The apocalyptic belief, which posits the cessation of functional systems and heralds the “end of ideologies,” is diametrically opposed to the fatal conviction that everything functions harmoniously, implying our existence within an irreparable “total system” incapable of correction. As articulated by Ernest Mandel, this acceptance or acquiescence captures the essence of what he terms the “ideology of late capitalism.”

The core of the belief that nothing works resides in the pessimistic perspective that permeates the minds of its adherents. This pervasive pessimism is manifested in its all-encompassing apocalyptic form by the belief in the extinction of ideologies. It asserts not only the failure of current systems, but also the futility of any attempt to reconstruct or redefine them.

In contrast, the fatal belief that everything is functional produces a similarly bleak outlook. It reflects a mentality that views our social fabric as a rigid, all-encompassing structure incapable of modification or correction. This fatalistic perspective asserts that we are entangled in a system that renders any effort to effect change futile and ineffective.

On closer inspection, however, these apparently contradictory beliefs reveal a paradoxical similarity. Both are resigned to the current state of affairs and accept the status quo. In essence, they reaffirm the ‘ideology of late capitalism,’ as articulated by Mandel, which maintains capitalism’s dominance and renders resistance or reform irrelevant.

To comprehend this phenomenon, we must recognize that the apocalyptic belief in the end of ideologies functions as a form of negation, a passionate yearning for a break with the established order. It attempts to disprove the existence of viable alternatives, thereby reiterating the alleged hopelessness of our situation. Similarly, fatal belief in the system as a whole represents resignation and acceptance of the current state of affairs, effectively discouraging revolutionary aspirations.

Thus, we are caught between two contradictory narratives that reinforce the same ideological framework at their core. The belief in the end of ideologies perpetuates passive submission to the established order, whereas the belief in the prevalent system promotes resignation and apathy. Both narratives impede collective action and the realization of a society that is more equitable and just.

To overcome this ideological stalemate, we must resist the temptation of fatalism and apocalyptic speculation. The “ideology of late capitalism” perpetuates the fallacy that the status quo is unchangeable and inevitable. Instead, we should welcome the possibility of change and the emergence of novel ideas and ideologies that can legitimately challenge the current system.

This endeavor requires a critical examination of the ideological foundations supporting the ‘ideology of late capitalism’ and an admission of its inherent contradictions. By exposing these contradictions, we can disprove the fallacy that nothing works and cast doubt on the concept of an invulnerable total system.

The assertion that everything is dysfunctional is based on a reductionist premise, which must be acknowledged at the outset. It disregards the complexity of our sociopolitical environment and ignores instances of progress and positive change. While acknowledging the existence of systemic flaws and inequities, we must also acknowledge the countless instances in which advancements in human rights, social justice, and technological innovation have occurred as a result of the efforts of individuals and groups committed to bringing about significant change.

Moreover, the apocalyptic declaration of the end of ideologies ignores the dynamic and ever-changing nature of human societies. Throughout history, the rise and fall of various ideological frameworks exemplifies societies’ capacity to adapt, evolve, and challenge prevailing paradigms. Claiming that the final stage of ideological development has been reached is equivalent to denying the possibility of future transformative movements and the emergence of alternative visions capable of reshaping power structures and bringing about progressive change.

The fatal belief in a perfect system, on the other hand, disregards the inherent agency and resistance capacity of individuals and communities. It disregards the numerous forms of opposition, grassroots movements, and collective struggles that continue to challenge oppressive systems. This fatalistic viewpoint perpetuates the status quo by inadvertently reinforcing the existing power structures it purports to criticize by reducing agency to insignificance.

To overcome these restrictive narratives, we must reignite the spirit of critical inquiry and conceive of new possibilities. We should conduct a rigorous analysis of existing systems and their underlying ideologies, identifying points of rupture and imagining alternative routes to a future characterized by greater equity and inclusivity. By fostering an ethos of intellectual curiosity, social solidarity, and collective action, we can facilitate the development and implementation of transformative ideas.

Ideologies are not singular entities; they encompass a spectrum of viewpoints, theories, and social movements. Instead of believing in the end of ideologies, we should adopt a nuanced viewpoint that acknowledges the complexity and variety of ideological frameworks. This acknowledgment paves the way for dialogue, coalition-building, and the development of comprehensive solutions to the complex problems we face.

We must overcome the false dichotomy between fatalism and apocalypticism in this endeavor. By cultivating a mindset that acknowledges the possibility of change while remaining cognizant of systemic obstacles and complexities, we can navigate the complexities of our sociopolitical landscape with a combination of optimism and a realistic assessment of the impending obstacles.

Clearly, the struggle for societal transformation entails more than the simple rejection of fatalism and apocalyptic thinking. It requires a comprehensive analysis of the structural mechanisms that uphold the ‘ideology of late capitalism’ and an investigation of alternative ideological frameworks capable of challenging its dominance.

The interdependence of various systems and institutions within late-stage capitalism is a crucial factor to consider. The intersection of economic, political, and cultural factors mutually reinforces and shapes our collective consciousness. This complex web of power relations serves as the means by which the ‘ideology of late capitalism’ exerts its often covert and insidious influence.

To dismantle this pervasive ideology, we must foster critical awareness of the systemic inequalities and injustices perpetuated by late capitalism through a process of conscientization. This process entails exposing the frequently unquestioned underlying ideologies, exposing the vested interests that benefit from the status quo, and encouraging active participation in the pursuit of alternative visions.

Furthermore, it is essential to cultivate spaces for dialogue and collaboration, where diverse voices and perspectives can converge to challenge dominant ideologies and conceive of alternative courses of action. We can dismantle power imbalances and hierarchies if we embrace inclusivity and actively seek out marginalized voices. This process of collective exploration and co-creation can facilitate the emergence of new ideas and ideologies based on justice, equity, and sustainability.

Nonetheless, we must remain vigilant for impending obstacles. The ‘ideology’ is firmly rooted, supported by enormous resources and formidable networks. It would be unwise to underestimate its capacity to co-opt and assimilate dissenting voices. Constant vigilance is required to prevent alternative ideologies from succumbing to cooption and losing their transformative potential.

We should draw inspiration for our pursuit of ideological transformation from historical movements that have challenged dominant ideologies and fostered progressive change. Collective action and the reimagining of social structures have served as catalysts for societal advancement, from the civil rights movement to feminist and environmental movements. These examples serve as reminders that progressive change is possible and that the prevailing ideologies of any given era are not invulnerable.

To surpass ‘ideology’ requires an ongoing, multifaceted effort. It requires analysis, consciousness, inclusive discourse, and collective action. By rejecting fatalism and apocalyptic thinking, we can allow for the possibility of ideological revitalization and transformative change. Recognizing that the pursuit of a just and equitable society necessitates unwavering engagement, constant vigilance, and an unwavering commitment to challenging the dominant ideologies of our time, let us embark on this journey with unwavering resolve.

Ernest Mandel, “Late Capitalism” (Belgium)
Slavoj Žižek, “The Sublime Object of Ideology” (Slovenia)
Naomi Klein, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” (Canada)
David Harvey, “A Brief History of Neoliberalism” (United Kingdom)
Mark Fisher, “Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?” (United Kingdom)
Fredric Jameson, “Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” (United States)
Wolfgang Streeck, “How Will Capitalism End?: Essays on a Failing System” (Germany)
Nancy Fraser, “Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis” (United States)
Antonio Gramsci, “Prison Notebooks” (Italy)
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, “Empire” (United States/Italy)