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The JIS – Junk Ideology Syndrome

Politics / Social Issues Apr 22, 2014 - 03:34 PM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop


Global Reach
What I call the JIS has been studied and commented under different names, but the start and end points of political mass movements and political ideology, crystallized as JIS at a peak point, is a process driven by crisis conditions. These can be economic, cultural or national security and geopolitical, or other shocks to society. The examples are numerous and well-documented, and certainly extend from Antiquity. They also exist at a smaller scale in so-called pre-modern non-Western societies.

At its most general level and in terms of ethics and social philosophy, JIS can be called a mass-society, politicized response to ontological insecurity and epistemological uncertainty. Following one or more massive shocks to society - which do not have be the same type, such as defeat in war, economic or monetary collapse, environmental disaster, food shortage and starvation – loss of credibility for leaderships and elites grows to breaking point. The elites respond by creating “junk ideology” to woo the masses. New elites, at that time, can quickly emerge.

Even the start of modern nationalism, which can be quite precisely dated at around 1750-1775, surely and certainly intensified the elite recourse to JIS. Modern nationalism was born out of crisis.

Ideologically, this concerns the creation and promotion of “beta doctrines” when the first or alpha-version has failed, been discredited, rejected. In this respect, JIS is easy to compare with the non-Western, pre-industrial cultural process and system of millenarian cults. Secondary or “canonized” religious doctrine can be considered an analog in religious philosophy, following schism. The original alpha-version ideological package is replaced, by a new and restructured, simplified single unified doctrine, which may often only have a short life, but during that time can do uber-damage.

Reform, Restructure and Relaunch

At this time we have stark examples of the JIS syndrome. Almost unremarked, at least by Western journalists and media, all the BRICS countries – the former torch bearers of globalization and global economic growth – are not only suffering unexpected economic difficulty, in cases like Brazil teetering on the brink of recession, but are also experiencing massive political and social change. Destabilized in cultural terms by globalization, they are now exposed to the underside of and blowback from global economic retreat and stagnation. The political impact is massive.

India's reformed or modernized BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is at this time poised to win a possible or probable landslide victory in national elections under its leader Narendra Modi. Under BJP leader Ajit Bihari Vajpayee in the late-1990s his government oversaw Pokhran-II – five nuclear tests in May 1998 and the linked test of multiple ballistic missile systems now including ICBMs. The Vajpayee government also responded to what Western journalists wrongly call “Hindu nationalism” by intensifying military action to expel Pakistani infiltrators in the disputed territory of Kashmir, calling it the Kargil War. Not only a high altitude war, this was also the first war opposing two nuclear-armed belligerants. After the 2001 Indian Parliament attack, Prime Minister Vajpayee ordered the mobilisation of India's armed forces along India's border with Pakistan, but tensions were later de-escalated.

The December 2001 terrorist attacks on the Parliament enabled the BJP government to pass the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). Exactly like US Homeland Security measures, this heavily expanded intelligence operations, the ability of police and security forces to search and detain suspects, and to operate outside India. The POTA was partly repealed by the Indian Congress party government of Manmohan Singh. With the coming near-certain victory of Narendra Modi the POTA will also near-certainly be restored, extended and relaunched.

The BJP under its present leader Modi. has tipped firmly towards the JIS in several ways. Modi, who states that his preferred political reading is 'Mein Kampf' has extended the politically-traditional anti-Pakistani scope of “Hindu nationalism” to new doctrinal heights. His party platform speeches in the election campaign of today, identify the major threat to Hindu identity, cultural integrity and “the survival of India” as due to the existence of the Muslim community of India – an internal “fifth column” - and the external Islamic threat.

Modi is outspoken – and very popular among the dominant Hindu voting population. His New BJP is also openly xenophobic and isolationist. India's banking and finance elite has rallied to the new doctrine. Raghuram Raj, India's central bank governor and former IMF chief economist has for example, 30 Jan 2014, hit out at the US Fed, ECB, the IMF and other western financial institutions as being “selfish” and using India and other BRICS as “disposable adjustment mechanisms” for their own Western-origin post-2008 economic crisis.

Russia, as we know, is in no way exempt from rapid doctrinal or ideological change intensified by adverse global economic – and in Russia's case adverse geopolitical – pressures. Following his 2011 electoral restoration as president, Vladimir Putin's Yedinaya Rossiya-United Russia party has pursued a major program of ideological reform or modernization. The new doctrinal package moves on from Russian nationalism and protection of the Fatherland (Yedinaya Rossiya was founded in Dec 2001 by merger with the All Russia Fatherland party), to the JIS doctrine of defending Western culture, christianity and civilization, with a heavy and permanent linkage to the Orthodox Church. Rarely commented by Western media, this doctrine in no way seeks to avoid conflict with external powers.

Economic Millenarian Cults
Certainly for modern or industrial-urban societies, the JIS always features economic millenarianism. The QE of the Western central banks can firstly be considered a junk doctrine, and secondly a millenarian cult. The dangers of this are only dimly perceived, but the process can run very fast and interact with, and reinforce political or ideological JIS. The USA has notably since 2001, under George W. Bush firstly launched the cult of National or Homeland Security, and since 2008 the cult of QE. One is political JIS, the other is economic JIS.

The dangers of massive and permanent “monetary easing” are amply analyzed and described, but the political or ideological JIS is under-appreciated as a more powerful, and more dangerous threat.

The upstream historical versions and antecedents of the political-economic fusion of junk doctrines are however well known. The 1930s Great Depression and its European- and US-focus, and worldwide impacts, most certainly helped trigger the doctrinal mutation of existing political ideologies. Key examples were the Stalinist mutation of marxism and communism, and the emergence of Italian fascism and German nazism, which heavily included economic millenarian cults, mutated versions of existing “liberal market economics”. Western Keynesian doctrine was the mutant shift to JIS in other “liberal market” capitalist economies, but since 2008 has reached extremes of intensity.

The great depression was in fact less intense than the post-2008 global economic crisis, firstly and simply due to the world economy being so much smaller in the 1930s, but also due to post-1980s globalization, the scope and impacts of economic adversity are much wider. For this reason, the JIS is sure and certain to rapidly manifest itself outside Western societies – for example in India.

Sharpened, more intense, more extreme and more simplified political ideology in mass societies very often features the creation and identification of hostile, non-patriotic scapegoat classes, groups and communities.  In the Indian New BJP case, it is Muslims and Islam, and the West. In the case of Putin's Russia, it is America, its EU28 lapdogs and the erosion of Christian values. For Saudi Arabia it is Iran and the shia community. For Israel it is anti-semitism and the denial of Israel's place in the world. For China, it is both internal enemies, including doctrinal enemies, Japan and the West.

The list is in fact very long, but in each case the creation and identification of “threat entities” is paramount in the JIS process, usually followed by internal domestic national conflict, or by international conflict. The basic psychology of the process is of course infantile rather than adult, making it highly significant that “dumbing down” is one of the main features, or the main feature of mass utilization of the Internet. Those who criticize the tens of thousands of Germans who thrilled to the hysterical speeches of Adolf Hitler at mass meetings in the 1930s, can for example consider mass turnouts for football matches today, which only await the political-doctrinal spark, notably through intense economic adversity to mutate into the JIS. All is ready.

By Andrew McKillop


Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2014 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisor.

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