There are many, many ideologies: some are very simple, some incredibly complex, some overly religious and some oddly barbaric. In 1992 a book was published called ‘The End of History’ in which its author (Francis Fukuyama) argued that the rise of Western Liberal Democracy marked the end point of man’s ideological evolution.
I find this claim oddly strange. My own interpretation of evolution was that it never ended, but was an holy grail-like quest towards perfection, which went on forever. Although it might stagnate and pause from time to time evolution doesn’t end. The claim that ideology will cease to be is mistaken. It might well evolve into something else but like energy itself it cannot be destroyed. I think it is certainly arguable that the current hegemony of Western Liberal Democracy is an example of such stagnation, and when people bemoan it, muttering that ‘somethings gotta change’ they are not far from the truth. Western Liberal Democracy does not encourage man to be his best. Far from it; it seems to be an ideology of deceit, misdirection and outright dishonesty. Yet there are glimpses within it, despite the wars and horrors and injustice, of moments of great kindness, empathy and understanding; moments of great courage and self sacrifice. If these moments can be utilised, held up and magnified, then the world will change.
And this seems to be happening as I write. I’ve only been blogging for a few months and I am very humbled by the many voices around me, full of sharp intelligence, humour and wit. Never before, throughout human history, has there existed a time when information has been so easily available to all. It is important that the sufferings of a man on a farm in Tunisia can be seen and understood by a lawyer in London. The impact of this will be the growth of sympathy and understanding, and these are the foundation of ideology.
Of course we will not witness the like of the Enlightenment philosophers again, which might not be such a bad thing, and criticisms about educational sub standard classes abound. But it needs to be remembered that the education we are talking about here is a relatively new thing, only a century old. For thousands of years there were whole underclasses of people who could not read, of people who had their tongues cut out if they argued against the status quo, of people being burned alive because they were different. Life was very much about survival and for some it still is; but a far lesser number. People have far more of a voice now, and it is up to them to use it.
Ideology is not at an end, it has not reached its apex. But it has changed and is still changing. Most of the leaders in history were dictators and tyrants and the human frailty for standing by and letting bad things happen has been repeated again and again. I am not making some apocalyptic vision inspired by religious fervour. But the world, and its underlying ideology, will change. George Orwell made the prediction that socialism, an ideology with a few problems of its own, was certain to come. If not within ten years, then within a hundred. He was wrong on both counts. But change is occurring, perhaps slowly, but with fortitude and certainty.