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European Tribune - Comments - Ideology revisited : Dead or Alive? A Non Issue!
A nice touch of skepticism, for a change.
Any Marxism worthy of the name does affirm a "presence," an "ontology," a material reality that cannot be  ignored in any ideology critique. For Marxism this is the premise of historical materialism, which unlike Derrida's deconstruction, clings to the distinctions between different kinds of "ghosts." It situates different specters or ideologies as historical products, not as categories of thought.
Because Derrida was a true philosopher, while Marx was a mere Hegel-impregnated atheist bourgeois?
Source here.

If you don't have any arguments against Marx, as you don't because you have swallowed caricatures of his views, just call him names. In fact in your source, we find that Derrida, who has taken the trouble to study what Marx actually said, is far from sharing your view:


Derrida forcefully explains that the so-called end of Marxism, the death of Marx, and the attempts to exorcise Marx's spirit(s) and specter(s), are all forms of political dogma that he rejects. He also maintains, in his exchange with his critics, that he has never been engaged in such a project.

http://www.iath.virginia.edu/pmc/text-only/issue.500/10.3.r_anshen.txt

Another example:


Hegel was a genuine philosopher, Marx, Engels, Lenin or Trotsky were not. So the political theory may say communism or marxism to be political ideologies. But since I don't think they possess a true political philosophy, I have a hard time with that label.

What is the evidence for that as far as Marx is concerned ? Is it that Hegel was a professor of philosophy and Marx was not ?  The more important question is who was the more important thinker ? Clearly Marx, and partly because he correctly saw that Hegel's approach to history - not surprisingly for a "genuine philosopher" - mistakenly placed far too much emphasis on ideas. Very few historions these days would ignore the crucial role of the means and relations of production, even if they are not marxist historians. Due to this insight Marx then studied economics, rather reluctantly, as well as politics and cultural analysis. In this he was true to the spirit of Hegel, who emphasised that things were connected, while putting it into practice more fully and more critically:


Hegel purports to demonstrate that thought can find a place for all kinds of phenomena of the modern world. Anything, indeed, that is to be discovered existing there has to be shown to be there of necessity. However miserable people may be in such situations, they will be consoled when they hear how it is all for the best `in the end'. The dialectic moves on past their misery, majestically carrying `us' - `we who look on' - to the heights of the Absolute.

In Marx, on the contrary, the forms demonstrate in their movement the way the dialectical trick works. They show us, step by step, how the inhuman relations inside which we live our lives disguise themselves as `natural'. This is the direct opposite of his `great master'. Hegel locks the gates of our inhuman prison, fixing to them the sign `Freedom'. Marx wants to show us, not just that we are imprisoned, certainly not a utopian picture of what lies beyond the walls, but how we locked ourselves in and thus how to get out, that is, to live as humans.

http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/smith-cyril/works/millenni/smith4.htm



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Sun Jun 7th, 2009 at 06:39:42 PM EST
If you don't have any arguments against Marx ... just call him names. In fact in your source, we find that Derrida, who has taken the trouble to study what Marx actually said, is far from sharing your view:
Derrida forcefully explains that the so-called end of Marxism, the death of Marx, and the attempts to exorcise Marx's spirit(s) and specter(s), are all forms of political dogma that he rejects

I cut out the ad-hominem part of this excerpt of your post. Whether I 'swallowed' or not is no argument in this discussion.
Further on, you clearly did not understand my point - no doubt because you didn't have time enough to read it carefully.

So. Do I call Marx 'names'. No, I asked myself a question, related to this part of my citation:

"Any Marxism worthy of the name does affirm a "presence," an "ontology," a material reality that cannot be  ignored in any ideology critique. For Marxism this is the premise of historical materialism, which unlike Derrida's deconstruction, clings to the distinctions between different kinds of "ghosts." It situates different specters or ideologies as historical products, not as categories of thought.
"

This paragraph confirms the impression one gets from Marx's works, that alll he was busy with was crafting his materialism on top the Hegel-inspired historical dialectic idea. Marx never bothered with 'categories of thought'. What he interested him, was to build an ideology, that is, as you can read elsewhere in my diary, an action-motivated distortion of reality.

There is much to say for a comparison between Hegel and Marx. Suffice it to point out here that Hegel is interested by the present as a time of the God-Reason, he sees the ancient age, or the christian age, as different ages of the Reason. Marx sees them as pre-capitalist times. Hegel speaks of thesis and antithesis, Marx is about workers vs capitalists. Hegel's idealism is an almost metaphysical attempt to explain the world. Marx predicts the working class will triumph over exploiters and bring about the proletarian dictatorship. Marx's empirical realities - relations of productions - have priority over and determine laws, religions, ethics, or philosophical  theories. There cannot be something more obvious than the fact that Marx reduces history of mankind to a matter of means of production, and the man to his work and possessions, as if people never happened to dream, fight or revolt regardless of their possessions - or lack thereof.
Hegel deals in philosophical concepts, Marx in ideological ones. One is a philosopher, the other is a revolutionary. One is spiritual, the other materialist - in the end, yet another kind of Hegelian dialectics.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 04:43:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
who was the more important thinker ? Clearly Marx, and partly because he correctly saw that Hegel's approach to history - not surprisingly for a "genuine philosopher" - mistakenly placed far too much emphasis on ideas.

You're making a mistake of category.
The issue is not that one put too much emphasis on concepts, while the other put his finger on the real thing (means of production).
The issue is that one, as a genuine philosopher, kept his reflexion at the abstract level, while the other reduced the continuous conflict of ideas at a conflict of classes. I see this as a dire simplification for someone to still deserve to be called a philosopher. No matter how important the relations of productions are in the society, they are far from being responsible of every thing ever happened in history, be it social relationship or .

Lenin and the rest of the gang were even less worthy of even a pretence of philosophy. Suffice it to look at his works.
In "What is to be done" Lenin argues that the proletariat can only achieve a successful "revolutionary consciousness" through the efforts of a vanguard party composed of full-time professional revolutionaries, and that such a party could only achieve its aims through a form of disciplined organization known as "democratic centralism".

I feel like saying: Bull Shit. There you have the very description by which we recognize a dictatorship.
Call this a political theory if you like, but Marxism-Leninism, a "philosophy" ?  Pah-lease.

Objective moral truth. Emancipation as a species thing

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:01:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The last line in my previous post is there by mistake. It deserves space for itself, because both are very important to understand marxist ideologies. Objective moral truth is actually dismissed by Marx as impossible, since ethics are a result of the social organization which, as we know, is determined by who owns the means of production. And there you have the moral relativism where there is no value worthy of the name: Marxism survived in socialist libertarianism.

As to the Emancipation of the man, Marx never meant it at the individual level, but globally. Mankind was supposed to emancipate. The man was merely the little wheel inside.


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:10:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So how would you describe freedom?you do seem to have a rather simplistic negative freedom view, whereas there is a whole range of views of what it consists of.

Your argument appears to be that which is a carricature of views of Positive freedom , Dismissing Marx as not being a Philosopher (The study of whom by Philosophers would have, you'd have thought have spotted that he wasn't worthy of attention long ago)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:38:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your question is pertinent. My argument though is no caricature of any view of freedom. I simply defended my slightly provocative statement about Marx by commenting on his methodology. To me it seems like the guy was obssessed with means of production. This sounds exactly like some economists today, who are so completely deep down in their economical bubble that imagine the World must reduce to matters of inflation, deflation, currency and freemarkets. Buttheads.

Freedom, even though I don't feel like defining it in a negative way, does raise the question of ethics. Deserves some thinking, I guess.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 06:07:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Your argument appears to be that which is a carricature of views of Positive freedom"

Actually we cannot speak about freedom without speaking about its subject: the man, and without understanding his inner workings. I dare not elaborate on Positive Freedom from a Social Darwinism point of view...


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 06:02:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Objective moral truth is actually dismissed by Marx as impossible, since ethics are a result of the social organization

Well, yes. Irrespective of how one analyses the way in which social organisation arises, this is so self-evidently obvious that I am stunned that you would flag it as spurious.

Marxism survived in socialist libertarianism.

This statement is chronologically confused: Socialist libertarianism predates Marx's first influential works by half a decade or so.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:42:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did not flag it in any possible way, what ever could possibly have made you think that ? :)
This must be some sort of contagious disease for some here on ET, putting words in people's mouths. I did not argue about the value of "objective moral truth", just like I have never supported Mme. Thatcher.

But while commenting on Marx's distorted view of society as a pure resultant of relations of productions, I suddenly remembered that modern progressives even today use to put anything on the "back" of the society, be it order, category, ethics, all seem to be a matter of societal constraints, of which the Man must of course be liberated.

This deserves a diary, because it is linked with ceebs' question above. I just don't feel like doing it, because I feel the ideological tide behind. And since I came to realise that ideology is builtin, and an affective rather than rational matter, one cannot argue with it - or would at least need a more neutral ground.


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 05:57:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But while commenting on Marx's distorted view of society as a pure resultant of relations of productions, I suddenly remembered that modern progressives even today use to put anything on the "back" of the society, be it order, category, ethics, all seem to be a matter of societal constraints, of which the Man must of course be liberated.

From which Man can be liberated. Can and must are not - quite - the same thing; the former is a matter of fact, while the latter is a matter of policy.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 8th, 2009 at 06:34:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We are speaking of ideologies, best (IMHO) described by the expression: "action-oriented [read: policy-driven] distortion of reality". I'm not sure if the Man can or cannot be liberated, but certain ideologies say he should be.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Tue Jun 9th, 2009 at 09:46:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is a very non-standard view of what "ideology" means.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 06:05:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not so non standard, when you took a closer look. Karl Marx himself had already postulated that economic relationships must be identified with reality to discredit ideology, which is supposed to be a false and distorted view of reality
(see for instance this book, p.41).

Daniel Bell later added the idea of "action-oriented", which can also be found in dictionaries:


Ideology
a form of social or political philosophy in which practical elements are as prominent as theoretical ones. It is a system of ideas that aspires both to explain the world and to change it.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/281943/ideology

Suffice it to put 2 and 2 together, and there it is :)


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 08:39:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except that there is no requirement that it is a distortion of reality.

It is a description of reality that is used to justify certain policy goals (it's more than that, but that's a minimalist definition).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 07:57:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well you are right, of course. But after Marx, and then others
(of which I quoted Mannheim, Habermas -- Zizek! and his "for discourse analysis, the very notion of an access to reality unbiased by any discursive devices or conjunctions with power is ideological" )

described ideology as a distorted view, I have to say I could not find any serious argument of the contraire.

I particularly agree with Zizek: Marx was fighting ideology and predicting (and acting for!) its death, even as he was building one of the most important, sweeping, terrifying ideologies of all times!
The trick, is that he pretended to be an non-ideologue, a man of applied science.
A bit like myself before, which you very accurately noticed at that time, and remarked that "rational pragmatism" looks a lot like Marx's scientifical methods. So I added humanism, but then the doctrine of humanism is largely atheist, even a-spiritual, well, materialistic, really.

But I do think ideology in general (not just in politics) is a distortion of reality - ie, a mirror image distorted to say something.
Suffice it to look at ideologies in Arts. What any true artist actually does, is to propose his Universe to the public: that is, his own, personal, subjective view of reality, and we enter it and appreciate his work mostly in that respect.


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)

by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 05:30:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did you know Zizek keeps a poster of Stalin in his entryway?  There's practically no other decor in his apartment.  Just Stalin.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 05:34:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well Céline too wrote Bagatelles pour un massacre or L'École des cadavres right before WW2 begins, and is considered by some an antisemite author, which doesn't stop him from being one of the biggest modern French writers. Or Sartre, a fan of Mao, which doesn't make him less famous a philosopher. I could go oooon and oooooon...

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 05:41:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh I am not questioning his fame.  I just find your agreement with him interesting.  Encouraging, but unexpected.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 05:45:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I like Céline's style too, which doesn't mean I agree with his radical antisemitism.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 05:47:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You didn't say you liked Zezek's style, you said you particularly agreed with something he wrote.

Anyway...  Just sharing...  Go back to whatever you were doing.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 05:49:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
lol no problem, 'zjust that -- if you look carefully, I also agreed with JakeS about pragmatists' "scientific methods". Does that make me a closet revolutionary? :P

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
by ValentinD (walentijn arobase free spot franša) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 05:53:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey! I resent the implication that I'm a "closet" revolutionary - I like to think that I'm quite open and above-board about the kind of revolution I'd like to see ;-)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 06:49:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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