It is the bathos, the theory, the art, the skill of diving andnsinking in government. It was taught in the school of folly;nbut alas! Franklin, Turgot, Rochefoucauld, and Condorcet,nunder Tom Paine, were the great masters of that academy!”nAs word and as concept, ideology has been suspect innAmerica and Britain ever since John Adams’ time—or atnleast until very recentiy, when a good deal of discussion hasnbeen stirred up. Among books published on this subjectnhave been Raymond Aron’s The Opium of the Intellectualsn(1957), Thomas Molnar’s Utopia, the Perennial Heresyn(1967), Lewis Feuer’s Ideology and the Ideologists (1975),nHans Earth’s Truth and Ideology (1976; originally publishednin Switzerland, 1945), and Kenneth Minogue’s AliennPowers: The Pure Theory of Ideology (1985); also chapters bynEric Voegelin, Gerhart Niemeyer, this present writer, andnothers; also several collections of essays on this theme bynvarious hands. Yet such works appear to have made smallnimpression upon either the intellectuals (as they would stylenthemselves) who have gone over to ideology, or upon thenyoung political activists of various persuasions in the UnitednStates.nSo let us briefly consider the origin and development ofnthe concept “ideology,” with an eye to diminishing thenwidespread incertitude about its signification. The word hasnpassed through vicissitudes.nThe word “ideology” emerges in Napoleonic times.nDestutt de Tracy, the author of Les elements d’ideologic (fivenvolumes, 1801-15) was an abstract intellectual of the sortnsince grown familiar on the Left Bank, the favorite haunt ofnall budding ideologues, among them in recent decades thenfamous liberator of Democratic Kampuchea, Pol Pot. Tracynand his disciples intended a widespread reform of education,nto be founded upon a science of ideas; they drewnheavily upon the psychology of Condillac and more remotelynupon that of John Locke. Rejecting religion andnmetaphysics, these original ideologues believe somewhatnnaively in a system of natural laws—a world away fromnCiceronian or Thomistie natural law, one hastens tonadd—that could be discovered; and which, if conformednto, could become the foundation of universal harmony andncontentment. Doctrines of self-interest, economic productivity,nand personal liberty were bound up with thesennotions. Late-born children of the dying Enlightenment,nthe ideologues assumed that systematized knowledge derivednfrom sensation could perfect society through ethicalnand educational methods and by well-organized politicalndirection.nSuch is the origin of the word ideology, and in somendegree of the present understanding of the concept. Inngeneral, ideologues assume that the world can be governed,nand perhaps transformed, by the “scientific” application ofncertain ideas to public and private life. (But those beneficentnideas must not be religious or metaphysical concepts.)nIdeologues generally are enemies of religion, tradition,ncustom, convention, old constitutions; they denounce prejudicenand prescription. (This is why, as H. Stuart Hughesnwrote early in the 40’s, “Conservatism is the negation ofnideology.”)nBut the concept of ideology was altered considerablynabout the middle of the 19th century by Karl Marx and hisnschool. Ideas are nothing better than the expressions of classninterests, as related to economic production, Marx declared.nIdeology, the alleged science of ideas, thus becomesna systematic apology for the claims of a class—nothingnmore.nOr, to put this argument in Marx’s own blunt andnmalicious terms, what has been called political philosophynis merely a mask for the economic self-seeking of oppressors.nRuling ideas and norms constitute a delusive masknupon the face of the dominant class, shown to the exploitedn”as a standard of conduct, partiy to varnish, partiy tonprovide moral support for, domination.” (Marx’s words tonEngels.)nYet the exploited, too, Marx says, develop systems ofnideas to advance their revolutionary aims. So what we callnMarxism is an ideology intended to achieve revolution, thentriumph of the proletariat, and eventually communism. Tonthe consistent Marxist, ideas have no value in themselves:nthey are worthwhile, as is all art, only as a means to achievenequality of condition and economic satisfaction. The Marxistnderides the ideologies of other persuasions, but builds hisnown ideology with patient cunning.nAlthough the most powerful of ideologies today, Marxismnis by no means total master of the field. We hear aboutnus the clamors of at least a score of passionate ideologies:nvarious forms of nationalism, negritude, feminism, fascismn(a quasi-ideology, never fully fleshed out in Italy), Nazismn(an ideology in embryo, Hannah Arendt believed), syndicalism,nanarchism, social democracy, and Lord knows whatnall. Doubtless yet new forms of ideology will be concoctednin the 21st century,nProfessor Minogue, in the most recent book aboutnideology, uses the word “to denote any doctrine whichnpresents the hidden and saving truth about the evils of thenworld in the form of social analysis. It is a feature of all suchndoctrines to incorporate a general theory of the mistakes ofneverybody else.” That “hidden and saving truth” is ancomplex of contrived falsifying “myths” about society,ndisguised as history. (Raymond Aron analyzes the threenmyths that have seduced French intellectuals: the myths ofnthe Left, of the Revolution, of the Proletariat.)nIdeologues of all brands, from the beginning of the 19thncentury to the present, promise liberation from presentndominations and powers, from present superstitions andnprejudices. But when ideologues have triumphed, theynhave established new despotisms or squalid oligarchies. Onenthinks of the lines of Robert Frost:nThey say the truth will set you free;nMy truth will bind you slave to me.nIn succinct definition, since the Second World War thenword “ideology” usually has signified a dogmatic politicalntheory which endeavors to substitute secular goals andndoctrines for religious goals and doctrines; and whichnpromises to overthrow present dominations so that thenoppressed may be liberated. Ideology’s promises are whatnJ.L. Talmon calls “political messianism.” The ideologuenpromises salvation in this world, hotiy declaring that there isnno other realm of being. This transformation of reality, tonoccur in time, is to be achieved through the destruction ofnexisting institutions, initially through severe violence.n”Genuine ideologists are intensely theoretical,” MinoguennnAPRIL 1986 /19n