THE GREAT EVASION by William Appleman Williams


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The muscular intellects of Marcuse, of Sartre and Lefebvre, have been attempting recently to pump air into the fizzed out balloon of Marxism, setting aloft a Western version as against the debased Sino-Soviet one. The efforts have been both bizarre and brilliant, especially so with Marcuse. Professor Williams' try-but is more modest, more well-meaning. Though starting with the batty notion that U.S. mandarins have been evading Das Kapital (what was all that talk in the '30's about?), he settles neatly enough into a critique of the affluent society (a misnomer: look at the Negroes, the unemployed, the cold war) and its attendant miseries (organization men, mental illness, political apathy). Marx in the Philosophical Manuscripts diagnosed market labor as alienation because it becomes ""embodied in an object and turned into a physical thing""- thus loss of identity, community, freedom. Zombies aren't free, even well-paid ones, says the professor, and we're fulfilling Marx's predictions, for white collar workers can be proletarianized too. These- and other- rather individual readings of the 19th century giant are buttressed with a plea to humanize technology or cybernated production, end possessive individualism before it ends us, and use the really amaterialist vision of Marx as some sort of profitable challenge or goal, if not guide. Our ills, of course, have had other responses (salvation through Neo-Orthodoxy, a Sexual Revolution, Social Engineering etc.), and other economic recommendations; neither there nor with Marxist scholarship in general does the professor's house organ earnestness grapple effectively.

Publisher: Quadrangle