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In so far as

Posted by Word Camel on June 14, 2003

In Reply to: In so far as posted by Celia on June 14, 2003

: Hi,

: I do not quite understand the bracketed sentences. Could anyone do me a favor?

: The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it...(In so far, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch,) it is self-evident that they... among other things... regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch.

: Thanks a lot

The whole sentence means that the ideas of the ruling class are the dominant ideas in any given society.

It argues that because the ruling class controls the means of production it also controls the institutions where ideas, creativity and insight may flourish (universities for instance). It might also be appropriate to say that since they control the means of production, people who are members of this class are in the privileged position of not having to work as much and thus have more time (than members of subordinate classes) to think about the future of society and their role within it.

The bracketed part is a proviso stipulating that in order for this to be the case, the ruling class must have an element of class consciousness (this is what it means when it says that they must rule AS a class) so that it sees that is has a unique role in society and therefore tries to carve out a mission for itsself in opposition to competing classes. This is what it means when it refers to determining the extent and compass of an epoch.

Sorry this is a bit wordy. It's a complex point.