Ideology has never before been so much in evidence as a fact and so little understood as a concept as it is today. In this now classic work, originally written for both newcomers to the topic and for those already familiar with the debate, Terry Eagleton unravels the many different definitions of ideology, and explores the concept's torturous history from the Enlightenment to postmodernism.
The book provides lucid accounts of the thought of key Marxist thinkers, as well as of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud and the various post-structuralists. Now updated in the light of current theoretical debates, this essential text by one of our most important contemporary critics clarifies a notoriously confused subject.
Ideology is core reading for students and teachers of literature and politics.
Paperback, 242 pages
$23.95 / £15.99
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Terry Eagleton defends Marx's legacy in the Chronicle of Higher Education, answering many of the usual tropes and explaining why the financial crises have prompted a resurgence of interest in the questions raised by Marx's thought:
The truth is that Marx was no more responsible for the monstrous oppression of the communist world than Jesus was responsible for the Inquisition. For one thing, Marx would have scorned the idea that socialism could take root in desperately impoverished, chronically backward societies like Russia and China. If it did, then the result would simply be what he called "generalized scarcity," by which he means that everyone would now be deprived, not just the poor. It would mean a recycling of "the old filthy business"—or, in less tasteful translation, "the same old crap." Marxism is a theory of how well-heeled capitalist nations might use their immense resources to achieve justice and prosperity for their people. It is not a program by which nations bereft of material resources, a flourishing civic culture, a democratic heritage, a well-evolved technology, enlightened liberal traditions, and a skilled, educated work force might catapult themselves into the modern age ...
There is a sense in which the whole of Marx's writing boils down to several embarrassing questions: Why is it that the capitalist West has accumulated more resources than human history has ever witnessed, yet appears powerless to overcome poverty, starvation, exploitation, and inequality? What are the mechanisms by which affluence for a minority seems to breed hardship and indignity for the many? Why does private wealth seem to go hand in hand with public squalor? Is it, as the good-hearted liberal reformist suggests, that we have simply not got around to mopping up these pockets of human misery, but shall do so in the fullness of time? Or is it more plausible to maintain that there is something in the nature of capitalism itself which generates deprivation and inequality, as surely as Charlie Sheen generates gossip? ...