When, during the eighteenth century, the ‘rising class’, the bourgeoisie, developed a humanist ideology of equality, freedom, and reason, it gave its own demands the form of universality, since it hoped thereby to enroll at its side, by their education to this end, the very men it would liberate only for their exploitation. This is the Rousseauan myth of the origins of inequality: the rich holding forth to the poor in ‘the most deliberate discourse’ ever conceived, so as to persuade them to live their slavery as their freedom. In reality, the bourgeoisie has to believe in its own myth before it can convince others, and not only so as to convince others, since what it lives in its ideology is the very relation between it and its real conditions of existence which allows it simultaneously to act on itself (provide itself with a legal and ethical consciousness, and the legal and ethical conditions of economic liberalism) and on others (those it exploits and is going to exploit in the future: the ‘free labourers’) so as to take up, occupy, and maintain its historical role as a ruling class. Thus, in a very exact sense, the bourgeoisie lives in the ideology of freedom the relation between it and its conditions of existence: that is, its real relation (the law of a liberal capitalist economy) but invested in an imaginary relation (all men are free, including the free labourers). Its ideology consists of this play on the word freedom, which betrays the bourgeois wish to mystify those (‘free men’!) it exploits, blackmailing them with freedom so as to keep them in harness, as much as the bourgeoisie’s need to live its own class rule as the freedom of those it is exploiting. Just as a people that exploits another cannot be free, so a class that uses an ideology is its captive too. So when we speak of the class function of an ideology it must be understood that the ruling ideology is indeed the ideology of the ruling class and that the former serves the latter not only in its rule over the exploited class, but in its own constitution of itself as the ruling class, by making it accept the lived relation between itself and the world as real and justified.
- Louis Althusser, Marxism and Humanism, p.201-202 (via lovevoltaireusapart)
Bourgeois ideology is an ideology which refuses to allow itself to be identified as an ideology by presenting itself as neutral, impartial, universal, objective and value-free.

It is the field of the problematic that defines and structures the invisible as the defined excluded, excluded from the field of visibility and defined as excluded by the existence and peculiar structure of the field of the problematic; as what forbids and represses the reflection of the field on its object, i.e., the necessary and immanent inter-relationship of the problematic and one of its objects.

[…] These new objects and problems are necessarily invisible in the field of the existing theory, because they are forbidden by it—they are objects and problems necessarily without any necessary relations with the field of the visible as defined by the problematic. They are invisible because they are rejected in principle, repressed from the field of the visible: and that is why their fleeting presence in the field when it does occur (in very peculiar and symptomatic circumstances) goes unperceived, and becomes literally an undivulgeable absence—since the whole function of the field is not to see them, to forbid any sighting of them. Here, again, the invisible is no more a function of a subject’s sighting than is the visible: the invisible is the theoretical problematic’s non-vision of its non-objects, the invisible is the darkness, the blinded eye of the theoretical problematic’s self-reflection when it scans its non-objects, its non-problems without seeing them, in order not to look at them.

- Louis Althusser, Reading Capital (via aidsnegligee)
Every class tries to occupy a leading position not only in the institutions of power, but also in the actually expressed opinions, values and norms in the majority of society. The privileged classes have occupied a leading position and subjugated the exploited people not only politically but also intellectually. What is more, the intellectual hegemony is a precondition of political hegemony.
- Leszek Kolakowski, Die Hauptströmungen des Marxismus: Entstehung – Entwicklung – Zerfall (quoted in Eco-Socialism or Barbarism: An up-to-date Critique of Capitalism)

(Source: probablyasocialecologist)

Each new class which puts itself in the place of one ruling before it, is compelled, merely in order to carry through its aim, to represent its interest as the common interest of all the members of society, that is, expressed in ideal form: it has to give its ideas the form of universality, and represent them as the only rational, universally valid ones.
- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology
A socialist is just someone who is unable to get over his or her astonishment that most people who have lived and died have spent lives of wretched, fruitless, unremitting toil.
- Terry Eagleton, Ideology: An Introduction
If people do not actively combat a political regime which oppresses them, it may not be because they have meekly imbibed its governing values. It may be because they are too exhausted after a hard day’s work to have much energy left to engage in political activity, or because they are too fatalistic or apathetic to see the point of opposing the regime; or they may spend too much time worrying about their jobs and mortgages and income tax returns to give it much thought. Ruling classes have at their disposal a great may techniques of ‘negative’ social control, which are a good deal more prosaic and material than persuading their subjects that they belong to a master race or exhorting them to identify with the destiny of the nation.
- Terry Eagleton, Ideology: an introduction, p.34

(Source: itsworsethanthat)

For it must be cried out, at a time when some have the audacity to neo-evangelize in the name of the ideal of a liberal democracy that has finally realized itself as the ideal of human history: never have violence, inequality, exclusion, famine, and thus economic oppression affected as many human beings in the history of the earth and of humanity. Instead of singing the advent of the ideal of liberal democracy and of the capitalist market in the euphoria of the end of history, instead of celebrating the ‘end of ideologies’ and the end of the great emancipatory discourses, let us never neglect this obvious macroscopic fact, made up of innumerable singular sites of suffering: no degree of progress allows one to ignore that never before, in absolute figures, have so many men, women and children been subjugated, starved or exterminated on the earth.
- Jacques Derrida, on Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man (via orioleorgans)
Reblogged from
The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think. Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch. For instance, in an age and in a country where royal power, aristocracy, and bourgeoisie are contending for mastery and where, therefore, mastery is shared, the doctrine of the separation of powers proves to be the dominant idea and is expressed as an “eternal law.”
- Karl Marx, The German Ideology: Part I: Feuerbach, Opposition of the Materialist and Idealist Outlook (via rethinksocialism)

(Source: marxists.org)

A collection of Leftist quotations, sayings, and aphorisms.

Compiled by Euan and Brandon