Commentaries on Living Series 1
Commentaries on Living Series I Chapter 72 'Ideology'
"ALL THIS TALK about psychology, the inner workings of the mind, is a waste of time; people want work and food. Are you not deliberately misleading your audiences when it is obvious that the economic situation must first be attacked? What you say may ultimately be effective, but what is the good of all this stuff when people are starving? You can't think or do anything without having a full stomach."
One must of course have something in the stomach to be able to carry on; but to have food for all, there must be a fundamental revolution in the ways of our thinking, and hence the importance of attacking the psychological front. To you, an ideology is far more important than the production of food. You may talk about feeding the poor and of having consideration for them, but are you not much more concerned with an idea, with an ideology?
"Yes, we are; but an ideology is only a means of gathering people together for collective action. Without an idea there can be no collective action; the idea, the plan comes first, and then action follows." So you also are concerned with psychological factors first, and from that what you call action will follow. You do not mean, then, that to talk of psychological factors is deliberately to mislead the people. What you mean is that you have the only rational ideology, so why bother to consider further? You want to act collectively for your ideology, and that is why you say any further consideration of the psychological process is not only a waste of time but also a deviation from the main issue, which is the setting up of a classless society with work for all, and so on.
"Our ideology is the result of wide historical study, it is history interpreted according to facts; it is a factual ideology, not like the superstitious beliefs of religion. Our ideology has direct experience behind it, not mere visions and illusions."
The ideologies or dogmas of organized religions are also based on experience, perhaps that of the one who has given out the teachings. They also are founded on historical facts. Your ideology may be the outcome of study, of comparison, of accepting certain facts and denying others, and your conclusions may be the product of experience; but why reject the ideologies of others as being illusory when they also are the result of experience? You gather a group around your ideology, as do others around theirs; you want collective action, and so do they in a different way. In each case, what you call collective action springs from an idea; you are both concerned with ideas, positive or negative, to bring about collective action. Each ideology has experience behind it, only you refute the validity of their experience, and they refute the validity of yours. They say that your system is impractical, will lead to slavery, and so on, and you call them warmongers and say that their system must inevitably lead to economic disaster. So both of you are concerned with ideologies, not with feeding people or bringing about their happiness. The two ideologies are at war and man is forgotten.
"Man is forgotten to save man. We sacrifice the present man to save the future man."
You liquidate the present for the future. You assume the power of Providence in the name of the State as the Church has done in the name of God. You both have your gods and your holy book; you both have the true interpreters, the priests - and woe to anyone who deviates from the true and the authentic ! There is not much difference between you, you are both very similar; your ideologies may vary, but the process is more or less the same. You both want to save the future man by sacrificing the present man - as though you knew all about the future, as though the future were a fixed thing and you had the monopoly of it! Yet you are both as uncertain of tomorrow as any other. There are so many imponderable facts in the present that make the future. You both promise a reward, a Utopia, a heaven in the future; but the future is not an ideological conclusion. Ideas are always concerned with the past or the future, but never with the present. You cannot have an idea about the present, for the present is action, the only action there is. All other action is delay, postponement, and so no action at all; it is an avoidance of action. Action based on an idea, either of the past or of the future, is inaction; action can only be in the present, in the now. Idea is of the past or of the future, and there can be no idea of the present. To an ideologist the past or the future is a fixed state, for he himself is of the past or of the future. An ideologist is never in the present; to him, life is always in the past or in the future, but never in the now. Idea is ever of the past, threading its way through the present to the future. For an ideologist the present is a passage to the future and so not important; the means do not matter at all, but only the end. Use any means to get to the end. The end is fixed, the future is known, therefore liquidate anyone who stands in the way of the end.
"Experience is essential for action, and ideas or explanations come from experience. Surely you do not deny experience. Action without the framework of idea is anarchical, it is chaos, leading straight to the asylum. Are you advocating action without the cohesive power of idea? How can you do anything without the idea first?"
As you say, the idea, the explanation, the conclusion, is the outcome of experience; without experience there can be no knowledge; without knowledge there can be no action. Does idea follow action, or is there idea first and then action? You say experience comes first, and then action, is that it? What do you mean by experience?
"Experience is the knowledge of a teacher, of a writer, of a revolutionary, the knowledge which he has gathered from his studies and from experiences, either his own or those of another. From knowledge or experience ideas are constructed, and from this ideological structure flows action."
Is experience the only criterion, the true standard of measurement? What do we mean by experience? Our talking together is an experience; you are responding to stimuli, and this response to challenge is experience, is it not? Challenge and response are almost a simultaneous process; they are a constant movement within the framework of a background. It is the background that responds to challenge, and this responding to challenge is experience, is it not? The response is from the background, from a conditioning. Experience is always conditioned, and so then is idea. Action based on idea is conditioned, limited action. Experience, idea, in opposition to another experience, idea, does not produce synthesis but only further opposition. Opposites can never produce a synthesis. An integration can take place only when there is no opposition; but ideas always breed opposition, the conflict of the opposites. Under no circumstances can conflict bring about a synthesis.
Experience is the response of the background to challenge. The background is the influence of the past, and the past is memory. The response of memory is idea. An ideology built out of memory, called experience, knowledge, can never be revolutionary. It may call itself revolutionary, but it is only a modified continuity of the past. An opposite ideology or doctrine is still idea, and idea must ever be of the past. No ideology is the ideology; but if you said that your ideology is limited, prejudiced, conditioned, like any other, no one would follow you. You must say it is the only ideology that can save the world; and as most of us are addicted to formulas, to conclusions, we follow and are thoroughly exploited, as the exploiter is also exploited. Action based on an idea can never be a freeing action, but is always binding. Action towards an end, a goal, is in the long run inaction; in the short view it may assume the role of action, but such action is self-destructive, which is obvious in our daily life.
"But can one ever be free from all conditioning? We believe it is not possible."
Again, the idea, the belief imprisons you. You believe, another does not believe; you are both prisoners to your belief, you both experience according to your conditioning. One can find out if it is possible to be free only by inquiring into the whole process of conditioning, of influence. The understanding of this process is self-knowledge. Through self-knowledge alone is there freedom from bondage, and this freedom is devoid of all belief, all ideology.
Commentaries on Living Series 1
Commentaries on Living Series I Chapter 72 'Ideology'
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