The Guardian October 1, 2003

Readers are invited to submit letters to The Guardian.
Letters may be e-mailed to
Letters of 300-400 words are preferred.

Letters to the Editor:

Lessons from the ultra-left and history

The letter on Adorno by Richard Titelius brings up a present day problem 
of how to bring the revolts of non-proletarian forces into continued and 
developing action in the movements for peace and socialism. The actions of 
students and youth focused around the slogan "Books not Bombs" were in 
protest at the then impending war on Iraq and have not developed 

The same thing happened to the "New Left" culminating in the student 
demonstrations in France in 1968 when Daniel Cohn-Bendit was one of the 
prominent leaders.

The New Left challenged bourgeois society, the foreign policies of 
imperialism and its economic and political repression. They reacted against 
bourgeois culture. They did not link up with the organised union movement 
or the communist parties who they called the "old ideology".

Among their spokespersons were those who set out to create an up-to-date 
revolutionary theory, with emphasis on spontaneous actions with release of 
unconscious forces. These writers said they were looking for the shaping of 
a new culture and a new man.

Marcuse, Sartre and Adorno were among the main ideological leaders at that 
time. Marcuse saw only a dead end. "The economic and technical capabilities 
of the established societies are sufficiently vast to allow for adjustments 
and concessions to the underdog, and their armed forces sufficiently 
trained and equipped to take care of emergency situations." (Bush screaming 
for more troops and money!)

"The critical theory of society possesses no concept to bridge the gap 
between the present and its future; holding no promise and showing no 
success; it remains negative."

Adorno is just as negative. He saw it as impossible to view a contradiction 
as soluble, and that it was wrong to envisage any definite alternative. He 
regarded the modern world as a contradictory chaotic chain of events not 
arranged in any integral system.

These and other writers confused and held up the political development of 
many of the protesting people associated with the New Left. Their ideas 
have penetrated communist parties.

In 1968 Dubcek, Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, called 
for changes for a socialism with a human face  "the good life, true 
liberty and a just society". In the last Czech elections, the Czech 
Communist Party got 20 percent of the votes. Dubcek formed and led an anti- 
communist pro-capitalist splinter party in that those elections.

Under the banner of perestroika, Gorbachev confused and misled the CPSU and 
the Soviet people, and was the chief internal factor in destroying the 
Soviet Union. There had been a close link between Dubcek and Gorbachev.

We need to study the present-day writers appealing to the youth, to 
understand their appeal and their weaknesses, so that we can win the new 
young forces emerging to progressive and consistent action.

Vic Williams
Perth, WA

Source of technological consciousness
In his letter in The Guardian (September 17) Richard Titelius 
suggests that the work of Theodore Adorno might indicate some remedy for 
the disasters of recent years, or if not, make us feel better in spite of 

Titelius suggests that what he calls, with some justification a "new kind 
of barbarism", "is not inflicted by the ruling class elites, but by a new 
technological consciousness which has gripped mass society".

Where does Adorno think this technological consciousness came from and is 
this a proper description of the situation?

Certainly, large numbers of people in countries like Australia have been 
fascinated by the achievements of science and technology and benefited from 
them but without having what one could call technological consciousness, 
i.e., they have very little appreciation of the scientific and 
technological achievements.

Part of this "technological consciousness" could well be described as the 
result of advertising and the search for wider and wider markets.

How many people are influenced by the use of largely meaningless terms like 
"natural", "holistic", "state of the art", and in contrast, in some fields 
of health support of medical practices by referring to their age old use!

The growth of technology and unwarranted reverence for it, or at least some 
aspects of it, lies in the development of the capitalist economy  it is 
not due to some mystical consciousness  and as far as it is planned today 
it is the bourgeoisie; the planning is in their hands and those of their 

Like some of the New Left, it would seem that Adorno wished to purge 
"social, political and cultural thought" of any interpretation in terms of 
the class structure of society, and as a result in common with the New 
Left, of the recognition of the working class's critical position and 
responsibility for the changing of society.

I am not clear as to the exact meaning of Titelius's final sentence in 
which he concludes "... there is a persistence of Adorno's thinking and 
ideas among those for whom the good life, true liberty, and a just society 
are not just a utopian dream".

Does he mean that Adorno is speaking to those for whom these things are no 
longer a dream (the bourgeoisie?) and if not, to whom?

Tom Gill
Sydney, NSW

The six counties of Ireland
A few observations of the ongoing struggle in the six counties of 

Prime Minister Tony Blair has set about dismantling the Good Friday 
Agreement, including the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly at the 
request of the Unionists.

Let it be recalled that the Northern Ireland Assembly was founded by the 
United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) to advise Edward Heath before the 
Sunningdale Conference in England in December 1973.

This conference entrenched the power of Unionism, to uphold a Protestant 
state, for a Protestant people.

Final result  the British Government gave agreement to the UUUC that the 
Six Counties of Ulster would remain part of the UK.

Thus the continual terror on the streets by the UDA, UFF, UDR, the abuse of 
school children, Sinn FC)in councillors barred from entering Council 
Chambers, are all part of this sabotage that includes the suspension of the 
Assembly, illegally preventing democratically elected Sinn FC)in members 
from functioning. This has to be tested in the International Court.

Blair is a liar. He will not defeat the will of the Irish people, though 
the price paid by the people in suffering is horrendous. We have defeated 
British propaganda before and will do so in the future and continue with 
our struggle.

Anne Duffy-Lindsay
Sydney, NSW
Back to index page