dream' -- that is to say, where the distance from reality seems
redoubled. In a somewhat homologous way, we encounter the inherent limit of social reality, what has to be foreclosed if the consistent
field of reality is to emerge, precisely in the guise of the problematic of
ideology, of a 'superstructure', of something that appears to be a mere
epiphenomenon, a mirror-reflection, of 'true' social life. We are
dealing here with the paradoxical topology in which the surface ('mere
ideology') is directly linked to -- occupies the place of, stands in for --
what is 'deeper than depth itself, more real than reality itself.
Étienne Balibar, 'Racism as Universalism', in Masses, Classes, Ideas, New York: Routledge1994, pp. 198-9.
Renata Salecl, The Spoils of Freedom, London: Routledge 1994, p. 13.
Jeffrey Masson, The Assault on Truth: Freud's Suppression of the Seduction Theory, New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux 1984.
Jacqueline Rose, 'Where Does the Misery Come From?', in
Richard Feldstein and Judith Roof, eds, Feminism and Psychoanalysis, Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University
Press 1989, pp. 25-39.
The very title of Rose's article -- "'Where Does the Misery Come From?'" -- is indicative
here: one of the functions of ideology is precisely to explain the 'origins of Evil', to
'objectivize'-externalize its cause, and thus to discharge us of responsibility for it.
For that reason, the 'epochal horizons of pre-understanding' (the big theme of
hermeneutics) cannot be designated as ideology.
For a concise account of the theoretical consequences of this double trauma, see Theodor W. Adorno, 'Messages in a Bottle', in this volume (Chapter 1). As for the way Adorno's critique of identitarian thought announces post-structuralist 'deconstructionism', see Peter Dews, 'Adorno, Post-Structuralism and the Critique of Identity', in
this volume (Chapter 2).
8. In his La philosophie de Marx ( Paris: La Découverte 1993), Etienne Balibar drew
attention to the enigma of the complete disappearance of the notion of ideology in Marx's texts after 1850. In The German Ideology, the (omnipresent) notion of ideology is
conceived as the chimera that supplements social production and reproduction -- the
conceptual opposition that serves as its background is the one between the 'actual
life-process' and its distorted reflection in the heads of ideologues. Things get
complicated, however, the moment Marx engages in the 'critique of political economy':
what he encounters here in the guise of 'commodity fetishism' is no longer an 'illusion'
that 'reflects' reality but an uncanny chimera at work in the very heart of the actual
process of social production.
The same enigmatic eclipse may be detected in many a post-Marxist author: Ernesto
Laclau, for example, after the almost inflationary use of the concept of ideology in his Politics and Ideology ( London: Verso 1977), totally renounces it in Hegemony and Socialist
Strategy (co-authored with
Chantal Mouffe, London: Verso 1985).
To avoid a fatal misunderstanding, one must insist that this line of succession is not
to be read as a hierarchical progress, as a 'sublation' or 'suppression' of the preceding
mode. When, for example, we approach ideology in the guise of Ideological State
Apparatuses, this in no way entails the obsolescence or irrelevance of the level of
argumentation. Today, when official ideology is increasingly indifferent towards its own
consistency, an analysis of its inherent and constitutive inconsistencies is crucial if we are
to pierce the actual mode of its functioning.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Mapping Ideology.
Contributors: Slavoj Žižek - Editor.
Place of publication: London.
Publication year: 1994.
Page number: 30.
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