Concepts of Ideology
by Arne Næss et al
2. On the history of the term from Destutt
de Tracy to Marx.
Destutt de Tracy introduced the term "ideology" in 1796 as a philosophical and anthropological term. It is difficult or impossible to say what he intended to express by the term, but it seems that as a first approximation to a definiens formulation, the following may be useful181): "general doctrine about ideas", where the term "ideas" is taken in a sense similar to those current in Anglo-Saxon and French empirical
philosophy (John Locke, Condillac, a. o.). Thus used, the term was scarcely intended as a name for particular doctrines about ideas, for instance, those of Destutt de Tracy. The term seems, however, to have been closely associated by the public with the particular methods and approaches which Destutt de Tracy represented within philosophy, pedagogics and other humanistic disciplines. This would account for the fact that not only the public but also Destutt and his followers later called themselves "the ideologists".
Destutt wrote in 1801 about his term as follows: "Cette science peut s’appeler Ideologie, si l’on ne fair attention qu’au sujet; Grammaire generale, si l’on n’a egard qu’au moyen, et Logique, si l’on ne considère que le but. Quelque nom qu’on lui donne, elle renferme necessairement ces trois parties; car on ne peut en traiter une raisonnablement sans traiter les deux autres. Ideologie me parait le terme générique, parce que la science des idées renferme celle de leur expression et celle de leur deduction. C’est en même temps le nom specifique de la premiere partie."182)
Interpreted in a plausible way, Destutt tries to introduce two distinct concepts, one broader than the other, and he proposes to use the same designation "ideology" to express both concepts. Historians of ideas have only discussed the first concept. The second, narrow, concept we have not found mentioned in any historical or linguistic work, including the most comprehensive dictionaries.
Two other instances of the use of "ideology" by Destutt deserve to be quoted: "On n’a qu’une connaissance incomplete d’un animal, si l’on ne connait pas ses facultés intellectuelles. L’Idéologie est une partie de la Zoologie, et c’est sur-tout dans l’homme que cette partie est important et mérite d’etre approfondée." — "J’ai essayé de faire une description exacte et circonstanciée de nos facultés intellectuelles, de leurs principaux phénomènes, et de leurs circonstances les plus remarquables, en un mot de véritables éléments d’Idéologie."183)
Used in this way, the term "ideology" seems to be neither a pronounced eulogism nor dyslogism, but an approximately neutral concept designation.
It is probable that Destutt de Tracy liked his main key term for its own sake and that he esteemed highly the truth-value and significance of his doctrines about ideas, that is, his particular ideology in his own terminology, sense No. 1. Such a positive evaluation is not accepted here as a sufficient criterion of an eulogism.
In view of the prevalent confusion in this matter, we shall mention some distinctions of importance to research on slogans:
A term may have an intensively positive emotional charge within a group of persons and yet have a fairly precise cognitive meaning
within that group. Among new members of a parliament, the expression "Member of Parliament" may well be positively charged, but it may still have a neutral cognitive meaning. The object designated by a term may be so highly evaluated that the term itself may elicit pleasant feelings. "Ice-cream" is a term which could be mentioned here. Its positive charge is a direct function of positive attitudes towards designated objects.
A term may be used solely of positively evaluated objects, not because of its positive emotional hue, apart from its connotation, but just because of the objects covered by its connotation. Thus, the expression "positively evaluated (by me)" normally is used of positively evaluated objects. Similarily, "good", "excellent", "just" and other explicit adjectives of praise.
On the other hand, terms like "democracy" and "liberty" may be used not to express well-delimited cognitive meanings, but to express and elicit positive attitudes towards something. This function can be carried out fairly independently of delimited connotations of a term. It is in that case a eulogism in the terminology here proposed.
In the terminology of Destutt, the term "zoology", as used in his assertion that ideology is a part of zoology, furnishes an illustration of still another function: "zoology" was at his time (and is now) a fairly precise term, but as used by him, it must probably be understood in an unusually broad sense. If not, how can general grammar and logic be part of zoology? Destutt does not mention in what sense he uses "zoology", but the statement that ideology is part of zoology is highly suggestive: it implicitly recommends approaches to the understanding of ideas by close attention to natural science disciplines. It implicitly favours naturalistic tendencies in contrast to metaphysical or theological ones. In this respect Destutt follows Condillac.
By classing "ideology" as defined by Destutt, as a fairly neutral technical term, it is implied here that its function is primarily to convey a definite connotation to the reader, and not to express or elicit an attitude of strong positive or negative import towards objects by means of more or less vague associations connected with the term among the public. If this latter function were prevalent, we should tend to class it as a eulogism or dyslogism.
The use of the term "idéologue" by Napoleon and Chateaubriand made the term current within larger groups of people and the then predominant usage underwent a change. Napoleon found the so-called ideologists or ideologues among his opponents and referred to them in a contemptuous manner, using "idéologue" and thus also "idéologie" as derogatory words. No new cognitive meaning seems to have been given to the latter term.184) The term was — outside the circles
of Destutt — used in such a way that low estimation was vaguely implied by its connotation, and the technical core gradually receded. It turned into a dyslogism, as interpreted by the general pro-bonapartist public.
Roucek speaks of a "popu1ar connotation of the term as visionary moonshine".185) Webster probably intended to cover the same occurrence by his descriptive definition of a usage in class No. 2: "Visionary speculation, idle theorizing, also, an impractical theory or system of theories." 186)
If these connotations were fairly well delimited in use, the term would have been made into a designation of concepts, which have as one or more of their conceptual characteristics a negative evaluation. In that case the term would have changed from being a term with a neutral connotation into one connoting a negative evaluation of some specific kind. But in the new usage of Bonaparte no moderately clear connotation seemed to have been involved. The predominant use was turned into that of a derogatory term, not of a term with a connotation representing a negative value. The neutral technical use and interpretation persisted, however. H. Barth mentions occurrences in Italian literature (Galluppi 1820, Gioja 1822, d’Aquiste 1858) and in Spain (Balmes 1846).187 An occurrence worth consideration is by Jeremy Bentham, in a letter dated May, 1802.188)
The history of the usages of the term is complicated by the fact that, as early as 1800, the French philosopher de Bonald used the terms "idéologie" and "ideologique", perhaps without knowledge of the use made by Destutt. The use by de Bonald seems so far to have escaped the attention of historians of those terms.
Few definitoid statements are made by de Bonald, but some use occurrences are rather suggestive 188a): "— — l’idéologie, qui a remplacé dans le langage et dans les etudes la metaphysique, parce que la philosophie moderne ne voit dans l’univers d’autres idées que celle de l’homme, — —" (I, p. 1076).
"— — l’ideologie moderne, occupée depuis longtemps des signes et leur influence sur la pensée, provoque elle-même, sans le vouloir, la decision de la question du langage inventé ou recu, et, sous ce rapport, on peut assurer que l’idéologie tuera la philosophie moderne". (Idem.)
"— — tout caractère d’intelligence disparurent sons le scalpel de cette dissection idéologique, et résumant en deux mots son triste système, Condillac appela nos pensées des sensations transformées." (I, p. 1079.)
From the context it is clear that de Bonald is strongly opposed to those philosophers whom Destutt strongly recommends, and to the trend of philosophy in general which is tentatively based upon analysis of ideas (in Lockian senses) and language.
Politically, de Bonald is an opponent of the French revolution and a defender of the church. He is thus politically an antagonist of Destutt.
De Bonald is vehement in his criticism of what he calls "idéologie (moderne)", but one may nevertheless plausibly interpret him as using that term synonymously with the rather neutral term "la science de l’esprit human" or terms near in meaning to this. A quotation he makes (1818) is of interest here: "On ne peut s’empêcher de tire un paz, dit Duguald-Stewart, dans ses Essais de philosophie, quand on voit que, dans le choix d’une denomination nouvelle pour cette branche de nos etudes (la science de l’esprit humain), l’étymologie de celle qu on a hautement préférée (ideologie, semble emporter la vérité d’une hypothèse, complètement détruite — —)." (III, 35.) Here "idéologie" is referred to as a name of a branch of knowledge and the connotations given by de Bonald seem accordingly to be rather similar to the rather neutral one of Destutt, referred to later as Ideology II. The difference between the two need not be related to difference in connotation, it is primarily one of difference in appreciation of one of the same things. Whereas Destutt estimates positively the contents of the representative treatises on ideology, de Bonald is negative in his appreciation.
In the light of the use of the term "idéologie" by de Bonald and possibly other authors with similar negative attitudes, it is probable that Napoleon could base his use of the term on an already existing negative trend of usage.
In summing up the earliest history of the term "ideology" and "ideologist" (and closely related terms), the following survey is useful: a neutral, technical term, "ideology", is introduced by an author as a designation for two concepts, let us refer to them as Ideology I and Ideology II.
The first may be suggested by the designation "total mass of ideas of mankind or of another zoological species", the latter by the designation "general doctrine about the total mass of ideas of mankind or of another zoological species."189)
The doctrines of the inventor and first user of the term reveal particular tendencies (liberal, anticlerical, reductionist, scientific, naturalistic) which are looked upon with favour by a man of power (Napoleon, ca. 1797). The connotation represents positive values in the opinion of this man.
The doctrines are used by the author to prove and justify his own doctrines and plans of action in the sphere of education and politics and those of others. The advocates of the doctrines are called "the ideologists". Thus the concept ‘Ideologist I’ is introduced.
In later phases of his career the man of power changes his policy
and his opinions. He finds himself in opposition to the political doctrines of the ideologists. He starts a campaign of denunciation against the ideologist and also against what he calls "ideology" now scarcely used as a term to connote any definite kind of doctrine or subject matter. Not only the Ideologist I, but a broader category of opponents are denounced by use of the terms.
As a consequence of the campaign, the terms "ideologist" and "ideology" acquired emotional and volitional elements of meaning, let us call them Ideology III and Ideologist III, whereas the original cognitive (connotational) meaning fades out or recedes into the background. The original technical neutral meaning, ‘Ideology II’ and ‘Ideologist I’, and perhaps new technical neutral meanings, appear sporadically within influential groups. Occurrences are few and mostly obscure.
In the 1840’s, when Marx adopted the terms, there were in existing literature occurrences representative of various fairly technical cognitive meanings, and occurrences representing rather hazy non-cognitive meanings. The strongly developed elements with emotional and volitional meaning correlated with definite political systems and events. Definitions explicitly related to the occurrences in the works of Destutt de Tracy were to hand but (as far as is known) no normative or descriptive definitions relating to the other occurrence could be found. The term had already, in the 1840’s, a history which might make its continued use by influential but careless writers a source of confusion rather than enlightenment.
3. The use of the term "ideo1ogy" by Marx.
Marxian doctrines have exerted a strong influence on causal analysis of cultural production.. This explains the fact that their use of "ideology", "ideologist" and "ideological" as important terms in polemic formulations, has deeply influenced contemporaly usages. It is therefore indispenable to the understanding of their present role and to some of the factors that will influence their future use, to study the use of the term in Marxist literature. In this work we shall limit the study to Marx himself.
It is generally accepted that the use Marx made of the term "ideology" follows the pattern of Napoleon and Chateaubriand rather than that of Destutt de Tracy. It is even asserted that the Marxian usage is more or less the same as that of Napoleon, namely as a derogatory,
dyslogistic term analagous to "visionary moonshine", "airy speculation" etc.190)
The contention that Marx follows the Napoleonic tradition rather than that of Destutt de Tracy may be taken only as a rough approximation of an adequate characterization. In the following pages an attempt at the formulation of a more painstaking account will be made.
In the works of Marx with the main heading Die Deutsche Ideologie191), the term "Ideologie" is used about 50 times, but no normative, descriptive or real definition is given. Most of the occurrences are such that little can be inferred with a high degree of certainty as to which connotations were intended by the author, if any. The same holds good of the terms "Ideologe" and "ideologisch", the first of which is used about as many times as "Ideologie"192)
There is no reason to suspect that Marx wished to make the concept ‘ideology’ one of his key concepts. The term has no central position in his terminology and we may expect that the depth of his intention was comparatively shallow. The works gathered under the heading Die Deutsche Ideologie are excessively polemic and lacking in the scientific aspiration of Das Kapital.
The first problem we shall take up may be formulated thus: Does Marx use "ideology" consistently in such a sense that an ideology by definition is something of negative value, e. g. that it is equivalent by definition to mistakes, illusions, mystifications, instruments of deceit, falsifications? Or does he use a concept of ideology such that the properties of being illusions etc. are found by research (by "positive science" in the teminology of Marx) to be properties of ideologies?
The difference alluded to is of a terminological importance that may be made clear by the following illustration:
Suppose two persons P1 and P2 both declare about something, x: "This x is an ideology." Suppose further, that P1 uses "ideology" for a concept which has a negative evaluation as one of its conceptual characteristics, but that the other does not use such a concept. P2 uses "ideology" for a neutral concept, but evaluates negatively the denotata — the things subsumed under the concept. Now, if both make statements about ideologies, negative evaluations are of very different interest to the reader. P1 has right from the beginning selected things for study which he evaluated negatively. His general statement "Ideologies are of negative value" is tautological — it only repeats something deliberately put into the adopted meaning of the word "ideology". If P1 includes such a statement in his doctrine, it cannot be of any interest to a reader who remembers the definition adopted by P1.193)
On the other hand, if P2 includes a general statement on the negative value of ideologies in his doctrine, this may be of far-reaching
interest to the reader. P2 has used a neutral criterion of a selection of things to study, namely the conceptual characteristics of his neutral concept of ideology. After a study of denotata, he concludes with a negative evaluation of them. He pretends to have found out something about so-called ideologies. If, among the denotata subsumed under his neutral concept, there are things very highly evaluated by most people — religions, systems of law, doctrines of national honour etc., — then the conclusion of P2 has a vast potential importance, which the conclusion of P1 totally lacks. The conclusion of P2 is a kind of denunciation of the most sweeping character ever made, whereas that of P1 is a terminological triviality.
P1 may of course have important things to say, but his general statement on the negative value of ideologies cannot be included in them. If P1 subsumes a system of law under his concept of ideology, it is of interest to know how he manages to do so. He may have interesting doctrines of positive systems of law which justify the subsumption under a negative value judgment. Once subsumed, however, it is of trivial importance that he values them negatively in his general statement on ideology. If a pig is labelled "Third Class" in a slaughterhouse, this subsumption may arouse our vivid interest if we have bred the pig ourselves and have always considered it of superb quality. But the fact that third-class pigs are not first-class pigs does not interest anybody except, perhaps, logicians.
Now, is Marx to be compared with P1 — a comparison that is generally suggested by reference to Bonapartlst usage — or rather with P2? Are his general negative judgments of ideologies trivial because they are deductions derived from a definition, or do they represent far-reaching generalizations on the basis of observation?
If Marx has associated himself with Napoleon’s usage of the word "ideologue" and therefore employs a usage similar to the one called popular by Roucek or classed in connotation class No. 2 by Webster, his general negative judgment is trivial. But there are symptoms that — at least sometimes — he actually intended to produce concepts of ideology, at least closely related to — if not very similar to — the broad concept of Destutt de Tracy.
It seems that "idea" as used by Marx at least occasionally stood for something resembling "ideas" in the terminology of philosophers such as Locke, Condillac and Destutt de Tracy. "Ideology" might in rough accordance with this usage have stood for a more or less systematically developed and explicitly integrated, comprehensive group of opinions. This would make a concept of ideology (‘Ideologie V’) less general and also in other respects different from that of Destutt,
("Ideology I'), but at least in one respect closely allied. Both concepts are fairly neutral.
Let us consider the use of "idea" by Marx in Die deutsche Ideologie (1846):
"Die Production der Ideen, Vorstellungen, des Bewusstseins ist zunachst unmittelbar verflochten in die materielle Tatigkeit und den materiellen Verkehr der Menschen, Sprache des wirklichen Lebens. Das Vorstellen, Denken, der geistige Verkehr der Menschen erscheinen hier noch als direkter Ausfluss ihres materiellen Verhaltens. Von der geistigen Produktion, wie sie in Sprache der Politik, der Gesetze, der Moral, der Religion, Metaphysik usw. eines Volkes sich darstellt, gilt dasselbe. Die Menschen sind die Produzenten ihrer Vorstellungen, Ideen, aber die wirklichen, wirkenden Menschen, wie sie bedingt sind dutch eine bestimmte Entwicklung ihrer Produktivkräfte und des denselben entsprechenden Verkehrs bis zu semen weitesten Formationen hinauf." (p. 15).
The use of the term "Idee" is here consistent with that of Destutt de Tracy. "Idee" is a wide concept, including "Anschauungen", as this term is used in the following quotation: "— — — als der Gegensatz zwischen Bourgeoisie und Proletariat kommunistische und sozialistische Anschauungen erzeugt hatte." (p. 22.) Just as in Destutt’s work, there is a naturalistic tendency: For Destutt, ideology was part of zoology, for Marx it was part of the products of "real", "material", life. That the "Gegensatz" between bourgeoisie and proletariat has produced socialism and communism is in accordance with the doctrine that the "Produktion der Ideen, Vorstellungen, des Bewusstseins ist zunächst unmittelbar verflochten in die materielle Tatigkeit."
It is to be noted, however, that Marx seldom, if ever, used the term "idea" about opinions (doctrines) to which he himself adhered. "Positive science" is said to be descriptions (Darstellungen) of reality: "Da, wo die Spekulation aufhort, beim wirklichen Leben, beginnt also die wirkliche, positive Wissenschaft, die Darstelhmg der praktischen Betatigung, des praktischen Entwicklungsprozesses der Menschen" (p. 16). According to Marx, positive science makes use of "abstractions", but only as a convenient means of classifying, bringing order into, the account of historical processes. In more modern terminology: the concepts of empirical science are so expressed as to be "denkökonomisch". Its theoretical structure has no independent function, there is no "pure theory" in the sense of Kant or Hegel. The truth of the sentences consists in their usefulness in the actions by which environment is changed. The criterion is pragmatic.194) Consideration of truth without relation to action is scholastic nonsense. "Communism" is not said to be an idea or a system of ideas or a pure theory or an ideal, but "die wirk-
liche Bewegung, welche den jetzigen Zustand aufhebt."195 Marx would presumably class his utterances about communism as a description (Darstellung) within positive science. They are opinions, doctrines, ideas, only in a sense in which descriptions within positive (empirical)196) science are opinions, etc.
The following descriptive definition represents an attempt to translate "idea" as used by Marx into our own terminology: "An idea" is a doctrine, or part of "a doctrine, which is supposed by its proponents to be tenable and meaningful, independent of its relation to confirmation by empirical science." That ideas in the Marxian sense cannot possibly be true, and that they are illusions will then follow from its definition plus the opinions of Marx on the relations between truth and practice. The above descriptive definition is only intended as a first approximation — it is easy to show that it can scarcely be an accurate representation of a Marxian concept of "idea".
The term "Ideologie" seems to be a substantivation of Destutt's term "idea". A part of the connotation of "idea" is still there. But the substantivation follows peculiar lines. Whereas Destutt tended to mean by "ideology" the mass of human ideas and the general science of ideas, Marx tended to connote by that word a particular class of descriptive or normative opinions about particular subjects, namely ‘moral’, ‘theological’, ‘metaphysical’ and ‘political’ subjects. (Ideology VI). And whereas Destutt starts with a neutral concept "of idea", Marx starts with one (Ideology VII) that probably contains negative evaluation, and at least is such that given certain opinions of Marx on what constitutes truth and knowledge, a negative evaluation of designata of "idea" is implied.197)
Below are quoted some of the occurrences of "ideology" which are most important for attempts at a descriptive definition:
"Das Bewusstsein kann nie etwas anderes sein als das bewussre Sein, und das Sein der Menschen ist ihr wirklicher Lebensprozess. Wenn in der ganzen Ideologie die Menschen und ihre Verhältnisse, wie in einer Camera obscura, auf den Kopf gestellt erscheinen, so geht dies Phenomen ebensosehr aus ihrem historischen Lebensprozess hervor, wie die Umdrehung der Gegenstände auf der Netzhaut aus ihrem unmittelbar physischen.
Ganz im Gegensatz zur deutschen Philosophie, welche vom Himmel auf die Erde herabsteigt, wird hier von der Erde zum Himmel gestiegen. — — es wird von den wirklich tátigen Menschen ausgegangen und am ihrem wirklichen Lebensprozess auch die Entwicklung der ideologischen Reflexe und Echos dieses Lebensprozesses dargestellt." (Op.cit., p. 15). In some occurrences, "ideology" might be taken to stand for a simple class designation, designating doctrines about certain subject
matters: "Die Moral, Religion, Metaphysik und sonstige Ideologie — — behalten hiermit nicht langer den Schein der Selbstandigkeit." (p. 16). " — — Illusionen der Ideologen überhaupt, z. B. den Illusionen der Juristen, Politiker — —" (p. 39). "Sie vernichtete moglichst die ldeologie, Religion, Moral etc. — —." (p. 49). "— — muss man stets unterscheiden zwischen der materiellen naturwissenschaftlich treu zu konstatierenden Umwalzung in der ökonomischen Productionsbedingungen und den juridischen, politischen, religiosen, kunstlerischen oder philosophischen, kurz ideologischen Formen, worm sich die Menschen dieses Konflikts bewusst werden und un ausfechten."198)
The last occurrence may plausibly be interpreted as a class name for political, juridical doctrines etc., or patterns of argumentation. Thus interpreted, it could be made the basis of later Marxist usages according to which there is a Marxist philosophy, Marxist politics, and even Marxist artistic evaluation. These later usages are commonly held to differ from Marx’ own usage.
Marx’ criticism of ideologies is very closely related to his criticism of ideas. There is no reason to believe that "ideology" was used only as a class name for certain doctrines classed according to subject matter. A doctrine — or fairly coherent system of sentences pretending to be a doctrine — was probably only explicitly called an ideology by Marx, when he found the manner in which the doctrine was arrived at and its pretensions as regards validity to be fundamentally unsound, due to the "ideological process". Some sentences may be taken as evidence that such a negative evaluation must be implied in concepts of ideology which are suited to the use of the term in Die deutsche Ideologie:
"Die Teilung der Arbeit wird erst wirklich Teitung von dem Augen. blicke an, wo eine Teilung der materiellen und geistigen Arbeit eintritt. Von diesem Augenblicke an kann sich das Bewusstsein wirklich embilden, etwas Anderes als das Bewusstsein der bestehenden Praxis zu sein, wirklich etwas vorzustellen, obne etwas Wirkliches vorzustellen —von diesern Augenblicke an ist das Bewusstsein im Stande, sich von der Welt zu emanzipieren und zur Bildung der "reinen" Theorie, Theologie, Philosophie, Moral etc. uberzugehen." (p. 21).
The use of the term "pure" here suggests that there is something specific about metaphysical, moral, etc., doctrines which cannot be formulated in terms of their subject matter, but can be described in terms of their underlying theory of knowledge and the preposterous claims they may make. Other sentences describe these claims more fully:
"Nachdem die ldeologen nun vorausgesetzt hatten, dass die Ideen und Gedanken die bisherige Geschichte beherrschten, — —" (p. 165). "— — da er /Bruno Bauer/ mit allen Philosophen und Ideologen die Gedanken, ldeen, den verselbstandigten Gtdankenausdruck der der be-
stehenden Welt für die Grundlage dieser bestehendefl Welt versieht." (p. 77).
A stress on a peculiar function of ideological doctrines which makes them stand apart is clearly implied in the following quotations:
"Die Teilung der Arbeit, die wir schon oben (S. 20—23) als eine der Hauptmächte der bisherigen Geschichte vorfanden, aussert sich nun auch in der herrschenden Klasse als Teilung der geistigett und materiellen Arbeit, sodass innerhalb dieser Klasse der eine Teil als die Denker dieser Klasse auftritt, (die aktiven konzeptiven Ideologen derselben, welche die Ausbildung der Illusion dieser Klasse über sich selbst zu ihresn Hauptnahrungszweige machen) wãhrend die Andern sich zu diesen Gedanken und Illusionen mehr passiv und rezeptiv verhalten, — —" (p. 36).
"Hieraus folgt, dass alle Kampfe innerhalb des Staats, der Kampf zwischen Demokratie, Aristokratie und Monarchie, der Kampf urn das Wahlrecht etc. etc., niches als die illusorischen Forrnen sind, in denen die wirklichen Kämpfe der verschiedenen Klassen unter einander geführt werden (wovon die deutschen Theoretiker nicht eine Silbe ahnen), — —" (p.23).
Evidence based upon these occurrences, joined to the fact that there is no occurrence in which "Ideologie", "Ideologe" or "ideologisch" are used to designate something of which Marx approves, makes it justifiable to assume that the term "ideology" as intended by Marx, stands for something which by definition cannot be valid, sound or true.
This assumption is justifiable, but very far from obviously tenable. It is not far-fetched, for example, to assume that invalidity, unsoundness, character of illusion are only implied by the joint acceptance of two different things, a neutral Marxian concept of ideology and a particular theory of knowledge, a Soziologie des Wissens as part of a materialistic conception of history.
In research on Marx, this assumption has not been discussed, perhaps because it has little to do with basic tenets of Marx. But in relation to contemporary so-called ideology research the distinction on which the assumption is based, is of greater importance. The programme of Mannheim, for instance, takes up what is only "Nebensache" in the doctrine of Marx.
Assessing the importance of the terminology of Marx in his Die deutsche Ideologie as an inspiration for other communist and socialist terminology in the 19th century, it should be noted that whereas the main tendency in the use of "Ideologie" and "Ideologe" is depreciatory, there are exceptions. Thus, Lassalle, in his speech in Frankfurt a. M., May 1863, pictures himself as an ideologist with laudable goals:
"Wer steht denn mit Energie und Aufopferung hinter der politischen Freiheit? Wer? Ich, und noch etwa tausend Ideologen in Deutschland. Unter Ideologen verstehe ich in diesem Augenblicke alle solche, die iht Lebtage in Büchern gelebt haben und gewohnt sind, in Ideen und Gedanken zu existieren und alles für sie aufzuopfern."199)
On the basis of the above discussion one might venture to put forward an attempt to give a descriptive definition of "ideology" as this term is used by Marx in Die deutsche Ideologie:
"An ideology" is a more or less systematically developed and explicitly integrated group of ideas ("idea" taken in the Marxian sense), the subject matter of which belongs to theology, metaphysics, ethics, politics or jurisprudence.
According to this definition, the negative implication of the Marxian concept of "idea" is carried over to the ideology concept. Otherwise the concept is neutral.
Using the above definition, some of the main Marxian theses about ideologies may be roughly suggested thus:
Classes develop ideologies to serve class interests. They constitute a system of illusions. They ignore real life, the material aspect of existence, the productive forces and their change.
Ideologies picture the world as if the real development of a society were caused by ideas, whereas ideologies are mere echoes or reflexes of material conditions.
Because of the meagre evidence offered by Marx in his writings, a great number of other equally plausible interpretations of "ideology" may be constructed. We have selected one by which comparatively little of the doctrines of Marx is implied in his concept of "ideology". This makes it easy to formulate important non-tautological assertions about ideologies and makes the concept wider and therefore more applicable to a large range of phenomena.
Apart from the vagueness and ambiguity of the above definition, its main defect as a definition of "ideology" suitable for present-day research is its close dependency on the particular polemic which Marx produces in his Die deutsche Ideologie. The concept is adapted to the main purpose, namely to refute and ridicule particular German doctrines in metaphysics and theory of knowledge and value. The conceptual characteristics imply a kind of theory of knowledge and value asserting that metaphysical and other "pure" theories have a validity independent of any relation to findings of positive science. Certain extreme kinds of Begriffsrealismus seem to be taken for granted.
The narrow reference to Hegelian philosophic trends in Germany makes this ideology concept of Marx unsuitable as a basic concept in doctrines such as those of Mannheim. His scope is more universal and
he accordingly needs an ideology concept with no reference to particular philosophies in particular countries. But there are in the Mannheim formulations still traces of a close connection with an opposition to certain Hegelian views on "ideas" and "reality".
SOURCE: Næss, Arne Main, and associates Jens A. Christophersen and Kjell Kvalø. Democracy, Ideology, and Objectivity: Studies in the Semantics and Cognitive Analysis of Ideological Controversy. Oslo: Published for the Norwegian Research Council for Science and the Humanities [by] University Press, 1956. From Part B, Chapter 1, sections 2 & 3, pp. 148-161.
Concepts of Ideology, part 2
Ideology Study Guide
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