Professor Peltcher is writing a book on this!
- We have ideas that are “material.” Ideology is not just ideas inside a head, it’s actions, bureaucratic systems, city zoning, etc out in the real world.
- Not thoughts and ideals, it’s how thoughts and ideals are manifested in the real world.
- It doesn’t matter whether people think they have these ideologies or not.
- There is no “doer” behind the deed, there’s a series of interconnected deeds, and behind those deeds the material actions in the material world are what’s important.
- This is how ideologies spread.
- We don’t know whether Wilhelm Grimm was misogynist in his brain. But we can make an argument that his actions are misogynist.
- You can’t say what kind of person someone is, but you can say what they do in the world.
- Often we think think these actions are natural or self-evident.
- It’s the stuff that’s assumed for a power dynamic to take hold.
- Connections to fairy tales
- “Of course women spin in the home”
- “Of course the black bride is ugly and white bride is beautiful, that’s just the way it is”
- Beauty is a social construct, but in Snow White it’s presented as objective.
- Example: some people crush every hand that they shake in the real world, and that repeats and reproduces a particular dynamic of power (one that values physical strength, manliness, big-handedness, etc).
Ideology isn’t a value judgement. Homophobia is as much an ideology as queer liberation. Ideology is a way to examine things that are usually overlooked, because they just seem right.
- Adorno and Horkheimer in 1944 (additional context: they were Jews in exile): why has the Enlightenment not fixed the world? Why didn’t it deliver on its promise?
- You need a borgia education and German+French language and access to someone who’s a publisher.
- Enlightenment forces us to alienate parts of ourselves in search of rationality, and nature.
- We’ve given rationality so much power over us, so we feel like it’s the only way to face our problems.
- “If you’re a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”
- “It’s not a good night’s sleep, it’s a good sleep score on your phone”
- “It’s not a nice walk, it’s 10,000 steps”
- “It’s not a pretty star, it’s JR-1412”
- “They’re not people with real hopes and feelings, they’re Covid fatality numbers / voting blocs / etc”
- Rationality turns everything into numbers and data such that it becomes mythological again.
- All we’ve gained through the Enlightenment is data.
- “We know them only in so far as we can manipulate/master them.”
- ★ People used to create myths to explain things. We create data-driven quantitative analysis to explain things.
Dialectics: a system has within it, its own opposite or the potential for its own opposite.
- Example: “The master needs a slave to be a slave. The slave has the power to determine whether they’re a master or not.”
- Capitalism has, in itself, the ability to turn back into feudalism if it keeps running.
- ★ If we let the Enlightenment run wild, rationalization and reason will estrange us from ourselves and the real natural world to such a degree that we’ll eventually revert back to mythological thinking.
- We only know something to the degree that we can control it.
- But this is exactly what Enlightenment thought was supposed to be better than.