An ode to ideology-free individuals

My home region returned to haunt me in my Twitter feed. The youth council of Seinäjoki made a motion regarding adding a vegan alternative to school lunch options, but the local council returned the motion to preparation. The council member representing the Finns party who proposed the return made a big show of having ”fought the green-left corruption” and argued that young people fortunately get some sense with age.

It’s okay to feel threatened by fava beans from Kauhava. That’s what living as an ideological meat eater might involve. Young people wanted an alternative for themselves, and now they were deprived of it. Why is it “corruption” when young people wish for food that follows nutritional recommendations, but it is not corruption when a municipal politician politicises kids’ meals and disses young people? Here is another good reminder of why voting in municipal elections is so important.

I’m sick and tired of the word ‘ideology’ being used to negatively describe value-based actions like it was the opposite of reason and logic. After all, neoliberalism is an ideology just as much as socialism is. Rather many people these days seem to subscribe to a twisted power fantasy of being rational, objective, ideology-free people of common sense, above the “green leftists” possessed by feelings and ideologies.

People on one side of the debate also like to call science and scientists ideological or political, thinking that will undermine peer-reviewed research or social or humanist disciplines in general. If you want to start your day with a small adrenaline shot, all you need to do is log on to Twitter and find users rolling around in their own rationality, telling us that not one cent of our tax money should go towards ideological humbug like gender studies. No value charged opinions here, just the common sense talk of a citizen worrying about our tax euros!

I confess that I fell into this trap when I was younger, like no doubt many of us. I wasn’t political, I had ~opinions~ and I supported equality without being a feminist. Still, you’d hope that once people grow up, they wouldn’t think of themselves as being above these things. Each and every one of us is ideological, whether we like it or not ‒ and that’s okay.

Not one scientific discipline is free of ideologies and human variables. This is also something to keep in mind for the writer of this silly editorial that was published in Helsingin Sanomat earlier this spring. So, may I make a small request in the middle of all this science dissing, disinformation and anti-vaxxers running amok?

Finally admit to yourself that you’re ideological and stop using it as a way to belittle others. Perhaps by dismantling false notions on what being ideological means, we can start having actual value-based discussions and focus on making a clean break with anti-science loudmouths.

No, no one has an objective view on how politics should work. Feelings and values are not a bit less valuable than “reason”. What does reason even mean, more correct opinions? Having the right information is what matters, everything else is acting on your own beliefs and background assumptions. And it pays to separate these two. It really is very scary that some people full on believe that there are things the scientific communities and the media don’t dare to talk about. Hello! Name one researcher who wouldn’t want to publish their findings to the world.

Politics is about actors with different value bases and ideologies coming together to share their ideas and to make compromises. Maybe some day your next-door neighbour will also realise this while ranting and raving about the ideological ”lipstick government” and wishing that some day the government was once again only made up of rational men who don’t think with their feelings.

Let’s take joy in our ideologies and come up with better power fantasies!


Annika Nevanpää


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