THE END OF IDEOLOGY
I used to hate globalisation and all it repersented: the rich getting richer, squeezing out the small and exploiting the weak, while spreading their homogeneity across the globe. Cultures under constant threat of corruption and extinction while people everywhere get suckered into the McCoca-Sony-Nike hegemony.
Now I see it differently. That all may be true, but it is only a phase. Now I see globalisation as potentially bringing us the end of ideology, and this is much more comforting to me.
Ideology, for me, is the home of dogma; and dogma, for me, is a major source of suffering. It is attachment to an idea, to a belief, and attachment is the cause of suffering – at least according to the Buddha and many so-called enlightened beings both before and after him. Of course, this statement would also be dogmatic if not supported by personal experience, so take it for what it’s worth.
To me, there seems to be five primary ideologies that are responsible for the majority of conflict in this world: nationhood, religion, ethnocentrism, politics and economics. All of these are based on ideas; none has a single iota of material evidence supporting its existence in reality. Plenty of material things have been built in their name, but the ideas came before their idols. And each ideology has proponents who are either prepared to fight to the death, or send other people off to do the same, all in the name of defending what are ultimately unsubstantiable ideas. Incredible, isn’t it?
The beauty of globalisation is that it completely overrides the first four ideologies, leaving only economics remaining. The seemingly irresistible force of international capitalism crosses borders as though they’re not even there (which, in reality, they aren’t); it replaces religion with worship of the almighty dollar; it crosses cultures in waves of commercial indifference; and buys politicians and political systems like it would any other commodity.
And that therefore leaves economics: a theory so elusive in its substance that none of its ‘experts’ are ever prepared to make a definitive statement. At least religion has its doomsday cults, holy books and prophets; nations have borders; cultures have their colors and customs; and politics has its sides. Economics is completely amorphous.
And its God, capitalism, is one of the most unsustainable ideologies in existence. It is totally dependent on growth; and continuous, endless growth is impossible in a closed system such as our planet. Of course, if you ask any economist, they will give your counter-arguments galore to this, just like any priest will ‘prove’ to you that their religion is the ‘right’ one; as any politician manages to defend the most improbable policy; like a Klansman preaches racial supremacy; or the people of any nation unquestioningly salute its flag and sing its anthem. People will always defend what they believe in, and the more untenable the belief, the more vehement their arguments and aggressive their stance. Show me any aggressor and I’ll show you an unsupportable argument.
Nobody likes to be wrong, especially if they’ve spent a lifetime believing they were right, and economists have an entire international system to defend – one that persecutes its disbelievers with names like ‘communist’ and holds most of the world to ransom with unconscionable debts and enforced poverty. Supporting this must be hard work, so they need to be truly invested in their ideological beliefs, no matter how irrational they may be.
Still, one day, once it has consumed everyone and everything and there is nowhere left for it to go, capitalism must collapse. And when that happens, the world will be a very different place. If capitalism has done its job, we will have stopped fighting over gods and policies and interpersonal differences and borders, and will only be concerning ourselves with supply and demand – a little like Iraq today. And once we no longer have that to fight over either, who knows? Maybe there will be nothing left to believe.
For the first time in human history, there is no more land to discover and conquer. For the first time ever, communications make it possible to bring the world together in an instant. Europe is dismantling its borders and the world is paying attention. We are closer to the concept of ‘one world’ than we have ever been. Globalization is simply one more tool at our disposal to help us make it possible. The means may appear questionable, but the intent is the same as Bob Marley’s plea.
And yes, ‘one world’ is just another idea. But it’s hard to fight when you don’t have an enemy.