The End of Isms (Part 3): How ISMs Drive People Apart

In the last installment, we talked about ways in which ideology, or camp-thinking, has disastrous personal effects on your mind and your life, whether adopted consciously or unwittingly through indoctrination. We talked about how isms:

  • prevent you from seeking (or even seeing) the truth (since the decision to view the world through a filter, by definition, means cutting off your search for the truth at a certain point)
  • reverse cause and effect by preventing you from considering what you honestly believe in a given situation (“That might be true… but I’m too much of an x-ist to think so!”)
  • cause you to confuse generalization with reality (since no two people agree top to bottom on everything, even within a camp of thought)
  • confuse rather than clarify (since isms are really just names for identity groups, the content of which is not agreed on, hence require lengthy explanations to make oneself clear)
  • prevent you from thinking too hard about their central ideas (since to do so would be to challenge, or attack, your own chosen identity)

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The End of Isms (Part Two): What ISMs Do To Your Mind

To summarize Part One, we talked about how ideologies, or “isms”:

  • masquerade as ideas or beliefs, but are actually a mental technique–a way of directing your mind such that identifying with a camp or label takes precedence over your perception of the world (which we called “Camp Thinking”)
  • despite what we are taught to believe, are not necessary to engage in the act of thinking (since people can, with enough effort and time, step back from their identities and alter them, as history and introspection shows)
  • are a positive hindrance to enlightenment (since, by definition, they constitute the decision to constrain oneself to a narrow perception of the world)
  • consist mainly of stories, or fictions, about who we are supposed to be (our roles) and who we are supposed to hate (i.e., Us and Them thinking)
  • are restricted not just to politics, but also religion, nationalism, racism, language groups, science, nutritional philosophy, gangs, etc. (Any time you identify yourself with a group (Us), and distinguish yourself from non-members (Them))

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The End of Isms (Part One)


Cartman: Wait… Isn’t everybody at war over atheism?
Shvek: Atheism? No. We’ve learned to get rid of all the isms in our time.
Medic: Yes. Long ago we realized isms are great for those who are rational, but in the hands of irrational people, isms always lead to violence.
Cartman: So there is no war now in the future.
Blavius: Of course there’s war! The stupid French-Chinese think they have a right to Hawaii.
All: Yeah!!
-South Park, Episode 10.13: Go God Go XII

I sure thought that put a nail in it. I cheered at the TV and went happily to bed thinking that Matt and Trey had struck at the heart of human idiocy and we would wake up to a new and wiser world.

Alas, apparently no one watches South Park.

Or if they do, they don’t understand it.

Isms, you see, continued right on the next morning. Sorry Matt and Trey, you tried. As powerful a force for change as Cartman is, isms have been around a lot longer.

So long, in fact, that the modern world is drowning in its own philosophies.

It is choking to death on ideology.

Thinking people intuitively know this. They cringe as they hear politicians speak of “sides” Continue reading The End of Isms (Part One)

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