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by David Hawkes

Any literary student who is new to the terminology and uses of critical terms will welcome David Hawkes' Ideology, a comprehensive and concise overview. In refreshingly clear and jargon-free prose, Hawkes: * Considers the myriad definitions and meanings of ideology * Traces the history of the term and the debates which surround it, from Martin Luther and Machiavelli to present-day debates in feminism and psychoanalysis * Provides literary examples and illustrations to illuminate and clarify his argument * Asks whether, in the face of post-war capitalism and postmodernism, the ideology debate is obsolete, or is still very much relevant in contemporary debates
Download Ideology (The New Critical Idiom) epub
ISBN: 0415098084
ISBN13: 978-0415098083
Category: Other
Subcategory: Humanities
Author: David Hawkes
Language: English
Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (April 4, 1996)
Pages: 222 pages
ePUB size: 1318 kb
FB2 size: 1967 kb
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 609
Other Formats: mobi lrf azw rtf

David Hawkes takes on not just capitalism but the notion of money itself as well as all the institutions that remove us from reality. In this book the point is that we have changed the very nature of who we are as human beings by organizing our society around something (money) that is not only a symbol for something else but it is a representative of a symbol of a substitute for --- what? We are so far removed from the question of what it means to be a human being that we forgot the question.

The book was originally written in 1996 and revised in 2003 Post-911. I'd like to see another revision Post-Economic Meltdown, which he has been addressing in recent interview. Altogether fascinating but not for pessimists.
I'm not sure why this isn't more well-known. Hawkes' examination of ideology from the Old Testament to Descartes to Zizek is wildly interesting. This is NOT you dry academic tome, but an elegant piece of writing with a sharp and distinct point of view. I rarely pick up an academic book and feel riveted. But in this case, you should buckle your seat belts.
This is a well-written and interesting book that elaborates the Marx/Engels view of ideology. The book supports and expands Socialist views of ideology by supplementing Marxist formulas with sympathetic and conforming ideas found across the face of Western culture and history. Throughout, Hawkes pummels Capitalism with a hammer in one hand and a sickle in the other. During this drubbing, one gets a whirlwind review of philosophy (particularly on the topic of epistemology) and the greats of English literature--provided their works may be used to favorably amplify Socialist thinking on ideology. This cultural review makes the book readable and fun.

Ideology as narrowly defined by the author (and his Marxist cohorts) becomes an epithet used against Capitalism and Christianity, elaborating how these rival ideologies are wrong and false. (One might question whether Christianity is a rival or sympathetic ideology to Socialism, but leave that be.) Tellingly, nowhere in the work is Socialism or Communism examined as an ideology--Socialism is simply a liberating truth, the unmasking of other repressive ideologies. Communism, the most profoundly impactful ideology of the past century (perhaps millennium) gets not a single mention. Neither can the author name Islamism an ideology, writing that "9/11 can not be understood as a clash between competing ideologies." So what Hawkes means by "ideology" is a far distance removed from what most of us proles would recognize as a universal definition. It is a focused and targeted definition to be used against Capitalism. The book provides an ideological justification for a particular view of ideology--there's some irony in that.

What, then, is ideology to Hawkes (and Marx and Engels)? It's the idolatry of man-made objects, commodity fetishism, worship of the works of men's hands, a false consciousness, an illusory representation of reality. In a nutshell, it is the vile and evil marketplace. It is getting up in the morning and going to work, buying what you need to live, being concerned about money, and realizing that somewhere there is a contemptible Capitalist who is richer than you are. The false reality of our market-driven economy beguiles the repressed proletariat, who must rise up and overthrow their Capitalist oppressors--men like Buffet, Zukerberg, Bezos, Katzenberg and Soros, perhaps--to live in a society of equals. But under the guardianship of an intellectual elite, of course, since due to their ignorance, "the peasants cannot represent themselves." Men like Hawkes, perhaps, can represent us.

Hawkes makes many interesting circles around his conception of the epic battle between labor and capital, between proletariat and bourgeois, between work and investment, between truth and falsehood, between life and death. What he misses, is that we moderns are one of the Hegelian syntheses--a combination of both prole and bourgeois. We labor *and* we invest. We work so we *can* invest. Marx's dichotomies are of long ago and far away, with the catastrophic failure of the USSR separating Marx from us, and this book, the labor of so much intellectual straining, seems oddly detached from the real and present ideological struggles, unrecognized in this book, that engulf the world.
I have to concur with the other two reviewers, though ten stars seems a bit exaggerated. Only a bit. In this brilliant work, Hawkes looks at ideology and its discontents starting with the Old Testament and going right up to the Post-Modernists: Foucault, Baudrillard, Negri and Hardt. Hawkes takes a dialectical approach to his subject, maintaining that ideology is the result of the denial of the binary between materialism and idealism, object and subject, respectively, that goes back to the early Greek philosophers. Nevertheless, in the introduction, Hawkes leads us to believe that the "main argument of the book is that the postmodern sign, whether financial or linguistic, is epistemologically false and ethically degenerate," and while he provides a convincing case, it doesn't seem to me to be the "main argument" of the book, but one conclusion drawn from what seems to me to be the real argument: that dialectical logic is a preferred tool for understanding and ordering reality as well as a necessary corrective for philosophical systems (ideologies) that rest on half-truths or denied binaries. In a related theme, Hawkes traces back to Aristotle the problem of use versus exchange value, showing the latter to be the basis for "false consciousness" and this leads him to his conclusions about "false and ethically degenerate" postmodernism. He must have really taken a hit for those views in academia, but he makes a great, respectfully executed -- and I would say, also, convincing-- case for his view.
My only real criticism of the book is the ending. I recognize that he's dealing with ideology here, and he needs to end on that note, but after defining "ideology" as the denial of one element of a binary, and then reading his ending where he says that the "real site of political struggle is the human mind" and that the "external struggle between social classes has, in our time, reverted to an ideological conflict manifested internally," I'm quite annoyed and perplexed. While I'm delighted he's affirmed the subjective and ideal, on the other hand, after two hundred pages, here we are again affirming only one side of the binary and repressing the other, in this case, the "external objective material" in favor of the internal, subjective ideal. One would hope that a writer who has made such a strong argument in favor of contending with binary oppositions, contradictions and dialectics, would in the end demonstrate that argument with a closing statement that was dialectical. After all, couldn't the "real site of political struggle" also be in the external objective, material reality of the streets and the struggle between social classes? Like say, between the bankers and the people?
Still, that being said, this is a fabulous work and well worth reading.
This is one of the best introductory books to ideology. Hawkes deftely succeeds in providing a review of the history of the term and in the process the evolution of modern philosophy and thought. I recommend to my students all the time especially those still grappling with the intricate concept of ideology.