[By Ben Noble]
“Ideologue” is not the insult that people think it is. I am an ideologue. You are an ideologue. Anyone that has a strong sense of morality is an ideologue. Would you fault them for that? “Hey Timmy, lets steal some candy bars from Walmart.” “No thanks, stealing violates private property rights.” “God damn it, Timmy! You’re such a goody two shoes ideologue.”
YouTube video version [https://youtu.be/wE4mLYt4rBs]
Of course, an exchange like this is absurd. “Ideologue” is just a word for someone who takes their belief in something seriously. I’ve heard various commentators accuse Feminists and the like of being ideologues and thats why I’m commenting here. I’m not saying that they are using the word incorrectly, its just not the description or insult they might think it is.
To show you what I mean, lets take a look at one of the commentators I’ve heard make this kind of accusation: Sargon of Akkad of the YouTube realm. I will make the case right now that Sargon of Akkad is an ideologue. Keep in mind, this isn’t an attack. I’m just trying to bring clarity to this sort of argument. Its just random chance that it was him that sparked these thoughts. Here is the about page on his YouTube channel:
“I’m for finding the truth of the matter using rational arguments backed up by evidence. I do my own research and I try to be thorough. I also like to have in-depth conversations with stimulating people on a wide variety of subjects, varying from gaming, anti-ideology, history and fiction.”
We don’t have to look past the first sentence to find Sargon’s ideology. He has a preference for truth, rationality, and evidence. If you asked him to believe something that he knows to be false and he refuses, then he is demonstrating, you could say, an “uncompromising and dogmatic” adherence to truth. I only point this out to illustrate that he and everyone that uses this word as a negative description likely also falls into that definition. Its not the strong adherence to an ideology that is bad. Its the ideology itself and the actions it inspires that needs to be evaluated. Being an ideologue with the right ideology is a very good thing. Using this word to as a negative misses the mark to a degree by attacking the strong preference to an ideology and not the specific ideology itself.
He ends his about description with saying that he likes to discuss a variety of topics including “anti-ideology”. What he really means is that he believes his ideology to be superior to others and likes to use it to debunk other ideologies. Nothing wrong with that. Its how the marketplace of ideas works. If he was truly anti-ideology he would be a nihilist, well, that might also be an ideology too, but you get the point.
Every system of beliefs is an ideology. Even the ones that you would view as valid and reasonable. I would say that most people fall into the utilitarian ideology to one degree or another. It states that “actions are right if they are useful or for the benefit of a majority.” (Can’t help but think of democracy as I read that). Even a reasonable sounding ideology like this has problems and can be abused. Flawed ideologies like Feminism aren’t the only ones that can cause problems. It theory, let’s not kid ourselves; in reality, utilitarianism is used frequently to justify bad ideas and action. Especially when it comes to using government policy to violate another ideology that people should be familiar with, classical liberalism (which I believe that Sargon has expressed some level of support for).
Classical liberalism is defined by the value it places on civil liberties and economic freedom. Civil liberties being things like freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of association, and protection from government intrusion. The Bill of Rights is a good example of this. Then there is the economic freedom part where property rights are enforced and people are free to conduct their business as they see fit as long as they don’t commit theft or fraud. While I believe there is a wealth of evidence that these things lead to the “benefit of [the] majority” Classical liberalism is not driven by stats. For me it is driven by the idea that peaceful individuals should be free to act in any manner they wish and that it is immoral for the government aggress against them.
The utilitarian, if presented with evidence that freedom of speech, or speech that offends the delicate sensibilities of feminists, causes problems for society, could come to accept the idea that limiting free speech is a good thing. They could be convinced that mass government domestic spying is ok because the government needs to find the bad guys and “if you aren’t doing anything wrong you have nothing to fear.” Would the typical anti-feminist buy into the wage gap if presented with the right evidence? What about privilege? Would they support government intervention? Does that sound familiar? It should, because that and much more is happening in western society. As long as it “benefits the majority”, right? Whatever the fuck that means. I fear that the typical utilitarian, devoted to “reason and evidence” without any moral framework, is just a few data points away from endorsing actions that violate people’s right to free association, property rights, and so on.
Unfortunately, I believe that Sargon falls into this category of utilitarianism. When asked what his limiting principle of government was (linked below) he did not have an answer. The best he could come up with is “A degree of socialism is a necessary evil” and “Nothing in excess”. This is very troubling because for any position out there you can find statistics and studies to support it. You can even make soft relativistic justifications like the ones Sargon made to help you sleep at night. This is utilitarianism’s greatest flaw. It doesn’t have any well defined moral system. What does “benefit” mean? How to you measure it? What constitutes as the “majority? Can morality be flipped on it’s head at the tally of a majority vote? The stance of a classically liberal ideologue is superior to the stance of a potential utilitarian authoritarian relativist nanny ideologue.
An exploration of how to determine what ideologies are worthy of “uncompromising and dogmatic” belief is perhaps the subject of another post. For now, I leave you with what flavor of ideologue I am.
I am an ideologue. I am perhaps one of the most extreme types of ideologues. I am an Ancap, a voluntarist. I highly value facts and evidence, but that is superseded by my view of morality. Only voluntary acts can be moral and any violation of that should be opposed, even the institution of government itself. This has many implications, but that is my starting point. That might sound unreasonable, but you can be damn sure I won’t harm you, your property, or restrict you freedoms and I won’t vote for someone else to do it on my behalf.
PRIVILEGE IS MORAL [https://libertytheory.com/2016/06/27/privilege-is-moral/ ]
Sargon of Akkad YouTube [https://www.youtube.com/user/SargonofAkkad100 ]
Sargon of Akkad YouTube channel about page [https://www.youtube.com/user/SargonofAkkad100/about ]
Sargon of Akkad calling someone an ideologue @ 5:40 [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6qPfIKrruU ]
A Conversation with Adam Baldwin where Sargon was asked about his limiting principle for government @ 21:20 [https://youtu.be/WhWsDkqrofw ]