Power of an Ideology

Apart from political and economic power, there is another form of exerting power known as ideological power. The Marxist thinkers were the first to point out the reality of this form of power and pointed out it’s subtle power. Later even the liberal schools of thought accepted this form of power and called it by various names like ‘political culture’, ‘political socialisation’ etc. Developing and exerting of ideological power is a process where the attitudes, values, symbols, traditions etc of the masses are gradually moulded and shaped by a minority leadership according to their own plans and agendas and thereby a certain level of deference, loyalty and obedience is established. This gradual process of achieving persuasion is even done sometimes by using the mass media like newspapers and television channels or rallies, meetings and yatras etc. Some liberal thinkers like Max Weber, Lucian Pye, Sydney Verba etc associated this ideological power with religion, education, culture, literature and history.

Marxist thinkers have however taken the position that ideological power acts like a mediator in the context of other powers in the society. Economic power transforms itself into political power using ideological power as a means to achieve this goal. Marxism has focussed on how the dominant economic classes in society, in a situation of open free market competition is able to achieve and secure it’s dominance always. Marx had said that the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas because that class, which is the ruling material force in society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class, which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control too of the means for influencing minds and attitudes. This control can create what Marx called a ‘false consciousness’ which is used to hide the underlying economic factors and make class exploitation legitimate.

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