- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Bloch & Bakkhtin...

Posted by: Red Deathy ( Socialist party, Uk ) on April 06, 1999 at 10:57:39:

In Reply to: Ideology, Habermas, and the IMF posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on April 05, 1999 at 16:44:36:

: 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.

No, because we can trace their disunity to material cuases, and economic interests, say, as with Vietnam, the Military industruial Comlpex and Exporters, versus the home capitalists feeling the pinch. Again, this is one reason why they need a state- to sort their own disputes out.

: So one might argue that there is really no ideological divide here -- it's a matter of the various owning classes bickering about matters of strategy.
But of course, in teh flow of teh debate they will begin to appeal to certain values, point to broader principles which will come up to reflect the material causes of the split, and shape the course of events- as we have seen here, some will appeal to the great God free Markets, some would appeal to national interest (American Isolationsist Against the IMF for example), and liberals and leftists would appeal against it because of its failures and humaitariuan reasons. Its all meta-narratives, etc...

:But this argument begs the question of what precisely is entailed by "ruling class ideology". Is it the will to retain economic dominance, or is it the joy in profit now? What about the ruling class' sympathies for the poor, the ones advertised in Charles Dickens novels (Scrooge at the end of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, for instance)?

A good Gramscian would of course note that their ideology would change depending upon immediate interests, and would tend to reflect the aims of the ones with most power (specifically their priority is always to remain in power, a drive for mega profits would come wghen they feel secure in their power, etc.). Dickens was writing at a time when teh Reactionary feudalists, and many capitalists noted teh destruictive tendancies of laissez faire, and thus dreamed up Paternalism, leter to be expressed as Disraelis 'On-Nation'Toryism' which ahs dominated here for well over a century now.

It must be noted, 'Ruling' ideas does not mean only ideas, its just the ideas of the ones with the most power, the most powerful ideas- and of course, every idea has its Other...

: 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.

Sounds reminisceient of both Althusser's 'Obnvuiousnesses', Bloch's 'Not-yet-Conscious' and J.L. Austin's 'Pressupossitions', essentially, I think they are all, in thegir own way, write, ideology is what is assumed before you express youtrself.

My usual example is a person standing at one end of teh room, describing it to someone at teh otehr end, unless they are careful, they will forget that they are describing it from their viewpouint, from their position, forget whats behind them, etc.

Also I ahve a complex Argument based on Bakhtin's 'Dialogism' around something I heard said at last years rememberance day, regarding tehr ed poppies, I'll post it some day...

: 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".

We could invoke Lacan's symbollic order here as well- for all teh many, many books on ideology (I've read too many, hence my prrefference for simnple versions) they all revolve around this theme...

: 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.

Well, obviously I'd disagree, as 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?

No, as above, its a person in a room, forgetting they are standing on a stage, forgetting that other people in the room have a different perspective, and making their perspective the only one (Usually I'd throw in points about discourse rights, the person on the stage is the only one who can sopeak with a microphone, for example....).

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