Does the movement need an ideology?


Richard Moore

Bcc: various colleagues

Companion essay:
    "The movement & its culture - an optimistic view"
    online at:'2205'

Forwarding invited to appropriate forums.



For me, writing is a process of discovery.  After putting
down the facts and circumstances, as I understand them, I
then try to see where they lead, and how they interact with
one another.  Quite often, the conclusions reached are quite
different than those that motivated me to write in the first
place.  Such was my experience in trying to write an essay
on this ideology question.

What motivated me to address this question were a number of
folks who have been stridently claiming that the movement
~must~ adopt some ideology, if it is to achieve unity and
effectiveness.  This concerned me, because ideologies (and
religions) tend to divide people into camps and factions. 
If the movement were to start espousing some ideology, that
would tend to alienate those who were already committed to
other religions and ideologies.  It seemed to me that the
strength of the movement comes from its ability to welcome
diverse constituencies, and its success in providing a space
where they can collaborate in a pragmatic way.

Richard Richardson is one of the pro-ideology folks.  He
summarized his position this way in a posting he sent out
earlier this month:
  > The anti-globalization movement cannot become a genuine
    revolutionary movement until it has a positive goal and
    ideology for humanity and other living beings, not only a
    negative one. Without such a widely accepted ideology that
    will guide a genuine...movement to replace capitalism with
    a pro-living beings socio-economic system, the present
    movement is bound to flounder and disintegrate into the
    multi-ideological factions that presently compose it, or
    else limp along as an impotent 'straw-person' opposition to
    corporate globalization.

Subsequent to that, Richardson has been sponsoring a thread on
the list <•••@••.•••> in which he
has been assembling a list of all known ideologies which can
be characterized as 'anti-corporate globalization'.  He is
seeking to synthesize a new ideology, in discussion with
others, that would have a universal appeal to all those who
want a livable and sustainable world.

I wrote about five pages, bringing in considerations of the
movement culture, and the nature of capitalism, etc., and
then began trying to put together an argument about why we
don't need an ideology, and how the movement can agree on
vision and strategy by other means.  But the argument wasn't
getting off the ground.  I started browsing back through old
cj postings in order to refresh my thinking, and I came to
the posting, "Empowering the movement: unity through

In the cartoon of my life, a big exclamation mark then
showed up in a bubble over my desk.  The next frame has the
bubble: "Harmonization as ideology?".  After that comes the
frame where I set aside the original essay and begin again. 
I pursued that in the form of a letter to Richardson (below).

As always, your ideas and questions are invited.

all the best,

BTW> I'd like to thank Linnea Carroll Meyer, who has put a
page on her site which features the cyberjournal site.  In
fact, her page would perhaps be a better home page than the
one we currently have!  You might want to check it out at
 Linnea has invited feedback, at

BTW-2> The first attempt at the essay was not wasted; it led
me to some new ideas which will make sense in our 'movement
strategy' thread.

Date: Fri, 25 May 2001 07:41
To: Richard Richardson <•••@••.•••>
From: "Richard K. Moore" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: more anti-corporate-globalization ideologies

5/24/2001, Richard Richardson [added rkm's submission to his list]:
    > 23. No single hegemonic ideology

Dear Richard,

In developing my essay on 'ideology', I was led to
conclusions I did not expect.  I have decided to change my
submission, above.

I now think the movement ~does~ need an ideology, and I've
got a heavyweight contender to put forward for that role - a
contender that I believe you might respond to favorably.

I was resisting the notion of ideology, because I could not
imagine there being any ideology that would be suitable to
such a diverse movement.  Any pre-existing ideology would
leave some people out, either because of their religion,
current ideology, personal prejudices, or whatever. 
Besides, what are the chances that any pre-existing ideology
would exactly match the requirements of our current
circumstances, circumstances which are unique historically
in many different ways?

I realize that you are thinking in terms of synthesizing a
new ideology, taking into account that diversity and our
special circumstances, but that doesn't make a lot of sense
to me.  Such a synthesis, I think, would be better called a
'platform', or 'manifesto', or 'program', rather than an
'ideology'.  An 'ideology' needs to have a core simplicity,
a central backbone inherent to itself that can be expressed
in a word or phrase, like 'socialism', 'capitalism',
'anarchism', 'republicanism', or whatever.  If it's a
hodge-podge of ideas, then its something other than an

But then the penny dropped.  I remembered some ideas that
had drifted out of my mind, due to my recent pre-occupation
with Daniel Quinn's ideas (Story of B), and with what I had
been learning about the movement and its culture.  The
earlier ideas drifted back in, and they are about something
I call 'harmonization'.

I'd like to put forward 'harmonization' as a candidate
ideology - an overarching ideology for the new age.  Here's
how I would define it:

    Harmonization (Brit.: Harmonisation).  n., 1. A process of
    problem solving which seeks to find a best overall solution,
    taking into account the interests and values of all
    concerned parties.  (Related: consensus, pragmatism;
    contrasting: factionalism, party politics.)  2. An ideology
    professing that society needs to be in harmony with nature,
    man in harmony with society, and different societies in
    harmony with one another. (Related: sustainability,
    collaboration; contrasting: exploitation, competition.)   3.
    An attitude toward the beliefs of others, which goes beyond
    tolerance, including as well respect and understanding.
    (Related: 'brotherhood of man'; contrasting: bigotry.)

Now let's consider your ideology survey, from the
perspective of harmonization.  Those ideologies represent
summaries of the beliefs and values of various groups.  The
problem of coming up with principles and values that would
be acceptable to all of those groups is precisely what
harmonization (the process) is all about.  Presumably, we
could make a list, for each ideology, of its primary values
and principles.  We could then seek to make another list,
which does not conflict with any of the ideologies, and
which incorporates as many values and principles as
possible.  The result, I continue to suggest, would not
itself be an ideology, but would be a 'manifesto' or
'platform' that all the groups could support while still
retaining their separate ideologies.

Note also that it is possible for someone to hold more than
one ideology / religion at the same time, if they are in
different domains.  For example, one can be a Muslim and
capitalist, a Christian and an anarchist, a pagan and a
socialist, and many other combinations.  I suggest that
everyone can subscribe to harmonization (the ideology)
without sacrificing any of their existing values or beliefs,
other than those of hatred, bigotry, and intolerance.

Furthermore, harmonization (the process) has already been
guiding the movement's activities, even though it has not
been recognized as such.   Movement decision making has been
by consensus (harmonizing the agendas of a single gathering)
and decentralized networking (harmonizing the outcomes of
individual gatherings).  Harmonization (the ideology) has
been at the heart of movement demands for sustainability,
democracy, and an end to corporate rule.  Harmonization (the
attitude) has enabled diverse groups (such as union
activists and environmentalists) to collaborate effectively.

I hope these ideas are useful to your current endeavor.

best regards,