitation links us again to the above mentioned military ideology and the case of the marine soldier John, since it refers to the individual interpretation of broader ideologies – and this is the connection of ideology, society and the individual. John rethinks his basic assumptions, or beliefs, in the very moment of combat, which leads from a major ideology to a minor interpretation. Individual adjusting behaviour is a strategy of overcoming limitations imposed by preceding ideology, i.e. the major one, and the issue of overcoming limitations shall be investigated more closely in the following part.

C. Overcoming limitations: Ideology and identity
Within Systematic ideology, there is a general similarity of all major ideologies and their assumptions: there is a certain limitation, which shall be overcome through transition to the next stage of ideology. This can only be done by adapting one’s behaviour towards the next stage of ideology. That means the that the adaptation of behaviour also leads to change of assumption, since ideologies are base on sets of assumptions. [53] Implied by this development is that the next stage, the next ideology, is always seen as an improvement of, in Walford’s case, society.

I have been stressing above, that the individual, society and ideology are connected. Walford also sees the individual and society as crucially connected, for no individual is purely individual, one cannot be individual and nothing else, but at the same time generality is not merely general, because it is composed of individuals. [54]

Moreover, he emphasizes that one, i.e. the individual, needs to identify him/herself with the assumptions that provide the basis of one’s ideologies. [55] We can therefore presume that, since one needs to identify with the set of assumptions that form a certain ideology, this very ideology is representative for one’s identity.

As a consequence, the matter of overcoming a limitation becomes a whole new dimension, because not only ideology seems to be limited, but also identity. Hence, the overcoming of limitations is ought to lead to a better society, a better self, and a better self within a better, or different, society. A great example of this assumption provides Johan Rasanayagam with his research on ideology in Uzbekistan. In order to do so, he takes a close look on the division of regions into mahallas, districts, and investigates their moral dimension within society [56]. Interestingly, and in the same anthropological tradition as I see myself, he lays emphasis on the individual dimension of morality, i.e. ideology:

Central government has functionalised the mahalla as an element within its legitimating ideology and as a practical extension of its authority and control over the population. At the same time, individuals recreate the ideal of the mahalla within their own subjective experience, and constitute their sense of themselves as moral persons [57].

This quote is linked with Walford’s thinking in two ways. First, Rasanayagam identifies a broader, i.e. major, level of ideology of which is made use of by the government, and a minor one, which is used by the individuals. Second, the recreation of ideals indicates that also Rasanayagam sees ideology as a means to improve society, respectively in this case the “moral person” [58]. In other words, to overcome a previous situation with certain limits.
Generally speaking, this overcoming is thus meant to improve the status quo: Rasanayagam speaks of the recreation of mahalla [59]; the marine soldier John mentioned above wants himself and his fellow soldiers to survive the combat. Walford gives in that respect a more metaphorical, hypothetical yet vivid example:

how [would] an astronaut in flight [go] about drinking tea out of a cup – […] he would not succeed in doing so either by raising the cup to his lips or by bending down to it; he could not rely upon the tea remaining stationary unless he moved it. [60]

Through this example, Walford wants to stress the everyday dimension of ideology, and how it does influences our behaviour even in the respect of everyday situations like drinking a cup of tea. However, everyone in these examples are adapting their behaviour [Walford emphasizes that all (volitional) behaviour is effected by ideology [61], which is in line of Bourdieu’s thinking of habitus, for that ideology seems, as other dimension of a person, incorporated in body (and) language, i.e. volitional behaviour.] in order to improve their present condition – they alter their present appearance and improve themselves. Regarding the triangle of society, ideology, and individual, this is decisive, for it indicates that ideology, highly individual and social at the same time, functions as improvement of identity; and if it is changing the identity of individuals, so it does with society, as they are closely interrelated.

PART THREE: Conclusion

Up until now, I have been giving an explanation on Systematic Ideology, followed by an investigation of certain elements of this theory which are crucial for the analysis of the relation of society, the individual and ideology. This essay was mostly concerned with the individual, but took nonetheless the social dimension into account. Major and minor ideologies, the sets of assumptions and the overcoming of limitations of ideologies have been sorted out as crucial elements when it comes to analysing the individual and its relation to society and ideology. Each of them refers to the individual differently. The first, major and minor ideologies, are concerned with the individual’s application of the ideologies. The second, set of assumptions, takes the assumptions that one may have and which are shaped by one’s group (society/culture) into account. The last, overcoming limitations, is an indicator for one’s identity, since it not only describes the transition into another ideology, but also the modification of the individual.

Ideology is inherently positive, for that it promotes improvement, but is based on a negative conception of the present, on discontent with the present society or the present self. To strive for something good, or for something better, is thus crucial to ideology. This could be a reform within politics, as Walford suggests [62], but it could also mean to find a way to drink that tea in outer space, or, for instance, to promote Vegetarianism within a society of carnivores. On the one hand, these examples point out the broad variety of ideology, political, individually as well as a socially. On the other it emphasises the range of interpretation of what is “good” or “better”. As a counterpart example, Vegetarianism may seem as an improvement at first sight, but what if all the carnivores suffer from exceptional iron deficiency?

What we took from Walford’s Systematic Ideology as well is that every ideology, within his system, comes with limitations. Transferred to all ideologies that may exist next to the major ones, the strive for improvement appears to be infinite, for within every ideology, limitations are to be expected. At the first sign, this seems a rather unsatisfactory condition. However, a neuro- psychologist would maybe explain this strive with the release of neurotransmitter, for every achieved ideology would probably result in “good” feedback which triggers serotonin. Unfortunately, I am not qualified to make such a hypothesis, but what I wanted to point out is that the connection to the individual mind is evident. The society remains important nonetheless, because what is ultimately valued as “good” is not constructed by the individual alone, but by its connection to and with society.

What is good – ideology as an ideal something – seems to be somewhat above the individual, something that is “ought to be” [63], as I mentioned earlier. Nonetheless, it is evident, throughout this essay and within our own daily lives, that ideology is “down to earth” and present every day: “every time I lift a cup of tea, sit in a chair, or avoid walking in front of a car, my ideology comes into action.” [64]

Looking back at the ongoing process of ideology, its evolution or improvement, and keeping in mind its meaning of it for the individual – that is the improvement of identity – an obvious question seems to be, if a final condition of the ideological self yet exists. Walford gives a guidance to investigate this questions, since two of his stages of ideology serve as examples.

The paradynamic is identified with anarchism, respectively anarchic-socialism, which rejects all preceding development and making distinction only along the distinction of being or not- being anarchist. [65] In reality, this system is dysfunctional, (one) because this movement refuses any kind of cooperation with other ideological groups whom are present, and (two) an anarchist individual therefore cannot apply paradynamic ideology, because it would isolate him/herself from all other generalities, i.e. other ideologies, people, societies etc., but an individual, as we have been establishing above, never stands outside generality. [66]

Another example of the failure of the ideological self is the protostatic stage, which assumes reality to be single and can be found within racism and National Socialism, both belief systems which were, historically evident, condemned to fail (see figure 4 attached). [67] Regarding the individual within the protostatic, there is a particular example to be investigated. Hannah Arendt’s well-known analysis of the SS lieutenant colonel Adolf Eichmann [68] is in line with Walford’s conception of the protostatic: Eichmann saw the National Socialist reality as the one and only valid reality. Arendt describes, how Eichmann did not appear perverse or sadistic during the trial, he rather seemed to be normal: the banality of evil. He assured that all his doings were done according to his duty as a law-abiding citizen. Eichmann was obeying order and law. [69] Moreover, Arendt stresses Eichmann’s emphasis on virtue. Virtue, which still makes him feel ashamed, 40 years after the end of World War II, to have broken his loyalty towards the ideology of National Socialist Germany, for he initiated two rescues of Jewish relatives. [70] He fully lived the ideological perception of the National Socialist individual, applying its major ideology in its most precise manner.

In the end, both extreme major ideologies, and the individual within, did not last. Is the ideological self thus a utopian, or dystopian, character? Regarding the ideological self discussed, this does not necessarily seem to be a bad thing – an ideological self as Eichmann is a rather undesirable state of mind. However, the examples above were only of two major ideologies, but, as we have been seen, there are more ideologies, more major and more minor ones. Within every single one exists the strive for improvement. Since every new or next ideologies comes with new limitations, this is an infinite process, which can only be stopped when realised: one is ideological for the sake of being ideological. This could be realised in any stage of ideology. Walford makes a similar statement. He realises the last ideology, the metadynamic [71], or, as it is later on called, the ideology of ideology which “recognises and accepts all of the [other ideologies and] has for its task resolution of the problems arising from their[, the other ideologies’,] interaction.” [72] At this point, the strive for improvement is not eliminated, but rather accepted if not celebrated. George Walford is indeed an ideological individual, but for the sake of ideology, which actually makes him the most ideological person there is. Crucial to this ideological self are, paradoxically, all limitations of all ideologies, hence the elusiveness of other improvements of ideologies. In other words, the ideology of ideology is based on the problems/limitations of all of the other stages. Walford explains this on another occasion with Aristotle’s law of contradiction: x disappears if all is x and there no non-x left, for there is nothing to distinguish x from. [73]

Within the strive of improvement of ideologies resonates this desire of distinction, since it is designed to overcome limitation one wants to leave behind. The function of the interrelation of ideology, society and individual is thus the improvement of identity, socially or individually. Adapting behaviour is a crucial mean to do so, and both behaviour and assumptions, which need to change in order to improve, are shaped by the social environment but yet individually applied. Interestingly, this application is based on an inherent negative perception of present and directed towards a positive, yet hypothetical, idea of the future, of how something is ought to be. As I have been stressing, the connection between ideology, society and the individual is the improvement of identity. Identity, however, can only be manifested through differences, like it is suggested in Aristotle’s law of contradiction. Analysis of ideology, set between society and individual in a triangle manner, points out the inherent need of the individual of society in order to differ from it, for its own identity. However, society needs the individual to gather a certain generality which it represents. Yet again, we find ourselves in the law of contradiction, as in the words of Monty Pythons:

Brian: You’re all individuals!
The Crowd: Yes! We’re all individuals! [74]


Minor ideologies are specified versions of major ideologies. All ideologies are based on sets of general assumptions.

This simple bar charts illustrates which assumptions and which ideologies are more likely to induce change within society over time.

This drawing shows the major ideologies and their decreasing followers by changing from one ideology to the next.

This drawing shows additional the different stages that may work or not work within society. Note, that Walford states that all ideologies may be co-existent in society. For the sake of discussion, I consider them as somewhat apart.

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[2] Walsby, H. 1947. Domain Of Ideologies. Middlesex: The Riverside Press Ltd.
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[5] Walsby, supra note 2
[6] Walsby, H. 1947. Domain Of Ideologies. Middlesex: The Riverside Press Ltd. p 228
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[8] Walford, G. 1990. Beyond Politics. London: Calabria Press. p 132
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[14] Walford, supra note 7
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[22] Walford, supra note 7
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[25] Walford, supra note 7
[26] Walford, supra note 20
[27] Walford, supra note 20
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[59] Rasanayagam, supra note 56
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[61] Walford, supra note 60
[62] Walford, supra note 7 and 30
[63] Eriksen, T. 1995. Small Places Large Issues. London: Pluto Press. p 168
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[65] Walford, supra note and 16
[66] Walford, supra note 54
[67] Walford, supra note 7
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[70] Arendt, supra note 64
[71] Walford, supra note 7
[72] Walford, supra note 16
[73] Walford, G. 1989. Logics of Life. Ideological Commentary, 42. p=3057. Accessed May 13th 2014.
[74] Life of Brian. Accessed May 13th 2014.