Ideological Purity is a Sign of Approaching Extinction
Requirements for Survival – biological and social diversity:
Whenever I seek to understand the ethic of a thriving, resilient system whether man-made or environmental I look to the laws of nature. Bio-diversity is the overriding essential requirement of a healthy eco-system. Where there is human interface with nature, as for example in agriculture, the healthiest, most self-renewing, beautiful and alive environments are diverse, with ample integration of native and human design and activity.
The social, cultural and political environments in the 21st Century are no different. The richest and most healthy cultures are diverse; the most creative cultures are diverse, the most adaptable and progressive cultures are diverse. They demonstrate diversity of viewpoints, diversity of approaches to problem solving, and diversity and tolerance of expression. In agriculture, monoculture is deadly, and depleting - life cannot thrive and regenerate because it is a non-living, homogenous, artificial system, dependent on artificial manipulations. The same laws apply to social systems.
Ideological Purity – the “monoculture” of thought:
When we examine the current political culture in America we have two prevailing scenarios: The demand for ideological purity in the “small tent” of Republican monoculture, or the imperfect, undisciplined, demanding factions of the Democratic “big tent.”
The Republican brand and story demand strict adherence by its members, otherwise one is not welcome. Romney had to adapt by changing and denying many long-held opinions and policies, and those who don’t are not invited into the tent. We saw this at their recent convention in the significant absence of some of their most independent members.
The diversity of the Democratic Party has proven often difficult for Obama because of the many issues and interests that come together under the rubric of the Party. Did Obama fight hard enough for the environment, for labor, for students, for the elderly, for minorities, for women, for the 99%, for peace, for economic justice? As the designated leader of a big, often demanding family, expectations and desires often were greater than his power to deliver in the current political landscape. Some were disappointed that he did not stand up for what they believed he stood for. Nevertheless, given such diversity, there is some flexibility, and liberal or progressive core values prevail, being expressed in manifold and often fresh ways. Thus, without ideological “purity” as a requirement to play in the Party, there is more resilience, more forgiveness, and a more welcoming attitude to newcomers who may have new ideas and different way of doing things.
According to the laws of nature, the desire of the 2012 Republican Party for ideological purity, for following the same narrative in lockstep even if the narrative is based on falsehoods or outworn practices, for excluding those who do not strictly support the party line, is an indication of desperation and fear of extinction. They lack the confidence to allow opposing viewpoints or cultures within their Party. Besides demanding ideological purity, other signs are evident: excluding those who do not fit their cultural, religious and ethnic prototype, lying guiltlessly, marrying corporations for the financial support of owners that just want to use them, fighting for their own survival even at the expense of the nation, justifying themselves as “God’s chosen,” rewriting science and history to fit their fantasies and wishful thinking, are typical of people who want to confirm their relevance, although their very act of doing so indicates the fragility of their foundation.
Ideological Purity is an act of desperation:
The fear of accepting social and cultural diversity is a crisis in life when to do so appears a rejection of one’s very identity, and traditions. This is a static world view understandable in the context of rapid change at all levels of our planetary life. Innovation, all encompassing communication, and mass consumption drives this change in our material culture, while nature, suffering the consequences of careless economic development and the pressures of population growth, urges drastic measures to solve accumulating problems.
Everyone feels the pressure regardless of cultural, religious, national or political affiliations. We feel this in the core of our being. This is a primal moment of evolutionary change where as a species we are in crises. We witness extreme responses to this challenge. On one side are those who desperately want to return to a safe zone in the past, to turn back the clock. We see this in fundamentalist movements across the religious and political spectrum. On the other side, we see those who want to adapt to the changes and create a new culture. This has created two opposing currents of social, political and psychological concepts.
It mainly has to do with control. Those who want to strictly adhere to the way things were done before feel that any variance from those ways is a threat. Instead of looking for new forms and ways to meet current and future needs they feel the solution is to have more of the same – more of what worked in the past.
A prime example of the desperate desire to survive at the expense of diversity is the monoculture solution used by industrial agriculture and mass commercialization of meeting our food and energy needs. This is speeding the collapse of our food, social, economic and ecological systems. This solution depends upon the human-centric belief the “man” is the conqueror of nature and that nature exists to serve our needs.
A counterpoint to this is the movement to create “transitional communities,” communities that are self-reliant and independent of centralized control. When we see religions and political parties clinging desperately to the past there is an implicit pessimism about human abilities to create a sustainable life, to build community and to solve environmental and social problems. Ideological purity is a hopeless mind-set that has no new vision of the future, does not conceive or tolerate different and freer approaches to living and working. The “big tent” is an open-ended non-ideological environment that permits differences, uncertainty, flexibility, experimentation and even failure. This is the spirit of human adaptability that may insure our survival. The “small tent” of ideological purity is the last shelter for people whose way of thinking and life is disappearing in the tide of future realities.