Abstract: Ideology can be considered the ethos of the modern, liberal, democratic, capitalist nation state. Working from the descriptions of political ethos in Aristotle's Rhetoric, Tapies, and Politics, the differences from and similarities to post-Renaissance political structures underline the modern insistence on ways to stabilise the representation of the group in power, giving it its veil of authority, as well as ways to stabilise the description or definition of the individual within the nation. Looking at a number of contemporary commentaries from both political theory and cultural studies, the essay elaborates the rhetoric necessary to constitute ideology as the ethos of the nation state, and goes on to detail some of the constraints on the individual who, in gaining access to power, becomes subject to that state. The rhetoric of ideology provides not only an ethos for the character of the group in power, but also a set of guidelines for establishing a spedfic responsive state in the audience, an ethics of pathos. Its ethos is a strategy that imposes a strategy. The circularity of this ethos marks many of the analyses undertaken by current theory, and it has only recently been challenged by, among others, feminist historians of rhetoric. The discussion moves to a point where it asks: given that multinational and transnational corporations now share with the nation state the regularisation of capitalist exploitation, is ideology effective as a political rhetoric any more? Who is the wife of the nation state? And, what is the ethos of the multinational?
- Copyright 1996, The International Society for the History of Rhetoric