Political ideologies are systems of thought that we use to orient ourselves politically in “mass society.” They aren’t very old, actually, as they date from the 1600s at the earliest. Ideologies perform the vital function of allowing many different people in a democracy to agree on a few key concepts, allowing them to vote in elections and support particular politicians and parties. There are, broadly speaking, three ideologies:
- liberalism – the first ideology, which emerged in the UK in the 17th and 18th centuries
- conservatism – the most amorphous ideology which emerged as a counter to liberalism but is best defined contextually in relation to the other two ideologies
- socialism – originally a hybrid of liberal and conservative views.
Though we live in a world where these three ideologies have mutated greatly and would be, in some cases, unrecognizable to their earliest supporters, we still all adhere to these traditions today (again, broadly speaking). And that’s a problem.
This is what White America thinks:
Black Americans deserve to be shot by police officers. Black Americans deserve this because
- Black Americans are dumb: whether because of genetics or because of a long history of social problems, or both; black Americans do things regular Americans never do, like getting angry with police when the police rightfully stop them or ask them questions, or like reaching into their pockets when they’re being interrogated. I mean, who does that? If a cop has a gun on you, don’t reach for something!
- Black Americans should know better: black Americans watch the same news I do and yet they keep getting themselves into these positions and making stupid decisions. I mean, why can’t they avoid these situations all together?
- Black Americans are rightly suspected by the police more than other Americans as they have a long history of causing trouble in the United States; think of all the riots that have occurred throughout the years. How many of those were predominantly black?
- Black Americans make everything about race when it doesn’t have to be, so they are creating their own circumstances here. If black Americans didn’t make such a big deal about of race, cops wouldn’t be more alert to black Americans. If black Americans didn’t protest, police wouldn’t have to put on riot gear.
- Black Americans just don’t know how to behave properly: if black Americans had assimilated and became true Americans, this problem wouldn’t exist. It’s because black Americans don’t really know what it’s like to be American that there’s this problem.
- Black Americans are inferior: I mean, don’t we have centuries of history to prove that?
Black Americans deserve what they get. If they’re going to behave this way, they should expect to be shot by police. Don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just telling the truth.
It feels like we’ve reached peak conspiracy, at least online. It appears that people will believe anything. Birthers. Chemtrails. The Illuminati. The flat earth theory is somehow back in vogue for chrissake. Some of this is just the internet: it gives public voices to previously private beliefs and acts as an echo chamber of those beliefs. But it feels as though, in spite of most of us having more access to more information than at any other time in history, people are more credulous than ever. Everywhere there are people claiming they believe in something demonstrably false. And not just a few people. They believe with every ounce in their body. They believe so strongly they denigrate those who do not believe the same things. And they don’t just believe, they evangelize. What the hell?