Quite a while ago, just before the upheavals of the ’60s-shifts that have not ceased, but have been forced in less direct, less public directions — Marcuse in his One-Dimensional Man, described a populace characterized by flattened personality, satisfied and content. With the pervasive anguish of today, who could be so described? Therein lies a deep, if inchoate critique.
Much theorizing has announced the erosion of individuality’s last remnants; but if this were so, if society now consists of the thoroughly homogenized and domesticated, how can there remain the enduring tension which must account for such levels of pain and loss? More and more people I have known have cracked up. It’s going on to a staggering degree, in a context of generalized, severe emotional disease-ease.
Marx predicted, erroneously, that a deepening material immiseration would lead to revolt and to capital’s downfall. Might it not be that an increasing psychic suffering is itself leading to the reopening of revolt — indeed, that this may even be the last hope of resistance?
And yet it is obvious that “mere” suffering is no guarantee of anything. “Desire does not ‘want’ revolution, it is revolutionary in its own right,” as Deleuze and Guattari pointed out, while further on in Anti-Oedipus, remembering fascism, noting that people have desired against their own interests, and that tolerance of humiliation and enslavement remains widespread.
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