What Is Ideology?

Ideology is strong exactly because it is no longer experienced as ideology… we feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom.

- Slavoj Žižek, In Defense of Lost Causes

Podcast of the Day

We're used to conflating political parties (Republican and Democrat) with political ideologies (conservative and liberal), but the two were very distinct only a few decades ago. In this episode of Rationally Speaking, Julia talks with political scientist Hans Noel about why the Democrats became the party of liberalism and the Republicans the party of conservatism, whether voters are hypocrites in the way they apply their ostensible ideology, and whether politicians are motivated by ideals or just self-interest.

Listen to the Rationally Speaking podcast episode on The Role of Ideology in Politics

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

...In the current presidential race, Hillary Clinton advertises her managerial expertise via the language of policy, while Donald Trump parades his via the language of business. Neither language is democratic. Neither invites self-governance. Why is there no outcry about these oligarchical and aristocratic methods? Is it because plutocrats have power over the mechanisms of representation and repression? Is it, in short, about power? In my view, power can’t explain why voters are so enthusiastically voting for the very people who promise the least democratic outcomes. Nor are Americans knowingly rejecting democratic ideals. Instead, I see an anti-democratic ideology at work, inverting the meaning of democratic vocabulary and transforming it into propaganda...

Continue reading Jason Stanley's article: How free market ideology perverts the vocabulary of democracy

Further Reading

What is ideology? The term was likely coined by the French thinker Claude Destutt de Tracy at the turn of the nineteenth century, in his study of the Enlightenment. For De Tracy, ideology was the science of ideas and their origins. Ideology understands ideas to issue, not haphazardly from mind or consciousness, but as the result of forces in the material environment that shape what people think. De Tracy believed his view of ideology could be put to progressive political purposes, since understanding the source of ideas might enable efforts on behalf of human progress.

Ideology today is generally taken to mean not a science of ideas, but the ideas themselves, and moreover ideas of a particular kind. Ideologies are ideas whose purpose is not epistemic, but political. Thus an ideology exists to confirm a certain political viewpoint, serve the interests of certain people, or to perform a functional role in relation to social, economic, political and legal institutions...

Continue reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Law and Ideology by Christine Sypnowich

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