The difference between ideology and political ideology

I have been confused in recent years about this whole issue of ideology. You see, I studied under some fairly ideologically driven professors in university – of the right wing variety – and for me it was absolutely clear where they stood on issues. It didn’t matter the issue. If the question was about personal relationships, it would be answered through a specific lense that viewed the world in a specific way.

That, rightly or wrongly, is ideology. It’s the belief that the world operates in a certain way and if we looked at the world and interpreted things through this ‘lense’ things would operate much better.

For example, my professors believed that poverty was actually nurtured by government.

Now, this blog is not about ideology and I was skeptical then and am skeptical now about any ideology that believes there is no place for collective action.

No, I am more interested in political ideology these days.

Take Brent Taylor – the Tory then CoR then Tory – now political commentator. He, one would have thought in the old days, would have been a staunch defender of the ‘right’. Now, he argues on and on about the need for more Equalization, more government, etc. He sounds very much like a Liberal commentator these days. Why? Maybe it’s because his party is now left of centre.

I have long been confused about Premier Lord and his government’s ideological positioning. He once described himself as ‘socially progressive’ and ‘fiscally conservative’. Well, after a 40% rise in government spending – on a declining population – there is very little evidence of ‘fiscal conservativism’. And his leading the charge for more Equalization – that can’t be considered overly ‘conservative’.

This extends to the media as well. Al Hogan, many people have described to me, is a ‘right wing zealot’. I have heard this from former journalists in his shop. But when defending the left wing actions of the current government, he is just as strident. Once again, it would seem that there is a difference between ideology and political ideology.

I realize that political realities dictate how a government must act. I know that PM Harper, for example, has to swallow hard when he does things that go against the grain for political purposes.

But why the media (i.e Al Hogan) and political commentators (i.e. Brent Taylor) should drop their ideological beliefs on an ad hoc basis to provide support for specific government action is hard to understand.

For better or worse, I prefer ideological consistency among non-politicians – because at least what you see is what you get – and for the pols, I understand ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Check out Al Hogan’s We Say today. It is another one of those editorials that literally looks like it was penned in the Premier’s Office. I’m not kidding. Someday, someone is going to spill the beans on the cozy little relationship between the PO and Al Hogan. Someday.

Here’s a quote:

Premier Bernard Lord has made no secret of the fact he thinks fixed elections every four years are a desirable thing and he has, in the spirit of that belief, actually stated well in advance that he intends to go to the polls next fall when four years for his government are up. Meanwhile, he intends to focus on the business of the province, including a pending package on electoral reform that is likely to establish fixed election dates.

Now, if you are the editor of an unbiased newspaper and you are writing about the gridlock in the Legislature, would you slip in the ‘he intends to focus on the business of the province’ into your editorial?

I mean it. This was either penned in Fredericton or all but penned in Fredericton.

One day, we’ll know…

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0 Responses to The difference between ideology and political ideology

  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s not that these people are ‘right’ or ‘left’, most commentators were saying ‘I’m fiscally conservative’ and then in the next breath saying ‘government needs to spend more money on ports and infrastructure’. Huh?

    Yet what if they aren’t ‘right’ or ‘left’ at all? What if guys like Hogan are just writing what their owners want to see. Of course Irvings don’t want to see government spending-unless its going to them.

    There is no term for that, it isn’t ‘right’ or ‘left’, those are vague general terms introduced for people to argue semantics forever. AIMS is not ‘market oriented’ (you can read my articles now at http://www.stopatlantica.com) it simply wants what is best for those who provide its funding. If so, it wouldn’t be setting up a protectionist market on the eastern seaboard.

    Actually, I would LOVE to hear Irvings talk on privatization of the energy sector. AIMS stated three years ago that paying “actual costs” for energy was a top priority, yet when rates went up some Irvings and all the other resource boys were having press conferences and freaking out.

    They could argue that competition would keep prices lower, unfortunately, there is little evidence of that.

    So when your looking out for your boss’s best interests, its not really ‘ideology’, when Mr.Smithers will do whatever Mr. Burns wants on the Simpsons, you don’t call that ‘right’ or ‘left’. Just sycophantic. Again, remember those cattle barons out west who were so proud of selling out to the states and running their industry without government interference-until the mad cow fiasco, and suddenly these ‘right wing free marketers’ were lined up in Ottawa, cap in hand.

    In other words, companies want to make the profit, they just don’t want to take the risks. That’s why they want government to build rail lines and build Halifax into a superport (even though ‘the market’ has said it wasn’t interested). Those about my age may remember “Bloom County”, and they had one where Opus was trying to be a farmer: “Keep those flat footed goombahs from Washington out of my hair”, and right after that “Hurry up with my federal bail out cheque”

    THATS the real ideology that’s been fostered, and to be blunt, the idea that ‘foreign direct investment’ is the saviour is similar to that ideology. If a private company IS going to set up in NB, its either because of massive government funds, like Nackawic, a government that makes unionization very difficult, which helps Molson (although they had to be given lots of cash too), or increasingly, it would be tied to an educated (and hopefully cheap) workforce-so for a place like RIM.

    However, I’d agree that government DOES foster poverty, that is pretty well established. McKenna could have had those on EI and welfare having to learn a trade, computer programming, learning about foreign markets, etc., instead he had them cutting brush at the side of the road. NB, like most places, spends a MASSIVE amount of money on the welfare system, unfortunately, like the department of native affairs, that money doesn’t trickle down to the people its supposed to support. It just provides high paying wages to more bureaucrats.

    If you don’t believe me, just read Charles Leblanc’s blog for a week. You aren’t going to get off welfare if you have only ten dollars in your pocket and have to ‘prove’ your desire to six bureaucrats in order to get educational funding.

    In reality, the only ‘lens’ people see the world through is their eyes.

  2. David Campbell says:

    Kudos on the spelling gaff. I checked:

    Although the variant spelling “lense” is listed in some dictionaries, the standard spelling for those little disks that focus light is “lens.”

    And your post was instructive as well. Maybe in an academic setting, where I was exposed to a purist form of ideology, there is less influence than in a corporate or media setting – like Mr. Hogan finds himself.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So the belief that poverty is not nurtured by some government actions is *not* ideology?

    You are fair-minded while people believe different things are ideologues??

  4. Anonymous says:

    I wasn’t calling anybody anything, not ‘fair minded’ or ‘ideologues’. People are free to believe and say what they want. I didn’t say I wasn’t an ideologue, and I didn’t say I was ‘fair minded’ or that those who agree with me are the same. Clearly it just depends how you define the terms. You can call anybody who states an opinion an ‘ideologue’ it seems. So perhaps the only people who aren’t are the ones who check off ‘no opinion’ on the forms.

    However, for the welfare, just go check out the library and check out the government website and look at how few resources those on welfare have.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Everyone has a worldview that they willingly or unwillingly live by. It is impossible to be completely unbiased by your view of a situation. However, you can be understanding and open to opposing views.

    I would say that a lack of openess and understanding are the biggest problems with most political parties today and why people are so disengaged.

    Parties have made it seem like belonging to a political entity as needing to follow a party’s ideology to the code. It isn’t. Just watch the upcoming Liberal leadership to see healthy debate. Or look at the Martin leadership campaign to see what can happen when debate is surpressed. The result.. No new ideas, untested policy and voter apethy.

    The foundation of democracy is to have a forum in which ideas can be debated and discussed within a respectable forum.

    I beleive David’s point is that the T&T doesn’t respect oposing views of local and national issue. Jack Welch, the former GE CEO, once said that he never liked an idea that didn’t have an opposing view to it. My view is that opposing views are needed to weed out the inperfections of the idea so that all parties involved can feel as if they’re voice was heard.

    There is nothing wrong with positive conflict and it should be encouraged.

    Here’s an example: Why aren’t we studying the feasibility of amalgamation for Moncton-Dieppe-Riverview. What gains? What losses?

  6. David Campbell says:

    You nailed it. I don’t think it is good in a democracy for the media (in this case the main English language newspaper for much of New Brunswick) to never criticize the Premier – and I mean never. I have read that rag almost every day for years and I literally can’t remember an editorial where the Premier was questioned – ever. I can remember many times when he was rabidly defended – the ‘racial’ incident in the Leg, the by-election loss in SJ, the current empasse in the Leg, but never criticized to the point of absurdity. Even when he is slightly critical of ‘the government’ he will never make mention of the Premier or his office. Never. Even the National Post is chiding PM Harper over the current media rift.

    And when he is forced to have a journalist write a story that is critical of the Premier (in most cases this will be a day or two after the story is reported and rereported on the CBC or in the Telegraph-Journal), he will serve up a We Say saying that the opponents of the Premier are just ‘petty’ and ‘self-serving’.

    To be honest, the lack of any critique at all of the Premier and his strategies in the local paper was one of the things that started to raise my suspicion and led in many ways to the creation of this blog. I kept asking myself where are the stories about population decline? Where are the stories about 14 years of net out-migration? Where are the stories about Prosperity Plan targets not being hit? Where are the stories about increasing dependency on Federal Transfers? Where are the stories about the 8% decline in small businesses since the Tories came to power? Where are the stories about the $800 million decline in exports across the board (after you remove the one Irving Refinery)? They were no where to be seen.

    We need to have a real debate about the future of this province. The public is not served by the media serving up pablum to the readers and – coming back to my original point – even ideologues like Brent Taylor cowing to some political line because he feels he needs to. Brent Taylor should represent the ‘right’ whatever that is and not the ‘Tories’ whatever they are. And if those two things don’t agree, he should side on the ‘right’ and gently chide his party.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’ve always been impressed with the Quakers and the Mohawks. At general meetings, the process is geared toward consensus. It is geared toward coming to a solution that everyone can live with.

    In our political arena, we set one side against another and people ‘pick teams’. In the end, because of how legislation is written, few people are happy-and often those few are the wealthiest.

    From the comments about the T&T all that can be concluded is that Charles Leblanc is quite right to be proclaiming “wheres the senate study on media monopoly?” Perhaps a few others should join in that chorus.

    Pretty much what has been stated is that the T&T is a propaganda rag. That it isn’t a ‘newspaper’ at all. I tend to agree, although I don’t read it that much. In any other place but Canada such an event would have action, not ignorance. In ONE village of 6000 in Switzerland they have 16 different newspapers! That doens’t include the national papers or even regional ones. If anybody is wondering how New Brunswick stays at the bottom-I think we have our answer.