Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Ideology vs pragmatism

Monday last week, I made a casual remark to a new friend: I have little ideology and lots of pragmatism. Hence, my email to Kees van der Staaij, a Dutch politician, which I used for last Tuesday’s blog. However, my remark refused to leave my mind. I then realised there’s a blog hidden in those words. 

Ironically, having no ideology is about the opposite of my concept of the 7 Belief systems (2016 vs 2019 version). Perhaps, having no ideology allowed me to discover that concept and to write about it. When you’re involved in beliefs, it’s hard seeing the forest for the trees. Also see my related blog Decline is invisible from the inside.

I suppose my lack of ideology stems from my relentless curiosity. Curiosity results in a willingness to learn, which requires keeping an open mind. Quite often, extreme beliefs result in closed mindedness and a reluctance to learn anything that might contradict those beliefs.

Pragmatism does not imply that “the end justifies the means“, a statement used by Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) from his essay Il Principe (published in 1532). Clearly, that statement is a (philosophical) belief in and of itself (eg, the Greater Good philosophy), if only because it provides a (philosophical) argument for taking one’s own life – or the life of (many) others.

Wikipedia describes pragmatism as a “philosophical tradition“. I think, feel and believe that pragmatism is the exact opposite of having a belief. Having a belief is often an obstacle in being pragmatic. Example: if vaccines are against religious beliefs then death is a likely outcome. A pragmatic person would choose for life rather than adhering to beliefs and death.

Obviously, one could argue that having no ideology equals having an ideology, similar to atheism. Atheism is the belief that there is no deity, like Ahura Mazda, Allah, Brahman, God, or Yahweh. There is, however, no shred of evidence for atheism. My 2017 blog: “Scientists have never found any culture on this planet without traces of religious worship (eg, Nature, WaPo)”.

China and USA are countries reflecting the differences between ideology and pragmatism. China’s progress is related to losing its communist ideology and adopting pragmatism (eg, Cambridge, Hu ShihSMU). Probably, the American standstill – or decline – is rooted in losing pragmatism (eg, American Heritage, John Dewey, WaPo, William James) and adopting ideological culture wars (eg, partisanship).

Losing My Religion (1991) by R.E.M.
artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.


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