Ideological purity

Ideological purity

I recently appreciated this Facecrook comment on the topic, copied below for those not on the crooked media platform:

“Purity, as an idea, as a practice, is inherently violent. Nature isn’t pure. Beings are born amid blood and piss and shit, and when we die, our bodies rot and feed the lives of countless souls. Dirt is dirty and its what we’re born from and what we become. Pick up a handful of dirt and you are holding, literally, your ancestors, from the microscopic organisms of long gone oceans to the scattered bodies of vanished trees. Forests grow from dirt. Deserts are pure. Wastelands of concrete are pure…and dead.

“As human beings we have been too long enamored of the idea that we can ‘clean things up.’ We will rid our fields of pests and in doing so we have almost obliterated the pollinators, the bringers of life, from our earth. We blast our bodies with antibiotics to get rid of disease and destroy the carefully tilled gardens of microbes in our bodies bringing us health and joy. We cast out the scapegoat, we judge who’s right and who’s wrong, we judge, we decide, we think we know.

“I am frightened by any ideologies of purity be they political or spiritual. Life’s a mess and it’s supposed to be.

“Go into an old-growth forest if you can find a patch of one anywhere near you and notice the disorder. The fallen trunks of trees, rotting and covered in moss. The weeds that have grown and died, grown and died to create a tiny patch of soil out of which a single flower may one day bloom.

“Human order is disorder. Human purity is death. Nature’s disarray is the only balm, the only thing that heals, the only thing that brings life.

“Don’t brag about your political purity or your ideological purity. Tell me you’re a mess. Tell me you are full of contradictions. Tell me you are alive.”

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Mark H

Living effectively does involve ‘mess.’ I see this comparison itself as something of a mess. How does it equip the ideologues to advance a meaningful agenda while sidestepping costly confusions and errors (types of undesirable and, one hopes, avoidable mess)?

Last edited 3 months ago by Mark H
Mark H

Ideological purity, like an overstretched metaphor, frays and strays, usually with undesirable effects for all concerned. The commenter sees a robust, biodiverse ecosystem as a metaphor for a healthy ideology. I can see some applicability of this comparison but also weaknesses. An ideology, like an ecosystem, benefits from accommodating the right amounts of the right sorts of diversity. By definition, an ideology is a form of social or political philosophy in which practical elements are as prominent as theoretical ones. It is a system of ideas that aspires both to explain the world and to change it. Like any entity,… Read more »

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