Think of this as Volume 14, Number 22 of A-Clue.com, the online newsletter I've written since 1997. Enjoy.
Ideology, on the other hand, is bad. It's anti-democratic, because it doesn't allow for facts or disagreement. (You can buy this picture as a poster. I've made it small as an ad for the poster company.)
Ideology can destroy principles, turning them ugly, making them murderous. It doesn't matter what the principles are. The ideas of Karl Marx, that we should all treat one another with decency, that no one should be left behind, made perfect sense until they were turned into an ideology. The same was true of most 19th century German philosophy, until these principles were turned into ideologies. Then we had war, and mass murder, and genocide, and madness.
The same is true for American principles. Turn them into ideology -- turn any of them into ideology -- and they become destructive. Democracy seen as ideology led us to Vietnam and Iraq. Capitalism turned into ideology led to Bushism.
Every crisis in American history has caused people to seek new principles, and turned those principles into ideology. It's the hardening of principles, a natural political arteriosclerosis, which creates these ideologies. It also leads to their rejection. It's why we have such a circular political history, a generational metronome marking our progress.
The great political turns in American history have come when we recognized principle becoming ideology. We rejected it in an election, but the extreme believers in that ideology kept going, forward in their own minds, becoming caricatures of themselves. Fortunately, the American people have been wise enough over 200 years not to follow.
So who's Abbie Hoffman now?