Can't Debate Ideology

Globalism is bad. Communism is a failure. International adoptions are criminal.

All of these statements are true – and all are false.
There’s a horrid tendency among people to make this assumption:

If an action was ever abused for personal gain and hurt others, then the action itself must be bad or evil. Always.

I ran into this with the introduction and first essay in Global Woman, which details the excesses and problems caused by international labor movement – predominately the movement of women. (As an aside, I’ve already read ahead, and the third essay remedies a lot of these problems). The basic problems this worker migration causes are a “brain drain” (because less skilled work in the developed world pays more than skilled work elsewhere) and a care deficit, as families are rarely allowed to migrate with the workers.

These are real problems, but the reflexive “globalization is bad” and “women shouldn’t migrate to work” are band-aid solutions. They only serve to address the symptom of worker migration, not the causes. Further, they ignore the benefits globalization can bring – and cheapen the real sacrifices these women make.

Ideology tends to do this. The first essay, Love and Gold by Arlie Russel Hochschild, does this pretty dramatically.

In the name of ideology, the author talks about Marx’s concept of fetishizing products, then tries to relate it to fetishizing the “care” immigrant women bring to their work. But in doing so, she fetishizes the workers themselves as something other than real people with real sacrifices and horrible choices. Because of an ideological ideal, despite the worthy goal of humanizing women’s work, she’s taken away their choices and the real sacrifices they endure.

It’s easy to adopt an ideological answer, unilaterally condemning any practice. But it’s so much more worthwhile to come up with goal-oriented solutions regardless of ideology. The ideologues can be useful – pointing out unfair restrictions on business or unjust practices – but their solutions tend to be towards the imposition of an ideology rather than a goal that serves the people in question.

Here’s a good starting point: Force the ideologues in your life to state their ultimate goals. What’s the point of espousing a “free market”? What’s the end goal of denouncing globalization?

Everything else should flow from that.

sociology, global woman, review, ideology

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One Comment

  1. Héctor
    September 8, 2008

    Spot on, bub!

Comments are closed.