Zvi Lamm: Ideologies in a Hierarchal Order

The article which follows is reprinted (slightly edited) with permission from Science and Public Policy, February 1984. The author is Zvi Lamm, MA, PhD, of the School of Education, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. – GW

Professor Zvi Lamm served in the British Army in Europe (1943 – 46) and with the Israeli Defence Forces (1950 – 56). He graduated BA in Sociology and Education (1960), MA in the same (1962), and PhD with a thesis on ‘Ideology and Philosophy in Educational Theories’ (1967), all at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He taught at Beth Hakerem Teachers College from 1957 to 1962, of which he was principle from 1962 – 64. He then became an instructor, Hebrew University (1964), lecturer (1967), Head of the Teacher Training Department (1969 – 72), and senior lecturer (1971). He was a visiting professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, in 1972, and became a professor at Hebrew University in 1974. At the time this article was published he was spending a sabbatical year at Harvard University. His concern is with the philosophy of education and with didactics; he has been Chairman of a Committee for Planning of Education for the Eighties at the Ministry of Education, Israel (1973) and is a consultant to the editorial board of ‘Curriculum Studies’ and the general editor of a series of books ‘Concepts in Educational Debate.’ He has published extensively in English and Hebrew.

The literature dealing with ideology can be divided into three periods. One of the founding fathers of this sphere of scholarship was Destutt de Tracy, a member of the group of ‘ideologues’ who were active during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era (Elemens d’ Ideology 1801). He also coined the term ‘ideology,’ although he used it in a different sense from that current today. Some would set the foundation of the study of ideologies at an earlier date, with Francis Bacon (Novum Organon 1620). If what Bacon studied was indeed ideology he did it long before the term ideology was created. At the peak of the period of the founders, which was also its end, we find Marx and Engels (The German Ideology, which was written in 1845 – 6, but published only in 1932, as well as other works of theirs which appeared during their lifetimes). Ever since its publication, the theory formulated by Marx and Engels has constituted a point of departure and reference for all contemporary analysis of ideologies.

During the second period several works were written which have since become classics in the field. The scholars in this group include G. Lukacs (History and Class Consciousness 1923), K. Mannheim (Ideology and Utopia 1929), Th. Barth (Wahreit und Ideologie 1945), M. Buber (Paths in Utopia 1945), T. Adorno et al (The Authoritarian Personality 1950), Th. Geiger (Ideologie und Warheit 1953), L. Festinger (When Prophecy Fails 1956), K. Popper (The Poverty of Histoicism 1957), R. Aron (Opium of the Intellectuals 1955), and H. Arendt (The Origins of Totalitarianism 1958). There are doubtless other names which could be added to the list, but not very many. This classical period of the study of ideology continued until the early 1960s. Anyone dealing with this sphere could not fail to be aware of the works listed, and it was not difficult to be familiar with the literature until then. The shelf of books dealing with ideologies was not particularly full. All this changed 20 or 25 years ago, when the study of ideologies spread out in various directions and produced a bumper harvest. This marks the start of the third period, which has continued until today. During this period, in addition to its traditional areas of epistemology and sociology, ideological scholarship has also branched out into the spheres of psychology, anthropology and many other areas of applied research, such as the study of politics, business administration, education, the philosophy of science and literature.

Despite the considerable expansion of research and the abundance of literature in this field, scholars dealing with it can still ‘stay in the picture’ and keep up with developments in the various areas. It is no longer possible for one person to read everything being published on the topic but the fact, that the various scholars dealing with this subject refer to what their colleagues write, enables a person reading only some of the publications to know what the others contain. The bibliographies of most of the books in this sphere hold very few surprises, and most of them are very similar to one another or even identical. Even someone new to the field can soon discover what is in a particular book by observing which authors are quoted or mentioned in it. Not long ago I bought a book in a language I do not know, whose title indicated that its theme was theories of ideology. I drew up an outline of its presumed content on the basis of the books cited in the footnotes. I then asked a student who knew the language in which the book was written to check whether my summary matched the contents of the book; he agreed that it did. My ignorance of the language in which that book was written had not prevented me from knowing what it said.

For years I felt sure I knew what had been written about ideologies. This feeling was dented one day when, quite by chance, I found George Walford’s book, Ideologies and their Functions: A Study in Systematic Ideology, [1] on the shelf of one of the libraries.

The author and the title were new to me: the subtitle, ‘A study in systematic ideology,’ aroused my curiosity. What was ‘systematic ideology?’ The date of publication, 1979, was embarrassing. Three years had passed and I, who thought I at least knew the names of the scholars and the studies in this area, even if I had not read them all, had never heard of the book or its author. My feelings were wounded even more when I encountered the following sentence on the second page of the book: ‘The theory to be presented was originated, and largely developed, by the late Harold Walsby.’ I had never heard of Walsby either. From Walford’s book I learned, to my even greater depression, that Walsby has written a book, The Domain of Ideologies, [2] in 1947. In the late 1960s, when I was engaged in a study of ideologies as a doctoral student, the list of books dealing with ideologies was short. There was no justification for my having been unaware of a book which claimed to have included the presentation of a systematic theory of ideologies. My mood improved slightly after I had looked through the bound volumes of a great many journals in philosophy, sociology and psychology for the previous three years and found not even the slightest reference to Walford’s book, and after I had looked through the journals for the four or five years after 1947, when Walsby’s book appeared, and found no reference to that either. Since then I have read Walsby’s book, also the one of Walford’s I came across accidentally (and, later, I also read two articles Walford had published in Science and Public Policy). [3] I have not ceased to wonder how it happened that the appearance of these books was not noticed in any way by the scholars in this field. [4]

Is this neglect justified? I should like to discuss this question, since it is my belief that Walsby’s theory is one of the most important and interesting in its field, even if one includes the great theories of the founders of ideological study, as well as those formulated during the classical period.

Discovering Walsby
The phrase ‘systematic ideology’ is probably taken by the reader as indicating a comprehensive and inclusive approach to ideologies, an attempt to explain the connections between consciousness and society. This is the point of all study of ideology of Marx, including research in the area of the sociology of knowledge, even when the scholars concerned reject the Marxist theory of ideology. Walsby’s theory also deals with this problem, but the underlying assumptions of his approach are different from those of Marx and different, also, from those accepted in contemporary analysis of the sociology of knowledge. According to Marx it is not, as the individual thinks, his consciousness which determines his life, but the reverse; his social life determines the content of his consciousness. People’s ideologies are merely ‘false consciousness’; in order to understand why they hold the opinions and beliefs they do it is necessary to know in what kind of society they live and the specific position they occupy within it. The opinions and beliefs evolved within a feudal society differ from those of a capitalist society. In the Marxian view the characteristics of society explain the opinions and beliefs of the people living in them. [6]

Walsby’s point of departure is different, and goes back to Hegel. Ideology is the primary datum, determining the way people behave and, through that, the way societies function. Although ideologies are not arbitrary phenomena independent of society, neither are they a reflection of the social situation of the people who hold them. Ideologies are features of society built into it in the same way as classes and institutions. In this way ideologies can be studied and explained. Phenomena and events can also be explained through them, but not in simple, deterministic terms. At the beginning of his book, Walford assures us that the theory he presents makes it possible to explain various events in the history of human consciousness which cannot be explained, or at least not adequately, by other methods. Democritus’ assumption that atoms are indivisible belongs to this category, as does the Liberal government’s introduction of unemployment insurance in the UK and the Labour government’s introduction of ‘job-creation schemes.’ He also claims that his theory enables us to understand why there is not, and never has been, a state where the majority supports socialism, communism or anarchism, and why the general body of the people tend toward conservatism, if not fascism. Walford maintains that this theory also explains why, in every state where there is freedom of political expression, there is a minority who support socialism, communism and anarchism, and why policemen were invented before psychoanalysis.

Structure of Assumptions
An ideology is a system of assumptions with which people identify. These assumptions organize, direct and sustain people’s volitional and purposive behaviour. This is the most general characteristic of ideologies, with which Walford’s presentation of Walsby’s theory begins. The assumptions on which an ideology is based are not collected at random but constitute an organized and systematic structure. So far as their effect upon behaviour is concerned it does not matter whether they can be proven correct or not. The assumption that the sun circled the earth was accepted for a very long time, and affected a great deal of behaviour, despite the fact that it was a false assumption. The crucial point is that people accept these assumptions as part of themselves, as qualities by which they are defined, that they come to feel essentially different if they abandon them. The assumptions with which people identify can be positive (this is the way things should be) or negative (things should not, or must not, be like this).

These basic concepts call to mind another theory of ideology, that of M. Rokeach. [7] Rokeach’s theory attempts to explain people’s opinions and beliefs by their personal characteristics (open – closed) rather than through social needs as Walsby’s theory does. The point of departure of both is identical, however. Rokeach’s main theoretical concept is the belief-disbelief system, which represents the organization of those beliefs and opinions which people accept as true or false without examination.

In one respect Rokeach went further than Walsby, for he constructed a detailed theory of ideological consciousness. In another respect, however, Walsby did more than Rokeach, for his theory is based on the historical map and links the ideological consciousness with the principle social and political processes of various periods. Rokeach’s theory is not the only famous one in which motifs can be found which were anticipated by Walsby. The similarity to motifs in L. Althusser’s theory of ideology throws this into still greater relief [8]. Althusser sought to free ideology from the determinism of Marx (and still more his interpreters) had imprisoned it and grant it a certain degree of autonomy. He did this in a way which resembles Walsby’s in its essence, maintaining that ideology is not false consciousness. Althusser claimed that the concept of false consciousness was derived from classical epistemological empiricist theory, when they try to understand reality. When the consciousness thus created does not fit reality, the theory of empiricist consciousness claims, it is false. Ideology is not, however, a description or reflection of reality which is either true or false. Ideology is not created in order to present reality, Althusser maintains, but reflects the genuine, living relations of people to reality, namely, to the actual conditions of their life. These relations are not a falsification but are part of reality. Walsby, also, asserts that ideology is a relatively autonomous element and one of the components of reality. It is interesting to note in this context that Althusser rejected the theory of ‘false consciousness’ in the name of anti-Hegelianism while Walsby reached a similar position through the influence of Hegelian ideas.

The similarity between the motifs of the various theories mentioned (as well as several others which have not been cited) and those of Walsby’s theory, is not delineated here in order to point out any theoretical or methodological identity or even approximation between the methods. Walsby’s theory is a bold and original creation; even though it has as yet been presented only in bare outline it is evident that it is a whole structure. It is not easy to extract isolated motifs from it and discuss them as if they existed outside the confines of the theory. The comparisons above are intended simply to emphasize our astonishment at the fact that this theory has been ignored despite its similarity to themes which have received recognition, sometimes of the most enthusiastic kind, amongst scholars dealing with the theory of ideologies.

The Major Ideologies
In Walsby’s theory, ideologies have a taxonomical structure, and every ideology belongs to one of the seven major ideologies. These are ranged in historical sequence according to their order of appearance, revealing the progressive development of human needs. The individual who identifies with the most recent of the principle ideologies thereby identifies with man’s most advanced needs, but in doing so does not reject all the preceding ideologies listed in the taxonomical order of their appearance. He remains with them and they remain with him. Walford compares this principle of continuity with the way in which matter is organized: inorganic, organic and human. Just as each of the last two contains those preceding it the ideologies of the highest needs incorporate those of the basic needs. A parallel conception of human needs (but not of ideologies based on them) was presented by the psychologist A. H. Maslow, whose theory of need has enjoyed widespread recognition. In Maslow’s theory also, human needs are ranged hierarchally (physiological needs first, followed in order by safety and security, love and belonging, self-esteem and, above all, the need for self-actualisation). The individual cannot attain the fulfillment of his highest needs if his basic ones are not satisfied. Hunger precedes security, security precede love, and so on. In a similar way, using terms which can apply equally to both theories, Walford states: ‘It is a functional necessity, the later phases depending for their existence upon the continuing functional presence of the earlier ones.’ [10]

Walford divides the major ideologies into three groups. The first three are ediostatic, the next three ediodynamic (these two terms were introduced by Walsby) and the next is the metadynamic ideology.

The Protostatic Ideology
The most basic ideology, and the first in the eidostatic category, is the protostatic. [11] The activities it organizes and the needs these activities are calculated to satisfy, are mankind’s most basic ones: the maintenance of people themselves and their social unit. These needs are, in a sense, pre-social; left to themselves the people in this group tend not to concern themselves with society in any extended sense or with domination of environment beyond the need to enable them to conduct their personal and family lives. And, for this reason, their behaviour tends to be malleable, they are so to speak at the disposal of groups with more specific social objects to the extent that those objectives are consonant with their own ideological tendencies. The result is that this, the largest of the various major ideological groups, tends by its actions to support the social, economic and political activities of the Right wing rather than those of the Left. It is conservatism (and, under certain circumstances, fascism or its equivalents) that is best able to attract the support of the protostatics. When, under stimulation or frustration of the protostatic group is aroused to action then its behaviour does exhibit characteristic features.

This group tends to identify exclusively with its own social unit (its state, nation or country) and to regard all outside that unit, the physical, social and human aspects of the environment (for which the inclusive term cosmos is used in this theory) with either complete indifference or, if it seems to be presenting a threat, then with undiluted hostility. There is not even the element of sympathy that would be implied by a concern with studying the outer world; the protostatic attitude is anti-intellectual.

The attitude toward reality of people governed by this ideology is undifferentiated. When stimulated or provoked into action they tend to regard this world as a hostile whole from which they must defend themselves. There are, so far as they are concerned, no allies who must be taken into consideration, or neutral elements who must be treated with care so they do not become enemies. The world is uniform in its alien nature. This is the ideology of the masses, of whatever economic class, educated and uneducated, in every period. While its extremism is repudiated by every democratic movement of the Right it is, nevertheless, with the Right rather than with the Left that this ideology, and this ideological group, identifies itself. In the activity of combat, in the attempt to eliminate opposition, the protostatic ideology appears. In economic activity the protostatic is individualistic, but in thinking, in mental attitude, collectivistic. The principal features of the protostatic ideology are:

1. Positive group identification.
2. Negative cosmic identification.
3. Economic individualism.
4. Political collectivism.
5. Negative intellectuality.
6. Undifferentiated reality.

When this ideology is accepted by an individual or a group, and it alone fulfills all the functions of a ideology, it is usually situated on the right-hand side of the series of ideologies; it can find expression through fascism. It should also be remembered, as Walford points out, that ideologies do not only direct people’s political behaviour. Every volitional action of an individual, in any sphere, is influenced by the ideology he accepts. Reference to such political ideologies as fascism, conservatism, liberalism in describing the various ideologies serves to illustrate their main points without attempting to define their functions exhaustively.

Despite the fact that it is an ideology which tends to appear in politics in connection with the extreme Right, the protostatic ideology is at the same time a universal ideology in much the same sense as consumption is a universal necessity. We all act on the basis of identification with the principles of this ideology in many situations throughout our lives. But we are not all therefore to be defined as protostatics; in the course of life some move toward identification with additional ideologies. Among those who do this some people adopt a positive attitude toward intellectual activities, through which they try to understand the beliefs and opinions of held by themselves and other people. Walford has the following to say about their reaction to the protostatic ideology:

The protostatic ideology is often difficult to understand, at least for those identified with more sophisticated ideologies. But although sometimes difficult it is simple, not complex. It has a direct, one-sided quality, it exhibits the ediostatic features as nearly as may be in their purity, free of modification by the contrary tendencies. We can say, of the protostatic ideology, that it is this, or that, and the statement hardly needs qualifying (pp 63-4)

The factor which gives rise to ideological development (and this is another basic assumption underlying this theory) is the impulse toward freedom. Human history provides proof of the historiographic view of ‘progress’ which derives from Hegelian dialectics. This was also Marx’ system. The description of history as the process of the expansion of freedom, in a very similar way to Walford’s, was presented at the beginning of the seventies by Paulo Freire in his famous book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which belongs to the radical literature of the philosophy of education. [11] The sources of Freire’s ideas are Marx’ philosophy, modern existentialism and Catholicism, sources different from those which gave rise to Walsby’s theory.

The other two eidostatic ideologies are based on assumptions similar to those of the prorostatic ideology but are applied to new matters which concern the expansion of man’s freedom. Some of the people who overcome the problems of the protostatic ideology by inventing appropriate forms of behaviour discovered limitations of a new kind blocking their path to freedom. Some of these limitations had existed beforehand, but because of the obvious and immediate danger of annihilation no one had paid any attention to them, while others arose from the heightening of the previous dangers. The people who sensed these limitations formulated the new ideology, the epistatic.

The Epistatic Ideology
The epistatic ideology sanctifies the existing situation just as its predecessor did. But it is characterized by the fact that in certain situations the adherent of the epistatic ideology is prepared to approve of change. He does this, however, only when he is convinced that this is the most efficient way of protecting the existing situation. In the political sphere this is a transition from the extreme Right to conservatism. This ideology also continues to contend with the danger of the annihilation of society, but it does not do so solely by concerning itself with production and defence but also by inventing new patterns and modes of behaviour. These include police and education, for example, as well as entertainment, diplomacy and similar activities.

Another feature distinguishing this ideology from the previous one is that the undifferentiated world-view gives way to a dualistic one. The epistatic recognized that truth and value may also be found in groups other than his own, even though his allegiance goes solely to his own group. In times of peace he may uphold justice even though this obliges him to criticize his society or state. The epistatic conservative also realized that questions have more than one facet, and that his rivals also may have claims. This awareness does not, however, turn him into a skeptical intellectual. Like the protostatic, he rejects intellectualism, but he is not as hostile to it. This ideology justifies accepted practice. It does not aspire towards reforms, but comes to terms with changes and innovations provided they strengthen the existing situation. People adhering to this ideology accept one of the religions, but at the same time recognize the right of other religions to exist (preferably across the border, of course); they are nationalists, but recognize the right of other nations to exist. If the main function of the previous ideology was survival, the basic assurance of existence, the function of this ideology is the maintenance of society.

At this point a comment which is relevant for all the ideologies in the scheme should be made: it is not sufficient for a person to define himself by his adherence to any particular ideology, fascist or conservative for example, for us to accept him as being so, just as his denial of the fact he is a fascist, a conservative or the holder of any other defined ideology is not enough for us to accept that this is indeed so. A conservative is a person who tends to accept the existing state of affairs with qualifications, and reject change, and whose behaviour reflects this. He is a conservative even if he denies that he is. Various social institutions have come into the world as a result of this ideology, Walford claims. One of them is education. In our time too, that is, after a series of new ideologies has been developed by man, education continues to serve society as the institution whose task it is to maintain the existing state of affairs, in the spirit of the epistatic ideology. This idea may explain something to people trying to ‘renew and refresh’ matters in this area.

The Parastatic Ideology
The outlook on the world changes once again in the parastatic ideology, and is no longer dualistic but multiple. The awareness of multiplicity brings with it the recognition of the need to analyze the world. The sciences, and particularly the physical sciences, now come to the fore in the struggle for survival and also as a means of removing restrictions on freedom. This does not yet constitute the victory of intellectualism, however. The anti-intellectual approach continues to exist, though in a steadily weakening form. The sciences born under the auspices of the parastatic ideology respect facts more than intellect, which is called upon to serve in the struggle for survival. The political embodiment of parastatism is liberalism. In it the assumptions of multiplicity becomes the principle of faith, leading to the demand for universal suffrage. This replaces the principles of obedience of the protostatic ideology (the extreme right) and the paternalism of the epistatic ideology (conservatism).

The liberal expects people to adopt a positive attitude towards their state, while at the same time he demands to be allowed to act as a free person within it. [5] The attitudes of the adherent of the parastatic ideology to the counting of votes cast by the citizens who are supposed to be free is the same as that of a physicist to the figures produced by his measurements. This ideology recognizes the need for and possibility of improvement. Like the preceding ideologies, it seeks to maintain the existing situation, although its adherents believe that it does this better. It does not advocate the maintenance of or subservience to the prevailing situation regardless of its characteristics, but strives for its continual improvement. The amelioration of reality involved extending the individual. In addition to the physical sciences, this ideology also produced the theory of ethics and formal logic, as well as defined patterns of behaviour in the laboratory, trade, the factory and government ministries.

The three eidostatic ideologies are directed against the outside, or what is termed the cosmos in Walsby’s theory. The approach embodied within them assumes that restrictions on freedom of the individual exist in the cosmos. The emergence of the awareness that it is human society rather than the cosmos which limits freedom is a revolutionary change in the history of ideologies. This awareness gave rise to the eidodynamic ideologies, which regard poverty, disease, cruelty and other social features as restricting man’s freedom. Their criticism is directed against society, their identification with society, their identification with society is negative. According to this new approach, society is the target against which or at least within which it is necessary to act in order to improve man’s lot. The attitude toward the environment, the cosmos, on the other hand, is positive, and it is felt that the environment should be preserved and defended. These two basic identifications – with society and with cosmos – change direction in the switch from static to dynamic ideologies. The individual who upholds the static ideology identifies at varying degrees of intensiveness with his society as it is, and is prepared to sacrifice any outside factor for it. The person adhering to the dynamic ideology, on the other hand, will be prepared to mobilize others to defend nature and maintain peace with the neighbors, whoever they are, but at the same time will wish to fight in order to correct society and even to change it fundamentally.

A similar change is wrought by these ideologies in attitudes regarding economics and politics. The adherents of the previous ideologies were individualistic in economics and collectivists in politics. Here they are collectivists in economics and individualists in politics. The attitude of the partisans of these ideologies to intellectualism is also different, and is positive. This should not be taken to mean that the supporters of the Right, the conservatives and the liberals, are stupider than people who support the Left. Intellectualism should not be identified with intelligence. On the Right even intelligent people are anti-intellectual. On the Left not all the intellectuals are necessarily always intelligent. The eidodynamic ideologies expect people to think and act on the basis of thought, and not necessarily in accordance with what is generally accepted, the intentions of leaders or blind obedience to the law which are the ways advocated by the eidostatic ideologies. The new ideologies extol the idea of political individualism. Free political organization is the political solution they recommend in order to uphold the principle of individualism and personal responsibility. All these features of the dynamic ideologies are connected with their basic assumption that reality is not fixed and static but is the result of people’s activities and can be changed.

Each of the three ideologies in this group interprets the assumptions listed above in its own special way. The ideologies in this group are:

A) The protodynamic, whose political expression is typified by the socialistic section of the British Labour Party.
B) The epidynamic, whose political expression is communism.
C) The paradynamic, whose political expression is anarchism.

A few words about each one are in place here.

In the protodynamic ideology, reality exhibits internal relatedness, that is, it is a complex whole whose many and various parts are connected to one another, while the whole is constantly changing. This is the assumption which gave rise to the principle of evolution, which underlies this ideology. Society is regarded as a complex whole which consists of classes connected to one another through interaction and not necessarily opposition. Nonetheless, this is the first ideology which is not based on positive identification with society and maintains that society needs to be amended structurally, not merely improved superficially.

The epidynamic ideology, whose political manifestation is communism, takes negative identification with society still further. There were revolutions before communism, but communism is the first ideology in history to preach revolution as a necessary form of political activity and historical development. In this ideology, revolution is no longer regarded as a disaster or a necessary evil, but as the inevitable fulfillment of history as it advances towards its aims. Revolution is an act of liberation. Walford warns his readers not to identify the communist ideology (which is what he is writing about) with the communist state. In those states today the vast majority of inhabitants are far – generally very far – removed from the epidynamic ideology. In this ideology society is depicted as the arena of conflict between hostile classes between which there are unbridgeable contradictions regarding matters of principle. The same applies to all other aspects of reality; they all consists of contradictions and exist to develop in their own right. The purpose of this ideology in the subjective view of its adherents, as in the objective, historical contribution, is revolution, changing societies which cannot be altered through gradual improvements or systematic reforms, societies in which the sole effective course of action is violent intervention.

The last of the epidynamic ideologies is the paradynamic, which is the ideology of anarchism. This takes the negative identification with society to its ultimate conclusion, since society’s control of the individual is the principle limitation to his freedom. This control derives from the principle of authority, which the state uses as a mechanism of coercion. Consequently, it is necessary first and foremost to destroy the state. The individual cannot be free in a world in which states exist. Society as we know it cannot be adjusted, not even by revolutionary means, and must be removed from the world so that it can be replaced by organization of a new kind. The principle underlying the new organization of society which is necessary to ensure man’s freedom is the removal of all coercive institutions and the replacement of rule by administration. The group of people identifying with this ideology is, according to Walsby’s theory, very small, since the relation between ideological complexity and the number of its supporters is an inverse one.

The process of growth of ideologies does not end here. Just as the transition from the eidostatic to the eidodynamic ideologies is a radical one to a new kind of ideology, so is the transition from the ediodynamic ideologies to the last possible one, the metadynamic.

The supporters of anarchist ideology inevitably find themselves confronting a problematic situation. They cannot fail to be aware of the fact that their ideology, the ideology of complete freedom, itself becomes a factor limiting their freedom. Anyone living in a society where anarchist freedom reigns must be an anarchist. If he is not and, for example, upholds the principle of private property, his very existence makes anarchist society untenable. If this society recognizes his right to own private property it will cease being anarchist and will betray its own principles; and if it forbids him to own private property it will no longer be anarchist because it will exert authority and force to limit the freedom of one of its members. Some anarchists ignore this paradox in their ideology, because it undermines the foundations of their beliefs. Some of them, though a very small number, according to Walford, will continue along the path to freedom, attempting to cope with the dilemma posed by the ideology they accept. The people who recognize this dilemma and seek the solution for it move on to the metadynamic ideology, which turns against the last limitation on man’s road to freedom. This limitation is inherent in ideology itself. The eidostatics found the cosmos, the ediodynamics attacked society and the metadynamics seek to escape from beliefs and opinions restricting them. The last ideology seeks to overcome the limitations which ideology per se imposes on man. It does this by recognizing the fact that all the assumptions of all the previous ideologies are problems which have to be dealt with ad hoc and are not articles of faith. All the assumptions of all the ideologies need to be studied and examined, approached with a different attitude, namely that adopted by people towards assumptions with which they identify. The people who belong to this group try to understand the phenomenon known as ideology, and thus defeat ideologies as factors limiting their freedoms. The number of people belonging to this ideological group is very small indeed.

A few hundred years ago Francis Bacon published his theory of ‘idols,’ which K. Mannheim defined as the first theory of ideologies. In this theory Bacon showed how it is possible to overcome man’s tendency to lie and err. The scientific method, the Novum Organum, is the path to recognizing the truth. All the great theories of ideology since then have also proposed a way of escaping false consciousness. Marx found in the revolutionary, politically aware working class the quality that converts its members’ beliefs and opinions into non-ideologies. Thus, their opinions and beliefs accord with the trend of historical developments, and consequently the members of this class no longer have to falsify their consciousness. Mannheim took this privilege away from the proletariat and gave it to the intellectuals, since they are the only ones, he claimed, who were capable of overcoming the power of ideological gravity and seeing the truth as it really is. In Walsby’s theory the metadynamic ideologies fulfil this purpose. Every theory of ideology must define underlying assumptions which should not be ideological. If this is not done the proposed theory is merely an ideology, that is, false consciousness. Even though Walsby’s theory lists metadynamicism as an ideology, it is the first – and only – anti-ideology ideology. It bestows upon those who accept it the ability to penetrate into the content of all ideologies, that is to obtain control over them or to liberate them. On the principle of parsimony, it seems that Walsby’s approach is more convincing than any other. This is because its solution to the problem of the point of view from which one discusses an ideology is embodied within the theory itself and does not require support from another historiographic theory, as is the case with Marx, or a sociological one, as with Mannheim.

This summary simply gives a rough outline of the theory as developed by Walford. Walford’s book itself, moreover, is merely a sketch of the theory. And even though the sketch is written lucidly and well, it leaves several questions unanswered, including those relating to fundamental aspects of the problem. Each chapter of the book requires expansion and development as well, of course, as discussion and examination. This last remark is not intended to detract from the book’s importance. The significance of a scientific work is revealed by the need to discuss it. The object of this article is not to open a discussion of this kind but to bring this previously unknown book to the attention of those interested in the theory of ideology. I can only assure them that they will find it interesting, whether they accept it or not.

Notes and References
[1] George Walford, Ideologies and their Functions; a Study in Systematic Ideology, The Bookshop, [address], 1979 [editor’s note: Out of Print].
[2] Harold Walsby, The Domain of Ideologies; a Study of the Origin, Development and Structure of Ideologies. William McLellan, Glasgow, 1947 [editor’s note: Out of Print].
[3] George Walford, ‘Systematic Ideology, the Work of Harold Walsby,’ Science and Public Policy, February 1983, pp. 27 – 33; ‘Beyond Ecology,’ Science and Public Policy October 1983, pp. 244 – 50.
[4] So far as I have been able to discover the only book, apart from Walford’s, in which Walsby’s theory is mentioned is P. Reason and J. Rowan, Human Inquiry, a Sourcebook of New Paradigm Research, John Wiley and Sons, New York, USA, 1981.
[5] Engels used this term. See: Engels, letter to Mehring, 14 July 1893, in K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Correspondence, London, UK, 1943, p. 51.
[6] Marx’ theory of ideology gave rise to a rich interpretative literature, which continue to be written today. Anyone interested in following the subject will find the following books a good introduction: H. M. Dricker, The Political Uses of Ideology, MacMillan, London, UK, 1974; M. Seliger, The Marxist Conception of Ideology, Cambridge University Pres, Cambridge, UK, 1977.
[7] M. Rokeach, The Open and Closed Mind, Basic Books, New York, USA, 1960.
[8] L. Althusser, Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays, New Left Books, London, UK, 1971.
[9] A. H. Maslow, Motivation and Personality, Harper and Row, New York, USA, 1970.
[10] Op. Cit., Ref. 1, p. 29. [11] Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Herder and Herder, New York, USA, 1971.

from Ideological Commentary 14, October 1984.