5
Ideology in
the United States

In spite of Mannheim's attempts to demonstrate the allpervasiveness of ideological thinking, the positivist tradition of a restrictive definition of ideology and a discussion of it that claimed not itself to be ideological has been alive and well since the Second World War and living mainly in America. The comparatively recent growth of interest in ideology here is impressive; the prestigious Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences (1930–35) contains no reference to ideology, whereas its successor of 1968, the International Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, has two lengthy articles on the subject.1 Much of this positivist discussion of ideology harks back to Napoleon's dismissal of it as irrational and dangerously opposed to the pursuit of material interests.2 This view reflected the predominance of behaviouralism in post-war American political science and the stress on ordinary language and linguistic analysis in British philosophy. The horrors of Nazism were fresh in many minds. Disillusion with Soviet Russia was also a factor making for an equation of ideology with extremism and the confidence that a value-free social science could establish some sort of adequate pragmatic approach to social improvement. An example of this attitude is to be found in the 'end of ideology' debate. Although many of the contributors to this debate were excellent examples of Mannheim's description of contemporary social scientists as 'talking past each other', they do bring into focus the approach to ideology still strong in Anglo-Saxon political science.

In one sense, Mannheim himself can be seen as a precursor of the 'end of ideology' thesis or more appropriately, in his own

-44-

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