Monday, February 8, 2010

Ideology and Weltenschauung. . . .

I have been thinking about my last post and how political analysts like Rex Murphy are shying from ideological discourse. This tendency has been growing for some time now in Western nations, particularly since the end of so-called soviet socialism. This has been a fairly conscious and concerted effort to undermine opposition to capitalism and western power by creating the image that the system we live in is somehow 'natural,' inevitable, unavoidable, and somehow rationally based. (The analysis of this phenomenon goes back, of course, to Marx) Capitalists, and the advocates of the prevailing paradigm want to instill in people that our system is not driven by ideology but only by necessary and technically based decisions. This effort manifests in people the delusion that we live in a pure technocracy where our leaders are not driven by their ideologies but by unavoidable decisions informed by technical experts. This has not only been driven by extreme right wingers, it has been driven by many people including some on the centre-left. But in recent years we have had a federal government that is working of the highest principles of this model as once practiced by leaders such as Margaret Thatcher. And if Rex Murphy's column quoted in my last blog is any indication, this move is working well here in Canada. The import of Murphy's analysis is that - since all the decisions of the government are, in the broad sense, necessary and driven by forces which are not in our control, then Harper's failure to get a majority must necessarily be a result purely of technical-strategic mistakes on his part and if he could just create a better public image, he would easily win his coveted majority. 

But I agree with the great French philosopher Louis Althusser, everything is, to a large degree, ideologically driven.  There are of course certain 'life-world' (Weltenschauung) assumptions that we share that stand somewhat above the fray of common ideological debates. But the rest is ideology. And it would be in the interest of any prevailing power structure to convince the population at large that we exist beyond ideological structure and our Prime Minister and his cronies are desperate to do just this. But the poverty of such analysis should be obvious to anyone who genuinely pays attention to the broad picture of how our society is developing. 

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