Ideology And Ideological State Apparatuses

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Essay I: Of Althusser and ISAs
Ideology is much like oxygen gas, invisible to the average human yet ever present in the world. According to philosopher Louis Althusser, ideology is “a ‘representation’ of the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence” (Norton 1498). Ideology is a means by which people attempt to comprehend themselves in relation to the reality they exist in. For example, in Christianity, people view themselves as placed into reality for the purpose of repenting for the sins of humanity. Christianity, and all religions, are key to understanding how ideologies are perpetuated and spread to individuals. According to Althusser, as detailed in his essay “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses” (1970), ideologies are used by the class in charge of the State (the government) in order to control oppressed classes. Ideologies are employed in two main forms, first in through Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs) and then through Repressive State Apparatuses (RSAs). RSAs rely mainly on violence or the threat thereof to control the masses, and are under direct control of the State. Forces such as courts, the police, and the Army are RSAs. In contrast, ideological State Apparatuses function mainly through ideology, to control the thoughts, actions, and beliefs of the people. ISAs are not usually under direct control of the State, but serve the State’s purposes by influencing the people, acting as the arms of ideology, spreading it to
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