“Science not Ideology” placard at Melbourne climate march CC John Englart Flickr
“Science not Ideology” placard at Melbourne climate march CC BY-SA 2.0 John Englart @ Flickr

This is another long-form piece that will be published in sections for ease of reading and writing both. I have already trailed some of the ideas in this essay in previous pieces such as Beyond left populism and Corbynism: A political postmortem.

Introduction: Ideology: why bother?

Ideology is a relatively new word that was coined in the throes of the French revolution and has refused to go away since, despite being persistently used with wildly contradictory meanings. Aside from the conflicting meanings associated with the word, about the one thing that most users agree on is that it has some intrinsic relation, no matter how poorly understood, with social change — although whether primarily as an obstacle or an enabler is hotly disputed. It is this combination of factors — association with social change, contradictory meanings yet persistent resistance to replacement by more unambiguous terms — which demands our attention. By “our” attention, I mean anybody interested in the pragmatics of social change driven by intentional practice. So an important part of our investigation must be to clarify the relation between ideology and practice and, of course, power.

Ideology: a history of confusion part 1: Origins

Beyond confusion: A dual process model, part 1

A history of confusion part 2: Marxism and Ideology

A dual process model of ideology, part 2

Interlude: Narrowing the scope

Ideology and protagonism

Liberalism and centrism

Ideology and politics

Fascism and the three-way fight

Standpoint and transversality

The strategy of counterpower

A manifesto for the antagonist left


Anarchism is, for us, an ideology; this being a set of ideas, motivations, aspirations, values, a structure or system of concepts that has a direct connection with action — that which we call political practice. Ideology requires the formulation of final objectives (long term, future perspectives), the interpretation of the reality in which we live and a more or less approximate prognosis about the transformation of this reality. From this analysis ideology is not a set of abstract values and ideas, dissociated from practice with a purely reflective character, but rather a system of concepts that exist in the way in which it is conceived together with practice and returns to it. Thus, ideology requires voluntary and conscious action with the objective of imprinting the desire for social transformation on society.

“Social Anarchism and Organisation”, Anarchist Federation of Rio de Janeiro (Federação Anarquista do Rio de Janeiro — FARJ), Brazil, 2008.