What Is Different about a War of Ideologies

ideology_warWhat the United States and its allies fought in Vietnam was not a country or a people, but rather an ideology—namely, Communism. What the United States and its allies are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan is not a country or a people, but rather an ideology—namely, religionism (see the definition of religionism here).

Think of ideology as an infestation or a contamination. The stomach, the brain, and the heart (see the meaning of these metonymies here) cease to function as independent, sovereign areas—where the brain seeks liberty and follows natural laws and the laws of logic; the heart pursues happiness and feels real sentiments; and the stomach seeks life and thrives. When infested by an ideology, people’s stomach, brain, and heart come under the control of the ideology.

hears_mindsWhen you fight a war of ideology, you do not aim at destroying the people. The people are not the ideology. Rather, they are victims of the ideology. Thus, in Vietnam, for example, Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson spoke about winning “the hearts and minds” of the people.

The Economy Is an Ally

A great ally in the war against ideology is the economy. The pressures of the economy are felt in those sectors of society that are less prone to fall victims to ideology, such as children, women, older generations, artists, and writers. These sectors of society are likely to keep their stomach, brain, and heart free from, or less affected by, ideology—and thus they see reality for what it is. They protest, express opinions—at a risk.

future_we_wantThus, mothers with young children seek nourishment and comfort for their families and feel the pain of economic pressure. And the people begin to yearn for freedom and liberation. The leaders of the ideology stiffen their efforts at control and repression, which augments popular discontent.

In time, economic pressures mount, and people revolt. If people find support in the community of nations, liberation takes place.

The War of Ideologies

Side by side with economic pressure, another power that can help counteract the ravages of ideology is to present another world view. Therefore, beside military action, a war of ideology takes place as well. This is the ideological counterproposal. I regard the ideological counterproposal to be as important as the economic pressures and the military efforts.

fight_ideologyConsider, for example, the ideology of Communism. By using a Marxist world view, Communist leaders persuaded multitudes. In Colombia, for example, the Jesuit priest Camilo Torres Restrepo embraced Communism after studying sociology at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. Another example is the lawyer Fidel Castro and the physician Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who also embraced Communism.

Such individuals, and many others who accepted the ideology of Communism, may have done so with the best of intentions, as way to create a better world. They were convinced that Communism was a path toward improving the world. In order to convince them otherwise and show them that Communism was leading the world toward destruction, a different ideology was necessary. This is the reason for the war of ideologies.

Likewise, in dealing with religionism today, another ideology is necessary. But this is particularly difficult in this case, since we are dealing with a religion. It is not a matter of saying that one religion is wrong and must be abandoned in favor of another religion. Thus, it will not work to argue that Islam is wrong, and all the Muslism must  convert to Christianity. This strategy will fail, because we are dealing with faith, which is immune to logical argumentation and stiffens under persecution or logical analysis.

religious_extremismIt is for this reason that I have introduced the concept of religionism, separating two aspects in religion–namely, spirituality and religionism. And, just like in the case of racism in World War II, eventually the allied forces had to recognize that their own societies was infested with racism, the allied nations against religionism have to recognize the existence of religionism in their own societies.

To summarize, then, there are three elements for the victory over an ideological infestation—such as religionism, or religious extremism:

  1. Military action to contain terrorism;
  2. Time—in order to give the economy a chance to work its magic and convince the people affected by the ideology that their system does not work; and also
  3. A critique and counterproposal to the ideology that is infesting the people.

I do not believe it is the government’s job to present a critique and counterproposal to the infesting ideology. That is the job of the culture—that is, the heart of the nation, according to the Back-to-the-Body perspective. I have submitted the concept of religionism as a contribution to this critique and counterproposal to ideological extremism. I believe the concept of religionism—when contrasted with the concept of spirituality—can be quite convincing to people of good will.

I will conclude with a quote:

How powerless is the best-intentioned diligence of men against the omnipotence of undivided enthusiasm. (Friedrich Hölderlin. Hyperion iBooks.)

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA
June 22, 2014

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