The Jingoism of Ideology

Something I noticed when reading Darwin’s and particularly Gosse’s piece is just how violently they frame the ideological “war” of the Victorian period. Gosse claims that in the academic landscape of the era, “It was becoming necessary to stand emphatically in one *army* or the other,” ( ¶ 2). He labels Lyell as a “great mover of men” and searching for a “bodyguard of sound and experienced naturalists”, and the reactionaries are described almost as rivals searching for an ideological bullet to fire back ( ¶ 3¶ 4 ). Could this just be creatively constructed language used to make the debate between ideologies sound more dynamic? Perhaps, but it reminds me greatly of what Carlyle’s clothes arguments in Sartor Resartus warned about. To Carlyle, ideology is like a suit; it must repeatedly be changed in order for the society to remain clean and orderly. People cannot just patch up old suits because that would lead to a stagnant society, nor can they forgo suits altogether, as that would lead to the destruction of social order. Informed by the French Revolution, I do not doubt that Carlyle was very afraid that the same type of bloody ideological warfare that broke out in France was capable of repeating itself in Britain. I wonder then how he would react to the type of of scientific debates that Gosse describes. Would he have seen the lively debate as the process of merely replacing the suit, or would he have seen it as possible evidence of the same type of anarchy he worried so strongly about?

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