From Ideology to Confusionism: The End of the Isms?”
Are we finally reaching the post-ideological age? Given the complexity of today’s world, that would represent major progress.
July 14, 2021
France happens to be a country in which ideologies have always been fought out with particular rigor and dedication.
Now, the country is gripped in the throes of a debate about the future relevance of all those ideologies, beginning in its simplest form with the ideology of the “left” and that of the “right”.
A world of confusionism?
In his new book, “La Grande Confusion,” Philippe Corcuff, a French political scientist, argues that the various political ideologies are blending in curious ways, if not overlapping in part. He fittingly calls this phenomenon “confusionism.”
His argument cannot please all those partisans who thrive on intensely fought ideological debates. And yet, on substance, Corcuff seems to be on target. The world is getting ever more complex, any possible solutions more multi-layered.
Complexity vs. ideology?
Most people have at least instinctively developed an ever-clearer sense that clinging to ideological concepts is of diminishing use when tackling the immense present challenges.
These challenges range from climate change and openness to intergenerational and socio-economic equity – all the while preserving economic dynamism.
What, one must ask, is the benefit of first superimposing an ideological straight jacket over the contemplated pathways forward? In all likelihood, it represents a detour that delays the move toward an actual solution.
Often, it is little more than a delay mechanism imposed most ardently by a political class that is desperate to prove its continued relevance, if only to its own immediate supporters.
Depending on leaps of faith
This isn’t helped by the fact that applying the ideologizing approach to the task of problem solving usually forces the advocates of a coherent world view, or ideology, to make several leaps of faith – and logic.
Ultimately, what the modern era teaches us is that, no matter how hard some people may still try, coming up with a consistent ideology or world view is essentially a logical impossibility.
Worse, the ideologizing approach is divisive in itself, as it seeks to establish different camps, all with their own rites and “signaling” requirements.
Given the complexity of the problems to be solved, whether locally, nationally, regionally or globally, a decisive shift to accepting that we live in a post-ideological age seems more than warranted.
The pragmatism of voters
Interestingly, the voters in many countries have understood the futility of ideologies for quite some time. Party affiliations of voters are shifting much more actively than in decades past, making the correct prediction of election results that much more difficult.
This has been especially visible in countries that don’t live under the yoke of a de facto two-party system (as in the U.S.) or the first-past-the-post system (as in the UK). In those countries, coming up with a coalition government is becoming ever more complex.
More political openness required
Moreover, unlike in the past when parties from certain political camps tended to form governments, refusing to include parties from the “other” side that is often no longer an option.
Basically, this reality has had a positive effect, insofar as it has caused all parties within the democratic spectrum to form governments.
Advisable limits to openness
In quite a few countries, as in Italy today or in Finland previously, this can on occasion include hard-right parties.
In Germany, that is understandably considered a step too far, so that the hard-right AfD party stays shut out.
Giving everybody a stake in governing
Forming governments with ever more parties actually enhances cooperation and inclusiveness. Moreover, for that to work, parties must stake out specific “asks” that they can get out of such a deal to form a government.
It follows logically that parties need to focus more on what their core interests are. Such governments may not necessarily be post-ideological (yet), but they are certainly cross-ideological.
Best of all, policy approaches are not simplistically filtered either by a “left” or ”right” approach. That not only rigidifies the decision-making process, but can also lead to a situation where the “other half” of a nation feels excluded for years.
How globalism fits into this debate
While the broader point is to appreciate the benefits of pragmatism and open-minded thinking, all of this is welcome news to us globalists.
Understanding, of course, that being a globalist does not presume the existence of an internally coherent or even close-minded ideology.
If anything, globalism is a method, or an appeal if you will, to be open-minded, focus on the indisputable connectedness of things and move toward political solutions, irrespective of the still existing mainstream ideologies.
In that sense, globalism – like pragmatism – is a frame of mind. It does not suggest any teleological world view that pretends to explain all things to all people.
Clinging to ideological concepts is of diminishing use when tackling the immense present challenges.
Superimposing an ideological straight jacket over the pathways forward is a delay mechanism imposed by a political class that is desperate to prove its continued relevance.
What the modern era teaches us is that, no matter how hard some people may still try, coming up with a consistent ideology or world view is essentially a logical impossibility.