OWS Protesters and Marcuse’s Political Preface 1966

Canal Workers - photo by Sebastiao Salgado

Marcuse’s Political Preface (Eros and Civiliation) seems to have some relevance to where we find ourselves at this moment in American history.

“To the degree to which organized labor operates in defense of the status quo, and to the degree to which the share of labor in the material process of production declines,intellectual skills and capabilities become social and political factors. Today, the organized refusal to cooperate of the scientists, mathematicians, technicians, industrial psychologists and public opinion pollsters may well accomplish what a strike, even a large-scale strike, can no longer accomplish but once accomplished, namely, the beginning of the reversal, the preparation of the ground for political action. That the idea appears utterly unrealistic does not reduce the political responsibility involved in the position and function of the intellectual in contemporary industrial society. The intellectual refusal may find support in another catalyst, the instinctual refusal among the youth in protest. It is their lives which are at stake, and if not their lives, their mental health and their capacity to function as unmutilated humans. Their protest will continue because it is a biological necessity. “By nature,” the young are in the forefront of those who live and fight for Eros against Death, and against a civilization which strives to shorten the “detour to death” while controlling the means for lengthening the detour. But in the administered society, the biological necessity does not immediately issue in action; organization demands counter-organization. Today the fight for life, the fight for Eros, is the political fight.”

Here is the entire Political Preface.

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