September 17, 2016

Brief Notes on Ideological Complicity

Ideology is a cynical self defence against the subject’s inability to reconcile themselves with their social existence, the selection between ideal adaptations to the world.* It is neither a surface effect or ‘false consciousness’ of an exterior force with which the subject [subjectum] contends, nor a material substrate of subjection. It is rather the means by which such material subjects consciously misperceive and act to auto-obscure their own subjection [subjectus] to this force. Ideology is the subject’s cynical immuno-response to the inert practical reality of the situation in both everyday life and concrete history. There is nothing unconscious about ideology, it functions not as a domination but rather as a pseudo-liberation, a bracketing off, one by which the slave, as Kojève writes, “seeks to justify himself, to justify his slavery, to reconcile the idea of freedom with the fact of slavery.”[1]

The heightened contradiction inherent to an ideological existence in the world and its participatory character are inextricable, i.e. before ideology is a hyperattenuated fact of society it is a practice by which subjects reproduce themselves as subjects: “the whole entourage of certified origins, reassuring sociologisms, identity prostheses.”[2]

Ideology does not effect a mass psychological internalization and reproduction of the accumulation of capital but is rather itself the effect of a mass internalization and reproduction of the accumulation of capital, its cause is singular and novel and participatory instances and appropriations of subjection to this axiom, the aggregate of which is ideology. As Tiqqun write, “we participate in our own exploitation, and all exploitation is exploited.”[3] Ideally, you are yourself a little business, your own boss, your own product. Ideology treats subjectivity as an opportunity for having a small business.

A periodization of the accumulation of capital is at the same time a periodization of the psychic requirements of the reproduction and accumulation of capital, at one or another moment of its technical development and economic class antagonism; the accumulation of capital only dominates society to the extent that these technical developments and class antagonisms effect a mass psychological void or vacuum into which capitalist habits flow as a matter of course. Ideology is not a pre-existent falseness that obscures material reality, it is the material reality of the activity of falsification, a mass psychological adaptation to the fact of exploitation and exhaustion, the active process of the subject’s sabotaging their own capacity for self-legislation and reason in accord with the reality and implications of a historical materialism; ideology is the scuttling of consistency between the material and the ideal, not a lie believed, but rather truth atrophied, the recurrence of a desired untruth. Wilhelm Reich writes that the economic structure of society “affects and changes the workings of the sexual instinct,”[4] sublimating it and yielding it up as ‘freely’ exchanged labouring-capacity, but the warping of desire into sublimated labouring-capacity is accomplished not by the imprint of the economic structure, but accomplished instead by its appropriation and reproduction by living-labour itself as the labour of its own self-negation.

Frequently, Ideology can appear seductively beautiful. And as they say, you can’t wakeup someone who is pretending to be asleep.

*Perhaps this is why postmodern cynicism is nothing but ideology blatantly doubling up on itself. Castoriadis writes that the absurdity of ‘postmodern’ is obvious and banal, but notes that what is less frequently noted is how its absurdity is itself derivative.

[1] Alexandre Kojève, “Desire and Work in the Master and Slave” in Hegel’s Dialectic of Desire and Recognition: Texts and Commentary ed. John O’Neil (Albany: SUNY Press, 1996), 61.
[2] Tiqqun, This is Not a Program (Los Angeles: Semiotext[e], 2011), 12.
[3] Tiqqun, The Coming Insurrection (Los Angeles: Semiotext[e], 2009), 50-51.
[4] Wilhelm Reich, SEXPOL: Essays, 1929-1934 tr. Anna Bostock, Tom DuBose and Lee Baxandall (New York: Vintage Books, 1972), 46.


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