Ideology can be regarded as set of ideas, world view or the holistic system of thought. It can be called as grand theory. Those who give an ideology, project ideology as an scientific thinking. However in politics, ideologies are the means which help politicians to mobilize the voters.
The term ideology was coined by Antoine Destutt de Tracy. He was contemporary of Napoleon, the period of enlightenment. He defined it as the science of ideas. He believed that the ideas which shape our lives needs to be scientifically investigated. The ideas which appear rational can be accepted and which do not appear rational, to be rejected.
Later development in the concept of ideology
Role of Karl Marx
Contrary to Tracy’s perspective, who wanted to establish ideology as the scientific study of ideas, Karl Marx has projected as if science and Ideology as two opposite things. Marx projected the views of earlier philosophers (Hegel) as ideology. He described ideology as false consciousness. Ideology as a part of superstructure. In the words of Karl Marx, in every epoch, the ideas of ruling class, are ruling ideas. Hence he wanted workers to stay away from ideology. He claimed his own thinking as scientific.
Contribution of Lenin
Lenin realized that workers will not develop consciousness on their own. Hence communist party will instill Marxism as an ideology among workers. He made Marxism as a ideology. Contrary to what Marx wanted.
Role of Gramsci.
Gramsci has given greater significance to the role of ideology. Ideas cannot be ignored as a part of superstructure or as a reflection of base. He gave the concepts of Hegemony, the ideas of the dominant class and counter hegemony, the ideas of the subaltern class. He projected Marxism as counter-hegemony.
Analysis of ideology by western scholars.
In her book ON ORIGINS OF TOTALITARIANISM She established that ideology is a weapon of totalitarian state. t provided justification to use of terror. In her description of totalitarian system of 20th century, she gives example of communism and Nazism.
Karl Popper projected Marx as the enemy o pen society. He criticized Marx as determinist. Marxism cannot be considered as scientific theory. It doesn’t fulfill the criteria of falsification.
Scientific thinking is not possible in closed societies. Only in open society, where freedom of speech and expression exists, we can understand what is scientific and what is utopia. Hence he also compared , Marxism as an ideology an ideology leading to totalitarianism.
Karl Mannheim. IDEOLOGY AND UTOPIA.
He has given the concept of sociology of knowledge. It means every theory has its sociological basis. Or every theory represents the interest of a particular class. If communism is written from the perspective of poor, liberalism is written from the perspective of the capitalists.
Karl Mannheim made difference between ideology and utopia. Ideology represents the interest of the dominant class (Liberalism). Utopia represent the interest of the exploited class. (Marxism). But utopias are not bad, they are the source of motivation for the oppressed.
Is it possible to give the scientific explanation of reality?
No. According to postmodernists, ‘god is dead’ (Nietzsche). According to neo conservative Oakeshott, in the field of politics, we move in bottomless and borderless sea.
Test Your Knowledge!
1] How does Karl Marx view ideology?
a) As a false consciousness
b) As science of ideas
c) As a weapon of totalitarian state
d) He considered ideology was dead in his times
Ans: a) As a false consciousness
2] What does sociology of knowledge mean?
a) Knowledge is absolute irrespective of society
b) Knowledge is a myth
c) Every theory represents the interest of a particular group
d) Every theory is inclined towards the group which is larger in terms of population
Ans: c) Every theory represents the interest of a particular group
3] Who made the statement ‘God is dead’?
a) Karl Popper
b) Hannah Arendt
c) Micheal Oakshott
Ans: d) Nietzsche