V.N. Vološinov claims in Marxism and the Philosophy of Language that, “without signs there is no ideology”. Ideology does not exist except in its semiotic manifestations of pictures, art, architecture, and especially words. There can be no consciousness without inner speech. Language and ideology are inseparable for Vološinov. He believed we cannot rely on psychology to analyze ideology, but we should look to ideology to analyze psychology. Vološinov does not define ideology directly; ideologies are the basis for the study of scientific knowledge, literature, religion, and all other social and economic practices. Ideology holds meaning and as such is a sign and as a sign reflects and refracts reality. Established systems of ideology (literature, art, science, etc.) are the “crystallizations” of what Vološinov terms behavioral ideology. Behavioral ideology is an “atmosphere of unsystematized and unfixed inner and outer speech which endows our every instance of behavior and action and our every ‘conscious’ state with meaning (91). Behavioral and systemic ideologies reinforce each other in a cyclical fashion with signs serving as the connective material. Ideological systems can only change when conflicting behavioral ideologies overpower, in a semiotic sense, established and accepted meaning.
Language is the key to ideology for Vološinov; words connect one consciousness to another in a cascading fashion. If Vološinov is correct, language, as Terry Eagleton writes, is also the site of contestation for ideological beliefs. Evidence of this fairly obvious fact can be found in the use of words in political campaigns; the Republican Party in the last U.S. Presidential election wielded redistribution, socialism, and terrorist as ideological linguistic weapons. They cascaded through the crowds packing Sarah Palin rallies crystallizing behavioral ideology in the minds of the believers. The ideological beliefs of the far right (or furthest from the ideologies of the Democrats) gained strength. While it seems obvious to think of words as the basis for ideology, Vološinov’s concept of a cyclical behavioral and systemic ideology constructed and reinforced through inner and outer speech remains an important consideration in the development of a sociocognitive model of ideology.