Comments, In Focus, Needle's Eye

Do deterministic ideologies necessarily result in oppression?

While it may not always be the case that deterministic ideologies, and groups committed to such ideologies, are oppressive, many do seem to be. Control and power feature strongly in their practice and in their underlying ideology.

 

Nigel Pocock Do deterministic 11

 

Coupled to such determinism is eschatology, a vision of a future age—that is the goal of this determinism. All is predestined to happen!

It would probably be fair to say that the varieties of Reformed Christian theology (Calvinism and Lutheranism being the main ones), and Marxism and Islam, are all highly deterministic.

Do deterministic 07Christianity and Islam are of course theistic, while Marxism is not. Nonetheless, Marxism may owe something to Hegel’s world-soul, marching (inevitably?) towards the knowledge of itself …

Is it also an accident that Luther was, as John Weiss has argued, even more anti-Semitic than Hitler? Is it an accident that ideologies of control are themselves repressive and all-controlling?

The predestination of all things towards some future blissful state is, of course, a great comfort to those who are committed to the idea that everything is in the ‘safe hands’ of either an all-controlling deity or of inevitable social forces.

Do deterministic 02To know that one is a member of the elect body of believers, blessed to eternal happiness (earthly or otherwise), wholeness and harmony—must be a great reassurance.

What is it that makes the followers of such belief systems either aggressive or passive? Is something within the content of the system, or purely social forces?

Most social scientists would probably look to a mix of the two. Where deterministic beliefs are linked to a distain of the material world (as in the neo-Platonism of much Christian practice) then the heavenly is all that matters. The earth and the earthly is of little importance.

Do deterministic 13Where this belief is absent, as in Old Testament Jewish theology, and in Marxism, the results are very different. The material world and action within become very important.

At the same time there is a huge amount of inconsistency, for why bother with social and political action if everything is determined by divine or social forces that make the earthly paradise inevitable?

Do deterministic 09Perhaps evolutionary biology (whether understood purely materially, or as part of a ‘theistic evolution’, and guided by God) provides part of the answer? People are torn between the intraphysic forces that have evolved within them to be either/or ‘me first’ or ‘community first’, in the interests of personal survival.

When this meshes with an ideology, the outcome will depend on the solution this ideology proposes to the human condition.

Do deterministic 03Some suggest aggressive action, however (inconsistently) legitimated; others love of neighbour and servanthood of the other.

Divine determinism may be the ideology; but people want to both assist the process, and to commit to their own survival in it. They do not truly trust the process (human or divine) or the ideology behind it.

Doctrines such as these are thereby premised on ‘power’. The power of the Party or whatever the ruling group of theocrats might be. An open future, love and forgiveness, are not likely to feature highly. Such ideologies are probably going to attract people who are poor at synthesising styles of thought; who are dogmatic, rigid and authoritarian.

Thus, the result is tyranny, dictatorship, and ruthlessness, lack of compassion, cruelty, and violence.

 

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