I've just returned from a lovely vacation to France, where I saw lots of museums, ate lots of crepes, and generally had a much-needed chance to unwind. Along the way, I learned quite a bit about the Fench middle ages and the French Revolution, which has left me thinking about politics and ideology.
Interestingly enough, the groups most influenced by supposedly noble ideologies--the church, the chevaliers, the revolutionaries--seem to be the groups most likely to spill the blood of innocents by the thousands. This holds true for the history of North and South America, too--witness the conquistadors and the settlement of the American west.
I'm pretty sure there's an important lesson here, but I'm not yet certain what it is.