Power and Culture Poli 110J 10 The instrumentalization of man.
Presentation on theme: "Power and Culture Poli 110J 11 The redefinition of needs."— Presentation transcript:
Power and Culture Poli 110J 11 The redefinition of needs
Unification of Opposing factors The individual Class Society & religion Politics Art Sex Truth
New ontology The mathematical and operational become defined as truth, the only real rationality – Outside this rationality, one lives in a world of values, and values separated out from the objective reality become subjective. – Values may have a higher dignity (morally and spiritually), but they are not real and thus count less in the real business of life. (147)
The same de-realization affects all ideas which, by their very nature, cannot be verified by scientific method. (147) Humanitarian, religious, and moral ideas are only ideal; they dont disturb unduly the established way of life, and are not invalidated by the fact that they are contradicted by a behavior dictated by the daily necessities of business and politics. (148) – They become matters not of truth, but of preference
The unscientific character of these [critical] ideas fatally weakens the opposition to the established reality; the ideas become mere ideals, and their concrete, critical content evaporates into the ethical or metaphysical atmosphere. (148)
Under an unopposed formal & positivist thought, nature (the world, its objects and systems) and even human beings become understood in instrumental terms. – Power, efficiency, control – It is not technical society that produces this thought, but this thought that produces technical society – When technics becomes the universal form of material production, it circumscribes an entire culture; it projects a historical totality. A world. (154)
Technical thought is not neutral The scientific method of abstraction from concreteness, the quantification of qualities which yield exactness as well as universal validity is a specific method of seeing the world. In this project, universal quantifiability is a prerequisite for the domination of nature and of humanity. (164)
The point which I am trying to make is that science, by virtue of its own method and concepts, has projected and promoted a universe in which the domination of nature has remained linked to the domination of man. It sustains and improves the life of individuals while subordinating them to the masters of the apparatus. (166)
We have it much better than before… Ideal & actual – The side effects of civilization – Tolerance of these is enforced by the overwhelming, anonymous power and efficiency of the technological society. – The absorption of the negative by the positive is validated in the daily experience, which obfuscates the distinction between rational appearance and irrational reality. – P. 226*
Historical determination of truth Mathematics and operationalism became understood to be true (as values are not) by demonstrating their ability to predict and control the universe – Thus, the validity of the concept is not what determines its truth, but its historical manifestation – Thus, liberation will require a catastrophic shift in our historical circumstances
The Catastrophe of Liberation Catastrophe: – 1. The change or revolution which produces the conclusion or final event of a dramatic piece (J.); the dénouement. – 2. A final event; a conclusion generally unhappy (J.); a disastrous end, finish-up, conclusion, upshot; overthrow, ruin, calamitous fate. – 3. An event producing a subversion of the order or system of things.
New Reason A new direction of technical progress will be the catastrophe of the established direction, not the evolution of quantitative rationality, but rather its catastrophic transformation, the emergence of a new idea of Reason, theoretical and practical. (228)*
Recombining science and value TWO dimensions of thought What is at stake is the redefinition of values in technical terms, as elements in the technological process. calculable is the degree to which, under the same conditions, care could be provided for the ill, the infirm, and the agedthat is quantifiable is the possible reduction of anxiety, the possible freedom from fear. (232)*
Formerly metaphysical ideas of liberation may become the proper object of science – The Good is a part of Reason But for this, science must become political, it can no longer embrace a pretended neutrality.
Pacification The pacification of nature should be the aim of technology – All happiness results from the overcoming of Nature – The veneration of the Natural is a veil to protect the status quo Race Disease Gender Sex Economics Poverty
Art is, almost by definition, the enemy of the Natural – It asserts Truth against Fact Thus, Art can be envisaged as validated by and functioning in the scientific-technological transformation of the world. (239) – Not art for arts sake, but as part of a project of fundamental change – Rather than being the handmaiden of the established apparatus, art would become a technique for destroying this business and this misery.
Nature is only what IS, and what IS is oppressive in that it promotes the satisfaction of needs that requires – The rat race – Planned obsolescence – Enjoying freedom from thought – Working with and for the means of destruction (241)
The artistic transformation violates the natural object, but the violated itself is oppressive; thus the aesthetic transformation is liberation. (240) – The violence and saving power of Truth
Needed for the change Centralized economic planning – Deployment of resources in rational plan to pacify nature Abolition of false freedoms – Freedom of enterprise – Work or starve – Advertising as speech – Population controls Change in consciousness – The primary subjective prerequisite for qualitative change is the redefinition of needs. Direct Democracy
The false needs present in current technological society form the material base of domination – They prevent the individual from being the individual, making him or her only an element of the economic and political apparatus. He or she is incapable of true self-determination. There is no space for solitude – Enchained by a vision of the good life as one of material satisfaction & contentment – P. 245*
But fundamental change may be impossible – Economic & political interests in maintaining status quo – Aesthetics have been co-opted to veil domination rather than reveal it A combination family room during peacetime (sic!) and family fallout shelter should war break out. – Workers, once the agents of change, have been incorporated into societys structure
What, then, is to be done? – The Great Refusal What we refuse is not without value or importance. Precisely because of that, the refusal is necessary. There is a reason which we no longer accept, there is an appearance of wisdom which horrifies us, there is a plea for agreement and conciliation which we will no longer heed. A break has occurred. We have been reduced to that frankness which no longer tolerates complicity. (Le Refus, fn. 3, p. 256)
But this is only individual, and politically impotent. – It allows the individual to be authentic, True to a greater extent than he or she would otherwise. Dont wait to be hunted to hide. – But even such people will find themselves continuously compromised by the necessities of survival. – Ultimately, while the life of the individual may have improved, and be Truer, nothing has changed.
It is nothing but a chance. Last possible agents of fundamental change: – the substratum of the outcasts and outsiders, the exploited and persecuted of other races and other colors, the unemployed and unemployable – Their opposition is revolutionary even if their consciousness is not. (256)
Civil rights mvmt might be the beginning of fundamental change: Their force is behind every political demonstration for the victims of law and order. The fact that they start refusing to play the game may be the fact which marks the beginning of the end of a period. (257)* – Protest & a demand for change
But… the economic and and technical capabilities of the established societies are sufficiently vast to allow for adjustments and concessions to the underdog, and their armed forces sufficiently trained and equipped to handle emergency situations. (257)
Ultimately for Marcuse, the choice is between individual withdrawal or, just possibly, an alliance of diverse outsiders. – Both likely futile
Main Points Western society is as totalitarian as Soviet society, but much more pleasant The relationships of power in modern society are all-pervasive, shaping our basic thoughts and needs All sources of transcendence have been co-opted. This is the strongest defense that the status quo has. – Sex, love, art, reason, religion all negated by a repressive form of tolerance
For humans to truly be what they are, the critical dimension would have to reappear. This would have the effect of making the Good a necessary part of the Rational For Marcuse, to be free is not necessarily to be comfortable, secure, or even happy, but it is to be truly and fully human.
To live ones love and hatred, to live that which one is means defeat, resignation, and death. The crimes of society, the hell that man has made for man become unconquerable cosmic forces. (61)