'Ideology' is not simply, though a thesaurus equates them, 'thought'; it can also refer to unconscious assumptions that place a boundary beyond which thought cannot go. The most influential definitions of the concept are those of Karl Marx: 'The nature of individuals thus depends on the material conditions determining their production,' and, more particularly, 'The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas.' Such ideas 'rule' because it is only through them that a person can imagine a relationship to 'transpersonal realities such as the social structure or the collective logic of History'. Both the dominant and subordinate classes live within a historical thought-world, which holds all the thought the masters have and all the mastered get. 'False consciousness' is thus unconscious of all that is false in its picture of the world. The landlord class cannot see the tenant truly and the tenants can’t either; similarly for workers and employers and all other echoes of the master/slave relationship. Ideology is given glamour by the best minds that schools can educate, publishers can publish or money can buy. Seeking instruction or entertainment, people become willing partners in their own subjection. It is a sorry state of affairs as Marx describes it, this prison-house of ideology.
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