Readers are invited to submit letters to The Guardian.
Letters may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Letters of 300-400 words are preferred.
Letters to the Editor:
The ultra-left, history and technological consciousness
The responses by Vic Williams and Tom Gill to my letter of September 17, 2003, miss some important aspects not only of Adorno's dialectics but also his engagement with Marxism, other left intellectuals and student politics of the late 1960's. While I would agree with Tom Gill that this technological consciousness may come from and serve the interests of the ruling classes, what becomes popular and therefore consumed is determined by the masses not the ruling class elites. Many of the most popular television shows, movies, magazines, music and other forms of art and culture are popular not so much because they may be good or bad art, but because they require so little moral or aesthetic effort to engage with them. It is easier to listen to Kylie Minogue than Beethoven or watch "Better Homes and Gardens" and "Australian Idol" than "The Awful Truth" and "Futurama", but a lot less likely that one's consciousness will be effected by them. In reply to Vic William's lumping of Marcuse, Satre and Adorno together as the main ideological leaders of that time, this is deceptive and mischievous. Satre, who while he was a left-wing dissident intellectual, was not a Marxist and was more renowned as an exponent of existentialism, than a proponent of socialist or revolutionary thought. There were differences of opinion between Marcuse and Adorno as to what each believed could be achieved by the student revolts in Germany, France, the USA and elsewhere. Marcuse believed that the situation concerning the war in Vietnam, police repression of student demonstrations and other revolts against the system had become unbearable and demanded, "that extra-parliamentary opposition (i.e., civil action and civil disobedience) becomes the only form of contestation which can be taken". Adorno replied that while he believed that the student movement had interrupted the smooth transition to the totally administered world, he did not think that praxis was capable of affecting a social intervention at this time. Ultimately, Adorno was proved right. The revolts against the system were not sustained and had quietly slipped away by the beginning of 1973. Here we are 30 years later and what has changed. I agree with Williams that the left progressive forces of politics need to "win the new, young forces emerging to progressive and consistent action". However, we are not going to win them with the out-of- date politics and ideology of Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky — especially in the light of the spectacular collapse, though not necessarily failure, of the Soviet Union and its satellites. Today, an increasing number of people in the West are becoming cynical about the order of the world under capital and are beginning to wake up from the dull, repetitive and tiring hum of the culture industry that acts to prop up the veneer of capital. People are starting to get organised for action and to look for the ideas and information in other places, which will help them get from theory into practice. For these people there will be a persistence of the critical or dialectical thinking and ideas of Adorno. The idea that not only the means of production must be expropriated from capital, but also our hearts, minds and souls and in this way allow the ideas, thoughts and feelings for a different world to be born. Richard Titelius
The appointment of Mr Ruddock to Attorney-General is a further example the Promotion of Proven Duds (PPD) and Reward for Failure (RFF) Principles of Management. Regrettably, such appointments are almost inevitable for Governments labouring under the Westminster system because the pool of Ministerial talent is extremely limited. Ministers have to be "in and of the Parliament", meaning they must be elected MPs. Thus, at the federal level, choices have to be made from a mere 90 or so career politicians, mostly lawyers who are dysfunctional amateurs in virtually every portfolio. Real expertise and experience is available outside the Parliament but the Westminster system prevents it from being fully engaged in the Government of the nation. This political "culture" can and should be changed, the sooner the better. Klaas WoldringBack to index page
Pearl Beach, NSW