- Capitalism and Alternatives -

For teh twentieth time.... ;)

Posted by: Red Deathy ( Socialist party, Uk ) on April 13, 1999 at 14:47:50:

In Reply to: Habermas continued, McSpotlight permitting posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on April 11, 1999 at 17:57:52:

Gotta reply AGAIN!!!!! One day my wisdom shall shine forthe....

: As I said here, ideology is a derivative phenomenon of the lifeworld experiences of the people it possesses.

I would say, in part, correct, although personally I would want to distinguish ideology from culture, or in Lukacs' terms weltungshauung otheriwse ideology just becomes another term for sensory experience or mental world- and we get teh image of one of my empriricst linguistics lecturers saying 'everyone has an ideology', it kinda mutes the terms usefullness, and detratcs from its main thrust. It also takes us to the whacky world of Althiusser.

Likewise I am against ideology in terms of 'dogma', because we see politicians saying 'he is driven by ideology, I am driven by practicality' etc.

I think Ideology is distinct from culture, in that while culture forms our sets of values, our 'morality' etc., ideology is a function of power, and is itself a subset of culture.

Back to my division of Labour model, if there is a group of people who are paid solely to think, solely to produce ideas and morality, and they are all drawn from the same class, and have privelleged access to the communal public space (in the old days the church, nowadays the media) then they will be able to represent, describe, the world in terms of their own signifying praxis, and use authority, and exclusion of other ideas, to impose this praxis upon different classes. Hence it is a model of 'false consciousness'.

: But there's more to distinguish Dickens' ideology, laced as it was with sympathy for the poor (read HARD TIMES or A CHRISTMAS CAROL or George Orwell's famous essay on Dickens) from the most prominent ruling class ideologies of today.

As I noted, Hard Times was written with a distinct paternalism in mind- the failure is one of power to care for teh poor, who are no longer happy in their place (he lashes trades unions, but says that the poor have been driven to it), look at the Meeting between Blackpool and Bounderby (noticeably, this great confrontation is made over Divorce, not workplace cruelty), and see bounderby fail by the expectations of paternalism, he is selfish and exploitative, he doesn't care for his workers like a good master would. Likewise Harthouse, the lapsed and bankrupt (intelectually) Aristocrat.

The only solution Dickens offers is 'fancy', or ęsthetic pleasure, but time and again, quite ideologically, we see working cvlass misery excluded from teh text, for what can only be ęsthetic reasons- Blackpool's woman's Sister, originally was intended to die 'wi 'er child arm tore off', but Dickens removed that, and later killed her with 'bad air'- now we know that in the same issues of Household works, he was campiagnining for guards, and against mutiliations in factories, but he didn't feel that he could include such things in a novel- significant I think. Liekwise, the cirumnabulous manner in which he describes Blackpool as deafend by his work, suggests that he cannot admit such traumas into his fancy.

He was a good paternalist, an admirer of Carlyle, and his offered solution in Hard Times is ideology, he wants to have a social aspct, of morals and values, because he sees that they are necessary to ophold teh current order. That this comes from the qua reactionary 'Romantic Anti-Capitalist Wing' can be expklained by the fact that such conservatives backed the aristocracy, which by its very form is a social rather than economic formation.

: But very little of this stuff makes it to the mainstream media at least in the US, and none of it receives any credence in mainstream American politics, since both dominant Democratic and Republican parties believe in neo-liberal quick fixes to economic problems, quick fixes that allow politicians to conduct photo-opportunities without really doing anything about the living conditions of vast numbers of destitute people in America today.

This is precisely my point about controlling discourse rights, being on the stage and controlling teh microphone, otehrs can speak, but I can drown them out, unless I want them to be heard- like a television audience, I can pick who I want to speak, and let them, and thus give the illusion of freedom of access to discourse rights. This is one of the main features of Ideology, but the secondary is that the ruling ideas are the ones likely to be acted upon, anyone can publish an economics book, but you need to convince power before it will be acted upon.

: The difference between Dickens' time and ours is something that can't merely be explained by a discussion of ruling class economic and political formations. What's happened is that Dickens was operating under a "Whiggish version of history" that we've lost today. As Jurgen Habermas points out in a 1984 essay ("The New Obscurity:

I dunno, the Robert Brmaner Article you mention contains a Graph of rate of profit for G7 countries over the last fifty years. in the mid sixties it was very high, and everything was groovy, then in '68 it slumped quite seriously, and then in rose a little, and then in '73 it totally dived, and has only really slowly crept up since, effectively the economy is in permenant crisis, stagnating- Liberalism can only offer Hope, or utopias, as long as it is a progressive force, as long as it increases affluence (the affluent 60's being a fairly liberal liberating period) but without that hope its screwed, it can no longer offer dreams of gradual reforms into socialism and abolition of wealth (viz: the British Labour Party), it can't offer any future.

: The result is a general tendency of the Left to despair, accompanied by a triumphalist version of ruling-class ideology shared by the communities of the rich and powerful (the most current manifestation of which are the bombings of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan etc., the domination of Russia by Thatcherists, the Netanyahu regime in Israel, the persistence of IMF policy despite obvious failures etc.).

I don't think its so much triumphalism as making a virtue of necessity, they have no longer got any ideological under pinnings, now they have mere performativity, simple doing what we do, and doing it well, because they can't offer any future, any consumation, tehre is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Also, whilst nationalism once united them as a class, now it is a hinderance to some sections, economically, once they were united against feudalism- no longer exists, once united against communism, well...they have no way of defining themselves, and of uniting themselves, hence rival notions of capitalism are emerging.

(Thus Gee is wrong in denouncing those of us who dream of something better - SDF).

This is something that I spend a lot of time doing- specifcally the socialist Party belongs to the 'Impossiblist' strain of Second Internationalism, instead of saying, 'We should only try to do what is possible today' and thus limitting ourselves to reformism until some future date, we try to make the revolution possible today. Be reasonable, Demand the Impossible.

As for Gee, in his way he is Utopian, however its a backwards looking Utopia, back to teh days when capitalism was an individual affair, when it was a force, in its own twisted way, for freedom and liberty- mass industry and socialised production have put paid to such days- Gee's utopia would be the ADam Smith petit-bourgeois small trader capitalism pointed out in Qx's post- that we find Gee looking back to a future Utopia suggests some of the crisis ideologically in Modern Capitalism. It is, however, in Bloch's terms, an abstract utopia, not a concrete one, drawn from the possibilities of our current society.

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