Slavoj Žižek and the Critique of Ideology

‘The stepping out of (what we experience as) ideology is the very form of our enslavement to it’

‘Ideology has nothing to do with “illusion”, with a mistaken, distorted representation of its social content’

‘The starting point of the critique of ideology has to be full acknowledgment of the fact that it is easily possible to lie in the guise of truth

‘Every ideology attaches itself to some kernel of jouissance which, however, retains the status of an ambiguous excess’

‘The last support of the ideological effect (of the way an ideological network of signifiers “holds” us) is the non-sensical, pre-ideological kernel of enjoyment’

‘An ideological identification exerts a true hold on us precisely when we maintain an awareness that we are not fully identical to it, that there is a rich human person beneath it: “not all is ideology, beneath the ideological mask I am also a human person” is the very form if ideology, of its “practical efficiency”’

‘The form of consciousness that fits late-capitalist “post-ideological” society – the cynical, “sober” attitude that advocates liberal “openness” in the matter of “opinions” (everybody is free to believe whatever she or he wants; this concerns only his or her privacy), disregards pathetic ideological phrases, and follows only utilitarian and/or hedonistic motivations – stricto sensu remains an ideological attitude: it involves a series of ideological presuppositions (on the relationship between “values” and “real life”, on personal freedom, etc.) that are necessary for the reproduction of existing social relations’

‘A gesture which draws the line of separation between “real problems” and “ideological chimeras” is, from Plato onwards, the very founding gesture of ideology: ideology is by definition self-referential – that is, it establishes itself by assuming a distance towards (what it denounces as) “mere ideology”’

‘The function of ideology is not to offer us a point of escape from our reality but to offer us the social reality itself as an escape’

‘The fundamental level of ideology is not of an illusion masking the real state of things but that of an (unconscious) fantasy structuring our social reality itself. And at this level, we are of course far from being a post-ideological society. Cynical distance is just one way – one of many ways – to blind ourselves to the structuring power of ideological fantasy: even if we do not take things seriously, even if we keep an ironic distance, we are still doing them

Objet petit a is the “sublime object of ideology”: it serves as the fantasmatic support of ideological propositions’

‘The “sublime object of ideology” is the spectral object which has no positive ontological consistency, but merely fills in the gap of a certain constitutive impossibility’

‘The highest form of ideology lies not in getting caught in ideological spectrality, forgetting about its foundations in real people and their relations, but precisely in overlooking this Real of spectrality, and pretending to address directly “real people with their real worries”. Visitors to the London Stock Exchange are given a free leaflet which explains to them that the stock market is not about some mysterious fluctuations, but about real people and their products – this is ideology at its purest’

‘In everyday life, ideology is at work especially in the apparently innocent reference to pure utility’