Monday, May 09, 2011
Quilting point posted by Richard Seymour
"Articulation requires, therefore, the existence of nonclass contents - interpellations and contradictions - which constitute the raw material on which class ideological practices operate. These ideological practices are determined not only by a view of the world consistent with the insertion of a given class in the process of production, but also by its relations with other classes and by the actual level of class struggle. The ideology of a dominant class does not merely consist of a Weltanschaung which ideologically expresses its essence, but is a functioning part of the system of rule of that class. The ideology of the dominant class, precisely because it is dominant, interpellates not only the members of that class but also members of the dominated classes. The concrete form in which the interpellation of the latter takes place is a partial absorption and neutralisation of those ideological contents through which resistance to the domination of the former is expressed.
"The characteristic method of securing this objective is to eliminate antagonism and transform it into a simple difference. A class is hegemonic not so much to the extent that it is able to impose a uniform conception of the world on the rest of society, but to the extent that it can articulate different visions of the world in such a way that their potential antagonism is neutralised. The English bourgeoisie of the 19th century was transformed into a hegemonic class not through the imposition of a uniform ideology upon other classes, but to the extent that it succeeded in articulating different ideologies to its hegemonic project by an elimination of their antagonistic character: the aristocracy was not abolished, in the jacobin style, but was reduced to an increasingly subordinate and decorative role, while the demands of the working class were partially absorbed - which resulted in reformism and trade-unionism. The particularism and ad hoc nature of dominant institutions and ideology in Great Britain does not, therefore, reflect an inadequate bourgeois development but exactly the opposite: the supreme articulating power of the bourgeoisie’s. Similarly, ideologies of dominated classes consist of articulating projects which try to develop the potential antagonisms constituting a determinate social formation. What is important here is that the dominant class exerts its hegemony in two ways: (1) through the articulation into its class discourse of non-class contradictions and interpellations; (2) through the absorption of contents forming part of the ideological and political discourses of the dominated classes. The presence of working class demands in a discourse - the eight-hour day, for example is insufficient to determine the class nature of that discourse. The political discourse of the bourgeoisie also came to accept the eight-hour day as a ‘just’ demand, and to adopt advanced social legislation. This is a clear proof that it is not in the presence of determinate contents of a discourse but in the articulating principle which unifies them that we must seek the class character of politics and ideology."
|—||Ernesto Laclau, Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory: Capitalism - Fascism - Populism, NLB, 1977, pp. 160-2|