The Irrational Spirit Behind All Ideologies

The human mind is a fusion of the irrational and the rational. It may seem convenient and comforting to believe that both are equally balanced, but it is the irrational mind that is the yolk of the human spirit while the rational mind plays a minor, but important role of guidance and problem solving.

Almost all people fool themselves into thinking that they are rational beings. This is especially true in politics where people believe that they are on the side of truth and justice. They can often correctly identify the irrational nature of their enemies, but are blind to their own irrational drives and motives. These people engage in debates, sardonics, and publish written blocks of their vision that reinforce their beliefs while attacking those who disagree. Many of these ideologues, with the most prominent example being Karl Marx, go as far as to believe that their vision of the world will be an inevitability. Marx himself dedicated his life to the intellectual justification of communism while living a miserable personal life.

While people are mostly interested in political ideas and their implications in the world, they are completely ignorant of the underlying drive beneath those beliefs. The elementary fact is that no matter how complex, rational, and righteous people make their political beliefs appear to be, they are always motivated by basic set of irrational drives.

Before moving on, let’s be clear that irrationality isn’t a bad thing in spite of its association to recklessness and hysteria. Put in another perspective, irrationality is the human drive for life—the will to exist and to perpetuate existence. Irrationality is what keeps us alive and what fuels our passions. Without irrationality, there wouldn’t be any arts and we would be devoid of the sublime human emotions that inspire them. We evolved with our irrationality and we wouldn’t even be existing right now had it not been for its fire. I think the word should be replaced with a new term that better conveys its profound nature instead of being seen as something negative to be smothered with pure rationality. I would, in fact, go as far as to argue that irrationality and rationality are one and same thing, with the difference simply being products of our perception.

But to continue: beneath all political opinions, beliefs, and movements—without exception—there exists an underlying irrational drive that spirits them. The political conflicts that are inevitable are not the result of frictions between truth and untruth, or right and wrong, but the result of clashes between differing irrational drives.

The primary irrational drives of politics are:

  • The desire for safety and security for self and progeny.
  • The desire for wealth and opportunities in life.
  • Perceptions and priorities of in-group, out-group.
  • Sense of identity and pride, and the need to belong.
  • Hatred and contempt based on mere feelings of disgust.
  • The need to suppress uncertainty and meaninglessness in life.
  • The will to assert oneself and enjoy life without external shame and interference.
  • The will to assert their masculine trinity and experience violence, danger, and adventure.
  • The desire for power and privileges.
  • The desire to feed one’s ego and to feel superior to others, often resorting to overt attacks.

Whether it be for selfish material desires or immaterial principles and beliefs, all these drives are irrational. The method for attaining them might be guided by the rational mind, but these are the results of the irrational human spirit, fueled by passion for life. Nietszche was the genius who recognized this while people around the world were still asleep with their Enlightenment ideals.

Let’s take ideological movements we are familiar with to illustrate what each of their underlying irrationality are:

  • Religions—particularly the monotheistic strands—are beliefs that have been created to validate one’s existence in an uncertain world. People are uncomfortable with the idea that life is inherently meaningless and that death is the end. They want to believe that they will be rewarded for their loyalty and goodness while those who get away with evil in this world will face judgement in the next. It is also both comforting and empowering to believe that an omnipotent being will grant them power and courage to overcome the challenges they face in reality.
  • Nationalism is the product of a strong in-group identity based around race and culture, that is usually accompanied by a hostility towards an out-group that is perceived as a threat. Personal motives include the need to belong and the pride of being part of something greater than self.
  • Communism is fueled by the belief of equality, especially in the face of what is seen as an unfair system that oppresses and exploits the under-class. Communism has combined with nationalism in many post-colonial struggles including Cuba and Vietnam, and also incorporates many features of religions to include the belief in reward for struggle for the cause, a sense of mission for a higher goal, and an outlet for aggression onto those whom they perceive as the evil.
  • Social Justice Warriors of today are similarly fueled by a sense of righteousness in their fight against what they perceive as injustice in the world. The individuals who take up the cause are unaware of their own hateful nature as they firmly believe they are on the right side while those who disagree are on the receiving end of their scorn. Many of them have so thoroughly deluded themselves that they don’t even realize that they are motivated by their own personal insecurities and the desire to assert dominance over other people (in other words, bullying under the guise of fighting against bigotry). If you have any doubts of their true nature, just watch this video.
  • Nearly all terrorist and resistance groups are composed of frustrated young men who have been disenfranchised by their respective societies and are looking for meaning and outlet for their masculine drives. It’s easy to label them as extremists who have been brainwashed, but the driving force behind their aggression remains their need to exert themselves as men. Whatever beliefs they may hold are covers for the animalistic, tribal instincts they possess.

As you can see, it is just the few basic primal drives that draws people to these beliefs; all other facts and details in the form of words are embellishments that serve to reinforce the beliefs—they are not the driving force itself. (It is highly doubtful that most of the adherents of communism have even read the mammoth of Marx’s verbal tirade that is Das Kapital). Also note that none of these political ideologies exist for moral purposes; it is all about power struggle. People want their adventure, people want to belong, and people want to exert their power.

This irrationality isn’t something that is solely witnessed in forceful ideologies, they exist in the subtle democratic processes as well. If you look at people’s voting patterns, without ideological considerations, most will vote in a way that best serves their material interests. If one system maintains the wealth of the rich, the rich will advocate for that system and call on the virtues of meritocracy. If the poor sees the system as being rigged that unfairly benefits only those at the top, they will advocate for fairness and even egalitarianism. All the intellectual debates regarding which policy is right or wrong are nothing but different class of people arguing for their own self-interests based on the beliefs about their own capability within the system. These so-called left-wing and right-wing, or conservatives and liberals don’t even realize that their bickering are nothing but differences in their subconscious personalities. Again, the irrational drive for life will trump any rational reality of the world.

In the world of politics it is the impression that matters, not the details. A charismatic politician with good looks will always be favoured regardless of his views. A man who demonstrates dominance and authenticity will always be preferred as a leader. And an ideology that best inspires the desires within the masses will always come out victorious. Those who recognize this fact and are in touch with the irrational spirit within all individuals—even that of their enemies—will emerge as the gods of the future world as our current system of consumerist opulence starts to crumble.

3 thoughts on “The Irrational Spirit Behind All Ideologies

  1. Great post. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot recently.

    “It is just the few basic primal drives that draws people to these beliefs; all other facts and details in the form of words are embellishments that serve to reinforce the beliefs—they are not the driving force itself.”

    Right – this explains why the masses are attracted to various ideologies. Though, there’s also a top-down component that I think is worth mentioning. Regardless of the flowery language, ideologies function as propaganda that conceals the “farming” techniques being used to funnel labor and surplus resources from the masses to the governing class.

    Certain “-isms” are better suited for different nationalities, but at the end of the day all societies adhere to the same pyramid-shaped social structure. Communism, Socialism, and even Capitalism are just different “management strategies” employed by the centralized group called the government. The government, of course, maintains a monopoly on most resources (and even more importantly) on the use of force in a given area. The German sociologist Max Weber wrote a famous essay about this topic (perhaps you’ve read it), and Obama actually has stated this point verbatim in interviews before.

    Any ways, isn’t it ironic that in Maoist China, the Soviet Union, and North Korea the ruling class still lived in walled compounds in immense luxury. Mao would literally give speeches about the brotherhood of all Chinese workers and then walk back to the Zhongnanhai, a walled Imperial palace built by the emperors of old.

    Sorry for the rant, but this was a very good post that got me thinking. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Religion is a traditional whipping boy everywhere these days. Among lefties. libertarians, millennials, just about anyone who isn’t a fundamentalist of some sort or another. For me it was a long difficult journey, intensely personal, but I’m glad I made it. I won’t go into too much detail here, it would end up being thousands of words. To me the endless circle of life is as obvious as the sun rising and setting. As for good and evil I think the eastern faiths do a much better job of putting all that into perspective. So many people just can’t reconcile the inherent injustice that is life with a supposedly loving God. The “bearded man in the sky” that they ridicule believers with. I think in so many respects ancient societies were much more in touch with the spiritual aspects of being human. That and the fact that the further away our existence is from the land the more jaded and cynical we become. Now I’m starting to wander but will just close with my belief that there is much more to existence than this difficult, brief and sometimes miserable life that people lead.

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