The text below are my notes on Herbert Marcuse
's essay Freedom
and Freud’s Theory of Instincts
. A reader should have some basic understanding of theory of Sigmund Freud
and familiarity with Guy Debord
and Andre Gorz
are likely to help - otherwise the notes may be a bit messy and cursory. Anyway, I hope my contribution at least triggers further interest in Marcuse and the Frankfurt School
- A man wants to control the world and himself.
- Satisfaction, peace and pleasure have a secondary role. They are nothing but rewards of work or recovery for work. A human body is simply a tool.
- The existence is valued by societal usefulness.
- Societal usefulness and individual pleasure are a contradiction in terms. Libido is shaped so that it will serve the repressive structure of society. The man itself should be the objective not a tool. However, this holds true only in private spheres of life where the fulfillment and comprehensive extension of libido - understood as extensive as possible - is the measure of everything. Outside this sphere the measure is an exchange value.
- An individual is inside out alienated by the contemporary culture. "Individual" needs are preshaped by the agenda of cultural machinery and the free fulfillment of needs is supressed by the mobilization of spectacle.
- The repressive structure of society is sustained by semiautomatic reactions which are learned through comprehensive cultural education.
- The principle of performance has created a potentiality to transcend itself. (see 5)
- The alienated work must be minimized. The free play of capabilities should reclaim its place as the essence of life.
- Logos has become the master of Eros. Humanity is enslaved to the reason.
- Remember Weber and the spirit of capitalism. It was hard to get people to work longer than the minimum hours it required them to stay alive.
- There's no such thing as free lunch. For Freud this means that the pleasure without effort won't intrigue a man anymore. In society, the connection between effort (work) and pleasure is mediated through the money and hence lost. Freud said that money is not something children want.
- If the whole of the culture remains unchanged individual emancipations, the creators of contraculture are necessarily parasitic by the nature.
- As the result of this deprivation sexuality seeks new objectives; the objectives that are thus necessarily alienated.
- The tightest bond a man and a society has is work. This tells a lot about work camps and prisons where inmates are made to work.
- The contemporary culture interlinks pleasure and irrationality. A powerful statement against it is the fact that consciousness improves as individual Eros is disengaged. Furthermore, according to Freud an instinct is conservative. Therefore the inner restraints of instincts are enough to hold the order in society without repression. Finally, the new rationality will arise: If anything contributes to the system of pleasure it's rational.
- The instinct of death and the "skill" of oblivion enables the eternal return of paradise. In a modern society this takes the form of consumer goods.