Arbitrary and Organic Ideology

It follows that at the heart of economic and political organization are basic social relations, and at the heart of basic Western social relations is ‘hegemony’ or hegemonic discourse, with discourse amounting to a chain or a pattern of actions and rhetoric stemming from a basic concept or thought. 

Hegemony, as Gramsci argued, is itself a “Superstructure” with economic, political, and cultural dimensions or elements. But in order for the economic and political components of hegemony to stick, cultural hegemony is the glue which keeps the overall discourses and institutions of hegemony together. The advancement of economic interests alone or the military and security interests of the hegemonic “Superstructure” cannot be sustained without cultural hegemony and the insistence on ‘ideology’ and ‘values’ and so forth. As a result, an entire set of discourses and institutions are built around basic economic and political interests in the way of cultural hegemony, and in turn, these discourses and institutions together make up a hegemonic “Superstructure.”

As Gramsci wrote, both philosophy and politics put into practice (praxis) “consists precisely in asserting the moment of hegemony as essential to its conception of the state and to the ‘accrediting’ of the cultural fact, of cultural activity, of a cultural front as necessary alongside the merely economic and political ones.” Ideology and cultural activity give form to the material content of hegemony, as Gramsci argued. Hence the “inequality regime” which hegemony seeks to preserve through a set of discourses and institutions cannot stand to survive without the cultural and ideological dimensions or elements of hegemony. As Thomas Piketty wrote:

“The history of inequality cannot be reduced to an eternal clash between oppressors of the people and proud defenders. On both sides one finds sophisticated intellectual and institutional constructs. To be sure, on the side of the dominant groups, these constructs are not always devoid of hypocrisy and reflect a determination to remain in power, but they still need to be studied closely.”

Piketty added:

“Unlike the class struggle, the struggle of ideologies involves shared knowledge and experiences, respect for others, deliberation, and democracy. No one will ever possess the absolute truth about just ownership, just borders, just democracy, just taxes and education. The history of human societies can be seen as a quest for justice. Progress is possible only through detailed comparison of personal and historical experiences and the widest possible deliberation.” 

And as Gramsci argued, there are “arbitrary” ideologies and “arbitrary” intellectualism on one hand, and “organic” ideologies and “organic” intellectualism on the other hand. “Arbitrary” ideology and “arbitrary” intellectualism is “rationalized” and “willed” into being, and the only real purpose for “arbitrary” ideology and “arbitrary” intellectualism is to serve as a stark contrast to the truth and to bring the truth to light, whereas “organic” ideology and “organic” intellectualism are “necessary” and valid and in turn have the ability to organize society and stir the consciousness of various types of people. Moreover, organic ideology is driven by ‘class-consciousness’ and the fact that it represents people in a pragmatic and realistic fashion, given that people are the real source of authority and power in the world when all is said and done. On the other hand, arbitrary ideology represents narrow interests that are not representative of a broader and more comprehensive social reality which exists throughout the broader world and perhaps the cosmos as a whole.  

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