Pragmatic Humanism: The Great Mishmash of Ideology

Current political discourse is overrun by dogma and factionalism. To solve our political dilemmas, we need a broad ideology that seeks to improve human life through the most practical method available.

The slings and arrows of political ad hominems are hurled through digital vacuums and physical atmospheres at curious velocities. The present dance of political slurs goes 5...6...7...8 and pirouettes in the third pose of graceful vitriol. So-called fascists, centrists, radicals, liberals, socialists, neoliberals, imperialists, and cultural Marxists threaten to plague the discourse and society at every corner.

Getting labelled any of these terms is an instant red flag for some political grouping. For example, the further reaches of the left believe that Joe Biden is representative of the statist, neoliberal order that has ruled the US since the 1980s. Meanwhile, among the right, Joe Biden is an enabler of the woke, progressive leftist tradition that threatens to turn the US into some socialist dystopia. Accordingly, Joe Biden is often called a “neoliberal” and “radical leftist” by these respective groups.

Of all the problems to criticize, complaining about the state of political slurs in the discourse is pretentious and pedantic when compared to the more existential crises today’s leaders and populations face. Frankly, they always have been an easy way to shut down an opponent and will for the foreseeable future remain such. However, I still believe that their usage is reductive and instantly labels everything within the ideology that is being slurred as inherently bad. Slurs are the product of nearly all civil societies which have factions and can be exclusive. After all, a slur needs an “other” to slander.

Name-calling is not always bad. They can be used effectively to check those in power under a simple slogan which they cannot avoid. However, many on the left and right are too quick to discount and avoid all the ideas of conservatism, liberalism, traditionalism, socialism, and many other -isms simply because of the baggage associated with them. A central pillar of domestic politics identifies this tendency for individuals to create political slurs which must be avoided at all costs: ideology.

Individuals on social media and in real life interactions yell slurs at their most disliked politicians, pundits, and persons because they may find it instinctively gratifying and morally damning according to their ideology. However, despite the logical and unavoidable inclusion of ideology into everyone’s cognitive calculus, there are obvious flaws in any ideology that can corrupt any thinker if they rely too heavily on this central pillar in their thought process.

Ideology can misinterpret and misguide us if we base our ideas on unsound premises and information—garbage in, garbage out as computer scientists say. Additionally, ideology biases our worldview in a distorted light, making us interpret our world in specific ways which can be unhelpful and flawed. Moreover, the embrace of ideology, specifically its rigidity, promotes zero-sum politicking and seeks coercive methods to force their opponents to either join their side or face ostracization.