Ideology – Noonan and Žižek


Hi all,

So, we discussed this week some matters regarding ideology, ‘false-consciousness’ and Robert Noonan’s (Tressell’s) The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.

Image result for ragged trousered philanthropists

Noonan of course tends to oppose ideology with ‘science’-Marxist science. Here, ideology is an affliction that corresponds with ignorance; his use of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave suggests that while his labourers toil in squalor and destitution, the distorting images of reality to which they are subjected through various forms of ideological persuasion, subtle and not-so-subtle (newspapers, religion, royalty, ‘distractions’ like betting etc: Plato’s ‘shadows’) discursively mould their consciousness from above, leaving them largely incapable of recognising their real subjection.

But, paradoxically (for surely we are all subject to the force of ideology?) higher thinkers like Frank Owen can evade the interpellating distortion produced by these ‘shadows’ by resorting to Marxism’s systematic explanation of economic and social processes under capitalism. As we saw, Žižek, in one way, pushes us to question this characterisation of ideology as too simplistic: ‘the tragedy of our predicament in ideology is that, when we think we escape it into our dreams, at that point we are within ideology’. See more of the clip I used from Žižek here:

But does that also imply a sort of impotent relativism? (Your view is as good as mine; none of us are any the wiser?)

These are questions we will encounter throughout the course.

Here are some resources at Queen’s that you can explore further in thinking around these topics:

And of course, I mentioned in the lecture this idea, which I thought pertinent to Noonan and his depiction of the systemic nature of violence in capitalism, the distinction that we must draw between ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ violence, according to Žižek. His book Violence (2008) is a really enjoyable and provocative read in this regard:

Do get in touch if I can help further!








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