Books On Ideology
posted by January 15 at 14:10 PMon
Verso recently reprinted Terry Eagleton’s book Ideology. The reason for the book’s strange return was the sense that ideology had made a strange return to the center stage of American life. For much of his presidency, Bush has operated within an ideological program constructed by the man who made him, Karl Rove. And Fox News, a major information source for Americans, has a strict ideological agenda: right is more than right; the rest are more than wrong. But all of this ideological business seemed way out of place in a post-historical world. Thinkers like Fukuyama marked the end of the Cold War as the end of ideology: American ideology rose to the condition of reality; Soviet ideology sank into the depths of the past. Human development had reached its terminal point with democratic capitalism. If this were the case, if humanity was down to one direction, one inevitable system of thought and politics for all, why had ideology not not only disappeared but also intensified in the first decade of the 21st century? The ground on which the war in Iraq stands is completely ideological. The war Bush wants with Iran finds its justification nowhere else but in ideology. The problem with them (the Arabs) is they do not like us, like our way of thinking. To Fukuyama’s shock, ideology survived the Cold War, the end of history. But what shocks him today should at no time surprise us. We know that for as long as there are humans here in the now of things and beings there will be one or more ideologies.
Ideology in itself is not bad or good. All thinking appears in a system that is ideological. As Spinoza once stated, and Damaisio currently asserts, our mind is the idea body. As the mind is the idea of the body, the mind is the idea of the society. We do not have a direct line to world. There is no such thing as sense-certainty, unconditioned experience, life as life is. In order to experience the world, to go through it, to be in it, to enter and exit it, we must make a fiction of it. Ideology, fiction, and what Jameson calls cognitive mapping are one and the same thing. The issue then is not whether something is ideological or not but the amount of reality (truth effects, or truth procedures) that the ideology holds, grasps, maintains. It is this complexity that I want to resolve. A truth must be for all; and yet we must speak of truth in terms of a fiction. One, to say that truth can only be a fiction; two, because a truth is fictional does not mean it is untrue. I have no other task than this.