In Get Real, Eliane Glaser addresses how the claim that ideology is dead has created an open space for politicians and big businesses to portray their subjective interests as objectively inevitable. Public sector cuts for instance, are presented as a necessity – not as a political choice based on ideological beliefs. She describes how this covert ideology is deliberately used to blur the intentions of the ruling class, leaving the rest of us in a state of false consciousness and with a widening gap between appearance and reality.
Glaser takes us through numerous examples of this. The bright green eco-friendly British Petroleum gas stations, the Tories attempts to rebrand themselves as the party of the poor and Alan Sugar and Oprah Winfrey proving that “anyone can make it to the top”. All of this comes, of course, at a time when social mobility figures have dropped to pre-1970s levels. It seems, argues Glaser, as though the world has been turned upside down.
Concepts like savvy consumers and carbon credits and internet phenomena like Wikileaks and e-petitions give us an illusion of empowerment, but in reality the purpose is to channel any potential resistance into fragmented, harmless types of “action”.
The strength of the book is that it puts collective action at the centre of the solution as to how we can get the world back on track. Glaser rightly argues that the mass cognitive dissonance we live under isn’t down to individual psychology.
It’s orchestrated from above by governments, advertising companies, energy corporations, multinational businesses and lobbyists, who all sustain their power through a successful topsy-turvy representation of reality. She points out that we do need our “bullshit binoculars” to identify all the illusions surrounding us, but more importantly she calls for the return of overt ideology as a blueprint for collective action and a weapon against the prevailing false consciousness.
Get Real is published by Fourth Estate, £14.99
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