Ideology and Power in the Age of Lenin in Ruins


317 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography
ISBN 0-920393-49-7
DDC 320.5'09'049




Edited by Arthur Kroker and Marilouise Kroker
Reviewed by Phillip J. Wood

Phillip J. Wood is an associate professor of political studies at
Queen’s University.


With the collapse of the “Evil Empire,” one of the main props of
political authority and discipline in both East and West has all but
disappeared. In the West, this has given rise to an attempt to find a
replacement, with the search apparently concentrated on the economic
threat from Japan, and on the Third World. Simultaneously, however,
these events also create some space for a renewed discussion of the
political possibilities that have been in storage since the beginning of
the Cold War.

The essays in this collection are intended as a contribution to this
discussion. The focus of the collection is the relationship between
advanced capitalism and democracy, and especially the ideological
dimension of that relationship. The editors have put together an
interesting collection, organized into three sections. One deals with
capitalism and ideology, with the work of Karl Marx at its core. Readers
will find here both some insightful criticism and a sense that his work
should be rescued from some of its later interpreters. A second section
discusses the work of Jean Baudrillard on contemporary forms of cultural
power, while the third presents a more wide-ranging group of essays on
various aspects of contemporary politics, such as the ideology of the
American national security state and feminism.

As a whole the collection is diverse but holds together reasonably well
given the subject matter. I could imagine using some of the essays in
senior undergraduate courses. This is not a book for the beginner,
however. Parts of the second section are especially dense, requiring a
background in recent French political thought. The book’s most obvious
limitation, though, is its failure to take its own title seriously. Most
of the essays are contributions to debates about advanced capitalism
that have been going on for some time. While they are in part products
of post-Stalinist disillusionment, they do not specifically address the
question of the new political epoch defined by the actual collapse of
the Soviet system. Thus, apart from some insightful but brief
introductory comments, the collection says little about the specific
political consequences of that collapse either in the West or in the


“Ideology and Power in the Age of Lenin in Ruins,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024,