Power & Culture Poli 110J 09 This is the pure form of servitude: to exist as an instrument, as a thing.
Presentation on theme: "Culture, Power & Image Poli 110DA 21 Life as an end is qualitatively different from life as a means."— Presentation transcript:
Culture, Power & Image Poli 110DA 21 Life as an end is qualitatively different from life as a means.
Herbert Marcuse 1898 – 1979 Student of Heidegger, broke w/him over Heideggers Nazi party membership, immigrated to US from Germany in 1934 Worked for US govt during & immediately after WWII Member of Frankfurt school Taught at Columbia, Harvard, Brandeis, UCSD Mentor of Angela Davis, Father of the New Left
Marcuse One-Dimensional Man – Neo-Marxist social criticism – The absence of the critical dimension – The prevalence of false consciousness – Western totalitarianism – Modes of thinking as an instrument of power – Existential concerns: transcendence & authenticity
What is totalitarianism? The permanent and total mobilization of society and the individual in the defense of the state – Terror – Technology
Totalitarianism is not only a terroristic political coordination of society, but also a non-terroristic economic technical coordination which operates through the manipulation of needs by vested interests (3)
In the west, Technical progress, extended to a whole system of domination and coordination, creates forms of life (and of power) which appear to reconcile the forces opposing the system, and to defeat or refute all protest in the name of freedom from toil and domination. (xliv)
The full integration of state, economy, and society thwarts criticism: – The social order has integrated even concepts & agents that were meant to negate and oppose it – society, individual, class, private, family – With the growing integration of industrial society, these categories are losing their critical connotation, and tend to become descriptive, deceptive, or operational terms. (xlvi)
In this society, the productive apparatus tends to become totalitarian to the extent to which it determines not only the socially needed occupation, skills, and attitudes but also individual needs and aspirations. It thus obliterates the opposition between the public and private existence, between individual and social needs. (xlvii) – The individual self is thus fully mobilized in the service of the state
False Consciousness True and false needs: – True: food, clothes, company, shelter – False: those which are superimposed upon the particular social interests in his repression: the needs which perpetuate toil, aggressiveness, misery, and injustice. (5)*
Example: Relaxation. – Work is hard and unpleasant – You need to relax. – Vacations are expensive. – Work & save. – Buy & buy. – Now youre broke. Back to work. – Work is hard and unpleasant. – euphoria in unhappiness (5)
No matter how much such needs may have become the individuals own, reproduced and and fortified by the conditions of his existence; no matter how much he indentifies himself with them and finds himself in their satisfaction…
…they continue to be what they were from the beginningproducts of a society whose dominant interest demands repression. (5) Private [mental] space has been invaded and whittled down by technological reality. (10)
How to distinguish false from true needs? – No judge can do it, it would be reprehensible. – It must be left to the individual if and when they are free to give their own answer. (6) – But they are NOT free.
Thus, the more this process proceeds, the more unimaginable it becomes that individuals might break their servitude and seize their own liberation. All liberation depends on the consciousness of servitude.
This is in part because of the triumph of positivism – The concept is synonymous with the corresponding set of operations. – Example: length. What about justice? Many of the more troublesome concepts are being eliminated because they cannot be operationalized. (13) – debunking of the mind – Reason brought to earth, incorporated
Criticism becomes impossible. Lacking a negative dimension to criticize positive thought, the status quo appears perfectly rational. – The objective good of progress and efficiency – Justice justice system – Free institutions those of the free world – Does not the threat of an atomic catastrophe which could wipe out the human race also serve to protect the very forces which perpetuate this danger?
The pattern of one-dimensional thought & behavior either deflects ideas, actions, feelings that transcend it, or reduces them to its own terms. – Reason and religion both tamed, co-opted
Example: freedom. Dont people choose freely? Who is to contradict them? – But the availability of choice here is not the issue. That is a non-critical understanding of freedom Free election of masters abolishes neither masters nor slaves Free choice of goods & services is not free if these gods & services sustain social controls over a life of toil and fear Doing what you want isnt freedom if your wants are given to you by the forces of your exploitation. That you want that just demonstrates the efficacy of the controls (7-8)*
So what? In the past, constant labor was necessary Now, technology has rendered this unnecessary, also opening new political possibilities – Where once life was a struggle to dominate the world, there is now the possibility of its pacification the development of mans struggle with man and nature, under conditions where the competing needs, desires, and aspirations are no longer organized by the vested interests in domination and scarcity
So What? While there exists a trend toward this consummation of technology, there are intensive efforts to contain this trend within the established institutions. – Technology becomes an instrument of domination rather than liberation, of servitude rather than freedom. This is the irrational element in its rationality.* Life as an end is qualitatively different from life as a means. (17)
So What? What is being lost? – Freedom FROM the economy The individual exists only as an economic unit – Liberation from politics over which the individual has no real control Democracy is not, in fact, rule by the people. It is only insofar as elections are thought to be equivalent to power – Freedom of Choice? – Freedom of individual thought, unrestrained by manufactured public opinion