Presentation on theme: "Culture, Power & Image Poli 110DA 24 The catastrophe of liberation."— Presentation transcript:
Culture, Power & Image Poli 110DA 24 The catastrophe of liberation
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) Not neutral! The process of technological reality is a political process, in which man and nature become fungible objects of organization. – In the scientific method, all things are to be analyzed, studied, and manipulated according to the same principles of thought
The social position of the individual, and the way that he or she relates to others, is determined by objective economic & political processes, laws that appear as calculable manifestations of (scientific) rationality. (169) – What is rational? Can nuclear war be rationally chosen? – For Marcuse, a strong, two-dimensional rationality is aimed always at truth and Being. This is the mark of the rational. In this light, to speak of the rational choice for nuclear war is only to highlight the basic insanity of technical society.
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)
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