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Discourse of Domination

From the Frankfurt School to Postmodernism

Agger, Ben

Publication Year: 2011

The Discourse of Domination tackles nothing less than the challenge of giving critical theory a new grip on current problems, and restoring the left's faith in the possibility of enlightened social change. Agger steers a course between orthodox Marxism and orthodox anti Marxism, bringing the concepts of ideology, dialectic, and domination out of the academy and making them into "a living medium of political self expression."

Published by: Northwestern University Press

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

I would like to thank Susan Harris at Northwestern University Press for facilitating this project from beginning to end. Her support and guidance have been wonderful. I would like to thank both of the manuscript reviewers for offering very useful suggestions for revision. The essays contained in this book owe ...

Part One: The Left's Right

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1. Introduction: Beyond the End of Ideology

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pp. 3-13

It is commonly said that civilization has entered an era (sometimes called postmodernity) in which political contention can be put behind. With the Germanys reunited and the USSR undergoing serious structural changes both internally and throughout the "evil empire," it is said that a new world order looms. Indeed, this was the justification for the...

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2. Marxism "or" the Frankfurt School?

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pp. 14-39

This book begins with four essays that address different critiques of Marxism- even from within Marxism itself. I begin with readings of other authors as a way of establishing my own argument as counterpoint. Each of these four chapters deals in one way or another with my overall thesis: Marxism can be invigorated only by rebuffing both orthodox Marxism ...

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3. The Crisis of the "Crisis of Marxism"

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pp. 40-55

Let me set the stage for this chapter (see the Burawoy-Wright "debate" [1987]). The Wisconsin quantitative Marxist, Erik Olin Wright, has been invited to join the Department of Sociology at Berkeley. Graduate students, who run the estimable Berkeley Journal of Sociology, pose a number of questions to him and publish the results in their journal. Meanwhile, Michael Burawoy, his Marxist colleague and friend from ...

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4. The Micro-Macro Nonproblem

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pp. 56-72

The preceding two chapters addressed Marxist critiques of critical theory. In this chapter, I engage the critique of Marxism mounted from within mainstream sociological theory. Although Jeffrey Alexander praises Marx's "brilliance," his project is to eviscerate Marxism of all political content. In this reading, I attempt to delineate crucial points of difference between ...

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5. The Problem of Postmodernism

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pp. 73-82

This chapter concludes the first section of this book. I caution here against embracing postmodernism, even though I have self-consciously affiliated myself to a critical theory that makes ample use of certain postmodern as well as feminist insights. Postmodernism in its Establishment versions ignores social problems of the public sphere altogether, resolving postmodern anxiety ...

Part Two: Back to Frankfurt

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6. Marcuse's Growing Relevance

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pp. 87-101

In this section, I return to debates within the Frankfurt school and their implications for the future of critical theory. I concentrate on Marcuse's version of critical theory, focusing on his Freudianization of Marxism (chap. 7), his theory of false needs (chap. 8), and his aesthetic-political theory (chap. 9). In this chapter, I introduce the general relevance of Marcuse's thought for my own version of critical theory, which I continue to elaborate ...

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7. Marcuse's Freudian Marxism

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pp. 102-129

Marcuse's early essays (1930s) on the emancipatory content of German idealism and bourgeois culture prepared for a materialist concept of reason that could anchor emancipatory struggle, largely individuated at first, during advanced capitalism's "total mobilization." Indeed, this was the raison d'etre of critical theory as a whole, although Marcuse ...

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8. Marcuse's "One-Dimensionality"

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pp. 130-152

In his book on Freud (1955), Herbert Marcuse set the stage for much of his later work. Whereas his essays in Zeitschrift f

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9. Marcuse's Aesthetic Politics

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pp. 153-171

Hegel suggested that art contains the sensuous appearance of the Idea, the symbol of a rationality of reason that is beyond words (Hegel 1920). Art is not language for Hegel because it is nondiscursive; it gives form to hidden, ineffable content. Marcuse in his later work came to regard art as the last refuge of critical insights in a totally mobilized society. In his...

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10. Work and Authority in Marcuse and Habermas

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pp. 172-190

Having discussed Marcuse's view of art and aesthetic politics, I now turn to a further discussion of his views of work (in this chapter) and science (in the next chapter), the remaining components of his wide ranging critical theory, which both retains and reformulates central Marxist assumptions about social change. His 1969 book, An Essay on Liberation,...

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11. Marcuse and Habermas on New Science

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pp. 191-214

The meaning of Marx's materialism and the extent of Hegel's influence on his thought have been at the center of controversy among Marxists ever since the original publication in 1923 of Luk�cs's History and Class Consciousness (1971) and Korsch's Marxism and Philosophy (1970). The original Frankfurt school theorists, including Marcuse, embraced the Hegelian interpretation of Marxism. The controversy has resurfaced within the Frankfurt school in ...

Part Three: Beyond the End of Ideology

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12. On Happiness and the Damaged Life

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pp. 219-238

Critical theory is either a museum piece in the hands of its modern inheritors or a living medium of political self-expression. My argument in this final section is that critical theory can be renewed, as Marx would have hoped, only by refusing to concentrate on its philosophical inheritance and instead writing the theory in a direct and unmediated way. The conviction that to be a Marxist surpasses Marx is just as true for critical ...

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13. Critical Theory, Scientism, and Empiricism

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pp. 239-266

I shall here sharpen my critique of the Hegelian Marxism of the Frankfurt school, arguing that theorists like Horkheimer and Adorno failed to repoliticize Marxism once they had perceived that the working class would not become a successful revolutionary agent. The redevelopment of Marxism by certain original members of the Frankfurt school exaggerated the extent ...

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14. Toward a New Intellectuality

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pp. 267-277

In chapter 13, I suggested a new version of a lifeworld-grounded critical theory's empirical research program appropriate to late capitalism. I returned to Marx and Marcuse's concept of the advisory and prefigurative roles of critical theory in its relation to lifeworld efforts to overcome alienation. In this chapter, I develop further the concept of "dialectical sensibility" as it may inform the activity of radical intellectuals ...

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15. Postmodernism: Ideology or Critical Theory?

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pp. 278-306

In this chapter, I attempt to theorize critically about the public world, keeping in mind the status of critical theory in that world. I pursue themes raised in the preceding three chapters about the transformation of intellectual life. Postmodernism is reappraised for its theoretical and political contribution to what I call lifeworid-grounded critical theory-a critical theory that begins with everyday experience and discourse, including its ...

Bibliography

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pp. 307-323

Index

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pp. 325-347


E-ISBN-13: 9780810162679
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810110298

Page Count: 348
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1
Series Title: Studies in Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy
Series Editor Byline: Anthony Steinbock