“ The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i. e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. ” (K. Marx and F. Engels. (1998) “ Ruling Class and Ruling Ideas”. In J. Storey. (ed. ). Cultural Theory and PopularCulture: A Reader Harlow, Essex: Pearson, 191. ) Discuss the notions of ideology and/or false consciousness. Ideology is something that has and will be always in everyone’s life. This is a part of human life.
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In my essay about ideology I am going to write about Karl Marx ideas about ideology and also Louise Althusser interpretations about ideology. In my opinion they are the two that explain ideology and false consciousness in the best and most understandable way. I am going to start with Karl Marx and write about his thoughts on ideology, false consciousness and how does it fit in to everyday life. Afterwards how Althusser complicated Marx’s ideas and explained how ideology works in people’s lives in his own way.
The Expression “ Ideology” was created by Cabanis, Destutt de Tracy and their friends, and they defined it as an object the theory of ideas. Afterwards it was picked up by Karl Marx (1818-1883) and few years latter Louis Althusser (1918-1990) started expanding Marx ides on ideology. Main ideas on ideology by Karl Marx appeared in “ The German Ideology”, that he wrote with Frederick Engels. Althusser wrote about Marx’s ides that (2001) “ Ideology itself represents the ” production of ideas, of conceptions, of consciousness,” all that ” men say, imagine, conceive,” and include such things as ” politics, laws, morality, religion, metaphysics, etc. Ideology functions as the superstructure of a civilization: the conventions and culture that make up the dominant ideas of a society. ” Ideology is basically ideas of social groups. People think that something has some kind of purpose to serve them, but really it has a different purpose. For example police, everyone thinks that they are here to protect us, but actually their purpose is to keep us under control. The ideology is based on the ruling class and their ideas. Ruling class tries to keep everything running properly and keep people under control.
It is said by Althusser “ Since one goal of ideology is to legitimize those forces in a position of hegemony, it tends to obfuscate theviolenceand exploitation that often keep a disempowered group in its place. ” For masses ideology is as a system of illusory beliefs – False Consciousness. False consciousness is a misrepresentation of different social relations between privet and public. Daniel Little (no date) wrote ““ False consciousness” is a concept derived from Marxist theory of social class. The concept refers to the systematic misrepresentation of dominant social relations in the consciousness of subordinate classes.
Marx himself did not use the phrase “ false consciousness,” but he paid extensive attention to the related concepts of ideology and commodity fetishism. ” Marx never said in his work that ideology is false consciousness, but ideology in his work can be interpreted as false consciousness in some ways. Ideology is seen as illusionary beliefs, people see things in one way, helping them, their living conditions and different organisations working for people, for example schools, clothing factories, etc. But in reality all this organisations work for ruling classes to keep masses under ruling classes power.
Schools educate people to make them able to work for the ruling class in the future and keep the economy going. Clothing factories create clothes for people, and everybody thinks that their made for them to feel better, so they could go out and buy new clothes and feel happy. In reality clothes are produced to lure people to buy them and spendmoney, give hardly earned money back to the ruling class and most of the clothes are produced to last for a short time, so people would keep coming back and buying more.
Looking through people’s point of view, ideology can be interpreted as false consciousness. Andrew Butler (2009) said in our lecture “ Ideology – people doing what they’re doing without knowing what they’re doing or why. ” If people are doing what they are doing without knowing, it can be translated as false consciousness. They think that they know what they are doing and why they are doing it, but actually not. Ideology is false beliefs and ideas, false understanding how world works. Louis Althusser, expanded Karl Marx ideas on ideology.
Marx separated everything, he thought that superstructure has a relative autonomy with relation to the base, that superstructure is not influenced by base and other way around as well. But Althusser did not reject these ideas but complicates them, he sees superstructure and base working together, he does not separate them from each other. It was said in our lecture by Andrew Butler (2009) “ Whereas classic Marxism sees the economic base as determining the superstructure Althusser sees them as having a Double function. By double function he meant that there is not a separation between public and private, everything is linked together. A good example was brought in our lecture notes by Andrew Butler (2009) “ Imagine a kind of network where everything impacts on everything else. the feminist slogan the personal is political would be a good way of thinking about this. So thefamily- something that might seem personal or more specifically say breastfeeding might seem private is in fact linked to the economic base and influenced by the superstructure.
Breastfeeding could be part of a medical fad or you might do it because ofeducationbut doing it or not impacts on when you go back to work or whether you buy formula milks so it is an economic and political decision as well as a private one. ” In Althusser’s opinion ideology treats people as subjects, because ideology has a material existence. Ideology always reveals through human actions and participations. For example art, art is produced for people to buy, to give money back to the country, but art is produced through another person, through hard labour and he also gets paid for it, this is a job for him.
David Hawkes (1996, p. 122) said ” an ideology always exists in an apparatus, and its practice, or practices. This existence is material” Ideology is an ideal idea of perfect state; it has a material existence that treats humans as subjects. In our lecture notes by Andrew Butler (2009) Althusser asked “ why subjects are obedient, why people follow the laws and why isn’t there a revolt/revolution against capitalism IF IT IS NOT IN THE INTERESTS OF THE LOWER CLASSES” and he explained this through complicating Marx’s ideas by bringing in Repressive State Apparatuses and Ideological State Apparatuses.
Repressive State Apparatuses can control people by force so everybody would behave in the way as the ruling class wants; it includes organizations like the police, prisons, security, etc. Ideological State Apparatuses include institutions that create ideologies on what people can act and believe, for example schools, churches, legal systems, radio, press, television, etc. ISAs acts through ideology, they tell people how to think and influence people mentally, not like RSA, which acts through violence. In conclusion I would say that Ideology is a set of ideas of social groups.
People think that something has some kind of purpose to serve them, but really it has a different purpose – false consciousness. For masses ideology is as a system of illusory beliefs – False Consciousness. Though Marx never said in his work that ideology is false consciousness, but ideology in his work can be interpreted as false consciousness in some ways. Louis Althusser was another ideology theorist and he expanded Karl Marx ideas on ideology. Where Marxism saw the economic base as determining the superstructure Althusser saw them as having a Double function.
That they work together, superstructure determines economic base and economic base determines superstructure. He explained this by expanding Marx’s ideas by bringing in Repressive State Apparatuses and Ideological State Apparatuses. That people are seen as subject and state has different associations to keep people under control by force, violence and also by giving people ideas how everything works and it is all meant to be for people, to make their lives better and more organised. Ideology is meant to keep people under ruling class power and order.
In my opinion the ideology is working just fine, it keeps the world organised and together. Only it does it through false consciousness, lies. • Hawkes, D. (1996) Ideology. reprint edition. Routledge • Althusser, L. (2001) Lenin andPhilosophyand Other Essays. Trans. Ben Brewster. New York: Monthly Review P. Available at: http://www. cla. purdue. edu/English/theory/marxism/modules/marxideology. html (Accessed: 21 April 2009) • Althusser, L. (2001) Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. Trans. Ben Brewster. New York: Monthly Review P.
Available at: http://www. cla. purdue. edu/English/theory/marxism/modules/marxideology. html (Accessed: 21 April 2009) • Althusser, L. (2001) Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. Trans. Ben Brewster. New York: Monthly Review P. Available at: http://www. cla. purdue. edu/English/theory/marxism/modules/marxideology. html (Accessed: 21 April 2009) • Little, D. (no date) False Consciousness, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Available at: http://www-personal. umd. umich. edu/~delittle/iess%20false%20consciousness%20V2. htm (Accessed: 21 April 2009)