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+[[!meta title="One-Dimensional Man"]]
+* Author: Hebert Marcuse
+* Terms: institutionalized, adjusted sublimation
+## Snippets
+### Intro
+ From the beginning, any critical theory of society is thus confronted with the
+ problem of historical objectivity, a problem which arises at the two points
+ where the analysis implies value judgments:
+ 1. the judgment that human life is worth living, or rather can be and ought to
+ be made worth living. This judgment underlies all intellectual effort; it is
+ the a priori of social theory, and its rejection (which is perfectly logical)
+ rejects theory itself;
+ 2. the judgment that, in a given society, specific possibilities exist for the
+ amelioration of human life and specific ways and means of realizing these
+ possibilities. Critical analysis has to demonstrate the objective validity of
+ these judgments, and the demonstration has to proceed on empirical grounds. The
+ established society has available an ascertainable quantity and quality of
+ intellectual and material resources. How can these resources be used for the
+ optimal development and satisfaction of individual needs and faculties with a
+ minimum of toil and misery? Social theory is historical theory, and history is
+ the realm of chance in the realm of necessity. Therefore, among the various
+ possible and actual modes of organizing and utilizing the available resources,
+ which ones offer the greatest chance of an optimal development?
+ [...]
+ The “possibilities” must be within the reach of the respective society; they
+ must be definable goals of practice. By the same token, the abstraction from
+ the established institutions must be expressive of an actual tendency—that is,
+ their transformation must be the real need of the underlying population. Social
+ theory is concerned with the historical alternatives which haunt the
+ established society as subversive tendencies and forces. The values attached to
+ the alternatives do become facts when they are translated into reality by
+ historical practice. The theoretical concepts terminate with social change.
+ But here, advanced industrial society confronts the critique with a situation
+ which seems to deprive it of its very basis. Technical progress, extended to a
+ whole system of domination and coordination, creates forms of life (and of
+ power) which appear to reconcile the forces opposing the system and to defeat
+ or refute all protest in the name of the historical prospects of freedom from
+ toil and domination. Contemporary society seems to be capable of containing
+ social change—qualitative change which would establish essentially different
+ institutions, a new direction of the productive process, new modes of human
+ existence.
+ [...]
+ As a technological universe, advanced industrial society is a political
+ universe, the latest stage in the realization of a specific historical
+ project—namely, the experience, transformation, and organization of nature as
+ the mere stuff of domination.
+ As the project unfolds, it shapes the entire universe of discourse and action,
+ intellectual and material culture. In the medium of technology, culture,
+ politics, and the economy merge into an omnipresent system which swallows up or
+ repulses all alternatives. The productivity and growth potential of this system
+ stabilize the society and contain technical progress within the framework of
+ domination. Technological rationality has become political rationality.
+### Freedom in negative terms
+ Contemporary industrial civilization demonstrates that it has reached the stage
+ at which “the free society” can no longer be adequately defined in the
+ traditional terms of economic, political, and intellectual liberties, not
+ because these liberties have become insignificant, but because they are too
+ significant to be confined within the traditional forms. New modes of
+ realization are needed, corresponding to the new capabilities of society.
+ Such new modes can be indicated only in negative terms because they would
+ amount to the negation of the prevailing modes. Thus economic freedom would
+ mean freedom from the economy—from being controlled by economic forces and
+ relationships; freedom from the daily struggle for existence, from earning a
+ living. Political freedom would mean liberation of the individuals from
+ politics over which they have no effective control. Similarly, intellectual
+ freedom would mean the restoration of individual thought now absorbed by mass
+ communication and indoctrination, abolition of “public opinion” together with
+ its makers. The unrealistic sound of these propositions is indicative, not of
+ their utopian character, but of the strength of the forces which prevent their
+ realization. The most effective and enduring form of warfare against liberation
+ is the implanting of material and intellectual needs that perpetuate obsolete
+ forms of the struggle for existence.
+ The intensity, the satisfaction and even the character of human needs, beyond
+ the biological level, have always been preconditioned. Whether or not the
+ possibility of doing or leaving, enjoying or destroying, possessing or
+ rejecting something is seized as a need depends on whether or not it can be
+ seen as desirable and necessary for the prevailing societal institutions and
+ interests. In this sense, human needs are historical needs and, to the extent
+ to which the society demands the repressive development of the individual, his
+ needs themselves and their claim for satisfaction are subject to overriding
+ critical standards.
+### The irrationality of the rational
+ We are again confronted with one of the most vexing aspects of advanced
+ industrial civilization: the rational character of its irrationality. Its
+ productivity and efficiency, its capacity to increase and spread comforts, to
+ turn waste into need, and destruction into construction, the extent to which
+ this civilization transforms the object world into an extension of man’s mind
+ and body makes the very notion of alienation questionable.
+ [...]
+ But in the contemporary period, the technological controls appear to be the
+ very embodiment of Reason for the benefit of all social groups and interests—to
+ such an extent that all contradiction seems irrational and all counteraction
+ impossible.
+ No wonder then that, in the most advanced areas of this civilization, the
+ social controls have been introjected to the point where even individual
+ protest is affected at its roots. The intellectual and emotional refusal “to go
+ along” appears neurotic and impotent.
+ [...]
+ But the term “introjection” perhaps no longer describes the way in which the
+ individual by himself reproduces and perpetuates the external controls
+ exercised by his society. Introjection suggests a variety of relatively
+ spontaneous processes by which a Self (Ego) transposes the “outer” into the
+ “inner.” Thus introjection implies the existence of an inner dimension
+ distinguished from and even antagonistic to the external exigencies—an
+ individual consciousness and an individual unconscious apart from public
+ opinion and behavior.3 The idea of “inner freedom” here has its reality: it
+ designates the private space in which man may become and remain “himself.”
+ Today this private space has been invaded and whittled down by technological
+ reality. Mass production and mass distribution claim the entire individual, and
+ industrial psychology has long since ceased to be confined to the factory. The
+ manifold processes of introjection seem to be ossified in almost mechanical
+ reactions. The result is, not adjustment but mimesis: an immediate
+ identification of the individual with his society and, through it, with the
+ society as a whole.
+### One-dimensionality
+ Thus emerges a pattern of one-dimensional thought and behavior in which ideas,
+ aspirations, and objectives that, by their content, transcend the established
+ universe of discourse and action are either repelled or reduced to terms of
+ this universe. They are redefined by the rationality of the given system and of
+ its quantitative extension.
+ The trend may be related to a development in scientific method: operationalism
+ in the physical, behaviorism in the social sciences. The common feature is a
+ total empiricism in the treatment of concepts; their meaning is restricted to
+ the representation of particular operations and behavior. The operational point
+ of view is well illustrated by P. W. Bridgman’s analysis of the concept of
+ length:5
+ We evidently know what we mean by length if we can tell what the length of any
+ and every object is, and for the physicist nothing more is required. To find
+ the length of an object, we have to perform certain physical operations. The
+ concept of length is therefore fixed when the operations by which length is
+ measured are fixed: that is, the concept of length involves as much and nothing
+ more than the set of operations by which length is determined. In general, we
+ mean by any concept nothing more than a set of operations; the concept is
+ synonymous with the corresponding set of operations.
+ Bridgman has seen the wide implications of this mode of thought for the society
+ at large:6
+ To adopt the operational point of view involves much more than a mere
+ restriction of the sense in which we understand ‘concept,’ but means a
+ far-reaching change in all our habits of thought, in that we shall no longer
+ permit ourselves to use as tools in our thinking concepts of which we cannot
+ give an adequate account in terms of operations.
+ Bridgman’s prediction has come true. The new mode of thought is today the
+ predominant tendency in philosophy, psychology, sociology, and other fields.
+ Many of the most seriously troublesome concepts are being “eliminated” by
+ showing that no adequate account of them in terms of operations or behavior can
+ be given.
+ [...]
+ Outside the academic establishment, the “far-reaching change in all our habits
+ of thought” is more serious. It serves to coordinate ideas and goals with those
+ exacted by the prevailing system, to enclose them in the system, and to repel
+ those which are irreconcilable with the system. The reign of such a
+ one-dimensional reality does not mean that materialism rules, and that the
+ spiritual, metaphysical, and bohemian occupations are petering out. On the
+ contrary, there is a great deal of “Worship together this week,” “Why not try
+ God,” Zen, existentialism, and beat ways of life, etc. But such modes of
+ protest and transcendence are no longer contradictory to the status quo and no
+ longer negative. They are rather the ceremonial part of practical behaviorism,
+ its harmless negation, and are quickly digested by the status quo as part of
+ its healthy diet.
+ [...]
+ Such limitation of thought is certainly not new. Ascending modern rationalism,
+ in its speculative as well as empirical form, shows a striking contrast between
+ extreme critical radicalism in scientific and philosophic method on the one
+ hand, and an uncritical quietism in the attitude toward established and
+ functioning social institutions. Thus Descartes’ ego cogitans was to leave the
+ “great public bodies” untouched, and Hobbes held that “the present ought always
+ to be preferred, maintained, and accounted best.” Kant agreed with Locke in
+ justifying revolution if and when it has succeeded in organizing the whole and
+ in preventing subversion.
+### Progress, abolition of labor, totalitarianism
+ The society bars a whole type of oppositional operations and behavior;
+ consequently, the concepts pertaining to them are rendered illusory or
+ meaningless. Historical transcendence appears as metaphysical transcendence,
+ not acceptable to science and scientific thought. The operational and
+ behavioral point of view, practiced as a “habit of thought” at large, becomes
+ the view of the established universe of discourse and action, needs and
+ aspirations.
+ “Progress” is not a neutral term; it moves toward specific ends, and these ends
+ are defined by the possibilities of ameliorating the human condition. Advanced
+ industrial society is approaching the stage where continued progress would
+ demand the radical subversion of the prevailing direction and organization of
+ progress. This stage would be reached when material production (including the
+ necessary services) becomes automated to the extent that all vital needs can be
+ satisfied while necessary labor time is reduced to marginal time. From this
+ point on, technical progress would transcend the realm of necessity, where it
+ served as the instrument of domination and exploitation which thereby limited
+ its rationality; technology would become subject to the free play of faculties
+ in the struggle for the pacification of nature and of society.
+ Such a state is envisioned in Marx’s notion of the “abolition of labor.” The
+ term “pacification of existence” seems better suited to designate the
+ historical alternative of a world which—through an international conflict which
+ transforms and suspends the contradictions within the established
+ societies—advances on the brink of a global war. “Pacification of existence”
+ means the development of man’s struggle with man and with nature, under
+ conditions where the competing needs, desires, and aspirations are no longer
+ organized by vested interests in domination and scarcity—an organization which
+ perpetuates the destructive forms of this struggle.
+ Today’s fight against this historical alternative finds a firm mass basis in
+ the underlying population, and finds its ideology in the rigid orientation of
+ thought and behavior to the given universe of facts. Validated by the
+ accomplishments of science and technology, justified by its growing
+ productivity, the status quo defies all transcendence. Faced with the
+ possibility of pacification on the grounds of its technical and intellectual
+ achievements, the mature industrial society closes itself against this
+ alternative. Operationalism, in theory and practice, becomes the theory and
+ practice of containment. Underneath its obvious dynamics, this society is a
+ thoroughly static system of life: self-propelling in its oppressive
+ productivity and in its beneficial coordination. Containment of technical
+ progress goes hand in hand with its growth in the established direction. In
+ spite of the political fetters imposed by the status quo, the more technology
+ appears capable of creating the conditions for pacification, the more are the
+ minds and bodies of man organized against this alternative.
+ The most advanced areas of industrial society exhibit throughout these two
+ features: a trend toward consummation of technological rationality, and
+ intensive efforts to contain this trend within the established institutions.
+ Here is the internal contradiction of this civilization: the irrational element
+ in its rationality. It is the token of its achievements. The industrial society
+ which makes technology and science its own is organized for the
+ ever-more-effective domination of man and nature, for the ever-more-effective
+ utilization of its resources. It becomes irrational when the success of these
+ efforts opens new dimensions of human realization. Organization for peace is
+ different from organization for war; the institutions which served the struggle
+ for existence cannot serve the pacification of existence. Life as an end is
+ qualitatively different from life as a means.
+ [...]
+ Qualitative change also involves a change in the technical basis on which this
+ society rests—one which sustains the economic and political institutions
+ through which the “second nature” of man as an aggressive object of
+ administration is stabilized.
+ [...]
+ To be sure, labor must precede the reduction of labor, and industrialization
+ must precede the development of human needs and satisfactions. But as all
+ freedom depends on the conquest of alien necessity, the realization of freedom
+ depends on the techniques of this conquest. The highest productivity of labor
+ can be used for the perpetuation of labor, and the most efficient
+ industrialization can serve the restriction and manipulation of needs.
+ When this point is reached, domination—in the guise of affluence and
+ liberty—extends to all spheres of private and public existence, integrates all
+ authentic opposition, absorbs all alternatives. Technological rationality
+ reveals its political character as it becomes the great vehicle of better
+ domination, creating a truly totalitarian universe in which society and nature,
+ mind and body are kept in a state of permanent mobilization for the defense of
+ this universe.
+### Revolution
+ The classical Marxian theory envisages the transition from capitalism to
+ socialism as a political revolution: the proletariat destroys the political
+ apparatus of capitalism but retains the technological apparatus, subjecting it
+ to socialization. There is continuity in the revolution: technological
+ rationality, freed from irrational restrictions and destructions, sustains and
+ consummates itself in the new society. It is interesting to read a Soviet
+ Marxist statement on this continuity, which is of such vital importance for the
+ notion of socialism as the determinate negation of capitalism
+ [...]
+ To be sure, Marx held that organization and direction of the productive
+ apparatus by the “immediate producers” would introduce a qualitative change in
+ the technical continuity: namely, production toward the satisfaction of freely
+ developing individual needs. However, to the degree to which the established
+ technical apparatus engulfs the public and private existence in all spheres of
+ society—that is, becomes the medium of control and cohesion in a political
+ universe which incorporates the laboring classes—to that degree would the
+ qualitative change involve a change in the technological structure itself. And
+ such change would presuppose that the laboring classes are alienated from this
+ universe in their very existence, that their consciousness is that of the total
+ impossibility to continue to exist in this universe, so that the need for
+ qualitative change is a matter of life and death. Thus, the negation exists
+ prior to the change itself, the notion that the liberating historical forces
+ develop within the established society is a cornerstone of Marxian theory.2
+### Hell
+ Those whose life is the hell of the Affluent Society are kept in line by a
+ brutality which revives medieval and early modern practices. For the other,
+ less underprivileged people, society takes care of the need for liberation by
+ satisfying the needs which make servitude palatable and perhaps even
+ unnoticeable, and it accomplishes this fact in the process of production
+ itself.
+### Automation
+ (1) Mechanization is increasingly reducing the quantity and intensity of physical
+ energy expended in labor. This evolution is of great bearing on the Marxian
+ concept of the worker (proletarian). To Marx, the proletarian is primarily the
+ manual laborer who expends and exhausts his physical energy in the work
+ process, even if he works with machines. The purchase and use of this physical
+ energy, under subhuman conditions, for the private appropriation of
+ surplus-value entailed the revolting inhuman aspects of exploitation; the
+ Marxian notion denounces the physical pain and misery of labor. This is the
+ material, tangible element in wage slavery and alienation—the physiological and
+ biological dimension of classical capitalism.
+ “Pendant les siècles passés, une cause importante d’aliénation résidait dans le
+ fait que l’être humain prêtait son individualité biologique à l’organisation
+ technique: il était porteur d’outils; les ensembles techniques ne pouvaient se
+ constituer qu’en incorporant l’homme comme porteur d’outils. Le caractère
+ déformant de la profession était à la fois psychique et somatique.”3
+ 3. “During the past centuries, one important reason for alienation was that the
+ human being lent his biological individuality to the technical apparatus: he
+ was the bearer of tools; technical units could not be established without
+ incorporating man as bearer of tools into them. The nature of this occupation
+ was such that it was both psychologically and physiologically deforming in its
+ effect.” Gilbert Simondon, Du Mode d’existence des objets techniques (Paris:
+ Aubier, 1958), p. 103, note.
+ Now the ever-more-complete mechanization of labor in advanced capitalism, while
+ sustaining exploitation, modifies the attitude and the status of the exploited.
+ Within the technological ensemble, mechanized work in which automatic and
+ semi-automatic reactions fill the larger part (if not the whole) of labor time
+ remains, as a life-long occupation, exhausting, stupefying, inhuman
+ slavery—even more exhausting because of increased speed-up, control of the
+ machine operators (rather than of the product), and isolation of the workers
+ from each other.4 To be sure, this form of drudgery is expressive of arrested,
+ partial automation, of the coexistence of automated, semi-automated, and
+ non-automated sections within the same plant, but even under these conditions,
+ “for muscular fatigue technology has substituted tension and/or mental
+ effort.”5 For the more advanced automated plants, the transformation of
+ physical energy into technical and mental skills is emphasized:
+ “… skills of the head rather than of the hand, of the logician rather than the
+ craftsman; of nerve rather than muscle; of the pilot rather than the manual
+ worker; of the maintenance man rather than the operator.”6
+ This kind of masterly enslavement is not essentially different from that of the
+ typist, the bank teller, the high-pressure salesman or saleswoman, and the
+ television announcer. Standardization and the routine assimilate productive and
+ non-productive jobs. The proletarian of the previous stages of capitalism was
+ indeed the beast of burden, by the labor of his body procuring the necessities
+ and luxuries of life while living in filth and poverty. Thus he was the living
+ denial of his society.7 In contrast, the organized worker in the advanced areas
+ of the technological society lives this denial less conspicuously and, like the
+ other human objects of the social division of labor, he is being incorporated
+ into the technological community of the administered population. Moreover, in
+ the most successful areas of automation, some sort of technological community
+ seems to integrate the human atoms at work. The machine seems to instill some
+ drugging rhythm in the operators:
+ “It is generally agreed that interdependent motions performed by a group of
+ persons which follow a rhythmic pattern yield satisfaction—quite apart from
+ what is being accomplished by the motions”;8 and the sociologist-observer
+ believes this to be a reason for the gradual development of a “general climate”
+ more “favorable both to production and to certain important kinds of human
+ satisfaction.” He speaks of the “growth of a strong in-group feeling in each
+ crew” and quotes one worker as stating: “All in all we are in the swing of
+ things …”9
+ The phrase admirably expresses the change in mechanized enslavement:
+ things swing rather than oppress, and they swing the human instrument—not only
+ its body but also its mind and even its soul. A remark by Sartre elucidates the
+ depth of the process:
+ “Aux premiers temps des machines semi-automatiques, des enquêtes ont montré que
+ les ouvrières spécialisées se laissaient aller, en travaillant, à une rêverie
+ d’ordre sexuel, elles se rappellaient la chambre, le lit, la nuit, tout ce qui
+ ne concerne que la personne dans la solitude du couple fermé sur soi. Mais
+ c’est la machine en elle qui rêvait de caresses.…”10 The machine process in the
+ technological universe breaks the innermost privacy of freedom and joins
+ sexuality and labor in one unconscious, rhythmic automatism—a process which
+ parallels the assimilation of jobs.10
+ 10. “Shortly after semi-automatic machines were introduced, investigations
+ showed that female skilled workers would allow themselves to lapse while
+ working into a sexual kind of daydream; they would recall the bedroom, the bed,
+ the night and all that concerns only the person within the solitude of the
+ couple alone with itself. But it was the machine in her which was dreaming of
+ caresses …” Jean-Paul Sartre, Critique de la raison dialectique, tome I (Paris:
+ Gallimard, 1960), p. 290.
+ The machine process in the technological universe breaks the innermost privacy
+ of freedom and joins sexuality and labor in one unconscious, rhythmic
+ automatism—a process which parallels the assimilation of jobs.
+ [...]
+ (2) The assimilating trend shows forth in the occupational stratification. In
+ the key industrial establishments, the “blue-collar” work force declines in
+ relation to the “white-collar” element; the number of non-production workers
+ increases.11 This quantitative change refers back to a change in the character
+ of the basic instruments of production.12 At the advanced stage of
+ mechanization, as part of the technological reality, the machine is not
+ “une unité absolue, mais seulement une réalité technique individualisée,
+ ouverte selon deux voies: celle de la relation aux éléments, et celle des
+ relations interindividuelles dans l’ensemble technique.”13
+ 13. “an absolute unity, but only an individualized technical reality open in
+ two directions, that of the relation to the elements and that of the relation
+ among the individuals in the technical whole.” Gilbert Simondon, loc. cit., p.
+ 146.
+ [...]
+ To the extent to which the machine becomes itself a system of mechanical tools
+ and relations and thus extends far beyond the individual work process, it
+ asserts its larger dominion by reducing the “professional autonomy” of the
+ laborer and integrating him with other professions which suffer and direct the
+ technical ensemble. To be sure, the former “professional” autonomy of the
+ laborer was rather his professional enslavement. But this specific mode of
+ enslavement was at the same time the source of his specific, professional power
+ of negation—the power to stop a process which threatened him with annihilation
+ as a human being. Now the laborer is losing the professional autonomy which
+ made him a member of a class set off from the other occupational groups because
+ it embodied the refutation of the established society.
+ The technological change which tends to do away with the machine as individual
+ instrument of production, as “absolute unit,” seems to cancel the Marxian
+ notion of the “organic composition of capital” and with it the theory of the
+ creation of surplus value. According to Marx, the machine never creates value
+ but merely transfers its own value to the product, while surplus value remains
+ the result of the exploitation of living labor. The machine is embodiment of
+ human labor power, and through it, past labor (dead labor) preserves itself and
+ determines living labor. Now automation seems to alter qualitatively the
+ relation between dead and living labor; it tends toward the point where
+ productivity is determined “by the machines, and not by the individual
+ output.”14 Moreover, the very measurement of individual output becomes
+ impossible:
+ “Automation in its largest sense means, in effect, the end of measurement of
+ work.… With automation, you can’t measure output of a single man; you now have
+ to measure simply equipment utilization. If that is generalized as a kind of
+ concept … there is no longer, for example, any reason at all to pay a man by
+ the piece or pay him by the hour,” that is to say, there is no more reason to
+ keep up the “dual pay system” of salaries and wages.”15
+ Daniel Bell, the author of this report, goes further; he links this
+ technological change to the historical system of industrialization itself: the
+ meaning of industrialization did not arise with the introduction of factories,
+ it “arose out of the measurement of work. It’s when work can be measured, when
+ you can hitch a man to the job, when you can put a harness on him, and measure
+ his output in terms of a single piece and pay him by the piece or by the hour,
+ that you have got modern industrialization.”16
+### Servitude
+ (4) The new technological work-world thus enforces a weakening of the negative
+ position of the working class: the latter no longer appears to be the living
+ contradiction to the established society. This trend is strengthened by the
+ effect of the technological organization of production on the other side of the
+ fence: on management and direction. Domination is transfigured into
+ administration.21 The capitalist bosses and owners are losing their identity as
+ responsible agents; they are assuming the function of bureaucrats in a
+ corporate machine. Within the vast hierarchy of executive and managerial boards
+ extending far beyond the individual establishment into the scientific
+ laboratory and research institute, the national government and national
+ purpose, the tangible source of exploitation disappears behind the façade of
+ objective rationality. Hatred and frustration are deprived of their specific
+ target, and the technological veil conceals the reproduction of inequality and
+ enslavement.22 With technical progress as its instrument, unfreedom—in the
+ sense of man’s subjection to his productive apparatus—is perpetuated and
+ intensified in the form of many liberties and comforts. The novel feature is
+ the overwhelming rationality in this irrational enterprise, and the depth of
+ the preconditioning which shapes the instinctual drives and aspirations of the
+ individuals and obscures the difference between false and true consciousness.
+ For in reality, neither the utilization of administrative rather than physical
+ controls (hunger, personal dependence, force), nor the change in the character
+ of heavy work, nor the assimilation of occupational classes, nor the
+ equalization in the sphere of consumption compensate for the fact that the
+ decisions over life and death, over personal and national security are made at
+ places over which the individuals have no control. The slaves of developed
+ industrial civilization are sublimated slaves, but they are slaves, for slavery
+ is determined
+ “pas par l’obéissance, ni par la rudesse des labeurs, mais par le statu
+ d’instrument et la réduction de l’homme à l’état de chose.”23
+ 23. “neither by obedience nor by hardness of labor but by the status of being a
+ mere instrument, and the reduction of man to the state of a thing.” François
+ Perroux, La Coexistence pacifique, (Paris, Presses Universitaires, 1958), vol.
+ III, p. 600.
+ This is the pure form of servitude: to exist as an instrument, as a thing. And
+ this mode of existence is not abrogated if the thing is animated and chooses
+ its material and intellectual food, if it does not feel its being-a-thing, if
+ it is a pretty, clean, mobile thing. Conversely, as reification tends to become
+ totalitarian by virtue of its technological form, the organizers and
+ administrators themselves become increasingly dependent on the machinery which
+ they organize and administer. And this mutual dependence is no longer the
+ dialectical relationship between Master and Servant, which has been broken in
+ the struggle for mutual recognition, but rather a vicious circle which encloses
+ both the Master and the Servant. Do the technicians rule, or is their rule that
+ of the others, who rely on the technicians as their planners and executors?
+ [...]
+ A vicious circle seems indeed the proper image of a society which is
+ self-expanding and self-perpetuating in its own preestablished direction—driven
+ by the growing needs which it generates and, at the same time, contains.
+### Culture
+ The greatness of a free literature and art, the ideals of humanism, the sorrows
+ and joys of the individual, the fulfillment of the personality are important
+ items in the competitive struggle between East and West. They speak heavily
+ against the present forms of communism, and they are daily administered and
+ sold. The fact that they contradict the society which sells them does not
+ count. Just as people know or feel that advertisements and political platforms
+ must not be necessarily true or right, and yet hear and read them and even let
+ themselves be guided by them, so they accept the traditional values and make
+ them part of their mental equipment. If mass communications blend together
+ harmoniously, and often unnoticeably, art, politics, religion, and philosophy
+ with commercials, they bring these realms of culture to their common
+ denominator—the commodity form. The music of the soul is also the music of
+ salesmanship. Exchange value, not truth value counts. On it centers the
+ rationality of the status quo, and all alien rationality is bent to it.
+ As the great words of freedom and fulfillment are pronounced by campaigning
+ leaders and politicians, on the screens and radios and stages, they turn into
+ meaningless sounds which obtain meaning only in the context of propaganda,
+ business, discipline, and relaxation. This assimilation of the ideal with
+ reality testifies to the extent to which the ideal has been surpassed. It is
+ brought down from the sublimated realm of the soul or the spirit or the inner
+ man, and translated into operational terms and problems. Here are the
+ progressive elements of mass culture. The perversion is indicative of the fact
+ that advanced industrial society is confronted with the possibility of a
+ materialization of ideals. The capabilities of this society are progressively
+ reducing the sublimated realm in which the condition of man was represented,
+ idealized, and indicted. Higher culture becomes part of the material culture.
+ In this transformation, it loses the greater part of its truth.
+ [...]
+ Domination has its own aesthetics, and democratic domination has its democratic
+ aesthetics. It is good that almost everyone can now have the fine arts at his
+ fingertips, by just turning a knob on his set, or by just stepping into his
+ drugstore. In this diffusion, however, they become cogs in a culture-machine
+ which remakes their content.
+ [...]
+ Obviously, the physical transformation of the world entails the mental
+ transformation of its symbols, images, and ideas. Obviously, when cities and
+ highways and National Parks replace the villages, valleys, and forests; when
+ motorboats race over the lakes and planes cut through the skies—then these
+ areas lose their character as a qualitatively different reality, as areas of
+ contradiction.
+ And since contradiction is the work of the Logos—rational confrontation of
+ “that which is not” with “that which is”—it must have a medium of
+ communication. The struggle for this medium, or rather the struggle against its
+ absorption into the predominant one-dimensionality, shows forth in the
+ avant-garde efforts to create an estrangement which would make the artistic
+ truth again communicable.
+ Bertolt Brecht has sketched the theoretical foundations for these efforts. The
+ total character of the established society confronts the playwright with the
+ question of whether it is still possible to “represent the contemporary world
+ in the theater”—that is, represent it in such a manner that the spectator
+ recognizes the truth which the play is to convey. Brecht answers that the
+ contemporary world can be thus represented only if it is represented as subject
+ to change3—as the state of negativity which is to be negated. This is doctrine
+ which has to be learned, comprehended, and acted upon; but the theater is and
+ ought to be entertainment, pleasure. However, entertainment and learning are
+ not opposites; entertainment may be the most effective mode of learning. To
+ teach what the contemporary world really is behind the ideological and material
+ veil, and how it can be changed, the theater must break the spectator’s
+ identification with the events on the stage.
+ Not empathy and feeling, but distance and reflection are required. The
+ “estrangement-effect” (Verfremdungseffekt) is to produce this dissociation in
+ which the world can be recognized as what it is. “The things of everyday life
+ are lifted out of the realm of the self-evident.…”4 “That which is ‘natural’
+ must assume the features of the extraordinary. Only in this manner can the laws
+ of cause and effect reveal themselves.”5
+ [...]
+ The efforts to recapture the Great Refusal in the language of literature suffer
+ the fate of being absorbed by what they refute. As modern classics, the
+ avant-garde and the beatniks share in the function of entertaining without
+ endangering the good conscience of the men of good will. This absorption is
+ justified by technical progress; the refusal is refuted by the alleviation of
+ misery in the advanced industrial society. The liquidation of high culture is a
+ byproduct of the conquest of nature, and of the progressing conquest of
+ scarcity.
+ Invalidating the cherished images of transcendence by incorporating them into
+ its omnipresent daily reality, this society testifies to the extent to which
+ insoluble conflicts are becoming manageable—to which tragedy and romance,
+ archetypal dreams and anxieties are being made susceptible to technical
+ solution and dissolution. The psychiatrist takes care of the Don Juans, Romeos,
+ Hamlets, Fausts, as he takes care of Oedipus—he cures them. The rulers of the
+ world are losing their metaphysical features. Their appearance on television,
+ at press conferences, in parliament, and at public hearings is hardly suitable
+ for drama beyond that of the advertisement,14 while the consequences of their
+ actions surpass the scope of the drama.
+### Adjusted desublimation
+ In contrast to the pleasures of adjusted desublimation, sublimation preserves
+ the consciousness of the renunciations which the repressive society inflicts
+ upon the individual, and thereby preserves the need for liberation. To be sure,
+ all sublimation is enforced by the power of society, but the unhappy
+ consciousness of this power already breaks through alienation. To be sure, all
+ sublimation accepts the social barrier to instinctual gratification, but it
+ also transgresses this barrier.
+ The Superego, in censoring the unconscious and in implanting conscience, also
+ censors the censor because the developed conscience registers the forbidden
+ evil act not only in the individual but also in his society. Conversely, loss
+ of conscience due to the satisfactory liberties granted by an unfree society
+ makes for a happy consciousness which facilitates acceptance of the misdeeds of
+ this society. It is the token of declining autonomy and comprehension.
+ Sublimation demands a high degree of autonomy and comprehension; it is
+ mediation between the conscious and the unconscious, between the primary and
+ secondary processes, between the intellect and instinct, renunciation and
+ rebellion. In its most accomplished modes, such as in the artistic oeuvre,
+ sublimation becomes the cognitive power which defeats suppression while bowing
+ to it.
+ In the light of the cognitive function of this mode of sublimation, the
+ desublimation rampant in advanced industrial society reveals its truly
+ conformist function. This liberation of sexuality (and of aggressiveness) frees
+ the instinctual drives from much of the unhappiness and discontent that
+ elucidate the repressive power of the established universe of satisfaction. To
+ be sure, there is pervasive unhappiness, and the happy consciousness is shaky
+ enough—a thin surface over fear, frustration, and disgust. This unhappiness
+ lends itself easily to political mobilization; without room for conscious
+ development, it may become the instinctual reservoir for a new fascist way of
+ life and death. But there are many ways in which the unhappiness beneath the
+ happy consciousness may be turned into a source of strength and cohesion for
+ the social order. The conflicts of the unhappy individual now seem far more
+ amenable to cure than those which made for Freud’s “discontent in
+ civilization,” and they seem more adequately defined in terms of the “neurotic
+ personality of our time” than in terms of the eternal struggle between Eros and
+ Thanatos.
+ [...]
+ In accordance with the terminology used in the later works of Freud: sexuality
+ as “specialized” partial drive; Eros as that of the entire organism.
+### Crust
+ In this general necessity, guilt has no place. One man can give the signal that
+ liquidates hundreds and thousands of people, then declare himself free from all
+ pangs of conscience, and live happily ever after. The antifascist powers who
+ beat fascism on the battlefields reap the benefits of the Nazi scientists,
+ generals, and engineers; they have the historical advantage of the late-comer.
+ What begins as the horror of the concentration camps turns into the practice of
+ training people for abnormal conditions—a subterranean human existence and the
+ daily intake of radioactive nourishment. A Christian minister declares that it
+ does not contradict Christian principles to prevent with all available means
+ your neighbor from entering your bomb shelter. Another Christian minister
+ contradicts his colleague and says it does. Who is right? Again, the neutrality
+ of technological rationality shows forth over and above politics, and again it
+ shows forth as spurious, for in both cases, it serves the politics of
+ domination.
+ [...]
+ It seems that even the most hideous transgressions can be repressed in such a
+ manner that, for all practical purposes, they have ceased to be a danger for
+ society. Or, if their eruption leads to functional disturbances in the
+ individual (as in the case of one Hiroshima pilot), it does not disturb the
+ functioning of society. A mental hospital manages the disturbance.
+### Game
+ The Happy Consciousness has no limits—it arranges games with death and
+ disfiguration in which fun, team work, and strategic importance mix in
+ rewarding social harmony. The Rand Corporation, which unites scholarship,
+ research, the military, the climate, and the good life, reports such games in a
+ style of absolving cuteness, in its “RANDom News,” volume 9, number 1, under
+ the heading BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY. The rockets are rattling, the H-bomb is
+ waiting, and the space-flights are flying, and the problem is “how to guard the
+ nation and the free world.” In all this, the military planners are worried, for
+ “the cost of taking chances, of experimenting and making a mistake, may be
+ fearfully high.” But here RAND comes in; RAND relieves, and “devices like
+ RAND’S SAFE come into the picture.” The picture into which they come is
+ unclassified. It is a picture in which “the world becomes a map, missiles
+ merely symbols [long live the soothing power of symbolism!], and wars just
+ [just] plans and calculations written down on paper …” In this picture, RAND
+ has transfigured the world into an interesting technological game, and one can
+ relax—the “military planners can gain valuable ‘synthetic’ experience without
+ risk.”
+ To understand the game one should participate, for understanding is “in the
+ experience.”
+ Because SAFE players have come from almost every department at RAND as well as
+ the Air Force, we might find a physicist, an engineer, and an economist on the
+ Blue team. The Red team will represent a similar cross-section.
+ The first day is taken up by a joint briefing on what the game is all about and
+ a study of the rules. When the teams are finally seated around the maps in
+ their respective rooms the game begins. Each team receives its policy statement
+ from the Game Director. These statements, usually prepared by a member of the
+ Control Group, give an estimate of the world situation at the time of playing,
+ some information on the policy of the opposing team, the objectives to be met
+ by the team, and the team’s budget. (The policies are changed for each game to
+ explore a wide range of strategic possibilities.)
+### Guilt
+ Obviously, in the realm of the Happy Consciousness, guilt feeling has no place,
+ and the calculus takes care of conscience. When the whole is at stake, there is
+ no crime except that of rejecting the whole, or not defending it. Crime, guilt,
+ and guilt feeling become a private affair. Freud revealed in the psyche of the
+ individual the crimes of mankind, in the individual case history the history of
+ the whole. This fatal link is successfully suppressed. Those who identify
+ themselves with the whole, who are installed as the leaders and defenders of
+ the whole can make mistakes, but they cannot do wrong—they are not guilty. They
+ may become guilty again when this identification no longer holds, when they are
+ gone.
+### The Happy Conciousness
+ The Happy Consciousness—the belief that the real is rational and that the
+ system delivers the goods—reflects the new conformism which is a facet of
+ technological rationality translated into social behavior.
+### Language, memory and history
+ The unified, functional language is an irreconcilably anti-critical and
+ anti-dialectical language. In it, operational and behavioral rationality
+ absorbs the transcendent, negative, oppositional elements of Reason.
+ I shall discuss17 these elements in terms of the tension between the “is” and
+ the “ought,” between essence and appearance, potentiality and
+ actuality—ingression of the negative in the positive determinations of logic.
+ This sustained tension permeates the two-dimensional universe of discourse
+ which is the universe of critical, abstract thought. The two dimensions are
+ antagonistic to each other; the reality partakes of both of them, and the
+ dialectical concepts develop the real contradictions. In its own development,
+ dialectical thought came to comprehend the historical character of the
+ contradictions and the process of their mediation as historical process. Thus
+ the “other” dimension of thought appeared to be historical dimension—the
+ potentiality as historical possibility, its realization as historical event.
+ The suppresssion of this dimension in the societal universe of operational
+ rationality is a suppression of history, and this is not an academic but a
+ political affair. It is suppression of the society’s own past—and of its
+ future, inasmuch as this future invokes the qualitative change, the negation of
+ the present. A universe of discourse in which the categories of freedom
+ have become interchangeable and even identical with their opposites is not only
+ practicing Orwellian or Aesopian language but is repulsing and forgetting the
+ historical reality—the horror of fascism; the idea of socialism; the
+ preconditions of democracy; the content of freedom. If a bureaucratic
+ dictatorship rules and defines communist society, if fascist regimes are
+ functioning as partners of the Free World, if the welfare program of
+ enlightened capitalism is successfully defeated by labeling it “socialism,” if
+ the foundations of democracy are harmoniously abrogated in democracy, then the
+ old historical concepts are invalidated by up-to-date operational
+ redefinitions. The redefinitions are falsifications which, imposed by the
+ powers that be and the powers of fact, serve to transform falsehood into truth.
+ The functional language is a radically anti-historical language: operational
+ rationality has little room and little use for historical reason.18 Is this
+ fight against history part of the fight against a dimension of the mind in
+ which centrifugal faculties and forces might develop—faculties and forces that
+ might hinder the total coordination of the individual with the society?
+ Remembrance of the past may give rise to dangerous insights, and the
+ established society seems to be apprehensive of the subversive contents of
+ memory. Remembrance is a mode of dissociation from the given facts, a mode of
+ “mediation” which breaks, for short moments, the omnipresent power of the given
+ facts. Memory recalls the terror and the hope that passed. Both come to life
+ again, but whereas in reality, the former recurs in ever new forms, the latter
+ remains hope. And in the personal events which reappear in the individual
+ memory, the fears and aspirations of mankind assert themselves—the universal in
+ the particular. It is history which memory preserves. It succumbs to the
+ totalitarian power of the behavioral universe
+ [...]
+ The closed language does not demonstrate and explain—it communicates decision,
+ dictum, command. Where it defines, the definition becomes “separation of good
+ from evil”; it establishes unquestionable rights and wrongs, and one value as
+ justification of another value. It moves in tautologies, but the tautologies
+ are terribly effective “sentences.” They pass judgment in a “prejudged form”;
+ they pronounce condemnation. For example, the “objective content,” that is, the
+ definition of such terms as “deviationist,” “revisionist,” is that of the penal
+ code, and this sort of validation promotes a consciousness for which the
+ language of the powers that be is the language of truth.24
+ [...]
+ As the substance of the various regimes no longer appears in alternative modes
+ of life, it comes to rest in alternative techniques of manipulation and
+ control. Language not only reflects these controls but becomes itself an
+ instrument of control even where it does not transmit orders but information;
+ where it demands, not obedience but choice, not submission but freedom.
+ [...]
+ What is taking place is a sweeping redefinition of thought itself, of its
+ function and content. The coordination of the individual with his society
+ reaches into those layers of the mind where the very concepts are elaborated
+ which are designed to comprehend the established reality. These concepts are
+ taken from the intellectual tradition and translated into operational terms—a
+ translation which has the effect of reducing the tension between thought and
+ reality by weakening the negative power of thought.
+### Science and technology of domination
+ The principles of modern science were a priori structured in such a way that
+ they could serve as conceptual instruments for a universe of self-propelling,
+ productive control; theoretical operationalism came to correspond to practical
+ operationalism. The scientific method which led to the ever-more-effective
+ domination of nature thus came to provide the pure concepts as well as the
+ instrumentalities for the ever-more-effective domination of man by man through
+ the domination of nature. Theoretical reason, remaining pure and neutral,
+ entered into the service of practical reason. The merger proved beneficial to
+ both. Today, domination perpetuates and extends itself not only through
+ technology but as technology, and the latter provides the great legitimation of
+ the expanding political power, which absorbs all spheres of culture.
+ In this universe, technology also provides the great rationalization of the
+ unfreedom of man and demonstrates the “technical” impossibility of being
+ autonomous, of determining one’s own life. For this unfreedom appears neither
+ as irrational nor as political, but rather as submission to the technical
+ apparatus which enlarges the comforts of life and increases the productivity of
+ labor. Technological rationality thus protects rather than cancels the
+ legitimacy of domination, and the instrumentalist horizon of reason opens on a
+ rationally totalitarian society:
+ “One might call autocratic a philosophy of technics which takes the technical
+ whole as a place where machines are used to obtain power. The machine is only a
+ means; the end is the conquest of nature, the domestication of natural forces
+ through a primary enslavement: The machine is a slave which serves to make
+ other slaves. Such a domineering and enslaving drive may go together with the
+ quest for human freedom. But it is difficult to liberate oneself by
+ transferring slavery to other beings, men, animals, or machines; to rule over a
+ population of machines subjecting the whole world means still to rule, and all
+ rule implies acceptance of schemata of subjection.” Gilbert Simondon, Du Mode
+ d’existence des objets techniques (Paris, Aubier, 1958), p. 127.
+ [...]
+ The incessant dynamic of technical progress has become permeated with political
+ content, and the Logos of technics has been made into the Logos of continued
+ servitude. The liberating force of technology—the instrumentalization of
+ things—turns into a fetter of liberation; the instrumentalization of man.
+ [...]
+ No matter how one defines truth and objectivity, they remain related to the
+ human agents of theory and practice, and to their ability to comprehend and
+ change their world. This ability in turn depends on the extent to which matter
+ (whatever it may be) is recognized and understood as that which it is itself in
+ all particular forms. In these terms, contemporary science is of immensely
+ greater objective validity than its predecessors. One might even add that, at
+ present, the scientific method is the only method that can claim such validity;
+ the interplay of hypotheses and observable facts validates the hypotheses and
+ establishes the facts. 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—a
+ link which tends to be fatal to this universe as a whole. Nature,
+ scientifically comprehended and mastered, reappears in the technical apparatus
+ of production and destruction which sustains and improves the life of the
+ individuals while subordinating them to the masters of the apparatus. Thus the
+ rational hierarchy merges with the social one. If this is the case, then the
+ change in the direction of progress, which might sever this fatal link, would
+ also affect the very structure of science—the scientific project. Its
+ hypotheses, without losing their rational character, would develop in an
+ essentially different experimental context (that of a pacified world);
+ consequently, science would arrive at essentially different concepts of nature
+ and establish essentially different facts. The rational society subverts the
+ idea of Reason.
+ I have pointed out that the elements of this subversion, the notions of another
+ rationality, were present in the history of thought from its beginning. The
+ ancient idea of a state where Being attains fulfillment, where the tension
+ between “is” and “ought” is resolved in the cycle of an eternal return,
+ partakes of the metaphysics of domination. But it also pertains to the
+ metaphysics of liberation—to the reconciliation of Logos and Eros. This idea
+ envisages the coming-to-rest of the repressive productivity of Reason, the end
+ of domination in gratification.
+ [...]
+ By way of summary, we may now try to identify more clearly the hidden subject
+ of scientific rationality and the hidden ends in its pure form. The scientific
+ concept of a universally controllable nature projected nature as endless
+ matter-in-function, the mere stuff of theory and practice. In this form, the
+ object-world entered the construction of a technological universe—a universe of
+ mental and physical instrumentalities, means in themselves. Thus it is a truly
+ “hypothetical” system, depending on a validating and verifying subject.
+ The processes of validation and verification may be purely theoretical ones,
+ but they never occur in a vacuum and they never terminate in a private,
+ individual mind. The hypothetical system of forms and functions becomes
+ dependent on another system—a pre-established universe of ends, in which and
+ for which it develops. What appeared extraneous, foreign to the theoretical
+ project, shows forth as part of its very structure (method and concepts); pure
+ objectivity reveals itself as object for a subjectivity which provides the
+ Telos, the ends. In the construction of the technological reality, there is no
+ such thing as a purely rational scientific order; the process of technological
+ rationality is a political process.
+ Only in the medium of technology, man and nature become fungible objects of
+ organization. The universal effectiveness and productivity of the apparatus
+ under which they are subsumed veil the particular interests that organize the
+ apparatus. In other words, technology has become the great vehicle of
+ reification—reification in its most mature and effective form. The social
+ position of the individual and his relation to others appear not only to be
+ determined by objective qualities and laws, but these qualities and laws seem
+ to lose their mysterious and uncontrollable character; they appear as
+ calculable manifestations of (scientific) rationality. The world tends to
+ become the stuff of total administration, which absorbs even the
+ administrators. The web of domination has become the web of Reason itself, and
+ this society is fatally entangled in it. And the transcending modes of thought
+ seem to transcend Reason itself.
+### Positive and Negative Thinking
+ In terms of the established universe, such contradicting modes of thought are
+ negative thinking. “The power of the negative” is the principle which governs
+ the development of concepts, and contradiction becomes the distinguishing
+ quality of Reason (Hegel). This quality of thought was not confined to a
+ certain type of rationalism; it was also a decisive element in the empiricist
+ tradition. Empiricism is not necessarily positive; its attitude to the
+ established reality depends on the particular dimension of experience which
+ functions as the source of knowledge and as the basic frame of reference. For
+ example, it seems that sensualism and materialism are per se negative toward a
+ society in which vital instinctual and material needs are unfulfilled. In
+ contrast, the empiricism of linguistic analysis moves within a framework which
+ does not allow such contradiction—the self-imposed restriction to the prevalent
+ behavioral universe makes for an intrinsically positive attitude. In spite of
+ the rigidly neutral approach of the philosopher, the pre-bound analysis
+ succumbs to the power of positive thinking.
+ Before trying to show this intrinsically ideological character of linguistic
+ analysis, I must attempt to justify my apparently arbitrary and derogatory play
+ with the terms “positive” and “positivism” by a brief comment on their origin.
+ Since its first usage, probably in the school of Saint-Simon, the term
+ “positivism” has encompassed (1) the validation of cognitive thought by
+ experience of facts; (2) the orientation of cognitive thought to the physical
+ sciences as a model of certainty and exactness; (3) the belief that progress in
+ knowledge depends on this orientation. Consequently, positivism is a struggle
+ against all metaphysics, transcendentalisms, and idealisms as obscurantist and
+ regressive modes of thought. To the degree to which the given reality is
+ scientifically comprehended and transformed, to the degree to which society
+ becomes industrial and technological, positivism finds in the society the
+ medium for the realization (and validation) of its concepts—harmony between
+ theory and practice, truth and facts. Philosophic thought turns into
+ affirmative thought; the philosophic critique criticizes within the societal
+ framework and stigmatizes non-positive notions as mere speculation, dreams or
+ fantasies.1
+ [...]
+ The contemporary effort to reduce the scope and the truth of philosophy is
+ tremendous, and the philosophers themselves proclaim the modesty and inefficacy
+ of philosophy. It leaves the established reality untouched; it abhors
+ transgression.
+ Austin’s contemptuous treatment of the alternatives to the common usage of
+ words, and his defamation of what we “think up in our armchairs of an
+ afternoon”; Wittgenstein’s assurance that philosophy “leaves everything as it
+ is”—such statements2 exhibit, to my mind, academic sado-masochism,
+ self-humiliation, and self-denunciation of the intellectual whose labor does
+ not issue in scientific, technical or like achievements. These affirmations of
+ modesty and dependence seem to recapture Hume’s mood of righteous contentment
+ with the limitations of reason which, once recognized and accepted, protect man
+ from useless mental adventures but leave him perfectly capable of orienting
+ himself in the given environment. However, when Hume debunked substances, he
+ fought a powerful ideology, while his successors today provide an intellectual
+ justification for that which society has long since accomplished—namely, the
+ defamation of alternative modes of thought which contradict the established
+ universe of discourse.
+### Language, philosophy and the restricted experience
+ The almost masochistic reduction of speech to the humble and common is made
+ into a program: “if the words ‘language,’ ‘experience,’ ‘world,’ have a use, it
+ must be as humble a one as that of the words ‘table,’ ‘lamp,’ ‘door.’
+ [...]
+ The self-styled poverty of philosophy, committed with all its concepts to the
+ given state of affairs, distrusts the possibilities of a new experience.
+ Subjection to the rule of the established facts is total—only linguistic facts,
+ to be sure, but the society speaks in its language, and we are told to obey.
+ The prohibitions are severe and authoritarian: “Philosophy may in no way
+ interfere with the actual use of language.”9 “And we may not advance any kind
+ of theory. There must not be anything hypothetical in our considerations. We
+ must do away with all explanation, and description alone must take its
+ place.”10
+ One might ask what remains of philosophy? What remains of thinking,
+ intelligence, without anything hypothetical, without any explanation? However,
+ what is at stake is not the definition or the dignity of philosophy. It is
+ rather the chance of preserving and protecting the right, the need to think and
+ speak in terms other than those of common usage—terms which are meaningful,
+ rational, and valid precisely because they are other terms. What is involved is
+ the spread of a new ideology which undertakes to describe what is happening
+ (and meant) by eliminating the concepts capable of understanding what is
+ happening (and meant).
+ To begin with, an irreducible difference exists between the universe of
+ everyday thinking and language on the one side, and that of philosophic
+ thinking and language on the other. In normal circumstances, ordinary language
+ is indeed behavioral—a practical instrument. When somebody actually says “My
+ broom is in the corner,” he probably intends that somebody else who had
+ actually asked about the broom is going to take it or leave it there, is going
+ to be satisfied, or angry. In any case, the sentence has fulfilled its function
+ by causing a behavioral reaction: “the effect devours the cause; the end
+ absorbs the means.”11
+ In contrast, if, in a philosophic text or discourse, the word “substance,”
+ “idea,” “man,” “alienation” becomes the subject of a proposition, no such
+ transformation of meaning into a behavioral reaction takes place or is intended
+ to take place. The word remains, as it were, unfulfilled—except in thought,
+ where it may give rise to other thoughts. And through a long series of
+ mediations within a historical continuum, the proposition may help to form and
+ guide a practice. But the proposition remains unfulfilled even then—only the
+ hubris of absolute idealism asserts the thesis of a final identity between
+ thought and its object. The words with which philosophy is concerned can
+ therefore never have a use “as humble … as that of the words ‘table,’ ‘lamp,’
+ ‘door.’ ”
+ [...]
+ Viewed from this position, the examples of linguistic analysis quoted above
+ become questionable as valid objects of philosophic analysis. Can the most
+ exact and clarifying description of tasting something that may or may not taste
+ like pineapple ever contribute to philosophic cognition? [...] The object of
+ analysis, withdrawn from the larger and denser context in which the speaker
+ speaks and lives, is removed from the universal medium in which concepts are
+ formed and become words. What is this universal, larger context in which people
+ speak and act and which gives their speech its meaning—this context which does
+ not appear in the positivist analysis, which is a priori shut off by the
+ examples as well as by the analysis itself?
+ This larger context of experience, this real empirical world, today is still
+ that of the gas chambers and concentration camps, of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, of
+ American Cadillacs and German Mercedes, of the Pentagon and the Kremlin, of the
+ nuclear cities and the Chinese communes, of Cuba, of brainwashing and
+ massacres. But the real empirical world is also that in which all these things
+ are taken for granted or forgotten or repressed or unknown, in which people are
+ free. It is a world in which the broom in the corner or the taste of something
+ like pineapple are quite important, in which the daily toil and the daily
+ comforts are perhaps the only items that make up all experience. And this
+ second, restricted empirical universe is part of the first; the powers that
+ rule the first also shape the restricted experience.
+ [...]
+ Ordinary language in its “humble use” may indeed be of vital concern to
+ critical philosophic thought, but in the medium of this thought words lose
+ their plain humility and reveal that “hidden” something which is of no interest
+ to Wittgenstein. [...] Such an analysis uncovers the history13 in everyday
+ speech as a hidden dimension of meaning—the rule of society over its language.
+ [...]
+ Orienting itself on the reified universe of everyday discourse, and exposing
+ and clarifying this discourse in terms of this reified universe, the analysis
+ abstracts from the negative, from that which is alien and antagonistic and
+ cannot be understood in terms of the established usage. By classifying and
+ distinguishing meanings, and keeping them apart, it purges thought and speech
+ of contradictions, illusions, and transgressions. But the transgressions are
+ not those of “pure reason.” They are not metaphysical transgressions beyond the
+ limits of possible knowledge, they rather open a realm of knowledge beyond
+ common sense and formal logic.
+ In barring access to this realm, positivist philosophy sets up a
+ self-sufficient world of its own, closed and well protected against the
+ ingression of disturbing external factors. In this respect, it makes little
+ difference whether the validating context is that of mathematics, of logical
+ propositions, or of custom and usage. In one way or another, all possibly
+ meaningful predicates are prejudged. The prejudging judgment might be as broad
+ as the spoken English language, or the dictionary, or some other code or
+ convention. Once accepted, it constitutes an empirical a priori which cannot be
+ transcended.
+ [...]
+ The therapeutic character of the philosophic analysis is strongly emphasized—to
+ cure from illusions, deceptions, obscurities, unsolvable riddles, unanswerable
+ questions, from ghosts and spectres. Who is the patient? Apparently a certain
+ sort of intellectual, whose mind and language do not conform to the terms of
+ ordinary discourse. There is indeed a goodly portion of psychoanalysis in this
+ philosophy—analysis without Freud’s fundamental insight that the patient’s
+ trouble is rooted in a general sickness which cannot be cured by analytic
+ therapy. Or, in a sense, according to Freud, the patient’s disease is a protest
+ reaction against the sick world in which he lives. But the physician must
+ disregard the “moral” problem. He has to restore the patient’s health, to make
+ him capable of functioning normally in his world.
+ The philosopher is not a physician; his job is not to cure individuals but to
+ comprehend the world in which they live—to understand it in terms of what it
+ has done to man, and what it can do to man. For philosophy is (historically,
+ and its history is still valid) the contrary of what Wittgenstein made it out
+ to be when he proclaimed it as the renunciation of all theory, as the
+ undertaking that “leaves everything as it is.”
+ [...]
+ The neo-positivist critique still directs its main effort against metaphysical
+ notions, and it is motivated by a notion of exactness which is either that of
+ formal logic or empirical description. Whether exactness is sought in the
+ analytic purity of logic and mathematics, or in conformity with ordinary
+ language—on both poles of contemporary philosophy is the same rejection or
+ devaluation of those elements of thought and speech which transcend the
+ accepted system of validation. This hostility is most sweeping where it takes
+ the form of toleration—that is, where a certain truth value is granted to the
+ transcendent concepts in a separate dimension of meaning and significance
+ (poetic truth, metaphysical truth). For precisely the setting aside of a
+ special reservation in which thought and language are permitted to be
+ legitimately inexact, vague, and even contradictory is the most effective way
+ of protecting the normal universe of discourse from being seriously disturbed
+ by unfitting ideas. Whatever truth may be contained in literature is a “poetic”
+ truth, whatever truth may be contained in critical idealism is a “metaphysical”
+ truth—its validity, if any, commits neither ordinary discourse and behavior,
+ nor the philosophy adjusted to them.
+ This new form of the doctrine of the “double truth” sanctions a false
+ consciousness by denying the relevance of the transcendent language to the
+ universe of ordinary language, by proclaiming total non-interference. Whereas
+ the truth value of the former consists precisely in its relevance to and
+ interference with the latter.
+### Philosophy and science
+ This intellectual dissolution and even subversion of the given facts is the
+ historical task of philosophy and the philosophic dimension. Scientific method,
+ too, goes beyond the facts and even against the facts of immediate experience.
+ Scientific method develops in the tension between appearance and reality. The
+ mediation between the subject and object of thought, however, is essentially
+ different. In science, the medium is the observing, measuring, calculating,
+ experimenting subject divested of all other qualities; the abstract subject
+ projects and defines the abstract object.
+ In contrast, the objects of philosophic thought are related to a consciousness
+ for which the concrete qualities enter into the concepts and into their
+ interrelation. The philosophic concepts retain and explicate the pre-scientific
+ mediations (the work of everyday practice, of economic organization, of
+ political action) which have made the object-world that which it actually is—a
+ world in which all facts are events, occurrences in a historical continuum.
+ The separation of science from philosophy is itself a historical event.
+ Aristotelian physics was a part of philosophy and, as such, preparatory to the
+ “first science”—ontology. The Aristotelian concept of matter is distinguished
+ from the Galilean and post-Galilean not only in terms of different stages in
+ the development of scientific method (and in the discovery of different
+ ‘layers” of reality), but also, and perhaps primarily, in terms of different
+ historical projects, of a different historical enterprise which established a
+ different nature as well as society. Aristotelian physics becomes objectively
+ wrong with the new experience and apprehension of nature, with the historical
+ establishment of a new subject and object-world, and the falsification of
+ Aristotelian physics then extends backward into the past and surpassed
+ experience and apprehension.15
+### A funny paragraph
+ The neglect or the clearing up of this specific philosophic dimension has led
+ contemporary positivism to move in a synthetically impoverished world of
+ academic concreteness, and to create more illusory problems than it has
+ destroyed. Rarely has a philosophy exhibited a more tortuous esprit de sérieux
+ than that displayed in such analyses as the interpretation of Three Blind Mice
+ in a study of “Metaphysical and Ideographic Language,” with its discussion of
+ an “artificially constructed Triple principle-Blindness-Mousery asymmetric
+ sequence constructed according to the pure principles of ideography.”17
+ Perhaps this example is unfair. [...] Examples are skillfully held in balance
+ between seriousness and the joke
+[Three Blind Mice](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Blind_Mice) is a crusty rhyme.
+### A suspect language
+ Analytic philosophy often spreads the atmosphere of denunciation and
+ investigation by committee. The intellectual is called on the carpet. What do
+ you mean when you say …? Don’t you conceal something? You talk a language which
+ is suspect. You don’t talk like the rest of us, like the man in the street, but
+ rather like a foreigner who does not belong here. We have to cut you down to
+ size, expose your tricks, purge you. We shall teach you to say what you have in
+ mind, to “come clear,” to “put your cards on the table.” Of course, we do not
+ impose on you and your freedom of thought and speech; you may think as you
+ like. But once you speak, you have to communicate your thoughts to us—in our
+ language or in yours. Certainly, you may speak your own language, but it must
+ be translatable, and it will be translated. You may speak poetry—that is all
+ right. We love poetry. But we want to understand your poetry, and we can do so
+ only if we can interpret your symbols, metaphors, and images in terms of
+ ordinary language.
+ The poet might answer that indeed he wants his poetry to be understandable and
+ understood (that is why he writes it), but if what he says could be said in
+ terms of ordinary language he would probably have done so in the first place.
+ He might say: Understanding of my poetry presupposes the collapse and
+ invalidation of precisely that universe of discourse and behavior into which
+ you want to translate it. My language can be learned like any other language
+ (in point of fact, it is also your own language), then it will appear that my
+ symbols, metaphors, etc. are not symbols, metaphors, etc. but mean exactly what
+ they say. Your tolerance is deceptive. In reserving for me a special niche of
+ meaning and significance, you grant me exemption from sanity and reason, but in
+ my view, the madhouse is somewhere else.
+ [...]
+ Under these circumstances, the spoken phrase is an expression of the individual
+ who speaks it, and of those who make him speak as he does, and of whatever
+ tension or contradiction may interrelate them. In speaking their own language,
+ people also speak the language of their masters, benefactors, advertisers. Thus
+ they do not only express themselves, their own knowledge, feelings, and
+ aspirations, but also something other than themselves. Describing “by
+ themselves” the political situation, either in their home town or in the
+ international scene, they (and “they” includes us, the intellectuals who know
+ it and criticize it) describe what “their” media of mass communication tell
+ them—and this merges with what they really think and see and feel.
+ [...]
+ But this situation disqualifies ordinary language from fulfilling the
+ validating function which it performs in analytic philosophy. “What people mean
+ when they say …” is related to what they don’t say. Or, what they mean cannot
+ be taken at face value—not because they lie, but because the universe of
+ thought and practice in which they live is a universe of manipulated
+ contradictions.
+### Metalanguage
+ Here the problem of “metalanguage” arises; the terms which analyze the meaning
+ of certain terms must be other than, or distinguishable from the latter. They
+ must be more and other than mere synonyms which still belong to the same
+ (immediate) universe of discourse. But if this metalanguage is really to break
+ through the totalitarian scope of the established universe of discourse, in
+ which the different dimensions of language are integrated and assimilated, it
+ must be capable of denoting the societal processes which have determined and
+ “closed” the established universe of discourse. Consequently, it cannot be a
+ technical metalanguage, constructed mainly with a view of semantic or logical
+ clarity. The desideratum is rather to make the established language itself
+ speak what it conceals or excludes, for what is to be revealed and denounced is
+ operative within the universe of ordinary discourse and action, and the
+ prevailing language contains the metalanguage.
+### Ordinary universe of discourse
+ The crimes against language, which appear in the style of the newspaper,
+ pertain to its political style. Syntax, grammar, and vocabulary become moral
+ and political acts. Or, the context may be an aesthetic and philosophic one:
+ literary criticism, an address before a learned society, or the like.
+ [...]
+ For such an analysis, the meaning of a term or form demands its development in
+ a multi-dimensional universe, where any expressed meaning partakes of several
+ interrelated, overlapping, and antagonistic “systems.”
+ [...]
+ in reality, we understand each other only through whole areas of
+ misunderstanding and contradiction. The real universe of ordinary language is
+ that of the struggle for existence. It is indeed an ambiguous, vague, obscure
+ universe, and is certainly in need of clarification. Moreover, such
+ clarification may well fulfill a therapeutic function, and if philosophy would
+ become therapeutic, it would really come into its own.
+ Philosophy approaches this goal to the degree to which it frees thought from
+ its enslavement by the established universe of discourse and behavior,
+ elucidates the negativity of the Establishment (its positive aspects are
+ abundantly publicized anyway) and projects its alternatives. To be sure,
+ philosophy contradicts and projects in thought only. It is ideology, and this
+ ideological character is the very fate of philosophy which no scientism and
+ positivism can overcome. Still, its ideological effort may be truly
+ therapeutic—to show reality as that which it really is, and to show that which
+ this reality prevents from being.
+ In the totalitarian era, the therapeutic task of philosophy would be a
+ political task, since the established universe of ordinary language tends to
+ coagulate into a totally manipulated and indoctrinated universe. Then politics
+ would appear in philosophy, not as a special discipline or object of analysis,
+ nor as a special political philosophy, but as the intent of its concepts to
+ comprehend the unmutilated reality. If linguistic analysis does not contribute
+ to such understanding; if, instead, it contributes to enclosing thought in the
+ circle of the mutilated universe of ordinary discourse, it is at best entirely
+ inconsequential. And, at worst, it is an escape into the non-controversial, the
+ unreal, into that which is only academically controversial.
+### Universal Ghosts
+ Contemporary analytic philosophy is out to exorcize such “myths” or
+ metaphysical “ghosts” as Mind, Consciousness, Will, Soul, Self, by dissolving
+ the intent of these concepts into statements on particular identifiable
+ operations, performances, powers, dispositions, propensities, skills, etc. The
+ result shows, in a strange way, the impotence of the destruction—the ghost
+ continues to haunt. While every interpretation or translation may describe
+ adequately a particular mental process, an act of imagining what I mean when I
+ say “I,” or what the priest means when he says that Mary is a “good girl,” not
+ a single one of these reformulations, nor their sum-total, seems to capture or
+ even circumscribe the full meaning of such terms as Mind, Will, Self, Good.
+ These universals continue to persist in common as well as “poetic” usage, and
+ either usage distinguishes them from the various modes of behavior or
+ disposition that, according to the analytic philosopher, fulfill their meaning.
+ [...]
+ However, this dissolution itself must be questioned—not only on behalf of the
+ philosopher, but on behalf of the ordinary people in whose life and discourse
+ such dissolution takes place. It is not their own doing and their own saying;
+ it happens to them and it violates them as they are compelled, by the
+ “circumstances,” to identify their mind with the mental processes, their self
+ with the roles and functions which they have to perform in their society.
+ If philosophy does not comprehend these processes of translation and
+ identification as societal processes—i.e., as a mutilation of the mind (and the
+ body) inflicted upon the individuals by their society—philosophy struggles only
+ with the ghost of the substance which it wishes to de-mystify. The mystifying
+ character adheres, not to the concepts of “mind,” “self,” “consciousness,” etc.
+ but rather to their behavioral translation. The translation is deceptive
+ precisely because it translates the concept faithfully into modes of actual
+ behavior, propensities, and dispositions and, in so doing, it takes the
+ mutilated and organized appearances (themselves real enough!) for the reality.
+ [...]
+ Moreover, the normal restriction of experience produces a pervasive tension,
+ even conflict, between “the mind” and the mental processes, between
+ “consciousness” and conscious acts. If I speak of the mind of a person, I do
+ not merely refer to his mental processes as they are revealed in his
+ expression, speech, behavior, etc., nor merely of his dispositions or faculties
+ as experienced or inferred from experience. I also mean that which he does not
+ express, for which he shows no disposition, but which is present nevertheless,
+ and which determines, to a considerable extent, his behavior, his
+ understanding, the formation and range of his concepts.
+ Thus “negatively present” are the specific “environmental” forces which
+ precondition his mind for the spontaneous repulsion of certain data,
+ conditions, relations. They are present as repelled material. Their absence is
+ a reality—a positive factor that explains his actual mental processes, the
+ meaning of his words and behavior. Meaning for whom? Not only for the
+ professional philosopher, whose task it is to rectify the wrong that pervades
+ the universe of ordinary discourse, but also for those who suffer this wrong
+ although they may not be aware of it—for Joe Doe and Richard Roe. Contemporary
+ linguistic analysis shirks this task by interpreting concepts in terms of an
+ impoverished and preconditioned mind. What is at stake is the unabridged and
+ unexpurgated intent of certain key concepts, their function in the unrepressed
+ understanding of reality—in non-conformist, critical thought.
+ Are the remarks just submitted on the reality content of such universals as
+ “mind” and “consciousness” applicable to other concepts, such as the abstract
+ yet substantive universals, Beauty, Justice, Happiness, with their contraries?
+ It seems that the persistence of these untranslatable universals as nodal
+ points of thought reflects the unhappy consciousness of a divided world in
+ which “that which is” falls short of, and even denies, “that which can be.” The
+ irreducible difference between the universal and its particulars seems to be
+ rooted in the primary experience of the inconquerable difference between
+ potentiality and actuality—between two dimensions of the one experienced world.
+ The universal comprehends in one idea the possibilities which are realized, and
+ at the same time arrested, in reality.
+ [...]
+ This description is of precisely that metaphysical character which positivistic
+ analysis wishes to eliminate by translation, but the translation eliminates
+ that which was to be defined.
+ [...]
+ The protest against the vague, obscure, metaphysical character of such
+ universals, the insistence on familiar concreteness and protective security of
+ common and scientific sense still reveal something of that primordial anxiety
+ which guided the recorded origins of philosophic thought in its evolution from
+ religion to mythology, and from mythology to logic; defense and security still
+ are large items in the intellectual as well as national budget. The unpurged
+ experience seems to be more familiar with the abstract and universal than is
+ the analytic philosophy; it seems to be embedded in a metaphysical world.
+ Universals are primary elements of experience—universals not as philosophic
+ concepts but as the very qualities of the world with which one is daily
+ confronted.
+ [...]
+ The substantive character of “qualities” points to the experiential origin of
+ substantive universals, to the manner in which concepts originate in immediate
+ experience.
+ [...]
+ But precisely the relation of the word to a substantive universal (concept)
+ makes it impossible, according to Humboldt, to imagine the origin of language
+ as starting from the signification of objects by words and then proceeding to
+ their combination (Zusammenfügung): In reality, speech is not put together from
+ preceding words, but quite the reverse: words emerge from the whole of speech
+ (aus dem Ganzen der Rede).7
+ The “whole” that here comes to view must be cleared from all misunderstanding
+ in terms of an independent entity, of a “Gestalt,” and the like. The concept
+ somehow expresses the difference and tension between potentiality and
+ actuality—identity in this difference. It appears in the relation between the
+ qualities (white, hard; but also beautiful, free, just) and the corresponding
+ concepts (whiteness, hardness, beauty, freedom, justice). The abstract
+ character of the latter seems to designate the more concrete qualities as
+ part-realizations, aspects, manifestations of a more universal and more
+ “excellent” quality, which is experienced in the concrete.8 And by virtue of
+ this relation, the concrete quality seems to represent a negation as well as
+ realization of the universal.
+ [...]
+ These formulations do not alter the relation between the abstract concept and
+ its concrete realizations: the universal concept denotes that which the
+ particular entity is, and is not. The translation can eliminate the hidden
+ negation by reformulating the meaning in a non-contradictory proposition, but
+ the untranslated statement suggests a real want. There is more in the abstract
+ noun (beauty, freedom) than in the qualities (“beautiful,” “free”) attributed
+ to the particular person, thing or condition. The substantive universal intends
+ qualities which surpass all particular experience, but persist in the mind, not
+ as a figment of imagination nor as more logical possibilities but as the
+ “stuff” of which our world consists.
+ [...]
+ Now there is a large class of concepts—we dare say, the philosophically
+ relevant concepts—where the quantitative relation between the universal and the
+ particular assumes a qualitative aspect, where the abstract universal seems to
+ designate potentialities in a concrete, historical sense. However “man,”
+ “nature,” “justice,” “beauty” or “freedom” may be defined, they synthetize
+ experiential contents into ideas which transcend their particular realizations
+ as something that is to be surpassed, overcome. Thus the concept of beauty
+ comprehends all the beauty not yet realized; the concept of freedom all the
+ liberty not yet attained.
+ Or, to take another example, the philosophic concept “man” aims at the fully
+ developed human faculties which are his distinguishing faculties, and which
+ appear as possibilities of the conditions in which men actually live.
+ [...]
+ Such universals thus appear as conceptual instruments for understanding the
+ particular conditions of things in the light of their potentialities. They are
+ historical and supra-historical; they conceptualize the stuff of which the
+ experienced world consists, and they conceptualize it with a view of its
+ possibilities, in the light of their actual limitation, suppression, and
+ denial. Neither the experience nor the judgment is private. The philosophic
+ concepts are formed and developed in the consciousness of a general condition
+ in a historical continuum; they are elaborated from an individual position
+ within a specific society. The stuff of thought is historical stuff—no matter
+ how abstract, general, or pure it may become in philosophic or scientific
+ theory. The abstract-universal and at the same time historical character of
+ these “eternal objects” of thought is recognized and clearly stated in
+ Whitehead’s Science and the Modern World:10
+ “Eternal objects are … in their nature, abstract. By ‘abstract’ I mean that
+ what an eternal object is in itself—that is to say, its essence—is
+ comprehensible without reference to some one particular experience. To be
+ abstract is to transcend the particular occasion of actual happening. But to
+ transcend an actual occasion does not mean being disconnected from it. On the
+ contrary, I hold that each eternal object has its own proper connection with
+ each such occasion, which I term its mode of ingression into that occasion.”
+ “Thus the metaphysical status of an eternal object is that of a possibility for
+ an actuality. Every actual occasion is defined as to its character by how these
+ possibilities are actualized for that occasion.”
+ Elements of experience, projection and anticipation of real possibilities
+ enter into the conceptual syntheses—in respectable form as hypotheses, in
+ disreputable form as “metaphysics.” In various degrees, they are unrealistic
+ because they transgress beyond the established universe of behavior, and they
+ may even be undesirable in the interest of neatness and exactness. Certainly,
+ in philosophic analysis,
+ “Little real advance … is to be hoped for in expanding our universe to
+ include so-called possible entities,”11
+ but it all depends on how Ockham’s Razor is applied, that is to say, which
+ possibilities are to be cut off. The possibility of an entirely different
+ societal organization of life has nothing in common with the “possibility” of a
+ man with a green hat appearing in all doorways tomorrow, but treating them with
+ the same logic may serve the defamation of undesirable possibilities.
+ Criticizing the introduction of possible entities, Quine writes that such an
+ “overpopulated universe is in many ways unlovely. It offends the aesthetic
+ sense of us who have a taste for desert landscapes, but this is not the worst
+ of it. [Such a] slum of possibles is a breeding ground for disorderly
+ elements.”12
+ Contemporary philosophy has rarely attained a more authentic formulation of the
+ conflict between its intent and its function. The linguistic syndrome of
+ “loveliness,” “aesthetic sense,” and “desert landscape” evokes the liberating
+ air of Nietzsche’s thought, cutting into Law and Order, while the “breeding
+ ground for disorderly elements” belongs to the language spoken by the
+ authorities of Investigation and Information. What appears unlovely and
+ disorderly from the logical point of view, may well comprise the lovely
+ elements of a different order, and may thus be an essential part of the
+ material from which philosophic concepts are built. Neither the most refined
+ aesthetic sense nor the most exact philosophic concept is immune against
+ history. Disorderly elements enter into the purest objects of thought. They too
+ are detached from a societal ground, and the contents from which they abstract
+ guide the abstraction.
+### Historicism
+ Thus the spectre of “historicism” is raised. If thought proceeds from
+ historical conditions which continue to operate in the abstraction, is there
+ any objective basis on which distinction can be made between the various
+ possibilities projected by thought—distinction between different and
+ conflicting ways of conceptual transcendence? Moreover, the question cannot be
+ discussed with reference to different philosophic projects only.13 To the
+ degree to which the philosophical project is ideological, it is part of a
+ historical project—that is, it pertains to a specific stage and level of the
+ societal development, and the critical philosophic concepts refer (no matter
+ how indirectly!) to alternative possibilities of this development.
+ The quest for criteria for judging between different philosophic projects thus
+ leads to the quest for criteria for judging between different historical
+ projects and alternatives, between different actual and possible ways of
+ understanding and changing man and nature. I shall submit only a few
+ propositions which suggest that the internal historical character of the
+ philosophic concepts, far from precluding objective validity, defines the
+ ground for their objective validity.
+ [...]
+ The objects of thought and perception as they appear to the individuals prior
+ to all “subjective” interpretation have in common certain primary qualities,
+ pertaining to these two layers of reality: (1) to the physical (natural)
+ structure of matter, and (2) to the form which matter has acquired in the
+ collective historical practice that has made it (matter) into objects for a
+ subject. The two layers or aspects of objectivity (physical and historical) are
+ interrelated in such a way that they cannot be insulated from each other; the
+ historical aspect can never be eliminated so radically that only the “absolute”
+ physical layer remains.
+ [...]
+ I shall now propose some criteria for the truth value of different historical
+ projects.
+ [...]
+ (1) The transcendent project must be in accordance with the real possibilities
+ open at the attained level of the material and intellectual culture.
+ (2) The transcendent project, in order to falsify the established totality,
+ must demonstrate its own higher rationality in the threefold sense that
+ (a) it offers the prospect of preserving and improving the productive
+ achievements of civilization;
+ (b) it defines the established totality in its very structure, basic
+ tendencies, and relations;
+ (c) its realization offers a greater chance for the pacification of existence,
+ within the framework of institutions which offer a greater chance for the free
+ development of human needs and faculties.
+### Determinate choice
+ If the historical continuum itself provides the objective ground for
+ determining the truth of different historical projects, does it also determine
+ their sequence and their limits? Historical truth is comparative; the
+ rationality of the possible depends on that of the actual, the truth of the
+ transcending project on that of the project in realization. Aristotelian
+ science was falsified on the basis of its achievements; if capitalism were
+ falsified by communism, it would be by virtue of its own achievements.
+ Continuity is preserved through rupture: quantitative development becomes
+ qualitative change if it attains the very structure of an established system;
+ the established rationality becomes irrational when, in the course of its
+ internal development, the potentialities of the system have outgrown its
+ institutions. Such internal refutation pertains to the historical character of
+ reality, and the same character confers upon the concepts which comprehend this
+ reality their critical intent. They recognize and anticipate the irrational in
+ the established reality—they project the historical negation.
+ Is this negation a “determinate” one—that is, is the internal succession of a
+ historical project, once it has become a totality, necessarily pre-determined
+ by the structure of this totality? If so, then the term “project” would be
+ deceptive. That which is historical possibility would sooner or later be real;
+ and the definition of liberty as comprehended necessity would have a repressive
+ connotation which it does not have. All this may not matter much. What does
+ matter is that such historical determination would (in spite of all subtle
+ ethics and psychology) absolve the crimes against humanity which civilization
+ continues to commit and thus facilitate this continuation.
+ I suggest the phrase “determinate choice” in order to emphasize the ingression
+ of liberty into historical necessity; the phrase does no more than condense the
+ proposition that men make their own history but make it under given conditions.
+ Determined are (1) the specific contradictions which develop within a
+ historical system as manifestations of the conflict between the potential and
+ the actual; (2) the material and intellectual resources available to the
+ respective system; (3) the extent of theoretical and practical freedom
+ compatible with the system. These conditions leave open alternative
+ possibilities of developing and utilizing the available resources, alternative
+ possibilities of “making a living,” of organizing man’s struggle with nature.
+ [...]
+ the truth of a historical project is not validated ex post through success,
+ that is to say, by the fact that it is accepted and realized by the society.
+ Galilean science was true while it was still condemned; Marxian theory was
+ already true at the time of the Communist Manifesto; fascism remains false even
+ if it is in ascent on an international scale (“true” and “false” always in the
+ sense of historical rationality as defined above). In the contemporary period,
+ all historical projects tend to be polarized on the two conflicting
+ totalities—capitalism and communism, and the outcome seems to depend on two
+ antagonistic series of factors: (1) the greater force of destruction; (2) the
+ greater productivity without destruction. In other words, the higher historical
+ truth would pertain to the system which offers the greater chance of
+ pacification.
+### Negative Thinking
+ To the degree to which the established society is irrational, the analysis in
+ terms of historical rationality introduces into the concept the negative
+ element—critique, contradiction, and transcendence.
+ This element cannot be assimilated with the positive. It changes the concept in
+ its entirety, in its intent and validity. Thus, in the analysis of an economy,
+ capitalist or not, which operates as an “independent” power over and above the
+ individuals, the negative features (overproduction, unemployment, insecurity,
+ waste, repression) are not comprehended as long as they appear merely as more
+ or less inevitable by-products, as “the other side” of the story of growth and
+ progress.
+ True, a totalitarian administration may promote the efficient exploitation of
+ resources; the nuclear-military establishment may provide millions of jobs
+ through enormous purchasing power; toil and ulcers may be the by-product of the
+ acquisition of wealth and responsibility; deadly blunders and crimes on the
+ part of the leaders may be merely the way of life. One is willing to admit
+ economic and political madness—and one buys it. But this sort of knowledge of
+ “the other side” is part and parcel of the solidification of the state of
+ affairs, of the grand unification of opposites which counteracts qualitative
+ change, because it pertains to a thoroughly hopeless or thoroughly
+ preconditioned existence that has made its home in a world where even the
+ irrational is Reason.
+ The tolerance of positive thinking is enforced tolerance—enforced not by any
+ terroristic agency but by the overwhelming, anonymous power and efficiency of
+ the technological society. As such it permeates the general consciousness—and
+ the consciousness of the critic. The absorption of the negative by the positive
+ is validated in the daily experience, which obfuscates the distinction between
+ rational appearance and irrational reality.
+ [examples follow]
+ These examples may illustrate the happy marriage of the positive and the
+ negative—the objective ambiguity which adheres to the data of experience. It is
+ objective ambiguity because the shift in my sensations and reflections responds
+ to the manner in which the experienced facts are actually interrelated. But
+ this interrelation, if comprehended, shatters the harmonizing consciousness and
+ its false realism. Critical thought strives to define the irrational character
+ of the established rationality (which becomes increasingly obvious) and to
+ define the tendencies which cause this rationality to generate its own
+ transformation. “Its own” because, as historical totality, it has developed
+ forces and capabilities which themselves become projects beyond the established
+ totality. They are possibilities of the advancing technological rationality
+ and, as such, they involve the whole of society. The technological
+ transformation is at the same time political transformation, but the political
+ change would turn into qualitative social change only to the degree to which it
+ would alter the direction of technical progress—that is, develop a new
+ technology. For the established technology has become an instrument of
+ destructive politics.
+ Such qualitative change would be transition to a higher stage of civilization
+ if technics were designed and utilized for the pacification of the struggle for
+ existence. In order to indicate the disturbing implications of this statement,
+ I submit that such a new direction of technical progress would be the
+ catastrophe of the established direction, not merely the quantitative evolution
+ of the prevailing (scientific and technological) rationality but rather its
+ catastrophic transformation, the emergence of a new idea of Reason, theoretical
+ and practical.
+ The new idea of Reason is expressed in Whitehead’s proposition: “The function
+ of Reason is to promote the art of life.”1 In view of this end, Reason is the
+ “direction of the attack on the environment” which derives from the “threefold
+ urge: (1) to live, (2) to live well, (3) to live better.”2
+Then read the rest of the whole chapter 9. It's interesting enough that deserves
+to be quoted on its entirety. It talks about the completion of the
+Technological Project. Like this:
+ Civilization produces the means for freeing Nature from its own brutality, its
+ own insufficiency, its own blindness, by virtue of the cognitive and
+ transforming power of Reason. And Reason can fulfill this function only as
+ post-technological rationality, in which technics is itself the instrumentality
+ of pacification, organon of the “art of life.” The function of Reason then
+ converges with the function of Art.
+ The Greek notion of the affinity between art and technics may serve as a
+ preliminary illustration. The artist possesses the ideas which, as final
+ causes, guide the construction of certain things—just as the engineer possesses
+ the ideas which guide, as final causes, the construction of a machine. For
+ example, the idea of an abode for human beings determines the architect’s
+ construction of a house; the idea of wholesale nuclear explosion determines the
+ construction of the apparatus which is to serve this purpose. Emphasis on the
+ essential relation between art and technics points up the specific rationality
+ of art.
+ [...]
+ In the contemporary era, the conquest of scarcity is still confined to small
+ areas of advanced industrial society. Their prosperity covers up the Inferno
+ inside and outside their borders; it also spreads a repressive productivity and
+ “false needs.” It is repressive precisely to the degree to which it promotes
+ the satisfaction of needs which require continuing the rat race of catching up
+ with one’s peers and with planned obsolescence, enjoying freedom from using the
+ brain, working with and for the means of destruction. The obvious comforts
+ generated by this sort of productivity, and even more, the support which it
+ gives to a system of profitable domination, facilitate its importation in less
+ advanced areas of the world where the introduction of such a system still means
+ tremendous progress in technical and human terms.
+ However, the close interrelation between technical and political-manipulative
+ know-how, between profitable productivity and domination, lends to the conquest
+ of scarcity the weapons for containing liberation. To a great extent, it is the
+ sheer quantity of goods, services, work, and recreation in the overdeveloped
+ countries which effectuates this containment. Consequently, qualitative change
+ seems to presuppose a quantitative change in the advanced standard of living,
+ namely, reduction of overdevelopment.
+ The standard of living attained in the most advanced industrial areas is not a
+ suitable model of development if the aim is pacification. In view of what this
+ standard has made of Man and Nature, the question must again be asked whether
+ it is worth the sacrifices and the victims made in its defense. The question
+ has ceased to be irresponsible since the “affluent society” has become a
+ society of permanent mobilization against the risk of annihilation, and since
+ the sale of its goods has been accompanied by moronization, the perpetuation of
+ toil, and the promotion of frustration.
+ Under these circumstances, liberation from the affluent society does not mean
+ return to healthy and robust poverty, moral cleanliness, and simplicity. On the
+ contrary, the elimination of profitable waste would increase the social wealth
+ available for distribution, and the end of permanent mobilization would reduce
+ the social need for the denial of satisfactions that are the individual’s
+ own—denials which now find their compensation in the cult of fitness, strength,
+ and regularity.
+ [...]
+ The crime is that of a society in which the growing population aggravates the
+ struggle for existence in the face of its possible alleviation. The drive for
+ more “living space” operates not only in international aggressiveness but also
+ within the nation. Here, expansion has, in all forms of teamwork, community
+ life, and fun, invaded the inner space of privacy and practically eliminated
+ the possibility of that isolation in which the individual, thrown back on
+ himself alone, can think and question and find. This sort of privacy—the sole
+ condition that, on the basis of satisfied vital needs, can give meaning to
+ freedom and independence of thought—has long since become the most expensive
+ commodity, available only to the very rich (who don’t use it). In this respect,
+ too, “culture” reveals its feudal origins and limitations. It can become
+ democratic only through the abolition of mass democracy, i.e., if society has
+ succeeded in restoring the prerogatives of privacy by granting them to all and
+ protecting them for each.
+ [...]
+ To take an (unfortunately fantastic) example: the mere absence of all
+ advertising and of all indoctrinating media of information and entertainment
+ would plunge the individual into a traumatic void where he would have the
+ chance to wonder and to think, to know himself (or rather the negative of
+ himself) and his society. Deprived of his false fathers, leaders, friends, and
+ representatives, he would have to learn his ABC’s again. But the words and
+ sentences which he would form might come out very differently, and so might his
+ aspirations and fears.
+ To be sure, such a situation would be an unbearable nightmare. While the people
+ can support the continuous creation of nuclear weapons, radioactive fallout,
+ and questionable foodstuffs, they cannot (for this very reason!) tolerate being
+ deprived of the entertainment and education which make them capable of
+ reproducing the arrangements for their defense and/or destruction. The
+ non-functioning of television and the allied media might thus begin to achieve
+ what the inherent contradictions of capitalism did not achieve—the
+ disintegration of the system. The creation of repressive needs has long since
+ become part of socially necessary labor—necessary in the sense that without it,
+ the established mode of production could not be sustained. Neither problems of
+ psychology nor of aesthetics are at stake, but the material base of domination.
+### Imagination
+ In reducing and even canceling the romantic space of imagination, society has
+ forced the imagination to prove itself on new grounds, on which the images are
+ translated into historical capabilities and projects. The translation will be
+ as bad and distorted as the society which undertakes it. Separated from the
+ realm of material production and material needs, imagination was mere play,
+ invalid in the realm of necessity, and committed only to a fantastic logic and
+ a fantastic truth. When technical progress cancels this separation, it invests
+ the images with its own logic and its own truth; it reduces the free faculty of
+ the mind. But it also reduces the gap between imagination and Reason. The two
+ antagonistic faculties become interdependent on common ground. In the light of
+ the capabilities of advanced industrial civilization, is not all play of the
+ imagination playing with technical possibilities, which can be tested as to
+ their chances of realization? The romantic idea of a “science of the
+ Imagination” seems to assume an ever-more-empirical aspect.
+ [...]
+ Imagination has not remained immune to the process of reification. We are
+ possessed by our images, suffer our own images. Psychoanalysis knew it well,
+ and knew the consequences. However, “to give to the imagination all the means
+ of expression” would be regression. The mutilated individuals (mutilated also
+ in their faculty of imagination) would organize and destroy even more than they
+ are now permitted to do. Such release would be the unmitigated horror—not the
+ catastrophe of culture, but the free sweep of its most repressive tendencies.
+ Rational is the imagination which can become the a priori of the reconstruction
+ and redirection of the productive apparatus toward a pacified existence, a life
+ without fear. And this can never be the imagination of those who are possessed
+ by the images of domination and death.
+ To liberate the imagination so that it can be given all its means of expression
+ presupposes the repression of much that is now free and that perpetuates a
+ repressive society. And such reversal is not a matter of psychology or ethics
+ but of politics, in the sense in which this term has here been used throughout:
+ the practice in which the basic societal institutions are developed, defined,
+ sustained, and changed. It is the practice of individuals, no matter how
+ organized they may be. Thus the question once again must be faced: how can the
+ administered individuals—who have made their mutilation into their own
+ liberties and satisfactions, and thus reproduce it on an enlarged
+ scale—liberate themselves from themselves as well as from their masters? How is
+ it even thinkable that the vicious circle be broken?
+### Qualitative Change
+ Qualitative change is conditional upon planning for the whole against these
+ interests, and a free and rational society can emerge only on this basis.
+ The institutions within which pacification can be envisaged thus defy the
+ traditional classification into authoritarian and democratic, centralized and
+ liberal administration. Today, the opposition to central planning in the name
+ of a liberal democracy which is denied in reality serves as an ideological prop
+ for repressive interests. The goal of authentic self-determination by the
+ individuals depends on effective social control over the production and
+ distribution of the necessities (in terms of the achieved level of culture,
+ material and intellectual).
+ Here, technological rationality, stripped of its exploitative features, is the
+ sole standard and guide in planning and developing the available resources for
+ all. Self-determination in the production and distribution of vital goods and
+ services would be wasteful. The job is a technical one, and as a truly
+ technical job, it makes for the reduction of physical and mental toil. In this
+ realm, centralized control is rational if it establishes the preconditions for
+ meaningful self-determination. The latter can then become effective in its own
+ realm—in the decisions which involve the production and distribution of the
+ economic surplus, and in the individual existence.
+ In any case, the combination of centralized authority and direct democracy is
+ subject to infinite variations, according to the degree of development.
+ Self-determination will be real to the extent to which the masses have been
+ dissolved into individuals liberated from all propaganda, indoctrination, and
+ manipulation, capable of knowing and comprehending the facts and of evaluating
+ the alternatives. In other words, society would be rational and free to the
+ extent to which it is organized, sustained, and reproduced by an essentially
+ new historical Subject.
+ At the present stage of development of the advanced industrial societies, the
+ material as well as the cultural system denies this exigency. The power and
+ efficiency of this system, the thorough assimilation of mind with fact, of
+ thought with required behavior, of aspirations with reality, militate against
+ the emergence of a new Subject. They also militate against the notion that the
+ replacement of the prevailing control over the productive process by “control
+ from below” would mean the advent of qualitative change. This notion was valid,
+ and still is valid, where the laborers were, and still are, the living denial
+ and indictment of the established society. However, where these classes have
+ become a prop of the established way of life, their ascent to control would
+ prolong this way in a different setting. And yet, the facts are all there
+ which validate the critical theory of this society and of its fatal
+ development: the increasing irrationality of the whole; waste and restriction
+ of productivity; the need for aggressive expansion; the constant threat of war;
+ intensified exploitation; dehumanization. And they all point to the historical
+ alternative: the planned utilization of resources for the satisfaction of vital
+ needs with a minimum of toil, the transformation of leisure into free time, the
+ pacification of the struggle for existence.
+### Terrorized beauty
+ Beauty reveals its terror as highly classified nuclear plants and laboratories
+ become “Industrial Parks” in pleasing surroundings; Civil Defense Headquarters
+ display a “deluxe fallout-shelter” with wall-to-wall carpeting (“soft”), lounge
+ chairs, television, and Scrabble, “designed as a combination family room during
+ peacetime (sic!) and family fallout shelter should war break out.”1 If the
+ horror of such realizations does not penetrate into consciousness, if it is
+ readily taken for granted, it is because these achievements are (a) perfectly
+ rational in terms of the existing order, (b) tokens of human ingenuity and
+ power beyond the traditional limits of imagination.
+### What brings chance: practice
+ Dialectical theory is not refuted, but it cannot offer the remedy. It cannot be
+ positive. To be sure, the dialectical concept, in comprehending the given
+ facts, transcends the given facts. This is the very token of its truth. It
+ defines the historical possibilities, even necessities; but their realization
+ can only be in the practice which responds to the theory, and, at present, the
+ practice gives no such response.
+ On theoretical as well as empirical grounds, the dialectical concept pronounces
+ its own hopelessness. The human reality is its history and, in it,
+ contradictions do not explode by themselves. The conflict between streamlined,
+ rewarding domination on the one hand, and its achievements that make for
+ self-determination and pacification on the other, may become blatant beyond any
+ possible denial, but it may well continue to be a manageable and even
+ productive conflict, for with the growth in the technological conquest of
+ nature grows the conquest of man by man. And this conquest reduces the freedom
+ which is a necessary a priori of liberation. This is freedom of thought in the
+ only sense in which thought can be free in the administered world—as the
+ consciousness of its repressive productivity, and as the absolute need for
+ breaking out of this whole. But precisely this absolute need does not prevail
+ where it could become the driving force of a historical practice, the effective
+ cause of qualitative change. Without this material force, even the most acute
+ consciousness remains powerless.
+ No matter how obvious the irrational character of the whole may manifest itself
+ and, with it, the necessity of change, insight into necessity has never
+ sufficed for seizing the possible alternatives. Confronted with the omnipresent
+ efficiency of the given system of life, its alternatives have always appeared
+ utopian. And insight into necessity, the consciousness of the evil state, will
+ not suffice even at the stage where the accomplishments of science and the
+ level of productivity have eliminated the utopian features of the
+ alternatives—where the established reality rather than its opposite is utopian.
+ [...]
+ The enchained possibilities of advanced industrial societies are: development
+ of the productive forces on an enlarged scale, extension of the conquest of
+ nature, growing satisfaction of needs for a growing number of people, creation
+ of new needs and faculties. But these possibilities are gradually being
+ realized through means and institutions which cancel their liberating
+ potential, and this process affects not only the means but also the ends. The
+ instruments of productivity and progress, organized into a totalitarian system,
+ determine not only the actual but also the possible utilizations.
+ [...]
+ But the struggle for the solution has outgrown the traditional forms. The
+ totalitarian tendencies of the one-dimensional society render the traditional
+ ways and means of protest ineffective—perhaps even dangerous because they
+ preserve the illusion of popular sovereignty. This illusion contains some
+ truth: “the people,” previously the ferment of social change, have “moved up”
+ to become the ferment of social cohesion. Here rather than in the
+ redistribution of wealth and equalization of classes is the new stratification
+ characteristic of advanced industrial society.