The French Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser, who perhaps reflected most on the question of ‘ideology’, once wrote that “ideology moves, but with an immobile motion that keeps it where it is”. Althusser did not make any claim about the truth or falsity of ideology. At a certain level, ideology undoubtedly refers to something that is real or true. What interested Althusser instead, was the relationship of ‘ideology’ to what he called ‘science’ – namely, that critical activity, which continuously works to take knowledge forward. Science, according to him, always lived by focusing on that which it did not know; ideology on the other hand, was that which remained with the obviousness of the already-known. Every new question that a science poses is effectively subsumed by ideology to give us something that we already knew. That is why science, he believed, was always pursued, beseiged and occupied by ideology and had to continuously struggle to free itself from its grasp in order to live.
The CPI(M)’s ‘Draft Resolution on Some Ideological Issues’ prepared by the party for discussion and adoption at the party’s 20th Congress that began in Kozhikode today, is truly an ideological document in Althusser’s sense. It claims to move with the times and update the party thought apparatus but in reality, moves in order to stay where it is. It works to relentlessly re-present all the difficult questions of our times as if they were already known to the founders of something called ‘Marxism-Leninism’.