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Control Of The Ruling Class Essay

1142 words - 5 pages

As Gore Vidal once said: “The genius of our ruling class is that it has kept a majority of the people from questioning the inequity of a system where most people drudge along, paying heavy taxes for which they get nothing in return” (Vidal, N/A). In our society, the ruling ideas are easily believed and taken as “true.” Advertisements sell ideas and lifestyles rather than objects; people consent to the ruling ideas which in turn make them less of an individual. Although we may live in a culture industry that controls what people believe is right or wrong, there is always a struggle for power. According to C. Wright Mills and Nina Eliasoph, in order to create a struggle and challenge the ruling ideas, developing a “sociological imagination” is crucial. The ruling ideas work by creating notions of our culture and giving one false needs which in turn help maintain the status quo.
Contrary to what people may believe we do not actually have autonomy in the choices that we make; without knowing or realizing it we are all following orders. One may not know exactly how much their thoughts have been "fixed" so they ultimately consent to the ruling ideas. In our society, one example of a "ruling idea" that is accepted and thought of as "true" is that of the "American dream." Anyone who does not choose the option of wealth and success is labeled as crazy, wealth equals happiness. Under the American dream, being successful is defined as having a car, owning a house with a white picket fence, going to college, getting a job, and having a family with kids. Aesthetic display is of the utmost importance. The American dream sells a specific type of lifestyle rather than just objects hence creating what Karl Marx would call commodity fetishism: "people place a value on commodities apart from the ones which they intrinsically possess" (Cloward, N/A). The consumers are fed false needs that make them believe that buying certain objects will somehow make them different from all the rest, but they never do so they continue purchasing new things that they do not necessarily need.
Marx and Engles argue that throughout history everything that a person believes is created by the ruling class and for the ruling class: "the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas" (Marx & Engles, pg. 1). The ruling ideas come across as common sense because the 1% owns all the means of which one knows what they think they know. People consent to these ideas which are not beneficial to them since they are put out in ways the audience does not get. As the ruling class practices their hegemonic power, the audiences do not know that they are being propagandized.
According to Marx, whoever has control of the material production automatically has control of the intellectual production. The ruling class controls the means and modes of production so making things in large quantities is more efficient for them. Because of this, the ruling class dominates over the ordinary...

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