Thursday, September 25, 2008

Response to Dr. Craig

In a continuation of last week's post, I'll be responding to some of Dr. Craig's thoughts on Marxism and how our ideologies (Communist or Capitalist) pervade most aspects of society.
I think the most fascinating idea Dr. Craig has commented on is the notion that all literature, whether it consciously acknowledges it, still directly or indirectly, perpetuate the dominance of the ruling class. Even those who deliberately and forcefully write in opposition to the prevailing ideology in their society are in some way legitimizing their own subjugation. In a sense, it seems to suggest that there is no "outside of ideology", for our very sense of self and consciousness is shaped and molded by powers beyond our control.
The "ruling class", in whatever methods or forms it chooses to use, attempts to hide our very subjugation from us. Most people would raise issue with this and try to assert that our small forms of rebellion (i.e. reading the Communist Manifesto, hanging pictures of Che in our dorm rooms, attending protests) are a manner with which we can voice dissent. Yet these small liberties are not true measures of freedom, at least according to many Marxist theorists. Dr. Craig summarizes the idea succinctly when he states, "radical departures from the dominant values of society are nonetheless engaged with those values, even when, and perhaps, especially when, they claim that they are not."
This is a difficult idea for me to grapple with, and one that I'm not sure if I completely agree or disagree with. I'm with Marx when he asserts that ideologies are central to how we understand ourselves and our place in society, and further more that these dominant ideologies are culturally constructed. Yet the question that really plagues me is the difference between recognizing your relative subjugation by hegemonic forces and freeing yourself from said forces. Surely if ideology was as inescapable as Marx and Engels believed, nobody would be able to truly revolt against anything, especially not the Bolsheviks and other socialist and Communists who DID succeed in restructuring their society. This is a question I actually ponder often, and one that keeps me awake at night (so to speak). I think that for Marxism to function, it must require some great faith in humanity for without that a true revolt of the people could never take place.

1 comment:

Das Kapitol said...


Theoretically speaking, there is no outside ideology. But practically speaking, as you mention, there certainly is: revolution! Marx understood that capitalism and the ruling class ideology that helps to protect and maintain it was insidious and seductive. Perhaps the only way out is to begin again, with something new, dignified, and egalitarian.