Weather Forecast


Letter: Ideology concept clarified

Recently, I wrote a "Viewpoint" article ("Ideology: A changing, elusive concept," Bulletin, April 22) in which I claimed, among other things, that the term "ideology" is often used by politicians, special interest groups and others to discredit or dismiss the arguments of their opponents.

It seems, however, that this point was either missed or misinterpreted by some readers, perhaps because I attempted to say too much in too few words.

But this explanation notwithstanding, I think that it is necessary to repeat and reemphasize my concerns regarding the way in which the "i" word is now being used or, more accurately, misused in today's political and social debates.

Many Bulletin readers probably think that ideology is a neutral, merely descriptive and, therefore, innocuous term.

My contention, rather, is that, for whatever reason, ideology has become an adversarial term, a label now often used by politicians and others to characterize their opponents as being narrow-minded, dogmatic and wrong-headed.

Or to put it differently, "ideology" has tended to become a negative, pejorative term. Or at the least, an "us versus them" word used to separate the sheep from the goats, the goats, of course, being "bad" unenlightened people and the sheep being "good" enlightened, principled people.

This, it seems to me, is obvious. Or should be obvious to anyone who pays close attention to the way in which public policy issues are now debated.

It should also be obvious that those who use the "i" word to discredit their opponents are, themselves, often more dogmatic and/or wrong headed than those whom they attack.

Ironic, eh?

Thomas St. Martin