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Domination and Civilization

April 22, 2014

“The very progress of civilization under the performance principle has attained a level of productivity at which the social demands upon instinctual energy to be spent in alienated labor could be considerably reduced. Consequently, the continued repressive organization of the instincts seems to be necessitated less by the “struggle for existence” than by the interest in prolonging this struggle — by the interest in domination.”

Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilization

What Marcuse is saying here is that society has been guided by a principle of action required to secure resources for survival, that infects all areas of life. Repression of instincts into line with this goal of productivity. Now even in areas where it is not a matter of survival, it persists purely as a form of domination of self-perpetuation, of one generation asserting its right arbitrarily over the next generation. This irrationality can only be countered by people whose actions are guided by their own thoughts, rather than by impulsive reactions. The chain of impulses wants to entrap you and ensnare you in this game of domination.

This sums up much of my issue with many people at many points in my life, when I have seen them to be acting in line, fatalistically with this sorry tragedy of human society. The blind acting to repress what no longer needs to be repressed, just because it always has been, or just for temporary sadistic pleasure of domination of another. I simply cannot stand when people lose their humanity in ways such as this. Acting out a set historical role, rather than living out their own unique destiny. Selling out to forces of domination such as this, just because they are not willing to put in their own effort of mind to guide their actions more appropriately and independently.


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