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Zinn Critique



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In this review, Marcuse revised the interpretation of Marxism , from the standpoint of the works of the early Marx. After leaving Germany for Switzerland in May , Marcuse emigrated to the United States in June , where he became a citizen in Adorno among others. In he published Reason and Revolution , a dialectical work studying G. Hegel and Karl Marx. While a member of the Frankfurt School also known as the Institute of Social Research , Marcuse developed a model for critical social theory, created a theory of the new stage of state and monopoly capitalism, described the relationships between philosophy, social theory, and cultural criticism, and provided an analysis and critique of German fascism.

Marcuse worked closely with critical theorists while at the institute. Directed by the Harvard historian William L. At its zenith between and , it employed over twelve hundred, four hundred of whom were stationed abroad. These men comprised the "theoretical brain trust" of the American war machine, which, according to its founder, William J. Donovan , would function as a "final clearinghouse" for the secret services. Although this group did not determine war strategy or tactics, it would be able to assemble, organize, analyze, and filter the immense flow of military information directed toward Washington, thanks to the unique capacity of the gathered specialists to interpret the relevant sources. He retired after the death of his first wife in In , Marcuse began a teaching career as a political theorist, first at Columbia University , then at Harvard University.

Marcuse worked at Brandeis University from to , then at the University of California San Diego from to Marcuse was a friend and collaborator of the political sociologist Barrington Moore Jr. Wright Mills , one of the founders of the New Left movement. Wright Mills. Marcuse's critiques of capitalist society especially his synthesis of Marx and Sigmund Freud , Eros and Civilization , and his book One-Dimensional Man resonated with the concerns of the student movement in the s.

Because of his willingness to speak at student protests and his essay " Repressive Tolerance " , [12] Marcuse soon became known in the media as "Father of the New Left. He had many speaking engagements in the US and Western Bloc in the late s and s. Many radical scholars and activists were influenced by Marcuse, such as Norman O. Brown , [23] Angela Davis , [24] Charles J.

Young see the List of Scholars and Activists link below. Among those who critiqued him from the left were Marxist-humanist Raya Dunayevskaya , fellow German emigre Paul Mattick , both of whom subjected One-Dimensional Man to a Marxist critique, and Noam Chomsky , who knew and liked Marcuse "but thought very little of his work. He characterizes tolerance of repressive speech as "inauthentic". Instead, he advocates a form of tolerance that is intolerant of repressive namely right-wing political movements:. Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.

Surely, no government can be expected to foster its own subversion, but in a democracy such a right is vested in the people i. This means that the ways should not be blocked on which a subversive majority could develop, and if they are blocked by organized repression and indoctrination, their reopening may require apparently undemocratic means. They would include the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements that promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, or that oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc. Marcuse later expressed his radical ideas through three pieces of writing.

He wrote An Essay on Liberation in , in which he celebrated liberation movements such as those in Vietnam , which inspired many radicals. In he wrote Counterrevolution and Revolt , which argues that the hopes of the s were facing a counterrevolution from the right. After Brandeis denied the renewal of his teaching contract in , Marcuse taught at the University of California San Diego. In , California Governor Ronald Reagan and other conservatives objected to his reappointment, [28] but the university decided to let his contract run until He devoted the rest of his life to teaching, writing and giving lectures around the world.

His efforts brought him attention from the media, which claimed that he openly advocated violence, although he often clarified that only "violence of defense" could be appropriate, not "violence of aggression". He continued to promote Marxian theory, with some of his students helping to spread his ideas. He published his final work The Aesthetic Dimension in on the role of art in the process of what he termed "emancipation" from bourgeois society. Marcuse married three times. His first wife was mathematician Sophie Wertheim — , with whom he had a son, Peter born Herbert's second marriage was to Inge Neumann — , the widow of his close friend Franz Neumann — His third wife was Erica Sherover — , a former graduate student forty years his junior, whom he married in His son Peter Marcuse is professor emeritus of urban planning at Columbia University.

His granddaughter is the novelist Irene Marcuse and his grandson, Harold Marcuse , is a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. On July 29, , ten days after his eighty-first birthday, Marcuse died after suffering a stroke during a visit to Germany. Marcuse's concept repressive desublimation , which has become well-known, refers to his argument that postwar mass culture, with its profusion of sexual provocations, serves to reinforce political repression.

If people are preoccupied with inauthentic sexual stimulation, their political energy will be "desublimated"; instead of acting constructively to change the world, they remain repressed and uncritical. Marcuse advanced the prewar thinking of critical theory toward a critical account of the "one-dimensional" nature of bourgeois life in Europe and America. His thinking could, therefore, also be considered an advance of the concerns of earlier liberal critics such as David Riesman. Two aspects of Marcuse's work are of particular importance, first, his use of language more familiar from the critique of Soviet or Nazi regimes to characterize developments in the advanced industrial world; and second, his grounding of critical theory in a particular use of psychoanalytic thought.

During his years in Freiburg, Marcuse wrote a series of essays that explored the possibility of synthesizing Marxism and Heidegger's fundamental ontology, as begun in the latter's work Being and Time This early interest in Heidegger followed Marcuse's demand for "concrete philosophy," which, he declared in , "concerns itself with the truth of contemporaneous human existence. Marcuse's analysis of capitalism derives partially from one of Karl Marx's main concepts: Objectification, [35] which under capitalism becomes Alienation.

Marx believed that capitalism was exploiting humans; that by producing objects of a certain character, laborers became alienated and this ultimately dehumanized them into functional objects themselves. Marcuse took this belief and expanded it. According to Althusser—echoing his notion of "French misery" exposed on For Marx —the party demonstrated a contempt for the materialist theory when it suppressed a "scientific concept". After the PCF and the left were defeated in the French legislative elections of , Atlhusser's bouts of depression became more severe and frequent. He would recall later:.

After the surgery, in May, he was hospitalized for most of the summer in a Parisian clinic. His condition did not improve, but in early October he was sent home. Kneeling beside her, leaning over her body, I am engaged in massaging her neck. I press my two thumbs into the hollow of flesh that borders the top of the sternum, and, applying force, I slowly reach, one thumb toward the right, one thumb toward the left at an angle, the firmer area below the ears. And suddenly I am struck with terror: her eyes are interminably fixed, and above all here is the tip of her tongue lying, unusually and peacefully, between her teeth and her lips.

I had certainly seen corpses before, but I had never seen the face of a strangled woman in my life. And yet I know that this is a strangled woman. What is happening? He himself reported the murder to the doctor in residence who contacted psychiatric institutions. The murder of Rytmann attracted much media attention, and there were several requests to treat Althusser as an ordinary criminal. From this point of view, Roudinesco wrote, Althusser was three times a criminal. First, the philosopher had legitimated the current of thought judged responsible for the Gulag ; second, he praised the Chinese Cultural Revolution as an alternative to both capitalism and Stalinism; and finally because he had, it was said, corrupted the elite of French youth by introducing the cult of a criminal ideology into the heart of one of the best French institutions.

Sarraute criticized the fact that, when prestigious names are involved, a lot is written about them but that little is written about the victim. Despite the critics, some of his friends, such as Guitton and Debray, defended Althusser, saying the murder was an act of love—as Althusser argued too. It was a crime of mystical love". A beautiful proof of love It still makes me tremble We were living shut up in the cloister of our hell, both of us. I killed a woman who was everything to me during a crisis of mental confusion, she who loved me to the point of wanting only to die because she could not continue living. And no doubt in my confusion and unconsciousness I 'did her this service,' which she did not try to prevent, but from which she died.

The crime seriously tarnished Althusser's reputation. There, following a pneumonia contracted during the summer, he died of a heart attack on 22 October Althusser was such a homebody that biographer William S. Lewis affirmed, "Althusser had known only home, school, and P. Although he did not succeed in reinserting her into the party, his relationship with Rytmann nonetheless deepened during this period. I had never embraced a woman, and above all I had never been embraced by a woman at age thirty!

Desire mounted in me, we made love on the bed, it was new, exciting, exalting, and violent. His feelings toward her were contradictory from the very beginning; it is suggested that the strong emotional impact she caused in him led him to deep depression. Althusser considered that Rytmann gave him "a world of solidarity and struggle, a world of reasoned action, Through her desire for me she also initiated me She loved me as a woman loves a man!

Although Althusser was really in love with Rytmann, [12] he also had affairs with other women. Every summer the two families gathered in a residence in the village of Bertinoro , and, according to Roudinesco, "It was in this magical setting Althusser underwent psychiatric hospitalisations throughout his life, the first time after receiving a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Althusser analysed the prerequisites of his illness with the help of psychoanalysis and found them in complex relationships with his family he devoted to this topic half of the autobiography. Lucienne then married Charles, and the son was named after the deceased Louis. In Althusser's memoirs, this marriage was "madness", not so much because of the tradition itself, but because of the excessive submission, as Charles was not forced to marry Lucienne since his younger brother had not yet married her.

His "feeling of fathomless solitude" could only be mitigated by communicating with his mother's parents who lived in Morvan. The facts of his autobiography have been critically evaluated by researchers. According to its own editors, L'avenir dure longtemps is "an inextricable tangle of 'facts' and 'phantasies'". According to Elliott, the autobiography produces primarily an impression of "destructiveness and self-destructiveness". Althusser's earlier works include the influential volume Reading Capital , which collects the work of Althusser and his students in an intensive philosophical rereading of Marx's Capital. The book reflects on the philosophical status of Marxist theory as a "critique of political economy ", and on its object.

Althusser would later acknowledge [] that many of the innovations in this interpretation of Marx attempt to assimilate concepts derived from Baruch Spinoza into Marxism. A full translation was published in Several of Althusser's theoretical positions have remained influential in Marxist philosophy. His essay "On the Materialist Dialectic" proposes a great " epistemological break " between Marx's early writings —45 and his later, properly Marxist texts, borrowing a term from the philosopher of science Gaston Bachelard. Althusser is also widely known as a theorist of ideology. His best-known essay, " Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses: Notes Toward an Investigation ", [] establishes the concept of ideology. Althusser's theory of ideology draws on Marx and Gramsci, but also on Freud's and Lacan's psychological concepts of the unconscious and mirror-phase respectively, and describes the structures and systems that enable the concept of self.

For Althusser, these structures are both agents of repression and inevitable: it is impossible to escape ideology and avoid being subjected to it. On the other hand, the collection of essays from which "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" is drawn [] contains other essays which confirm that Althusser's concept of ideology is broadly consistent with the classic Marxist theory of class struggle.

Althusser's thought evolved during his lifetime. It has been the subject of argument and debate, especially within Marxism and specifically concerning his theory of knowledge epistemology. Althusser argues that Marx's thought has been fundamentally misunderstood and underestimated. He fiercely condemns various interpretations of Marx's works— historicism , [] idealism and economism —on grounds that they fail to realize that with the "science of history", historical materialism , Marx has constructed a revolutionary view of social change. Althusser believes these errors result from the notion that Marx's entire body of work can be understood as a coherent whole.

Rather, Marx's thought contains a radical "epistemological break". Although the works of the young Marx are bound by the categories of German philosophy and classical political economy , The German Ideology written in makes a sudden and unprecedented departure. The shift can be revealed only by a careful and sensitive "symptomatic reading". Althusser holds that Marx has discovered a "continent of knowledge", History, analogous to the contributions of Thales to mathematics or Galileo to physics , [] in that the structure of his theory is unlike anything posited by his predecessors. Althusser believes that Marx's work is fundamentally incompatible with its antecedents because it is built on a groundbreaking epistemology theory of knowledge that rejects the distinction between subject and object.

In opposition to empiricism , Althusser claims that Marx's philosophy, dialectical materialism , counters the theory of knowledge as vision with a theory of knowledge as production. For Althusser, theoretical practice takes place entirely within the realm of thought, working upon theoretical objects and never coming into direct contact with the real object that it aims to know. Marx's historical materialism is a science with its own internal methods of proof. In addition to its unique epistemology, Marx's theory is built on concepts—such as forces and relations of production —that have no counterpart in classical political economy.

For the classical economists, individual needs can serve as a premise for a theory explaining the character of a mode of production and as an independent starting point for a theory about society. Consequently, Marx's Capital has greater explanatory power than does political economy because it provides both a model of the economy and a description of the structure and development of a whole society. In Althusser's view, Marx does not merely argue that human needs are largely created by their social environment and thus vary with time and place; rather, he abandons the very idea that there can be a theory about what people are like that is prior to any theory about how they come to be that way.

Although Althusser insists that there was an epistemological break, [] he later states that its occurrence around is not clearly defined, as traces of humanism, historicism, and Hegelianism are found in Capital. Thus, the distinction between ideology and science or philosophy is not assured once and for all by the epistemological break. Because of Marx's belief that the individual is a product of society, Althusser holds that it is pointless to try to build a social theory on a prior conception of the individual. The subject of observation is not individual human elements, but rather "structure". As he sees it, Marx does not explain society by appealing to the properties of individual persons—their beliefs, desires, preferences, and judgements.

Rather, Marx defines society as a set of fixed "practices". For Althusser, it is a mistake to attribute this economic determinist view to Marx. Just as Althusser criticises the idea that a social theory can be founded on an historical conception of human needs, so does he reject the idea that economic practice can be used in isolation to explain other aspects of society. The advantage of practices over human individuals as a starting point is that although each practice is only a part of a complex whole of society, a practice is a whole in itself in that it consists of a number of different kinds of parts. Economic practice, for example, contains raw materials, tools, individual persons, etc.

Althusser conceives of society as an interconnected collection of these wholes: economic practice, ideological practice, and politico - legal practice. Although each practice has a degree of relative autonomy, together they make up one complex, structured whole social formation. For example, among the relations of production of capitalist societies are the buying and selling of labour power by capitalists and workers respectively.

These relations are part of economic practice, but can only exist within the context of a legal system which establishes individual agents as buyers and sellers. Furthermore, the arrangement must be maintained by political and ideological means. An analysis understood in terms of interdependent practices helps us to conceive of how society is organized, but also permits us to comprehend social change and thus provides a theory of history. Althusser explains the reproduction of the relations of production by reference to aspects of ideological and political practice; conversely, the emergence of new production relations can be explained by the failure of these mechanisms. Marx's theory seems to posit a system in which an imbalance in two parts could lead to compensatory adjustments at other levels, or sometimes to a major reorganization of the whole.

To develop this idea, Althusser relies on the concepts of contradiction and non-contradiction, which he claims are illuminated by their relation to a complex structured whole. Practices are contradictory when they "grate" on one another and non-contradictory when they support one another. Althusser elaborates on these concepts by reference to Lenin's analysis of the Russian Revolution of Lenin posited that despite widespread discontent throughout Europe in the early 20th century, Russia was the country in which revolution occurred because it contained all the contradictions possible within a single state at the time. For Althusser, this example reinforces his claim that Marx's explanation of social change is more complex than the result of a single contradiction between the forces and the relations of production.

From this, Althusser concludes that Marx's concept of contradiction is inseparable from the concept of a complex structured social whole. To emphasize that changes in social structures relate to numerous contradictions, Althusser describes these changes as " overdetermined ", using a term taken from Sigmund Freud. However, Althusser does not mean to say that the events that determine social changes all have the same causal status. While a part of a complex whole, economic practice is a "structure in dominance": it plays a major part in determining the relations between other spheres, and has more effect on them than they have on it.

The most prominent aspect of society the religious aspect in feudal formations and the economic aspect in capitalist formations is called the "dominant instance", and is in turn determined "in the last instance" by the economy. Althusser's understanding of contradiction in terms of the dialectic attempts to rid Marxism of the influence and vestiges of Hegelian idealist dialectics, and is a component part of his general anti-humanist position. In his reading, the Marxist understanding of social totality is not to be confused with the Hegelian. Where Hegel sees the different features of each historical epoch — its art, politics, religion, etc. Because Althusser held that a person's desires, choices, intentions, preferences, judgements, and so forth are the effects of social practices, he believed it necessary to conceive of how society makes the individual in its own image.

Within capitalist societies, the human individual is generally regarded as a subject —a self-conscious, "responsible" agent whose actions can be explained by their beliefs and thoughts. For Althusser, a person's capacity to perceive themselves in this way is not innate. Rather, it is acquired within the structure of established social practices, which impose on individuals the role forme of a subject. Althusser argues that many of our roles and activities are given to us by social practice: for example, the production of steelworkers is a part of economic practice, while the production of lawyers is part of politico - legal practice.

However, other characteristics of individuals, such as their beliefs about the good life or their metaphysical reflections on the nature of the self, do not easily fit into these categories. In Althusser's view, our values, desires, and preferences are inculcated in us by ideological practice, the sphere which has the defining property of constituting individuals as subjects. For more guidance, see Wikipedia:Translation. Bordigism Communization Council communism Situationist International. Related topics. Theoretical works. Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy.

Economic determinism Historical materialism Marx's dialectic Marx's method Philosophy of nature. Related categories. Karl Marx. October ". Retrieved 13 December Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN On the "idea of communism" in our time " Cultural Critique Number 84, Spring , pp. Left communism never appeared as a pure will to be 'as left as possible'. Socialist Alternative. The German Revolution, Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. Moscow and the New Left.

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