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BELL, Daniel

The End of Ideology


The end of ideology is not – should not be – the end of utopia as well. If anything, one can begin anew the discussion of utopia only by being aware of the trap of ideology. The point is that ideologists are “terrible simplifiers.” Ideology makes it unnecessary for people to confront individual issues on their individual merits. One simply turns to the ideological vending machine, and out comes the prepared formulae. And when these beliefs are suffused by apocalyptic fervor, ideas become weapons, and with dreadful results.

There is now, more than ever, some need for utopia, in the sense that men need – as they have always needed – some vision of their potential, some manner of fusing passion with intelligence. Yet the ladder tot he City of Heaven can no longer be a “faith ladder” but an empirical one: a utopia has to specify where one wants to go , how to get there, the costs of the enterprise, and some realization of, and justification for, the determination of who is to pay.