the american way of life

A Superior Ideology Isnít Debated
By Al Berrios

"...the only purpose of ideology is to be executed."
(Wordcount: 1,307; Pages: 3) “So, what you’re saying is that it’s OK to maim and massacre 1 million Iraqi women and children and old people?” I asked in a fit of exasperation.  To which my friend, son of immigrants and ardent defender of American way of life said, “Yes! And in fact, we should have killed more!”  What more was there left to say except, “OK, I understand,” and change the topic.

This tense debate, which included a historical run-through of American politicians’ preference for shooting first and answering questions later, was, in all its simple and unintended glory, the culmination of nearly a dozen books I’ve read on American capitalistic democratic ideology and its practice, usually from the victim’s perspective (or their advocates), and it revealed an equally unintended, yet powerful, revelation.  I concluded that there’s simply no point to exploring and debating the good and the bad, the truisms and the falsehoods of any ideology, whether or not the opponent is a faithful follower or not.  It’s not because there is an answer; it’s simply that the one who’s ideology is most widely practiced will naturally blunt debate with, “No one forced it on you”, or “If you don’t like it, leave”, arguments that demonstrate the futility of debating, and the intractable right of might. 

It shook me to the core, like no other discussion I’ve had before for two reasons: I found myself relishing knowing the facts, facts which when presented, I presumed, would inevitably help my audience conclude, by their sheer logic, that the morals, values, and raison d’etre of American-style democracy was irrefutably dangerous and harmful and should be re-examined as guiding principles of our nation; but my relishing proved without merit since I only gave fodder for a self-proclaimed “full-blooded American” to proclaim that the country wasn’t tough enough on things like terrorists and errant Latin American governments that refused to abide by our rules.

The second reason I was shaken was that my friend lead me to a place I hadn’t been to before, a place even scarier than the one I thought I had discovered in books.  It’s a simple question, really, and one I neglected since I was so focused on learning about a history I was never taught in school and consequently, never taught how to process and accept.  My friend stumped me simply by forcing all the facts out of me without being swayed, in fact, angry that I’d even present these facts without stating the side I was on, whether I believed America was right (then you’re a good American and we can continue our meal) or wrong (I’ve got the right mind to report you as a potential terrorist!)

Here I was, debating without a side; presenting facts without an objective; and worse, insulting a friend by trying to sway him away from his faith in America without presenting him with an alternative faith.  I pride myself in pouncing on any side of a debate, whether I believed in the side or not, but I realized that my passions were unfocused because I didn’t so much want to sway than impress; I wasn’t arguing on principles, I was arguing because it’s an impulse.  And the longer it took to win my friend over with facts, the more frustrated I became at his inability to be swayed by my purposeless fact-tossing.

The biggest problem that I now acknowledge with being able to debate either side is that I don’t have a choice but to acknowledge the merits of both sides, a “superpower” which causes as much frustration among the faithful than choosing an opposing side.  I thus concluded, after re-evaluating all I had learned about political history and human behavior that there is no point in debating ideology, because the only purpose of ideology is to be executed.

For example, one of the strongest arguments my patriotic friend made in support of America was that no other form of government grants the sort of freedoms granted to its citizens than American government.  However, it occurred to me, as I’m sure it has occurred to many a scholar of reality before me, that a) if freedoms are unalienable, they don’t require “granting” by anyone, and per the country’s forefathers, simply taken and b) just because an exploiter of ideal democratic freedoms does exploit those freedoms, it doesn’t mean that their exploitation is welcomed by the community in which that exploiter resides (in fact, it’s derogatorily referred to as “flouting” when it’s not exploited similarly by the majority). 

Consequently, through the practice of democracy (popular voting) that general opposition becomes institutionalized systematic sidelining and discrimination, with the result being a feeling of alienation, hiding, and even abandonment of the exploiter’s lifestyle choices and belief systems, which can lead to the perception that the exploiters are not actually free and in practice, being acculturated and indoctrinated by the community, processes designed to prevent exploitation of democratic freedoms.

So, in the real world, if I’d like to marry 3 women, or a man, I’d have to go all the way out to Utah and Massachusetts, respectively, as my “freedoms” would be culturally, and in some cases legally, prevented in other parts of the country.  Or if I was on a certain geographic stretch in Cuba (a communist island-nation) controlled by the U.S. (a democratic nation of states), and accused of knowing a guy who made a terrorist threat, I’d likely never know it, nor be able to ably defend myself, as I would have been stripped of my right to know what I’m being accused of and the right to defend myself; held in confinement indefinitely. You, too, may have noticed how flexible the definition of “freedom” appears to be by those doing the “granting”.

Inversely, if the community is entirely like-minded, whether through the extermination of those with differing views or natural migration, i.e. “white flight”, then it seems as if those “freedoms” are preserved since everyone acts however they chose within well-defined behavioral structures, of course.

This analysis leads me to think about what sort of ideology can be agreed upon by everyone?  What ideology can prevent the necessary annihilation of opponents?  And what ideology can remove opposition by its natural and irrefutable superiority? 

And what I came up with was that the problem isn’t with the ideology at all, but man’s behavior. And therein lies the root of all discord among man: that some execute ideology by any means necessary (i.e. force) because their ideology would never be permitted by a majority who can quickly identify its inferiority.

When allowed to think, all men act differently, not based on rational thought, but emotions.  But when the opportunity to think is eliminated, then all men revert to the same behaviors.  Thus, the only way to get all thinking men to adopt an ideology is to present them with an ideology that they can all recognize as superior and voluntarily embrace.  Alternatively, the only way to get all men to act the same is to eliminate the opportunity to think by forcing an ideology upon them. 

The rebuttal to my patriotic friend should have therefore been to identify for him an ideology so superior that it has no natural opposing ideology and place myself firmly on its side; an ideology that can accommodate all behavioral tendencies, even his for self-preservation, and one that doesn’t require force to spread because its adoption is clearly preferable to any alternative ideology.  An ideology that can overpower a pre-existing ideological way of life, out of the sort of necessity resulting from bottom-of-the-food chain existence, and continuously harness the self-interest and passion of ambitious and fickle men for the unanimous benefit of every other individual, not just the top 1%.

I am happy to say that such an ideology exists, but remains to be discovered. 

Al Berrios is Managing Director of al berrios & co., a strategy innovation consultancy advising organizations on succeeding in a service and information economy. Write or Subscribe to Consumer Strategies Report.

This page is formatted for printing. Add it to your brochure. . Privacy Policy . Get a fresh perspective on strategy.