The popular definition of ideology is “a system of interrelated ideas about society and the individuals in it.” This is extremely common and therefore imprecise definition because it does not give us the difference between ideology and religion, and the difference between ideology and science. Neither does it give us a way in which any particular ideology is formed. In order to reach a more precise definition, we must first answer the question what is the system formation factors of ideologies. Broadly speaking, this is the daily experience of people where they face social events and try to sort them into a generalized picture. However, everyday experiences do not imply knowledge of the actual laws that drive public life, and does not require examination of accumulated personal knowledge.
The lack of ordered feedback from the objects of knowledge strongly correlates ideologies to religions. Both ideologies and religions need no controlled trials and experiments to confirm and reject their main postulates. They are based on authorities. Unlike ideology, however, religion is not of the immediate social experience of individuals. Religion is always already constructed abstract system of ideas that explain the most common, emerging over the horizon of the individual experience, social phenomena, and the relationship between the reason and nature. Ideology and religion are complementary in building unity of consciousness of any particular individual, but a religion can complement different ideologies, and one type of ideology can be manifested in different cultures based on different religions.
Science on other hand, unlike religion and ideology, is a system of concepts and ideas that arise from formally placed frames that eliminate the randomness of everyday experience. Science, like the religion, is a system of abstract ideas about society and its relationship to nature, but it always requires verifiability of knowledge.
It can be summarized that ideology is a form of everyday consciousness. This form is based on the authorities and it does not require verifiability. This makes it the widest and most common type of universal consciousness. A very important feature is that the acts of religion and scientific knowledge are also a part of the everyday experience of people in one way or another and they can help formation of particular ideology. For example, the religious dogma of the official church undergoing significant changes and interpretations in everyday life inevitably breaks in other cultural phenomena and shapes the social being of individuals. The facts of science are also not given directly in everyday life and their interpretation can produce ideologies. Incomplete and partial scientific knowledge can be formed to support new or old ideological concepts.
However, what people encounter in their daily experiences and what form their ideology?
First are local cultural structures that determine an individual’s life. They are traditionally established network of relations and rules of conduct governing the role of each member of the community. While there is great variety in the form of these local cultural structures, their important characteristics are forming uniformity of social roles, with the resulting hierarchy in their coordination. Therefore, ideologies always reflect the contradictions and the clash of social roles of individuals.
The ideologies are influenced by the global social relations between local cultural communities. Communities are usually in competition with each other for some limited development resources, therefore an important part of the ideologies are ideas associated with these contradictions and struggles.
No less important is the immediate experiences in communication with the environment and the dynamics of environmental change. They determine largely the global social relations and cultural peculiarities of the local structures.
The cultural structures, the global social relations and the environmental perception, however, are determined by the mode of reproduction of the community. This is the dynamics and the technology with that community exchange materials and energy with their environment and with other communities.
The last factor for formation of the ideologies is the degree of development of science and the penetration of scientific knowledge in everyday life of the people. Science is diametrically opposed to the ideology and the stage of maturity of the science determines how ideologies influence the social behavior of community members.
Changes in the last decade of the 20th century and early 21st century are expressed in a number of factors responsible for the formation of present day ideologies. The creation of the world economic system, the development of communication, industrialization and integration into the international movement of goods and services to major regional communities lead to significant modifications of the local cultural structures. Their hierarchical nature gives way to more diffuse social networks that satisfy the homogenization of social roles in society. At the same time, however, it is expressed the clear desire of the old social structures to maintain its homeostatic state and to resist erosion trends of vertical social stratification.
Such opposite trends are observed in the dynamics of global social structures. On the one hand the interconnectedness of communities reduce competition for resources between them, but on the other hand the operation and maintenance of the already established distribution channels for the same resources is a matter of preserving the competitive attitudes and related ideologies.
The dynamics of local cultural institutions and global social structures result in some antagonistic ideologies that today are clearly recognized.
Globalism is an ideological mindset that meets the process of unification of cultural structures, erosion of old agricultural societies, spread of industrial capitalism mode of production, development of complex communications, mobility of labor resources, and formation of global markets. The social base of globalism as ideology is very strange in terms of the ideological picture of yesterday’s social groups. Globalists are transnational corporations, highly educated professionals associated with advanced technologies, already substantial number of small firms in the international economic and cultural exchange. Characteristics of globalization are its technological optimism, the belief in the omnipotence of market regulators, which are considered timeless and universal underestimation of the contradictions that arise from globalization. This results in futurological speculations centered on a balance of power between today’s global centers of human civilization. When and how China and India will catch up with the West, what hinder the victory of capitalism and its related forms of political governance are the focus of many of the ideologically motivated futurological concepts based on globalism as an ideology.
Anti-globalism is ideology that expresses the negative attitude of those people who in one way or another feel threatened by global changes in the cultural and social structures. Here we also find a strange combination of social groups. These are national political bureaucracies that lose power resources, international organizations that exist thanks to the arrangements and resources provided by national political elites, significant part of the working people related to traditional or local way of production. This is difficult to identify certain social patterns as antiglobalistic. They can be defined as visions for the future of the political elites of small and large countries. For example, they all rely on the existence of states in their present form as a constant fact. The talk is not about the future of the world but about the future of the United States, European Union, Russia, China, etc. Anti-globalism as an ideology of the masses did not generate any particular picture of the future, but definitely dominate fear of future changes as they are considered as a continuation of today’s global problems.
A variation of anti-globalism is the cultural centrism. This may be assigned to U.S. hegemonism, European conservatism, Islamic fundamentalism, Russian revanchism. The cultural centrism is placed in the center of survival or development of a national or regional community, and the future of the world is only considered as a stage where this priority is manifested. Virtually all national doctrines are an expression of cultural centrism.
Recently, an essential role play ideologies associated with environmental changes and their impact in all societies. The crisis of resources, demographic change, changes in the global climate find their ideological implications in the idea for sustainable development. Social groups who are appealed by the idea are heterogeneous. Sustainable development is seen as a serious movement by political elites and the majority of ordinary people. The facts of wide spread impoverishment are testifying for food crises and crises of environmental systems. In many cases, these facts are based on scientific research. This makes sustainable development to be seem not as an ideology but as an objective necessity and scientific social theory by which to monitor changes on a global scale. At the same time, however, the sustainable development has not been a subjected to scientific interpretation of the complex nature of human civilization and the laws of its development. We proceed from the idea that human needs, as we know them, are constant and static in time. Even if somehow we manage to limit resource consumption today, then there is absolutely no reason to believe that these resources by type and amount will be adequate to the public tomorrow. On the other hand, it does not take into account the complex nature of social development in general and in particular of capitalism. The idea itself conflicts with the nature of capital, which is self-growing value. Thus, the idea of sustainable development is an ideology that seeks answers to the problems posed by global capitalism, but it is a naive utopian vision for the future of the world. In these positive visions, the humanity keeps its present values, the nature is left as we know it today and in the form that is comfortable for the modern Man. However, this ideal condition is achieved by a wiser and matured, but still modern capitalist mode of production. You could say that the idea of sustainable development is a kind of capitalist utopianism.
Many of the contradictions in the idea of sustainable development are criticized from the standpoint of environmental absolutism. In this ideological doctrine, capitalism is clearly identified as a source of contemporary problems, and the incompatibility between the capital and the environment is clearly pointed out. Again, however, we have not a scientific knowledge about the nature of human civilization and the regularities of its development and its interaction with the environment. The facts that we observe in this environment become absolutes. They are removed from the context of the processes involved. It is applied as a dogma that nature in its prehumen species is the standard to which we should strive. Even in the softer interpretations, environmental absolutism comes from the idea of the present state of nature as an absolute value that needs to be preserved.
All ideologies are an important tool for systematic formation of expectations and attitudes towards the future. Weak and poor state of social sciences in one way or another creates a favorable environment for ideological future. This means that the vast amount of people who are about to experience the emerging global-scale changes will be unprepared for them and their reaction will be largely inadequate. How and in what way this inadequacy will manifest itself is impossible to predict now, but its consequences can be very serious for all of us.
Project Founder and Manager
Jordan Yankov works as a consultant for development of different types of power generation projects, energy planning and development. Jordan has experience as manager in advertising, multimedia, marketing and technology projects. He has graduated philosophy but he never persuaded an academic carrier. Despite that, he maintained his strong interests in fundamental sciences, philosophy and social problems. For several years, he helped d-r Ivan Punchev in his efforts to develop non-classic dialectical logic in mathematical form. As a result, he elaborated his own ideas in the fields of fundamental sciences, artificial intelligence and social prognoses. All of this inspired him to start The Human Future Project as an ongoing streamlined effort to create new paradigm for understanding of the human nature.