- Series: The New Critical Idiom
- Paperback: 228 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (August 21, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415290120
- ISBN-13: 978-0415290128
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.5 x 11 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,276,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ideology (The New Critical Idiom) 2nd Edition
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"The Routledge New Critical Idiom series offers some excellent overviews of significant terms and topics in contemporary theory."
About the Author
David Hawkes teaches at Lehigh University, Pennsylvania. His recent publications include Idols of the Marketplace: Idolatry and Commodity Fetishism in English Literature 1580-1680.
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The book was originally written in 1996 and revised in 2003 Post-911. I'd like to see another revision Post-Economic Meltdown, which he has been addressing in recent interview. Altogether fascinating but not for pessimists.
Ideology as narrowly defined by the author (and his Marxist cohorts) becomes an epithet used against Capitalism and Christianity, elaborating how these rival ideologies are wrong and false. (One might question whether Christianity is a rival or sympathetic ideology to Socialism, but leave that be.) Tellingly, nowhere in the work is Socialism or Communism examined as an ideology--Socialism is simply a liberating truth, the unmasking of other repressive ideologies. Communism, the most profoundly impactful ideology of the past century (perhaps millennium) gets not a single mention. Neither can the author name Islamism an ideology, writing that "9/11 can not be understood as a clash between competing ideologies." So what Hawkes means by "ideology" is a far distance removed from what most of us proles would recognize as a universal definition. It is a focused and targeted definition to be used against Capitalism. The book provides an ideological justification for a particular view of ideology--there's some irony in that.
What, then, is ideology to Hawkes (and Marx and Engels)? It's the idolatry of man-made objects, commodity fetishism, worship of the works of men's hands, a false consciousness, an illusory representation of reality. In a nutshell, it is the vile and evil marketplace. It is getting up in the morning and going to work, buying what you need to live, being concerned about money, and realizing that somewhere there is a contemptible Capitalist who is richer than you are. The false reality of our market-driven economy beguiles the repressed proletariat, who must rise up and overthrow their Capitalist oppressors--men like Buffet, Zukerberg, Bezos, Katzenberg and Soros, perhaps--to live in a society of equals. But under the guardianship of an intellectual elite, of course, since due to their ignorance, "the peasants cannot represent themselves." Men like Hawkes, perhaps, can represent us.
Hawkes makes many interesting circles around his conception of the epic battle between labor and capital, between proletariat and bourgeois, between work and investment, between truth and falsehood, between life and death. What he misses, is that we moderns are one of the Hegelian syntheses--a combination of both prole and bourgeois. We labor *and* we invest. We work so we *can* invest. Marx's dichotomies are of long ago and far away, with the catastrophic failure of the USSR separating Marx from us, and this book, the labor of so much intellectual straining, seems oddly detached from the real and present ideological struggles, unrecognized in this book, that engulf the world.
My only real criticism of the book is the ending. I recognize that he's dealing with ideology here, and he needs to end on that note, but after defining "ideology" as the denial of one element of a binary, and then reading his ending where he says that the "real site of political struggle is the human mind" and that the "external struggle between social classes has, in our time, reverted to an ideological conflict manifested internally," I'm quite annoyed and perplexed. While I'm delighted he's affirmed the subjective and ideal, on the other hand, after two hundred pages, here we are again affirming only one side of the binary and repressing the other, in this case, the "external objective material" in favor of the internal, subjective ideal. One would hope that a writer who has made such a strong argument in favor of contending with binary oppositions, contradictions and dialectics, would in the end demonstrate that argument with a closing statement that was dialectical. After all, couldn't the "real site of political struggle" also be in the external objective, material reality of the streets and the struggle between social classes? Like say, between the bankers and the people?
Still, that being said, this is a fabulous work and well worth reading.