the desert of ideas

“..He who fights with monsters should take care that he himself does not become a monster….
And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss will gaze back into you..” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Try not to stop at the literal significance of these words, but try to read between the lines, I’m aiming at something more subtle.

When well meaning people worship an ideology instead of the truth they can become, but by bit, as bad or worse than their opponents.

The truth is what is real, I am not talking about the postmodern glib “we all have our own truth” and “we all make our own reality” reaction. There is some truth to both these statements but not on the levels that most people sloppily put out there. Deep down inside everyone has some idea of what is real and true underneath their layers of self justification and self excuses.

Every ideology has some truth to it, usually mixed with several untruths or partial truths.
If you worship an ideology, bow down to it and serve it, then if we are not careful then we can, in fact, and often do, in fact, outdo the moderate among our enemies in sheer evil.

This is the case among the left and right alike.

There is no evil like that committed by sincere well meaning women and men in furtherance of a goal they see as good, so good the rest of humanity becomes tools to manipulate and use in obtaining some greater goal.

You come to rationalize the worse of evils committed in the name of your gender, your sex, your race, your people, your religion, your ideology.

You, step by step, become a monster of wickedness and you never even realize it until years later you realize what you have committed – and what good are tears of contrition once you have murdered people you convinced yourself were inhuman. Because the only way to justify rank evil is to convince yourself that those you are committing evil acts against are not human, or somehow almost sub-human, bestial, and not deserving basic human decency.

The first steps to this fall are to take an ideology, abstract sterile ideas, as your god. Your god is what you serve, what is your ultimate referent.

You become that which you worship. Worship a monkey and you become monkey like, worship a donkey, and you become donkey like, worship an idea, and that idea circumscribes the boundaries of your being, you rise to the heights of that idea. Worship a man and you strive to life to the heights and qualities of that particular man, worship a woman and you do the same. Your god, your illah, is the ideal which sets a height towards which you consciously or unconsciously seek to emulate. However you do not surpass it.

This is why it is of utmost importance which idols you choose to bow down to. Idolize Ayn Rand, and you may approach her genius, but you will remain in her mold. Idolize Gloria Steinem and ditto. Idolize Marx and Proudhon, and, well, ditto. You may approach them, but you will not surpass them. In both cases these were limited, and petty human beings, their real genius notwithstanding.

Embrace that which is beyond form and limitation.

Ideologies are contingent and limited, conservative, liberal, libertarian, leftist, rightist, capitalist, socialist, each of these is a plucked over corpse of ideas, their gleaming white bones reflecting the sunlight ever so pretty. Linger there too long and you may find your bones littering the desert of human ideas.

Every author of an ideology was a person who went beyond a previous mold. Every follower of an ideology is one who conformed his or her self to a mold.

“..Don’t tell me ’bout how the world isn’t fair
How you’ll live your life how you choose
I don’t want to hear another excuse
How it ain’t your fault when you lose

And you’re the prisoner
Your mind’s diseased, my mind is cured
You say you’re political
I say, “Screw that, you’re just a fool.” – Suicidal Tendencies, “The Prisoner”

1 Comment

  1. […] S. reminds us of the dangers of idolizing ideology: Ideologies are contingent and limited, conservative, liberal, libertarian, leftist, rightist, […]

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