Ideology Once Again: Between Past and Future

Political spectrum graphic © Camilo Sanchez | Wikimedia Commons

I am having second thoughts about my last post in which I assert that the nomination of Paul Ryan, because he is a right-wing ideologist, assures the re-election of Barack Obama. I don’t wish to revise my observations or judgment, but think I need to explain a bit more. I realize that I should be clearer about what I mean by ideology and why I think, and hope, that it spells defeat for the Republicans. My thoughts in two parts: today, I will clarify what I mean by ideology and my general political prediction; in my next post, I will consider further implications of ideological developments in American politics, addressing some doubts and criticism raised by Deliberately Considered readers.

I also want to point out that my thoughts on Ryan and ideology are related to my search for conservative intellectuals worthy of respect. In that what I have to say is motivated bya conservative suspicion of the role of a certain kind of idea and reason in politics, I wonder what Paul Gottfried and Alvino-Mario Fantini (two conservative intellectuals who have contributed to Deliberately Considered) would think. As I understand it, my last post was a conservative critique of right-wing ideology, pointing to its progressive consequences. As a centrist who wants to move the center left, I am hopeful about this, but I imagine committed conservatives would be deeply concerned. I am still having trouble finding a deliberate dialogue with them.

A brief twenty-five year old encounter comes to mind as I think about ideology and its political toxicity, trying to explain my Ryan judgment.

We were in a taxi in Prague in 1987, Jonathan Fanton, the President of the New School for Social Research, Ira Katznelson, the Dean of The New School’s Graduate Faculty, Jan Urban, a leading dissident intellectual-journalist activist, and I: the preliminary meeting between The New School and the small but very vibrant, creative and ultimately successful Czechoslovak democratic opposition. In the end, we did some good in . . .

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