Is ideology the bane of intellectual sophistication in the US?


Well-Known Member
Reaction score
Is ideology the bane of intellectual sophistication in the US?

Marx is perhaps the first intellectual of great stature to coin the word “ideology” and to study its epistemological foundations. Marx makes it clear that ideology is an important aspect of all societies and especially for a society so dedicated to the cultivation of production and consumption as is capitalism.

A brief examination of culture in the United States and one will find that ideology, as framed by Marx, is a fundamental aspect of many of its social institutions; especially evident in religion, politics, and economics.

Ideology “is a systematically and socially biased body of thought”. It spans a broad spectrum of groups with their varying degree of bias and sophistication.

Despite the broad spectrum encompassed by this category of thought and practice “all ideologies share an identifiable logical structure objectively dictated by their ideological character”. Each ideology has a moral, i.e. prescriptive, dimension. Each ideology attempts to shape society to fit its particular world view. “Ideology turns what is a fact for one group into an “ought” or “ideal” for others…Marx argues that since an ideology generalizes a narrow point of view beyond the limits of its validity, it is compelled by its very logic to ‘moralize’ and ‘preach’.”

Ideology often becomes a hypocritical moral doctrine. Because it generalizes and remodels abstract ideas into an object, i.e. it objectifies, it reifies narrow abstract ideas beyond their true limits of validity it is compelled to propagandize and to “sell” its ideas. Ideology is constantly telling others how they should live.

Ideology has a complex character. It is normative; what are its ideas and experiences it attempts to present them as inherent in human nature and from this it “deduces appropriate moral recommendations”. It is biased toward a specific group; it is against other social groups, it treats these other groups as mere means. It universalizes a narrow and limited view and “sells”, perhaps evangelizes (militant and crusading zeal) might be an appropriate expression, this view to others.

An ideology can never adequately defend it self rationally because its assumptions have never been critically evaluated nor explicitly formulated. It is often rabidly critical of rival views. “Consequently it never states its first principles, or makes a perfunctory case for them, keeps reiterating and reformulating them, elaborates on them in the name of critically examining them, and so on.”

I think that ideology is the bane of American culture; it is solidly entrenched because ideology fits well within our religious, democratic, and economic heritage. The only antidote for this virus is a population well educated in the sophisticated thinking discipline and moral character traits of CT (Critical Thinking).

Do you think that CT might be my ideology? Can a teeny-tiny small group of individuals in a nation of 350 million form an ideology?

Quotes from Marx’s Theory of Ideology by Bhikhu Parekh