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coberst
06-11-2010, 03:30 PM
Flag: Making the Abstract Concrete

The flag is a symbol of an ideology; a symbol is an act, sound, or objects having cultural significance and the capacity to excite an emotional response. Ideology often reifies, i.e. making into an object an abstract idea, for the purpose of concretizing a matrix of abstract concepts into an emotional symbol for influencing the emotions of the people.

“O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

“Rally round the flag boys” was a song popular during the American Civil War.

The Union version goes something like this:
Yes we'll rally round the flag, boys, we'll rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom,
We will rally from the hillside, we'll gather from the plain,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!

The Confederate version goes something like this:
Our flag is proudly floating on the land and on the main,
Shout, shout the battle cry of Freedom!
Beneath it oft we've conquered, and we'll conquer oft again!
Shout, shout the battle cry of Freedom!

Marx is perhaps the first intellectual of great stature to coin the word “ideology” and to study its epistemological foundations. Marx makes it clear that ideology is an important aspect of all societies and especially for a society so dedicated to the cultivation of production and consumption as is capitalism.

A brief examination of culture in the United States and one will find that ideology, as framed by Marx, is a fundamental aspect of many of its social institutions; especially evident in religion, politics, and economics.

Ideology “is a systematically and socially biased body of thought”. It spans a broad spectrum of groups with their varying degree of bias and sophistication.

Despite the broad spectrum encompassed by this category of thought and practice “all ideologies share an identifiable logical structure objectively dictated by their ideological character”. Each ideology has a moral, i.e. prescriptive, dimension. Each ideology attempts to shape society to fit its particular world view. “Ideology turns what is a fact for one group into an “ought” or “ideal” for others…Marx argues that since an ideology generalizes a narrow point of view beyond the limits of its validity, it is compelled by its very logic to ‘moralize’ and ‘preach’.”

Ideology often becomes a moral doctrine. Because it generalizes and remodels abstract ideas into an object, i.e. it objectifies, it reifies narrow abstract ideas beyond their true limits of validity it is compelled to propagandize and to “sell” its ideas. Ideology is constantly telling others how they should live.

Ideology has a complex character. It is normative; what are its ideas and experiences it attempts to present them as inherent in human nature and from this it “deduces appropriate moral recommendations”. It is biased toward a specific group; it is against other social groups, it treats these other groups as mere means. It universalizes a narrow and limited view and “sells”, perhaps evangelizes (militant and crusading zeal) might be an appropriate expression, this view to others.

An ideology can never adequately defend it self rationally because its assumptions have never been critically evaluated nor explicitly formulated. It is often rabidly critical of rival views. “Consequently it never states its first principles, or makes a perfunctory case for them, keeps reiterating and reformulating them, elaborates on them in the name of critically examining them, and so on.”

Quotes from Marx’s Theory of Ideology by Bhikhu Parekh

listener
06-12-2010, 02:48 AM
Thanks for sharing those thought-provoking ideas about ideology.

Marx was a helluva smart guy; I wonder what he would have to say about his ideas being turned into an ideology that wreaked such havoc and destroyed so many lives.

On a technical note, it is good that you cite your quotations. But often it is not clear to me which parts of your posts are your own words and which are the quotations. A simple way to remedy this would be to use the "quote" function, which is the right-most icon in the row of icons that appears above the text window as you are composing your text.

coberst
06-12-2010, 05:34 AM
Thanks for sharing those thought-provoking ideas about ideology.

Marx was a helluva smart guy; I wonder what he would have to say about his ideas being turned into an ideology that wreaked such havoc and destroyed so many lives.

On a technical note, it is good that you cite your quotations. But often it is not clear to me which parts of your posts are your own words and which are the quotations. A simple way to remedy this would be to use the "quote" function, which is the right-most icon in the row of icons that appears above the text window as you are composing your text.

I use standard punctuation. I enclose direct quotes with quotation marks "".

Ocean
06-12-2010, 10:05 AM
Ideology has a complex character. It is normative; what are its ideas and experiences it attempts to present them as inherent in human nature and from this it “deduces appropriate moral recommendations”. It is biased toward a specific group; it is against other social groups, it treats these other groups as mere means. It universalizes a narrow and limited view and “sells”, perhaps evangelizes (militant and crusading zeal) might be an appropriate expression, this view to others.



Once again, coberst, you are presenting a very interesting set of ideas for us to reflect on.

Among the ideas that you express in the post, the above quote, and especially the text in bold, drew my attention. It seems to imply that ideology is based on an already existent set of values, practiced by a group and generalizable to other groups. However, ideology seems to me to be a proposition for the future. In that sense it doesn't have to be based on an already existent practice. Its prescriptive quality is a path to follow. I didn't notice that there was such distinction made in the text. Any thoughts?

coberst
06-13-2010, 08:18 AM
Ideology is like you say “However, ideology seems to me to be a proposition for the future”. Ideology is a matrix of ideas that a group wish to inculcate into the society such that more people will become advocates of that ideology. The principal task of today’s ideology is to assure that it becomes tomorrow’s ideology.

I think that religion expresses, in the purest and strongest form, the characteristic of an ideology.