- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Ideology, Habermas, and the IMF

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on April 05, 1999 at 16:43:54:

In Reply to: Nerglemyer. posted by Red Deathy on March 31, 1999 at 12:28:04:

: : So, what then, of the School of Chicago? Several here have asserted that the World Bank and the IMF, existing at the bequest of the "capitalist ruling class", are to be rejected as machinations of said class. Why, then, does the School of Chicago oppose this specific and particular entity and its supposed ends? If we apply Hegel and Marx's Identity of Opposites then The Chicago School must be of either one or the other; master or slave.

: No, the Chicago school demonstrate a split in capitalist thinking, at teh moment hegemony is supported by one theory, but within bourgeoise intelectuals there is a conflict going on, and if Hegemony needs the chicago schools ideas, it will use them...

SDF: You've noticed, RD, that according to this reasoning we can use the theory of ideology to explain both the unity and the disunity of the ruling class. If the ruling class is united, they show an ideological unity. If the ruling class is disunited, there is a "split in capitalist thinking." Therefore, we can't really explain anything one way or the other about particular manifestations of economic domination merely by using such a theory of ideology, because using such a theory one can never precisely say why the ruling class expresses disunity on some things and why not unity on those same things.

As for the IMF, it has recently come under severe criticism even from other global lending institutions such as the World Bank, because its austerity plans are seen as blundering away the prospects for pecuniary profits in the long term for the sake of profit in the short term. See for instance the analysis on My own solution to this problem is to argue that ideology, defined in one sense as the structural aspect of preconceived notions about society (i.e. prejudice), is an epiphenomenon of what Jurgen Habermas (in the THEORY OF COMMUNICATIVE ACTION, part 1) calls the "lifeworld," that set of not-yet-verbalized taken-for-granteds we form about the world as we move through life. This structural aspect of prejudice is real, all right -- one can say this is so from observing Debating Room participants who don't change their (mutually contrary) opinions about anything regardless of what happens to these opinions in debate. Ideology is, in the sense I'm using the word here, a set of "hard-and-fast stated rules" circulating socially in opinions about the world, that came from unstated orientations-to-act that we don't question because we haven't verbalized them, much less argued them. One can see the lifeworld in its pre-ideological state in, for instance, six-year-olds, who don't necessarily believe in ideologies but whose behavior often follows observable "rules".

This version of "ideology" isn't economically-determined, but might helpfully explain the commonalities of attitude amongst the members of the real communities of the rich and powerful.

Yeah, I know, Marxist versions of the word "ideology" necessarily connect it to the economics of the class struggle, as in below:

: Ideology is formed by division of labour- specificallymental division of labour, capitalist hegemony necessarilly needs competiting ideas so it can keep moving, and stay fresh, if ideologies didn't change capitalism would stagnate.

SDF (continued): Part of the structure of prejudiced opinion as it has evolved in propertarian societies is a justification for who owns what, and why they deserve to own it. No?

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