Heidegger & Marx: Marcuse’s Dialectic

marx and heidegger

In this piece republished by CSS, Feenberg develops concepts of liberation within the Heideggerian and Marxian framework as developed by Marcuse. While the Center has found much of Marcuse’s theses to be either unfinished or flawed, it is in the process of understanding the questions posed that the contribution to the literature and the corpus, on the whole, can be found.

Feenberg approaches Marcuse as a ‘Left-Heideggerian’, a category which Abromeit disputes, and instead places Marcuse within the Marxian tradition. The relevance or utility of the need to categorize Marcuse as one or the other is, at first passing, irrelevant. But it is through an understanding of the deep problems within Western academia, censorship, its funding sources, and ‘personality contests’ between the men that academia attracts, that we find the real reasons.

It echoes the treatment and categorization of Nietzsche by Walter Kaufman – the well-known scholar who translated and annotated critical English language versions of works like ‘On the Genealogy of Morals’ and ‘Ecce Homo’. His aim is to sanitize Nietzsche, to misrepresent Nietzsche’s views on Rome and Judea, to present Nietzsche as either anti-science or anti-nature, and the core purpose of his ostensible philosemitism.  Yet his introduction of Nietzsche to the Anglophone world defined its interpretation for several generations. But Kaufman’s revisioning of Nietzsche was justified within its paradigm.

How so? If Nietzsche and Heidegger are going to be categorized as worthy subjects of study for their insights and revealed truths, and not as examples of mistakes, Western academia finds itself in the position of also having to categorize them as something other than how they were understood by political actors in the last century.

In the case of Nietzsche, it is increasingly impermissible in Western academia to embrace his call for a transvaluation of values without first changing the real content of his other, though related, ideas. Rather than an apologia, we find a rewriting of the real meaning and historical record.

In the case of Marcuse, Abromeit’s ideological and career commitments in light of the above described conditions prevailing in academia, force a position in which he concludes the best contributions of Marcuse have a lineage traced through the acceptable Marxian tradition and not from its Heideggerian foundation. It is, as we can see not surprising, that Marcuse’s work – the nature of its flawed or incomplete conclusions despite the posing of valid and new questions – also a reflection of the purpose of the Columbia University Institute for Social Research (known also  as the Frankfurt School), which may have influenced or predetermined these errors.

The Center reproduces these for the public without alteration, towards a broader and more meaningful public discourse in this exciting and revolutionary post-academy age.

[Originally titled ‘Marcuse’s Dialectic’ – Forthcoming in Transvaluation of Values & Radical Change: Five Lectures]

by Andrew Feenberg

 

old-english-calligraphy-alphabet-this is how Marcuse began his lecture at the famous “Dialectics of Liberation” conference in London in July, 1967:

 

I believe that all dialectic is liberation…and not only liberation in an intellectual sense, but liberation involving the mind and the body, liberation involving entire human existence…. Now in what sense is all dialectic liberation? It is liberation from the repressive, from a bad, a false system — be it an organic system, be it a social system, be it a mental or intellectual system: liberation by forces developing within such a system. That is a decisive point. And liberation by virtue of the contradiction generated by the system, precisely because it is a bad, a false system. I am intentionally using here moral, philosophical terms, values: “bad,” “false.” For without an objectively justifiable goal of a better, a free human existence, all liberation must remain meaningless — at best, progress in servitude. I believe that in Marx too socialism ought to be. This “ought” belongs to the very essence of scientific socialism. It ought to be; it is, we may almost say, a biological, sociological and political necessity. It is a biological necessity in as much as a socialist society, according to Marx, would conform with the very logos of life, with the essential possibilities of a human existence, not only mentally, not only intellectually, but also organically. (Marcuse 1968, 175-76)

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Tragedy & Farce: Marxian Superstructural Analysis of Heterodox Social Movements

Small Logo By: Joaquin Flores

Tragedy & Farce: Reconsidering Marxian Superstructural Analysis of Heterodox Social Movements

  • Part I: Utopia vs. Myth,  the Poetry of the Past, and Social Revolution –  a general introduction to this series

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Introduction

Old_English_Let us begin by resolving that there were three socio-political ideologies of modernity – liberalism, communism, and fascism; the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd political theories, respectively.  New developments in the global arrangement of socio-economic, ideological, and geopolitical forces in recent years force us to examine these with fresh eyes. On the one hand, we need to recognize the common philosophical heritage of all of these three ideologies in modernity, and thereby reveal the instances in which they consciously or unconsciously collude, while on the other hand delineating between their respective understandings of their roles as ideologies. In particular, the aim of this series is to reconcile the Marxian analytical framework with the base and super-structural features of new and syncretic socio-political movements, in their purely aesthetic form, as well as in their deeper ideological aspects.

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A Brief History of Serbian Socialism, Part I

Small Logo  By: Stevo M. Lapchevich – translated from Serbian by Novak Drashkovic                                  & edited by Joaquin Flores

A Brief History of Serbian Socialism,
Part One

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The First Serbian Uprising inspired Serbian socialist thought and was connected to the early abolition of feudalism and landlordism

old-english-calligraphy-alphabet-the development of socialist ideas in the Balkans is closely tied to the political life of Serbia in the second half of the 19th century. Arising in a tributary country semi-independent from the occupying Ottoman Empire, in a land of lords and impoverished peasants living on the edge of survival, Serbia is a land of a people that was the first one in Europe to liberate itself from feudalism in the fourth decade of the 19th century.  We should recall here that Serbian prince Miloš Obrenović I issued a decree according to which arable land could only be owned by the people that are farming it, as opposed to the rising Serbian aristocracy.  Serbian socialist idea, unlike almost any other at that point in time, strived not only for the creation of a socially just, but also nationally independent and free state that would on the basis of self-government and self-determination unify the entire Serbian people.

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Why Lenin?

xportal    By: Adam Danek

In Lenin’s Kerzhenet spirit

The Abbot cries decrees,

As if the sources of all storms

He was looking at the books of Old Believers.

                                         –  Nikolai Klyuev, Lenin (1918) [1]

VI Lenin

Why Lenin?

The historical significance of the form of Vladimir Lenin is too often reduced to the role he played as a communist ideologue, the leader of the Bolshevik movement and possibly founder of the Soviet state, but only superficially seen as the Bolshevik state, the first communist country in the world.  Meanwhile, Lenin does not equal communism nor vice versa.  For followers of the Communist slogans of equality and human liberation, the political legacy of Lenin must appear to be a very troublesome. Continue reading