Summay: 20th Gentle Thinkers Debate (Ideologies)

“What will be the dominant ideologies of the 21st Century?

The 20th Century revolved politically around competing interpretations of Capitalism, Communism, Socialism and Fascism. These are all ways to organize the lives of people on a large scale. Are real alternatives or new interpretations likely to emerge in the challenging years ahead? What might they look like?”

Note: This summary is based and interpreted from notes taken during the debate and may contain errors. If you wish to correct, be attributed to or contribute content, please contact me or post a comment.

More summaries can be found via the Summary Index.


  • Reading list and introductory essay by Thor May

  • Discussion around this topic can lead us to two different questions, “what WILL the ideologies be” and “what SHOULD the ideologies be”.

  • A key concept in this discussion is proportion, this is a game of numbers.

  • There Is No Alternative (TINA) is often raised in this kind of discussion.

  • Ideologies need a formal interpreter (ruling party) who provide people with a comfortable base for group acceptance.

  • Using the scientific method and peer review process towards evaluating ideologies may be a good strategy for weeding out the dangerous and badly thought out ones. It may also help stop one jumping onto an ideological bandwagon.

  • Accepting that uncertainty exists helps us keep an open mind and encourages us to keep improving our methodologies for seeking and making changes to the world.

  • Ideologies are ideally a personal development initiated and continued by the individual. Think of them as an intellectual buffet for you to pick, reject and redesign.

  • People need some outside influence to assist with creating and developing their ideologies. Nothing is created in a vacuum. That said, one shouldn’t allow another person to dictate or force an ideology on another.

  • We can’t hurt those who have created their own ideologies outside of the normal. These people may in fact be our heroes (depending on the ideologies they create).

  • One member of the group suggested that human nature is full of greed and rage which provides the source for ideologies past and present.

  • One member commented, that humans tend to become more tribalistic under stress.

  • Tribal disputes often originate from an individual rather than a problem shared by the group.

  • Another member of the group suggested that this may be a matter of human behaviour rather than nature.

  • We may struggle to maintain our “authentic self” when confronted with the beliefs of others.

  • Some of the group felt that despite our best intentions and efforts, there will also be a fanatical ideology (and people) to take the place of another.

  • Ideologies may arise from crisis and people under pressure may be attracted to radical ideas and charismatic people.

  • One of the problems with the 21st century is dealing with fundamentalists. Jihadists may be some of the most isolated in comparison with other ideologies.

  • One member asked if terrorism an ideology, as it is a way of enforcing your views and controlling others. Terrorists do have a way of getting support from the oppressed. E.g. The IRA is a terrorism group which has splinter groups who are active in the political system. By extension, military coups could be considered a form of terrorism (or ideology).

  • Ideologies can be economical in nature, like policies involving asylum seekers maybe be a defensive action to safeguard resources (like jobs and natural resources).

  • In the coming decades if climate change proceeds on cue with resource depletion, we may be likely to see a regression of all the progress we have made towards an inclusive, tolerant and progressive culture in the West.

  • Some of the domineering ideologies of the 21st century might be, materialism and environmentalism. Arguably corporatocracy [Wikipedia] is the current governing system of most of the world.

  • If climate change proceeds on cue, then perhaps ultimately environmentalism will come to be the majority ideology, simply because those who did not prepare did not survive, making environmentalism as an ideology win simply by a process of natural selection.

  • The ruling elite use ideologies and promote them for their own benefit. These groups may not necessarily believe in the ideologies despite their use of them. These people and fanatics may be the most dangerous to encounter.

  • Capitalism doesn’t work without resources and economic growth (and arguably socialism) to be successful.

  • In the capitalistic model, profits are privatised and problems are socialised. This is not the ideal situation, socialising the profits and risk may be a solution. Self managed work teams is another solution in the capitalistic model.

  • If you are exposed to corporate culture, you may have to compromise your values (you may be forced to choose between your job and your ideology).

  • There was a consensus that corporations (and governments) needs heavy regulation, transparency and reformation. No government is prepared to deal with the consequences of privacy and transparency.

  • Having alternatives on offer to small communities may help the development of revolutions.

  • Despite a long history of dealing with complex systems to organise and manage countries and environments, we are still flying in the dark and making things up along the way.

  • When discussing ideologies or how to change the world, people have a tendency to present lists of changes they think will work but no one knows how to implement them or if they will be effective. This might be an area to consider when developing your ideologies.

Interesting questions posed by the group:

  • Why do people choose an ideology?

If ideologies are organising principles for large groups of people, how useful are they in general and how do we use them to do this?

  • Is terrorism an ideology? Who is using terrorism as an ideology?

  • Did protectionism in the United States cause the Great Depression?

  • Are environmentalists better informed than others given the poor level of science literacy of the populous?

  • Does Australia need defence and police forces?

  • Are these effective means of societal and crime control?

  • If there wasn’t any control (anarchy?), would people co-operate more?

  • Would a technocracy [Wikipedia] work?

  • Do we need more educated people in power?

  • How can we improve democracy?

  • Should Australia be a republic? Would abolishing the states, standardise all our governing systems?

  • Is Bitcoin [Wikipedia] a movement against corporatocracy?

  • Who controls a transparent government?

Additional content covered by the debate:

Singapore as a country run by a corporation

Military coups of Fiji

Thailand’s current political situation

Alice Miller  [Wikipedia]

Mondragon Corporation [Website]

Free Trade agreements

The Trans-Pacific agreement

Abolition of Australian States [Abolish the States Collective] [Courier Mail article]

MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) [MOOC List] [Huffington Post article] [Chronicle of Higher Education]

Khan University [Website]

The Venus Project [Website]

Open Source Ecology [Website]

We are currently living in an Ice Age [io9 article]

Evolution of Australia’s indigenous population

The rate of extinction in (Australian) endangered species

Bonus Content

Egalitarianism [Wikipedia]


More summaries can be found via the Summary Index.

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2 thoughts on “Summay: 20th Gentle Thinkers Debate (Ideologies)

  1. Note by Thor : I have some difficulty recognizing parts of the summary this time by Yena, which shows how differently two people can interpret the same event! For me, some of the points listed below seem incoherent, or begging for more explanation. Perhaps the ‘should’ part of it needs to be separated out more clearly; (I confess that for me a ‘should’ carries very little weight, unless it is informed by a persuasive connection to real world possibilities, and a sound understanding the history of preceding generations who wrestled with the same issues).

    • Hi Thor, thanks for the comment.For me, this debate was much harder to summarise than previous ones. I had a lot of trouble trying to make sense of my notes (messy handwriting), I may have missed information due to the rapid flow of conversation and there was a lot of content that I had to scrap because it went off topic. I’ve tired to order the summary into something coherent and clearly I have missed something. If you do have notes that you wish to add, please let me know.

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