Friday, February 25, 2011

So many questions!

Been making my way through Zizek's first book. The plan is to post thoughts that come out of my reading.

One way to really see how ideology works is not so much in the answers someone gives but in the person's questions. For example, the type of questions floating around at this time are like: "Yes, but why did the Egyptians really revolt against Mubarak?" or "What do the unions really have in store for Wisconsin?" Instead of paying attention to the actual appearances and statements from the actors of these events, one attempts to look behind the curtain to find some other, nefarious motive.

One of the problems is that instead of dealing with the hard, everyday battle of the social-political framework, one simply dismisses it because of the silent, puppet-master pulling all the strings makes it impossible to change anything. The reality of this is that things never run so smoothly. To posit the entity pulling all the strings is to betray how disjointed the world really is. In essence, ideology plays upon the idea that reality has any type of completeness or finality.

This kind of fake wholeness of community is best seen in Antisemitism in Nazi Germany. The idea here is the Nazi's pursued the thought that Germany could be a peaceful, whole community but the foreigner (the Jews) were the element in society preventing this idea of a complete society. This ideal community then served as the context for the Nazi's to remove the foreign element from society. Again, one of the principle propaganda methods used was these type of questions: "Yes, but why do you think the Jews control the banks?" and "Why do you think your Jewish neighbor seems so normal?" So for a German steeped in ideology, there is always some secret motive in the other; of course the Jewish banker can't just be a banker because that is the job he has from the historical/social/ contextual reality that he was given or the neighbor just can't be a nice, regular guy. They are all part of a secret plot to interrupt the German way of life!

Seen from the viewpoint of ideology, the Jewish Germans had no shot for survival and neither does any other group that does not resist the type of questions that ideologists attempt to pose. Again, the national way of life as a completed and natural state of things is a fake. It is used as a way to attack any type of otherness or mood of discontent coming from those on the outside of the ideology. Perhaps philosophy's best contribution is to re-frame the questions posed by ideology.

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