Affirmative Action and ideology -Reply

Wed Apr 12 14:58:14 MDT 1995

Haven't you two agreed with each other enough yet?  I agree with you
both, as you'll see in another of my posts of today.

Justin posted:
Scott and I were debating white working class racism and sexism in
the context of Marx's theory of ideology. We agree largely on What Is
To Be
Done, so the issue may be "scholastic," but it's intreresting. In the
passage quoted below I claim that Marx has a two-stage theory of
(and sexism):

1. Workers from relatively privileged groupo develop hostility to
underprivileged workers based on the economic conditions of their
life, notably competition for jobs and other social benefits.

2. The bourgeoisie seizes on these hostility and whips them up
maintain class divisions and thus class rule.
  What's important about thisa model is the idea that racist and
sexist ideology is a natural and normal product of working class
life, something that spings from within it and is not, in particular,
imposed from without by brainwashing. A different model is the
Enlightenment picture of religion, on which religious ideology is
something people don't believe on their own but come to believe
because cynical priests and kings have it taught inb church and
school to maintain their power. Marx's theory of ideology always
opposed this picture. In his early remarks on religion you can
clearly see the two stages:

1.1 "Religios sentiment is the cry of the oppressed, the heart of a
heartless world..."

That is, people come up with religion themselves to deal with their
unhappy condition.

2.1 "It is the opium of the people."

And the kings and lords (and capitalists) take advantage of the
producer's response to damp rebellious tendencies.

Scott objects that this reading ignores the fact that the ruling
class is already involved at stage 1, in producing the conditions of
subordinbate group life which create ideology. Thus, he says, it
changes MNarx's whole meaning, and is also an error, to say that the
RC does not produce racist, etc., ideology.

     --- from list marxism at ---


More information about the Marxism mailing list