Released: January 1973
The theory and practice of revolutionary social transformation, Bruce Brown argues, cannot rest content with the exclusive emphasis of traditional Marxism on world-historic processes and the struggle of the working classes for their collective emancipation. He views the experience both of the backsliding of revolution in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and of the manipulative integration of the population of the West into consumer capitalism, as seen at the turning point years of the early 1970s. Brown argues that Marxism needs to rediscover the specifically subjective, psychological dimensions of the revolutionary process in their relation to the objective patterns in history.
This means to discover how capitalist rule becomes internalized in individuals who suffer not only from economic and political oppression, but also from forms of specifically psychological oppression that any revolutionary worthy of the name must address.
Toward this end of reconciling the personal and the political—of uniting the struggle to overcome an oppressive outer reality with the practice of transforming an inner reality—the author surveys not only the lessons learned in the New Left during the 1960s, but also the contributions of critical Marxists like Wilhelm Reich, Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, Max Horkheimer, Henri Lefebvre, and Jürgen Habermas, who have sought to reconstitute Marxism as a critique of everyday life through a critical assimilation of Freudianism into the broader structure of historical materialism. The reconstruction of revolutionary theory which the author sees in the work of these thinkers, finally, is used as the basis for an attempt to spell out the new politics of cultural revolution in the West.
Bruce Brown was a member of the editorial collective of Liberation magazine. He studied as an undergraduate at New York University, and did his graduate work, in history, at Washington University in St. Louis.