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Archive for April 8th, 2009

“thanks to its own powers of persuasion….”

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Henri Lefebvre in his foreword to Critique of Everyday Life, Vol. I:

We ask ourselves: ‘What is socialism exactly? How does it intervene in everyday life? What does it change?’ And the answer is unclear. The elimination of the bourgeoisie and class antagonisms? The suppression of capitalist relations of property and production? These are only negative definitions. We find the picture of a bourgeois society without a bourgeoisie neither reassuring nor satisfying. We think that there is, or will be, something else. But what? Accepting one’s work, making it – willingly if possible – one’s first priority, working harder, willing productivity to increase rather than merely putting up with it? These ideas are fine as far as they go. Admittedly they are probably all essential, very important for the social relations of production, and perhaps they would go some way towards defining a mode of production economically. But as a definition of a culture, a civilization, a humanity, they are inadequate. Nor can they define a worthwhile way of living which could come into being thanks to its own powers of persuasion. *

Ah, that last line is a killer. Perfect! And here’s what he says in the footnote attached to the end of that passage:

* Unfortunately materialism is presented in far too many publications as the most depressing of platitudes, In fact it appears to reach the heights of platitude (so to speak). If it were a completed system, or simply a weapon for the working-class struggle, why indeed would it have to be interesting? After all, when philosophy lost metaphysics, it might also be said to have lost its picturesqueness!….

Exciting to be re-reading Lefebvre. I had forgotten, in the way that one does, the fact that every line of thought that I follow on just about any topic that matters very clearly started nowhere and nowhen else than with my first reading of this book.

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April 8, 2009 at 11:22 am