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Thursday, March 4, 2021


I have to confess my attention has not been focused on political developments these past few days. I have been trying to find a way to teach my course on Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Herbert Marcuse next year at Columbia and during my morning walks, my head has been filled with fragments of lectures I would like to deliver.  Now that the golden calf episode is over and the normal politics of legislation and administration are ongoing, there is really not much to say. I find it astonishing that Biden has been able to move up from the end of July to the end of May the date at which there will be enough vaccine for all the adults in the United States. I am neither surprised nor particularly angered by the fact that Joe Manchin is causing problems for the passage of Biden's big bill. Manchin represents as a Democrat a state that Trump won by something like 40 points. Without that unlikely happenstance, Mitch McConnell is still the majority leader and nothing at all gets done. I am enormously impressed by the hard-nosed sensibility of the left wing of the Democratic Party at this moment.  Bernie Sanders turns out to be the adult in the room.

All of our attention must be focused on winning some extra seats in the House and picking up one or two Senate seats in 2022.That is not exciting is, it  not intellectually interesting – it is merely essential.

I had thought to reproduce here what I consider the most exciting idea in One-Dimensional Man, as a kind of preview of my course, but a little checking revealed that I had done that twice before in the past 10 years on this blog so I shall simply let those of you who were interested look it up.


Sparks said...

If you have the time for a short read, David Shor has a new interview in the Intelligencer. He paints a picture none-too-rosy for Democratic prospects in 2022 and beyond, barring the accession of Puerto Rico and DC, and electoral reform--all of which would require eliminating the filibuster, and so all of which are being blocked by Manchin.

Unlike some progressives, I can't confidently conclude that dropping $15 minimum wage from the relief package will, alone, significantly hinder the Dems in '22, though of course it doesn't help either. On the other hand, excluding something like 12 million adults and 5 million children from the next round of stimulus checks seems more dire (remember, Biden only won even the popular vote by 7 million). The driving force behind both of these changes is, without a doubt, Joe Manchin.

Needless to say, whatever benefits having him may present in the short-term, I think he is an albatross, and that in the mid to long-term he'll have a unique and distinct responsibility for locking the Democratic Party out of power for the next decade.

s. wallerstein said...

I googled your comments on Marcuse and found two posts from 2011, both very interesting and enlightening about Marcuse.

However, that was ten years ago, pre-Trump, just as social media was beginning to dominate so many people's lives as it does now ten years later; and so would it be possible for you to update what you have to say about Marcuse's relevance for us today? Thanks.

L.F. Cooper said...

s. wallerstein,

You did not look quite hard enough.

I put "one-dimensional man" into the search box at the top of the blog, and, in addition to the two posts from 2011, found a lot of posts, as recently as 2016 if not later, about Marcuse, in which Prof Wolff tells basically the same story about how Marcuse and Moore met at the OSS during WW2, and how Prof Wolff then met Marcuse at Moore's house in 1960 or '61, and how the three of them subsequently published A Critique of Pure Tolerance etc.

There's also Prof Wolff's substantive exposition of Marcuse's ideas, such as the notion of "repressive desublimation," which Wolff seems to consider the most important contribution of One-Dimensional Man. I didn't see anything specifically about how this idea relates to social media, but I was reading very quickly. Anyway, it's not too hard to figure out how it might relate to social media, and since you've actually read Marcuse (which I haven't), you can probably do the sketch yourself.

s. wallerstein said...



Ed Barreras said...

One of the unsung villains of the moment is a woman by the name of Brenda Snipes. She was the Supervisor for Elections for Broward County, Florida, during the 2018 midterms. As many will recall, Bill Nelson, the Democratic Senator, lost that race to Republican Rick Scott by only about 10,000 votes. Why is this Brenda Snipes’s fault? Because she approved the ballot for Broward County that placed the box for the Senate candidates below the instructions, where it was certainly overlooked by a significant number of voters, who then simply skipped voting in that race altogether. This ballot design flaw that has been well-known. Snipes, a Democrat btw, should have caught it. Had she done her due diligence, Nelson likely would have won a narrow victory and today the Democrats would have a 51-seat majority, reducing Manchin’s power. I am petty, so I remember these things.

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