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Technology, War and Fascism: Collected Papers of Herbert Marcuse, Volume 1 (Herbert Marcuse: Collected Papers)

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415137805
ISBN-10: 0415137802
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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Part 1940s period piece, part stimulus to ongoing thought on the social impact of technology, this first in a projected six volumes of Marcuse's papers, many of them previously unpublished, merits the attention of critical theorists and general readers alike. Ably edited and annotated by former Marcuse student Kellner (Philosophy/Univ. of Texas, Austin), volume one collects papers and several letters (to Max Horkheimer and Martin Heidegger) from the period when Marcuse was moving from theoretical work for his beloved Institute of Social Research (ISR) to more practical studies for the US Office of War Information. The ISR, under Horkheimer's direction, continued in the Frankfurt School's tradition of Marxist-inspired social critique. The German concept of critique descends from Kant, who saw himself rescuing reason from its terrible proneness to self-deception. Critical theory in the Frankfurt School shifted the locus of deception from within the human mind outward, to social forces that inevitably transformed, dialectically, into the opposite of what they appeared to be. Marcuse's critique of technology is that, having emerged out of moral human reason, it soon makes reason conform to its own amoral obsession with efficiency and means, regardless of ends. The resulting ``technical reason'' is a Frankenstein monster that, for Marcuse, explains what the War Office hired him to analyze and propagandize against: Nazi Germany. As new analyses of what Germans call the ``Nazi time'' continue to appear, Marcuse's reduction of Naziism to technical reason run amok--an excrescence of capitalism, wholly discontinuous with classical German culture--provides a sober alternative to more inflammatory theories of inbred German anti-Semitism. Any German intellectual selected at random opens up onto that vast, uniquely integrated tradition of thought, bounded by Kant and Heidegger, that partially defines German culture. For the general reader, Marcuse's early essays provide one entree to that world; for the specialist, they provide backdrop to Marcuse's more famous published books. (9 photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Review

[this] book is valuable...for documenting what the philosopher of revolution was thinking and writing when he was an official of the United States Government...Now, for the first time, we are able to read Marcuse's analyses of Nazi Germany, as well as his views of communism and revolution in the period immediately following the war.
–The New Republic

...there is much material here of interest to the general reader...the items chosen for publication are interesting and appropriate, and the Foreward by Peter Marcuse and the Introduction by Douglas Kellner are clear and provide very valuable information about the historical and social context of Marcuse's writings.
Philosophy in Review/Comptes Rendus Philosophiques

...a splendid beginning to a series that promises a renewed and revitalized interest in and consideration of one of the most significant representatives of critical theory.
CJS Online

It is refreshing to read Herbert Marcuse on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth and the issuing of a series of previously unpublished writings and letters . . . In the first volume of the series, we get reminded of Marcuses's incredible intellectual power . . . His vision of liberation . . . reached toward the dimensions of meaning that Tikkun supports

.
Tikkun

[The series] will make a real contribution to reviving a neglected figure in American as well as world philosophy.
–Stanley Aronowitz, The Chronicle of Higher Education
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Product Details

  • Series: Herbert Marcuse: Collected Papers (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (May 8, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415137802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415137805
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,095,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Marcuse was retained by the United States Office of War Information and later the Office of Strategic Services (the precursor of the CIA) because of his insight into German society.
His insights are attractive to this nonsociologist. Although Lady Thatcher, who seems to be descending into a form of insanity, said recently "there is no such thing as society", ordinary working people, who cannot afford gated communities, must perforce live in society.

Numeric results, innocent of theory, are useless for insight and only theory can match the qualitative texture of daily life. This is perhaps why Adorno's American typists at the Princeton Radio Research project both understood his "complex" prose and were sympathetic to his conclusions, while his "educated" superiors thought him "elitist."

One of Marcuse's insights into Nazi society describes the ordinary person as informed by "matter of fact cynicism". Perhaps because of Marcuse's German background, he here fashions a surprising neologism, a Katzenjammer, a jamming-together of concepts useful precisely because it is striking. This neologistic fashioning of terms-of-art is a permission German gives the speaker which his withheld, superficially, by English.

The cynical are not usually thought of as matter-of-fact, and the matter-of-fact, not usually thought of as cynical. The two sets, while not considered disjoint, are not considered to largely intersect.

Nonetheless, Marcuse's insight captured something about German society during the war that many observers missed. The ordinary German mind was thought by Anglo-American commentators to share in the mysticism of Hitler.
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Format: Hardcover
There is so much to be said about Herbert Marcuse that this short space will not suffice.
What can be said about this collection of essays is its outline of the modern age, relating as the title suggests: "Technology, war and fascism."
Often, we think of technology as being simply the increasing of our tools' efficacy, in all other ways benign, that war is perpetrated by nations and leaders, and that fascism is a dead ideology based on hate, suspicion, and opposition to everthing in the status quo. Marcuse helps us find an understanding of these elements of the twentieth century, placing them in the context of world civilization, industrialization, political development, and capitalism.
In relation to my personal collection, I do not have a book more relevent to understanding the world, than those which Marcuse contributed.
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