What is Karl Marx ideology

6.3 Social theoretical or classical ideology concept in Marx and in Marxism

The Ideology concept in Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) is explicitly oriented towards social theory and refers to the (mutual) Relationship between social conditions and thinking of individuals and social groups or classes. Compared to the Enlightenment philosophy, this means that ideological thinking cannot be changed simply by clarifying the consciousness, but rather connected with material economic and political conditions is.

Statue of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in Berlin; Photographer: Jorge Lascar 2009

Marx has as part of his work two ideological determinations elaborated:

(1) In his so-called "early writings" is Ideology especially as "false consciousness" of individuals understood about their living conditions. Ideologies are the wrong ideas that "material traffic" (the relations of production) brings about in people. These obscure the actual living conditions, in fact support the power of the respective ruling classes and paralyze the political power of individuals. (Marx / Engels 1845-1846, 22).

Marx develops one in the process materialistic-objective ideologywho understands changes in consciousness as being based on real historical processes and is thus able to do so against the idealistic-objective ideology concept of German (idealistic) philosophy (G.W.F. Hegel, Ludwig Feuerbach) judges. According to Marx against Feuerbach, individuals must not be reduced to "consciousness" (for example, to religious ideas), but are in their reality "the ensemble of social conditions" (Marx 1845, 6). Against Hegel's idealism, Marx emphasizes that In the end, history is not the work of ideas, but of concrete human actions in certain social conditions represents. The analysis of ideologies must therefore start from the social reality in which people live.

Ideology criticism in the sense of the critical materialism of Marx and Engels now consists of analyzing the essential economic, political and ideological mechanisms that are at work and thus to identify starting points for changes (and thus also to take a first step towards fighting ideologies politically).

As in most of the early writings, in the first section of Capital (Marx 1867/1872) on the so-called “fetish character of goods”, Marx assumed that economic conditions would have an unmediated, quasi-automatic effect on people's consciousness.

(2) At the same time, Marx thematized - especially in his political science writings (Marx 1852/1869; 1871) - additionally the Mediation by specific actors and institutionsnecessary to elaborate and spread ideologies.

Essential characteristics of the ideology definition in Marx: In the socio-theoretical ideology determination is dialectical consideration of the ideological central in its relationship to material (i.e. economic and political) processes and structures. Social and political ideas are read, analyzed and criticized in relation to the social relations of production and political rule. Ideology criticism senses the inappropriateness of ideas in relation to the material ones (especially economic) Conditions according to. Consciousness is "wrong" if or because it (1) presents the real economic conditions (the base, the substructure) one-sided / distorted / wrong and (2) conceals / denies the real power relations.

References: The concept of ideologycriticism is accepted by numerous Western European neo-Marxists in the 20th century: by Georg Lukács (1923) and by representatives of the "Critical Theory" (also called "Frankfurt School"), Max Horkheimer, Theodor W. Adorno (1944/1947) and Herbert Marcuse ( 1928; 1967). Antonio Gramsci (1991ff.) Took up the political theoretical writings of Marx, analyzed the role of intellectuals in the formulation and dissemination of ideologies and expanded ideology theory to a theory of hegemony.