A nice addition to Marcuse's Eros and Civilization, One-Dimensional Man presents Marcuse's devastating characterization of advanced capitalist socie...moreA nice addition to Marcuse's Eros and Civilization, One-Dimensional Man presents Marcuse's devastating characterization of advanced capitalist society as totalitarian. As in his previous work, Marcuse here follows in the footsteps of Marx (tied together with Freud, actually) in criticizing the furtherance of repression in societies with highly advanced technologies--he calls for a re-appraisal of this mode of existence (which he calls domination) and a restructuring of 'work' into 'play' (following his sketches of the concept in Eros and Civilization), claiming that the level of technology enjoyed by advanced industrial countries makes possible an existence (more or less never before experienced, at least in a non-discriminatory, universal way) in which all can labor much less than the interests of domination (corporations, the State) have compelled them--through both coercion and indoctrination--to do. He criticizes the disappearance of 'multidimensionality' in such societies, claiming that the economic 'goods' afforded by advanced capitalism (as in, eg, the economic boom of the 1950s and 60s, or the present day) has led the ordinary person to valorize the current mode of society, thus leading to the collapse of oppositional social elements and the resulting 'one-dimensional' man and society.
Marcuse takes issue with a great deal of linguistical reality in advanced industrial society--he warns that prevailing conceptions of x and y in this society are shaped largely by dominant interests, and the result, he finds, is a betrayal of aspirations for human liberation. He uses the examples of 'freedom' and 'democracy' centrally here (positing that the presence or absence of democracy is not to be determined by competitive elections, etc., alone, and that the market, instead of promoting 'freedom,' really enslaves).
Marcuse's account here, as an uncompromising defense of individuality and human liberation, is a crucially needed one. Its implications tend toward anarchism, though I wonder if his endorsement of liberation as possible only in the most highly advanced capitalist societies (as with Marx) reflects a lack of concern with ecological matters. I think he answers this to a certain degree in Eros and Civilization, where he claims that the artistic mode of existence made possible through revolutionary processes of human liberation would result in a rather new relationship between humanity and nature--one characterized not by domination or exploitation but beauty and respect. In any case, though, more people should read Marcuse.(less)
The most fascinating book I've read in a long time. Greatly refreshing, Said's critique of the dominant modes by which the 'West' has viewed the 'Orie...moreThe most fascinating book I've read in a long time. Greatly refreshing, Said's critique of the dominant modes by which the 'West' has viewed the 'Orient' holds radical implications for such, and for human relations more generally.(less)
Absolutely fantastic. I really need to give this one another read--Camus' theory of affirmation (and, crucially, commitment to justice) in the face of...moreAbsolutely fantastic. I really need to give this one another read--Camus' theory of affirmation (and, crucially, commitment to justice) in the face of non-being and overwhelming odds is a direly needed maxim for our age (not to say other times as well).(less)
Mesmerizing. I haven't laughed out loud as much, or as genuinely, with any other book I've read. Heller's characters are beyond words--Yossarian, Milo...moreMesmerizing. I haven't laughed out loud as much, or as genuinely, with any other book I've read. Heller's characters are beyond words--Yossarian, Milo Minderbinder, Aarfy, the Chaplain. Wow.(less)
A great book! Kesey's theories of oppression and liberation are wonderful (and reflective of his times--sadly, though, we hear little like this nowada...moreA great book! Kesey's theories of oppression and liberation are wonderful (and reflective of his times--sadly, though, we hear little like this nowadays).(less)
A fantastic response to the enormity of anxiety, loneliness, alienation, finitude, and meaninglessness that society imposes upon us.
"human rights are...moreA fantastic response to the enormity of anxiety, loneliness, alienation, finitude, and meaninglessness that society imposes upon us.
"human rights are a de facto sanctioning of the oppressive nature of a community whose interests injure or oppose those of its members. It is time to promote a society which will have no need of tutelary guarantees, because it will have obliterated the very conditions which give rise to violence, rape and oppression, and which alienate protest against them."
"The only way of fighting against the worst is to be tenacious about wishing for the best."
"Men and women have no value by virtue of their birth, nor by their power, nor by their possessions. Their only value lies in their humanity."
"For the development of a society preoccupied with happiness, nothing is more fundamental than the will to emancipation, stimulated by the natural birth of love relationships, by education through affection for constant progress in knowledge, by play and the appeal of pleasure in creating one's personal destiny."
"A fatalism anchored in attitudes of mind and perpetuated by those who put their trust in God, in some prince or master or employer, in some mysterious and impenetrable Fate, persists in prohibiting human beings from finding in their pleasures the raw material which fashions their lives in order to build their happiness."
"Anyone with less than ninety per cent of their time at their disposal is a slave."
"With the concern to cease tolerating a power against which we must protect ourselves, we wish to oppose the principle of defence by encouraging the impulse for everyone to feel at home wherever they are."
"Claiming one's own singularity means wishing to be a fully human subject. This resolution is the only one capable of breaking the process of reification inherent in the economy."
"Only individuals who aspire to create their own destiny are equipped to found a society that stands together in solidarity, to make real the old dream of fraternity, and to consign once and for all to the past the dichotomies that split exploiters and exploited, egoism and altruism, rebellion and the herd mentality."
"Inhumanity is not a matter for discussion, but for rejection."
"What has become plain in relation to the rejection of despotic regimes today begins to be true for the construction of situations favourable to the refinement and the flowering of living beings."
"Behind contempt for animals lies contempt for human beings,"
"Ever since childhood, the existential adventure has owed the sureness and firmness of its first steps to an impulse of life which can be protected against old reflex of inversion only by love and human awareness."
"Taking the time to live is the first victory over death."
"everything is beautiful in whoever loves or is loved."
"under the reign of barbarism, the freedoms authorised by life were most usually no more than a license to oppress."
"that insensitivity to life, which has always encouraged the logic of profit and exploitability...."
"The best critique of a deplorable state of affairs consists in creating the situation which remedies it.... The way to have done with a world which enacts its own destruction is not to anathematise it but to clear away its debris and build a brand new civilization."
"We have been subjugated to a process of evolution whereby inhumanity varied in its form, but not in its content. Real change begins where self-exile comes to an end. It marks the passage from survival to life."
"every instant should be a stage lived so intensely that is has no necessary preoccupation with a future and is felicitously rooted in the present."
"Desiring, for and against everything, the most joyous things that love of life has to give, offers without doubt the best prevention against the ever-threatening storms of unforeseen misfortune."(less)
In my view, a FAR better account of Mahler's creative genius and social importance (ie, in a constructive, progressive sense) than that provided by S...moreIn my view, a FAR better account of Mahler's creative genius and social importance (ie, in a constructive, progressive sense) than that provided by Stuart Feder in Gustav Mahler: A Life in Crisis. Much of Adorno's writing was lost on me, as he often discussed musical theory, with which I am hardly familiar--but his social/philosophical interpretations of Mahler are fantastic and, I would say, much-needed in our world.(less)
Certainly, an incredibly difficult book--but definitely one well worth the effort. Levinas presents so much to contemplate in a way I find other (alte...moreCertainly, an incredibly difficult book--but definitely one well worth the effort. Levinas presents so much to contemplate in a way I find other (alter, perhaps) than in most other forms of expression. The ideas presented here must be continually remembered and reflected on, in my view--very highly recommended.(less)
Bookchin here promotes his idea of social ecology and his vision of an ecological society (and world). He takes issue with so-called environmentalist movements, which, like the psychotherapist that Herbert Marcuse roundly criticizes, seek merely to have society adapt to the madness of extant structures rather than promote radical change, as social ecology advocates. He also denounces New-Age, biocentric mysticism as feel-goodery that fails to call into question relations of power, hierarchy, and domination and, relatedly, is easily commodified within the capitalist structures that (Bookchin says) it should be subverting and overthrowing.
The core of Bookchin's argument here is the creation of a qualitatively better society, rather than a merely quantitatively better one (something that he criticizes liberals, Marxists, and socialists on). He embarks on a review of anthropological accounts of 'primitive peoples,' who he finds to have lived within a non-hierarchical social nexus that, instead of private property, functioned according to the rights of usufruct (open access to all), an ethics of complementarity (instead of competition), and an irreducible minimum, whereby everyone was afforded the basic necessities of life without reserve. Bookchin denounces Thomas Hobbes' account of human nature here, characterizing it as mere apologism for hierarchy and domination. He also finds much of liberal theory--that which dominates ideology today--to be a natural outgrowth of Hobbesian thought. As with Hobbes, Bookchin finds Sigmund Freud's account of human psychology to be incorrect at best and reactionary at worst, as he attributes human 'evil' to immutable human traits rather than socialization processes shaped by hierarchical, dominant interests.
Positively, Bookchin here posits a return to the values of 'primitive' societies. He finds that only through doing away with hierarchical social relations (capitalism, though more than this of course) can humanity realize its potentiality through affirming the subjectivity of every individual--and, claims Bookchin, the subjectivity of nature--in place of treating people/the environment as mere objects, tools of production, and 'resources.' Bookchin, then, seeks not a less offensive capitalism or a Marxian socialism but a libertarian municipalism, in which everyone can cultivate herself within an authentic, caring, loving social nexus plagued not by hierarchy, Karl Marx's 'realm of necessity,' or the spectre of ecological collapse. Bookchin emphasizes that the project of social ecology must be guided not by the dominant mode--power--but rather by ethics, imagination, and utopianism if it is to defend its advocacy of qualitative change. As in Post-Scarcity Anarchism, Bookchin stresses the need for 'liberatory technologies' that will help to do away with hierarchical modes of social organization and transcend the oppressive and ecocidal impulses of much of our current reality.(less)
Revolutionary. Marcuse's argument here sounds a lot like that of Marx in the 1844 Manuscripts and Capital, but it is certainly more specific and, aide...moreRevolutionary. Marcuse's argument here sounds a lot like that of Marx in the 1844 Manuscripts and Capital, but it is certainly more specific and, aided by his psychological approach that criticizes Freud and neo-Freudianism, substantially deeper. He rails against 'a social order which is in some ways grossly inadequate for the development of healthy and happy human beings,' positing that the repressive institutions of Western civilization have sought to prevent the realization of human emancipation--that is, processes of self-realization. Like Marx, he sees emancipation as most possible within highly-developed societies; he claims that only here can humanity establish an order that allows people to freely participate in aesthetic creation and what he calls 'play'--in opposition to alienated labor and socially regimented leisure time activity. I really enjoyed this book, but I suppose it would have been that much more radical without having read Marx previously. Not that I don't think Marcuse makes some points beyond those posited by Marx, and not that I don't think these general ideas shouldn't be expressed time and again, in light of the alienation and repression that bring about 'everyday unhappiness.'
One of the major problems I have with this analysis, though (one that is common to Marxist analysis generally), is the degree to which it results in a patronization of 'less-developed' countries and peoples--the assumption is that the reality principle (ie, repression, capitalism, etc.) is dialectical in that only through its application (if I get the argument right) can it be transcended--ie, only through the brutal advancement of capitalism can capitalism be overcome. I like the idea that capitalism can (and should) be transcended, but I don't know if I can endorse a theory that requires less 'capitalist' societies to have to go through the vicissitudes of such development.
Some quotes with which to close:
"Non-repressive order is possible only if the sex instincts can, by virtue of their own dyanmic and under changed existential and societal conditions, generate lasting erotic relations among mature individuals."
Within the aesthetic imagination... "Whatever the object may be (thing or flower, animal or man), it is represented and judged not in terms of its usefulness, not according to any purpose it may possibly serve.... In the aesthetic imagination, the object is rather represented as free form all such relations and properties, as freely being itself.... The pure manifestation of its 'being-there', its existenence. This is the manifestation of beauty."(less)