Re: Psychoanalysis
Source Doug Henwood
Date 04/02/10/02:16

>...but does the fact that we can conceptualize and grasp that we
>are partly the product of the chains and backwardness that bind us not
>suggest the possibility of transcendence or at least of not accepting
>such chains as limits or a fait accompli?

Absolutely. If I thought otherwise I'd have sold out long ago. But I
think it's important to acknowledge some deeply conservative
instincts in people - despite often horrible conditions, they don't
rebel. That is nowhere near the whole story, of course, but I think a
lot of radicals forget it.

And then there's this phenomenon, described by Adorno in Minima
Moralia, which might not pass the language police today, but which
makes an important point:

Savages are not more noble. - There is to be found in African students of
political economy, Siamese at Oxford, and more generally in diligent
arthistorians and musicologists of petty-bourgeois origins, a ready
inclination to combine with the assimilation of new material, an inordinate
respect for all that is established, accepted, acknowledged. An
uncompromising mind is the very opposite of primitivism, neophytism, or the
'non-capitalist world'. It presupposes experience, a historical memory, a
fastidious intellect and above all an ample measure of satiety. It has been
observed time and again how those recruited young and innocent to radical
groups have defected once they felt the force of tradition. One must have
tradition in oneself, to hate it properly. That snobs show more aptitude
than proletarians for avant-garde movements in art throws light on politics
too. Late-comers and newcomers have an alarming affinity to positivism,
from Carnap-worshippers in India to the stalwart defenders of the German
masters Matthias Grünewald and Heinrich Schütz. It would be poor psychology
to assume that exclusion arouses only hate and resentment; it arouses too a
possessive, intolerant kind of love, and those whom repressive culture has
held at a distance can easily enough become its most diehard defenders.
There is even an echo of this in the sententious language of the worker who
wants,- as a Socialist, to 'learn something', to partake of the so-called
heritage, and the philistinism of the Bebels ties less in their
incomprehension of culture than in the alacrity with which they accept it
at face value, identify with it and in so doing, of course, reverse its
meaning. Socialism is in general no more secure against this transformation
than against lapsing theoretically into positivism. It can happen easily
enough that in the Far East Marx is put in the place vacated by Driesch and
Rickert. There is some reason to fear that the involvement of non-Western
peoples in the conflicts of industrial society, long overdue in itself,
will be less to the benefit of the liberated peoples than to that of
rationally improved production and communications, and a modestly raised
standard of living. Instead of expecting miracles of the pre-capitalist
peoples, older nations should be on their guard against their
unimaginative, indolent taste for everything proven, and for the successes
of the West.

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