Some points related to Chomsky’s position on the role of ‘ideology’:
(background to the controversy and source of the material here)
“His idea is today that cynicism of those in power is so open that we don’t need any critique of ideology, you reach symptomatically between the lines, everything is cynically openly admitted. We just have to bring out the facts of people. Like “This company is profiting in Iraq” and so on and so on. Here I violently disagree.
First, more than ever today, our daily life is ideology. how can you doubt ideology when recntly I think Paul Krugman published a relatively good text where he demonstrated how this idea of austerity, this is not even good bourgeois economic theory! It’s a kind of a primordial, common-sense magical thinking when you confront a crisis, “Oh, we must have done something wrong, we spent too much so let’s economize and so on and so on.”
My second point, cynicists are those who are most prone to fall into illusions. Cynicists are not people who see things the way they really are and so on. Think about 2008 and the ongoing financial crisis. It was not cooked up in some crazy welfare state; social democrats who are spending too much. The crisis exploded because of activity of those other cynicists who precisely thought “screw human rights, screw dignity, all that maters is,” and so on and so on.
So as this “problem” of are we studying the facts enough I claim emphatically more than ever “no” today. And as to popularity, I get a little bit annoyed with this idea that we with our deep sophisms are really hegemonic in the humanities. Are people crazy? I mean we are always marginal. No, what is for me real academic hegemony: it’s brutal. Who can get academic posts? Who can get grants, foundations and so on? We are totally marginalized here. I mean look at my position: “Oh yeah, you are a mega-star in United States.” Well, I would like to be because I would like power to brutally use it! But I am far from that. I react so like this because a couple of days ago I got a letter from a friend in United States for whom I wrote a letter of recommendation, and he told me “I didn’t get the job, not in spite of your letter but because of your letter!” He had a spy in the committee and this spy told him “You almost got it, but then somebody says “Oh, if Žižek recommends him it must be something terribly wrong with him.”
So I claim that all these “how popular we are” is really a mask of… remember the large majority of academia are these gray either cognitivists or historians blah blah… and you don’t see them but they are the power. They are the power. On the other hand, why are they in power worried? Because you know… don’t exaggerate this leftist paranoia idea that ”we can all be recuperated” and so on and so on. No! I still quite naively believe in the efficiency of theoretical thinking. It’s not as simple as to recuperate everything in. But you know there are different strategies of how to contain us. I must say that I maybe am not innocent in this, because people like to say about me, “Oh, go and listen to him, he is an amusing clown blah blah blah.” This is another way to say “Don’t take it seriously.”