A fundamental use of ideology that is often overlooked is its application on an individual level (but also on a societal level) to help justify things that are either inhumane or go against the very values and morals that have been subsumed by the ruling ideology itself. One of the hardest things to do in this day and age is to break against dominant hegemonic thought. There are two ways of doing this, whether that be falling further down the rabbit hole into the world of conspiracy theories and the far right or whether it’s to go further to the left and question structural inequalities that persist in the 21st century. Once you begin pulling on these threads, in whichever direction, it will start to make us question our character and the personal characteristics built by the ideological fabric of society and ingrained within language.
What does this mean today? For those that wish to combat what is often termed capitalism realism, or better framed as neoliberal common sense as Jeremy Gilbert calls it, it is something ever evolving. What was named the business ontology, the narrative that government, public services and companies themselves all work better when run according to the values of the free market; this way of thinking has largely been defeated by the failure of austerity and by the state’s necessary intervention forced by the coronavirus pandemic. This narrative that existed both on the right and left has largely been substituted by the bastions of cultural debate around gender, feminism, global vs national, while also trying to subsume the neo liberal talking points that benefit the ruling class such as hypermaritocracy, low labour regulations, austerity in the public center and low taxes. The left has to fight a forward facing ideals battle but also maintain its rear guard on the question of the economic base. The left can solely concentrate on ‘material concerns’ as a large majority of its economic and labour based policies would be accepted by the parts of society that it needs to convince to vote for it, however it also needs to defend any societal gains it may have made, but also attack the ideological narratives of the right which are more emotive, easily framed and relatable to voters that may find the right appealing: a modern form of far right nationalism that seems more determined that ever despite Trump losing. The question is not one or the other, economics and ideals dialectically interact with one another.
That all said, is it time to pull out the big guns? The right often takes advantage of what should be a left wing policy. The EU during Brexit. Globalisation. Unfulfilling work. Ecology. Lack of community. These issues are weaponised by the right to hurt minorities mainly migrants, women and people that don’t conform to the right’s white, western-based narrative. As history has shown us, later this goes further and targets anyone on the left. These are not just ‘cultural’ issues, they are moral, scientific, economic issues that can be summed up in one phrase: for the many, not the few.
As you can see you can take the Communist out of Corbyn, but you can’t take the Corbynista out of the Commie.
We need to acknowledge that we are in a moment of defense and that the right are on the offensive in many countries. This doesn’t mean that we can just go out and start attacking globalism. We need to find the cracks in the edifice to wedge a wider argument into it. Something to bring us back on the offensive and put the right back on the foot. We need to use our proletariat ideology to combat the ruling class. We need to challenge ideology on an individual level on all fronts.