a commonplace book
[T]hose who are in ideology believe themselves by definition outside ideology: one of the effects of ideology is the practical denegation of the ideological character of ideology by ideology: ideology never says, ‘I am ideological’.
Louis Althusser, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes Toward an Investigation),” 1970
Thanks to Mike Rugnetta for letting me in on this text in the first place. He did an intriguingly oblique video about it here.
So this is an extremely disturbing and yet intuitive concept, if you understand what Althusser’s definition is of ideology, which this paragraph (opening with a quote from the same text) from Dino Felluga’s Purdue University module helps to pin down a bit.
I guess the reason it seems so disturbing is because by this logic everyone is ideological, varying only in type and degree(?). Althusser himself doesn’t put too much stake in his own text, being subtitled “Notes Toward an Investigation”–but the passage at hand is appropriate. I tend more and more to look at ideology (as such, not any particular one) as not inherently good/bad, kinda like how Foucault looks at power in Discipline and Punish. Human beings seem by nature to be ideological. It is a function of subjectivity and of exterior conditioning and maybe it has something to do with what I perceive as the human urge to stability–be it material, intellectual, psychological, or emotional. But maybe this is just my ideology talking… This section of the text is, I find, quite compelling in its primary observations about how people act in the world.