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Remembering Herbert Marcuse: We could learn from this guy.

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Karmadillo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 01:54 PM
Original message
Remembering Herbert Marcuse: We could learn from this guy.
Progressives are in dire straits. Other than knowing to stay to the left of Republicans, I'm not sure we have much of a clue where to go next. We could do worse than to familiarize ourselves with Marcuse's works and see if they might help light our way out of the darkness.

http://direland.typepad.com/direland/2005/07/rememberin...

Today is the 107th birthday of the late Herbert Marcuse (left), the political, social, and cultural philosopher -- a leading member of what is known as the Frankfurt School along with Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and Max Horkheimer. The Frankfurt School wove insights from Marx, Freud, and Max Weber into new syntheses of social and cultural criticism. Marcuse is somewhat out of favor now in American universities -- but in the '50s, '60s, and '70s he inspired several generations trying to construct a new radical politics that rejected both Soviet communism and triumphalist monopoly capitalism and sought to create new cultural critiques and models.

One of my favorite Marcuse anecdotes is this: When Playboy wanted to interview Marcuse, and offered him a great deal of money to do so, he said he would only do it if he could be the centerfold! There are several good biographies of Herbert Marcuse available online: a quite complete biographical notice by Prof. Teresa MacKey, and a smart intellectual review of Marcuse's work by the proprietor of Blog Left, the UCLA Prof. Doug Kellner, as part of his quite useful Critical Theory website.

This fall, a major conference on Marcuse will be held November 3-6 in Philadelphia. The conference, "Reading Herbert Marcuse's Eros and Civilization after 50 Years" -- sponsored by St. Joseph's University's Philosophy Department and the Philadelphia Philosophy Commission -- will include not only a re-examination of Eros and Civilization and its place in Marcuse's social philosophy; but also consider the influence of Marcuse's work in the past five decades; its place in a critical theory of society; and the importance of Eros and Civilization for fields such as psychology, aesthetics, and political philosophy; as well as prospects for a renewal of Marcuse's approach to social philosophy.

Marcuse was a major influence on my own thinking, and so much of what he wrote is enormously pertinent to the world in which we find ourselves today. One of his most innovative and, for me, still contemporaneously vital concepts was his 1965 articulation of a theory of "repressive tolerance." Marcuse's thought, while accessible, is too densely contiguous to be reduced to a soundbite, but to give just a hint of the flavor of what Marcuse meant by "repressive tolerance," here is a particularly pungent quotation:

"It is the people who tolerate the government, which in turn tolerates opposition within the framework determined by the constituted authorities," Marcuse wrote. "Tolerance toward that which is radically evil now appears as good because it serves the cohesion of the whole on the road to affluence or more affluence. The toleration of the systematic moronization of children and adults alike by publicity and propaganda, the release of destructiveness in aggressive driving, the recruitment for and training of special forces, the important and benevolent tolerance toward outright deception in merchandising, waste, and planned obsolescence are not distortions and aberrations, they are the essence of a system which fosters tolerance as a means for perpetuating the struggle for existence and suppressing the alternatives...."

more...
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McCamy Taylor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 01:57 PM
Response to Original message
1. Nice post. Its good to remember the thinkers who shaped the movers.
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DBoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 02:02 PM
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2. He was seriously threatened when teaching at UCSD
His home was shot up by local vigilantes, and he received no end of threats.
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Karmadillo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 07:31 AM
Response to Reply #2
9. The documentary I linked to in post #8 has a lot about this.
Well worth a look.
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DBoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 09:03 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. Mike Davis, "Under The Perfect Sun"
Good political history of the San Diego that the tourist bureau won't tell you about.

Has a lot about this.
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Zensea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 02:04 PM
Response to Original message
3. Not a sound bite, but close...
Edited on Wed Jul-20-05 02:06 PM by Zensea
regarding Marcuse's influence.
One of his infamous students --
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sintax Donating Member (891 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 02:05 PM
Response to Original message
4. Absolutely Read
his essay "Repressive Tolerance" is invaluable and necessarily troubling for those who may think that politics as we know it will resolve our abominable situation in Corporate controlled never-never land AKA USA.

"One-Dimensional Man" a classic.

he made alot of folks on the easy left uncomfortable and infuriated those on the right so much so that legislation was passed to force him into early retirement I am told in order to get him out of the California education system as he was gainig too many acolytes.

Thank you for your post-nominated
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Karenina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 03:04 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Wrap your brain around this tidbit!
" Within the affluent democracy, the affluent discussion prevails, and within the established framework, it is tolerant to a large extent. All points of view can be heard: the Communist and the Fascist, the Left and the Right, the white and the Negro, the crusaders for armament and for disarmament. Moreover, in endlessly dragging debates over the media, the stupid opinion is treated with the same respect as the intelligent one, the misinformed may talk as long as the informed, and propaganda rides along with education, truth with falsehood. This pure toleration of sense and nonsense is justified by the democratic argument that nobody, neither group nor individual, is in possession of the truth and capable of defining what is right and wrong, good and bad. Therefore, all contesting opinions must be submitted to 'the people' for its deliberation and choice. But I have already suggested that the democratic argument implies a necessary condition, namely, that the people must be capable of deliberating and choosing on the basis of knowledge, that they must have access to authentic information, and that, on this. basis, their evaluation must be the result of autonomous thought."

WHOA.... :wow:
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sintax Donating Member (891 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:19 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Quite appropriate
and much of what is said in your excellent excerpt reminds more of the way the slightly left of what passes for the center approaches the realm of discourse.
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Karenina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:37 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Indeed!
:scared:
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Karmadillo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 07:36 PM
Response to Original message
8. Link to Herbert's Hippopotamus: doc of '60s controversy involving Marcuse
Very, very interesting to watch the wingnuts work to limit campus freedom.

http://www.marcuse.org/herbert/soundvideo/herbhippo.htm
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sintax Donating Member (891 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-22-05 01:30 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. good link thanks n/t
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