Do the people think? Ideology, people and society.

Why do the public reject pristine liberalism? Do the people
think? Yes, the people do think. So, it may not be truly said that men show an
unquestioning outlook in most of their thought, as so many people say they
think of others, but then they maybe do not really think so tacitly, or
practically, but instead are using hyperbole to say that they do not agree with
the conventional wisdom that they suppose most people do agree with. Whether
most do agree with that is not clear.
But we all know quite a lot of it, including a rough adumbration of the
major political parties or the main organised religions.

Many people have adopted the common idea that people do not
like to give up an idea once that they have openly committed themselves to it, but this idea is very inept. It is widely accepted,
but only as many people seem to conflate what people want to say, or admit to,
with what they actually think is true. I think that people often, ironically, put honour
before honesty by never admitting that they earlier got it wrong, but instead
pretending that they do not see, or understand, a clear correction but whilst
people need never say anything they do not like to say by choice, there is no
choice at all in their belief, so no one can ever effectively decide what to
think. Whatever people want has no bearing on it. We all believe what we
believe quite independently of our will. It is how we think things are in the
external world at any one moment. So what we want to believe has no affect at
all on whatever we do believe; our desires are always quite irrelevant.

Belief is a built-in reality principle. It is the result of
our fresh sense perception but belief is clearly not limited to what we check
up on but it is what we have just recreated in our mind. Belief is not
foolproof but it often revises itself, even if it errs afresh, for we may err
many times each minute, and we do go back and forth on some ideas, or
assumptions. This is conspicuous whenever we are searching for something that we
have lost, for we rarely just look in each germane place only once but instead often
many times. This often pays off, for we
often overlook things on some searches. We find things in places where we, basically if
not entirely, thought we had searched well earlier.

Religion is clearly often not believed, for many nominal
adherents to a creed often tell all and sundry that they are not, “really”,
very religious at all but they still clearly still value the creed, even if not
very much, most of the time. They value religion usually owing to loyalty to
tradition, their parents and the like. Other ideologies, like Marxism, are
valued by the ideologues, rather than believed, but for various personal reasons.

Marxism poses as the grand solution to the problem of war, to mass unemployment
and to many other problems, like the disutility of labour to cite a third. Is
that not a belief that the widespread adoption of the Marxist creed can solve
such problems? It might be, or it might be just embraced as a moral protest
against such worldly evils, to show what kind of fellow the holder is, that he
has his heart in the right place rather than thinking that it is a truly realistic
or practical problem solver. Pristine liberalism tends to claim to solve many
of the same problems. Indeed, Marxism is a liberal heresy.

Extra to almost all ideologies is usually a group fellowship,
or comradeship. As a natural joiner of such groups, I soon noticed a few common
sense myths about them.

One is that they are agreement groups, despite the fact that
there are broad ideas, or dogmas, that define the group as socialist, liberal,
Christian or whatever. I saw, back in the 1960s, that not only the
organisations as a whole, but even the various branches of them, tend to, all
too soon, collect all sorts of types, maybe even most types that might be found
in any large group that is in the wider society generally. The dogmas rarely
completely go free of being questioned in almost any ideological organisation,
though they often do in the purely religious ones. It is quite false to believe
that non-religious ideological groups do not tolerate questioning. Insiders of
ideological groups are usually more polemical towards what we might call the
group’s central dogmas than are outsiders, at least in my experience since
1968. Such groups often do have a large turnover of members, of course, though
the idea that once a member then you will tend to be a member for life is quite
a common idea amongst ideological groups

To accept or adopt an ideology or a religion is not thereby to
believe it. It is rather to value it. Most ideologies are far too big, or
complex, to ever fully believe for we can only affirm as true now what we can currently hold
in mind, tacitly that can be quite a lot but it is not likely to be the abstract
doctrines of what the group has endorsed in the past. New members will usually
need to read up on the history of the group to discover what the group actually
held in the past, or they even need to read up to clearly see what their
adopted group still holds today. It is not likely that many members, or even
any members, will know the full position of the group off-hand; unless it is a
small group with a short history. That would require a diligence that is not
normal, even for a fanatic.

Most members of any ideological group do not even know most
of the things any outsider might take to be the main dogmas of the group. They
usually need to find out by doing more reading what it is best to say whenever they
attempt to propagate the creed.

Any member will normally be loyal to their adopted group by
lip service rather than by belief. We cannot believe at will but we can speak
at will. We might call much of what belief groups say to one another to be mere
white lies. It would be very pedantic to always say so wherever the members did
not agree. It is enough that members find most of what is said to be roughly
right.

Then there is usually a difference between what active
propagandists of the group think and what passive or inactive members think.
The inactive members are usually the more long-standing members, though the
leaders of most groups are often both long standing and active too. The passive
members of any political or religious group are usually more moderate and less
optimistic about the group’s prospects too. William James rightly noted that
activity tends to get the activist to give more credit to the group’s ideas.
They thereby feel the daily tests, tests that any creed will have to face, more
keenly than the more passive members. That is why the active members have a
larger turnover. They are more likely to
discover refuting arguments to common objections but also more likely to feel refuted
by them too.

There is not even one real example of what many call a true
ideologue. That basic idea seems to be as much of a myth as the more celebrated
idea of the true believer, if it is not actually merely another name for the
same supposed phenomenon.

But mass religion has many nominal members who do not accept
it at all as being true, apart from paying traditional lip service to it and
feeling that it must be good in some way, or otherwise it would not be there.
Most nominal believers in the main mass religions of Judaism Christianity and
Islam are like that, as are members of the
smaller religious sects and the main political parties as well as the smaller
ideological political groups. Ideology is mainly about what we value. Belief is put in second place. As Richard Whately said :”It makes all the difference in the world whether we put the truth in the first or in the second place.” Ideologues often do put what they believe in the second place.