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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

On Ideology

posted by on January 15 at 14:10 PM

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.

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Fukuyama has no right to be shocked by the Bush regime. He was part of the Project for a New American Century with many people who decided its foreign policy during the first four years, and he signed a letter in 98 calling on Clinton to remove Saddam from power.

As for your "task"? You get paid to go to Italy and take pictures of your hair. Enough said.

Posted by wf | January 15, 2008 2:23 PM

Hey, he did take pictures out the window too.

But I for one would love to see a pic of an Italian barber shop, Charles.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 15, 2008 2:42 PM

There's no quandry here Charles, because "fictional" does not equate to "false". Fiction is a construct, a means of looking at hypothetical personalities and situations, and their subsequent interactions and resolutions. Just because a "fiction" may be completely made-up, (i.e. imagined) doesn't negate the probability of some or even most of its elements as having some basis in actual fact.

So, truth can in fact be "fictional", in that one can imagine all sorts of possible avenues or outcomes to a certain action, for example, and determine, with a fair degree of certainty, which of the probabilities is most likely to actually occur, based on extenuating or influencing factors.

It's just that "truth" itself can be ephemeral, since what may be "true" given one set of circumstances, may not be true if even one or two of the conditions that make it so were to change.

Posted by COMTE | January 15, 2008 3:28 PM

Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream, Neo?

Mr. Hand: Am I hallucinating here? Just what in the hell do you think you're doing?
Jeff Spicoli: Learning about Cuba, and having some food.

Posted by george | January 15, 2008 5:03 PM

@3 Great points Comte

I concur wholeheartedly.

It's nice to see some deeper thinking here once in awhile....

Posted by Reality Check | January 15, 2008 5:14 PM

On the radio, you'll hear November Rain, we listened to it twice, because the DJ was asleep.

Please, I'd rather see pictures of the nappy hairdo, than this sophistic crap.

Posted by Regina Spektor's squeaky larynx | January 15, 2008 10:01 PM

Just because I read this, I'm going to sit on my window sill and take a shit.

Posted by Hallad | January 16, 2008 6:59 AM

Aim down, Hallad. Aim down.

Posted by Tybalt | January 16, 2008 8:16 PM

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