Introduction to Political Theory

(Marvins-Underground-K-12) #1
lead us to the position in which we note the ideology of the Nazi and the (rather
different) ideology of his victim, and lamely conclude that each are valid for their
respective holders. Mannheim sought to resist this argument by contending that his
theory was one of ‘relationism’ and not relativism, and a relational position seeks
to prefer a view that is more comprehensive and shows ‘the greatest fruitfulness in
dealing with empirical materials’ (McLellan, 1995: 40). But are not ‘comprehensive-
ness’ and ‘fruitfulness’ other words for the truth? The question still remains: what
enables some observers to find a true ideology, while others have ideologies that
are false?
Mannheim’s solution to the paradox was to focus on the particular social position
of intellectuals, arguing that they constitute a relatively classless stratum that is ‘not
too firmly situated in the social order’ (McLellan, 1995: 42). It is true that
intellectuals do have positions that may allow for greater flexibility and a capacity
to empathise with the views of others. Reading widely and travelling to other
countries ‘broadens the mind’, but does it follow from this that intellectuals can
cease to be ideological? John Gray cites the words of a Nazi intellectual who speaks
of the need to exterminate gipsies and Jews, enthusing that ‘we have embarked
upon something – something grandiose and gigantic beyond imagination’ (2002:
93). Expansive ideas need not be progressive. It could be argued that intellectuals
are particularly prone to impractical ideas that are especially ideological in the sense
that they take seriously values and schemes that ‘ordinary’ people would reject. The
attempt to transcend ideology by being a supposedly classless intellectual has been
unkindly likened to Baron Munchausen in the German fairy story trying to get out
of a bog by pulling on his own pigtail. It can’t be done!
We need a view of ideology that is both positive and negative. On the one hand,
ideology is problematic and distorting, but it is inescapable in our current world.
On the other hand, the notion of ideology as a belief system focused on the state
does, we will argue, combine both the negative and the positive. While it is
impossible not to be ideological in state-centred societies, in the struggle to move
beyond the state itself, we also move beyond ideas and values that are ideological
in character.

Facts, values and the state

It can be argued that it is impossible to separate facts and values, since all statements
imply that a relationship exists, and relationships suggest that values exist within
facts. Thus, behaviouralists – a school of empirical theorists who claim to be
scientific and value-free – argue that when people don’t vote, this enables experts
to make decisions for society. The link between apathy and democracy is deemed
‘functional’, but this contention necessarily implies that apathy is a good thing.
When apparently value-free linguistic philosophers define the word democracy in
parliamentary terms, they are taking a stand on the debate between representative
and participatory democracy that is certainly evaluative or normative in character.
One meaning of the term ideology is thought that is normative, but this, we would
suggest, is unsatisfactory for at least two reasons. First, it naively assumes that ideas

168 Part 2 Classical ideologies

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