Series: "Ideology" by Cindy Clelie and "Media and Advertising" by Rada Kistnasamy The third session in the new political education series has now been held in Port Louis, and will be held in Curepipe next month.
Cindy Clelie outlined succinctly the material forces that produce ideology in capitalist society. She also took on the issue of, since the bourgeoisie's ideology is dominant because it is the ruling class and the working class ideology is oppressed, how on earth can the working class nevertheless come to challenge dominant ideology. In her introductory talk, she gave examples of bourgeois ideology and how it operates. She quoted Jean-Claude Bibi who said how one and the same word, "private property" is used to refer to something that is really a personal good (a motorcycle, a watch or whatever, or even someone's dwelling) and also to the means of survival in society, like all the sugar estates, factories, mills, banks, hotels, that produce what we need for living as a society and as individuals. This confusion is part of bourgeois ideology, and helps maintain the system, because any worker can declare that he is "in favour of private property", meaning his watch, and also meaning that the bosses own everyone's means of eking out a living. She quoted also a related example from a Sociology text book which described private property as a "social universal", that is to say that it exists in all societies. She referred us to texts by Karl Marx and by Ernest Mandel. During debate, levels of production of bourgeois ideology were discerned: ideology produced directly by the material reality in which we live (it is obvious that you have to find an employer to get a job, for example; it is a "fact"); ideology which becomes unquestioned and seemingly unquestionable because of hegemony, and ideology produced consciously by those defending the present capitalist system.
Rada Kistnasamy gave an outline of the seminal document by the Marxist thinker, Raymond Williams, "Advertising: the Magic System" and also referred to the brilliant John Berger book, WAYS OF SEEING, in particular to its references to modern advertising. The Raymond Williams' article, he said, shows how different modern advertising is from "small ads", in that, it does not just inform us of the existence of a product of some sort which is for sale. It more particularly affects how we see ourselves in general in society, projects a whole way of life, and also at one and the same time, through its finance, ends up exerting editorial control over the content of our major source of information i.e. the media. During debate afterwards, it was discussed how the printed media or private radio stations have three different levels of control operating on the content of what they tell the public: their source of financement through advertising is the basic material reality defining their editorial line, then there is their conscious editorial policy, and finally there are various petty concerns that might grip them from time to time (to boost sales or even because of a conflict with a competitor or with the State).
This weekend the Curepipe-South Regional will be having the sessions on "Elections and Democracy" by Ram Seegobin and "How does the Working Class Take Power?" by Lindsey Collen. Please contact us for details.