The Frankfurt School and the paradoxical idea of progress: Thinking beyond Critical Theory with Stanley Aronowitz
In Freud’s theory, the mental forces opposed to the reality principle appear chiefly as relegated to and operating from the unconscious. The rule of the “unmodified” pleasure principle obtains only over the deepest and most “archaic” unconscious processes: they can provide no standards for the construction of the non-repressive mentality, nor for the truth value of such a construction. But Freud singles out phantasy as one mental activity that retains a high degree of freedom from the reality principle even in the sphere of the developed consciousness. We recall his description in the “Two Principles of Mental Functioning.” With the introduction of the reality principle one mode of thought-activity was split off: it was kept free from reality-testing and remained subordinated to the pleasure principle alone. This is the act of phantasy-making (das Phantasieren), which begins already with the game of children, and later, continued as daydreming, abandons its dependence on real objects. Phantasy plays a most decisive function in the total mental structure: it links the deepest layers of the unconscious with the highest products of consciousness (art), the dream with the reality; it preserves the archetypes of the genus, the perpetual but repressed ideas of the collective and individual memory, the tabooed images of freedom. Freud establishes a twofold connection, “between the sexual instincts and phantasy” on the one side, and “between the ego instincts and the activities of consciousness” on the other. This dichotomy is untenable, not only in view of the later formulation of the instinct theory (which abandons the independent ego instincts) but also because of the incorporation of phantasy into artistic (and even normal) consciousness. However, the affinity between phantasy and sexuality remains decisive for the function of the former.
Marx, Marxism and Philosophy Today with Michael Pelias
The essence of commodity-structure has often been pointed out. Its basis is that a relation between people takes on the character of a thing and thus acquires a ‘phantom objectivity’, an autonomy that seems so strictly rational and all-embracing as to conceal every trace of its fundamental nature: the relation between people. It is beyond the scope of this essay to discuss the central importance of this problem for economics itself. Nor shall we consider its implications for the economic doctrines of the vulgar Marxists which follow from their abandonment of this starting-point.
Democracy and Marxism with Peter Bratsis
Contemporaries across the spectrum of Left thought, from Antonio Negri to Noam Chomsky, are falling over each other to claim the mantle of Left Communism. Left Communism is the theory and practice of worker control and self-organization whose adherents provided the main opposition to the Bolsheviks. Rarely printed, often cited, Pannekoek’s Workers’ Councils is the Das Kapital of Left Communism. This updated edition includes a substantial introduction from Noam Chomsky, illuminating the continuing relevance of this classic text. “An urgent message to the future— are we listening?—from the most brilliant theoretician of libertarian com-munism.”—Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz Anton Pannekoek was a Dutch worker, Socialist, and astronomer. He wrote Workers’ Councils amidst Nazi occupation of Holland.