I was killing time on Facebook (as so many of us do). I have quite a few politically-minded “friends” and I was following a rather long thread of a heated debate on ideology. There was a lot of back and forth about how Republicans in the U.S. would, if elected to power, destroy the country or that President Obama wasn’t really a Democrat but actually a moderate Republican. Someone wrote: “Libertarianism is the stupidest thing since Nazi fascism.”

To many who read this, none of it will make sense. That’s ok. It doesn’t make sense anyway.

It struck me at how this very conversation was actually an outstanding example of one of the most fundamental and defining characteristics of Western society. As we have discussed, plutocratic pluralism is a society of numerous groups, many of them in conflict with each other for the power and resources of a society.

The western democracies are masters of ideological manipulation. This is nothing new of course. Every regime change, coup, revolution, or cultural paradigm shift comes with it some ideology. The human race is quite familiar with ideology and it seems that its persistence would imply that it has some use. I think it does.

If we go back to 400 BC or so, Plato was talking about “forms.” A form could be truth or justice or virtue or freedom or some other ultimate value. Many of his discussions were an attempt to define an ultimate value with what now seem like cliché questions such as: What is beauty? What is truth?

If they do indeed seem cliché, it’s somewhat paradoxical. All of these ideologies--libertarianism, socialism, communism, capitalism, etc.--might as well be a Socratic line of inquiry. They are all the pursuit of an ultimate value. One might think that the only pathway to economic justice would be socialism. Others might think that we can’t find truth except through Islam. Still others say there is no freedom until libertarianism prevails.

I shrug my shoulders. Look at the set of values and institutions generally found in privileged pluralism. The next page, privileged pluralist ethos, sums up the point I am trying to make: “…I am not interested in the particular intellectual garb that existing political elites may inherit or choose to wear at any point in time or in any particular culture.”

Incidentally, every stage in the spiral of political maturation outlines the values and institutions of that stage.

Still, as many of us are currently starting to understand the fundamental problems of plutocratic pluralism, we wish to see it changed. In our desperation, we look to what we perceive as a different ideology. In the U.S., Democrats/liberals/progressives view the country as hard-core free market capitalism that needs more regulation, more oversight, and more government control. They look to socialism. Republicans/conservatives/Tea Partiers view the country as already too socialist with far too much government intervention and a skewed sense of morals. They look to religion or maybe libertarianism.

Which is it?

Both, neither. The problem is not ideology it is our political institutions: i.e. plutocratic pluralism just now. If we are frustrated and we want to see a change, it would be more useful (though perhaps not as intellectually or emotionally satisfying) to look to the next stage of social development which, at this time in history, would be conventionalism.

Conventionalism will not be a triumph of any ideology, old or new. It would, like every other manifestation of society, indicate that certain values and institutions were emerging and changing our politics. A short list of those is: moderation, equality, an emphasis on social consensus, and an acceptance of public choice.

I am not going to sway any passionate believers here. I know that. However, I highly encourage any readers to take some time to look into the spiral of political maturation. If you have already, take another look. Its scope is staggering. With brilliant simplicity, it manages to put aside the biases of history and any particular culture and actually examine, objectively, societies and their evolution over time. You will find that there really is understanding and truth here.

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