Sunday, September 13, 2009

What is ideology?

The concept "ideology" has itself been the subject of considerable debate among social scientists. The very term has been confused by a plethora of definitions and made disreputable through its association with fascism and communism, compelling one writer to suggest that it be discarded altogether, in favor of "belief systems." I still prefer the simpler term "ideology," but in this work I shall not use it in the recent sense which implies dogma, a rigid, doctrinaire, black and white understanding of the world, but, rather, as the system of beliefs, values, fears, prejudices, reflexes, and commitments-in sum, the social consciousness- of a social group, be it a class, a party, or a section. Genovese uses the term more or less interchangeably with "world view," which also has a certain value (although it hardly conveys the full meaning of the German Weltanschauung), because an important aspect of ideology involves the way in which a group perceives itself and its values in relation to the society as a whole. when I speak of the Republican ideology, therefore, I am dealing with the party's perception of what American society, both North and South, was like in the 1850s, and its view of what the nation's future ought to be.

Eric Foner in Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War. (highly recommended)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Photos: Little Round Top

Was roaming around the battlefield at Gettysburg a few weeks ago and took some pictures. The first is Houck's Ridge and Devils Den from Little Round Top. The second, is Little Round Top from Houck's Ridge.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"I can only hope a change in our thinking will result"

The competition of ideas, interpretations and perceptions continues and this is how it is done. Driven by self-motivation; people are inspired by their worldview to spread their worldview. This is where the narrative battle is being fought.

Oliver Stone is making his most ambitious stab at American history yet.

The controversial director is creating a 10-part documentary series for Showtime titled "Secret History of America."

Narrated by Stone, the series promises to focus on events that "at the time went under-reported, but crucially shaped America's unique and complex history of the last 60 years," according to Showtime.

Subjects will include President Harry Truman's decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan, the origins of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, to "the fierce struggle between war and peace in America's national security complex."

The project includes "newly discovered facts and accounts" from the Kennedy administration, the Vietnam War and the great changes in America's role in the world since the fall of Communism in the 1980s "through this epic 10-hour series, which I feel is the deepest contribution I could ever make in film to my children and the next generation, I can only hope a change in our thinking will result," Stone said in a statement.