The New Discourses Podcast with James Lindsay, Episode 41
Liberation Series, Part 1 of 4
The Critical Theorist and neo-Marxist Herbert Marcuse was one of the most influential radical Leftist thinkers of the 20th century, and this fact is evident throughout his writing. The depth of his radicalism can be seen quite clearly in several of his essays, including his 1965 “Repressive Tolerance,” which has been featured on the New Discourses Podcast before in a four-part series. It may stand out even more prominently in “An Essay on Liberation,” written in 1969. In this longer essay, Marcuse lays out what he believes liberation requires, especially at the level of what he refers to as preconditions for that utopian possibility. In this four-part series, James Lindsay presents “An Essay on Liberation” with his commentary. In this first part of the series, he reads through the introduction to the essay and its first of four parts, “A Biological Foundation for Socialism?”, in which Marcuse makes the case that to achieve a liberated utopia, man will have to be changed at the level of his fundamental needs, his instincts, and his biology, and that this can be accomplished by making him live in a society that “introjects” a new critical morality into him. It’s a truly alarming piece of work, and the resonances of it can definitely be felt today. Join James as he begins to explore this essay by Marcuse on the New Discourses Podcast.
This episode of the New Discourses podcast is part one in a four-part series that reads through “An Essay on Liberation.” Part 2 is available here; Part 3 is here; Join James for the whole series as well as his four-part series on Marcuse’s “Repressive Tolerance” (1965), starting here.
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Previous episodes of the New Discourses podcast are available here.
For seventy years the Soviet Union dedicated itself to creating the “New Soviet Man”, unfortunately the Soviet Union died before those efforts could yield much beyond a better class of liar,
Instead of Man adapting Society around his changing needs over time. He is saying that Man must be Biologically Constructed to fit into an existing Societal Model (designed by whom, for whose benefit-certainly not the average man’s ?) Hitler tried it. The Soviet Union tried it. Both ended in failure and these lunatics are still persisting with it.
I was taught this kind of thing at university in the late 60s. I left after a year and went to art school where they didn’t talk woke for another 20 years. I had my doubts about the emotional investment I saw in others regarding Franz Fannon, Marcuse, and all that. It seemed just a bit self-promoting to me, like posturing as morally superior.
This readthrough though was a shock. I can’t get over the insistence of the academic mob that their ideas must be made flesh, no matter who or how many are hurt.
One fun idea I thought you may be interested in for countering the Woke – Woke kitsch!
Seriously. You have mentioned that a good way to be based and counter totalitarian impulses in society is with humour and what better humour than to turn radical images into playful kitsch in the manner of Che Guevara or Mao Zedong.
Think of key chains with distorted images of Marcuse, Foucault, Freire, and other Woke icons.