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impressions on Rehmann's ideology book so far

I’m reading Jan Rehmann’s book on ideology. I like it a lot so far. A few impressions. I like his emphasis on Marx as doing critique of political economy and on social form, his discussion of the relatively early Marx on ideology as being more worthwhile than Althusser let on, and his discussion of the fate of the understanding of/research on ideology in the official marxisms that grew up in the German SDP and then the USSR. He talks about the growth of Marxism-Leninism in the USSR as a process of canonization that was pretty hostile a lot of the better parts of Marx and research on it. This dovetails with the bits about worldview marxism I’ve read by Michael Heinrich and Ingo Elbe. Rehmann doesn’t use that term but his account of marxism-leninism canon formation depicts a process of de-emphasizing critical marxism and an increasing emphasis on worldview marxism.

At one point he talks about ideology as examining in part the question of voluntary submission to domination. I balk at that a little and am not totally sure why. The point seems to be that people submit to domination in part because they are made into certain types of people who have certain relationships to domination. Ideology in this sense then seems to be at least in part about conflict-prevention. I think that does occur and Therborn’s book on ideology can be read that way, I suppose depoliticization can be understood that way as well. I’m also interested in middling sorts, like the doctors in my book, and police, and middle management. I vaguely remember two things that relate to this. One’s a bit from Genovese’s Roll Jordan Roll where he talks about law as securing hegemony over plantation overseers, and the other’s a bit from Balibar, I believe in his book with Wallerstein, where he says something about racist violence posing a kind of problem that racists need explaining, they need to make sense of their own drives and actions. I think these can be seen as also forms of voluntary submission to domination in that the immediate agents of repression and the sort of practical-intellectuals of repression (the repression planners rather than the repression justifiers) are in a sense also dominated in particular ways and they need ways to make sense of their actions as well, and of their submission to their own domination as well as their playing roles in others’ domination. And then there’s the people higher on the food chain who are still in an important sense dominated by the capital relation but are not subject to class domination. They too need ways to make sense of themselves, their world, their actions. I eventually want to write something about the industrial physicians I talked about in my book that is about how part of those doctors’ job was about their superiors’ sense-making - they served to present (and not present, ie to sweep under the rug) certain phenomena in ways that were palatable to higher ups. I think I did a free write on this before, about ideology as sometimes a matter of not thinking about or representing some phenomena, of blanking them out. I wonder if I could play around with that ‘blanking’ in relation to medical forms or blanks in early 20th century corporate/industrial-medical bureaucracies. Alright enough for now. I think I’m going to try to do these general responses to the book without opening it as I read and when I get to the end I can go back through and look in detail at my notes and type further responses to my annotations.

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