Sunday, March 15, 2009

Marxism and the Philosophy of Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart has gone on a rant, rightfully so, to expose an almost criminal verbal exchange between CNBC and the various CEO's and investors of financial corporations who make blatantly false statements of the so-called success of the aforementioned companies. As said in "Marxism and the Philosophy of Language," V. N. Volosinov expresses precisely what he calls "ideological communication." (1) The following clip discusses in great length this "ideological communication" in response to an accusation made by Rick Santelli, making it quite apparent the ease at which home-owners have been bamboozled by the "powerful influence [which] is exerted on forms of utterance by the hierarchical organization of communication." (1) In the case of CNBC who is clearly at the top of the food chain as a major network with multiple shows "helping" the consumer handle their financial woes, they seem to serve as what Antonio Gramsci calls the "deputies" (673) of the financial intellects. And so, if it were not for an implied definition of what is deemed 'journalistic integrity' and their own admittance to being knowledgeable, these shows would be comical, but it takes other journalists - ironically in the comedic form - to denounce the reporting, expose it's misleading signs, and take heed to the larger picture.

And what is the larger picture that Jon Stewart is taking concern with? One of the issues he had was with Santelli calling those who had defaulted on their mortgage "losers" because Stewart recognizes that at the core of this interest in acquiring a home comes from the good old 'American Dream.' He states to the "dumb-ass homeowners out there" - applying tongue-in-cheek - "who let your optimism and bad-judgment blind you into accepting money that was offered to you from banks. Educate yourselves." But Stewart understands the drive to acquiring material stability for the family- he calls it "optimism" afterall and this optimism is what Louis Althusser in "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" calls "world outlooks" (693) which are "largely imaginary," (693) and if it were not as resonant with Americans the concept of the American Dream wouldn't be as palpable. However, the financial world recognizes a drive and notes it "has acquired social value [that] enter the world of ideology, take shape, and established itself there" (2) and thus, prey on peoples desires to achieve the 'imaginary.'

Now, while some home buyers are not completely fault free from the decisions and mistakes they had made, it does take a necessary recognition of false or misleading signs when the mass are ready to bear witness to the truth, what Volosinov states as the "inner dialectic quality of the sign com[ing] out fully in the open only in times of social crises or revolutionary changes." (4)

Althusser, Louis. "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses." Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Malden: Blackwell, 2004. 693-702.

Gramsci, Antonio. "Hegemony." Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan.
Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Malden: Blackwell, 2004. 673

Volosinov, V.N.. "Marxism and the Philosophy of Language." Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 1st ed. Malden: Blackwell, 1998.

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