Ideology is a slippery substance. It can mean many different things; one assiduous scholar has counted 27 different meanings. (A similar plasticity is evident within the particular field I am covering: the 'socialism' which informed Mexican education in the 1930s supposedly embodied up to 35 different meanings.) Frequently, 'ideology' carries negative connotations: one man's 'scientific' meat is another man's `ideological' poison; or, in the terms of Clifford Geertz's 'familiar parodic paradigm': "I have a social philosophy; you have opinions; he has an ideology". In part, it would seem, this slipperiness derives from the fact -a fact widely, if not unanimously, recognized- that the 'great' ideologies tend to combine 'objective' and normative elements. Marxists believe that class struggle is (objectively) the motor of human history, but they also believe that Marxists have a moral commitment to one side in that struggle. Economic liberals are likely to favour neo-classical economic principles, or rational choice models of political analysis, while at the same time recommending the market and self-seeking individualism as the best means to maximize utility -as they would put it.
Copyright © 2012-2013 Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe.
Editores: R. Rein, G. Leibner, O. Preuss
Instituto Sverdlin de Historia y Cultura de América Latina, Escuela de Historia
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