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Ideology & Society Marxist Tradition and Jameson
Starting Questions Central Debates in Marxism after Marx Althusser on Ideology Jameson on Interpretation Outline
Starting Questions I. Basics: • What are the central issues of debate engaged by both Althusser and Jameson? • What is ideology as it is defined by Althusser? • What are Jameson’s views of Marxist interpretation? • How does Althusser revise Marxist tradition by connecting it with structuralism and psychoanalysis? • How does Jameson engage Bakhtin and structuralism in his theory of interpretation? II. 思與辨 • What makes Bakhtin and Foucault related to Marxism, and what separates the two from the latter? • How do Bakhtin, Foucault and Althusser describe society or social formation differently? • How is discourse or power defined by Foucault similar to or different from ideology as Althusser defines it?
After Marx: History • Vulgar Marxism • Leninism and the Second International – • simplification and indoctrination of Marx (e.g. ideology = false consciousness) • Zhdanovism (Reflectionism); revolution (Trotskyism) • Stalinism • Russian Formalism (Mikhail Bakhtin ) 2. Western Marxism (e.g. Frankfurt School) 3. Poststructuralist (scientific) turn—Althusser, ( T. Eagleton) 4. American (F. Jameson) and British Marxism (R. Williams and T. Eagleton) 5. Post-Marxist (E. Laclau and C Mouffe)—against its totalizing schema
After Marx: Historical Turning Points • [October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution] German Ideology published in 1920’s. Stalinism; party = proletariat; dogmatization of Marx Western Marxism • May 1968(// civil rights movements in the States) Traditional Marxism cannot account for this new social formation, or cultural revolution. • Western Marxism gets to dominate as well as be transformed; • Foucault’s turn (from structuralist or discourse approach) to power and domination.
Determinism, economic determinism Reflectionism (1) social homology; (2) literature reflecting society and serving Communist causes. (tendentious or not) Base and Super Structure; Literature/Culture and society (and the role of Marxist criticism) Definitions of class, exploitation and capitalism, possibilities of revolution ( cultural revolution) Definitions of ideology –negative or positive, its influence on human subjects and interrelations with discourse. After Marx: Central Issues for Debate
Determinism Scientific Marxism – more economistic e.g. Althusser, New Left Review Voluntarism or humanism critical theory – rejects the base-superstructure metaphor in favor of a less well-defined totality. e.g. Lukacs, The Frankfurt school Raymond Williams, etc. After Marx: Central Debates (2) • (Alvin Gouldner The Two Marxisms) The persistent: the dialectics (in both action and thinking). Engels Natural Dialectics 三大規律:量化為質，質化為量， 對立元互相滲透，否定的否定．
Western Marxism • reacted against Leninism; • Georg Lukács, Antonio Gramsci（1891-1937, the Frankfurt School in Germany and the existential Marxists in France after World War II. • Supplement classical Marxism with existentialism or psychoanalysis. • Shifts the attention of critical theory away from the means and relations of production toward issues of everyday life and culture. • (source: Mark Poster http://www.humanities.uci.edu/mposter/books/)
Ideology: different views • Engels: ideology = false consciousness and ignorance • Lenin: bourgeois vs. socialist ideology • Bakhtin: denies the distinction between the intrinsic and the extrinsic; Both consciousness and ideology are semiotic, whether in the form of "inner speech" or in the process of verbal interaction with others, or in mediated forms like writing and art. • Gramsci: "historically organic ideologies“ + repressive, arbitrary ideology • Althusser: has material base; constitute subjectivities and their imaginary relations with society to ensure the power of the dominant group
Ideology: different views (2) Foucault -- • Power does not just reproduce relations of production; more pluralistic, localized. (e.g. the carceral) • Discourse// ideology: constitute subject • Against ideology, because – • Ideology implies an opponent -- truth. • ideology stands in a secondary position relative to something which functions as its base, as its material economic determinant.
Althusser • Anti-Humanism (like Levi-Strauss, Lacan, Foucault, Derrida); • Structuralist Marxism, renovation of historical materialism. (social formation – a more de-centered view of social causality) • Separates Ideology from science—divide Marx’s work into three periods: ideological, transitional and scientific • Borrow from Freud and Lacan: “the Imaginary” (ideology); mirror stage
Jameson "On Interpretation" • dialectical criticism & metacommentary • mediation, • three levels of interpretation; • History • Issues for Debate
metacommentary • -- "Interpretation is here construed as an essentially allegorical act, which consists in rewriting a given text in terms of a particular interpretive master code." (10) -- will always recognise the historical origins of its own concepts, the "master codes" it uses, and will never allow the concepts to ossify and become insensitive to the presuure of reality. --will seek to unmask the inner form of a genre or body of texts and will work from the surface of a work inward to the level where literary form is deeply related to the concrete.
Three levels' of Causality -- • Jameson's criticism of Althusser • 1.mechanical causality (billiard ball causality) applicable to analysis of local events 2. Hegel's and Stalin's "expressive causality" --homogeniety of the levels and totalization 3. Structural causality – Althusser’s
Mediation –revised view of social totality • Mediation is the classical dialectical term for the establishment of relationship between, say, the formal analysis of a work of art and its social ground, or between the internal dynamics of the political state and its economic base. • -- a process of transcoding: as the invention of a set of terms, the strategic choice of a particular code or language, such that the same terminology can be used to analyze and articulate two quite distinct types of objects or "text," . . . (40)
Mediation (2) –revised view of social totality Different kinds of mediation • Through separation and differentiation -- structural causality • through identification -- expressive causality "Althusserian structural causality is therefore just as fundamentally a practice of mediation as is the expressive causality to which it is opposed." (41)
Homology vs. ultimate determinism • Use contemporary materialist studies of Language as an example to argue against simple homology; • Use Greimas’ semiotic to analyze the deep structure of language (semiotic rectangle—based on the principles of contradiction and opposition p. 46)
Ideology and Lukacs’ concept of totality –as methodolgy • Ideology – strategies of containment • Totality – a methodological standard. • Totalization – a way to unmask ideology as strategies of containment. • Poststructualism (e.g. Derrida, Deleuze, etc.) reconfirm the status of the concept of totality by their very reaction against it. (53) • The multiplicity and discontinuity found by poststructuralist readers should be reunified “if not at the level of work itself, then at the level of its process of production. . . “ (The former –an initial moment of an Althusserian exegesis.
three horizons of criticism • immanent analysis – • Text as a symbolic act; • how history enters a text as an absent cause or subtext (1945- 56) • Semiotic rectangle // ideological closure; • socio-discourse analysis – • class as relational, • Text as parole in class discourse as langue –dialogical ideologemes • Historical reading— • Cultural revolution –both synchronic and diachronic • Ideology of form—contradictions produced by varied sign systems
Text as a Symbolic Act • Caduveo girl • by Guido Boggiani (source) • Construing formal patterns as a symbolic enactment of the social within the formal and aesthetic.
History • as an absent cause: "it [History] is inaccessible except through textual forms. amd . . . our approach to it and to the Real itself necessarily passes through its prior textualization, its narrativization in the political unconscious." (33/1946) -- History as Necessity: "History is what hurts, it is what refuses desire and set inexorable limits to individual as well as collective praxis. . . History as ground and untranscendable horizon. . . " (102/1959)
Issues for Debate • Do you agree with Jameson’s analysis of the three levels of social causality? • Do you agree with Jameson that behind the pluralist social institutions, society itself is a totality, “a seamless web, a single inconceivable and transindividual process” (p. 41); that behind historical events, there is History? • Do you agree that mediation, or trans-coding+assimilation+differentiation, is all that’s needed in crossing disciplines and social levels?
References • Mark Poster. Foucault, Marxism and History First published 1984 by Polity Press, Cambridge, in association with Basil Blackwell, Oxford. • David McLellan. Ideology. Buckingham: Open UP, 1st Ed. 1989, 2nd Ed. 1995.