Consumerism/Frankfurters and Moby Grape Juice

Michael Pugliese debsian at
Sun Nov 28 12:22:05 MST 1999

Lou wrote:
> One of the more useful activities carried out by the Marxism-International
> mailing list, this list's predecessor, was an examination of the
> "revolutionary
> potential of the working class" in the industrialized nations. It revolved
> around the texts of so-called Western Marxists, from Lukacs to the
> School. I believe that except for a handful of crazed Trotskyists, most
> recognized that problems of consumerism coupled with the long wave of
> prosperity following WWII are brute facts that Marxists must contend with.
> This
> cyber-seminar was a good opportunity for me to familiarize myself with the
> writings of many of these thinkers, who were regarded as bitter enemies
when I
> was in the Trotskyist movement myself.
    Not just among Trotskyists. The Maoist Progressive Labor party magazine,
"Revolution," once published a piece entitled, "Marcuse, Cop or Cop-out?"
Marcuse along with Franz Neumann, Paul Sweezy, Maurice Halperin, H. Stuart
Hughes and other lefty acdemics had worked for the O.S.S. during WWII. The
O.S.S. was the predecessor to the C.I.A. Cf. Barry Katz book on Marcuse
published by Verso/N.L.B.

 Herbert Marcuse in particular
> symbolized
> the sort of skepticism about the revolutionary potential of the working
> that orthodox Marxists felt compelled to make ideological warfare against.
> When
> I finally sat down to read "One-Dimensional Man", I was surprised to
> how well it stood up to American reality. While it goes too far in
> that consumer society and prosperity are permanent, there are tremendous
> insights to be found. Here is my report on this book:
> It just goes to show you. You gotta keep an open mind. I approached
> Marcuse's "One Dimensional Man" with the expectation that it would be even
> more
> wide of the mark than Adorno and Horkheimer's "Dialectic of
Enlightenment". I
> had my ax sharpened and my executioner's hood on.
> What a surprise to find out how fresh this book appears thirty years after
> first made its big impact on my g-g-g-generation in the 60s.  Marcuse,
along with individuals like the anarchist Paul Goodman and
> rock
> groups like Moby Grape, were largely responsible for the political
> direction of
> the 1960s.
     Moby Grape what a great band. Do you know of the reissue of the album,
"Oar," by Skip Spence and the tribute album? (Lifted this from a
    The only solo album from this former Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape
cult hero is something of a legend. Cut in four days all by himself, it
bombed upon its release in 1969. Nevertheless, Spence's legend has led to
devotion from such fans as Tom Waits, Robert Plant, Beck, and R.E.M.. Oar
features quiet, stark folk; odd turns of phrase; old-timey shuffles; playful
swing; and pretty melodies croaked out from Spence's hoarse voice.
Generally, the mood is blissed out, with the occasional apocalyptic dread
("Cripple Creek," "Books of Moses") and dissociated narratives
("Margaret-Tiger Rug," "Lawrence of Euphoria") that came naturally to the
poor soul who spent time in psychiatric institutions prior to his death at
age 52. This Sundazed reissue includes new liner notes, plus 10 additional
tracks, including five previously unissued recordings. --Jason Gross
More Oar: A Tribute To The Skip Spence Album
      Visit the site of those monopoly capitalists and you can hear some
sound byte samples from this album from Wilco (alt. country rockers) and
Mark Lanegan, an-ex punk/grunge rocker)
> (This, I should hasten to add, excludes the Trotskyists. We were headed in
> reverse direction. Instead of being part of the 1960s, we were preparing
> that big moment when Minneapolis 1934 would take place all over again. We
> began dressing the part. I started wearing snap-brim fedoras like the kind
> that
> Farrell Dobbs used to wear.
     Look up Alan Wald's books on the New York intellectuals esp. the bits
on Dwight MacDonald and John Wheelwright, the Boston Mandarin aristo who was
in the SWP back in the 40's. Those guys could dress. Or did everyone wear
hats then. The movies certainly makes one think so. Newsreels too.
>I also began talking out of the side of my mouth
> like all those old Trotskyists used to. Sometimes I used to get the
> that they developed that personae from old Humphrey Bogart and Edward G.
> Robinson gangster movies. "All right, you dirty rats, what do you got to
> now about that Popular Front betrayal.")
    Bogart had appeared at a House Committee
on Un-Am. Activities hearing in '47 to protest the moves against the
Hollywood 10. Later he recanted and Colliers magazine ran a piece with a
headline like, "Bogie: I was duped!"
> One of the reasons that "One Dimensional Man" is such a big advance over
> "Dialectic of Enlightenment" is that Marcuse had gotten his sea legs in
> crazy society. Adorno and Horkheimer must have felt like the Indian in
> New World" when they set foot on US soil: bewildered and angry. They spend
> their time railing against Donald Duck and Bing Crosby.
      Not from the Frankfurters but have you seen the book ,"Donald
Duck:Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic."?
> >From a strategic and tactical point of view, this meant that New Leftists
> no conception of drawing working-class people into antiwar activity. The
> popularized version of Frankfurt School politics that filtered its way
> the
> student movement through a hundred different "underground" newspapers
> this movement to substitute itself for a mass movement.
> These petty-bourgeois students acted in isolation from the working- class
> they assumed was for the war and who they had written off. They burned
> cards, refused to go into the army and carried out other forms of
> civil disobedience. They were basically a well-meaning group.
> Out of this milieu evolved another current that decided to engage in
> acts against the "system". Some of the SDS'ers created the "Weatherman"
> to engage in terrorist acts against the war- makers. They set off bombs
and in
> general acted in the most ultraleft and counterproductive manner. Their
> politics could be best described as a spoiled Frankfurter.
     From the new New Left Review, #237, Sept.-Oct. '99, series of articles
on and by Michael Sprinker, I see that German Baader-Meinhof cadre, Andreaas
Baader was enamored of Walter Benjamin. The reactionary German
newspapers accussed the Frankfurters of being the intellectual authors of
the 70's "terrorists". Today, Christian right wacko, Paul Weyrich, says
Adorno invented PC!!!
> The reality of working-class attitudes toward the war were a lot more
> than the New Leftists appreciated. I would argue that the closest we came
> involving the working-class in objectively anti-capitalist activity since
> 1930s was during the anti-war movement.
     Being born in 1961, I'd venture that I'm younger than most of the
posters here but from reading and knowing vets from previous g-g-generations
my sense is that working class people by the end of the sixties hated the
war, but hated the anti-war movement more. Somewhere I've read a piece by ?
(William Schneider AEI/CNN pundit in The Atlantic maybe) relating knocking
on doors in Boston in the late 60's for the Vietnam Summer Project.
The w/c voters this person talked to said those
Harvard boys( McNamara, Bundy et. al) dreamed this war up. Are their sons,
or any Harvard Yard kids now, doing any dying? (Anyone know the name of a
book on the anti-war movement at non-elite state schools and universities
that was published a few yrs. back?)The mass media, of course, framed the
anti-war movement as a bunch of spoiled rich kids, but how much did the
class condesencion of some SDS'ers etc. lead to w/c contempt for the
    "Old timers" care to send some rhoughts to the list?
                                    Michael Pugliese
> Marxism mailing list: (

More information about the Marxism mailing list