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Zizek Mapping Ideology Notes
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Slavoj Zizek - Mapping Ideology Introduction: The Spectre of Ideology
1. Critique of Ideology, today?
● Ideology exists as a generative matrix that regulates the relationship between the imaginable and the non-imaginable, visible and non-visible
○ in the 1970s, we took humanity's exploitative relationship with nature for granted, and imagined different forms of social organization (communism, fascism)
○ now (1995) we take liberal capitalism for granted, but question our relationship with nature
■ it is as if the end of the world is more plausible than the end of liberal capitalism
○ we can see this matrix in the dialectical relationship between old and new
■ i.e. where an event is heralded as the start of a new epoch, but is 'entirely inscribed in the logic of the existing order'; or the reverse, where an event that represents a new epoch is seen as a return to the past
● e.g. late capitalism is seen as a new epoch, when in fact it represents the same dynamics
● the new states in Eastern Europe are seen as a return to 19th century nation states, but in fact this concept is being withered away by ethnic nationalism, transnational links etc
○ these relationships are dialectical - liberal capitalism and Eurasism are opposite poles, but each is inherent within the other, and to understand Eurasism we must dissect liberal capitalism
● Doesn't the critique of ideology presuppose some privileged position, above the turmoils of social life, where we can view the mechanism that regulates visibility and non-visibility?
○ isn't this the most clear case of ideology?
● Ideology can consist in finding necessity in contingent events - seeing patriarchy as 'natural' but it can also consist in seeing necessary events as contingent
○ e.g. in psychoanalysis, claiming your words were a slip of the tongue, without signification, or in economics, where a crisis that represents the inner logic of the system is represented as contingent
○ so in law, the idea of personal guilt serves the ideological function of hiding the (necessary?) mechanisms that define the meaning of actions before they are even committed - this precludes an analysis of concrete conditions
■ similarly the leftist focus on concrete conditions sees necessity where there is contingence
● The ambiguity between the concrete circumstances analysis of economics and the interpretive, desire-focus of psychoanalysis may be ideological
○ viewing resistance to social relations as the acting out of psychic tensions can clearly be seen as ideological
○ similarly attributing all to social conditions, and neglecting 'the real of his of her desire' is 'no less false'
● It is when we try to step out of ideology that we are most enslaved by it
○ actions are ideological where they reflect actual relations of power
■ thus ideology has no connection with illusion - ideology may be true or false: the
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