This preview shows page 318 - 320 out of 336 pages.
Cynicism is the answer of the ruling culture to this kynical subver-sion: it recognizes, it takes into account, the particular interest behindthe ideological universality, the distance between the ideological maskand the reality, but it still finds reasons to retain the mask. Thiscynicism is not a direct position of immorality, it is more like moralityitself put in the service of immorality—the model of cynical wisdom is toconceive probity, integrity, as a supreme form of dishonesty, andmorals as a supreme form of profligacy, the truth as the most effectiveform of a lie. This cynicism is therefore a kind of perverted 'negation ofthe negation' of the official ideology: confronted with illegal enrich-ment, with robbery, the cynical reaction consists in saying that legalenrichment is a lot more effective and, moreover, protected by the law.As Bertolt Brecht puts it in hisThreepenny Opera:'what is the robbery ofa bank compared to the founding of a new bank?'It is clear, therefore, that confronted with such cynical reason, thetraditional critique of ideology no longer works. We can no longersubject the ideological text to 'symptomatic reading', confronting itwith its blank spots, with what it must repress to organize itself, topreserve its consistency — cynical reason takes this distance into accountin advance. Is then the only issue left to us to affirm that, with the reignof cynical reason, we find ourselves in the so-called post-ideologicalworld? Even Adorno came to this conclusion, starting from the premissthat ideology is, strictly speaking, only a system which makes a claim tothe truth — that is, which is not simply a lie but a lie experienced as truth,a lie which pretends to be taken seriously. Totalitarian ideology nolonger has this pretension. It is no longer meant, even by its authors, tobe taken seriously — its status is just that of a means of manipulation,purely external and instrumental; its rule is secured not by its truthvalue but by simple extra-ideological violence and promise of gain.It is here, at this point, that the distinction betweensymptomand
314 MAPPING IDEOLOGYfantasymust be introduced in order to show how the idea that we live ina post-ideological society proceeds a little too quickly: cynical reason,with all its ironic detachment, leaves untouched the fundamental levelof ideological fantasy, the level on which ideology structures the socialreality itself.Ideological FantasyIf we want to grasp this dimension of fantasy, we must return to theMarxian formula 'they do not know it, but they are doing it', and poseourselves a very simple question: Where is the place of ideological il-lusion, in the'knowingor in the'doing'in the reality itself? At first sight,the answer seems obvious: ideological illusion lies in the 'knowing'. It isa matter of a discordance between what people are effectively doingand what they think they are doing — ideology consists in the very factthat the people 'do not know what they are really doing', that they have