Why Ideology is Bad

by Krishna on March 30, 2009

Daniel Larison writes: (it is in a different context, but relevant nevertheless)

ideology will not reliably predict consequences of events, but it will condition the mind to force every event into the mold provided by the ideology. If a person approaches the world with an ideological frame of mind, whatever events dominate the historical memory of his fellow ideologues are perceived as constantly recurring again and again as part of a progressive narrative of successive triumphs, each one more important than the last. […]

This is one reason why so many ideologues express great confidence that History will judge their endeavors to have been worthwhile and why they always avoid accountability for the consequences of their own policies and actions: their grasp of historical contingency is poor, and their knowledge of history is usually limited to a narrow range of approved opinions about major events.

This reminded me about how fervent the arguments the programming community are about everything from development methodologies to choice of language and tools. If a project succeeds, it is because of the choice made by the ideologue. If a project fails, it is in spite of the choice. There must always be some other reason such as incorrect execution. The ideologue never admits that failure is a result of the choices he made.

Some of this could be attributed to mercenary intentions. After all, the CMMi and Agile project management space is filled with consultants, book writers and trainers all looking to profit. But there are true believers who simply cannot conceive that there could be a different way. Facts and events do not dictate their beliefs, instead the former is twisted to avoid changing the latter.

This is, of course, a common and human phenomenon. The world wouldn’t be in the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression if many of the bankers and investors had stopped to examine their assumptions. But just like them, anyone who keeps imposing their version of reality on events will encounter problems and wonder what in the world went wrong.

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