An Essay on Liberation by Herbert Marcuse

By Herbert Marcuse

During this concise and startling booklet, the writer of One-Dimensional Man argues that the time for utopian hypothesis has come. Marcuse argues that the normal conceptions of human freedom were rendered out of date by means of the advance of complex commercial society. Social thought can not content material itself with repeating the formulation, “from every one in response to his skill, to every in accordance with his needs,” yet needs to now examine the character of human wishes themselves. Marcuse's declare is that whether construction have been managed and made up our minds by way of the employees, society could nonetheless be repressive—unless the staff themselves had the wishes and aspirations of loose males. starting from philosophical anthropology to aesthetics An Essay on Liberation makes an attempt to outline—in a hugely speculative and tentative fashion—the new percentages for human liberation.

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Whereas capital treats this exchange as a means to its self-augmentation and thus treats labour as ‘a force belonging to capital itself’, for the worker the exchange is about procuring the means of life. From the side of the worker, the exchange with capital obeys the Aristotelian logic of natural wealth (C-M-C): the workers’ goals are to exchange labour-power for money (wages) in order to produce the means of life. The circuit of wagelabour, as Lebowitz calls it, thus obeys a finite teleology, one embedded within the needs and desires of concrete living labourers.

51. Marx, Early Writings, p. 386. 52. Marx, K. , The German Ideology, trans. R. Pascal (New York: International Publishers, 1963), p. 74. 53. Marx, Early Writings, p. 385. 54. , Time, Labor and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx’s Critical Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 172, 183, 237. 55. , ‘The Dual Form of Labour in Capitalist Society and the Struggle over Meaning: Comments on Postone’, Historical Materialism, forthcoming. 56. Marx, Early Writings, pp. 151–2.

As the young Marx put it with respect to the failed mediations in Hegel’s theory of the state (the estates, legislature and so on), what we have in the case of money is a ‘middle term’ that is ‘a wooden sword, the concealed antithesis between the particular and the universal’. 56 And such pseudo-mediations lock us into structures of bad infinity; rather than reconciling universal (infinite) and particular (finite), they alternate between the two, reproducing their antagonistic relationship. In the case of the capitalist economy, the finite particular (concrete labour) is left behind – lost and forgotten – in the search for infinite exchangeability and abstract universality (a universal being-for-others that stands over against its determinate being as a product of concrete acts of labour).

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