Ideology is not a system of thought that puts a distorting filter on our thinking. The common western vision of communism is that of miserable factory workers kept under watch by uniformed members of the omnipresent party. Anybody who makes the mistake of engaging in free thought is taken away to the even worse gulag. This is only what communism is from our naive, democratic, capitalistic perspective. When we put the glasses on, we can see what’s really going on. Those workers aren’t miserable, they are heroically building communism. Political officers aren’t there to oppress, but to make sure that the revolution which liberated those workers stays in place forever. And the gulags? Those are for quarantining the infection of bourgeois ideology, and perhaps we can even ‘force the glasses’ onto the incarcerated — if they are lucky. Ideology is what illuminates a dark and backwards world, and everything in this world is readily explainable by it.
A great example of the utility of the glasses is to decode the meaning of things that even we ourselves do not know we mean. Our true meaning must be decoded using the assumptions of the ideology. When I say that I want to marry a woman of a different race, the Nazidecoder glasses reveal that I actually want to destroy civilization. When I say I want to start a business, the communist decoder sees right through me — I truly just want to exploit the proletariat. By “employers shouldn’t be compelled to provide any specific benefits to their employees,” I obviously mean “I want to declare a war against women.” Compare Nazism to moderate nationalism, Communism to socialism, and radical feminism to moderate feminism. More than their positions on a spectrum, they are separated by the more radical versions adhering to ideology – they need the glasses. And where would we be without the help of the glasses? The decoder’s outputs are, of course, non-falsifiable assertions. This leaves us with curious ideas: rationalism is not enough. Rationalism is actually an enemy that obstructs the truth and enslaves us to the invisible order we are spontaneously embedded in. Democracy is not enough. Democracy is acceptable as long as the populace is willing to see the light. The webcomic Sinfest is the perfect demonstration of ideology not only to the ideologues that happen to agree with it, but to us benighted pawns as well.
As we can see in this comic, the average woman is just too ignorant to understand that she is living under an oppressive system. The little girl in the sunglasses – sunglasses certainly imbued with ideology vision – is frustrated that the woman is actually enjoying her oppression. Using discourse isn’t working, just like in They Live when John could not convince his best friend Frank to put on the glasses. The violent confrontation ensures that Frank can experience the catharsis of enlightenment. The ideology’s unpleasant liberation is too much for most people to swallow on their own.
This need to violently liberate those who refuse to see the light is a hallmark of totalitarianism. Totalitarianism does not mean a “very authoritarian” system of government. Rather, it refers to a system in which nothing can lay outside of the system’s scope. In our context of liberal democracy, the concept of totalitarianism makes more sense to apply to ideological movements. Artifacts that lie outside of the political sphere will be swallowed up into politics. Are there prescriptions for right and wrong types of art? What about a correct combination of races to employ? What genres of music are being used by the invisible order to control us? The very concept of cultural criticism exemplifies this. The Frankfurt School’s cultural Marxist philosophy implicitly states that the USSR failed to become a communist Utopia mainly because the ideology of Marxism wasn’t implemented in a totalitarian enough format. To quote Wikipedia:
…cultural Marxism argues that what appear as traditional cultural phenomena intrinsic to Western society, for instance the drive for individual acquisition associated with capitalism, nationalism, the nuclear family, gender roles, race and other forms of cultural identity; are historically recent developments that help to justify and maintain hierarchy. Cultural Marxists use Marxist methods (historical research, the identification of economic interest, the study of the mutually conditioning relations between parts of a social order) to try to understand the complexity of power in contemporary society and to make it possible to criticise what, cultural Marxists propose, appears natural but is in fact ideological.
The economy, family, gender, race, and identity must be made political. Cultural Marxist theory makes the ideological assumption that these things are already ideological, an assumption which is non-falsifiable and rejects rationalist inquiry. The rationalist standpoint on the matter of traditional social organization simply addresses that the world is complicated, and like lifeforms, culture has has evolved for naturalistic reason. Whether traditional social organization is a good or bad thing, it has arisen out of necessity in a time and place, just like technology. Occam’s Razor tells us that there is probably not a capitalist conspiracy to enforce this arbitrary social order. Such an extraordinary claims requires extraordinary evidence, but even without any such evidence, Marxists use such assumptions to reach conclusions. This, despite being an affront to logic itself, is a widely held belief among the cultural left. The famous sexologist John Money considered heterosexuality and anti-pedophilia somehow ideological:
Money held the view that affectional paedophilia is caused by a surplus of parental love that became erotic, and is not a behavioural disorder. Rather, he took the position that heterosexuality is another example of a societal and therefore, a superficial, ideological concept.
At this point, discerning readers should be asking themselves one question: Do tinfoil hats work just as well as glasses?