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The Frankfurt School Seminar with Stanley Aronowitz — October 27th, 2018 Readings

Read­ings for Octo­ber 27th, 2018:

Pg. 3–105, Intro­duc­tion and Part I , Sec­tions 1–4 end­ing with “The Dialec­tic of Civ­i­liza­tion,” in Hebert Marcuse’s Eros and Civ­i­liza­tion : A Philo­soph­i­cal Inquiry into Freud ( Bea­con Press, 1966 edition)

Polit­i­cal Pref­ace 1966:

Eros and Civ­i­liza­tion: the title expressed an opti­mistic, euphemistic, even pos­i­tive thought, name­ly, that the achieve­ments of advanced indus­tri­al soci­ety would enable man to reverse the direc­tion of progress, to break the fatal union of pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and destruc­tion, lib­er­ty and repres­sion — in oth­er words, to learn the gay sci­ence (gaya sci­en­cia) of how to use the social wealth for shap­ing man’s world in accor­dance with his Life Instincts, in the con­cert­ed strug­gle against the pur­vey­ors of Death. This opti­mism was based on the assump­tion that the ratio­nale for the con­tin­ued accep­tance of dom­i­na­tion no longer pre­vailed, that scarci­ty and the need for toil were only “arti­fi­cial­ly” per­pet­u­at­ed — in the inter­est of pre­serv­ing the sys­tem of dom­i­na­tion. I neglect­ed or min­i­mized the fact that this “obso­les­cent” ratio­nale had been vast­ly strength­ened (if not replaced) by even more effi­cient forms of social con­trol. The very forces which ren­dered soci­ety capa­ble of paci­fy­ing the strug­gle for exis­tence served to repress in the indi­vid­u­als the need for such a lib­er­a­tion. Where the high stan­dard of liv­ing does not suf­fice for rec­on­cil­ing the peo­ple with their life and their rulers, the “social engi­neer­ing” of the soul and the “sci­ence of human rela­tions” pro­vide the nec­es­sary libid­i­nal cathex­is. In the afflu­ent soci­ety, the author­i­ties are hard­ly forced to jus­ti­fy their domin­ion. They deliv­er the goods; they sat­is­fy the sex­u­al and the aggres­sive ener­gy of their sub­jects. Like the uncon­scious, the destruc­tive pow­er of which they so suc­cess­ful­ly rep­re­sent, they are this side of good and evil, and the prin­ci­ple of con­tra­dic­tion has no place in their logic.


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