Lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living

Ideology, or, “she would say that, wouldn’t she”

The minor flap over the Hilary Clinton Walmart videos seems like an interesting example of the role of cynicism in ideology. My first response, like I imagine a lot of people’s, was standard-issue cynicism: she’s being paid by Walmart, of course she’s going to enthuse about them; it doesn’t mean she really believes it. But of course this response precisely misses the point. Clinton’s feigned enthusiasm is an accurate expression of her position because it doesn’t reflect her “true” internal beliefs. That is, her willingness to pretend to be a devoted fan of capital is due to the fact that she actually is a devoted fan of capital.

This, I take it, is the point of Žižek’s idea of overidentification. When I first heard of it, I had trouble distinguishing it from an idea of taking people seriously in order to expose their hypocrisy, an extraordinarily dull liberal position. No, ideology is not about hypocrisy or lies, a gap between what people say and what they really believe. On the contrary, it is the belief in this gap which is ideological, and an ideology that functions so effectively we rarely notice it.