“The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.” Karl Marx
Facts alone cannot move us forward. The location of the political struggle today is outside the realm of quantifiable statistics, figures, or, studies. The mere expression of material reality is not, on its own, sufficient to win arguments or to change minds. This is because the source of the division exists not only in the order of the world but how the order of the world is perceived. Ideology is what orders peoples’ perception of the world; it is what gives power to the political and economic system of our time. Ideology is what explains the dissonance of the American worker. The worker who while being robbed by their boss, their tax collector, the wealthy landowners, and Wall Street crooks who are bailed out by taxpayer money, considers their misfortune and struggle their failure to adhere to the formula of the American Dream, rather than the product of system designed for their exploitation. This dissonance cannot be reconciled by solely exposing some worker to economic studies that clearly explain the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, the need for social programs, etc. How then is it possible to address the problems of the working class if the working class does not consider itself to even be working class? To reconcile this issue between fact and ideology is to attempt to approach a new consciousness, (which at some point was known as the communist consciousness.) This consciousness breaks from the fantasy and the fetishism that allow for an exploitative system to prop themselves upon the backs of the workers and have the very same workers support, through supporting the system as a whole, imperialist militarist traditions, intrusive spying, and violent tyrannical policing.
Ideology works when it is mysterious, however, solely recognizing its existence does not banish it, rather ideology often plays its most obscene tricks when as Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek says “they know it but are doing it anyway.” Ideology can be seen, as close to alienation, in fact, ideology is inherently alienating. Ideology is alienating because it was not something that was placed upon us by some foreign or divine entity, though it truly feels like it was, to the contrary we ourselves created a product. The issue mainly is that we do not see it as such. This move from the profane to the divine, while absurd, unlocks the impossibility of achieving the ideological goals ( a good life, equality, etc.) instead we are meant to believe in the unbelievable as a way of placating revolutionary energy. The bohemians, outsiders, perverts of society, are scolded by the ideological agents, the teachers, the policeman, the priest, constantly ordered to maintain the precious order and threatened with poverty and failure for daring to step out of line. It is here where the ideological chains are exposed and also at their weakest.
To address ideology we must not only look for it in the symbolic structures of power but in the unconscious mind. This is the realm of psychoanalysis, dreams, surrealism, and art. When writing on ideology Karl Marx called ideology, “the camera obscura,” that which flips the world upside down. If our material reality is flipped then we must look where materialism finds itself in contradiction. When we create new worlds and spaces of play, we have the opportunity to block out our alienating ideas, and our inauthentic selves. It is within this space where the chains of ideology and state power are at their weakest, there the revolutionary project begins!