Herbert Marcuse Quotes (displaying: 1 - 26 of 26 quotes)
Under conditions of a truly human existence, the difference between succumbing to disease at the age of ten, thirty, fifty, or seventy, and dying a "natural" death after a fulfilled life, may well be a difference worth fighting for with all instinctual energy. Not those who die, but those who die before they must and want to die, those who die in agony and pain, are the great indictment against civilization. They also testify to the unredeemable guilt of mankind. Their death arouses the painful awareness that it was unnecessary, that it could be otherwise. It takes all the institutions and values of a repressive order to pacify the bad conscience of this guilt. Once again, the deep connection between the death instinct and the sense of guilt becomes apparent. The silent "professional agreement" with the fact of death and disease is perhaps one of the most widespread expressions of the death instinct -- or, rather, of its social usefulness. In a repressive civilization, death itself becomes an instrument of repression. Whether death is feared as constant threat, or glorified as supreme sacrifice, or accepted as fate, the education for consent to death introduces an element of surrender into life from the beginning -- surrender and submission. It stifles "utopian" efforts. The powers that be have a deep affinity to death; death is a token of unfreedom, of defeat. Theology and philosophy today compete with each other in celebrating death as an existential category: perverting a biological fact into an ontological essence, they bestow transcendental blessing on the guilt of mankind which they help to perpetuate -- they betray the promise of utopia.
Inasmuch as art preserves, with the promise of happiness, the memory of the goal that failed, it can enter, as a 'regulative idea,' the desperate struggle for changing the world. Against all fetishism of the productive forces, against the continued enslavement of individuals by the objective conditions (which remain those of domination), art represents the ultimate goal of all revolutions: the freedom and happiness of the individual.
The Orphic symbols center on the singing god who lives to defeat death and who liberates nature, so that the constrained and constraining matter releases the beautiful and playful forms of animate and inanimate things. No longer striving and no longer desiring ‘for something still to be attained,’ they are free from fear and fetter – and thus free per se. The contemplation of Narcissus repels all other activity in the erotic surrender to beauty, inseparably uniting his own existence with nature.
If the worker and his boss enjoy the same television program and visit the same resort places, if the typist is as attractively made up as the daughter of her employer, if the Negro owns a Cadillac, if they all read the same newspaper, then this assimilation indicates not the disappearance of classes, but the extent to which the needs and satisfactions that serve the preservation of the Establishment are shared by the underlying population.
The means of communication, the irresistible output of the entertainment and information industry carry with them prescribed attitudes and habits, certain intellectual and emotional reactions which bind the consumers to the producers and, through the latter to the whole social system. The products indoctrinate and manipulate; they promote a false consciousness which is immune against its falsehood...Thus emerges a pattern of one-dimensional thought and behavior.
The danger of abusing the discovery of the truth value of imagination for retrogressive tendencies is exemplified by the work of Carl Jung. More empathically than Freud, he has insisted on the cognitive force of imagination. According to Jung, phantasy is ‘undistinguishably’ united with all other mental functions, it appears ‘now as primeval, now as the ultimate and most audacious synthesis of all capabilities.’ Phantasy is above all the ‘creative activity out of which flow the answers to all answerable questions’; it is ‘the mother of all possibilities, in which all mental opposites as well as the conflict between internal and external world are united.’ Phantasy has always built the bridge between the irreconcilable demands of object and subject, extroversion and introversion. The simultaneously retrospective and expectant character of imagination is thus clearly stated: it looks not only back to an aboriginal golden past, but also forward to still unrealized but realizable possibilities.
Art breaks open a dimension inaccessible to other experience, a dimension in which human beings, nature, and things no longer stand under the law of the established reality principle...The encounter with the truth of art happens in the estranging language and images which make perceptible, visible, and audible that which is no longer, or not yet, perceived, said, and heard in everyday life.
The so-called consumer society and the politics of corporate capitalism have created a second nature of man which ties him libidinally and aggressively to the commodity form. The need for possessing, consuming, handling and constantly renewing the gadgets, devices, instruments, engines, offered to and imposed upon the people, for using these wares even at the danger of one’s own destruction, has become a “biological” need.
By virtue of the way it has organized its technological base, contemporary industrial society tends to be totalitarian. For "totalitarian" is not only a terroristic political coordination of society, but also a non-terroristic economic-technical coordination which operates through the manipulation of needs by vested interests.