Contemporary Political Theory vol:11 issue:4 pages:381-396
The notion of ideology and its critique have taken a remarkable about-turn in recent decades. While in classical Marxism, ideology used to be understood in terms of a distorted representation of real social divisions, recent authors such as Lefort and Laclau have argued there is no standpoint outside language or representation, and consider those representations as ideological that remain blind to their own political effects. However, a dimension that was crucial in the classical Marxist tradition has been downplayed in their work, namely the importance of ideology critique for the process of emancipation or of a particular subject becoming political. To reintroduce this dimension in the recent debate on ideology, this paper takes recourse to a selective and creative reading of Carl Schmitt. Schmitt, it is argued, understands ideology critique as a crucial precondition for the process through which a subject becomes political. From a Schmittian perspective, ideology critique aims at unmasking depoliticisation and thus at making visible an intersubjective space of conflict, which is the inevitable condition for every democratic or emancipatory struggle.